#India – Tales told by the anti-terrorism squad, signifying nothing #humanrights


Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 IST | Agency: DNA
Jyoti Punwani
It’s tough to deny facts brought to light by modern technology. 
It’s tough to deny facts brought to light by modern technology. The Dhule police were felled by mobile phone cameras showing them destroying unattended stalls belonging to Muslims during the riot that broke out in January. There really was no choice but to take action against them. Now, mobile call records show that the phones of three Muslims accused of having planted bombs in suburban trains on July 11, 2006, were far away from the sites of the bombings.

That wouldn’t mean much if the agency investigating the case hadn’t done its best to prevent this coming out. The conduct of the ATS has been strange indeed. First, it kept on citing the need to go through these call records to get police custody of the accused. But its charge sheet made no mention of the records. Yet, when the accused wanted to have a look at them, the ATS refused, citing a variety of reasons. It was only when the high court dug its heels in on the issue that the prosecution threw in the towel, saying the accused could get the records from the mobile companies, since it had deleted the copies in its possession. No wonder cops hate judges and lawyers!

The mobile companies were also reluctant, first saying it would take months, then asking for Rs34 lakh as costs. Again it was left to the court to put its foot down.

The records corroborate what the three alleged bombers have been saying about where they were when the bombs were placed on the trains. They also seriously dent the credibility of the investigation — for the fourth time since the blasts.

Soon after the blasts, the ATS had gone on an arresting spree, describing every arrest as a “major breakthrough’’, and the man arrested as the “mastermind’’. But within three months, it applied for discharge of three such “masterminds’’, saying they had nothing to do with the blasts.

From Day One, the ATS had blamed Pakistan. But when it came to confronting Pakistan with the evidence, it played coy.

The real shocker came in the charge sheet — not a word about pressure cookers, after describing to a salivating media how the bombs had been assembled in pressure cookers, their make, from where they had been bought…

But even this wasn’t as shocking as the sudden emergence of an alternate narrative two years after the blasts. At a specially convened press conference, the then crime branch chief Rakesh Maria announced that the culprits were another set of boys belonging to the Indian Mujahideen; its co-founder Sadiq Shaikh, had himself confessed to this. The bombs weren’t assembled in a hut in Govandi as the ATS alleged, but in a Sewri flat.

But the ATS, then headed by KP Raghuvanshi, stuck to its story, and three months after his “confession’’, Sadiq Shaikh was discharged from this case at the behest of the ATS itself. Earlier this month, he told the court that the crime branch had tortured him to “confess’’ to the train blasts.

Allegations of torture have dogged this case right from the start, and no less than the PMO had to intervene. Family members of those arrested as well as those wanted, filed affidavits describing their alleged torture at the hands of the ATS, and were taken to meet the PM by Samajwadi Party chief Abu Asim Azmi.

209 innocents died in the serial train blasts. What must their families be thinking every time the investigating agency comes out looking foolish in these last seven years?

The author is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist.


#Mumbai – 20 children have died this year waiting for open-heart surgeries at KEM Hospital for red tapism #WTFnews

Number of patients in wait-list: 700;

Number of heart-lung machines: 1

20 children have died since Jan 1 while waiting for their open-heart surgeries at KEM Hospital. The reason: the BMC’s infamous red tape

Lata.Mishra @timesgroup.com , Mumbai Mirror March 25, 2013

CHILD’S NAME: Aditya PARENTS: Kanchan and Rakesh Rajat, Kandivali residents FATHER IS: a peon at a private firm WAITING SINCE: October 2012DIED ON: January 30, 2013
Nasir Sheikh spent eight months last year waiting for a call that could save his oneyear-old son Mohammed’s life. The boy had a hole in his heart and a narrow valve that hindered supply of oxygenated blood to the body. Even a little physical exertion would make Mohammed breathless and turn him blue. A simple activity like taking his daily feeds was a task.
Nasir, 30, a salesman at a small store selling mobile phones in Govandi, sold his wife’s gold to raise Rs 60,000 in May last year to list Mohammed for an open-heart surgery at the King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM) in Parel, the only civic or state-run hospital in Mumbai with expertise in paediatric heart surgeries. Mohammed’s treatment at a private hospital would have cost the family Rs 3 lakh.
The operation was slotted for June 1. But doctors warned Nasir that because of a long waiting list, there could be delays. He was told the department had only two very old, often malfunctioning, heart-lung machines, making it impossible to carry out more than three surgeries a day. A heart-lung machine performs all the functions of a heart when the organ is removed from a patient’s body during an open-heart surgery.
The doctors noted down Nasir’s mobile phone number and said they would call with a confirmed date for the surgery. It turned out to be a long, torturous wait. Every time Mohammed turned breathless or struggled with his feeds, Nasir and his wife, Sakina, 24, would rush him to KEM, begging doctors to operate upon him. Each time, the doctors would treat the boy for a few days, prescribe medicines and send him back with a promise that they would call as soon as a slot for surgery was available.
They never called. Mohammed died on January 14. He collapsed at home after a bout of breathlessness and passed away in his father’s arms on the way to KEM.
Twenty children on KEM’s open-heart surgery waiting list have died since January 1, 2012, while waiting for their turn. On Friday, the waiting list had 700 names, nearly 80 per cent of them children in the age group of one to five. All of them were in urgent need of life-saving operations. And all of them were from families that had no option but to wait because they could not afford private hospitals.
But the queue that is killing little kids isn’t the fallout of KEM being the only public hospital in Mumbai where open-heart surgeries on children can be performed. The queue, in fact, is the result of the municipal corporation’s criminal neglect of the upkeep of hospital’s equipment.
On February 19, Mumbai Mirror reported that one of the two heart-lung machines, which had been used for 29 years – 19 years beyond its best-before date – broke down. The engineers put their hands up. It was beyond repair. The hospital’s Paediatric Cardiac Surgery Department now has only one heart-lung machine and it’s been reserved for emergencies. The term ‘emergency’ could not have a more ironic context than this because almost all of 700 kids on the waiting list need immediate attention, just as Mohammed did.
The Paediatric Cardiac Surgery Department has six surgeons. But they now manage to perform only one or two surgeries a day. With new cases getting added to the waiting list every day, KEM hospital is up against a big crisis. And it could get worse – the one heart-lung machine that the hospital is now left with has been in use for 13 years. It should have been replaced in its 10th year. It has been repaired many times and could breath its last any day now.
The hospital sent a proposal to the BMC to procure a new heart-lung machine way back in 2009. Four years later, the machine is still stuck in BMC’s ill-famed red-tape. Tenders have been called, tenders have been scrapped, and tonnes of documents have been exchanged. But there is no sign of the machine.
“Every time the heart-lung machine broke down, we would remind the officials concerned that it should be replaced. But here we are today, the machine is gone and we don’t have a replacement. I am a professional and it kills me to see these little boys and girls who I know have very little time. If I could, I would operate upon all 700 today. It’s very frustrating,” said a doctor who did not wish to be identified.
Residents of a one-room Slum Redevelopment Authority building in Worli, Sheefa and Azharuddin Ansari’s daughter Ruksar’s name was put on the waiting list in December, 2010. Their first child, Ruksar was just threemonth-old when doctors detected a hole in her heart. The Ansaris were told the girl will have to undergo an urgent corrective surgery. They borrowed money from friends and relatives and deposited Rs 60,000 with KEM.
The family was not given any date for the surgery. They were only told about the long waiting list and that they would get a call when it was their turn. Sheefa would visit the hospital almost every second day to check if a slot for Ruksar was available. She was not going to trust her mobile phone for this, it was a matter of life or death after all. “Sometime there is signal, sometime there isn’t,” she said. On every visit, she received the same response from the hospital – ‘we will call you.’
In July last year, Ruksar took ill. She was breathless and had stopped taking feeds. Doctors said she would have to be operated upon urgently. Sheefa and Azharuddin spent three days at the hospital, waiting for Ruksar to be wheeled into the operation theatre. On the third day, Sheefa was asked to not feed Ruksar because her surgery had been slotted for that day. “At the end of day, I was told some machine was not working and that the surgery will have to be postponed. The next day, Ruksar was discharged from the hospital.” Once again, the Ansaris got the same assurance – we will call you.
A month later, Ruksar died. The end was not very different from Mohammed’s – difficulty in accepting feeds, acute breathlessness, rushed to the hospital, died on the way in her mother’s lap.
In a crude twist of fate, just last week Sheefa received a call from KEM telling her that a slot was available for her daughter’s operation.
The tender floated by the BMC in 2009 for a heart-lung machine for KEM had received two bids – one from the Milan, Italy-based Sorin Group and the other from the Germanyheadquartered Maquet Gentinge Group. It took two years for the entire process of bidding and screening to be completed and Sorin won the bid in 2011.
But there was a problem. In the two years since it applied for the tender, Sorin had moved on to making more advanced machines. Production of the older, less sophisticated, machine that the BMC had ordered had been suspended.
Sorin was willing to give the latest machine without charging a penny more. But the stubborn mandarins of BMC would have none of it. They wanted the machine they had specified in 2009, even if it was an outdated piece of equipment. The tender was cancelled.
A new tender was floated towards the fag end of 2011. Only Sorin bid this time. The municipal corporation waited six months for another bid. When none came about, the tender was cancelled again. Reason? According to BMC’s rules, a tender float is considered invalid if it does not attract at least three bids.
In 2012, another tender was floated. It was scrapped again because only Sorin bid. Yet another tender was issued in the same year. Again, only Sorin bid. Scrapped.
Now, after four years of delays and several children falling to their defective hearts and KEM’s long queue, the corporation has wizened up. A new tender will be issued in March this year and the ‘minimum three bidders’ clause will be dropped. If all goes well, the new machine should be in June-July. But by then, the waiting list for open-heart surgeries would be longer by 500 more names.
Eight-month-old Ayush Verma’s uncle Rajaram Verma brought him to KEM from their hometown Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh on local doctors’ recommendation. Ayush, Rajaram’s sister’s first born, suffered from pulmonary hypertension, a condition which led to excessive flow of blood into Ayush’s lungs, causing him to frequently come down with coughs and colds. Pneumonia was a constant threat.
Rajaram, his sister and Ayush moved in with their relatives in Dombivili and in August last year the family deposited the money to put the boy’s name in the waiting list. Rajaram travelled every week to Parel to check when Ayush’s surgery could be slotted. On his visits, he would see the hospital’s Paediatric Cardiac Surgery Department overflowing with little children. “After four months of waiting, I grew restless and started checking at other hospitals. I found out that no other government hospital carries out open-heart surgeries on children. Private hospitals told me it would cost upwards of Rs 3 lakh,” said Rajaram.
And then the moment of epiphany arrived on February 12 this year. “I think she had sensed things were slipping out of our hands. Perhaps, we had waited too long. My sister told me that day that she feared she was going to lose her child.”
Rajaram realised it was futile to wait for KEM to give them a date. He decided to sell his land back in Jaunpur and have Ayush’s heart fixed in a private hospital.
But it was too late. Ayush died two days later. “He was struggling to breathe. We rushed him to KEM. They put him on a ventilator. But it was all over in less than three hours – Ayush died even as I and his mother watched helplessly.”
Dr Suhasini Nagda, medical director for all civic-run hospitals, admitted that the situation at KEM is critical. “Yes, there are 700 kids and adults on the waiting list. But the process of buying a new heart-lung machine has been expedited,” she said.
Though she had no answer why it should take a hospital four years to acquire a machine that could save lives of children who are dying just waiting to be treated, Dr Nagda said steps are now being taken to create paediatric surgery departments at other civic hospitals too. “The new tender is for four machines. KEM will get two of them and Sion and Nair hospitals will get one each. We are looking to hire doctors at Sion and Nair for paediatric heart surgeries to shrink the waiting list at KEM,” she said.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said the BMC is doing everything it can to make sure the new heart-lung machines are in within the next three months. “If suppliers don’t bid for this tender, we will acquire the machines directly from them.”
Dr Shivkumar Uttare, executive member of the Maharashtra Medical Council, however, is shocked that the municipal corporation has allowed the situation to reach this critical stage. “Over 700 kids and adults on the waiting list is just unacceptable. With the resources BMC has at its disposal, this should have been dealt with a long time back,” he said. For a department that has 700 families waiting for a call, the size of KEM’s Paediatric Cardiac Surgery unit is tiny. Just five beds, all occupied by women with frail children in their laps. Just imagine their anxiety – they have their children’s surgery slotted after a wait of a year or more. What if they are turned back again, what if the lone, ageing heart-lung machine malfunctions, what if there is a case that requires more urgent attention? Today, the doctors will, if the heartlung machine behaves, operate upon one child – five-year-old Salina Sarfaraz Khan. A resident of Chandrapur in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, her parents brought her to KEM in early 2010 and her name was put on the list in September the same year. A tense wait of nearly two-and-half years will come to end for Salina parents today. But for Vidya Bhagwat of Akola, whose son, 14-month-old Anup, is 700th on the list, the wait just began last week. Doctors have taken down her number and told her they would call when it’s Anup’s turn.

CHILD’S NAME: Kinnari Golhar PARENTS: Aruna and Gopal Golhar FATHER IS: a salesman in a Yavatmal transport firm WAITING SINCE: April 2011DIED ON: February 8, 2012
CHILD’S NAME: Mohammad Sheikh PARENTS: Sakina and Nasir Sheikh FATHER IS: a salesman at a mobile shop WAITING SINCE: June 2012 DIED ON: January 14, 2013
CHILD’S NAME: Ayush Verma PARENTS: Saroja and Ashish Verma FATHER IS: a farmer in Jaunpur, UP WAITING SINCE: August, 2012 DIED ON:February 14, 2013
CHILD’S NAME: Ruksar PARENTS: Sheefa and Azharuddin Ansari FATHER IS: an AC mechanic WAITING SINCE: December 2010 DIED ON: August 27, 2012


Mumbai Train Blast -Wife of blast accused demands relief #mentaltroture #harassment

Mumbai, dhns, march 12, 2013

Saeedun-Nissa (42), wife of Mohammed Ali, one of the accused of 2006 Mumbai train blasts, has sought medical compensation as well as action against Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) officials for allegedly subjecting her to mental torture and harassment.

In a letter addressed to the Mumbai Police Commissioner with copies to the Bombay High Court Chief Justice, Saeedun-Nissa has charged that ATS officials barged in her house at any given hour, abused her and sometimes even physically assaulted her children.

Talking to Deccan Herald, Jamiatul Ulema, (Maharashtra Legal Cell) secretary Gulzar Azmi said that Saeedun-Nissa submitted her complaint to MCOCA Court (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) Judge Y D Shinde as well as the High Court Chief Justice and National Commisson for Women and Human Rights Commission,
“We will wait for a month and if no action is taken with regard to her deteriorating health and piling medical bills…then we will move the high court. Saeedun-Nissa has become a high-blood pressure patient because of the continual harassment meted to her by ATS officials and she has named them in her complaint,” Azmi said.

In her letter, Saeedun-Nissa living in Shivaji Nagar slums in Govandi, a north-eastern suburb of Mumbai, recounting the horrors to which she is subjected to she stated, “ My husband a bead-seller was named as an accused only because he had dared to complaint against a video parlour screening pornographic film in neighbourhood.

Police officials know this fact that it is a frame-up but despite this these officials barge into our house and start questioning me whenever a terror attack takes place in any part of the country.  “They are never accompanied by women constables and several times they have slapped my 12-year-old son Sohail in front of my eyes.

The physical assaults and humiliations by these officers have made a diabetic and a high-blood pressure patient.” she alleges. Naming the ATS officials, the victim apart from seeking medical compensation from police has also sought posting of women constables in front of her hut so that her family  gets some respite from ATS officials.


PRESS RELEASE- #Mumbai-Police Act as Agents of Builders Against People

Relay Fast to Begin at Ambewadi Golibar, Mumbai

State Government and People’s Commission Enquiry Continues in SRA Corruption

GBGB Supports the Struggle of Slumdwellers in Bangalore against Evictions at EWS Quarters

Mumbai, January 20 : On the first day of the New Year, Mumbai witnessed a storm of people marching the streets for land and housing rights. A renewed struggle against Land Scam involving corrupt builders, illegal demolition and impeachment of housing rights began when thousands of poor belonging to slums across Mumbai, gathered at Govandi and Golibar to start their long march on foot to demand implementation of Rajeev Awas Yojana as self- development towards right to shelter, and to fight against atrocities faced by them.


The march reached VT station on 02 Jan, 2013, there was heavy deployment of rapid action force and police, who had surrounded the whole VT area, Azad Maidan and blocked most roads going towards Mantralaya. It was quite ironical as this was a march that was marching on the Gandhian path of non-violent protest. After much negotiation with authorities at Mantralaya and police, the marchers finally reached AzadMaidan.


On 5th January, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan started a relay fast for 24 hours to demand land and housing rights, at 1 pm by 30 representatives of various slums as well as middle class localities across Mumbai participating in the fast while more than 5,000 people continued their sit-in throughout the day at Azad Maidan in Mumbai.


Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan withdrew its 10 days long agitation, after having received certain concrete promises and directions for investigations in the issues related to of corruption in respect of housing rights and land scams throughout Mumbai. The State Government has agreed to conduct an enquiry through the Principal Secretary, Housing into SRA projects in 6 localities- Golibar, Ambedkar Nagar, Mulund, Ramnagar-Ghatkopar, Chandivali, Sion-koliwada and Indira-nagar Jogeshwari, defining the modus operandis involving all stakeholders and holding public hearings.

The State has also taken and conveyed a firm decision to take RAY ahead and Mandala RAY project proposal to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.


While the Andolan was going on, all the things were moving on the right path. However, within a few days of withdrawal of the agitation and announcement of inquiry in the 6 SRA projects having approval on fraudulency and involving irregularities and illegalities, the harassment of the people have been started by the henchmen of developers under the tight police protection. Few examples of this harassment are cutting of public water supply and locking the doors of fencing compound just to block the way of local residents of Sion Koliwada. No cognizance was taken by Police and MCGM Authorities for this.


In Golibar, Ambewadi, on 18 Jan, 2013, developer with help of his 70-80 henchmen entered to fence the demolished area where the henchmen started assaulting the women with stone and bamboos to vacate the place. These women were badly assaulted and were admitted in hospital as they were severely injured. Nirmal Nagar Police Station has not taken any cognizance of the matter and was playing pro-builder role. On contrary, FIR has been registered in the favour of the developer’s henchmen and against the people who have raised their voice against the injustice. Demolition ride is still going on in different parts of slums.


Protesting against all the above mentioned injustice and harassment, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan with various slums as well as middle class localities across Mumbai has decided to continue and even intensify the struggle by starting Relay Fast today at 3pm, at Ambewadi Golibar, Mumbai, to reach out on the deaf ears of Government Authorities for our rights and justice.


Even though the Apex Authorities are issuing the orders of certain investigations but the sub-ordinates are least bothered to implement and follow the directions given by their Senior Authorities.


The struggle of Mumbai’s slum dwellers and those affected by corruption in Slum Rehabilitation and Re-development, continues at Ambewadi Golibar, Mumbai. We also stand in solidarity with the slumdwellers of Bangalore who are facing evictions and police repression at EWS quarters at Ejipura by BBMP. We demand that illegal demolitions by state will be resisted at all costs and we will stand in solidarity wherever homes will be demolished across the country.


Andolan demands that Maharashtra Government takes firm and concrete decisions, investigates into corruption and irregularities as well as Government should also carry out inquiry on Police Administration & Authorities for providing police protection to private bodies and for not even taking cognizance of the effected people and until then, people are determined to continue.


Sumit Wajale, Sandeep Yeole, Ajit bhau, Dattaram Tandel, Sushant Gumre, Madhuri Shivkar



Govandi infants died of malnutrition, did not gain any weight after birth: HC panel

ic courtesy- Reuters

A Bombay High Court appointed committee on Saturday said that two infants from Govandi died of malnutrition last week. The two children, aged one month and seven months, weighed no more than their weight at birth.

Both children – Ila Asgar Mirza, aged one month 15 days, and Mahreen Rafaqatulah, seven months, had died after contracting pneumonia and fever. However, according to the state’s child welfare department, malnutrition was not the cause of death. 

In 2010, following a series of HT reports on malnutrition deaths in Govandi, non-governmental organisation, Movement of Peace and Justice (MPJ), had moved the Bombay High Court which appointed a committee to look into the matter.

On November 2, the committee, comprising of Leni Chaudhari, from Jan Arogya Abhiyaan, Sumit Wajale from Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao, and Anees Mohammed from MPJ, visited Govandi to probe the two deaths. “Owing to sustained deprivation these children did not have enough immunity to ward off diseases. These children were never even referred to any Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre in any hospital. They were deprived of breast milk because their mothers were malnourished,” said Mohammed.

The report, which is yet to be submitted to the HC, states that while Ila weighed 2.5 kgs at birth, by the time she died on November 1, her weight had fallen to 2.4 kgs. Suffering from loose motions, she’d been vomitting for ten days before her death.

She was taken to Rajawadi Hospital, where she was prescribed nutritional supplements and oral rehydration therapy (ORS) for electrolyte deficiency. Her postmortem report states that she died of pneumonia.

The other child- Mahreen did not gain any weight after birth. She had fever for two weeks before her death and was hospitalised in Rajawadi Hospital for three days before she died on October 31. “The children did not die of malnutrition. They lived on a dumping ground and caught the infection,” said an ICDS officer requesting anonymity.


Blind girl drags dad to court for harassment

20-year-old collegian’s mother says her father is impeding her education as he has thrown mother-daughter duo out of their Chembur home

Sunil Baghel, March 22, Mumbai Mirror

At an academic level, collegian Neha Agarwal has chosen ‘gender’ as her thesis subject. In real life, the 20-year-old visually challenged woman is getting a taste of male high-handedness.

Neha’s mother, Pooja, has filed a petition in Bombay High Court alleging that Neha’s father, Uday, has thrown the mother-daughter duo out of their Chembur house in December 2011 and that Uday poses a hurdle to Neha’s education.

The petition states that Neha lost an academic year because of this since a major chunk of her study material has been lying in the house to which the two women have no access.

The petition seeks urgent relief from the court by providing police protection to Pooja so that she can enter the house and collect Neha’s study material and their other belongings from the house.

Neha, a third-year bachelor of arts (TYBA) student of St Xavier’s college in Dhobitalao, has to submit at least one project by March 31, failing which she will not even be allowed for the October exam.

Neha told Mumbai Mirror that she was required to submit two projects, one of which had to be turned in by March 31. “My subject for this project is ‘Gender’. The project is almost ready, but it is lying at our Chembur home,” she said.

Despite her physical challenge, Neha has always been keen to pursue education. “It’s very important to me. I want soar as high as I can. I want to be independent,” Neha said, adding that her father had been constantly warning her and her mother not to approach the police.

The petition also lists other allegations against Uday. It accuses Uday of ill-treating the two women for years and alleges that Uday has links to “criminal elements”.

It also accuses Uday of usurping Pooja’s property. The petition also states that officials of Chembur and Govandi police stations registered their complainant only a month ago after they filed a petition in court a month ago.

The petition also alleges that Uday wields influence on the police, and seeks that the case be transferred to the Crime Branch of the police.

On Tuesday, the court agreed to hear the case on an urgent basis at a request made by Pooja’s advocate Dinesh Tiwari. The petition will be heard today.

Read Mumbai Mirror story here



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