Delhi girl gang-raped in Uttar Pradesh #Vaw


IANS  |  New Delhi  June 13, 2013

A 14-year-old girl was kidnapped and gang-raped by two people in Uttar Pradesh‘s Badaun, police said Thursday. The girl has been rescued and one of the rapists arrested.

The girl went missing from her house at Neb Sarai area since June 5.

Delhi Police managed to rescue her from a house in Badaun area, six days after she made a call to her parents and informed them about her ordeal.

“A team of Delhi Police was sent to area and she was rescued June 12. One person identified as Jarib Ahmad, 28, has been arrested while his relative is on run,” an officer told IANS.

The absconding person, who was known to the girl, had lured her to his native place, and he and Jarib took turns to rape her, the girl told police in her complaint.

 

Uttar Pradesh – PUDR statement on the death of Khalid Mujahid in police custody


June 11, 2013

PUDR strongly condemns the death of Khalid Mujahid, an undertrial arrested in 2007 in connection with bomb blasts in UP earlier that year. Mujahid died on 19 May, 2013 when he was being escorted by a team of the Uttar Pradesh state police from a court in Faizabad to Lucknow jail. His death while under police escort in what is a clear case of custodial killing raises several questions – the rights of citizens, especially Muslim youth; the character of the police and state; the truth behind terror cases and arrests.

Khalid Mujahid, together with Tariq Qasmi had been shown as arrested on 22 December 2007 from Barabanki railway station. The ATS accused them of being behind the bomb blasts in Lucknow and Faizabad courts in November 2007, and the blast in Gorakhpur, claiming that explosives and other incriminating material were found on the two. The Bahujan Samaj Party, then in power, set up a Commission of Inquiry in March 2008 following protests against the arrests.

The Justice RD Nimesh Commission of Inquiry constituted by the state government to look into this matter submitted its report in December 2012 almost exactly five years after their arrests.

The inquiry commission examined police records, affidavits and testimonies of witnesses. On this basis, it concluded there was ample evidence to show that Tariq Qasmi and Khalid Mujahid were arrested not on 22 December 2007 as claimed, but on 12 December and 16 December respectively. The Commission reports that when the National Loktantrik Party’s youth leader in UP Choudhary Chadrapal threatened to immolate himself on 22 December if by then the two Muslim youth were not released, that the top brass decided to show their arrest on 22 December from Barabanki railway station. The Commission recommended action against the concerned officers and personnel who could be identified.

Despite the conclusions of the report and evidence cited, the now ruling Samajwadi Party too dragged its feet. By the time the government acted on the report, another six months passed. Finally on the basis of the Commission’s report the state government moved an application to withdraw the case. However the Special Court in Barabanki turned down the application in May 2013, claiming that the charges were much too serious. And then, nine days later, Khalid died in police custody, in circumstances which remain mysterious.

Some light can be shed on the so-called mystery by recalling that Khalid’s story is one that is being played out over and over again. The forms may be different but the essential plot and characters remain the same. Bomb blast/s occur. Muslim youth are picked up. Connections with SIMI etc. are alleged; seizure of explosives and extremist literature produced as evidence. In many cases the accused are found to be innocent, having been wrongly incarcerated for years. They are either released on bail or cases withdrawn or they may still continue to be in jail due to various reasons. This, if they are lucky. It isn’t unusual that some like Khalid never return. Not too long back in November 2012 Quateel Siddiqui (arrested for his alleged involvement in the German Bakery blasts) too died in a high security cell in Yerawada jail in Pune, in judicial custody. Again, under so called ‘mysterious circumstances.’ However generally no one is held accountable for the years lost and lives destroyed.

In this context PUDR welcomes the fact that in this case a rare FIR has been filed against 42 police personnel, including the former DG of Police Uttar Pradesh. Whether the case will be properly investigated, and the guilty prosecuted, remains to be seen.

Khalid Mujahid’s arrest, imprisonment and custodial death exposes the brazenness with which the police and ATS routinely arrest Muslim youth under false charges, force ‘confessions’, torture and kill them in custody. It also reveals the callous attitude of elected governments wary of displeasing the police, ATS or the Hindutva elements; and a compromised judiciary for whom terrorist activity requires no proof; guilt is decided by the magnitude of the alleged crime.

These acts of omission and commission expose a disturbing synchronicity between various agencies in terrorizing ordinary citizens, particularly Muslim youth, in the alleged fight against terrorism. The fact that a person could remain incarcerated for years after being abducted illegally and implicated in a fabricated case raises the issue of institutionalization of bias against Muslim youth in the name of fighting ‘terrorism’. Not only does ‘let law takes its course’ approach means years can elapse before those falsely implicated, mostly Muslim youth, win back their freedom. But their struggle to do so through the legal system is now coming under attack from Hindutva forces in an organized way amounting to a violation of the right to legal defense. While protests against Khalid’s custodial death were expressed in several cities in UP including Faizabad immediately afterwards, the local Bar Association passed a resolution expelling Khalid Mujahid’s lawyer Jamal Ahmad. His assistant Mohammad Shakeel was grievously injured. Indeed local bar associations have been issuing diktats that those accused of terror attacks will not be defended by their members and anyone who defies this ban will face expulsion and threat to life. Their recurrent diktats and attacks on lawyers who defy their ban has not persuaded either the High Court/Supreme Court or the Bar Council of India to show any concern over this subversion of the ‘rule of law’.

The death of Khalid Mujahid, raises questions about the police, lower judiciary and legal profession and their commitment to uphold, without discrimination, the constitutionally mandated protection of life and liberty of every citizen. PUDR calls upon all democratically minded people to protest against this attack on democratic rights and violation of the laws of natural justice and demands that:

1. Criminal responsibility be fixed in the in death of Khalid Mujahid and the guilty punished.

2. The Bar Associations expel lawyers obstructing legal aid to the accused, and lawyers guilty of attacking Khalid’s defense counsels be immediately disbarred.

3. Arbitrary picking up and illegal detention of Muslim youth be stopped and officials guilty of their wrongful confinement and fabrication of cases against be prosecuted and punished.

D. Manjit
Asish Gupta
(Secretaries)

 

Press Release- 58 child labourers rescued in the capital on the eve of World Day Against Child Labour


New Delhi, 11th June 2013 Ten year old Nadeem (name changed) was extremely confused when he was rescued from a electric appliance making unit in Badali. The confusion became grimmer when he refused to tell his parent’s name and address. Actually, he did not remember his village’s name, not even his parent’s face. Who brought him here and where he came from – are the questions yet to be answered.

Acting on a complaint filed by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), on the eve of 12th June, the World Against Child Labour, law enforcement authorities have rescued 58 children from 6 different locations in the capital today. 56 boys have been working in various factories engaged in making plastic coolers, fans, polishing and making electric molding, etc., whereas 2 girls were freed from domestic servitude. Rescue operations have been carried out in 5 different factories and at a placement agency running under the garb of welfare organisation (NGO).

Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, Founder BBA, said, “When the world would be observing the day against child labour tomorrow, over 215 million children would be languishing in various forms of child labour including slavery in its ugliest form, whereas over 200 million adults are without jobs. We strongly demand that child labour must be made a cognizable and non-bailable offense. Special courts should be established to take time bound action. A fine of at least Rs. 1,00,000 be recovered from each erring employer and an effective rehabilitation must be guaranteed under the law.

It is shameful that in 2010 and 2011 only 1592 employers have been convicted for employing child labourers, i.e, approximately one employer per district per year showing clearly a blatant disregard for the guidelines of the Supreme Court of India.”  He also urged the people to boycott all services and goods produced by the children.

It is pertinent to note that in the period of five years (2007-2011) 1255987 inspections were conducted but only 17884 violations have been detected and 4263 people were convicted.

Most of the child labourers rescued today have been trafficked for forced and bonded labour from West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh after paying advance to their parents. The rescued girls belonged to Uttar Pradesh. Working from 8 am till late night in small, gloomy, and suffocating room in the heat with little or no medical care and attention has resulted in skin rashes and wound marks on their body especially hands, telling the pathetic conditions in which they were forced to live and work. The children were not allowed to talk to their parents back home without the permission of employer. On an average children were getting Rs. 50-100 per week as wage.

Mr. SC Yadav Deputy Labour Commissioner North-West District said, “We will keep executing such exercise in future also. The fine of Rs. 20,000, as per the direction of Supreme Court of India, will be recovered from each and every erring employer along with all the back-wages.”

The SDM present during the rescue operation refused to declare children as bonded labourers citing logistical compulsions of appearance during trial. Thereby berefting the children of comprehensive rehabilitation package under Bonded Labour System Abolition Act 1976.

For further information contact:

SDM (Alipur): 9555189618

DLC (North West): 9811165128

Rakesh Senger (BBA): 9212023778

 

Die a thousand deaths—the endless wait of UP’s death row inmates #Deathpenalty


NIRALA TRIPATHI
Karan Singh, Babloo, Rakesh Kumar, Barabanki Jail
In jail for 9 years now for murder of a cousin’s wife. Hoping HC will overturn death verdict.
No Noose Ends Here
Die a thousand deaths—the endless wait of UP’s death row inmates for the HC to decide their fate
SHARAT PRADHAN, The Outlook

Devendra Nath Rai was a young army soldier, barely 34, when he was charged and court-martialled for the murder of a superior, convicted and given a death sentence. He’s now 56. He has spent the past 22 years in the historic Naini Central Jail in Allahabad, once the British Raj’s favourite dumping ground for freedom fighters, waiting for his own hanging. Deven­dra’s sentence is, literally, hanging—because the mandatory confirmation by the Allah­abad High Court is still awaited. And no one knows how many more years he will have to spend in this purgat­ory-like state. The provisions of Section 366 of the CrPC clearly spell out that “when the court of session passes a death sentence, the proceedings shall be submitted to the high court, and the sentence shall not be executed unless it is confirmed  by the high court”. The suspense is killing, because even in this mandatory function, the HC is empowered to not just confirm or commute the sentence but even to acquit the convict.

Expectedly enough, Devendra’s is not the only case of its type. As many as 99 death sentence convicts are languishing in different jails of Uttar Pradesh—and they have been inside for varying periods, from one year to 22 years. They are all awaiting their turn before the Allahabad HC, simply to know whether they will meet their end in the gallows or be allowed to live, even if it is within the four walls of a prison. What makes matters worse is these inmates are not entitled to bail or par­ole “during the pendency of confirmation of sentence” by the court.

Brooding over these uncertainties for over two decades, it seems, has taken a toll on the mind of the former lance naik of the Signals Corps. Jail authorities admit to having referred him to a psychiatrist for some time. But despite his incoherent talk, he remains consistent on one issue: “I did not kill anyone; I was implicated by my bosses, one of whom actually gunned down the Company havildar major and another soldier for which I am in jail,” Devendra toldOutlook outside his barracks at Naini jail.


Photograph by Nirala Tripathi

Devendra Nath, Naini Jail
22 years in jail, got death for murder of a superior in the army

Back home in Amethi village under Gambhirpur police circle of Azamgarh district, about 175 km away, Devendra’s wife Mithilesh is equally disillusioned. For what good it’s done, she’s had a routine for the past many years. Every morning she rises, goes out and bows her head to pray before the Lord Shiva statue carefully installed under an ancient peepal tree trunk just at the threshold of her ramshackle home.

These inmates are not allowed parole or bail “during the pendency of confirmation of sentence by the HC”.

It hasn’t helped Devendra’s cause much though. “I am barely able to meet him once a year because it costs a lot of money, nearly a thousand rupees which is more than what I can save over a year,” says an anguished Mithilesh. In the intervening years, she has managed to get two daughters married off though, thanks “to our relatives and people in the neighbourhood”. A third daughter lives with her grandparents in Mumbai where she is pursuing her graduation after which “she hopes to get a job so she is able to fight her father’s court battle”. Sadly, the father could not attend the two weddings because, again, he is not entit­led to parole until the HC comes to a decision. (Devendra coul­dn’t even recall when he had last seen his daughters.)

An assertive high court recently orde­red action against lax bureaucrats and cops sleeping over judicial directives; this  has lent Mithilesh some hope. “I have heard the court has taken serious note of the delays, so I am hoping my husband’s case too would get expedi­ted…I have waited a full lifetime just to know whether I am going to become a widow or not,” Mithilesh says, her eyes welling with tears. “I still haven’t given up hope that the court will commute his sentence to life imprisonment.”

However, even if Mithilesh’s wishful thinking were to come true, it’s not as if Devendra will be set free. The law is usually clear about offsetting the time spent as undertrial against the sentence. But there’s a catch-22 here too. As leading criminal lawyer I.B. Singh points out, “That rule won’t apply as Dev­endra’s punishment hasn’t been con­firmed by the high court. The poor chap’s  life-term (if at all) will come into effect only from the date of confirmation by the HC. Which means all these years he spent behind bars become meaningless.”


Photograph by Nirala Tripathi

Sukh Lal, Naini Jail
In jail since ’01, killed  the three sons of his father’s murderer 12 years after the event

I.B. Singh, who had earlier fought to get reprieve for 42 women convicts and und­­ertrials languishing in Lucknow jail for over two decades, is appalled with the rights violation involved. “It’s time the judiciary as a whole rises to save people from such avoidable physical harassment and mental agony; after all letting matters relating to their life and death hang fire for years is making the poor convicts die a thousand deaths before they meet their actual end,” he feels.

Cases like Devendra’s are spread across 27 jails of the state. One such comes from another historic penal institution, the 153-year-old Barabanki jail, where three mothers are anxiously waiting for their respective sons, convicted of the murder of a cousin’s wife. Police records say they are guilty of “pre-meditated, cold-bloo­ded murder”, believed to be over an old family property dispute, but the mothers insist they are innocent. The accused, Karan Singh, Babloo and Rakesh Kumar claim they were “working in Lucknow when the murder took place but because of the old land dispute between our families we were falsely implicated”.

The murder took place in Ladai ka Purwa village under Loni Katra police circle of Barabanki district on January 12, ’04. The conviction came seven years later. And while the ratification of their death sentence was awaited, they moved an appeal before the HC, which reserved its verdict sometime in February last. The mothers are hoping for a possible reprieve in the appeal. “The witnesses have disclosed in the HC how they were compelled to give tutored statements against our sons,” they told Outlook.

Incidentally, all three mothers are widows who have mortgaged parts of their small one bigha of land to pay the lawyer’s fees. “The lawyer is confident about the merit in our case,” says Sarju Devi, one of the mothers.

Now, unlike Devendra and the others who claim innocence, there are also peo­ple like Sukh Lal, 43, on death row, who has no qualms about admitting his crime. “Yes, I killed three of his sons with my licensed gun…they had to pay for my father’s murder. Their father had killed him in front of my eyes; I was a kid at the time, all I could do was watch and wait patiently for 12 years,” he says.

While he has no regrets about the act, what bothers him is the fate of his daughter, now 15. “After 13 years in jail and still waiting for a confirmation of my sente­nce, I do feel I could have pardoned them; my daughter is growing up and I am stuck in here,” he says resignedly.


By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow

 

#India -Daughters, wives sold to repay debt; NHRC notice to U.P. #WTFnews #Vaw


J. BALAJI, The Hindu

Incident allegedly took place in State’s Lalitpur district

A social activist Lenin Raghuvanshi has claimed that women and daughters were sold off to repay debts in Uttar Pradesh’s Lalitpur district in Bundelkhand region.

Mr. Raghuvanshi said that caste discrimination is so intense in some villages of Bundlekhand that a Dalit has to take off his chappal and hold it in his/her hand if a person belonging to the Thakur caste is approaching.

Taking a serious view of such incidents, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police calling for reports on the complaint within four weeks.

Fact-finding team

It also directed the NHRC Director General (Investigation) to send a fact-finding team to study and file a report about such discrimination against the oppressed class.

Mr. Raghuvanshi also alleged that a Dalit cannot wear chappal or shoes and must walk barefoot if he/she wants to visit the area dominated by people belonging to the upper caste.

 

Sati deaths

Women belonging to the Balmiki community manually dispose off night soil and carcass. Violence against women is rampant and a number of S ati deaths have been reported from the region during the last few years. Even the sex-ratio is very adverse in the area, Mr. Raghuvanshi added.

 


  • ‘In some Bundlekhand villages, a Dalit has to take off his/her chappal if a Thakur is approaching’
  • Balmiki women dispose off night soil, carcass manually: Activist

 

No Coca Cola Plant Clearing Forests – Villagers in Uttarakhand


murder

Another Chipko movement to save the forest may well be on the horizon. Uttarakhand government has promised Coca Cola 60 acres of forest land to set up a Rs. 600 crore plant in Charba after getting environmental clearance from a committee. Thousands of villagers from 15 Panchayats gathered in Charba to protest the plan to clear the forests. The community forests, according to the villagers, have been planted and nurtured by them for three decades. These forests have boosted the water sources of the region, and once the forests are gone, the water sources will dry up, Charba gram pradhan Rumiram Jaswal has said. The farmer population of the village are hence against the project which will create drought-like conditions. The protesters plan to launch a tree hugging movement, taking a cue from the famous Chipko movement.

BJP national secretary Trivendra Singh Rawat and State general secretary Prakash Pant and other party workers came to the village to support the villagers against the project in getting which the Congress chief minister Vijay Bahuguna played a key role, but the protesting villagers did not allow them on the dais, saying that they would not allow political parties to hijack their movement.

Allegations of environmental abuse is not news for Coca Cola. Many areas near Coca Cola bottling plants experience severe water shortage. With the forests gone and the plant in, the water crisis fears among the villagers are absolutely legitimate. Coca Cola plant’s drawing up of groundwater without concern for the ecosystem has caused drying up of wells and no water in water pumps. The plant activities cause groundwater pollution. The waste from the plant causes pollution where it is dumped and where it washes to, including rivers like the Ganges. In Plachimada and Mehdiganj, Coca Colawas found selling its plant waste as ‘fertilizer’ in which toxic substances like lead and cadmium were found. The drinks are also high on pesticides, due to which they are banned in the Parliament of India cafeteria.

In a society where a large number of people are dependent on agriculture, and the extensive use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and GMO seeds which require high water input has been promoted through the Green Revolution and other government and private efforts, water shortage in a region can spark a low agricultural output crisis which can trigger other kinds of crises including that of employment and over-migration. And of course, there is the pollution and all that comes with it. In short, a Coca Cola plant can bring nightmarish conditions to an area. The list of resistance against CocaCola plants is pretty long. Some of the well known ones are Kala Dera(Rajasthan), Plachimada(Kerala), Mehdiganj (Uttar Pradesh).

 

#India – Tracing the ban on skirt and its length #Vaw #moralpolicing


TNN May 25, 2013,
(Tracing the ban on skirt…)

The skirt and its length has been an issue more often than not in our country. From celebs likeSania Mirza and Katrina Kaif to schoolgirls across states, many have gotten into trouble over this piece of clothing. And it isn’t only the desi moral police tying itself up in knots over the issue – it seems to unite people across countries.

Bans in schools across India

Haryana
In Rohtak in March, a right wing educational institution’s management prohibited girls from Classes VIII to XII from wearing skirts, citing “security reasons.” At least five Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools, run by the Kurukshetra-based Hindu Shiksha Samiti (HSS), would implement the dress code from the current academic session, they said. One of the schools’ principals said that the decision had been taken in consultation with parents who endorsed those reasons, and that they’d received complaints about some girls wearing short skirts.

Jharkhand
The DAV group of schools called for a ban on skirts this year as part of the uniform, as they think tunics or short skirts ‘invite unwanted attention’. The director of the DAV group has said that they have taken the step to make children aware of our culture and tradition. Female students from Class VIII onwards would be required to wear only salwar-kameez with a bandi (jacket). “We’ve done this to ensure girls dress decently to school and follow a discipline,” said LR Saini, director of the DAV group.

Rajasthan
In December 2012, BJP legislator Banwari Lal Singhal suggested a ban on skirts as the school uniform for girls. Singhal wrote a letter to Rajasthan chief secretary CK Mathew, demanding that skirts be replaced by trousers to keep female students away from “men’s lustful gazes.”

Manipur
In Manipur last year, six student bodies, which included the All Manipur Students Union, Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur and Manipur Students Federation, issued a diktat to prohibit school and college students from wearing clothes above the knee. In 2007, the outlawed People’s United Liberation Front (PULF), an Islamic outfit active in the state, banned Muslim schoolgirls and college students from wearing frocks and skirts. The Manipuri rebel group Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup, (KYKL), in 2001, asked girls to wear the ankle-length traditional phaneks instead of western wear. The reason for enforcing the wearing of the phanek was to ban “indecent dresses” and also for moral and traditional reasons. KYKL even warned that women of the state who do not wear the traditional phaneks could even ‘face death penalty’!

Mizoram
After being pressurised by a student body in the state, all schools banned short skirts and tight pants in 2011. The ban was imposed to ‘promote decency and discipline’ among the students. If caught violating the ban for the first time, a fine of `300 was to be charged. If the rule was violated again, the fine would increase to `500. And if the students were found repeating it, then they would be expelled from the school.

Uttar Pradesh
In 2012 in Ghaziabad district, the panchayat in a Jat-dominated region demanded that girls should wear salwar-kurta from the sixth standard. The president of Jat Mahasabha was reported as saying, “The girls will wear salwar-kurta from sixth standard onwards. We will speak to the managements of the schools and will make sure the order is implemented strictly.” They didn’t mention the reason for it but we assume it, again, has something to do with ‘decency’. The panchayat even warned that ‘severe punishment’ would be handed out if the diktat wasn’t followed.

Celebs in trouble

Sania Mirza - In 2005, a group of Muslim clerics issued a fatwa demanding that the tennis player should cover herself more on the field. They said that her outfits were a negative influence on young girls. Their grouse was that her skirts and T-shirts had slogans like ‘Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History’ and ‘I’m Cute, No Shit’, which were ‘un-Islamic’. Even though Sania had to give in to the clerics’ demands at that time, later, she appeared at the 2007 French Open in a skirt. “How I dress is a very personal thing, so give me a break. I’m just trying to have some fun. If I have something to say I can speak, can’t I? I don’t have to speak through what I wear,” she had said.

 

Dubious role of police exposed in custodial death of terror accused in Uttar Pradesh


Khalid Mujahid‘s tragic story is a litany of irreconcilable facts, right from the day he was arrested by the anti-terrorism Special Task Force of the UP Police in December 2007
Ajit Sahi

Ajit Sahie

FalseTerror1If we accept the official explanation for the death on 18 May of Khalid Mujahid, an under-trial prisoner in Uttar Pradesh accused of terrorism, then India may have just lost a superman. More likely, the police have made up facts and may soon be exposed.

According to the official explanation, Mujahid, 32, was taken ill at 3.40 pm in the eastern district of Barabanki and admitted to a government hospital where he was pronounced dead. This claim was made by none other than the district magistrate of Barabanki, S Minisati, when she visited the hospital. But Mujahid’s lawyer says he had minutes earlier been in another city 65 km away to attend the hearing in one of the terror cases in which he is an accused. “Mujahid left that courtroom at 3.30 pm,” says Randhir Singh Suman, his lawyer. “How did he cover 65 km in 10 minutes?”

Good question. But then, Mujahid’s tragic story is a litany of such irreconcilable facts right from the day he was arrested by the anti-terrorism Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh Police in December 2007. Indeed, the police have been thoroughly exposed as lying about him right from the beginning. Yet, it confounds common sense and offends judicial propriety that successive judges not only did not throw out the case against Mujahid as wholly spurious but also refused to grant him bail that he deserved.

Worse, a trial judge ignored his repeated pleas, including written, that the policemen that ferried him between the prison and the court had explicitly threatened to kill him in an “encounter”, a euphemism for extrajudicial killings by the police. Two months ago, a second lawyer who represented Mujahid in another terror case being prosecuted in Lucknow, Mohammad Shoib, told the state’s jail minister that the several Muslim youths, including Mujahid, being tried for terrorism faced threats to their lives. Shoib was also among the last to see Mujahid alive. “We were together in the court until 3.20 pm,” he says. “Ten minutes later, I saw the police van carrying him leave the court premises.”

And now Mujahid is dead. Here is how the state, its police and the judiciary combined to first frame him and then deny him justice.

On 22 December 2007 police announced the arrest of two “terrorists” from a location 20 km east of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. They were apprehended, police said, from a railway station in the town of Barabanki that is a satellite of the capital. One of the two arrested men was Mujahid, a madrassa teacher in Jaunpur district, 250 km east of Lucknow. The other was Tariq Kasmi, a practitioner of the Unani medicine system in the district of Azamgarh, which is adjacent to Jaunpur.

The police claimed that Mujahid and Kasmi were responsible for simultaneous bombings in the district courts of Lucknow and Faizabad, which is 120 km east of the capital, on 22 November 2007. They said the two men had been arrested with explosives. Subsequently, the two were implicated in three different cases: one each in Lucknow and Faizabad for the bombings, and one in Barabanki for carrying explosives. They were charged with sedition and waging war against the state, both colonial era constructs, as also under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Explosives Act.

Instantly, Mujahid’s family members and well-wishers as well as human rights activists jumped in and demolished the police story. They claimed Mujahid was arrested in broad daylight from a crowded market six days previously, on 16 December 2007. His arrest had sparked protests in his town, Madiyahu, in Jaunpur district. Newspapers had reported both. Local police, civil officials and even the courts were given representations against his arrest. Yet, a judicial magistrate bought the police version that it arrested Mujahid and Kasmi from Barabanki railway station on 22 December 2007.

Could this be dismissed as partisan bickering? If yes, then consider this. In response to a plea filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the police station in Mujahid’s township, too, acknowledged that he had been arrested from the market near his house on 16 December 2007. This evidence directly contradicted what the police had told the Barabanki magistrate, before whom the two men had been presented and who had remanded them to a police custody. Mujahid quickly sought to file the RTI reply with various trial courts in Barabanki, Lucknow and Faizabad and press for justice.

But the courts told him that they can’t accept the RTI document until the prosecution had finished its arguments. That was in 2009. It is 2013 now and the prosecution hasn’t yet finished its arguments. So the defence lawyers decided to try their luck with the high court to at least get him bail. They believed that the discordance in the two versions of police should make it an open-and-shut case in their favour. But the High Court said he was accused of a “heinous crime” and could not be bailed.

In fact, eyebrows are also raised at the role of the then Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) of Barabanki, Anupama Gopal Nigam, who first remanded Mujahid (and Kasmi) in police custody. As per the procedure, the police needed to file an application before the CJM informing of the arrests of the two men and then asking the magistrate to come down to the prison to hear Mujahid and Kasmi’s remand plea because they did not want to bring them to the court for security reasons. “But no such document exists in the court records,” Mujahid’s lawyer, Suman, told TEHELKA from Barabanki. “Did the CJM go to the jail on her own?”

There is more. Suman cross-examined a police officer named Dayaram Saroj when the prosecution called him to depose. As the investigating officer in the case, Saroj should have made that formal request before the CJM. On being cross-examined, Saroj claimed that he himself had handed such an application to the CJM when she visited the prison after the arrests. But in response to an RTI application, prison authorities told Mujahid’s family that Saroj did not visit the prison that day. “This is a serious lapse,” Suman said.

On 19 May, Mujahid’s uncle, Zahir Alam Falahi, filed a First Information Report (FIR) with the Barabanki police alleging that Mujahid had been murdered as a result of a conspiracy. The FIR directly named a total of 42 officers, including a former director-general of police, the highest-ranking police officer in the state, as responsible for it. The question is: why would these police officers want to eliminate Mujahid?

The answer ironically lies in the first real spark of hope for Mujahid. After sustained pressure from human rights groups and various organisations of the Muslims, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s government moved the local court in Barabanki on 3 May 2013 seeking to withdraw its charges against Mujahid and Kasmi. A week later, Additional Sessions Judge Kalpana Mishra of Barabanki rejected the state’s request on a plea from some local lawyers. “These lawyers are from the RSS,” says Suman, referring to the Hindu supremacist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. “She heard them in her chamber and passed the order without the defence being present.”

But the battle may already be tilting in favour of the accused. For three years, a rights platform named Rihaee Manch has vigorously exposed police falsehoods in cases of terrorism in UP and campaigned to seek the release of the accused. The issue picked up steam last year when leading political figures such as Prakash Karat of the CPM, AB Bardhan of the CPI, Bihar politicians Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan, and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar came together and demanded an end to what they called the politics of terror against Muslims.

In 2008, then UP Chief Minister Mayawati had asked retired district judge RD Nimesh to probe the allegation that the police had illegally arrested the two men. He finally submitted his report last August. Although Chief Minister Yadav’s government has stonewalled the demands to release that report, it is widely believed that the commission has damned the police for arresting Mujahid and Kasmi and ruled their arrest as illegal.

“The police officers involved in Mujahid’s illegal arrest are obviously worried,” Shahnawaz Hussain, an activist with Rihaee Manch, told TEHELKA over phone from Jaunpur where he had gone to attend Mujahid’s funeral. “Had Mujahid lived, he would have been a prime witness in the case against them and they couldn’t afford that.”

The defence lawyers and rights activists are now worried for the safety of the remaining accused, who include Kasmi and two Kashmiri men, Sajjadur Rahman and Akhtar who were arrested from Jammu and Kashmir on 22 December 2007 and handed over to UP Police a week later. Strangely, the Jammu and Kashmir Police dropped the original charges on which it had arrested the two men before turning them over to UP Police.

The next hearing in the original case in Barabanki will be held on 31 May 2013. The defence lawyers say they would move the court to ensure that the lives of the other accused are not endangered. “Ironically though, greater security would mean a greater threat to their lives as it is the police who want them eliminated,” Suman said.

 

Age limit relaxed for financial assistance to institutional deliveries #Goodnews


AARTI DHAR, The Hindu

Move expected to reduce neonatal, maternal mortality in young mothers

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has relaxed eligibility parameters for the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), which provides financial assistance to mothers for institutional deliveries. Now, Below Party Line (BPL) women can access JSY benefits irrespective of their age and number of children.

All women from BPL category, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in all States and Union Territories will be eligible for JSY benefits if they have given birth in a government or private accredited health facility. BPL women who prefer to deliver at home can also get JSY benefits.

Launched in 2005, the JSY is the government’s main scheme to enable women — especially those from vulnerable sections — to access institutional delivery. This was done to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

“The decision was taken after it was realised that a majority of women, who needed JSY benefits, remained out of the purview of the scheme because they had to prove they were 19 years of age and had no more than two children,” Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The highest maternal mortality is reported among girls aged 14-15; the majority of these were out of the purview of the JSY as they were unable to produce proof of age or verify the number of children they had, Ms. Gupta explained.

Till now, the scheme provided assistance for institutional delivery to all pregnant women who give birth in a government or private accredited health facility in Low Performing States (those with bad health indicators, such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Assam). A woman gets Rs.1,400 for delivery in a government facility or accredited private facility and Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) gets Rs. 600 in rural areas. In the urban areas, the amounts paid are Rs.1,000 and Rs. 400 respectively.

However, in High Performing States (those with good health indices, such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka), assistance for institutional delivery was available to women from BPL/SC/ST households, aged 19 or above and only up to two live births for delivery in a government or private accredited health facility. The financial entitlement was Rs. 700 to the mother and Rs. 600 for the ASHA in rural areas and Rs. 600 and Rs. 400 in urban settings.

Further, in all States/Union Territories, the scheme provided Rs. 500 to BPL women — aged 19 or above and who deliver up to two live births — who prefer to deliver at home. With the amendments, all women who deliver at home will be entitled to this amount, basically for nutrition.

The government claims that as a result of the scheme, there has been an increase in institutional deliveries — from 47 per cent in 2007-08 to 72.9 per cent in 2009 (Coverage Evaluation Survey) and, most recently, to approximately 79 per cent — as per Health Ministry data.

 


  • Henceforth, all BPL women will get JSY benefits
  • Many were excluded for being under 19

 

ATTN DELHI- Protest Demo Against UP Custodial Death of Khalid Mujahid @May23 #mustshare


Khalid Mujahid: Yet Another Custodial Death of So Called “Terror Accused” in UP!

In UP under SP Rule: Injustices To Muslim Victims of Witch-Hunt Continue Unabated while Communal Hate Mongerer Varun Gandhi Allowed To Go Scot Free!

Demand Justice for Custodial Death of Khalid Mujahid in UP! Reinvestigate the Communal Hate Speech Case of Varun Gandhi!

Join Protest Demonstration Against UP Govt on 23 May

Assemble at Jantar Mantar at 11.30am and

March to UP Resident Commissioner’s Office, UP Niwas, Ambadeep Bhawan, Kasturba Gandhi Marg.

 

Khalid Mujahid, a so-called “accused” in the 2007 serial blasts in UP died on Sturday 18 May in police custody, yet another shameful injustice to a victim of Muslim witch-hunt. Khalid, a resident of Mariahu in Jaunpur and a Madarsa teacher, was arrested by the special task force of the UP police in December 2007 following serial blasts in UP and immediately and declared, of course without any evidence, to be an ‘operative of the Harkatul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI)’. Since then, he has been languishing in jail for last 6 years! Following sustained protests against false framing, a commission was formed to probe the matter. The report submitted in 2012 found discrepancies in the “official” police case against Khalid. On the basis of the report, the UP govt. was forced to  file an application in the court to withdraw case against Khalid.However, the court turned down the application. According to the activists, UP govt put up a weak application and now Khalid has died under mysterious circumstances, raising serious questions of cover up and conspiracy.

It is indeed yet another copybook instance of killing and suspicious death in Police custody of so called “terror accused” against whom police never managed to provide any evidence! One has not forgotten, how just last year 8 June, Mohd. Qateel Siddiqi of Darbhanga, arrested since Nov 2011, on charges of ‘involvement’ in several blast cases, was strangled to death by two gangsters, Sharad Mohol and Alok Bhalerao, inside Yerawada jail in Pune. Let us note, Maharashtra ATS had failed to file a chargesheet against Qateel in the 7 months from November 2011 till June 2012. In the Adarsh scam, accused got bail because the CBI failed to file a chargesheet within the stipulated 6-month period. If the same norms had applied, Qateel should have been free, given the failure of authorities to assemble any proof against him. Yet, he remained in jail, and the ATS kept claiming he was a ‘key Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative.’ From Maharashtra to Hyderabad, Gujarat to Darbhanga, the horrific saga continues unabated– framing innocent youth without a shred of evidence, torturing them for years together behind bars, and finally killing them off in custody or in fake “encounters”. These shocking cases- from Malegaon to Hyderabad, Bangalore to Azamgarh and Darbhanga-underline the vulnerability of Muslim youth routinely arrested on terror charges.

The cases also expose the duplicity and hypocrisy of the ruling regimes who never tire of swearing by ‘secularism’.During the UP elections, we have seen cynical competition between the SP and the Congress to woo support of the beleaguered Muslim community. Yet, in practice, whether it is the Congress-ruled Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh or the SP ruled UP, they are competing with the BJP in the false framing and custodial attacks on Muslim ‘terror-accused’.

Contrast this Witch-Hunt With How SP Govt in UP Manufactured  “Clean Chit” for Varun Gandhi in the Public Hate Speech Case! Varun Gandhi made the worst of anti-Muslim, venomous, hate-mongering speeches in Pilibhit before the previous Lok Sabha elections. The hate speech was delivered in large open public meetings and the entire country saw and heard them through TV channels then! But, suddenly, when the matter came up in the court, Samajwadi Party’s UP administration could not produce any video footage of the incident and several witnesses turned hostile! The recent Tehelka sting operation- aired by Headlines Today- exposed how the UP state machinery and an SP leader happily colluded with the BJP to manufacture the ‘clean chit’ for Varun Gandhi!

It is high time that this twin trend of communal politics - of state patronage to communal forces and hate-mongerers on the one hand and unabated state-sponsored witch-hunt of minorities on the other, this time enacted in UP,  is exposed and resisted.

We strongly condemn the custodial death of Khalid Mujahid and demand that all those responsible for framing him and responsible for his custodial death are brought to book. Moreover, the case against Varun Gandhi’s hate speech should be reopened, and all those responsible for scuttling the case against him – especially the Public Prosecutor and the officials in the UP government – should be punished for the shameful subversion of the judicial process.

We appeal to you to a Join Protest Demonstration against UP Govt. on 23 May

Assemble at Jantar Mantar at 11.30am and March to UP Resident Commissioner’s Office, UP Niwas, Ambadeep Bhawan, Kasturba Gandhi Marg.