MDMK to challenge Supreme Court order on Sterlite – seriously ?


MDMK leader Vaiko addressing the media outside the Supreme Court in connection with the Sterlite Industries issue, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: S. Subramanium
S_SubramaniumMDMK leader Vaiko addressing the media outside the Supreme Court in connection with the Sterlite Industries issue, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: S. Subramanium

MDMK on Tuesday said that it would challenge the Supreme Court’s order asking Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Group, to pay Rs. 100 crore as compensation for polluting the environment and vowed to continue its fight against restarting the operations.

The Apex Court, while directing Sterlite to pay the amount as compensation, had, however, refused to direct its closure.

“We are staging a battle and we will continue to do so. I will file an appeal in the Supreme Court”, a party statement quoted Vaiko as having told reporters in New Delhi.

The MDMK leader recalled that Maharashtra had cancelled the license of Sterlite Industries plant in Ratnagiri district a few years ago after villagers damaged the facility. “In Tamil Nadu we did not indulge in such activities. We are fighting for peace in a non-violent way.”

People’s suffering

Alleging that a large number of people were affected by cancer and other diseases and thousands of acres damaged due to the pollution from the plant, Mr. Vaiko sought to know why lives of the local people should be endangered just to bring revenue to the Government (through the plant).

He claimed that Supreme Court’s order would not control the closure notice given by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on March 30.

The Apex Court had refused to direct closure of the plant and had set aside the Madras High Court’s 2010 order on closing it down.

 

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Bangladesh moves Supreme Court for #deathpenalty to Abdul Quader Mollah


PTI Mar 3, 2013,

DHAKA: Bangladesh government today moved the Supreme Court seeking death penalty for Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah, who escaped with life imprisonment from a court here for committing “crimes against humanity” during the country’s independence war in 1971.

The attorney general’s office submitted the 484-page appeal to the section concerned of the apex court in this morning.

Attorney general Mahbubey Alam said his office will now file an application in the chamber judge of the Appellate Division for fixing a date for hearing the appeal at a regular bench.

In its petition, the government asked the Supreme Court to award Mollah, Jamaat assistant secretary general, capital punishment considering the gravity of his crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War.

The verdict delivered on February 5 by a war crime tribunal convicted 65-year-old Mollah for five wartime criminal offences out of the six he was charged with, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

In two of the five acts of crimes against humanity, at least 350 people were killed and a girl was raped.

Mollah was also sentenced to 15-year imprisonment for his complicity in three other criminal offences in which six people were killed. He was acquitted of the charge of killing hundreds of people at Keraniganj in Dhaka as the charge was not proved in the tribunal.

The life imprisonment for Mollah angered thousands of secular protesters, mostly youths, who have been demonstrating at Shahbagh Square here since February 5 to press enhancing his punishment to death sentence.

Mollah’s party colleague and Jamaat vice-president Delwar Hossain Sayedee was last week sentenced to death for setting ablaze 25 houses in a Hindu village and aiding the killing of two persons.

The court found him guilty of helping a pro-Pakistani armed group which abducted three Hindu girls and raped them and forced 100 Hindus to convert.

In January, former Jamaat leader Abul Kalam Azad was sentenced to death on similar charges.

The government’s moving the apex court to seek death for Mollah came on a day when Jamaat and its student wing Islamic Chhatra Shibir attacked civilians and clashed with police across Bangladesh, leaving 14 people dead.

 

Immediate Release -Mumbai Expresses Solidarity towards Women with Disability on Women’s Day Eve


English: Photograph of Shyam Benegal in his of...

Image via Wikipedia

~ 100 plus women on wheelchairs call for equitable rights for all ~

~ Over 500 people, from commoners to socialites to celebrities and artists to activists participate in solidarity march ~

Mumbai – 7th March, 2012: The city of Mumbai today got together to pay a unique tribute to the spirit of womanhood on the eve of International Women’s Day as it came out in large numbers to support the cause of women with disability who bear the brunt of discrimination in the society. Over 100 women with disability on wheelchair were joined by 500 other Mumbaikars – common people, socialites, celebrities, activists etc. in a solidarity protest organised by the ADAPT Rights Group with the organisation ADAPT – Able Disable All People Together (formerly Spastics Society of India). It was a sight the city of Mumbai had perhaps never seen.

What sparked the protest was the offloading of a teacher and disability activist from Kolkata, Jeeja Ghosh (who has cerebral palsy) on the 20th of February as she was ironically coming to a conference on inclusion of people with disability into mainstream society from a SpiceJet flight. Two days later another woman, Anjlee Agarwal (with muscular dystrophy) was also thrown off a Jet Airways flight.

“There can be no true independence for woman as long as people don’t have the right to travel. Jeeja Ghosh’s case clearly shows the pathetic, apartheid like condition women with disability face in India. How can we celebrate Woman’s Day when this is happening to almost 15% Indians who have some or the other form of disability,” said Malini Chib, Chairman – ADAPT Rights Group and Trustee – ADAPT and a friend of Jeeja Ghosh.

The view on the promenade outside Jazz By The Bay near Churchgate Station was one of euphoria and inspiration. Over 100 women on wheelchair and hundreds of other supporters held placards of solidarity that read “You Don’t See What We Can Do, Who’s Disabled – We or You”, “Women on Wheels are Women of Steel” and “SpiceJet, Jet Airways: Shame On Your Ways”, “Stop Discrimination In The Name of Disability” etc.

Dr. Mithu Alur, Founder-Chairperson – ADAPT, explained the need for the solidarity protest, “It is shocking that women with disability – be they with hearing, visual or physical impairment – are left out of almost everything, including women’s movements. Hence, a lot of violence goes on with them without anything ever being done against it. So we decided to come out and tell the public directly how women with disability have been left out.”

She added, “There is legislation in the country but despite this Jeeja Ghosh was thrown out of a SpiceJet flight and a few days later Anjlee Agarwal from a Jet Airways flight. What is the point of legislation if there is no enforcement? There are many such cases of violation that have been noted in the country. Unless punitive action is taken against the airlines or anyone else discriminating against people based on disability, there won’t be any change. We also hope to get the aviation ministry’s notice by this protest.”

Dr. Ketna Mehta, Editor and Associate Dean – Research, Welingkar’s Institute and Founder Trustee of Nina Foundation that works for rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injury believes that this kind of awareness of people is very important for a country like India. “What you see here – all of us in wheelchairs – is only a small microcosm of people with disability. A majority of them are indoors and never come out,” she said, adding, “All constitutionally granted rights to a woman also apply to a woman with disability. But a great gap is observed in reality as highlighted by incidents like that Jeeja Ghosh. Hence such rallies are important. All of us need to come together to bridge this gap.”

The protest saw involvement of people from all walks of life from commoners to glitterati and artists. Filmmaker Shyam Benegal, said, “Everyone has some or the other disability, visible or hidden. Yet why is it that we consider people with a visible disability to be so different from us? Why do we consider them as not being ‘normal’? Why don’t we realise that the idea of ‘normality’ is an arbitrary and meaningless one as no one is totally normal. The need is to see that people are sensitised to the needs of people with disability for they are trying to lead a meaningful life as well. It is important to ensure that they are not relegated to dark corners of our society but are part of the mainstream alongside all of us.”

A leaflet highlighting the discrimination women with disability face, both as women and as a person with disability, demanded strong punitive action against those that discriminate on grounds of disability like SpiceJet & Jet Airways, enforcement of mandatory sensitisation programs on disabilities for modes of transportation, women with disability to be included in women’s organisations & movements etc.

A resolution passed by the ADAPT Rights Group states: A Resolution was unanimously adopted that exclusion of Women with Disabilities from any organisation is a discrimination against a section of the population and of Article 15 of the Constitution. It was also resolved that in any reservation for women in any institution in the country a Disabled Woman has proportionate representation. We strongly condemn the inhumane and barbaric way Disabled Women are being treated by the Airlines – We want Justice for them from the Government.

————-

About Adapt:

ADAPT (Able Disabled All People Together), formerly ‘The Spastics Society of India, was founded by Padmashri Dr. Mithu Alur in 1972. From a special school with only three children, it has grown to become one of the foremost non-profit organizations in India providing services like assessment, therapy, counseling, inclusive education, skill training and job placement to thousands of children and young adults with disability and their families. Today ADAPT has evolved to become a seminal organization that interacts with national and international organizations, public & private sector bodies and government agencies at all levels to influence policy changes that impact marginalized groups across the country. In 2012 ADAPT is celebrating four decades of serving the nation through various programs.

For More Details Please Contact:

Bhavana Mukherjee: +91 9833179394

Madhavi Kumar: +91 967661821

Another harrowing airport experience for Anjlee, a disability rights worker


March 2, 2012 – Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar, Hindu

Ms. Agarwal, a disability rights worker, was carted around on a luggage trolley at Delhi T3

Disability rights activist Anjlee Agarwal of Samarthyam, who was last week “literally thrown off a flight” in Raipur for objecting to the non-availability of an aisle chair, again had a harrowing experience with an airline. This time it was at Delhi’s swanky T3 terminal that Ms. Agarwal found herself being carted around on a luggage trolley with no side support as the Air India staff could not get her an aisle chair.

Narrating her experience, Ms. Agarwal, who was recently part of a major access audit for government buildings in Delhi, said she had to undergo the humiliation of being transported in a luggage trolley on Thursday while returning to Delhi from Mumbai via Air India flight AI 660.

At Mumbai, Ms. Agarwal said she had requested the Air India crew to get her an aisle chair while de-boarding at the T3 airport in New Delhi. However, when the flight reached the Delhi airport, the aisle chair was not there to help her de-board.

Request not met

“I had to wait for 20 minutes and finally, after lot of hue and cry, I got to see a luggage trolley for transferring me from the aircraft seat. I was carried in the luggage trolley chair which had just two wheels instead of four and also did not possess an armrest for side support,” she said.

Lamenting that this was the state of affairs at T3 in Delhi, which is supposed to be a “world class airport”, Ms. Agarwal said she had a harrowing time being hauled around on the luggage trolley. “I was not able to balance myself on the narrow seat, my feet were dangling and I kept asking for another aisle chair to be given to me while being carried to the aircraft gate.”

She said she lost her balance several times, as she has limb girdle muscular dystrophy. Apart from this, she “also felt extremely embarrassed and insulted as 12 to 13 persons [both the crew and ground staff] looked at me with pity!”

Due to such mishandling, Ms. Agarwal said she had to be physically shifted four times at the airport. “I was transferred again from the luggage trolley to another wheelchair at the aircraft gate. Then on reaching the conveyer belt [luggage belt], I got my wheelchair and was transferred onto it. Finally, I was transferred from my wheelchair to the taxi.”

Describing the experience as “very exhausting, disgraceful, scary and unsafe,” the rights activist said it was unfortunate that “still people with disabilities are seen as luggage and are discriminated against”.

Incidentally, this is the third major case of harassment to disabled passengers that has come to light within the past fortnight. Earlier in February, a SpiceJet pilot had forced Jeeja Ghosh, head of advocacy and disability studies at the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy at Kolkata off a Goa-bound flight because he was “abnormal” and was not accompanied by help.

In view of such repeated incidents, Ms. Agarwal and Samarthyam have urged the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to come up with recommendations on handling persons with disability and to take immediate action against all airlines that are insulting disabled passengers and violating the policy rules.

Indemnity bond

“We want training of all ground staff, pilot and crew for transferring and handling persons with disabilities,” she said, demanding that people with disabilities should also not be made to sign an indemnity bond as it is discriminatory, since it does not cover people with hidden illnesses.

Among other things, the rights group has also demanded that aisle chairs should be made available in all aircraft for wheelchair users and all persons with disabilities should be allotted front and aisle seats, if requested.

Differently-abled passenger off-loaded SpiceJet Flight for flying unescorted


 

 Feb 20, 2012- An independent, widely travelled woman with cerebral palsy was forced off a Goa-bound plane minutes before take-off from Calcutta airport on Sunday morning because the pilot had reservations about her being on board without an escort.

Jeeja Ghosh, 40, works with an advocacy group of the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy and has been staying and travelling the world on her own since she was a student. So imagine her shock when a smiling flight attendant on board the SpiceJet flight SG 803 walked up to seat 35D to tell her she would need to get off the plane.

“But tell me why?” protested Jeeja, who had clocked thousands of air miles without ever being told her condition was a barrier to flying alone.

The flight attendant, polite but firm, said she would know the reason once she was escorted out of the aircraft. “No, tell me first,” she demanded. No answer.

Flight SG 803 took off for Mumbai en route to Goa on schedule without Jeeja despite her being issued a boarding card, and all because the pilot wouldn’t budge from his stand that a passenger with cerebral palsy should not travel alone.

A senior SpiceJet official said the airline would need to “find out what exactly happened” before making a statement.

Jeeja, who did her postgraduation in social work and disability studies at Leeds in the UK, was to attend a conference in Goa. She narrates to Metro how humiliated she felt on being deplaned for a medical condition she has long overcome to become an educated and successful working woman.

I work for Ankur, an advocacy group through which we fight for the rights of people living with disabilities. I am a frequent visitor to Calcutta airport as I travel regularly to attend workshops and conferences across the country. I visit Delhi the most for work.

On Sunday morning, I was supposed to head for Goa on board SG 803, via Mumbai. It was a SpiceJet flight scheduled to take off at 8.05am and I reached the airport at 7am to check in. I got my boarding pass and informed the airline staff that I would need assistance to board the flight. A person escorted me to the plane and soon I was in my assigned seat. Little did I know what awaited me.

A few minutes later, I noticed the flight crew in a huddle and heard people murmuring my name and pointing at me. Then an airline employee came up to me and politely said: “You will have to accompany me.”

Startled as I was, I asked him the reason. He kept repeating I would need to come out of the aircraft to know the reason. By then, several members of the airline crew were hovering around me. Some of my co-passengers asked why they were bothering me, but they wouldn’t listen. They kept saying I would need to deplane.

“I am a regular flier. All I need is a little bit of assistance,” I tried to convince them, knowing that my condition was the only reason they could target me.

Soon I was seated in a car headed for the terminal. I was seething. I have never felt so insulted. Their sheer insensitivity made me cry.

I called up my senior at work, the executive director of the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy. She tried to convince the airline authorities that I was capable of travelling alone, only to be told that the pilot (Utprabh Tiwari) had a problem flying the aircraft with a “handicapped passenger” travelling unescorted.

The airline staff kept saying: “Very sorry, madam. The pilot insists he cannot take you on board alone.”

I found it nauseating, more so because this man did not have the courage to come up to me and say he had a problem accepting I could take care of myself.

I asked the airline personnel to either arrange for a refund or issue a new ticket to Goa. They gave me a ticket for the Monday morning flight.

The assistant general manager of SpiceJet in Calcutta told me he had spoken to his seniors and that he would make sure I wasn’t harassed and humiliated again.

But what about the pilot’s attitude towards me? His mindset reflects the mental block of society towards people like me. At least I knew where to go and voice my protest. I shudder to think what would happen to another person with disability who has not had similar exposure or opportunities as me.

The airline later issued a statement apologising for the inconvenience caused to the passenger. The airline expressed regret for the incident, and said that the matter will be investigated and action taken

AS TOLD TO SREECHETA DAS, The Telegraph

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