PRESS RELEASE- Fact Finding Report on Kerala Arrests under UAPA #draconianlaws


Kannur,
17- 05 – 2013
Following the news reports about the arrest of 21 Muslim youths under UAPA in Narath (Kannur dt.) by the Kerala police, a team of National Confederation of Human Rights (NCHRO) visited the place yesterday and today, met the relatives of the arrested, people living in the neighbourhood of the place of arrest and police officers with a view to collect the facts regarding. The team members are: NCHRO National Secretary Reny Ayline (Trivandram), Executive Members Prof. A.Marx (Chennai), G.Sugumaran (Puducherry), Kerala state committee member Advocate M.Abdul Shukoor (Malappuram), Writer and Activist K.M.Venugopal (Kannur) and Journalist Mohammed Shabir (Mangalore).
All the youths arrested are sympathisers of Popular Front of India (PFI), a registered organisation . They are conducting a programme every year known as “ Healthy People, Healthy Nation” in which they impart physical fitness training, yoga, some martial arts as well as religious and moral education to young people. This year also they were conducting the programme in a building owned by one Thanal Trust which is also a registered body under Charitable Trusts Act. This building is situated in a densely populated area in Narath behind the Falah English Medium High School. It is a half-built building without proper doors or the windows and everything that happens within the four walls of the building is visible to everybody outside. All the youths who took part in the programme were coming from the neighbourhood villages and they used to return to their homes in the nights.
According to the eye witnesses of the arrest which includes Mrs P.M.Saleem, Mrs. Abdul Jaffar, M.Abdullah, K.P.Mussam Kutty, all neighbours living around that building, a team of four policemen first entered the building on April 23 around 12.30 pm. The people around thought that it might be a regular visit of the police who used to come there often in search of sand mafia who are very active in that area. But soon a large battalion of police came there and took all the people in the building with them.
The police version of the story goes like this. As per the FIR filed by them (Mayyil P.S. FIR No 276/13), these people were given instructions on bomb making and training in the use of arms. They were able to seize two country bombs, one sword, and some materials and instruments necessary to make the bombs. Accordingly cases were filed under sections 143, 147, 153(B), R/W 149 IPC, Sec 5(1)(a) r/w 25(1)(a) of Arms Act, Sec 4 & of ES Act and Sec 18 of UAPA) against all the 21 Muslim youths and they were remanded to custody.
But not only the parents and relatives of the accused but also the neighbours mentioned above told us that no such armed training took place there, all the physical exercises and classes were very peaceful. One of the neighbours M.Abdullah said that he used to send his wife for the religious classes conducted there. The only Hindu living near the building one Suthish s/o Raghavan also said the same. He also denied that any bomb making or arms trainings were imparted to them. The Jamath member Mussam Kutty and the principal of Falah English Medium School Mr.P.Mustafa also said that the programmes were very peaceful and no such arms training were given to the inmates.
We also met the President of the Narath Grama Panchayat Mr.K.V.Mamy and a ward member Abdul Salam Haji. The former is a member of CPI(M) and the latter that of IUML. They also said that no such arms and bomb making trainings are possible in their panchayat limit. Nothing of that sort happened, they said. The president also attended a training programme conducted by the Thanal trust few weeks back known as ‘Happy Family’ in which Dr Ashraff, a psychologist took classes for women. Thanal trust also use to distribute school kits to poor children and conduct ‘School Chalo’ programmes to school drop outs. The President also said that there prevailed a political enmity between PFI and IUML because the front was responsible for the defeat of the IUML candidate in the last Panchayat election.
We visited the houses of at least four accused persons and met their near and dear. They all said that all the accused were brought from the Thanal trust building on April 23 to the police station on a promise that they would be sent back after an enquiry. Only in the evening they came to know through the media that so many serious cases are foisted against them. No such arms and bombs were seized either in the building at the time of arrest or in their houses during searches. Some of their statements:
C.P.Musa, Former teacher , Kottancherry : “My son Fahad (27) is a B.Com graduate. He owns a Travel Agency. He is also a franchise holder of Western Union Money Transfer and people living in foreign countries use to send money to their relatives for building houses through him. As a teacher I can say that he is a very good student, he is very pious, use to pray 5 times a day, fast two times a week. He is a sympathiser of PFI. The police searched my house and also my son’s travel agency. They found nothing incriminating. They took only a copy of the Holy Quran and a marriage cd from my son’s office. We came to know his arrest through the media.”
A.P.Umar, Muzhappillangadi : “My son Rickas (22) is studiying M.B.A. He is not a member of any organisation. I came to know his arrest only through the media. Some political opponents must have given false information to the police. Police came to my house but found nothing.”
C.P.Mustafa, Auto Driver, Muzhappillangadi : “My son Jamsheed (20) is a student of civil engineering. Two days back I met him in the prison. He said that one investigating officer told him that if he accepted the charge, they would give him 2 lakh rupees in cash and a new house”
M.Sanfaras, Manager in a private company in Bangalore : “My brother Rshid (22) is a +2 student. Our father is no more. They raided my house and found nothing. My brother had no connection with any organisation. My mother and other family members came to know about his arrest only through the media.
Mr. Kalyattu Surendhran, the Station Officer of the Mayyil police station denied the allegations of the relatives of the accused. He said that it was true that arms and bomb making trainings were given to the accused. When we asked him that how such clandestine activities were possible in such a crowded place and that too in an open building without window doors , he was not able to give a proper reply. When we asked him about what sort of bombs were seized from them, he said that they were giving training to make “something like bombs” and two of which were seized by them. When we asked about other incriminating materials seized he showed a register in which it was stated that a cd about ‘love jihad’ and a pamphlet on the role of Sangh Parivar in blast cases were seized . The pamphlet ‘Spoadana Bheekatrathayil Sangaparivarathinte Paghu’ was written by one Jalarudin Vazhakkad and published by Jamathe Islami. Earlier it was published as a serial in the magazine ‘Praboadhanam’. When we pointed out that these were not banned documents and were available freely in the market, he replied, “may be”.
We also met the DySP P.Sukumaran and Inspector P.Balakrishnan in the former’s office .They told that UAPA was invoked on them not for the bombs seized there, but the mind set of certain Muslims are such that these laws were to be used against them. “Kerala is a beautiful country and there is no majority / minority problem here. There is no problem with the Christian minority; however, Muslim minority are not like that” said the DySP “We have arrested them not only for bomb making. We have seized there 172 incriminating documents which necessitated the application of UAPA”, said the Inspector. But that list of 172 ‘incriminating’ documents contain only items like Indian currencies, ID cards, paper cuttings..etc. The DySP also said that he had received a complaint from the local mosque committee that the activities in that building are to be watched. But when we met a Jamath member he denied that any clandestine activities took place in that building which we have already quoted.
Our Observations : 1. The Supreme Court directions given in D.K.Basu case were not followed in these arrests. The police has lied to the court that the parents were informed about the arrests by phone whereas they came to know about it only through the media.
2. It was not at all possible that any training on the use of arms and bomb making can be imparted to the youths in such a thickly populated and open place and that too in a building without doors or the windows. Such physical and moral training classes were conducted by PFI in the same place at least for the past three years and no complaints were received by the police about any clandestine activities. When the police visited there once, they didn’t find anything. All the neighbours living around the building also deny such allegations. We also wonder what sort of arms training could have been given to at least 21 people with a single sword and a few wooden sticks. It is ridiculous to say that some freely available pamphlets and compact discs are shown as incriminating materials. Since nobody had seen the police seizing “something like bombs” in the building, we strongly believe that the bomb story is hoaxed by the police to justify their action and malign the movement.
3. We are much worried about the way in which rumours are spread against the arrested youths by the intelligence through the media. Some sixty lakhs rupees found in the account of one accused is focused as large illegal foreign money involved in this act. Actually he is involved in a travel business and holds a consultancy for admission in self financing engineering and medical colleges. He receives money from migrant labours in foreign countries to build houses through a friend of him. The police were not able to find anything illegal in that account. Few days back one newspaper has published that the Narath accused were involved in Coimbatore serial bomb blast case. All the accused are young people and most of them were school going children when Coimbatore incident took place and some of them had not even born at that time. A Kish identity card seized from one of the accused is also projected as related to some anti national activity. But having a Kish ID is a normal thing used as an intermediary pass to move to UAE for those who have no permanent visa to that country.
4. Except one of them , all other 20 young men arrested were not at all involved in any other pending cases.
5. It is very sad that Kerala police has foisted such false cases against these innocent youths at a time when there is widespread concern expressed throughout the nation on # arrests of innocent Muslim youths. Most of them had been kept in prison for so many years and then released as they were innocents. Not only their prime youthful years were lost in prison, but stigmatized of being dubbed ‘anti nationals’ because of this arrest, they are not even able to get good jobs and decent livelihood. Recently, the Supreme Court also has condemned this. The Press Council Chairperson Justice Markandeya Katju had expressed concern about spreading such false propaganda against innocent Muslim youths in the media. He has also proposed an institution known as ‘The Court of Last Resort’ to extend help and save such innocent youths languishing in Indian prisons. It is no one’s position that those who plant bombs should go unpunished. As the editor of Tehelka magazine Shoma Chaudhri has written, “do not make false arrests and breed fresh despair, triggering new cycles of hate and revenge. In the clever calculations men make about security and State, they underestimate the power of human despair. When you lose faith that a system will play fair by you, it can breed fatal recklessness. It can make you abdicate from the rules that cement human relations. Despair can turn you from citizen to perpetrator, from the hunted to the hunter. Despair can be a deadly weapon”. Even parties like CPI(M) have now raised this issue. Recently the CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat took a list of 22 Muslims to President Pranab Mukherjee and demanded the Centre to take immediate steps to help such victims of “State-led injustice”. The demands included fast-track courts; rehabilitation and compensation for those had been falsely jailed; and a review of the UAPA
Our Demands
1. We strongly believe that all the allegations against these youths are false and the fake case foisted against these innocent youths should be immediately withdrawn and those arrested should be unconditionally released. Special care should be taken to allow the students to write their examinations.
2. We cannot find any logic to evoke a draconian Act like UAPA in this case. Since nationwide concern is expressed against this Act, we demand that UAPA should be repealed immediately.
3. The case against these 21 youths was deliberately foisted with a view to harassing them and spoiling the name of PFI. With spreading rumours against these innocent youths we find them stigmatized as ‘anti nationals’, which in turn will spoil their future. It is alleged that during interrogation, the police had chosen the poorest among them and offered two lakh rupees and a new house in exchange for accepting the charges and becoming an approver. We demand a judicial enquiry in this arrest by a sitting High Court Judge. The police officers responsible for foisting this case should be punished and the innocent youths should be given compensation.
4. Kerala is the state with highest literacy rate and the political, civil rights and trade union consciousness among the people are larger when compared to other states. We humbly issue a call to the political parties, writers and other intelligentsia to condemn the indiscriminate use of draconian laws such as UAPA against innocent youths.
5. From our conversation with the higher police officials we understand that they are biased against the Muslim minority in the state. We demand that sensitisation programmes should be conducted for the revenue and police personnel on problems faced by minorities, dalits and adivasis. Also, sufficient number of officials from minority communities is to be posted in areas in which the above sections of population are in large numbers .

Address: Reny Ayline, NCHRO, 44, Hilal Homes, Abul Fazal Enclave, New Delhi – 110025. Cell: 8606337319, 9633443798.

Biometrics programs for the developing world could put data in the wrong hands #Aadhaar #UID


Privacy for the Other 5 Billion

Western-backed biometrics programs for the developing world could put data in the wrong hands.

By  and 

Posted Friday, May 17, 2013, at 11:51 AM

An Indian villager looks at an iris scanner during the data collecting process for a pilot project of The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in the village of Chellur, some 145kms north-west of Bangalore on April 22, 2010.

An Indian villager looks at an iris scanner for a pilot project of the Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI, in the village of Chellur, northwest of Bangalore, on April 22, 2010.Photo by Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images

Move over, mobile phones. There’s a new technological fix for poverty: biometric identification. Speaking at the World Bank on April 24, Nandan Nilekani, director of India’s universal identification scheme, promised that the project will be “transformational.” It “uses the most sophisticated technology … to solve the most basic of development challenges.” The massive ambition, known as Aadhaar, aims to capture fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans of 1.2 billion residents, with the assumption that a national identification program will be a key ingredient to “empower poor and underprivileged residents.” The World Bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, effusively summed up the promise as “just stunning.”

Although few can match Nilekani’s grand scale, Aadhaar is but one example of the development sector’s growing fascination with technologies for registering, identifying, and monitoring citizens. Systems that would be controversial—if not outright rejected—in the West because of the threat they pose to civil liberties are being implemented in many developing countries, often with the support of Western donors. The twin goals of development and security are being used to justify a bewildering array of initiatives, including British-funded biometric voting technology in Sierra Leone, U.N. surveillance drones in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and biometric border controls in Ghana supported by the World Bank.

This vigorous adoption of technologies for collecting, processing, tracking, profiling, and managing personal data—in short, surveillance technologies—risks centralizing an increasing amount of power in the hands of government authorities, often in places where democratic safeguards and civil society watchdogs are limited. While these initiatives may be justified in certain cases, rarely are they subject to a rigorous assessment of their effects on civil liberties or political dissent. On the contrary, they often seek to exploit the lack of scrutiny: Nilekani recommended in another recent speech that biometric proponents work “quickly and quietly” before opposition can form. The sensitivity of the information gathered in aid programs is not lost on intelligence agencies: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Mazzetti recently revealed that the Pentagon funded a food aid program in Somalia for the express purpose of gathering details on the local population. Even legitimate aid programs now maintain massive databases of personal information, from household names and locations to biometric information.

Advertisement

Humanitarian organizations, development funders, and governments have a responsibility to critically assess these new forms of surveillance, consult widely, and implement safeguards such as data protection, judicial oversight, and the highest levels of security. In much of the world, these sorts of precautions are sorely lacking: For example, despite the success of information technology in Africa, only 10 countries on the continent have some form of data protection law on the books (and even those rarely have the capacity or will to enforce them).

Kenya is a good example of how these programs can go wrong. In the country’s recent election, a costly biometric voting scheme flopped, adding widespread uncertainty to an already fragile situation. The problems were manifold, from biometric scanners that couldn’t recognize thumbprints to batteries that failed and servers that crashed. As journalist Michela Wrong put it, “almost none of it worked.” With limited resources, why support expensive and often ineffective technologies like biometric voting when traditional systems often suffice? While biometrics could help clean up electoral rolls, they may very well serve to obfuscate the electoral process, as information is passed through proprietary applications and technologies, closed to public scrutiny and audit.

But the worries in Kenya extend beyond technological failure. Like many low-income countries, Kenya has historically lacked a robust program of birth registration, making public health work notoriously difficult. It also stymies the provision of education services and cash transfers to vulnerable populations. To rectify this, the Kenyan state has sought to enroll all adults in a biometric national identification scheme that aims to interoperate with various other databases, including the tax authority, financial institutions, and social security programs. According to the director of this Integrated Population Registration System, George Anyango, the government now has “the 360 degree view of any citizen above the age of 18 years.” The Orwellian language is particularly worrisome given Kenya’s lack of data protection requirements and history of political factionalism, including the ethnic violence in the aftermath of the 2007 election that resulted in the death of more than 1,000 Kenyans.

The Aadhaar project in India—a country with a history of ethnic unrest and social segregation, widespread political and bureaucratic corruption, and with no effective legislative protection of privacy—should raise similar, magnified fears. Furthermore, it’s doubtful the program could help bring about the social equality it promises. Proponents of these state registration schemes argue that a lack of ID is a key reason why the poor remain marginalized, but they risk misdiagnosing the symptom for the cause. The poor are marginalized not simply because they lack an ID, but rather because of a complex history of discriminatory political, economic, and social structures. In some cases a biometric identity scheme may alter those, but only if coupled with broader, more difficult reforms.

One of Aadhaar’s biggest promises is the opportunity to open bank accounts (which require identification). Yet, poor, marginalized Indians, even with an ID, find formal banks to be unfriendly and difficult to join. For example, the anthropologist Ursula Rao foundthat the homeless in India—even after registering for Aadhaar—were blocked from banking, most frequently for lack of proper addresses, but more fundamentally because, as she notes, biometric identification “cannot establish trust, teach the logic of banking, or provide incentives for investing in the formal economy.” Bank managers remain suspicious and exclusionary, even if an identity project is inclusive. Without broader reforms—including rules for who may or may not access identity details—novel identification infrastructures will become tools of age-old discrimination.

Another, more practical drawback is that biometric technology is particularly ill-suited for individuals who have spent years in manual labor, working in tough conditions where their fingerprints wear down or they may even lose full fingers or limbs. Even with small authentication error rates—say, the 1.7 percent that recent estimates from Aadhaar suggest—the number of failures in a population the size of India’s can be enormous. Aadhaar has already enrolled 240 million people, with plans to reach all residents. You do the math.

The growth of these systems is due in part to the lack of public education and consultation, as well as the paucity of technical expertise to advise on the risks and pitfalls of surveillance technologies. But certainly the international donors and humanitarian organizations that support these initiatives have a responsibility to critically assess and build in safeguards for these technologies. Given the enormity of the challenge facing these organizations, it is perhaps easy not to prioritize issues like privacy and security of personal data, but the same arguments were once made against gender considerations and environmental protections in development. Aid programs that involve databases of personal information—especially of those most vulnerable and marginalized—must adopt stringent policies and practices relating to the collection, use, and sharing of that data. Best practices should include privacy impact assessments and consider the scope for “privacy by design” methodologies.

As the rhetoric around Aadhaar makes clear, the promise of a quick technical solution to intractable social problems is alive and well. However, it is time to recognize that human development involves the protection of civil liberties and individual freedoms, and not blindly rush into the creation of surveillance states in the name of development and poverty alleviation. Donors and aid organizations need to remember that the other 5 billion deserve privacy, too.

 

SOURCE- slate.ocm

On The Social Fabric In Narendra Modi’s Gujarat


18 May 2013  By Shivam Vij

Narendra Modi; Pic Courtesy: in.com

Narendra Modi’s phenomenal success story is indeed very interesting; how he shaped his political victories based on to ‘the aam aadmi’ welfare concept is the real catch. Secular intellectuals of our country however blame him for creating an inhuman divide between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat. There are many such things on which NaMo gets cornered!

This is an excerpt from the chapter, ‘The Enemy Within’ in NIIANJAN MUKHOPADHYAY’s book,Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times.

From the label of “Master Divider” in India Today in January 2003 to the tag of “The Great Polariser” in the Outlook in July 2012 – Narendra Modi’s image remained static: self-declared champion of one community of people. But the strain Gujarat faced in the course of his tenure has increased manifold.

Wherever I travelled in Gujarat, there was a clear distinction between “us” and “them”. This difference was articulated by several Hindus every time the conversation veered in this direction. In contrast, counterparts among Muslims denied this. The disagreement with the hypothesis stemmed not from a belief and perception that they faced no discrimination but because of a “fear” that accepting such a viewpoint could be interpreted as levelling an allegation that they were being targeted – a risk no Muslim is willing to take after the post-Godhra violence.

The ever-widening gulf that exists amongst Hindus and Muslims at a social level was unmistakable in two places: first, in Bhuj, the headquarters of Kutch district and the epicentre of the 2001 earthquake that actually began the Modi-era in Gujarat’s narrative. The second place where the tattered social fabric of Gujarat becomes evident is in an outgrown village nearly twenty-five kms away from the heart of Ahmedabad – the spiritual headquarters of a community of people who belong to the Pirana sect.

In Bhuj we are in the office of Kutchmitra – the largest selling Gujarati paper in the district. A reporter who requests anonymity, mentions that Muslims in cities and towns of Kutch no longer cook non-vegetarian food at home. Instead, they go to a few Muslim-run restaurants in colonies where only people from their community live. This was done because of social pressure from Hindus. Kutch incidentally has the highest percentage of Muslims – twenty-one per cent – in the state.

The reporter continued his narrative on changed social customs in Kutch in the past decade: whenever there is a marriage in a Muslim family and they wish to invite Hindu business associates (there are no friends across communities- rishta sirf zaroorat ka hee hai – the relationship is purely need-based) – they make a special announcement in the wedding card. There will be a separate- and sanitized- dining hall for “Hindu guests” at the wedding reception.

The second place which testifies to the dramatic transformation of inter-community relationships in Gujarat in the aftermath of the post-Godhra violence is at the shrine in Pirana, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, whose followers have ancestral roots in Kutch. This religious order was established almost five hundred years ago by Imam Shah, a deviant from Islam who has often been given the tag of a Sufi for want of another label. He set up the sect and initially drew followers from the community of Patels of Anjar Taluka in Kutch.

 

Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay; Tranquebar Press

The temporal head of Satyapanthis – as the followers were named – fused practices of Islam with Hindu traditions and evolved a code of his own. The Patels integrated with Muslim followers (Syeds) of Imam Shah who ran his religious order on democratic lines with a governing council taking all key decisions. The council consisted of ten people — seven Patels and three Syeds and the successors of Imam Shah (called Kaka) were selected by mutual consultation over the past five centuries.

Soon, the Satyapanthis — like several other communities emerged as a small little third religious group, distinct from Hindus and Muslims. The outsider status of Satyapanthis started coming under strain from the late 1980s due to several reasons: growing sentiment among Patel followers and the then Kaka to give a greater “Hindu-thrust” to the sect and convert each member into a “political Hindu” being the most significant one. Called a dargah till then, the shrine came to be frequently referred to as a temple — deifying Shri Nishkalanki Narayan Bhagwan. The tombs which lay scattered around the shrine were one-by-one adorned with Hindu motifs. Rituals inside the sanctum sanctorum — the tomb of Imam Shah — acquired Hindu characteristics. In 1997, when I visited the shrine as part of a study on inter-community relations in Kutch, I still found Syeds among the regular devotees.

This was not the case in 2012 and a lot other than this had also changed. To begin with, the main gate of the dargah had been shut — which was a typical medieval structure and had a distinct influence of Islamic architecture. The entry to the shrine was now through a huge ornate gate, typical of temples with ample resources. The gate led into the main building of what was initially an adjunct but has now become the principal shrine. Inside the old dargah, barring the graves everything has a “Hindu look”. In the past decade, the Satyapanthis witnessed their gods being taken away.

The head of the governing council, the current Kaka got agitated with my probing questions – pertaining to the virtual disappearance of Syeds from the shrine and the reasons why the original main gate was closed. Syeds may have been virtually turned away from what used to be their shrine also till a decade ago, but their “presence” still causes problems — especially for Modi.

In September 2011, Modi launched a much-publicised officially-run campaign to promote social harmony. Called Sadbhavna Mission, the name was similar to programmes initiated by several Indian political leaders in the past with the intent of invoking secular-tokenism and have been accompanied by appropriate symbolism. But Modi did not make any gesture signalling public overtures to Muslims. The Sadbhavna Mission grabbed headlines after Modi’s refusal to accept a skull cap associated with Muslims though he accepted the shawl.

Media reports called the cleric a Sufi leader – Syed Imam Shahi Sayed. But, he is one of the deposed members of the governing council of Satyapanthis. Due to this deposition, Sayed now speaks more like a Muslim and less like a believer of a rebel-sect. He told journalists that ‘Modi’s refusal to accept the cap is not my insult but an insult to Islam.’ The contention of Vijay Rupani, BJP spokesman was similar to what Modi told me in an interview:

‘Narendra Modi has clearly said that his policy is not of appeasement of a section of society unlike other parties, but our approach is development for all and treating everyone as equal.’

In less than a decade and a half, Kutch has witnessed social stratification that will be difficult to undo. Similarly, the Pirana Dargah has lost its name, its spiritual pluralism and a large section of its followers who have tragically reverted back to the faith from where the founder branched out. Though the onset of these developments pre-dates the Modi era in Gujarat, it reached acute and probably irreversible levels of disconnect in his tenure coinciding with the period when the “us” and “they” have become more antagonistic.

When I had begun working on this biography I was painfully aware that the nascent schisms which I had witnessed in Gujarat in 1997 would have been brutally prised wider. The crudeness with which the divisions in the state were amplified, I was sure, would yield multiple narratives. To ensure that I did not stray from the narrative I was in search of — my own “Modinama”– I consciously decided to restrict my visit to only Pirana Dargah (as I still insisted on calling the place) and Kutch instead of travelling to other places in Gujarat known for spiritual diversity which includes Hindu folk deities.

*

One of the most emotive reasons behind the pillorying of the “other” by Hindus in Gujarat has been the sustained campaign advocating that “they” are swamping “us” — it was also the underlying sentiment of Modi’s Ame paanch, Amara pachhees (we are five and we have twenty-five) speech — that echoed the old argument of rabid Hindu communalists that “Muslims breed more”. But this claim is not consistent with census data based on religion from the pre-independence period. Religious demography of Gujarat is also available in post-independent India through the various decadal census reports.

According to this, the first census in 1951 pegged Gujarat’s Muslim population at 8.9 per cent. But in 1951, the state as we know was yet to be formed and a better representative figure would be 1961 which lowered the figure by half a point to 8.4 per cent. According to census data of 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 the percentage of Muslims in Gujarat remained more or less similar and touched 9.1 per cent in the latest headcount for which religion-wise data has been tabulated — an increase for sure but not dramatic or alarming by any yardsticks to merit propagation of myths regarding higher breeding rates among Muslims.

The “breed more” theory also gets knocked off by data presented by the committee appointed by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, to study the “social, economic and educational” status of Muslims in India. Called the Sachar Committee in popular parlance, it found that contraceptive prevalence rate among Muslim couples is almost equal to the overall state rate.

Among Christians there has been an increase of only 0.2 percentage points between 1991 and 2001, but it could be argued that in absolute terms the number is fairly high because of small numbers of Christians in the state. From a total number of almost eighty thousand Christians in 1951 the numbers had increased to more than two lakh eighty-four thousand in 2001. In absolute numbers, the data has been used as a handy tool to spread the campaign of hate and distrust with an aim to heighten paranoia.

The propagandist approach with use of distorted demographic data has often been used as a justification for anti-conversion laws in different states. Gujarat too joined the list of such states in 2003 with the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act. The most contentious part of the law was that permission has to be sought from the local administration by any person wishing to either convert personally to another faith or act as the “convertor” by virtue of being a priest, maulvi or pandit. After being notified in 2008, the law was challenged in the High Court in March 2009 but though a notice was sent to the state government, there has been little progress towards hearing the plea filed by Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights and some other petitioners.

The main basis on which the law has been challenged is that it violates Article 25 of the Indian Constitution which states that every citizen is ‘equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.’ The law virtually makes inter-religious marriages effectively impossible unless it has the consent of both families. But if a couple risks bravery, then there are always some people who are forever ready with “corrective steps.”

Gujaratis account for almost five per cent of the Indian population which Modi now keeps reminding everyone, adds up to six crores. With a Muslim population close to nine per cent it almost seems that Modi has to contend with more than five million people, the majority of whom by and large feel alienated from his government. I asked Modi about this, arguing that whether we like it not, Muslims and the issue of their existence cannot be brushed aside.

I contended that since there were a large numbers of Muslims in Gujarat it was necessary to include them in the state’s political evolution and growth. Or did he think they could be kept outside?

Modi of course said that he pursued an inclusive approach to politics but did not believe that there was need for any extra thrust for any group which according to him was “appeasement”. I asked him further if he felt that there was any need for him to invite people for dialogue if there was a sentiment of disgruntlement? His reply can be interpreted in several ways and he said: ‘I am always ready (for a dialogue). My doors were open… anyone can come, everyone is welcome, I am ready anytime, every time.’

But there are critics from within his fraternity who felt that Modi had not done enough to assuage the hurt of 2002. Govindacharya is one of them. I asked him about his assessment of the progression of social tension between 2002 and 2012. In reply, he said:

The situation has not eased – instead is similar to a wound which is bandaged – no healing. On the contrary, I have noticed that whenever society cannot find any solution there is a danger of a section slipping into a phase of melancholy. This is the opposite of the violent phase. I very often find Gujarat to be going through this phase of melancholy.

I wanted him to be more specific, which section of the society did he mean? He was unambiguous: Muslims. ‘This is the reason why they are not able to uplift themselves and are not able to contribute for the growth and development of Gujarat. Now I am not sure how this stagnancy will take a turn in the future – will it become a fodder or will it take a turn of assimilating tendency – there is a huge question mark on this. Unfortunately, I see no efforts being made to turn this into an assimilating tendency. All these Sadbhavna Yatras and other similar programmes are all varnishing efforts – they are not repair work.’

 

 

Sexual harassment of girls forces 6 Haryana Villages to stop them sending to schools #Vaw #WTFnew


NHRC notice to Haryana Chief Secretary and DGP.

New Delhi, 17th May, 2013

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 6 Village Panchayats of Mahendergarh District in Haryana unanimously decided not to send girls to schools from 13th May, 2013, owing to alleged inaction by police and school authorities in ensuring their safety. The names of Villages are Pal, Gadania, Kherki, Nihalawas, Kuksi and Palah. Reportedly, the decision was to affect 400 girls students.
The Panchayat Members expressed deep concern over the safety and security of the girls in the wake of increasing instances of sexual harassment. The media report also mentioned two specific incidents of harassment of teenaged girls in the recent past. The neighbouring District Rewari had also witnessed a similar situation a few months ago when around 50 girls were stopped from attending schools.
The Commission has observed that the content of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the girl students. Notices have been issued to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Haryana calling for reports within four weeks.
They have also been directed to inform the Commission of the details of incidents of sexual harassment of teenaged girls that might have taken place in Haryana during the last 3 months and, particularly, in the 6 Villages referred to in the press report alongwith the preventive action, if any, taken by the Administration in this regard.

 

Press Release – People’s Convention Against Onslaught on #FOE and Association


Need to change the judicial and political system, resolves people’s convention

 

New Delhi, May 18, 2013: A people’s convention on the State’s Onslaught On Right to Freedom of Expression and Association organized here in the backdrop of suspension of INSAF’s FCRA and freezing of its bank account resolved to fight against the demonizing and draconian laws of Indian state in favor of dispossessed people and their basic rights.

 

Speaking on the occasion in the Constitution Club of India, NCP spokesperson Devi Prasad Tripathi informed the packed house that he has recently written a letter to the Home Minister of India Sushil Kumar Shinde to revoke its FCRA orders against INSAF unconditionally as this step may cause embarrassment to the government. The letter states, “…I apprehend that you actions against INSAF may appear to be motivated and may cause embarrassment to the government…INSAF and its allies are engaged in defending democratic rights of deprived communities and in strengthening secular spirit of the nation”. Tripathi said that the judicial and political system of this country needs to be transformed completely.

 

The convention started with paying homage to Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, the founder President of INSAF who passed away two days back. Delhi University Professor Achin Vinaik elaborated on the life and works of Dr. Engineer. After this, senior journalist Anand Swaroop Verma gave a detailed backgrounder of the corporate-security establishment nexus in India that started with a report of FICCI and ASSOCHAM and including the “wise” suggestion of the Prime Minister to “co-opt” the media in a meeting with home ministers of states way back in 2006. Manisha Sethi of Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association updated the same issue with new facts regarding defence deals and media-corporate nexus where Reliance group has a shareholding in  25 news channels.

 

Forward Block General Secretary Devbrat Biswas emphasized on continuing the struggles and people’s movements with people’s resources and leadership whether FCRA is continued or not. Educationist Anil Chowdhary categorically said that if the government vows not to take any foreign funding for development, then INSAF will be the first to surrender its FCRA and continue struggles without foreign funding. He said that since the government does not have the courage to do so, hence it may categorically state on its website whether which struggles are not applicable for foreign funding. Chowdhary satirically said that the government has a last and very easy resort to add a footnote in the constitution that all the rights apply to just 15 percent population of this country.

 

Other speakers including Kalyani Menon Sen, Ramesh Dixit, Anil Singh, Ashok Chowdhary, Ranjana Padhi and John Dayal expressed solidarity with the struggling pro-people forces and  condemned the state’s onslaught on people’s basic rights. The convention concluded by passing a five point resolution condemning the recent arrests of anti-POSCO leader Abhay Sahoo, social activists Madhuri and PUCL activist Jaya Vindhyala.

 

Access to Medicines in Rajasthan, after Novartis Ruling


In the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgment against Novartis trying to
seek patent on its anticancer drug Gleevec used for treatment of CML and
the granting of license to pharmaceutical company Natco by the Controller
General of Patents India to produce another anti cancer drug Sorafenib used
for treatment of liver and kidney cancers at 98% lesser cost than its
innovator company Bayer under the provisions of Compulsory Licensing, a
workshop for continuing medical education of the clinicians titled *”Making
Essential Medicines Available and Affordable to All Citizens” was jointly
organized by the SMS Medical College Jaipur, Rajasthan Medical Services
Corporation, Prayas and JSA Rajasthan on Saturday, 11th May 2013 in
Jaipur.*The key note address was delivered by Prof. Ranjit Roy
Chaudhury who
currently chairs the expert committee to formulate guidelines and SOPs for
approval of new drugs, clinical trials, banning of drugs and FDCs
constituted by the MOHFW, Govt. of India. Another speaker Mr. Anand Grover,
UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Health and intervening lawyer on behalf
of the Cancer Patients Aid Association in the famous Novartis V/s Union of
India case in the Supreme Court of India spoke about the history of patent
laws and its impact on access to essential medicines in India besides the
developments which led to the Supreme Court rejecting the appeal of
Novartis. Dr. Mira Shiva of AIDAN and IHES spoke on TRIPS, WTO and global
issues relating to access to medicines. Dr. Subhash Nepaliya, Principal SMS
Medical College, Jaipur welcomed the participants. Other speakers were Dr.
Samit Sharma, Managing Director Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation and
Dr. Narendra Gupta of Prayas & JSA Rajasthan. The workshop was attended by
more than 140 persons including Dr. Virendra Singh, Supdt, SMS Hospital
Jaipur, Dr. S.D. Sharma, Supdt. Children’s Hospital, Dr. Pradeep Sharma,
Supdt Mental Hospital attached to SMS Medical College, Jaipur and large
number of other senior faculty members including medical oncologists. There
was very intense question answer session after each presentation. Most
questions raised were relating to the quality, efficacy of generic
medicines and adherence to essential medicines list.

As reported earlier, the Govt. of Rajasthan has included Imatinib Mesylate
under the Free Medicines Scheme of Rajasthan and the innovator company
Novartis had offered to provide 30 capsules of 400 mgm of it sold by it
under the brand name Glivec in Rs. 8000 which it sells in Rs. 1,23,456/- in
the market. This offer came prior to the Supreme Court judgment. But, the
RMSC floated tenders which were opened on the last Friday. Five companies
participated in the tender and offered to provide the medicine in prices as
follows:

1. United Biotech: Rs. 654.84
2. West Coast Pharma : Rs. 883.38
3. Glenmark :Rs.  902.70
4. Naprod Life Science : Rs. 1101.60
5. Cipla : Rs. 2548.62

According to a senior oncologist SMS Medical College Jaipur there are more
than 9,000 patients undergoing treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia in
the state right now and the govt. of Rajasthan is determined to make
Imatinib Mesylate available completely free for all such patients at govt.
health facilities under the Chief Minister Free Medicine Scheme. This would
certainly come as a huge relief to all these patients in terms of the cost
of treatment which they all must be bearing out of their pockets till now.

Prayas, Centre For Health Equity,
URL : www.prayaschittor.org

 

Vulgar Song Case: FIR Filed Against Punjabi Rapper Honey Singh


 

 IBTimes Staff Reporter | May 17, 2013 =

Just days after High Court questioned the inaction by Punjab police against Honey Singh, a First Investigation Report (FIR) has been booked against the pop singer on Friday.

A case has been filed with the Nawanshahr police against Honey Singh, accusing him of singing vulgar songs laden with sexual violent content directed at women.

The singer was booked under Section 294 (singing obscene songs at public place to the annoyance of others) of Indian Penal Code and the song “Main Hoon Balatkari” (I Am rapist) with its lyrics has been included in the complaint.

Based on the section of crime, a person can be put behind bars for three months maximum, fined or be subjected to both.

Confirming the case, Nawanshahr senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dhanpreet Kaur told Hindustan Times, “We have registered a case against Honey Singh and started further investigations.”

The complaint was filed on behalf of Nawanshahr based NGO, Human Empowerment League of Punjab (HELP), by its general secretary Parvinder Singh Kittna for prohibiting songs laden with lewd contents. Honey Singh’s name was mentioned among others in the petition.

The Punjab and Harayana High Court had rapped the Punjab police for not taking steps against the rapper on 15 May asking, “Why the Punjab government has not taken cognizance of “Main hoon Balatkari” song sung by Honey Singh, even though it attracts the provisions of Section 294 IPC, which is a cognizable offence?”

The rapper was in a fix just when the Nirbhaya gang rape protests rocked the nation. Honey Singh was condemned for his songs which carried derogatory content.

The High Court also questioned as to why the song was still available to the public via YouTube when a song of such stature should have been banned at the earliest.

The court has fixed the next hearing for the case on 4 July.

To contact the editor, e-mail: editor@ibtimes.com

 

HC rejects petitions against nuclear plant in Haryana village #WTFnews


TNN | May 17, 2013, 09.09

A division bench of the HC comprising Justice A K Mittal and Justice G S Sandhawalia passed these orders while giving reference to recent supreme court judgment, giving a go-ahead for Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, in which SC had observed that such plants are set up for the welfare of people and for sustainable growth.

In the Kudankulam case, the apex court in its May 6 orders had also observed that development of nuclear energy is important for India and allowing the plant is in larger public interest.

The development is significant, as a large number of petitioners of Gorakhpur village, whose land was acquired by the government for setting up the plant, had moved the Punjab and Haryana high court demanding quashing of government notifications, whereby the process of acquiring around 1,500 acre land of Gorakhpur and adjoining villages of Fatehabad district was initiated.

In their petition, filed in January 2012, the farmers had also sought directions to shift the site of project towards barren or less fertile land, which is in abundance in the adjoining villages of other districts.

Contending that the plant is proposed on fertile land, which is the only source of their livelihood, villagers had submitted that the said land gives 2-3 crops per year and there is no reason why such fertile land has been selected for the plant.

Villagers have also argued that in the instant case, Haryana government has shown undue haste for acquisition of land without considering the suitability of land from Union ministry of environment and AERB and Nuclear Power Corporation.

“No public objection was invited while publishing the site selection. Farmers are protesting and the state government remained insensitive despite death of three protesting farmers in the past one year,” the petition had alleged.

During the hearing of the petition, it also emerged that a large number of petitioners had accepted compensation amount from the state government against acquisition of their land.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is expected to start construction work of the project in August this year.

 

Next Newer Entries

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,228 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,839,563 hits

Archives

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: