Narendra Modi – Manual Scavenging is a Spiritual Experience #WTFnews


 Narandra Modi's Vibrant Gujarat Story: Propaganda vs Fact #mustread

MAINSTREAM, VOL LI, NO 18, APRIL 20, 2013

On Modi’s Social Engineering

Subhash Gatade

 

The system of untouchability has been a goldmine for the Hindus. This system affords 60 millions of untouchables to do the dirty work of scavenging and sweeping to the 240 million Hindus who are debarred by their religion to do such dirty work. But the work must be done for the Hindus and who else than the untouchables?

Dr B.R. Ambedkar

Can shit collection or cleaning of gutters—which has condemned lakhs of people to a life of indignity since ages—be considered a ‘Spiritual Experience’? Definitely not. Everybody would yell. Well, Mr Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, has a different take on this, which he mentions in the book ‘Karmayog’ (publication year 2007).

The book is basically a collection of his speeches to high-profile IAS officials. Herein he discusses the age-old caste-based vocation of the Valmikis as an “experience in spirituality”. He writes: “I do not believe that they have been doing this job just to sustain their livelihood. Had this been so, they would not have continued with this type of job generation after gene-ration…. At some point of time, somebody must have got the enlightenment that it is their (Valmikis’) duty to work for the happiness of the entire society and the Gods; that they have to do this job bestowed upon them by Gods; and that this job of cleaning up should continue as an internal spiritual activity for centuries. This should have continued generation after generation. It is impossible to believe that their ancestors did not have the choice of adopting any other work or business.”

Looking at the fact that a section of the Dalits themselves—especially its upwardly mobile and more articulate section—has joined the Hindutva bandwagon, it was expected that there would be no angry reaction to his utterances within the State. A section of the Ambedkarite Dalits and many human rights activists did protest but their voices got drowned in the cacophony of voices of Modi supporters. It is a different matter that when Modi’s remark got published in The Times of India in mid-November 2007, which was later translated in a few Tamil news-papers, it resulted in a massive reaction of Dalits in Tamil Nadu. Not only did they stage protests for calling their menial job a “spiritual experience” but Modi’s effigies were burnt in different parts of the State. Sensing trouble Modi immediately withdrew 5000 copies of the book, but still stuck to his opinion. Two years later, addressing 9000-odd safai karmacharis, he likened the safai karmacharis’ job of cleaning up others’ dirt to that of a temple priest. He told them: “A priest cleans a temple every day before prayers, you also clean the city like a temple. You and the temple priest work alike.”

One was reminded of these ideas of Mr Modi when news came in that the Budget for the coming year passed by the Gujarat State Assembly has allocated a sum of Rs 22.5 lakhs for giving training in karmkand (rituals) to the safai kamdars themselves. The idea is to train them in scriptures so that they can perform puja. It is clear that the ‘new scheme’, as it was presented before the people, was just a revised version of its earlier version wherein members of the Scheduled Castes were given training to become ‘Gurubrahmins’ so that they could also perform pujas. Insiders can also share with you that the said scheme has miserably failed and people who were trained to perform pujas are still searching for jobs.

It could well be asked that if Modi values safai karmacharis so highly, why is it that he has begun outsourcing all the menial jobs for a very low pay, between Rs 3000 and Rs 3500 per month per worker? Why are they not being employed on a permanent basis? A leading Dalit poet raised an altogether different question: “Why didn’t it occur to Modi that the spirituality involved in doing menial jobs hasn’t ever been experienced by the upper castes?”

It is worth emphasising that when the Gujarat Government declared its intention to train safai kamdars in karmkand, supposedly to integrate them into the mainstream of the Hindu society, it also happened to be the period when the anti-Dalit stance of the people in power was very much evident in two clear examples: the manner in which the State officials tried to cover up the social boycott of Dalits in a village, and the way they tried to save the guilty police officials involved in Dalit killings; both of these had already hit the headlines.

Not very many people would have heard about the village Galsana, Dhanduka tehsil, Ahmedabad district, which is around 100 kms from the city. The Dalits in the village, who are about 500 in number, are not allowed entry into any of the five temples in the village. The younger generation of Dalits protested this ban which resulted in their social boycott. When the news last came in, the boycott was already a few months old. Incidentally when officers from the Social Justice Department visited the village, they did not even acknowledge that Dalits are facing social boycott, forget asking the police to take action against the guilty.

The other news concerned the arrest of guilty police officials involved in the gruesome killings of Dalits at Thangarh. (September 2012) After four months, cop Jadeja and two other accused police officials in the Thangarh Dalit massacre case were arrested on February 23, 2013. It is reported that the killings at Thangarh were the fallout of a minor clash between Dalits and Bharwads over auctioning of stalls at an annual fair organised by the Thangarh municipality. When the Dalits filed a complaint against the Bharwads at the police station, the police refused to take any action; the anger of the Dalits spilled over onto the streets the next day which saw the participation of Dalits in large numbers and the police resorting to strong-arm tactics resulting in the killings. Despite knowing the fact that the infamous police officer had on an earlier occasion also fired upon the Dalits without any provo-cation, the administration tried every trick in its kitty to save him and his colleagues. It was only because of judicial intervention that they were ordered to be arrested.

Galsana and Thangarh can be said to be tip of the iceberg as far as Dalit deprivation and denial of justice is concerned. In fact much has been written about the way the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Atrocities Prevention) Act, 1989 is implemented in the State. One finds that the rate of conviction of cases under the Prevention of Atrocity Act against SCs/STs in Gujarat is a mere 2.5 per cent while the rate of acquittal is 97.5 per cent. A 23-page confidential report submitted by the State Social Justice Department to the State Chief Secretary and Legal Department provides glaring examples of ‘mishandling of cases registered under Prevention of Atrocities Act against SCs/STs’. (The Indian Express, September 15, 2006)

The report provides details of how cases are not investigated properly by the police and the hostile role played by public prosecutors during the time of trials.

• The Act clearly stipulates that offences which are registered under this Act cannot be investigated by an officer below the rank of DySP but more than 4000 such cases have been investigated by the Police Inspector or Police Sub-Inspector.

• Acquittal of the perpetrator because the victim not identified as a member of the SC or ST community. Reason: not attaching caste certificate of the victim with the case papers.

• Public prosecutors’ false claims before the courts that the Act has been modified by the State Government although it is known that it is a Central Act.

• Granting of anticipatory bails although there is no such provision in the Act. Interestingly, the Parliamentary Committee on SC and ST affairs had also expressed concern over such anticipatory bails granted ‘in atrocity cases in the State of Gujarat’.

In this backdrop it is worth underlining how little Mr Modi knew about this important law and its implications. One could rather say that in Gujarat the Chief Minister is directly responsible for the non-implementation of the Atrocity Act. As Raju Solanki, the famous poet and Dalit rights activist, writes in his blog:

It was on April 16, 2004, that a question was asked to Chief Minister Modi in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly: “Honourable Chief Minister [Home] may oblige us to tell, is it true that the DSP is responsible for the appointment of an officer not below the rank of DySP as investigating officer in the offences under the Atrocities Act?” The answer of our Chief Minister was shocking. He said: “No, but there is a provision under rule 7 (1) of SC/ST Act, 1995 to appoint officers not above the rank of DySP to inquire into all cases booked under atrocities act. It is not the responsibility of the DSP.”

The officer not above the rank of DySP” means he may be a PSI or PI and in most of the atrocities cases courts acquit the accused because the investigation officer is either a PSI or PI. Over 150 such judgments collected by the Council for Social Justice revealed that in 95 per cent of the cases, the accused have been acquitted because of negligence on the part of the authorities. In a number of these cases, while the accused has been convicted under the IPC section for murder and attempt to murder, he has gone scot-free on the atrocity charge.

In the end, one would like to put on record the way the presence of Dalits in records is being obliterated without any qualims. During the panchayat elections, Nathu Vadla, a small village of Gujarat with hardly 1000 population, had suddenly hit the headlines. The panchayat election in this village was to have been conducted on the basis of the 2001 data. The village has at least 100 Scheduled Caste people and one seat was to be reserved as per law, but the census data has not been modified since in 2001 the SC population was nil in the village; the election in 2013 was to have been conducted on the basis of the 2001 census. Here also the courts had to intervene to stay the election in the village. The Gujarat High Court stayed the election in the village saying that the electoral exercise in the circumstances would be a ‘mockery of democracy’.

 

Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s wife moves SC for stay on execution of death penalty


Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 13:32 IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

The apex court had on March 26, 2002 dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.

Devinderpal Singh Bhullar.

1993 Delhi blast convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar‘s wife today approached the Supreme Court seeking stay on execution of his death sentence till her review plea against its verdict is decided.

She submitted in her plea that she has filed a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict of April 12 in which the court had rejected her petition to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment on ground of delay on the part of the government in deciding his mercy plea.

Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) terrorist Bhullar was convicted and awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast here in September 1993, killing nine people and injuring 25 others, including then Youth Congress president M S Bitta.

The apex court had on March 26, 2002 dismissed Bhullar’s appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.

He had filed a review petition which was also dismissed on December 17, 2002. Bhullar had then moved a curative petition which too had been rejected by the apex court on March 12, 2003.

Bhullar, meanwhile, had filed a mercy petition before the President on January 14, 2003. The President, after a lapse of over eight years, dismissed his mercy plea on May 25, 2011.

Citing his delay, he had again moved the apex court for commutation of the death sentence but his plea was rejected.

The apex court had on May one commuted the death sentence awarded to murder convict M N Das, whose mercy petition was rejected by then President Pratibha Patil.

The court had allowed the plea of Das who had approached it for commutation of his death sentence on the ground that the President had taken twelve years to decide his mercy plea

 

Savage, inhuman torture & molestation by Jalangi police


 

6th May 2013

 

To

The Chairman

West Bengal Human Rights Commission

Bhabani Bhaban

Alipur

Kolkata – 27

 

Respected Sir,

 

I want to draw your kind attention regarding the matter of custodial torture committed upon Mr. Ariful Islam Sarkar by the police personnel of Jalangi Police Station. Our fact finding report provides the detail of the whole incident.

 

On the date of the incident the involved police personnel trespasses the victim’s house and brutally assaulted the victim in front of his wife Ms. Rina Bibi. They molested the victim’s wife by pulling her clothing.  After that the perpetrator police personnel forcibly took the victim to Jalangi Police Station and the victim was brutally assaulted by them inside the said police station during his custody. He was even waked at midnight, stripped naked and bashed. The victim received injuries over his body during the assault. After that the victim was medically treated at Sadhikandiyar Primary Health Centre and Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital; Baharampur. In both the places he informed the details of physical torture by the perpetrator police personnel to the attending doctors. Later, he was sent to prison and on 01.04.2013, the victim got bail. On 08.04.2014, the victim lodged a written complaint before the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad informing the incident of physical torture committed upon him by the involved police personnel of the Jalangi police station. But till date no actions has been taken by the higher authorities of the police.

Hence we seek your urgent intervention and demand for: –

 

·       The whole incident must be investigated Your own independent agency.

·       The involved police personnel of Jalangi Police Station must be booked under the specific law and prosecuted for their alleged criminal acts and acts committed in violation of law.

·       The victim and his family must be provided adequate compensation and protection so that they do not come under any further threat or inducement.

 

Thanking you

 

Yours truly

 

 

 

Kirity Roy

Secretary, MASUM

&

National Convener, PACTI

 

 

Name of the victim: – Mr. Ariful Islam Sarkar, son of- Late Abul Kasim Sarkar, aged about- 50 years, by faith- Muslim (backward community), residing at Village- Nabingram -Sagarpara, Police Station- Jalangi, District- Murshidabad, West Bengal, India.

 

Name of the perpetrators: – Mr. Mainuddin Khan (Assistant Sub-Inspector of Jalangi Police Station) and 4 other involved police constables of Jalangi Police Station.

 

Date and time of incident: – On 29.03.2013 at about 2 pm.

 

Place of occurrence: – Victim’s house at above mentioned address and inside Jalangi police station.

 

Case Details: –

 

It is revealed during fact finding that the victim is an agricultural labour. His financial condition was impecunious and he is living under financial duress.  He was not been enlisted under Below Poverty Line (B.P.L) category. In the year 1995, the victim got married with Ms. Selina Parvin, daughter of Mr. Ajimuddin Mondal. Fact finding reveals that she was from financially well off family as her father was a government employee. As a result, after their marriage, she developed marital discontent. In the year 2006, she left the victim’s house. The victim tried to convince his wife and father in law for her return but failed. Ms. Selina Parvin filed a divorce petition for the dissolution of her marriage with the victim. In the year of 2006, the victim got remarried with Ms. Ruma Bibi after getting divorce from his earlier marriage. This infuriated Ms. Selina Parvin and she started to conspire against the victim.

On 26.05.2010, she filed a petition under section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code before the Judicial Magistrate, 1st Court, Berhampore against the victim vide Execution Case No.-233/2010 and the court (JM 1st Court, Baharampur) ordered the victim to pay sum of Rs. 1800/- as maintenance per month to Ms. Selina Parvin. But the victim failed to pay few instalments of monthly maintenance due to his financial distress and as a result the court issued arrest warrant against the victim on the basis of non-payment of maintenance.

On 29.03.2013 at about 2 pm, Mr. Mainuddin Khan an Assistant Sub Inspector of Jalangi police station accompanied with four other police constables of Jalangi police station came to the house of the victim by an ash coloured Bolero make four wheelers. They trespassed into the victim’s house and at that time police force was not accompanied by any lady police. They foul mouthed with the members of the family and verbally abused the victim and his wife with filthiest language having sexual connotation. The police personnel brutally assaulted the victim in front of his wife with their wooden sticks and forcibly shoved the victim to the courtyard of his house, then Ms. Rina Bibi was molested by the said police personnel while she was asking for release of his husband from their clutches. During the melee the police personnel pulled her wearing, unclothed her and intentionally touched her private parts. In the mean time the perpetrator police personnel repeatedly had beaten the victim while they dragged the victim to their parked car. The victim was taken to the Jalangi police station and was put into the lock-up. The said ASI, Mr. Mainuddin Khan got the victim out from the police lock-up at midnight and again bashed him up. He was kept naked at the lock up for whole of night. While the victim asked for drinking water, the police personnel present at the time with the said ASI tried to force the victim to drink his own urine instead of giving him a glass of water

On 30.03.2013 at about 9 am, the victim was taken to Sadhikhandiyar Primary Health Centre for medical treatment. The victim informed the attending doctor; Dr. Nurujamman about the horrific physical torture meted upon him by the mentioned police personnel at the Jaangi police station. On 8.4.2013, he was again treated at Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital at Beharampur, after released from judicial custody on 1.4.2013 after granted bail from the court.

On 07.04.2013, our fact finding team wanted to talk with Mr. Mainuddin Khan; the involved ASI through telephone (03481-23553) regarding the incident of physical torture upon the victim by him. But the said police personal refused to discuss the issue and abruptly disconnected the telephone line. Our fact finding team again called to the said police station over telephone and wanted to know the details of the incident regarding the matter of custodial torture upon the victim by the police personnel attached with the police station. But the then Duty-Officer disagreed to discuss the happenings and he also disconnected the line in a haste.

On 08.04.2013, the victim lodged a written complaint before the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police; Murshidabad, informing the whole incident of custodial torture committed upon him by the police personnel of the Jalangi police station. But till date no appropriate actions have been taken by the higher authorities of the district or police administrations.

Inline images 1
VICTIM – MR. ARIFUL
 
Inline images 2
TREATMENT SHEET – FROM GOVT. HOSPITAL


Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

India Child Soldiers: Thousands recruited, Government defends the records of the terror groups


Asian Centre for Human Rights
(ACHR has Special Consultative Status with the UN ECOSOC)
C-3/441-C, Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058, India
Phone: +91-11-25620583, 25503624
Email: suhaschakma@achrweb.org; Website: www.achrweb.org;  Twitter: www.twitter.com/ACHRIndia

09 May 2013

PRESS RELEASE

 

Thousands recruited as child soldiers, India defends the records of the terror groups before the UN Child Rights Committee

New Delhi:  Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today released its report, “India’s Child Soldiers” (http://achrweb.org/reports/india/JJ-IndiasChildSoldiers2013.pdf), the first ever comprehensive study on the subject in India, and accused the Government of India of defending the records of the armed opposition groups, officially designated as terrorist groups, on the recruitment of child soldiers before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. India in its first report on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict to the UN Committee in 2011 stated that there is no recruitment of child soldiers including by the armed groups in India. The first periodic report of India (http://wcd.nic.in/crc3n4/crc3n4_2r.pdf) will come for preliminary examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child during its 66th pre-sessional working group to be held in Geneva from 7-11 October 2013 while NGOs are required to submit their reports by 1 July 2013 (http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcwg66.htm). ACHR submitted its report today to the UN CRC Committee.

 

“The recruitment of child soldiers by the armed groups including the Naxalites is rampant and at least 3,000 children i.e. 500 in the North East and Jammu and Kashmir and about 2,500 in the Naxal affected States currently remain involved in armed conflicts. This estimate of child soldiers is conservative considering that the Maoists follow the policy of forcibly recruiting at least one cadre from each Adivasi family. ”- stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

 

In addition to providing 11 cases of forcible recruitment of child soldiers by the armed groups, Asian Centre for Human Rights presented a number of photographs of child soldiers surrendering with their arms before then Home Minister P Chidambaram and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in 2011 and 2012.

 

“Regrettably,  the State Governments of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been recruiting children below 18 years as “boy-orderlies”  under Section 60 of the Madhya Pradesh Police Regulation and deploying them for combat purposes. While hundreds of children below 18 years have been recruited as “boy orderlies” in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh over the years, the State government of Chhattisgarh on a complaint filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights before the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights admitted in June 2011 that there are approximately 300 “boy-orderlies” employed in the state police force at present and seven of them were posted with 4th Battalion of Chhattisgarh Police at Mana in Raipur. These children are not only denied the right to education but deployed with the forces who are engaged in counter insurgency.” –asserted Asian Centre for Human Rights.

 

Article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict states that armed opposition groups should not, under any circumstance, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years and the government shall take all feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices.

 

The Government of India, however, in its first report of 2011 stated that there is no recruitment of child soldiers by the armed groups as “India does not face either international or non-international armed conflict situations”.

 

“This position of the Government of India is not only bizarre but also a case where the Government is actually defending the records of the armed groups on recruitment of child soldiers before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. India effectively protected the officially designated terror groups from condemnation of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for the recruitment of child soldiers, a war crime under the international law.”- further stated Mr Chakma.

 

Asian Centre for Human Rights urged the Government of India to inquire as to why the recruitment of child soldiers by the officially designated terror groups was concealed from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and take appropriate actions against the officials who are effectively ended up whitewashing the records of the armed groups on the recruitment of child soldiers

 

Why are Indian women being attacked on social media? #Vaw #Womenrights


By Divya AryaBBC Hindi, Delhi, May 8,2013

Sagarika GhoseSagarika Ghose has stopped giving her views on Twitter

What does a top woman journalist do when she is threatened regularly with gang rape and stripping on Twitter?

And what about when her teenage daughter’s name and details of her class and school are tweeted too?

“It was very disturbing. I didn’t know what to do. So for a few days I had her picked up and dropped off to school in our car and not via public transport, because I was really scared,” says Sagarika Ghose, a well-known face of Indian television news, who anchors prime-time bulletins on CNN-IBN and writes for a leading newspaper.

On Twitter, she has more than 177,000 followers.

“Targeting me for my journalism is fine. But when it is sexist and foul-mouthed abuse which insults my gender identity I get incredibly angry. In the beginning I used to retaliate, but that would lead to more abuse.”

Ms Ghose says women abused on Twitter in India tend to to be “liberal and secular”.

“The abusers are right wing nationalists, angry at women speaking their mind. They have even coined a term for us – ‘sickular’.”

Ms Ghose has now decided to stop putting out her views on Twitter.

“I just put out our programmes and disseminate information. Though I still re-tweet some of the abusive tweets because there has to be awareness of what women journalists face. What else can you do?”

Vicious attack

Kavita Krishnan, a prominent Delhi-based women’s activist, was attacked viciously during a recent online chat on violence against women onRediff.com, one of India’s leading news websites.

“It began well. I had answered a few interesting questions. And then one person, with the handle @RAPIST, started posting abusive comments. He then asked me where he could come to rape me using a condom,” she said.

She says she decided to leave the chat after the abuse continued.

Ms Krishnan considers herself “thick skinned, used to addressing difficult questions and dealing with abuse”, but this, she says, was “sexual harassment”.

“What angered me was that Rediff didn’t ensure that their guest was given a safe environment, the chat was not moderated nor was the abusive handle blocked.”

Meena KandasamyMeena Kandasamy chose to go to the police when she faced online abuse

Rediff did not respond to BBC’s requests for an interview.

However, they posted an edited transcript of the chat on their website. The offensive posts had been removed and an apology made to Ms Krishnan.

More than 90 million Indians are active users of Facebook and Twitter and a large number of them are women. Cyber stalking and bullying of women are common.

Writer-activist Meena Kandasamy chose to go to the police when she faced sexist abuse online.

Last year, she had tweeted about abeef-eating festival at a university in the city of Hyderabad after which she was threatened with “live-telecasted gang-rape and being torched alive and acid attacks”.

Hindus who regard cows as sacred had clashed with low-caste Dalit groups who had organised the event.

“On an average, I get about 30 to 50 abusive tweets on days when I am active on Twitter. During the beef festival, there were more than 800 tweets in a span of two to three hours,” Ms Kandasamy says.

‘Patriarchal’

She believes that many Indian men react to posts that are critical of “caste and of Hindu nationalism”.

“I face the threat of violence even outside this virtual world in terms of people who don’t like my writings, my politics. Copies of my books have been burnt. I feel that kind of pain is far more deep and real than anonymous trolls and threats,” says Ms Kandasamy.

K Jaishankar, a teacher of criminology who has been studying bullying, stalking and defamation of women online, says India’s “patriarchal mindset has pervaded the internet space”.

“Men don’t like women to talk back. Public personalities who express strong opinions are trolled in a bid to force them off line,” he says.

Mr Jaishankar, who counsels victims of cyber crime along with his colleague and lawyer Debarati Haldar, says that Indian users online are largely male introverts who have found the web a place where they can express themselves freely and anonymously.

Kavita KrishnanKavita Krishnan was attacked on an online chat

“These men could be respectable professionals such as doctors, lawyers or professors in real life but online, they tend to show a darker side.”

Most of the women affected online do not go to the police, Ms Haldar says. Instead, they try to get the objectionable content removed, which is not usually easy.

India has a law – Section 66A of India’s Information Technology [IT] Act – against sending inflammatory and indecent messages on the internet and in recent times it has been used by the state as a weapon against dissent.

But, Ms Haldar says, women facing cyber bullying of a sexual nature have not been able to convince the authorities to take action against their abusers under the law.

“In many instances, when I motivated the woman to go to the police, they came back and told me that their complaints were dismissed as trivial. Instead, the police told them that it was not necessary for women to give their opinion on social media.”

Ms Haldar says the authorities must take these cases more seriously and charge the offenders under Section 66A of the IT law.

Even charging the offenders under the existing laws on sexual harassment could go a long way in curbing such abuse against women, she says.

 

PRESS RELEASE- WESTSIDE’s Anti-disability, Anti-wheelchair Policy Continues


 

WESTSIDE’s Anti-disability, Anti-wheelchair Policy Continues

 

It is estimated that 15% of the population of India is disabled. A large chunk of them are wheelchair bound. Being bonafide citizens of the nation, it is the duty of the government to take care of them like any other citizens. Though slow on the uptake, the government has been moving in to take the most basic steps beginning with ensuring that all public places like public transport, parks and commercial establishments are accessible to people with disabilities including people on wheelchairs.

 

However, an accident last evening (7th May, 2013) highlights the callous way in which both government laws and public opinions are overlooked and sidestepped by businesses.

 

Malini Chib, my daughter who despite her cerebral palsy has not let that hamper her life garnering two masters degree and writing a best-selling book (One Little Finger), had gone to the Westside store in Fort to do shopping for women’s apparel. Finding no lift for the floor leading to the women’s section, she told her friend: ‘Lets try the escalator’. What she did not realize is that no person on a wheelchair who has problems of balance should do this.

 

The result was expected. Both of them had a massive fall leading to cuts and bruises on Malini’s shoulder, waist and arms. Her friend got her back muscle pulled.

 

This would have just been an unfortunate accident had it not been for two things: one is the law that stipulates that such establishments make their place disabled friendly, and secondly the fact that five years back the ADAPT Rights Group, that works to ensure rights for people with disabilities, had carried out a protest demonstration highlighting this and other issues that goes against the interest of the community of people with disabilities. The demonstration was held to alert Westside to how their international stores were anti-disability. This was followed with lengthy letters written to them about the law and how they can make their place disabled friendly by constructing ramps and lifts for their floor upstairs.

 

Sadly, Westside has continued to blatantly and flagrantly flout the law. My daughter and her friend were lucky to get away with no permanent damage but I dread to think what could have happened. I dread to think what might happen to other people with disabilities that might walk into the store unwittingly. I dread to think of what must be happening to thousands of disabled people across the country in hundreds and thousands of such establishments which show such blatant antipathy towards the disabled population.

 

It is high time that the gravity of the issue be understood and addressed. It is high time that the people responsible in Westside for this travesty of justice be seriously warned so that it becomes a lesson to others concerned.

 

This is in the interest of 15% people of the nation and thus in the interest of the nation itself. 

 

–          Mithu Alur, Founder-Chairperson ADAPT – Able Disabled All People Together (formerly the Spastics Society of India)

 

 

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