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'Hindu brothers and sisters, don't be afraid, we are with you'

A harmony rally was held by Awami League on Tuesday morning

19 Oct 2021

Awami League

The ruling Awami League has called its workers and supporters to unite against communal violence.

"Together with the people of the country, we will resist the evil forces under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina," General Secretary Obaidul Quader told a party event on Tuesday.

Communal tensions have gripped Bangladesh over the past few days following allegations of the Quran being dishonoured at a puja pavilion in Comilla on October 13, triggering violence in several districts across the country.

At least six people were killed and scores have been injured in attacks on Hindu homes, temples and Durga Puja venues over the past seven days in several places across the country.

On Tuesday, the Awami League held a "harmony rally" in front of its headquarters on the Bangabandha Avenue in Dhaka.

"Hindu brothers and sisters, don't be afraid. You have Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League with you. The Sheikh Hasina-government is a pro-minority one," he told the rally.

Awami League will remain vigilant until the communal forces are wiped out. Party workers across the country are prepared to confront these evil quarters, he added.

Awami League, as well as its affiliated entities and linked organizations, will organize similar events across the country.

After an emergency meeting at the party chief’s office in Dhanmondi on Monday, General Secretary Obaidul Quader announced the rally for Tuesday.

The central leader of Awami League also announced that, they will also start an organizational tour across the country from November 5.

Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinaattended the meeting through video conferencing from her official residence.

This article was first published in dhakatribune.com and may be read here

'Hindu brothers and sisters, don't be afraid, we are with you'

A harmony rally was held by Awami League on Tuesday morning

Awami League

The ruling Awami League has called its workers and supporters to unite against communal violence.

"Together with the people of the country, we will resist the evil forces under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina," General Secretary Obaidul Quader told a party event on Tuesday.

Communal tensions have gripped Bangladesh over the past few days following allegations of the Quran being dishonoured at a puja pavilion in Comilla on October 13, triggering violence in several districts across the country.

At least six people were killed and scores have been injured in attacks on Hindu homes, temples and Durga Puja venues over the past seven days in several places across the country.

On Tuesday, the Awami League held a "harmony rally" in front of its headquarters on the Bangabandha Avenue in Dhaka.

"Hindu brothers and sisters, don't be afraid. You have Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League with you. The Sheikh Hasina-government is a pro-minority one," he told the rally.

Awami League will remain vigilant until the communal forces are wiped out. Party workers across the country are prepared to confront these evil quarters, he added.

Awami League, as well as its affiliated entities and linked organizations, will organize similar events across the country.

After an emergency meeting at the party chief’s office in Dhanmondi on Monday, General Secretary Obaidul Quader announced the rally for Tuesday.

The central leader of Awami League also announced that, they will also start an organizational tour across the country from November 5.

Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinaattended the meeting through video conferencing from her official residence.

This article was first published in dhakatribune.com and may be read here

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Why did MHA extend BSF jurisdiction in Punjab and WB?

Both the states have voiced their opposition to this move the Union government extending the powers of BSF up to 50 kms along the border areas

16 Oct 2021

bsf

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on October 11, issued a notification in the gazette that under the Border Security Force (BSF) Act, stating it was extending BSF’s jurisdiction in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam in its Schedule. 

This means that the area comprised within a belt of 50 kilometers running along the borders of India in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam will now be under the BSF, giving it powers of search, seizure and arrests in this assigned area.

Already the entire area of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir (UT) are under the BSF control.

As per the earlier notification of 2014, which preceded this one, a belt of 80 kms was set in Gujarat and 50 kms in Rajasthan and 15 kms in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. This means that the area covered in Gujarat was reduced, however, the areas in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam were increased considerably.

The move has been opposed by the government of Punjab and West Bengal seeing it as imposition of the Centre in the state’s affairs since BSF is a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF). This means the BSF reports directly to the Centre while law and order is a state subject. Both governments have described the MHA’s order as an ‘irrational decision’, a ‘direct attack on federalism’ and an attempt to ‘interfere through Central agencies’. 

About BSF

The BSF was formed in 1965 as a result of the India-Pakistan war. Under Rule 15 of the BSF Rules, the primary tasks of the Force are: "promote a sense of security among the people living in the border area, prevent trans-border crimes/unauthorised entry into or exit from the territory of India and prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity."

The BSF can carry out search and seizure in cases of smuggling of narcotics, prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners and offences punishable under any other Central Act.

After apprehending a suspect, the BSF personnel can only conduct some preliminary questioning and the detainee has to be handed over to the police within 24 hours.

The reason why BSF was vested with such police powers was because back in 1968, the police were not armed with adequate personnel to have their presence in border areas and it was this shortcoming that prompted the move. It was a rather compensatory move to make up for the inadequate police force which is not the case anymore.

What was the need for extending BSF to other states?

According to what some officials told the Indian Express, the change was made to crack down on smuggling rackets to ‘improve operational efficiency’.

The Union government does have the power to unilaterally increase or decrease the jurisdiction of BSF in the areas and under the Act, consultation with the concerned states is not mandated. Such concurrence of states is only sought if powers are vested with BSF under any state legislation.

The order has been passed under section 139 of the BSF Act which means under sub-section 3, it will have to place the order before both the houses of Parliament and it will have to be passed by both houses.

 

Related:

UP: BJP workers threaten SHO, create ruckus in police station

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Why did MHA extend BSF jurisdiction in Punjab and WB?

Both the states have voiced their opposition to this move the Union government extending the powers of BSF up to 50 kms along the border areas

bsf

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on October 11, issued a notification in the gazette that under the Border Security Force (BSF) Act, stating it was extending BSF’s jurisdiction in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam in its Schedule. 

This means that the area comprised within a belt of 50 kilometers running along the borders of India in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam will now be under the BSF, giving it powers of search, seizure and arrests in this assigned area.

Already the entire area of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir (UT) are under the BSF control.

As per the earlier notification of 2014, which preceded this one, a belt of 80 kms was set in Gujarat and 50 kms in Rajasthan and 15 kms in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. This means that the area covered in Gujarat was reduced, however, the areas in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam were increased considerably.

The move has been opposed by the government of Punjab and West Bengal seeing it as imposition of the Centre in the state’s affairs since BSF is a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF). This means the BSF reports directly to the Centre while law and order is a state subject. Both governments have described the MHA’s order as an ‘irrational decision’, a ‘direct attack on federalism’ and an attempt to ‘interfere through Central agencies’. 

About BSF

The BSF was formed in 1965 as a result of the India-Pakistan war. Under Rule 15 of the BSF Rules, the primary tasks of the Force are: "promote a sense of security among the people living in the border area, prevent trans-border crimes/unauthorised entry into or exit from the territory of India and prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity."

The BSF can carry out search and seizure in cases of smuggling of narcotics, prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners and offences punishable under any other Central Act.

After apprehending a suspect, the BSF personnel can only conduct some preliminary questioning and the detainee has to be handed over to the police within 24 hours.

The reason why BSF was vested with such police powers was because back in 1968, the police were not armed with adequate personnel to have their presence in border areas and it was this shortcoming that prompted the move. It was a rather compensatory move to make up for the inadequate police force which is not the case anymore.

What was the need for extending BSF to other states?

According to what some officials told the Indian Express, the change was made to crack down on smuggling rackets to ‘improve operational efficiency’.

The Union government does have the power to unilaterally increase or decrease the jurisdiction of BSF in the areas and under the Act, consultation with the concerned states is not mandated. Such concurrence of states is only sought if powers are vested with BSF under any state legislation.

The order has been passed under section 139 of the BSF Act which means under sub-section 3, it will have to place the order before both the houses of Parliament and it will have to be passed by both houses.

 

Related:

UP: BJP workers threaten SHO, create ruckus in police station

Resist before Delhi Police makes sexual assault their SoP for protesters: AISA

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Karnataka: CM Bommai normalising ‘moral policing’, gets schooled by ex-CM Siddaramaiah

The senior Congress leader used Twitter to publicly school the CM on the latter’s comments on moral policing in the state

15 Oct 2021

TwitterImage Courtesy:thenewsminute.com

Karnataka’s senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah has taken to Twitter to publicly school Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on the latter’s comments on moral policing. On Wednesday Bommai, was speaking to media persons seeking his reaction to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Umanath Kotian escorting two people accused in a ‘moral policing’ incident out of a police station, after their release on interim bail.

The accused Samhithraj and Sandeep Poojary had been arrested on Saturday after members of Hindutva outfits waylaid a car in which three women and a man were travelling to Karkala and allegedly harassed them at Moodbidri, stated news reports. Among the harassed victims were two Muslims, and two Hindus. The victims filed a complaint and subsequently the Moodbidri police arrested the accused and booked them under Sections 354, 153a, 504 and 506 of the IPC. The BJP MLA escorted them out of the police station.

In reaction to the whole event, CM Bommai reportedly said that moral policing is the ‘natural action and reaction’ when sentiments are hurt. He said, “In society, all of us have to be responsible. There are many sentiments and one must behave in a way that doesn’t hurt such sentiments. When sentiments are hurt, naturally, actions and reactions are bound to happen.” According to a News18 report, the CM added, “Along with government responsibility to ensure law and order, everyone needs to be responsible, everyone must cooperate. Youngsters must ensure the sentiments of society aren’t hurt. This is a societal issue. Can we live without morality? What’s in our control is our morality. When there’s no morality, there will be actions and reactions."

Bommai’s 'morality' comments were criticised widely, and the tallest leader doing that was Karnataka’s former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who took to a series of tweets putting Bommai under the scanner. He said, “You have accepted your incapability to maintain law and order by justifying moral policing by a few anti-social elements. Please resign & save Karnataka!! Innocent women are being targeted in Karnataka and you are protecting anti-social elements." He also asked if Bommai was going to “hand over law and order to the RSS or if he was planning to establish Junge Raj.” Siddaramaiah showed his Twitter savvy use of the #MoralPolicing and posted a long thread directed at Bommai.

According to news reports, Bommai accused Siddaramaiah of having got Hindu activists killed during his regime, to which Karnataka’s Opposition party leader in the Assembly warned him that a defamation case against the CM can be filed, but instead he is advised to correct himself. Siddaramaiah said, “Mr Basavaraj Bommai, like an ignorant, you have alleged that I got Hindus killed. Being the Chief Minister of Karnataka, you should have thought it through before making such loose comments. I can file a defamation case for this but I will just advise you to correct yourself.” 

Siddaramaiah also reminded Bommai, of the political legacy of his father S R Bommai, who was also a former CM of the state. He said, “Had you learnt anything from your father Shri S R Bommai (former CM) or me, you would not have joined a communal party just for power and support anti-constitutional activities.”

Bommai junior had attacked Siddaramaiah and posted, “While you were the CM, you became the icon of anti-Hindus by getting killed Hindu activists as Tippu Sultan did in his regime. I need not learn administration or policing from you.”

The Twitter spat between the two politicians has gone on for a few days now, even as the state continues to witness communal attacks at regular intervals.

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Karnataka: CM Bommai normalising ‘moral policing’, gets schooled by ex-CM Siddaramaiah

The senior Congress leader used Twitter to publicly school the CM on the latter’s comments on moral policing in the state

TwitterImage Courtesy:thenewsminute.com

Karnataka’s senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah has taken to Twitter to publicly school Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on the latter’s comments on moral policing. On Wednesday Bommai, was speaking to media persons seeking his reaction to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Umanath Kotian escorting two people accused in a ‘moral policing’ incident out of a police station, after their release on interim bail.

The accused Samhithraj and Sandeep Poojary had been arrested on Saturday after members of Hindutva outfits waylaid a car in which three women and a man were travelling to Karkala and allegedly harassed them at Moodbidri, stated news reports. Among the harassed victims were two Muslims, and two Hindus. The victims filed a complaint and subsequently the Moodbidri police arrested the accused and booked them under Sections 354, 153a, 504 and 506 of the IPC. The BJP MLA escorted them out of the police station.

In reaction to the whole event, CM Bommai reportedly said that moral policing is the ‘natural action and reaction’ when sentiments are hurt. He said, “In society, all of us have to be responsible. There are many sentiments and one must behave in a way that doesn’t hurt such sentiments. When sentiments are hurt, naturally, actions and reactions are bound to happen.” According to a News18 report, the CM added, “Along with government responsibility to ensure law and order, everyone needs to be responsible, everyone must cooperate. Youngsters must ensure the sentiments of society aren’t hurt. This is a societal issue. Can we live without morality? What’s in our control is our morality. When there’s no morality, there will be actions and reactions."

Bommai’s 'morality' comments were criticised widely, and the tallest leader doing that was Karnataka’s former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who took to a series of tweets putting Bommai under the scanner. He said, “You have accepted your incapability to maintain law and order by justifying moral policing by a few anti-social elements. Please resign & save Karnataka!! Innocent women are being targeted in Karnataka and you are protecting anti-social elements." He also asked if Bommai was going to “hand over law and order to the RSS or if he was planning to establish Junge Raj.” Siddaramaiah showed his Twitter savvy use of the #MoralPolicing and posted a long thread directed at Bommai.

According to news reports, Bommai accused Siddaramaiah of having got Hindu activists killed during his regime, to which Karnataka’s Opposition party leader in the Assembly warned him that a defamation case against the CM can be filed, but instead he is advised to correct himself. Siddaramaiah said, “Mr Basavaraj Bommai, like an ignorant, you have alleged that I got Hindus killed. Being the Chief Minister of Karnataka, you should have thought it through before making such loose comments. I can file a defamation case for this but I will just advise you to correct yourself.” 

Siddaramaiah also reminded Bommai, of the political legacy of his father S R Bommai, who was also a former CM of the state. He said, “Had you learnt anything from your father Shri S R Bommai (former CM) or me, you would not have joined a communal party just for power and support anti-constitutional activities.”

Bommai junior had attacked Siddaramaiah and posted, “While you were the CM, you became the icon of anti-Hindus by getting killed Hindu activists as Tippu Sultan did in his regime. I need not learn administration or policing from you.”

The Twitter spat between the two politicians has gone on for a few days now, even as the state continues to witness communal attacks at regular intervals.

Related

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Now, BJP leaders demand for justice for Lakhimpur Kheri victims

After students and women’s groups, BJP leaders have joined the chorus calling for the immediate sacking of Minister of State (Home) Ajay Mishra

15 Oct 2021

BJP leader Ram Iqbal Singh accused Ajay Mishra

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have now joined the growing movement for justice for victims of the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri killings. They too are calling for a just trial against those accused in the incident. This is significant because the key accused Ashish Mishra is the son of none other than Ajay Mishra, who is not only a member of the BJP, but is also a Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). 

On October 15, BJP leader Ram Iqbal Singh accused Ajay Mishra of involvement in the death of eight people and a local journalist at Lakhimpur Kheri, and demanded his dismissal to allow a fair trial into the matter. According to Rediff, he said questions were being raised about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s failure to sack Mishra. Speaking to reporters, Singh said Mishra should have apologised to farmers instead of trying to defend his son Ashish.

“He has not regretted the incident yet. This incident is a blot on humanity,” said Singh, who is also the state executive member of the party.

Further, he said that the BJP government’s image has been “tarnished” due to the Lakhimpur and the Gorakhpur businessman murder case. He reminded that BJP workers were also killed during the Sunday incident.

Singh is not the first BJP leader to speak against Mishra. Shortly after the incident unfolded, BJP MP Varun Gandhi condemned the attempt to mow down peacefully protesting farmers and urged Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to call for investigations into the matter.

Recently on October 14, he also shared a video of former Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee from 1980 in which he warns the then Indira Gandhi government against farmer repression.

 

 

Varun Gandhi stressed that videos of the incident showed ample evidence regarding the incident and that “justice must be delivered before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the minds of every farmer.”

He also decried the attempt to colour the incident as communal violence. “Not only is this an immoral and false narrative, it is dangerous to create these fault-lines and reopen wounds that have taken a generation to heal. We must not put petty political gains above national unity,” he said in a tweet.

Farmers group Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) said on Thursday that those injured during the incident are yet to receive their due compensation. It questioned why Mishra remained in the Cabinet despite openly threatening, promoting hatred and disharmony and speaking about criminal antecedents nearly three weeks ago.

“The SKM reiterates its strong demand that Mishra be dismissed from the government and arrested immediately. Otherwise, it is clear that justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri Farmers' massacre will certainly be compromised,” it said in a press release.

To compel the Centre to arrest those accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri killings, farmers announced a rail roko all over India on October 18. On October 15 and October 16, farmers will burn effigies of PM Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other oppressive leaders in a show of dissent.

Related:

Haryana: Mutilated body found at Kundli border

UP: BJP workers threaten SHO, create ruckus in police station

UP court denies bail Ashish Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri case

Now, BJP leaders demand for justice for Lakhimpur Kheri victims

After students and women’s groups, BJP leaders have joined the chorus calling for the immediate sacking of Minister of State (Home) Ajay Mishra

BJP leader Ram Iqbal Singh accused Ajay Mishra

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have now joined the growing movement for justice for victims of the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri killings. They too are calling for a just trial against those accused in the incident. This is significant because the key accused Ashish Mishra is the son of none other than Ajay Mishra, who is not only a member of the BJP, but is also a Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). 

On October 15, BJP leader Ram Iqbal Singh accused Ajay Mishra of involvement in the death of eight people and a local journalist at Lakhimpur Kheri, and demanded his dismissal to allow a fair trial into the matter. According to Rediff, he said questions were being raised about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s failure to sack Mishra. Speaking to reporters, Singh said Mishra should have apologised to farmers instead of trying to defend his son Ashish.

“He has not regretted the incident yet. This incident is a blot on humanity,” said Singh, who is also the state executive member of the party.

Further, he said that the BJP government’s image has been “tarnished” due to the Lakhimpur and the Gorakhpur businessman murder case. He reminded that BJP workers were also killed during the Sunday incident.

Singh is not the first BJP leader to speak against Mishra. Shortly after the incident unfolded, BJP MP Varun Gandhi condemned the attempt to mow down peacefully protesting farmers and urged Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to call for investigations into the matter.

Recently on October 14, he also shared a video of former Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee from 1980 in which he warns the then Indira Gandhi government against farmer repression.

 

 

Varun Gandhi stressed that videos of the incident showed ample evidence regarding the incident and that “justice must be delivered before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the minds of every farmer.”

He also decried the attempt to colour the incident as communal violence. “Not only is this an immoral and false narrative, it is dangerous to create these fault-lines and reopen wounds that have taken a generation to heal. We must not put petty political gains above national unity,” he said in a tweet.

Farmers group Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) said on Thursday that those injured during the incident are yet to receive their due compensation. It questioned why Mishra remained in the Cabinet despite openly threatening, promoting hatred and disharmony and speaking about criminal antecedents nearly three weeks ago.

“The SKM reiterates its strong demand that Mishra be dismissed from the government and arrested immediately. Otherwise, it is clear that justice in the Lakhimpur Kheri Farmers' massacre will certainly be compromised,” it said in a press release.

To compel the Centre to arrest those accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri killings, farmers announced a rail roko all over India on October 18. On October 15 and October 16, farmers will burn effigies of PM Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other oppressive leaders in a show of dissent.

Related:

Haryana: Mutilated body found at Kundli border

UP: BJP workers threaten SHO, create ruckus in police station

UP court denies bail Ashish Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri case

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Gadbadjhala: Mystery that is PM CARES

As citizens of this nation, do we know how much money PM CARES has received? The answer, even after two waves of Covid-19, is a big NO!

15 Oct 2021

PM care fund

Keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like that posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a public charitable trust under the name of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was set up.

PM CARES Fund has been registered as a Public Charitable Trust. The trust deed of PM CARES Fund has been registered under the Registration Act, 1908 at New Delhi on March 27, 2020. During 2019-20 (from March 27 to 31, 2020), an amount of Rs. 3,076.62 Crore has been collected under PM CARES Fund. Till now, the amount collected during 2020-2021 has not been reflected in the website: https://www.pmcares.gov.in/en/web/page/about_us

In pursuance of an appeal by the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in January, 1948, the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established with public contributions to assist displaced persons from Pakistan. The resources of the PMNRF are now utilised primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots. Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment and acid attack etc.

The PMNRF consists entirely of public contributions and does not get any budgetary support. The corpus of the fund is invested in various forms with scheduled commercial banks and other agencies. Disbursements are made with the approval of the Prime Minister. PMNRF has not been constituted by the Parliament. The fund is recognised as a Trust under the Income Tax Act and the same is managed by Prime Minister or multiple delegates for national causes. PMNRF operates from the Prime Minister’s Office, South Block, New Delhi-110011 and does not pay any license fee. PMNRF is exempt under Income Tax Act, 1961 under Section 10 and 139 for return purposes. Contributions towards PMNRF are notified for 100% deduction from taxable income under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Prime Minister is the Chairman of PMNRF and is assisted by Officers/ Staff on honorary basis. (More about PMNRF here: https://pmnrf.gov.in/en/about)

The balance as on March 31, 2020 is Rs. 4,393.19 crores as reflected in the website. The following two paragraphs contrast and compare both the funds. The differences (contrast) are given in the table below:

Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF)

 

Prime Minister’s Citizen Fund Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES)

Established on January 24, 1948 by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Established on March 27, 2020 by the present Prime Minister of India, Sh. Narendra Modi.

The initial purpose of establishing PMNRF

was to help the people displaced due to partition of India and Pakistan.

The PM CARES fund was established with

the objective of helping people affected by

Covid-19 pandemic.

The minimum amount one can donate in the

PMNRF is Rs 100.

PM CARES Fund allows option for Micro

donation, one can donate as low as Rs 10 in

the PM CARES Fund.

Attached with all Centre and State-run hospitals and many private hospitals.

There is no clarity on its network with hospitals.

Focuses on all kinds of natural disasters and calamities like cyclones, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis. It is also utilised for acid attack victims, cancer treatments, kidney transplants etc.

Exclusively used for Covid-19 purposes.

Accepts only voluntary donations by

institutions and individuals. Contributions

flowing out of the balance sheets of the

Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) or from the budgetary sources of Government are not

accepted.

 

 

In the modes of fund collection mechanisms

of PM CARES, the words - “contributions

flowing out of budgetary sources of

government or from the balance sheets of the

public sector undertakings are not accepted” has been dropped in the PM CARES Fund. In other words, PM CARES Fund can receive contributions from Public Sector Undertakings. PM-CARES Fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals or organisations and does not get any budgetary support.

At the inception of PMNRF in 1948 (even before we had a Constitution), a committee comprising the following persons was named as its “Manager”, namely: -

a) The Prime Minister.

b) The President of the Indian National Congress party.

c) The Deputy Prime Minister.

d) The Finance Minister.

e) A representative of Tata Trustees.

f) A representative of Industry & Commerce to be chosen by FICCI.

The fund was deemed to be trust in 1973. However, in 1985, the entire management was entrusted to the Prime Minister. Since then, it is headed by the Prime Minister.

Chairman of the PM-CARES fund is the

Prime Minister of India. The Prime Minister

has the power to nominate members. The

other members of the PM CARES Fund are

the Defence Minister, Home Minister and

Finance Minister.

The similarities are enlisted below:

Both PMNRF & PM Cares

● funds do not require approval from Parliament for spending.

● are exempting donations from Income Tax under Section 80G. The contribution towards PMNRF is 100 % tax deductible under Section 80 G of the Income Tax Act. As per the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020 issued by the Finance Ministry on 31 March 2020, donations made to ‘PM CARES’ fund would be 100% tax exempt under Section 80(G).

● cannot be utilised without the directions of the Prime Minister.

● have the same auditors M/S SARC Associates Chartered Accountants, New Delhi.

● receiving donations by companies are classified as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) under Companies Act 2013.

● do not receive budgetary support.

● are set up as trusts.

● can receive foreign contributions. They are exempted from Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

● are not audited by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). This is one of the criticisms of both the Funds, despite both of them being audited by an Independent third-party auditor.

A single judge bench of the hon’ble High Court of Delhi had held in 2015 that the PMNRF was amenable to the RTI Act. The single bench verdict came in the W.P(C)-3897/2012 -Prime Minister's National Relief Fund vs Aseem Takyar. In the appeal filed by the PMNRF against the single bench verdict, the division bench of the hon’ble High Court of Delhi delivered a split verdict on May 23, 2018, in the case LPA 231/2016 & C.M. 13063/2016 (for stay) - Prime Minister's National Relief Fund vs Aseem Takyar. While Justice Sunil aur (now retired) held that PMNRF was not a "public authority" within the definition given under the RTI Act, Justice S Ravindra Bhat (now a hon’ble apex court judge) held that the fund was a "public authority" as defined under the Act. In view of the divergence in views among the judges of the division bench, the matter was referred to a larger bench. The reference is still pending. 

PMNRF is not a public authority under Right to Information (RTI). It is still not clear whether PM CARES comes under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act. Time and again, when information on the PM CARES fund was sought through RTI, the information has been declined on some technicalities or the other. Owing to flip-flops of the government like an Olympic gymnast, it is not still clear even after the waters have flown across the Ganges.

The doctors' associations at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi objected to a circular from the hospital's administration, indicating that a day's salary would be deducted from their accounts and donated to the PM CARES Fund. The AIIMS administration ultimately withdrew their circular and accepted a proposal that doctors could opt in to a scheme to donate to the fund or could donate to any charitable organisation of their choice, on a purely voluntary basis. Similar proposals for mandatory or opt-out donations were subsequently withdrawn from three other hospitals based in Delhi following protests from doctors' associations: Safdarjung Hospital, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Medical Sciences (ABVIMS)-Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, and Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital.

On April 19, 2020, the Revenue Department of the Finance Ministry issued a circular indicating that one day's salary per month, from April 2020 to March 2021, from each employee would be redirected to the fund unless employees who were "unwilling to donate" indicated their unwillingness in writing to their departments. The move was criticised by government employees, who noted that this amounted to 12% of a month's salary for government employees, many of whom could not afford to release the funds. The former Comptroller-General of Defence Accounts stated that the opt-out system left employees vulnerable to professional consequences if they did not donate. Other government employees objected on the grounds that it constricted their ability to choose to donate to other relief funds, such as state's Chief Minister Relief Funds. Following public criticism, on April 30, 2020, the Revenue Department amended this circular, making the donation opt-in instead of opt-out, and asking employees to write in if they wished to donate a day's salary every month to the PM CARES Fund. 

Similarly, on April 20, 2020, the Delhi University administration was criticised after funds collected for a donation specifically to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) were redirected to the PM CARES Fund without disclosing this to donors. Delhi University officials stated that the funds were redirected on orders from the Ministry of Human Resources Development of the Government of India. The Delhi University Teachers’ Association wrote a letter of objection to the Delhi University administration, noting that the University had traditionally supported the NDRF or Chief Minister's Relief Fund either through local Staff Associations or through the Vice Chancellor's Relief Fund, and that the redirection of funds without disclosure constituted a betrayal of trust. 

The point is that the PMO operates the Fund, but says it cannot supply any information about the PM CARES Fund because it is not a public authority. If the fund is private, then who allowed 100% deduction under 80-G. If the PM CARES Fund is unconnected with the Government, then the Fund could become an office of profit. And that could disqualify him and the three Ministers from holding those constitutional offices. It becomes an office of profit/misuse issue. The PM CARES Fund centralises the collection of donations and its utility, which is not only against the federal character but also practically inconvenient in any other democracy, this statement would have cost the PM his chair. As we are slowly slipping towards a ‘one nation one party’ rule, which is closest to autocracy, it amounts to exploiting the citizens to fill his coffers. Already the roof of democracy has crashed down like a pack of cards as the four pillars holding it are at various stages of erosion and collapsing.

The Fund also exempted the donations under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and relaxed FCRA rules. The government in haste amended the companies act to include the PM-Cares fund. Using gov’t agencies in an advertising blitzkrieg. All the rungs of the bureaucracy were forced to contribute a day’s salary every month for one year in the garb of Covid-19 management, which was messed up. It was more of a rule than exception. This included banks, PSUs, corporations, statutory bodies and also private sector who did not have money to pay the salaries of the employees but contributed to the coffers fearing a backlash from the regime on their books by way of ED, IT raid. Business houses which run the fourth estate were afraid that they may be deprived of government tenders and advertisements. How the term PM was used if it is private. How the Union ministers are its trustees? The PM chairs a public authority that was used to ask for funds. Earning money, hoodwinking the citizens seems to be the ulterior objective. The domain name given is ‘.gov.in’ which is usually given for government websites only. 

It is the hard-earned money earned by the sweat of all types of collared workers who contributed under the duress and fear of both Covid-19 on one hand, and the likely victimisation on the other hand which set the cat among the pigeons. There was high pressure from the bosses of these workers, and no transparency meant scope for lot of fraudulent activities. This include the diversion of funds from PM-Cares towards purchase of ventilators, Covid-19 kits for the medical fraternity which were mostly faulty, that failed at the time of need which would be a topic for another article. 

Government employees who refused to donate money to PM CARES fund were asked to furnish their reasons for refusal in writing. It was a lot of arm-twisting. Employees in all categories-railwaymen, bankers, PSU employees, soldiers of the Armed forces were forced to shell out money for PM CARES. We may be the only nation that took money from the citizens instead of putting money in their hands. According to the Indian Express, as on December 18, 2020, soldiers of the Indian Army contributed Rs 203.67 crore from their salaries to this private fund.

PM CARES is the second biggest financial scam in Modi 2.0, the first being demonetisation in Modi 1.0. Rs. 205 cr donated from salary of staff of PSU banks which is other than the donation from the bank too. This too when the wage increment of PSBs staff pending since November 2017 even when MOU signed in July 2020. Public sector or government will never force for donation to private institution. This amounts to misleading the nation. The MPLAD was forcibly put into PM CARES. All the Central government employees were forced to forgo their Dearness Allowance (DA) given to offset the increase in prices for one and half years. All pensioners were forced to forego their Dearness Relief for one year. The government platform was used with zero accountability of the funds collected. The government machinery was (mis)used to advertise PM CARES in India and abroad. Corruption and abuse of power par excellence!!! PM-Cares, but privately!!!!

Thus, the amount collected by it does not go to the consolidated fund of Government of India. It is akin to a chit-fund by a private firm. It may be a political campaign fund to sponsor one party, an election fund of the ruling dispensation, made for the PM, by the PM of the PM. 

Important reasons that define the PM-CARES fund as a public authority, and hence liable to share the information under the Right To Information Act (RTI). 

The government has been stonewalling the responses to several queries raised by several activists, civil society related to the fund have been denied claiming that PM CARES is a 'charitable trust' and not a 'public authority'. The definition of a Public Authority under the RTI ACT – “any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government.” The setting up of the PM-CARES Fund was notified to the public on March 28, 2020 by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs saying, “The Government of India has set up the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund.” This clearly means that the Government of India has control over it. 

The office of the PM-CARES Fund is in the Prime Minister’s Office in Delhi. Just like as the PM is Chairperson of the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund or PMNRF, the PM is also Chairperson of PM CARES also. In 2007, the then Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah passed an interesting order about the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. He said, “Since PMNRF information is held by the PMO as a public authority, they are obliged to share it with citizens under the RTI Act.” Going by that same logic PM CARES should also come under RTI, since it is also controlled by the PMO.

Usage of GOV.IN in its Domain Name-pmcares.gov.in is the website address of the PM CARES Fund. But the government guidelines say a GOV.IN domain name can be allotted to six categories of offices or public authorities:

  • Apex offices like the President of India or the Prime Minister’s Office
  • Govt Ministries or Departments
  • State and Union Territory offices
  • India’s Parliament
  • Judicial bodies
  • All other legislative bodies and government institutions.

Does the PM CARES Fund fall under any of the above-mentioned categories? The guidelines make it amply clear that only bodies created by law and attached to the institutions of the government of India are allowed such registration. In one of the RTI responses, by accepting that this is the provision under which the PM Cares website was registered under gov.in, the government has now virtually admitted that the fund also comes under RTI.

Blatant (mis)use of government machinery 

The government machinery has been used blatantly to promote PM CARES. Following are some of the instances-The PM Modi, at a video conference with the heads of Indian Missions across the world on March 30, 2020, advised them to publicise the new PM CARES Fund to mobilise foreign donations. Now the pertinent point is - Can govt officials and govt machinery be used to publicise PM CARES if it is only a charitable trust? The Singapore government refused to allow official channels to promote PM CARES as it called itself as a charitable trust. The Indian Embassy in Moscow gave wide publicity on the Embassy website and social media pages as per the RTI reply given to one of the activists. Would any other charitable trust ever get publicity on any Indian Embassy website? Quite unlikely.

Everything was done in haste - tax exemption relief was given to PM CARES donations. On March 31, 2020, just two days after PM CARES was announced, a government Ordinance amended provisions of the Income Tax Act. As a result, a donation made to the PM CARES Fund would be eligible for 100% tax deduction. This was clear use of government machinery to promote PM CARES. Similarly, a day after the launch of PM CARES, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs issued a notification saying, “Any contribution made by a Company to the PM CARES Fund shall qualify as Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR.” 

Points to ponder: 

1. Compelling reasons and exigency of circumstances to form PM-Cares?

2. Advantages of forming a new fund when the PMNRF already exists?

3. How come the GOI logo/email ids are being used to solicit for funds and their websites?

4. Why did the PM abuse his position to get donations for a private fund?

5. Why is the PM CARES fund shrouded in secrecy?

6. Tomorrow, if there is a change in the government, will the new PM have control upon it?

7. Will the funds have a smooth transition to the new dispensation or will it be empty by then?

Conclusions: 

The replication of PMNRF seems to indicate that there is no purpose for the creation of this other than presenting the people with some ‘showpiece’ measure and telling the public that the government is taking huge measures to fight the pandemic while it is actually not. It has given rise to a lot of debates, opinions, interpretations and assumptions. The true rationale of setting up a new fund despite the existence of PMNRF with similar objectives can be explained only by the present government if it believes in democratic values, ethics & transparency in the management of public funds. It is an obvious scam so much wrongs have happened with the way money has been collected forcefully using the PM’s public office & name and then state that it is not public fund, it is outside the ambit of CAG etc.

*Views expressed are the author’s own.

Related:

Is the PMCARES Fund using the national emblem illegally?

Plea in Bombay HC seeks CAG audit of PM CARES fund  

Plea in SC demanding transfer of funds from PM CARES to NDRF

Appellate Authority also says PM CARES not public authority

PM CARES not a Public Authority says PMO, in response to RTI query

 

Gadbadjhala: Mystery that is PM CARES

As citizens of this nation, do we know how much money PM CARES has received? The answer, even after two waves of Covid-19, is a big NO!

PM care fund

Keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like that posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a public charitable trust under the name of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was set up.

PM CARES Fund has been registered as a Public Charitable Trust. The trust deed of PM CARES Fund has been registered under the Registration Act, 1908 at New Delhi on March 27, 2020. During 2019-20 (from March 27 to 31, 2020), an amount of Rs. 3,076.62 Crore has been collected under PM CARES Fund. Till now, the amount collected during 2020-2021 has not been reflected in the website: https://www.pmcares.gov.in/en/web/page/about_us

In pursuance of an appeal by the then Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in January, 1948, the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established with public contributions to assist displaced persons from Pakistan. The resources of the PMNRF are now utilised primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots. Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment and acid attack etc.

The PMNRF consists entirely of public contributions and does not get any budgetary support. The corpus of the fund is invested in various forms with scheduled commercial banks and other agencies. Disbursements are made with the approval of the Prime Minister. PMNRF has not been constituted by the Parliament. The fund is recognised as a Trust under the Income Tax Act and the same is managed by Prime Minister or multiple delegates for national causes. PMNRF operates from the Prime Minister’s Office, South Block, New Delhi-110011 and does not pay any license fee. PMNRF is exempt under Income Tax Act, 1961 under Section 10 and 139 for return purposes. Contributions towards PMNRF are notified for 100% deduction from taxable income under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Prime Minister is the Chairman of PMNRF and is assisted by Officers/ Staff on honorary basis. (More about PMNRF here: https://pmnrf.gov.in/en/about)

The balance as on March 31, 2020 is Rs. 4,393.19 crores as reflected in the website. The following two paragraphs contrast and compare both the funds. The differences (contrast) are given in the table below:

Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF)

 

Prime Minister’s Citizen Fund Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES)

Established on January 24, 1948 by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Established on March 27, 2020 by the present Prime Minister of India, Sh. Narendra Modi.

The initial purpose of establishing PMNRF

was to help the people displaced due to partition of India and Pakistan.

The PM CARES fund was established with

the objective of helping people affected by

Covid-19 pandemic.

The minimum amount one can donate in the

PMNRF is Rs 100.

PM CARES Fund allows option for Micro

donation, one can donate as low as Rs 10 in

the PM CARES Fund.

Attached with all Centre and State-run hospitals and many private hospitals.

There is no clarity on its network with hospitals.

Focuses on all kinds of natural disasters and calamities like cyclones, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis. It is also utilised for acid attack victims, cancer treatments, kidney transplants etc.

Exclusively used for Covid-19 purposes.

Accepts only voluntary donations by

institutions and individuals. Contributions

flowing out of the balance sheets of the

Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) or from the budgetary sources of Government are not

accepted.

 

 

In the modes of fund collection mechanisms

of PM CARES, the words - “contributions

flowing out of budgetary sources of

government or from the balance sheets of the

public sector undertakings are not accepted” has been dropped in the PM CARES Fund. In other words, PM CARES Fund can receive contributions from Public Sector Undertakings. PM-CARES Fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals or organisations and does not get any budgetary support.

At the inception of PMNRF in 1948 (even before we had a Constitution), a committee comprising the following persons was named as its “Manager”, namely: -

a) The Prime Minister.

b) The President of the Indian National Congress party.

c) The Deputy Prime Minister.

d) The Finance Minister.

e) A representative of Tata Trustees.

f) A representative of Industry & Commerce to be chosen by FICCI.

The fund was deemed to be trust in 1973. However, in 1985, the entire management was entrusted to the Prime Minister. Since then, it is headed by the Prime Minister.

Chairman of the PM-CARES fund is the

Prime Minister of India. The Prime Minister

has the power to nominate members. The

other members of the PM CARES Fund are

the Defence Minister, Home Minister and

Finance Minister.

The similarities are enlisted below:

Both PMNRF & PM Cares

● funds do not require approval from Parliament for spending.

● are exempting donations from Income Tax under Section 80G. The contribution towards PMNRF is 100 % tax deductible under Section 80 G of the Income Tax Act. As per the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020 issued by the Finance Ministry on 31 March 2020, donations made to ‘PM CARES’ fund would be 100% tax exempt under Section 80(G).

● cannot be utilised without the directions of the Prime Minister.

● have the same auditors M/S SARC Associates Chartered Accountants, New Delhi.

● receiving donations by companies are classified as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) under Companies Act 2013.

● do not receive budgetary support.

● are set up as trusts.

● can receive foreign contributions. They are exempted from Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

● are not audited by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). This is one of the criticisms of both the Funds, despite both of them being audited by an Independent third-party auditor.

A single judge bench of the hon’ble High Court of Delhi had held in 2015 that the PMNRF was amenable to the RTI Act. The single bench verdict came in the W.P(C)-3897/2012 -Prime Minister's National Relief Fund vs Aseem Takyar. In the appeal filed by the PMNRF against the single bench verdict, the division bench of the hon’ble High Court of Delhi delivered a split verdict on May 23, 2018, in the case LPA 231/2016 & C.M. 13063/2016 (for stay) - Prime Minister's National Relief Fund vs Aseem Takyar. While Justice Sunil aur (now retired) held that PMNRF was not a "public authority" within the definition given under the RTI Act, Justice S Ravindra Bhat (now a hon’ble apex court judge) held that the fund was a "public authority" as defined under the Act. In view of the divergence in views among the judges of the division bench, the matter was referred to a larger bench. The reference is still pending. 

PMNRF is not a public authority under Right to Information (RTI). It is still not clear whether PM CARES comes under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act. Time and again, when information on the PM CARES fund was sought through RTI, the information has been declined on some technicalities or the other. Owing to flip-flops of the government like an Olympic gymnast, it is not still clear even after the waters have flown across the Ganges.

The doctors' associations at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi objected to a circular from the hospital's administration, indicating that a day's salary would be deducted from their accounts and donated to the PM CARES Fund. The AIIMS administration ultimately withdrew their circular and accepted a proposal that doctors could opt in to a scheme to donate to the fund or could donate to any charitable organisation of their choice, on a purely voluntary basis. Similar proposals for mandatory or opt-out donations were subsequently withdrawn from three other hospitals based in Delhi following protests from doctors' associations: Safdarjung Hospital, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Medical Sciences (ABVIMS)-Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, and Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital.

On April 19, 2020, the Revenue Department of the Finance Ministry issued a circular indicating that one day's salary per month, from April 2020 to March 2021, from each employee would be redirected to the fund unless employees who were "unwilling to donate" indicated their unwillingness in writing to their departments. The move was criticised by government employees, who noted that this amounted to 12% of a month's salary for government employees, many of whom could not afford to release the funds. The former Comptroller-General of Defence Accounts stated that the opt-out system left employees vulnerable to professional consequences if they did not donate. Other government employees objected on the grounds that it constricted their ability to choose to donate to other relief funds, such as state's Chief Minister Relief Funds. Following public criticism, on April 30, 2020, the Revenue Department amended this circular, making the donation opt-in instead of opt-out, and asking employees to write in if they wished to donate a day's salary every month to the PM CARES Fund. 

Similarly, on April 20, 2020, the Delhi University administration was criticised after funds collected for a donation specifically to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) were redirected to the PM CARES Fund without disclosing this to donors. Delhi University officials stated that the funds were redirected on orders from the Ministry of Human Resources Development of the Government of India. The Delhi University Teachers’ Association wrote a letter of objection to the Delhi University administration, noting that the University had traditionally supported the NDRF or Chief Minister's Relief Fund either through local Staff Associations or through the Vice Chancellor's Relief Fund, and that the redirection of funds without disclosure constituted a betrayal of trust. 

The point is that the PMO operates the Fund, but says it cannot supply any information about the PM CARES Fund because it is not a public authority. If the fund is private, then who allowed 100% deduction under 80-G. If the PM CARES Fund is unconnected with the Government, then the Fund could become an office of profit. And that could disqualify him and the three Ministers from holding those constitutional offices. It becomes an office of profit/misuse issue. The PM CARES Fund centralises the collection of donations and its utility, which is not only against the federal character but also practically inconvenient in any other democracy, this statement would have cost the PM his chair. As we are slowly slipping towards a ‘one nation one party’ rule, which is closest to autocracy, it amounts to exploiting the citizens to fill his coffers. Already the roof of democracy has crashed down like a pack of cards as the four pillars holding it are at various stages of erosion and collapsing.

The Fund also exempted the donations under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and relaxed FCRA rules. The government in haste amended the companies act to include the PM-Cares fund. Using gov’t agencies in an advertising blitzkrieg. All the rungs of the bureaucracy were forced to contribute a day’s salary every month for one year in the garb of Covid-19 management, which was messed up. It was more of a rule than exception. This included banks, PSUs, corporations, statutory bodies and also private sector who did not have money to pay the salaries of the employees but contributed to the coffers fearing a backlash from the regime on their books by way of ED, IT raid. Business houses which run the fourth estate were afraid that they may be deprived of government tenders and advertisements. How the term PM was used if it is private. How the Union ministers are its trustees? The PM chairs a public authority that was used to ask for funds. Earning money, hoodwinking the citizens seems to be the ulterior objective. The domain name given is ‘.gov.in’ which is usually given for government websites only. 

It is the hard-earned money earned by the sweat of all types of collared workers who contributed under the duress and fear of both Covid-19 on one hand, and the likely victimisation on the other hand which set the cat among the pigeons. There was high pressure from the bosses of these workers, and no transparency meant scope for lot of fraudulent activities. This include the diversion of funds from PM-Cares towards purchase of ventilators, Covid-19 kits for the medical fraternity which were mostly faulty, that failed at the time of need which would be a topic for another article. 

Government employees who refused to donate money to PM CARES fund were asked to furnish their reasons for refusal in writing. It was a lot of arm-twisting. Employees in all categories-railwaymen, bankers, PSU employees, soldiers of the Armed forces were forced to shell out money for PM CARES. We may be the only nation that took money from the citizens instead of putting money in their hands. According to the Indian Express, as on December 18, 2020, soldiers of the Indian Army contributed Rs 203.67 crore from their salaries to this private fund.

PM CARES is the second biggest financial scam in Modi 2.0, the first being demonetisation in Modi 1.0. Rs. 205 cr donated from salary of staff of PSU banks which is other than the donation from the bank too. This too when the wage increment of PSBs staff pending since November 2017 even when MOU signed in July 2020. Public sector or government will never force for donation to private institution. This amounts to misleading the nation. The MPLAD was forcibly put into PM CARES. All the Central government employees were forced to forgo their Dearness Allowance (DA) given to offset the increase in prices for one and half years. All pensioners were forced to forego their Dearness Relief for one year. The government platform was used with zero accountability of the funds collected. The government machinery was (mis)used to advertise PM CARES in India and abroad. Corruption and abuse of power par excellence!!! PM-Cares, but privately!!!!

Thus, the amount collected by it does not go to the consolidated fund of Government of India. It is akin to a chit-fund by a private firm. It may be a political campaign fund to sponsor one party, an election fund of the ruling dispensation, made for the PM, by the PM of the PM. 

Important reasons that define the PM-CARES fund as a public authority, and hence liable to share the information under the Right To Information Act (RTI). 

The government has been stonewalling the responses to several queries raised by several activists, civil society related to the fund have been denied claiming that PM CARES is a 'charitable trust' and not a 'public authority'. The definition of a Public Authority under the RTI ACT – “any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government.” The setting up of the PM-CARES Fund was notified to the public on March 28, 2020 by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs saying, “The Government of India has set up the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund.” This clearly means that the Government of India has control over it. 

The office of the PM-CARES Fund is in the Prime Minister’s Office in Delhi. Just like as the PM is Chairperson of the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund or PMNRF, the PM is also Chairperson of PM CARES also. In 2007, the then Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah passed an interesting order about the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. He said, “Since PMNRF information is held by the PMO as a public authority, they are obliged to share it with citizens under the RTI Act.” Going by that same logic PM CARES should also come under RTI, since it is also controlled by the PMO.

Usage of GOV.IN in its Domain Name-pmcares.gov.in is the website address of the PM CARES Fund. But the government guidelines say a GOV.IN domain name can be allotted to six categories of offices or public authorities:

  • Apex offices like the President of India or the Prime Minister’s Office
  • Govt Ministries or Departments
  • State and Union Territory offices
  • India’s Parliament
  • Judicial bodies
  • All other legislative bodies and government institutions.

Does the PM CARES Fund fall under any of the above-mentioned categories? The guidelines make it amply clear that only bodies created by law and attached to the institutions of the government of India are allowed such registration. In one of the RTI responses, by accepting that this is the provision under which the PM Cares website was registered under gov.in, the government has now virtually admitted that the fund also comes under RTI.

Blatant (mis)use of government machinery 

The government machinery has been used blatantly to promote PM CARES. Following are some of the instances-The PM Modi, at a video conference with the heads of Indian Missions across the world on March 30, 2020, advised them to publicise the new PM CARES Fund to mobilise foreign donations. Now the pertinent point is - Can govt officials and govt machinery be used to publicise PM CARES if it is only a charitable trust? The Singapore government refused to allow official channels to promote PM CARES as it called itself as a charitable trust. The Indian Embassy in Moscow gave wide publicity on the Embassy website and social media pages as per the RTI reply given to one of the activists. Would any other charitable trust ever get publicity on any Indian Embassy website? Quite unlikely.

Everything was done in haste - tax exemption relief was given to PM CARES donations. On March 31, 2020, just two days after PM CARES was announced, a government Ordinance amended provisions of the Income Tax Act. As a result, a donation made to the PM CARES Fund would be eligible for 100% tax deduction. This was clear use of government machinery to promote PM CARES. Similarly, a day after the launch of PM CARES, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs issued a notification saying, “Any contribution made by a Company to the PM CARES Fund shall qualify as Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR.” 

Points to ponder: 

1. Compelling reasons and exigency of circumstances to form PM-Cares?

2. Advantages of forming a new fund when the PMNRF already exists?

3. How come the GOI logo/email ids are being used to solicit for funds and their websites?

4. Why did the PM abuse his position to get donations for a private fund?

5. Why is the PM CARES fund shrouded in secrecy?

6. Tomorrow, if there is a change in the government, will the new PM have control upon it?

7. Will the funds have a smooth transition to the new dispensation or will it be empty by then?

Conclusions: 

The replication of PMNRF seems to indicate that there is no purpose for the creation of this other than presenting the people with some ‘showpiece’ measure and telling the public that the government is taking huge measures to fight the pandemic while it is actually not. It has given rise to a lot of debates, opinions, interpretations and assumptions. The true rationale of setting up a new fund despite the existence of PMNRF with similar objectives can be explained only by the present government if it believes in democratic values, ethics & transparency in the management of public funds. It is an obvious scam so much wrongs have happened with the way money has been collected forcefully using the PM’s public office & name and then state that it is not public fund, it is outside the ambit of CAG etc.

*Views expressed are the author’s own.

Related:

Is the PMCARES Fund using the national emblem illegally?

Plea in Bombay HC seeks CAG audit of PM CARES fund  

Plea in SC demanding transfer of funds from PM CARES to NDRF

Appellate Authority also says PM CARES not public authority

PM CARES not a Public Authority says PMO, in response to RTI query

 

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UP: BJP workers threaten SHO, create ruckus in police station

The video of the incident was shot by other police personnel, where the BJP workers can be clearly seen misbehaving and shouting at the police officer

15 Oct 2021

BJP workers allegedly threatened the SHO of Majhola police station

BJP workers allegedly threatened the SHO of Majhola police station, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, and the police has now lodged a case against 35 unnamed and 6 named persons. It was BJP youth-wing district President Abhishek Chaubey and his men who reportedly barged into the police station, misbehaved with the police personnel and threatened the SHO, while someone in the background can be heard chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jay”.

The video of the incident was posted by News24 channel on their Twitter account:

 

 

One person can be heard shouting at the SHO, “Aapki himmat kaise hui (How dare you)” while another man throws a file at the SHO’s desk asking, “How dare you shoot a video?” and then a lot of commotion follows. Then there is another video where the people are seen mediating with the police that there was no rioting and saying that we are not terrorists. He can be heard demanding that police should not lodge the case. “Case ko aapko vapis lena hoga (you will have to withdraw the case)”. “Hum dikhate hai aapko shaanti bhang kya hota hai (we will show you how disturbance is caused),” one of them said.

The police say that Chaubey and his men have been booked for creating disturbance after they allegedly had a dispute with the police for organising Durga Pooja event.

The incident took place last week and SP, Moradabad, Amit Anand tol TOI, “An FIR has been registered against 41 people- six named and 35 unidentified – under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) among others. Further legal action is underway”.

Related:

Hate Watch: Street play on "Love Jihad" gets Sudharshan TV excited

Hate watch: BJP man makes racist, anti-Dalit social media posts about Dr. Udit Raj

UP court denies bail Ashish Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri case

UP: BJP workers threaten SHO, create ruckus in police station

The video of the incident was shot by other police personnel, where the BJP workers can be clearly seen misbehaving and shouting at the police officer

BJP workers allegedly threatened the SHO of Majhola police station

BJP workers allegedly threatened the SHO of Majhola police station, Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, and the police has now lodged a case against 35 unnamed and 6 named persons. It was BJP youth-wing district President Abhishek Chaubey and his men who reportedly barged into the police station, misbehaved with the police personnel and threatened the SHO, while someone in the background can be heard chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jay”.

The video of the incident was posted by News24 channel on their Twitter account:

 

 

One person can be heard shouting at the SHO, “Aapki himmat kaise hui (How dare you)” while another man throws a file at the SHO’s desk asking, “How dare you shoot a video?” and then a lot of commotion follows. Then there is another video where the people are seen mediating with the police that there was no rioting and saying that we are not terrorists. He can be heard demanding that police should not lodge the case. “Case ko aapko vapis lena hoga (you will have to withdraw the case)”. “Hum dikhate hai aapko shaanti bhang kya hota hai (we will show you how disturbance is caused),” one of them said.

The police say that Chaubey and his men have been booked for creating disturbance after they allegedly had a dispute with the police for organising Durga Pooja event.

The incident took place last week and SP, Moradabad, Amit Anand tol TOI, “An FIR has been registered against 41 people- six named and 35 unidentified – under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) among others. Further legal action is underway”.

Related:

Hate Watch: Street play on "Love Jihad" gets Sudharshan TV excited

Hate watch: BJP man makes racist, anti-Dalit social media posts about Dr. Udit Raj

UP court denies bail Ashish Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri case

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Hate watch: BJP man makes racist, anti-Dalit social media posts about Dr. Udit Raj

The former MP says he will soon file a police complaint, and social media threats are just the tip of the abuse iceberg 

14 Oct 2021

Dr. Udit Raj

Santosh Ranjan Rai, the former national vice president of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) youth wing, and a devout Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) follower who has the usual “Nationalist |BJP Karyakarta” etc as his Twitter bio and a photo with the Prime Minister as his cover image, has now taken to making racist and casteist comments. His target was Dr. Udit Raj, who was a Member of Parliament (2014-19) when he was in the BJP himself.

Rai said “if there is a shortage of coal anywhere.@Dr_Uditraj Can be used in fuel…” targeting the Dalit leader for the colour of his skin. This vile comment is a prime example of discticimation, racism and casteism.

 

 

Dr. Udit Raj, who quit the BJP and joined the Congress, where he is now a National Spokesperson, is an Ex-IRS officer, who quit his government job to devote more time as a Dalit rights activist, and later as a politcian. Since he quit the BJP, Udit Raj told SabrangIndia in an exclusive interview that he has been a target of many such focussed attacks on social media, and has received threats on a regular basis. 

“I have alerted the party and I will also file a complaint with the police,” he says adding “I am the most hated person by the RSS-BJP. You can see a two-year war against me on social media, and even a media boycott.” According to Raj, “Apart from Rahul Gandhi, not many others tweet against Modi and Amit Shah directly. I target them directly.” This he says, riles up both the party and the bhakts, and puts him on their “list” of people to vilify. None of the right-wing goons had dared targetted or racially abused him when he was with the BJP, all that is a thing of the past. He says, “They have conducted twitter trends against me two three times, they have put up hoardings against me in Narela area.” 

Udit Raj alleged that the BJP has even instructed the media to boycott him and not to call him for TV debates. He alleged, “ANI has blacklisted me. They said I tweeted against ANI, which I have not. [I feel] Amit Shah has sent a message that I am a hardliner. How much power they [BJP] have, that they can even control who appears on TV from the opposition."

Social media threats are just the tip of the abuse iceberg says the Dalit leader, who had creeated ripples when he joined BJP and won a Lok Sabha set in Delhi. “It was due to me and Ram Vilas Paswan that the BJP got a lot of Dalit votes. That has been dented after I have left.” He says a verified handle such as Rai is just a sample of the hoards who regularly threaten him and hurl abuses, “I have received so many vile abuses”. 

The racist tweet was soon reported by many, including journalist who called it as one that contained “hate, racial discrimination, caste discrimination and desire for death” asking Twitter to “take strict action and his account permanently”. 

 

 

 

Related:

Muslim boy had come to do "recce": Yati Narsinghanand 

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

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

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

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

 

Hate watch: BJP man makes racist, anti-Dalit social media posts about Dr. Udit Raj

The former MP says he will soon file a police complaint, and social media threats are just the tip of the abuse iceberg 

Dr. Udit Raj

Santosh Ranjan Rai, the former national vice president of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) youth wing, and a devout Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) follower who has the usual “Nationalist |BJP Karyakarta” etc as his Twitter bio and a photo with the Prime Minister as his cover image, has now taken to making racist and casteist comments. His target was Dr. Udit Raj, who was a Member of Parliament (2014-19) when he was in the BJP himself.

Rai said “if there is a shortage of coal anywhere.@Dr_Uditraj Can be used in fuel…” targeting the Dalit leader for the colour of his skin. This vile comment is a prime example of discticimation, racism and casteism.

 

 

Dr. Udit Raj, who quit the BJP and joined the Congress, where he is now a National Spokesperson, is an Ex-IRS officer, who quit his government job to devote more time as a Dalit rights activist, and later as a politcian. Since he quit the BJP, Udit Raj told SabrangIndia in an exclusive interview that he has been a target of many such focussed attacks on social media, and has received threats on a regular basis. 

“I have alerted the party and I will also file a complaint with the police,” he says adding “I am the most hated person by the RSS-BJP. You can see a two-year war against me on social media, and even a media boycott.” According to Raj, “Apart from Rahul Gandhi, not many others tweet against Modi and Amit Shah directly. I target them directly.” This he says, riles up both the party and the bhakts, and puts him on their “list” of people to vilify. None of the right-wing goons had dared targetted or racially abused him when he was with the BJP, all that is a thing of the past. He says, “They have conducted twitter trends against me two three times, they have put up hoardings against me in Narela area.” 

Udit Raj alleged that the BJP has even instructed the media to boycott him and not to call him for TV debates. He alleged, “ANI has blacklisted me. They said I tweeted against ANI, which I have not. [I feel] Amit Shah has sent a message that I am a hardliner. How much power they [BJP] have, that they can even control who appears on TV from the opposition."

Social media threats are just the tip of the abuse iceberg says the Dalit leader, who had creeated ripples when he joined BJP and won a Lok Sabha set in Delhi. “It was due to me and Ram Vilas Paswan that the BJP got a lot of Dalit votes. That has been dented after I have left.” He says a verified handle such as Rai is just a sample of the hoards who regularly threaten him and hurl abuses, “I have received so many vile abuses”. 

The racist tweet was soon reported by many, including journalist who called it as one that contained “hate, racial discrimination, caste discrimination and desire for death” asking Twitter to “take strict action and his account permanently”. 

 

 

 

Related:

Muslim boy had come to do "recce": Yati Narsinghanand 

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

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

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

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

 

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Cordelia Cruise Drug Case: Mumbai lawyer files complaint with Police Commissioner

Complaint draws attention to suspicious behaviour of five people including a “private detective” and a BJP member who “took custody” of movie star Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan who is a key accused in the case despite no drugs being recovered from him

14 Oct 2021

Aryan Khan

Advocate Kanishk Jayant, a Mumbai-based lawyer has in a written complaint to Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale raised serious concerns about the suspicious role of five people in connection with the high-profile Cordelia Cruise drug bust case where superstar Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan is one of the key accused.

Even as a Mumbai Sessions Court started hearing Aryan Khan’s bail plea on October 12, a good 10 days after the incident, Adv Jayant has drawn attention to the role of five people: KP Gosavi, Manish Bhanushali, Amir Furniturewala, Prateek Gaba and Rushab Sachdeva. In his letter, he has requested that an FIR be filed against them for extortion.

Brief background of the case

The cruise ship was supposed to set sail from Mumbai to Goa at 4 P.M on Saturday, October 2, 2021 and passengers had been asked to reach by 2:30 P.M. After receiving a tip off, officers of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) posed as passengers and conducted a raid.

Aryan Khan and co-accused Arbaaz Merchant reached the spot and crossed the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) check point at around 3 P.M. It is noteworthy that Aryan Khan was intercepted at the terminal even before he could board the ship. He was interrogated and searched by the NCB officials. Though no drugs were found on Khan, 6 grams of charas were allegedly found on Merchant. Khan’s phone was confiscated, and NCB officers then took him to the NCB office where he was detained till an FIR was registered the following day. He was arrested under Sections 8(c), 20(b), 27, 28, 29 and 35 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Meanwhile, the ship was prevented from setting sail while NCB officials raided and searched it for drugs. The raid lasted till 2 A.M on October 3. Eventually they seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone MD, 21 grams of charas and 22 MDMA pills that were recovered from three spots: two rooms and the ship’s lobby. Subsequently as many as 20 people were arrested in connection with the case including employees of an event management company.

A private detective, a BJP leader and a viral selfie

What is utterly inexplicable about the case is how KP Gosavi and Manish Bhanushali, who were neither officers of the NCB nor Mumbai Police, were the people to take physical custody of Khan and Merchant at the terminal.

A selfie of Gosavi with Aryan Khan went viral on social media, prompting the question – in what capacity was he allowed to be in close proximity of a key accused in a high-profile drug case.

 

 

While Gosavi claims to be a private detective, is said to be a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Interestingly, the NCB issued a statement claiming Gosavi and Bhanushali were independent witnesses. Deputy Director General of the NCB Gyaneshwar Singh told mediapersons that there were a total of nine such independent witnesses and their presence was required at the scene of the raid. However, none of these witnesses were known to the NCB prior to the raid.

Subsequently, it was unearthed that Gosavi is wanted by the Pune Police in connection with a 2018 case for cheating two youths. He reportedly took money from them after promising them jobs. The Indian Express reported that he was “named as an accused in at least four cases of cheating, including one at Andheri police station in Mumbai in 2007, two at Kapurbawdi police station in Thane in 2015 and 2016, and one at Faraskhana police station in Pune in 2018.”

Ever since the story of the raid and subsequent detentions broke, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik has been pointing out how Gosavi and Bhanushali kept popping up at the NCB as well.

 

 

He further alleged Khan was framed by two others who were first arrested and then released in connection with the case:

 

 

And it isn’t just the NCP. Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Sachin Sawant too raised a series of pertinent questions tweeting, “How private people are part of NCB raid on a cruise? With what authority? How do we see VP of BJP & a duper taking custody of accused? How their vehicle has "police" written on it? Has NCB outsourced their job?” He further demanded to know, “Was real goal to divert attention from Mundra drug sieze? (sic)”

 

 

Key points in Adv Jayant’s complaint

In his complaint, a copy of which may be viewed in the tweet below, Adv Jayant has asked, “Who has authories (sic) Mr. K.P Gosavi and Mr. Manish Bhanushali to take physical custody of Mr. Aryan Shah Rukh Khan and Mr. Arbaaz Merchant?”

 

 

He further asks, if it was NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede who decided it was okay for Gosavi and Bhanushali to get that close to alleged suspects in the case? Adv Jayant also asked, “Did Mr. K.P Gosavi and Mr. Manish Bhanushali pose as public servants while taking physical custody of Mr. Aryan Shah Rukh Khan and Mr. Arbaaz Merchant?” Finally, he asks why were three other accused – Rishabh Sachdeva, Pratik Gaba and Amir Furniturewala released and if it had anything to do with Sachdeva being related to a BJP member?

Aryan Khan in custody

Khan’s arrest was officially confirmed on October 3. He was produced before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) RK Rajebhosale after 7 P.M along with Arbaaz Merchant and another accused Munmun Dhamecha. They were remanded to one day NCB custody. On October 4, their remand was extended to October 7. However, the NCB’s demand for further custody was rejected on October 7 and Khan was remanded to judicial custody. Though Khan moved ACMM for bail the same day, the hearing was adjourned till the next day to grant NCB time to file a reply. On October 8, ACMM RM Nerlikar rejected Khan’s bail plea on the ground that it was not maintainable. On the same evening Khan moved Sessions Court for bail.

Aryan Khan’s bail hearing in Sessions Court

The matter was heard on October 13 by Special Judge Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act), VV Patil. Kahn was represented by Advocates Amit Desai and Satish Maneshinde. Khan’s lawyers argued that no drugs were recovered from his person. Special Public Prosecutors AM Chimalker and Advait Sethna appeared for the NCB.

The NCB submitted its replies, after many instances of delay, in connection with Khan, Merchant and Dhamecha. According to Bar&Bench, the NCB objected to granting Khan bail saying, “Considering the influence that Aryan Khan holds in the society, it is very much possible that he may tamper with evidence and influence other witnesses whom he personally knows. Also the possibility of the applicant fleeing justice cannot be ruled out.”

Advocate Tareq Sayed appeared for Arbaaz Merchant and shot down the NCB’s contention that they had recovered incriminating Whatsapp chats. B&B reported that he submitted, “The entire case is based on mobile phone and the panchnama,” adding, “Prosecution was using WhatsApp chats, but now this panchnama is before you. There is no phone seized as per panchnama. There is no separate panchnama for phones... Hence the entire WhatsApp chats will become inadmissible.”

Hearing will continue on October 14.

Conclusion

Given how in the Mundra Port drug seizure case, the port was operated by the Adanis, a business group will close ties to the ruling regime at the Centre, and in the Cordelia Cruise drug case they key accused is the son of an actor who is routinely accused by right-wing trolls of having “Pakistan connection” only because of his religion, the contention that this targeting of Aryan Khan is a way to deflect attention from the Mundra drug seizure needs further investigation. After all, memories are still fresh of how actor Ria Chakraborty was hauled over the coals by social media and even a section of the TV news media, who practically defamed her in yet another case of trumped-up drug charges.

Related:

Social media calls out soft coverage of massive drug seizure at Adani port at Mundra

Mundra Adani Port: NDPS court orders probe into heroin seizure

Guilty as charged: Investigators, judge, jury and executioners of TV news ‘debates’

Social media hate machine goes into overdrive against Rhea Chakraborty

Cordelia Cruise Drug Case: Mumbai lawyer files complaint with Police Commissioner

Complaint draws attention to suspicious behaviour of five people including a “private detective” and a BJP member who “took custody” of movie star Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan who is a key accused in the case despite no drugs being recovered from him

Aryan Khan

Advocate Kanishk Jayant, a Mumbai-based lawyer has in a written complaint to Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale raised serious concerns about the suspicious role of five people in connection with the high-profile Cordelia Cruise drug bust case where superstar Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan is one of the key accused.

Even as a Mumbai Sessions Court started hearing Aryan Khan’s bail plea on October 12, a good 10 days after the incident, Adv Jayant has drawn attention to the role of five people: KP Gosavi, Manish Bhanushali, Amir Furniturewala, Prateek Gaba and Rushab Sachdeva. In his letter, he has requested that an FIR be filed against them for extortion.

Brief background of the case

The cruise ship was supposed to set sail from Mumbai to Goa at 4 P.M on Saturday, October 2, 2021 and passengers had been asked to reach by 2:30 P.M. After receiving a tip off, officers of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) posed as passengers and conducted a raid.

Aryan Khan and co-accused Arbaaz Merchant reached the spot and crossed the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) check point at around 3 P.M. It is noteworthy that Aryan Khan was intercepted at the terminal even before he could board the ship. He was interrogated and searched by the NCB officials. Though no drugs were found on Khan, 6 grams of charas were allegedly found on Merchant. Khan’s phone was confiscated, and NCB officers then took him to the NCB office where he was detained till an FIR was registered the following day. He was arrested under Sections 8(c), 20(b), 27, 28, 29 and 35 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Meanwhile, the ship was prevented from setting sail while NCB officials raided and searched it for drugs. The raid lasted till 2 A.M on October 3. Eventually they seized 13 grams of cocaine, 5 grams of mephedrone MD, 21 grams of charas and 22 MDMA pills that were recovered from three spots: two rooms and the ship’s lobby. Subsequently as many as 20 people were arrested in connection with the case including employees of an event management company.

A private detective, a BJP leader and a viral selfie

What is utterly inexplicable about the case is how KP Gosavi and Manish Bhanushali, who were neither officers of the NCB nor Mumbai Police, were the people to take physical custody of Khan and Merchant at the terminal.

A selfie of Gosavi with Aryan Khan went viral on social media, prompting the question – in what capacity was he allowed to be in close proximity of a key accused in a high-profile drug case.

 

 

While Gosavi claims to be a private detective, is said to be a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Interestingly, the NCB issued a statement claiming Gosavi and Bhanushali were independent witnesses. Deputy Director General of the NCB Gyaneshwar Singh told mediapersons that there were a total of nine such independent witnesses and their presence was required at the scene of the raid. However, none of these witnesses were known to the NCB prior to the raid.

Subsequently, it was unearthed that Gosavi is wanted by the Pune Police in connection with a 2018 case for cheating two youths. He reportedly took money from them after promising them jobs. The Indian Express reported that he was “named as an accused in at least four cases of cheating, including one at Andheri police station in Mumbai in 2007, two at Kapurbawdi police station in Thane in 2015 and 2016, and one at Faraskhana police station in Pune in 2018.”

Ever since the story of the raid and subsequent detentions broke, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik has been pointing out how Gosavi and Bhanushali kept popping up at the NCB as well.

 

 

He further alleged Khan was framed by two others who were first arrested and then released in connection with the case:

 

 

And it isn’t just the NCP. Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Sachin Sawant too raised a series of pertinent questions tweeting, “How private people are part of NCB raid on a cruise? With what authority? How do we see VP of BJP & a duper taking custody of accused? How their vehicle has "police" written on it? Has NCB outsourced their job?” He further demanded to know, “Was real goal to divert attention from Mundra drug sieze? (sic)”

 

 

Key points in Adv Jayant’s complaint

In his complaint, a copy of which may be viewed in the tweet below, Adv Jayant has asked, “Who has authories (sic) Mr. K.P Gosavi and Mr. Manish Bhanushali to take physical custody of Mr. Aryan Shah Rukh Khan and Mr. Arbaaz Merchant?”

 

 

He further asks, if it was NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede who decided it was okay for Gosavi and Bhanushali to get that close to alleged suspects in the case? Adv Jayant also asked, “Did Mr. K.P Gosavi and Mr. Manish Bhanushali pose as public servants while taking physical custody of Mr. Aryan Shah Rukh Khan and Mr. Arbaaz Merchant?” Finally, he asks why were three other accused – Rishabh Sachdeva, Pratik Gaba and Amir Furniturewala released and if it had anything to do with Sachdeva being related to a BJP member?

Aryan Khan in custody

Khan’s arrest was officially confirmed on October 3. He was produced before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) RK Rajebhosale after 7 P.M along with Arbaaz Merchant and another accused Munmun Dhamecha. They were remanded to one day NCB custody. On October 4, their remand was extended to October 7. However, the NCB’s demand for further custody was rejected on October 7 and Khan was remanded to judicial custody. Though Khan moved ACMM for bail the same day, the hearing was adjourned till the next day to grant NCB time to file a reply. On October 8, ACMM RM Nerlikar rejected Khan’s bail plea on the ground that it was not maintainable. On the same evening Khan moved Sessions Court for bail.

Aryan Khan’s bail hearing in Sessions Court

The matter was heard on October 13 by Special Judge Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act), VV Patil. Kahn was represented by Advocates Amit Desai and Satish Maneshinde. Khan’s lawyers argued that no drugs were recovered from his person. Special Public Prosecutors AM Chimalker and Advait Sethna appeared for the NCB.

The NCB submitted its replies, after many instances of delay, in connection with Khan, Merchant and Dhamecha. According to Bar&Bench, the NCB objected to granting Khan bail saying, “Considering the influence that Aryan Khan holds in the society, it is very much possible that he may tamper with evidence and influence other witnesses whom he personally knows. Also the possibility of the applicant fleeing justice cannot be ruled out.”

Advocate Tareq Sayed appeared for Arbaaz Merchant and shot down the NCB’s contention that they had recovered incriminating Whatsapp chats. B&B reported that he submitted, “The entire case is based on mobile phone and the panchnama,” adding, “Prosecution was using WhatsApp chats, but now this panchnama is before you. There is no phone seized as per panchnama. There is no separate panchnama for phones... Hence the entire WhatsApp chats will become inadmissible.”

Hearing will continue on October 14.

Conclusion

Given how in the Mundra Port drug seizure case, the port was operated by the Adanis, a business group will close ties to the ruling regime at the Centre, and in the Cordelia Cruise drug case they key accused is the son of an actor who is routinely accused by right-wing trolls of having “Pakistan connection” only because of his religion, the contention that this targeting of Aryan Khan is a way to deflect attention from the Mundra drug seizure needs further investigation. After all, memories are still fresh of how actor Ria Chakraborty was hauled over the coals by social media and even a section of the TV news media, who practically defamed her in yet another case of trumped-up drug charges.

Related:

Social media calls out soft coverage of massive drug seizure at Adani port at Mundra

Mundra Adani Port: NDPS court orders probe into heroin seizure

Guilty as charged: Investigators, judge, jury and executioners of TV news ‘debates’

Social media hate machine goes into overdrive against Rhea Chakraborty

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Haryana lifts decades old ban, allows gov't employees to join RSS, Jamaat-e-Islami

Order issued in 1967, 1970 and 1980 were withdrawn by the state government "as they are no longer relevant”

13 Oct 2021

Haryana GovtImage Courtesy:english.madhyamam.com

The Haryana government has now lifted a decades-old order that banned the state’s government employees from taking part in any Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activities. The state’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, is a proud veteran RSS pracharak. His government has withdrawn the orders, issued in 1967 and 1980, which restricted government employees from participating in the activities of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

According to media reports, the ban was lifted on Monday and the order issued stated: “With the coming into effect of the Haryana Civil Services (Government Employees’ Conduct) Rules, 2016, government instructions…dated 2.4.1980 and…dated 11.1.1967 are hereby withdrawn with immediate effect as they are no longer relevant.” This order was issued by the state’s general administration department. 

The order that prompted strong political reactions, also allowed Haryana government employees to join Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). According to the Indian Express, Chief Secretary Vijai Vardhan issued the instructions that “the earlier issued letters in 1967, 1970 and 1980 are hereby withdrawn with immediate effect as they are no longer relevant”.

Media reports recalled that in January 1967, the political and services branch of, the then chief secretary’s office had stated that the government “held the activities of organisations such as the RSS and the Jamaat-e-Islami to be of such a nature that participation in them by the government employees would attract disciplinary action under service rules.” Haryana government had then issued an instruction “that participation in RSS activities by government employees would invite action under the service rules.” Then in  April 1980, instructions were issued by the then general administration department of Haryana's chief secretary’s office restraining “state government employees from any association with RSS activities. The two orders are now dust. 

 

Will Haryana be the next Hindutva hotbed?

The wider implications of this new order, which blurs the lines of professional conduct and socio-political affiliations, even if RSS claims it is not a political body. Recently Haryana has had a spate of communal incidents, often it is the Muslim community that has been harrased or threatend for various reasons. Vigilante groups have also voiced anti-Muslim sentiments at various Mahapanchayats or community meetings held across the state. Many of these have given calls for violence against the minority communities, and offer stages from which known communal faces make hate speeches.

An example was a call for violence given by the man better known as the ‘Jamia shooter’. Well known rabble rouser Suraj Pal Amu of Karni Sena, now a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman in Haryana is famous for asking Haryana residents to  ensure that “no Taimur, Aurangzeb, Babur and Humayun are born” and “we will not give houses here on rent to the Pakistanis… Remove them from this country…” 

Then there are public communal acts such as once by a group of people, identified as residents of Gurugram, objecting to namaz being allowed in an open public space have become frequent. They alleged that “namaz” in the approved open plots spoils law and order, when the police try to inverne and diffuse the tension. They start chanting “Bharat Mata ki jai” which has unfortunately been turned into an aggressive war cry by right-wing groups. 

As recently as October 13, according to social media alerts hundreds of members of the Hindutva groups Durga Vahini gathered in Haryana's Indri area, where calls to purportedly unleash communal violence were being broadcast. In the audience were young children.

 

This is crucial to note, because such permissions, and complaints against such permissions both land up at the government offices, which may now have RSS members on the job. 

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Haryana lifts decades old ban, allows gov't employees to join RSS, Jamaat-e-Islami

Order issued in 1967, 1970 and 1980 were withdrawn by the state government "as they are no longer relevant”

Haryana GovtImage Courtesy:english.madhyamam.com

The Haryana government has now lifted a decades-old order that banned the state’s government employees from taking part in any Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activities. The state’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, is a proud veteran RSS pracharak. His government has withdrawn the orders, issued in 1967 and 1980, which restricted government employees from participating in the activities of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

According to media reports, the ban was lifted on Monday and the order issued stated: “With the coming into effect of the Haryana Civil Services (Government Employees’ Conduct) Rules, 2016, government instructions…dated 2.4.1980 and…dated 11.1.1967 are hereby withdrawn with immediate effect as they are no longer relevant.” This order was issued by the state’s general administration department. 

The order that prompted strong political reactions, also allowed Haryana government employees to join Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). According to the Indian Express, Chief Secretary Vijai Vardhan issued the instructions that “the earlier issued letters in 1967, 1970 and 1980 are hereby withdrawn with immediate effect as they are no longer relevant”.

Media reports recalled that in January 1967, the political and services branch of, the then chief secretary’s office had stated that the government “held the activities of organisations such as the RSS and the Jamaat-e-Islami to be of such a nature that participation in them by the government employees would attract disciplinary action under service rules.” Haryana government had then issued an instruction “that participation in RSS activities by government employees would invite action under the service rules.” Then in  April 1980, instructions were issued by the then general administration department of Haryana's chief secretary’s office restraining “state government employees from any association with RSS activities. The two orders are now dust. 

 

Will Haryana be the next Hindutva hotbed?

The wider implications of this new order, which blurs the lines of professional conduct and socio-political affiliations, even if RSS claims it is not a political body. Recently Haryana has had a spate of communal incidents, often it is the Muslim community that has been harrased or threatend for various reasons. Vigilante groups have also voiced anti-Muslim sentiments at various Mahapanchayats or community meetings held across the state. Many of these have given calls for violence against the minority communities, and offer stages from which known communal faces make hate speeches.

An example was a call for violence given by the man better known as the ‘Jamia shooter’. Well known rabble rouser Suraj Pal Amu of Karni Sena, now a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman in Haryana is famous for asking Haryana residents to  ensure that “no Taimur, Aurangzeb, Babur and Humayun are born” and “we will not give houses here on rent to the Pakistanis… Remove them from this country…” 

Then there are public communal acts such as once by a group of people, identified as residents of Gurugram, objecting to namaz being allowed in an open public space have become frequent. They alleged that “namaz” in the approved open plots spoils law and order, when the police try to inverne and diffuse the tension. They start chanting “Bharat Mata ki jai” which has unfortunately been turned into an aggressive war cry by right-wing groups. 

As recently as October 13, according to social media alerts hundreds of members of the Hindutva groups Durga Vahini gathered in Haryana's Indri area, where calls to purportedly unleash communal violence were being broadcast. In the audience were young children.

 

This is crucial to note, because such permissions, and complaints against such permissions both land up at the government offices, which may now have RSS members on the job. 

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Rajasthan to withdraw bill that mandates child marriage registration?

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

13 Oct 2021

Ashok Gehlot

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Related:

Rajasthan: New marriage registration bill legitimises child marriage?

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

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

Rajasthan to withdraw bill that mandates child marriage registration?

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

Ashok Gehlot

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Related:

Rajasthan: New marriage registration bill legitimises child marriage?

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

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

Related Articles


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