Fasih Mohammed deported from Saudi Arabia, arrested in Delhi


Fasih Mohammad, suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorist, arrested at Delhi airport
New Delhi:  NDTV , Oct 22, 2012
Fasih Mohammad, an  alleged accused of a key role in bomb blasts in Delhi and Bangalore, has been arrested at the Delhi airport after he was deported by Saudi Arabia.India believes that Mohammad, who is 28, is an important member of banned terror group Indian Mujahideen, mentored by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which executed the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, in which 166 people were killed.

Mohammed, an engineer from Bihar had been working and living in Saudi Arabia; he was taken into local custody five months ago. His wife had appealed to the Supreme Court earlier this year for information about his whereabouts, alleging that her husband had been picked up from their home in Saudi Arabia by Indian intelligence officials. India said that at the time, it did not have the engineer from Bihar in its custody.

Mohammed allegedly helped plan a terror attack during an IPL match outside the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore in 2010 – 15 people, including five policemen, were injured. In September that year, just before the Commonwealth Games were held in Delhi, two gunmen shot at a tourist vehicle near the Jama Masjid mosque; two people were injured. A short while later, a car parked nearby went up in flames, allegedly because a bomb had been planted inside the Maruti 800.

In June, Saudi Arabia deported Abu Jundal, a man who allegedly served as a handler for the terrorists who ravaged Mumbai in India’s worst-ever terror attacks in 2008. India and the US had spent a year coordinating intelligence inputs and pressuring Saudi Arabia to send Jundal to Delhi, against the wishes of Pakistan.

He has been interrogated by the police forces of different states and the National Investigating Agency (NIA), which is handling the investigation into the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed. Jundal has also been confronted with Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist caught alive during 26/11, who is in a jail in Mumbai and has been given the death sentence by the Supreme Court.
His name cropped up during the interrogation of suspected IM terrorists arrested during the last nine months.

While the Saudi authorities confirmed his detention there, they conveyed that they were closely examining his role and stay in that country.

Fasih’s wife Nikhat Parveen had approached the Supreme Court claiming that her husband was in the custody of central security agencies, a charge denied by the Government.

The dark underbelly of India’s clinical trials business- #medical ethics #humanrights


Incidents at Bhopal and Indore highlight irregularities and ethical violations in some trials
Malia Politzer  |   Vidya Krishnan

First Published: Wed, Oct 10 2012. , at Live Mint

Protesters outside the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre. Photo: Sayeed Farooqui/Mint
Updated: Thu, Oct 11 2012. 12 20 AM IST
New Delhi: In 2004, doctors at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC), established exclusively for treating the victims of the 1984 gas leak, recruited unsuspecting survivors for clinical trials without their knowledge or consent; 14 participants died during the course of the trials.
Together with the episode in Indore’s Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital (that Mint reported on 10 October), where 32 people have died in clinical trials between 2005 and 2010, this incident highlights irregularities and ethical violations in some trials conducted by clinical research firms and pharma companies—the dark underbelly of the booming clinical trial business in India.
In 2005, India introduced patent protection laws. Since then, it has become a global hub for clinical trials, drawing companies because of its ethnically diverse pool of potential test subjects, while bringing down research and development (R&D) costs by nearly 60% in phase II and III trials, according to lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry.
A phase II trial establishes the protocol for testing and a phase III one is the final testing prior to approval.
Regulatory failures have marred the clinical trial business in India, experts said, pointing to lapses in the functioning of so-called ethical committees that are required by law for each trial, contract research organizations (CROs) and the Central Drug Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).
A parliamentary panel in May found CDSCO to be in collusion with drug companies and doctors, and approving at least one drug every month without conducting clinical trials or seeking expert medical opinion. Concerns over the conduct of clinical trials prompted the same panel to look into the rapidly growing industry, and the international and domestic pharmaceutical companies sponsoring them.

“Many issues have been raised in Parliament—people being treated as guinea pigs, lack of informed consent and unattributed deaths during trials,” said Sanjay Jaiswal, a Lok Sabha member and a physician himself. “We are not against clinical trials. The issue is about how these trials are being done. Rules need to be followed.”

A report on this will be presented to Parliament in the winter session, he said.
Medical ethicists are concerned that the rapid growth— without trained manpower or a clear-cut regulatory framework —could be a “race to the bottom”, with global ramifications and not just confined to one country.
“What the media doesn’t get straight is that drug companies aren’t using poor Indians as guinea pigs for Americans,” said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the New York University Langone Medical Center. “The more common thing is that say Vietnam competes with India to see if the companies will come and bring in their studies, bring in the doctors, bring some relief if the drug or vaccine works—maybe spend some money in these places, give a bribe or two to the local health ministry to recruit in the local mental hospital. So, if India tightens regulation, companies will just go to Vietnam. This is not just an India problem—it’s a global issue.”
A globalized market
International boundaries blurred substantially when the US food and drug administration (FDA) relaxed regulations allowing drug companies to submit results of foreign trials in applications for new drugs to be marketed in the US.
Between 1990 and 2008, the number of clinical trials conducted largely by US companies shot up about 24 times to 6,465 from 271, according to a 2011 article in Vanity Fair. The 20 largest US-based drug makers conduct about one-third of their phase III clinical trials outside the country, and a majority of their study sites also are elsewhere, according to American Medical News.
A large genetic pool, high-quality hospitals, English-speaking staff and low costs make India an attractive destination for pharma firms looking to conduct clinical trials.
According to CDSCO, there are an estimated 150,000 people enrolled in clinical trials in India. According to a 2011 Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) report, nearly 100 domestic and multinational pharmaceutical companies are conducting trials in the country and the business is worth Rs.8,000 crore.
Trials in countries such as India are cheaper to run: According to a 2008 Harvard Business Reviewarticle, tracking Indian test subjects costs between $1,500 and $2,000, (Rs.79,500 and Rs.1.06 lakh today), while in the US, it would cost $20,000.
When clinical trials are conducted ethically, India’s poor also stand to gain. With only 20% of India’s 1.2 billion people covered by health insurance and 35% living below the poverty line, the bulk of the population pays from the pocket for healthcare, according to health industry data provided by Assocham.
“A lot of patients don’t have access to healthcare otherwise,” said Irene Schipper, a researcher at the Netherlands-based Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO). “But the problem, of course, is that when the clinical trial is over, they don’t have access anymore.”
Many clinical trials aren’t conducted ethically.
Schipper is concerned that tight regulatory policies in the US and the European Union (EU) appear to be driving high-risk trials to developing countries such as India, where rules or their enforcement may be lax. In 2008, SOMO released a report, Ethics for drug testing in low and middle-income countries, cataloguing a trend of offshoring risky clinical trials to developing countries that would be prohibited by ethics committees in the EU.
In one case, AstraZaneca Plc sponsored large, multi-centred placebo-controlled trials for Seroquel XR, an anti-psychotic drug for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia. The drug was tested against a placebo, which meant that roughly half the participants—all diagnosed schizophrenics—went without any treatment for the duration of the trial.
Due to the worsening of their conditions, 8.3% of the patients receiving the placebo required hospitalization. After 173 days of placebo treatment, one 25-year-old man committed suicide. “The consequences of this practice are serious,” Schipper said in the report. “According to the Declaration of Helsinki, this type of trial can never justify the use of a placebo because it involves withholding treatment from seriously ill patients risking irreversible harm. Nevertheless, the Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board approved Seroquel XR for the EU market.”
The multi-centre trials were conducted in India, Bulgaria, Poland, Russia and the Ukraine. While companies also continue to conduct such clinical trials elsewhere, “these days you’re seeing a lot more of these sorts of trials in India”, she said.
“At AstraZeneca, we take very seriously our responsibility towards the patients participating in our studies and our responsibility to deliver consistently high standards of ethical practice and scientific conduct in all our trials wherever they take place,” Andrew Higgins, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca, said in a statement.
“A placebo treatment does not imply a deficient standard of care. In accordance with the Good Clinical Practice rules, all patients in our clinical trials are provided with the same amount of care and are strictly monitored with the option to switch to another therapy or to be discontinued from the study where it becomes necessary,” he said.
Offshoring responsibility
Central to the growth of off-shoring clinical trials is the role of CROs—independent companies hired by sponsors to undertake clinical trials. Nearly 90% of trials in India are conducted by CROs, favoured by sponsors for their ability to form partnerships with local research organizations, recruit large numbers of participants and quickly conduct trials.
But medical ethicists worry this comes with a dark side. “To put it in a somewhat less polite way, the big company outsources the responsibility to the CRO. If something goes wrong, they say the CRO is completely responsible for this,” bioethicist Caplan said.
In 2011, CDSCO suspended the licence of Hyderabad-based CRO Axis Clinicals Ltd for recruiting illiterate women for a trial without obtaining proper consent. Following the incident, DCGI ordered an investigation into the operation of all 10 CROs in Andhra Pradesh.
Axis failed to respond to Mint’s repeated requests for comment.
“The problem with outsourcing to CROs is that oversight can be problematic,” said Schipper. Many CROs will divide tasks, such as administration, recruitment and research among various other CROs, making monitoring the process difficult for sponsors who are often based overseas, she said. “In our research, we’ve interviewed sponsors who have stopped using CROs entirely because they found that the cost of effectively monitoring them was greater than the money saved by hiring them.”
Caplan further worries that market incentives can drive CROs to complete trials at any cost. “There’s a conflict of interest when you hire a CRO, to act as a scientific and an ethical committee in India,” he said. “The sponsor wants the data—and wants it fast, and every day a study goes past its predicted date of completion, because they don’t have subjects enrolled, costs millions and millions of dollars—perhaps then they don’t continue to pay as much attention to informed consent or eligibility criteria.”
No functional regulatory system
Axis is not the first CRO in India to be facing hard questions: Quintiles, one of the largest global companies in the segment and based out of North Carolina, received a polite warning letter from DCGI for the clinical trials on Bhopal gas victims. “It should be noted that the studies conducted at BMHRC were approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee that was completely aware of the medical status of the patients visiting the hospital and participating in these trials,” Quintiles wrote in response to Mint’s inquiries.
Doctors, activists and researchers note that Indian ethics committees are often flawed. “Ethics committees are the front line regulators for clinical trials. If they were functional, they would be a major factor in preventing unethical trials,” said Amar Jasani, a researcher and trainer in the field of bioethics and public health. “The problem is the ethics committees are completely controlled by the institutions—they are not at all independent, the people on the committees are not trained, nor do they have the resources or independence to do their job.”
According to Jasani, Indian law allows for commercial ethics committees to be hired by the very CROs they are meant to monitor. “There’s a double conflict-of-interest,” he said. “They are governed by the CROs or the pharma companies. At the same time they are profit making—so they are more motivated by financial interest than (the safety of participants).”
While international standards governing clinical trials do exist, most are voluntary and lack regulatory teeth. The Delcaration of Helsinki, of which India is a signatory, says that potential research subjects need to be informed of the risks involved prior to participation, and reserve the right to refuse to participate.
Foreign drug authorities, such as FDA, have also made efforts to curtail unethical trials, by requiring that drug companies abide by certain guidelines. But their reach is limited. A 2010 report by the US Government Accountability Office found that FDA inspects fewer than 1% of clinical trials abroad, and that in many cases, it isn’t aware where clinical trials are being conducted until drug companies submit applications to market the new drug.
“There is no registry or international database—so I don’t think anyone knows what percentage of clinical trials are happening in the developing world. How many participants are men or women, old or young is also hard to know,” said Caplan. “We don’t have good information about what is really going on there, until there is a scandal, a problem or a death—but the overall picture is tough to know, because no one is responsible for monitoring it.”
The impact, though, is widespread: Nearly 80% of drug applications to FDA for marketing approval include tests done on foreign soil. With an FDA stamp of approval, many of the drugs end up being sold all over the world. “Seeing this as Americans exploiting Indians is not accurate,” said Caplan. “Drug companies are equally happy to sell to wealthy Indians. Drugs tested in these trials are eventually sold everywhere—studies in poor nations affect everyone.”

 

#India- Clinical trials: Regulating chaos #Medical ethics #Humanrights


-Vidya Krishnan and Malia Politzer

First Published: Wed, Oct 10 2012.  Live Mint

Lata Mehra’s experience exposes the gaps in both regulation and enforcement in clinical trials, which, in some instances, have caused deaths, in addition to violating fundamental human rights. Photo: Akhil Hardia/ Mint
A hospital in Indore has been able to get away with unethical medical trials in which 32 people have died over five years, according to the state government. This despite several investigations, a state government ban and Supreme Court strictures—a classic example of the lawless nature of the clinical trial business in India.
Lata Mehra, who works in a government-run healthcare centre, was desperate when doctors told her in 2009 that she would be on medication for the rest of her life after a heart attack. The monthly medical bill, a little less than half her salary of Rs.1,000 per month, would leave her with enough to just cover food and rent.
Then, Anil Bharani, a professor of medicine at the state-run Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital in Indore, offered the 47-year-old a dream deal that he called a “company plan”. The Rs.1,300 a month plan would pay for the drugs and also reimburse Mehra for transportation.
What Mehra did not know was that the “company plan” was part of an unauthorized drug trial of anticoagulants. Nor was she aware that Bharani and some of his colleagues were already being investigated by the state government over allegations of misconduct in clinical trials, an investigation that eventually led to the banning of the trial by the Madhya Pradesh government in October 2010.
Regardless, Bharani continued the trials despite the ban, and Mehra unknowingly became a test case for the drugs.
photo

Lata Mehra. Photo: Akhil Hardia/Mint

The ban was imposed after it was uncovered that informed consent was not taken, and the patients subjected to clinical trials included newborns, children, pregnant women and mentally challenged persons.

The state followed up with more action, and in January barred Bharani and another doctor from conducting trials, and pulled up 12 other doctors at Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital and 78 other private doctors for refusing to cooperate in the investigation.
That too hasn’t stopped the trials.
Bharani and officials at the hospital declined comment.
The Indore case highlights glaring gaps in regulation and enforcement in India’s rapidly growing clinical trial industry. A 2011 Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India report put the value of the business at Rs.8,000 crore, or $1.8 billion.
On Monday, the Supreme Court turned the spotlight on the business of clinical trials, when it threatened to impose a blanket ban on clinical trials across the country if the Union government didn’t act. The court has given the Union health ministry a month to provide the apex court with information on deaths, compensation and general practices when new drugs are tested on Indians.
“We can even issue a one-line direction that all these clinical trials which affect many people must stop forthwith,” justices R.M. Lodha and A.R. Dave said, hearing public interest cases dealing with the incidents at the Indore hospital.
The court’s order has once again drawn attention to India’s inadequate regime to regulate such trials. Not all clinical trials run in India violate norms, yet, Mehra’s experience exposes the gaps in both regulation and enforcement in clinical trials, which, in some instances, have caused deaths, in addition to violating fundamental human rights.
Government apathy
Mehra was more than happy with the “company plan” until her neighbour Mangilal Shreevas died suddenly, in early 2012.
“He was also a heart patient covered under the same ‘company plan’ at the same hospital and under the same doctor,” said the healthcare worker. “We took the same pills and we went to the hospital together for check-ups. After Mangilal’s death, his wife wanted his medical case sheets to lodge a complaint, but the hospital refused. I was disturbed by this and wanted a different doctor to have a look at my case sheet.”
The rest of her story is similar to that of several such participants in unauthorized clinical trials who express reservations. The doctors refused to hand over the medical file, saying it was “hospital property” and took Mehra off the “plan”. The reimbursements were discontinued.
Meanwhile, in January this year, the state government gave two doctors, Bharani and Ashish Patel, a rap on the knuckles, telling them to refrain from conducting clinical trials for six months; it also fined 12 doctors Rs.5,000 each for not cooperating with investigators.
The fines have not yet been paid, and despite the ban, the trials continue, according to petitioners Swasthya Adhikar Manch, an activist group and Dr Anand Rai, a whistle-blower who filed two separate public interest litigations (PILs) in February 2012 bringing the subject to the court’s attention.
So far, 32 people enrolled in various trials at Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital have died between 2005 and 2010; the state government has attributed the deaths directly to the testing.
Bharani and Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital are the targets of both a central probe by a parliamentary committee looking into irregularities in clinical trials across the country, as well as a state level investigation of ethical violations in 94 clinical trials conducted at the hospital.
Judicial activism
Mounting evidence prompted the Supreme Court to step in. Hearing the PILs on the Indore trials, the same two-judge bench of the Supreme Court came down hard on the government and said on 17 July: “There has to be some sense of responsibility (on the part of the government). Human beings are being treated as guinea pigs. This is unfortunate.”
Meanwhile, the ethical committees that were supposed to have overseen the trials continue to function, said Amulya Nidhi, an Indore-based public health activist belonging to the Swasthya Adhikar Manch.
Complaints made to the Human Rights Commission—both state and national—are yet to yield results. In 2011, the joint director of health, Indore division, constituted a four-member committee that recommended the state impose a lifetime medical practice ban on each guilty doctor at Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital and cancel registrations. That has had no impact.
Powerless government
As disturbing as the trials is the government’s apparent inability to do anything to regulate them.
In June 2011, the Madhya Pradesh economic offences wing (EOW) submitted a report on clinical trials at Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital that established a conflict of interest, pointing out that pharmaceutical companies had sent principal investigators in several trials on “foreign trips and money was received (by doctors)”. Mint has reviewed a copy of the report.
The same month, a joint director in the state government submitted a second report advising the state government to initiate criminal proceedings against doctors for ignoring protocol.
The EOW report stated that 81 “serious adverse events” were reported in various clinical trials at Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital.
Besides these cases, 1,833 children from the Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya (the paediatric hospital affiliated with MGM Medical College) and 233 mentally ill patients had been enrolled in clinical trials without any consent, according to documents submitted to the Supreme Court.
“As per government rules, guardians of mentally ill patients and children have to give an informed consent before they can enrol in trials,” said Nidhi of Swasthya Adhikar Manch, referring to the report.
In total, 12 doctors were named in the two reports. The EOW investigation listed Bharani (medicine), Salil Bhargava (superintendent), Ashoka Vajpayee (former superintendent), Pushpa Verma (dean), Hemant Jain (paediatrician) and Apoorv Puranik (neurologist), recommending that the Medical Council of India (MCI) initiate disciplinary action against them under Indian Council of Medical Research rules. Except for Verma, who maintained she was not involved in the drug trial controversy, none of the doctors were available for comment.
The “disciplinary measures”, including the Rs.5,000 fine, have to be compared with the Rs.5 crore that doctors earned for the trials, according to Swasthya Adhikar Manch’s PIL. Mint couldn’t independently verify this figure.
All but one of the doctors continue to practice medicine. Verma was promoted to the office of dean in January.
Over the past two years, victims and activists claim to have registered complaints at various forums, including the Central Vigilance Commission, EOW, the state police, the National Human Rights Commission, the medical education department, MCI, the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Drug Standard Control Organization. None of them seem to have had much effect.
Sarat Pandit, the joint director who submitted the 2011 report that recommends criminal proceedings against the doctors involved, blamed the delays on red tape and the involvement of too many government departments.
Victims languish
“Our mandate was to investigate the goings-on in Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital and we did just that. Several irregularities in protocol and ethics were clearly established and we recommended action,” said Pandit. “The report is now lying with the government and it is up to them to act on it. The matter has now become sub judice. While several agencies are investigating the case, nothing is being done for the safety of people exposed to these doctors.”
There have been attempts to rally support for the victims. In January, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat sent a memorandum to then drug controller general of India, V.G. Somani, seeking action against the doctors.
“Families are upset and angry, and there is a clear groundswell. It is outrageous that Indians are being used as guinea pigs,” Karat said.
Mint has seen a copy of the letter.
The Madhya Pradesh state assembly has seen about 40 questions being asked in the past two years about trials, according to whistle-blower Rai.
“When RTI (Right to Information) replies were vague, we approached local politicians to raise the issue in the state assembly,” added Rai, who worked at Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital and first exposed the trials. “Most of the information I have was collected by this route.”
The Union government has been trying to pursue the issue without much success.
“What happened in Indore was truly horrendous,” said Keshav Desiraju, additional secretary in the health ministry, who has been trying to get more information from the state government. “They have not responded to my queries.”
The parliamentary committee, which recently exposed the alleged nexus involving the drug regulator’s office, pharmaceutical companies and doctors, is to visit Indore to investigate the matter. Its report is expected to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament.
According to the health ministry, more than 1,500 people have died in clinical trials since 2008, a figure that’s contested by public health activists. According to documents presented in the Rajya Sabha, 2,163 people have died in India due to clinical trials since 2007.
“In Indore alone, trial subjects have died as recently as February, and this does not reflect in the government investigations. The whole subject is technical, and even when deaths occur during the trial, it is very difficult to attribute it directly to the drug tested. Several committees have pointed out that doctors do not maintain proper records of severe drug events,” added Nidhi of Swasthya Adhikar Manch.
No one has been compensated yet.
And what about those like Mehra, who participated in the clinical trial to obtain critical medication and then chose to be the whistle-blower?
“This is the cost of speaking up against doctors,” she said. “They have taken me off the company plan.”

Two security personnel remanded in police custody for attack on environmental activist #Justice


Raipur, October 21, 2012

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu

 Two security personnel at the Raigarh plant of the Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) have been remanded in police custody for a week for allegedly trying to ‘eliminate’ Ramesh Agarwal, eminent environmental activist of Chhattisgarh.

Mr. Agarwal was attacked in July and shot through the thigh.

He has been consistently opposing the 2400 MW power plant, which allegedly has flouted all environmental and labour laws.

K.K. Chopra, director of Superior Fire Services (SFS) Services that provides security at the plant, and S.N. Panigrahi, a worker with SFS, were arrested under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code, city Superintendent of Police of Raigarh Neha Pandey told The Hindu.

“There is little doubt that Chopra and Panigrahi were involved,” said Ms. Pande.

Earlier, talking to The Hindu, Superintendent of Police of Raigarh district Anand Chabra confirmed the arrests. “They [Chopra and Panigrahi] surrendered in the Raigarh court yesterday [Saturday] and given police remand for six days,” he said.

He said four other petty criminals were arrested earlier and two were absconding.

The other accused were not employees of SFS or the power plant.

Mr. Agarwal was imprisoned earlier for allegedly mobilising a mob at a public hearing organised to grant clearance to JSPL. He was released after two months.

Later, when he was shot, his NGO, Jan Chetna Manch, alleged that JSPL ‘planned the attack.’

JSPL, however, has denied the allegation.

Recently, Jan Chetna Manch activist Rajendra Tripathi alleged that several workers had died on the JSPL premises.

“Only yesterday [Saturday] a worker fell from a chimney and died. In the last two months, three have died on the premises,” he said.

Immediate Release-Memorandum against repression of worker’s movement in Haridwar


October 22, 2012

There was a protest demonstration at Uttarakhand Bhawan on 20th October 2012 against repression of worker’s movement , particularly against registration of false and fabricated F.I.R. against 32 workers related with Inqulabi Mazdoor Kendra who were participating in a peaceful rally organized after completion of their 2 day long 3rd Conference in Haridwar. Activists of different organization gathered at Uttarkahand Bhawan and submitted a memorandum to Resident commissioner demanding quashing of fabricated FIR. They also demanded judicial inquiry in registration of false FIR and punishment to officer involved in imposing the said false and fabricated FIR. Activists of Inqalabi Mazdoor Kendra , Krantikari Lok Adhikar Sangathan, Krantikari Naujawan Sabha, Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha, Mazdoor Patrika, Pragatisheel Mahila Ekta Kendra & others were present their. A gate meeting was also organised where in speakers emphasized on fight against onslaught of indian state against workers and poor masses. Copy of memorandum given to the R.C. Uttarakhand is given below.

MEMORANDUM

Dated: – 20.10.2012

To

The Resident Commissioner
Uttrakhand Bhawan
New Delhi

Subject: – Memorandum against repression of worker’s movement and registration of false and fabricated FIR against workers and activists at P.S. Ranipur Haridwar.

We the undersigned organizations/ individuals have come to oppose the repression of workers and rampant violation of worker’s as well as common citizen’s democratic and fundamental rights by Uttarkhand Police.

Uttarkhand Government is adamant to repress the worker’s movement. They want to kill the worker’s unity at nascent stage and for that purpose resort to illegal use of police force and other administrative machinery. On 15th October 2012 a false and fabricated F.I.R. bearing no. 321/2012 at p.s. Ranipur has been registered.

The local administration as well as concerned police authorities was aware that on 14th and 15th October, 2012, 3rd Conference of Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra was going on in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. At the end of the conference a procession was taken out from Chinamay Degree College to Rawali Mahdood village and written intimation dated 05.10.2012 regarding this procession was also given to the SDM Haridwar10 days in advance. (Copy Enclosed).

The said application was forwarded to SHO Ranipur with direction to do the needful, however on instructions of authorities at state level, a forged and fabricated F.I.R. No. 321/2012 U/S 147/341/447/505 I.P.C. as well as under 7 criminal law amendment act was registered against 32 named persons and 150 unknown. It is pertinent to mention here in that several persons who were not present in the conference or even few are those who never visited Haridwar have been named in F.I.R. with ulterior motive to crush the worker’s movement at nascent stage.

There is state offensive against the general masses as well as working class of the country, who are prone to state repression. The worker’s right is being violated rampantly by the state machinery. Labor department has become defunct institutions and labor laws gets place in books of law only for record.

The incident of 15th October is one stark example of worker’s repression. On 15th October when the activists and members of Inqulabi Mazdoor Kendra came out with the procession namely Majdoor Adhikar Jagrukta Rally in a peaceful manner, police registered a false F.I.R. against them.

We are living in a democratic country. Holding meetings, taking out processions, organize conventions, make slogans and protest in peaceful manner is democratic right of Indian citizen. Article 19 of The Indian Constitution makes guarantee to the freedom of speech & expression as well as freedom of association and assembly in peaceful manner as fundamental right. In the incident cited above, local police have crossed the limit by registering false and fabricated case against innocent citizens of India violating their fundamental right. The Uttarakhand Government as well as Indian state has failed to protect the rights of its citizen, particularly of those which comes from vulnerable sections of the society.

We undersigned organizations/individuals feel that the police had lodged entirely false and fabricated FI.R. against the activist and members of Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra . We also condemn this police action on the innocent members and the activists of Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra.

We demand that:-

(1) F.I.R. No. 321/2012 registered at P.S. Ranipur , Haridwar, uttarakhand against workers, activists and members of Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra be quashed immediately.

(2) Police officer be punished for lodging a false and fabricated F.I.R.

(3) Stop repression of worker’s movement.

(4) Restore worker’s right.

Inqalabi Mazdoor Kendra
Krantikari Lok Adhikar Sangathan
Krantikari Naujawan Sabha
Mehnatkash Mazdoor Morcha
Mazdoor Patrika
Pragatisheel Mahila Ekta Kendra
PDFI
RDF
Radical Notes
Shramik Sangram Samiti
Sanhati-Delhi
Shramik Duniya
Students For Resistance
Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha
Workers Unity Trade Union

 

DNA investigations: #Reliance flouts forest law, Centre yawns #Jharkhand


Published: Monday, Oct 22, 2012, 8:00 IST
By Sandeep Pai | Place: Ranchi | Agency: DNA

 

The Union government’s environmental clearance for 1,220 acres of forest land to be allotted to Reliance Power Limited’s 4,000MW Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) in Jharkhand is at the centre of a controversy. Senior forest department officials said the Centre has wilfully ignored laws regarding diverting forest land for industrial use.

Approvals for granting of forest land spread over 4,305.8 acres for the Keredari B & C coal blocks as well as for the 90 acres required for a water corridor and road development are currently in the pipeline. Forest officials have written numerous letters to the Centre demanding that Reliance provide non-forest land as compensation for diverting forest land for the coal block and power plant, as mandated under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

According to officials, Reliance must provide 5,600 acres of alternative land in lieu of approvals for land that the UMPP requires. This also includes the 1,220 acres to compensate land for which approval has already been granted.

“Only the central government or public sector undertakings are granted relief under the Forest Conservation Act. Therefore, granting the same status to Reliance is against the rules. Reliance must be made to provide alternative land for the coal block and the power project,” said Babulal Marandi, former chief minister of Jharkhand and former minister of state for environment and forests at the Centre.

The question is whether the Centre granted clearance to Reliance or to a special purpose vehicle wholly owned by PSU Power Finance Corporation. The SPV, Jharkhand Integrated Power Ltd, was set up as per the UMPP policy of the Union government as a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Finance Corporation. As per the policy, it is the SPV that initiates action for land acquisition and for obtaining various clearances. JIPL floated global tenders following which Reliance was declared a successful bidder.

Thereafter, JIPL was transferred to Reliance. The problem is that approvals are still to be obtained, now by a company owned by Reliance.

According to a press release issued by Reliance, it acquired JIPL in August 2009. However, in an unbelievable lapse, the MoEF’s letter dated November 2010 granting approval for the 1,220 acres says the approval is being granted to JIPL, “a wholly owned subsidiary of PFC”. At this time, JIPL was in fact a fully-owned subsidiary of Reliance, a fact that bureaucrats in the MoEF would have been well aware of.

In fact, JK Tewari, chief conservator of forests for the central region, had written to the additional director general of forests in the MoEF in October 2010, just a month before clearance was granted, explaining why Reliance should be made to give alternative land. “The project has been allotted to Reliance on the principles of build, own and operate (BOO) and not BOOT which is build, own, operate and transfer. After running the project for a specified number of years as per the terms and conditions of the MoU, Reliance will no longer be bound by any conditions and the land and the assets will not be transferred back to the Power Finance Corporation (PFC),” Tewari’s letter said.

“Therefore it is clear that Tilaiya UMPP is held by Reliance and not by the government of India undertaking. Therefore, I am of the view that non-forest area should be provided by the company for the purpose of afforestation,” Tewari’s letter said.

The central government’s move has met with stinging criticism. “These are double standards. The MoEF is not giving environment clearance for the Koyna interstate irrigation project, stating that the Bihar and Jharkhand state governments first provide alternative land for diverting forest land. However, for private players, it goes out its way to give clearance,” said Sushil Kumar Singh, Lok Sabha MP of Janata Dal (United).

Marandi also cited examples of other projects whose clearance has been kept pending for years over the issue of compensating for use of forest land. These include a government primary school in Badidh village of Ganwanblock and the Damodar Valley Corporation’s Chandrapura ash pond, said Marandi, local MP of Koderma, where the UMPP is located.

Despite repeated efforts by DNA since September 25 to obtain a statement from Reliance Power Ltd regarding the dispute, company officials did not comment.

However, in a letter to the divisional forest officer of Hazaribagh (where Tilaiya is located) on July 14, 2012, Reliance argues why it need not provide land. It quotes a December 2006 letter by MK Mondal, then chief secretary of Jharkhand, in which the latter informs the power secretary that identification of compensatory forest land is not required if the project belongs to the central government or its organisations. “Maybe the state government was unaware that the project would not be owned by PFC,” said Vinod Singh, a local MLA from Bagodar in Koderma.

In any case, not many have bought Mondal’s argument.
Apart from Tewari, conservator of forests (Hazaribagh division) has also opposed the approval. He wrote to the regional chief conservator in August 2012, stating that the transfer is against the law. “If this is not followed by the private company then in future legal complications will arise. Further, it will be a violation of the rules and manual framed under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980,” the letter said.

The issue
Total forest land required for Tilaiya UMPP is 5,600 acres. Reliance must provide equivalent amount of land, claim forest officials.

Coal block: 4,305.8 acre (Under review)

Power Plant: 1,220 acre (Approved)

Road project: 62.3 acre (Under review)

Water corridor: 27.3 acre (Under review)

Violence in Assam has subsided, but anxieties of land and identity are still haunting the people



HARSH MANDER | Oct 18, 2012, TNN

Although Assam has disappeared from the front pages of national
newspapers, large populations still live in makeshift, underserved
camps, racked by memory, fear and uncertainty, with little prospect of
an early return to their homelands. Legitimate anxieties of land and
identity have acquired an urgent grammar of violence and hate, and
irreconcilable divisions have grown further between estranged
communities.

During my journey to relief camps in Dhubri, Chirang and Kokrajhar,
housed in the classrooms and courtyards of schools, i found that
government had ensured basic food rations and primary healthcare
services. For the rest, people mainly had to fend for themselves.
There was no bedding, no mosquito nets, toilets were scant and choked,
and there was little water for drinking and bathing. People who had
fled their burning villages or rampaging mobs had few clothes or
utensils. Children were the worst hit. There were no child care
services, or temporary schooling. Everywhere i found a longing to
return home.

The stories we heard in both Bodo and Bengali Muslim camps were
disturbingly similar, of neighbours turning into murderous mobs, of
torched and ransacked homes, of looted livestock, and of fearful
flight. Many escaped only in fear, even though their settlements were
not attacked, and in these villages, men return to guard their homes
and fields, leaving the women and children in camps.

There are legitimate anxieties and grievances on both sides of the
dispute. Udoyon Misra writes eloquently of the ‘ever so heavy’ burdens
of history of indigenous Assamese peoples like the Bodos, of ‘land,
immigration, demographic change and identity’. He describes massive
land alienation of the Bodo plains tribal people who were shifting
cultivators with few land records, by industrious and aggressive
Bengali Muslim immigrant cultivators.

Successive governments in both the state and the Centre have failed to
effectively seal borders, and to identify and repatriate illegal
immigrants. The Bodos worry also about being culturally swamped in
their traditional homelands, not just by Bengali Muslims but also
other communities such as the caste Hindu Assamese, Koch-rajbanshis,
Santhals and Bengali Hindus.

The Bodo accord of 1993, which belatedly gave administrative autonomy
to the Bodo people in their traditional homelands in which they
already were reduced to a minority, unfortunately also created an
incentive for driving out people of other communities and ethnicities.
The first attacks by armed Bodo militants on Bengali Muslims occurred
in 1993 itself, and these have recurred sporadically against also
Santhal adivasis, who are descendants of tea garden workers who
migrated centuries back. Clashes occurred in 1994, 1996, 1998 and
1999. Around one and a half lakh people displaced by these clashes –
both Bengali Muslim and Santhal – continue to live in camps up to the
present day, an entire generation of forgotten internal refugees with
no home. The government took no decisive steps to help these refugees
return to their homelands.

This remains a festering wound on the psyche of the Bengali Muslim, as
also the fact that not a single person has been persecuted for the
gruesome slaughter mounted in Nellie in 1983. They complain that all
Bengali Muslims are tainted as Bangladeshi illegal immigrants, whereas
demographers confirm that only a small fraction of the immigrants are
actually illegal settlers who slipped into the state after the agreed
cut-off date of 1973. Many have learnt Assamese, and wish to be
accepted as legitimate Assamese citizens.

This already fraught environment, of legitimate competing anxieties
and grievances of diverse communities, has deteriorated sharply
because of the implicit legitimisation of violence as a means to
resolve these competing claims. People sympathetic to the concern of
Bodos and other indigenous tribal communities suggest that the
violence to which they have resorted in recent decades is unfortunate
but understandable. This is rendered more dangerous because of the
easy availability of sophisticated arms among the surrendered Bodo
militants, who were never effectively disarmed.

On the other hand, apologists for the Bengali Muslim violence justify
it as being ‘only retaliatory’. This is slippery ethical territory,
because the same argument was used to justify the post-Godhra
massacre, as well as the slaughter of Sikhs after Indira Gandhi’s
assassination. There is disturbing evidence of growing radicalisation
of a small section of the Assamese Bengali Muslim, of a kind which was
remarkably absent among the victims of the Gujarat violence. The
latter have remained unshakably committed to the democratic, legal and
non-violent resolution of their grievances, despite the brutal
slaughter and systematic subversion of justice and reconciliation by
the leadership thereafter.

There are wide demands today that only those Bengali Muslims in relief
camps should be allowed to return home who can first prove their legal
status. The acceptance of this demand would further incentivise the
mass violence which resulted in their displacement in the first place.
There is no doubt that the rights of indigenous communities to their
land, forests and culture need to be defended, and illegal immigration
effectively blocked.

But there should be no compromise, even by implication, with violence
as a means to achieve these demands. People in both new and old camps
must first be res-tored to their homelands unconditionally, and
assisted in rebuilding their houses and livelihoods. Only then should
a just and caring state intervene to ensure that the legitimate
concerns of both indigenous people and settlers are met, by processes
which are lawful, humane and non-violent.

The writer is a social activist.

 

#India- Bill to create bank for DNA profiling of accused coming #Privacy


Access to data only for victim’s or suspect’s relatives
21 October 2012 , By Aarti Dhar, The Hindu

A Bill to create a DNA data centre to profile people accused of serious crimes and unknown deceased is in the works. The proposal was originally mooted in 2007 but was dropped to factor in ethical, moral and legal issues on the sensitive matter.

Crafted by the Department of Biotechnology, it allows Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA) profiling for cases of culpable homicide, murder, death by negligence, miscarriage, dowry deaths, causing death of new born child, sexual assault, unnatural offences, outraging the modesty of a woman, co-habitation with a woman by deceit, adultery, enticing a married woman with criminal intent, among others.

Protecting privacy

Addressing issues related to protecting privacy of individuals, the draft Bill envisages that access to the information in the National DNA Data Bank will be restricted to those related to the victim or suspect; any individual undergoing a sentence of imprisonment or death sentence can apply to the court which convicted him, for an order of DNA testing of specific evidence under specific conditions.

The Human DNA Profiling Bill seeks to establish a DNA Profiling Board that will lay down the standards for laboratories, collection of human body substances and custody trail from collection to reporting. It also has a provision for setting up a National DNA Data Bank.

The DNA analysis of body substances that makes it possible to determine whether the source of origin of one body substance is identical to that of another, and to establish the biological relationship, if any, between two individuals.

The “forensic material” from which the DNA sample can be lifted is biological material from the body and represents intimate body samples. They include blood, semen, or any other tissue fluid.

DNA Profiling Board

As envisaged in the Bill, the DNA Profiling Board at the national level, with similar structures at the State level, will be headed by a renowned molecular biologist with the other members being from police, legal, biological and related fields.

It will deliberate and advise on all ethical and human rights issues emanating out of DNA profiling in consonance with the United Nations vis-à-vis the rights and privacy of citizens, civil liberties and issues having ethical and other social implications.

The Board will make recommendations on the use and dissemination of DNA information, ensure the accuracy, security and confidentiality of DNA and guidelines destruction of obsolete, expunged or inaccurate information.

Jail, fine for data misuse

It will also will lay down standards and procedures for establishment and functioning of DNA laboratories and Data Banks and prepare guidelines for storage of biological substances and their destruction. Any misuse of DNA data will attract imprisonment up to three years and monetary fine.

The working draft of the Bill has been sent to the Centre for Internet and Society for analysis and comments. The Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties has already opposed the proposed legislation and sought pre-emptive intervention to stop “dangerous” erosion of privacy by DNA profiling of citizens.

In a representation submitted to the National Human Rights Commission, the Forum has said DNA profiling is “undesirable, particularly as forensic DNA developments are intertwined with significant changes in legislation and contentious issues of privacy, civil liberty and social justice.”

The Forum has sought “immediate intervention to safeguard citizens’ privacy and their civil liberties, which face an unprecedented onslaught from the provisions of the DNA Profiling Bill and other related surveillance measures being bulldozed by unregulated and ungovernable technology.”

 

 

 

#India- Women don’t need mobile phones as they get distracted #WTFnews


Muzaffarnagar, Oct 22, 2012: Vraious media sources

Now, politicians will decide whether women need mobile phones or not? Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Rajpal Saini has stirred a controversy by saying that women and children don’t need mobiles. The BSP leader thinks that mobile phones are distracting women.

“There is no need to give phones to women and children. It distracts them and is useless. Why do women need phones? My mother, wife and sister never had mobile phones. They survived without one,” said Saini.

His comment has shocked women across the nation. Many have asked as who is he to decide whether women need mobile phones or not?

Saini is not the only politician or organisation which has come out with bizarre comments targeting women and their various rights.

Recently former Chief Minister of Haryana Om Prakash Chautala had endorsed medieval ideas of Khap. Like the influential caste councils, Chautala also wants girls to be married off at an early age to control rising rape incidents. Khap panchayats want marriageable age limit should be abolished and girls should be married off as early as possible to decrease incidents of rape.

“Boys and girls should be married by the time they turn 16-year-old, so that they do not stray… this will decrease the incidents of rape,” Sube Singh, a Khap representative, said.

Another Khap member said, “As soon as the children attain puberty, it is natural for them to have sexual desires but when these are not fulfilled, they stray… so there should not be any minimum age limit for marriage.”

Almost akin to a Taliban-type diktat, a Khap panchayat in Baghpat in July, 2012 had also banned love marriages and barred women below 40 years from going out for shopping and using mobile phones. Meanwhile, a Khap leader recently had asked youngsters to refrain from eating junk food like chowmein.

The bizarre statement was made by Jitender Chhataar who said that men experience hormonal imbalances when they eat chowmein, momos and then they commit rape. In a shocking reaction to the recent spate of rape cases in Haryana, Khap panchayat members earlier blamed girls for such incidents.

 

Women don't need mobile phones as they get distracted, says BSP MLA Rajpal Saini
CNN-IBN

One Khap Panchyat member gave a bizarre solution and suggested that the marriageable age for girls should be reduced to 16 years. When asked why rapes are occuring at this scale in Haryana, Sube Singh said that movies and television are to be blamed for rapes. “I believe this is happening because our youth are being badly influenced by cinema and television. I think that girls should be married at the age of 16, so that they have their husbands for their sexual needs, and they don’t need to go elsewhere. This way rapes will not occur,” commented Singh.

So now after khap panchayats, we need to fight  this  misogynist pig, Mayawati how can you have him in your party, throw him out now

 

# India–No Toilet, No Bride – Jairam Ramesh and story of tribal woman


 

 

Press Trust of India : Kota, Mon Oct 22 2012,

Days after he kicked up a row by stating that there are more temples than toilets in India, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Sunday urged women not to marry into families that do not have toilets in their homes.

 

“Don’t get married in a house where there is no toilet,” he told a gathering, mostly of women, at Khajuri village near Kota. “You consult astrologers about rahu-ketu or planetary positions before getting married. You should also look whether there is a toilet at your groom’s home before you decide to get married.”

 

Ramesh, who launched the third edition of Nirmal Bharat Yatra at Sangod here, cited a slogan coined by the Haryana government, “No toilet, no bride”.

 

Ramesh also narrated the story of Anita Narre, who left her husband’s home in Madhya Pradesh two days after her wedding when she found the house didn’t have a toilet. Noting that sanitation is an

 

issue related to women’s dignity and safety, Ramesh said Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan is a people’s movement aimed at eradicating the menace of open defecation in 10 years.

 

The Rural Development

 

Minister also criticised Rajasthan for not doing enough to provide proper sanitation facilities to the people.

 

He pointed out that of the 9,177 gram panchayats in Rajasthan, only 321 have become free from open defecation.

 

Meanwhile, members of saffron outfits showed black flags to Ramesh at various places protesting against his temple and toilet remarks.

The Minister had recently said that the country has more temples than toilets, leading to protests by right wing Hindu outfits.

 Last year, a tribal woman rejected her in-law’s house because there was no toilet in it. Soon after her marriage, she snubbed her newly wedded-husband and told him that she would live as his wife only if he got a latrine constructed. Otherwise, she would continue to live in her father’s house.

Anita was pursuing a BA degree when her father decided to marry her away to Shivram Narre of Bhimpur tehsil. Like every obedient daughter, she agreed to marry Shivram even though he was an agricultural labourer belonging to a BPL family and was less educated than her. But all hell broke loose when she was asked to go to the fields the morning after her marriage on May 14, 2011. The newly wedded bride did not utter a word when she saw the latrine of Jheetudhhana under the open skies. She survived the ordeal in her in-laws’for two days after which, according to tradition, she had to go back to her parents’ house for further rituals.

Once inside her parents’home in Chicholi town, she refused to go back to Jheetudhhana. When the husband came to take her home, she flatly refused. He asked why? In reply, Anita said: Because there is no proper toilet facility in that house.” She asked her husband to come and fetch her only after that toilet had been constructed. Anita’s refusal to go back to the in-laws initiated a revolution in Jheetudhhana. First Shivram went to the janpadh panchayat asking for government schemes that helped in toilet construction. The panchayat helped him with organising funds and a latrine was built at the back of his house.

But as Anita’s story spread through the village, Jheetudhhana’s residents started planning the construction of toilet in every hutment for fear that more girls will refuse to live there. Villagers flocked to the janpadh panchayat with applications for funds to build toilets. Meanwhile, the district administration of Betul has sent a recommendation to the state government to make Anita Narre the brand ambassador for Madhya Pradesh’s sanitary programmes.

 

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