Gujarat Cops don’t cooperate with women complainants: Activist


The Times of India, 15 March 2013

VADODARA: Days within the Supreme Court rapped the Punjab and Bihar police for their excesses on women, a city-based NGO has accused them of being insensitive towards cases of sexual harassment and domestic violence. Activist Trupti Shah, who runs non-governmental organization for women’s rights, said the city police don’t cooperate with women complainants and instead make them do rounds of the police station.

She cited a recent case of a working woman, who wanted to file FIR against her company’s chief operating officer (COO) for sexual harassment. “When she approached Chhani police in October last year, they asked her to strike a compromise with the company. They told her that it was in her own interests,” Shah told TOI.

“The victim had agreed to compromise if the COO tendered a written apology, but when it didn’t happen, she approached the cops. The police instead told her that registering such complaint would put blot on her name. The then police inspector even shouted at me and accused me of instigating the girl,” Shah said and added that while her complaint was taken in January this year, the police refused to register it as per the details provided by her.

Shah claimed that she got 10 cases of domestic violence and two cases of sexual harassment in last eight months. “In six cases of domestic violence, no FIR was registered as the police insisted the women strike a compromise,” Shah said.

Shah has written to city police commissioner, state DGP, National Commission for Women and Gujarat State Commission for Women informing them about the problems faced by women complainants.

#Gujarat- Even police don’t have sexual complaint panel’ #womenrights #Vaw


By Ramaninder K Bhatia, The Times of India, 20 February 2013

VADODARA: Despite the recent focus on exploitation of women in Indian society, home and workplaces, many offices of Gujarat government, including police force and labour department and also the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) have not bothered to implement the Supreme Court (SC) guidelines on establishing committees to deal with complaints of sexual harassment.

Stating this, Vadodara-based trade union Jyoti Karamchari Mandal has issued notices to the state DGP, labour commissioner and VMC commissioner, asking them to do the needful at the earliest. A copy of the notice has also been sent to commissioner, Vadodara Police.

“The 15-year-old Vishakha committee guidelines clearly state that a complaint redressal mechanism concerning all sexual harassment cases, should exist in all government, private organizations, but our inquiries have revealed that most of the government offices are not even aware of this aspect, forget about implementing it. We are systematically approaching government offices in Gujarat in the next few days before taking legal recourse,” said Rohit Prajapati, general secretary of the mandal and an RTI activist.

VMC commissioner, Ashwini Kumar said that a panel does exist in the corporation, but he would further inquire whether it is functioning according to the SC guidelines. “A senior class I woman officer heads the committee as per the rule,” he added. DCP (admin) Prabhat Patel of Vadodara police said he would have to enquire whether any such panel existed in the force, here. “However, I do know that there has been no such complaint of sexual harassment within the force in Vadodara,” he asserted.

Prajapati said VMC had not advertised about the existence of the panel by putting notices in the main office or outside the offices of senior officials, including the mayor. “These panels have to have 50% women members and a member from an outside agency or NGO. The police force do not have any such committee at all.”

Earlier, several women NGOs had held a meeting with 20 government offices under the aegis of district collector, only to find out that except for the pollution control board, no other department had such a panel. Though, action was promised within 10 days, only the education department has so far bothered to set up the committee, NGO Sahiyar’s Trupti Shah stated.

The MS University (MSU), too, is yet to set up a committee as per the SC guidelines.

___________________________________________________________________

MSU law faculty head arrested for smearing VC’s chair with itching powder #humour


TNN | Feb 19, 2013, 0

MSU law faculty head arrested for smearing VC's chair with itching powder
M S University law faculty head arrested for allegedly smearing itching powder on vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh’s chair.
VADODARA: Vadodara‘s M S University law faculty head Ghanshyam Solanki was arrested on Monday for allegedly smearing itching powder on vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh’s chair during a national seminar a day earlier. Singh had to leave the seminar midway.

“Forensic tests on the chair revealed that somebody had smeared it with itching powder. Further investigations revealed the teacher’s involvement,” police commissioner Satish Sharma said.

Solanki was booked for obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions and causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means. He confessed to using the powder but claimed that it was not meant for Singh. His real target was the law faculty in-charge dean professor S S Bhattacharya.

MSU officials said Solanki may have done so as his application for promotion was rejected recently.

“It is shameful and unbelievable. I had never expected this to happen. Normally, we do not except a teacher to get involved in such acts,” Singh told TOI.

“We have taken it very seriously and any such incident by any staff or student will not be tolerated in future,” officer on special duty (registrar) Dr Amit Dholakia said.

 

#Gujarat -Sexual harassment panels still far off #Vaw


By Ramaninder K Bhatia, The Times of India, 20 January 2013

VADODARA: In one of the discussions following the brutal Delhi gang rape, a sad truth has emerged – nearly 16 years after the Supreme Court (SC) issued guidelines for setting up a complaint addressing mechanism for cases of sexual harassment, 99% of government offices in Vadodara have yet to establish these committees.

The disappointing fact came out during a meeting of women NGOs with members of the district coordination committee, including district MLAs, which meets every third Saturday.

Among the representatives of nearly 50 district administration offices, only one member – a woman employee of the local office of Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) said the Board’s headquarters had a committee. However, its constitution was also not found to be in accordance with Vishaka committee guidelines, which were issued following SC directions, sources revealed.

Disturbed by the development, district collector Vinod Rao has now given a 10-day deadline to all the departments to constitute committees to address complaints of sexual harassment in each department.

Members of women NGO, Sahiyar, who were invited by the district collector to address the representatives regarding the committee, then distributed guidelines about their composition.

“It’s imperative to have a woman as chairman of these committees and a member from an outside organization is also to be included. Fifty per cent of the members of these committees have to be women,” Trupti Shah told the government officials.

The offices should also prominently display the existence of such a committee on their notice boards along with details about the members.

“It’s mandatory to set up such committees in every office, whether government or private, and if the government does not take the lead, then who else will,” a woman NGO member pointed out.

NGO member said they were planning to approach the SC with a contempt petition if the complaint mechanism was to be ignored once again.

“We had filed an RTI applications after the Patan rape case and pointed out that none of the government offices in Gujarat had constituted these committees. The officials promised, but apparently nothing came out of this, as was evident from the interaction today. We hope that the recent awareness about sexual harassment of women would do the trick this time,” said Trupti.

In the wake of Vishaka committee guidelines, it was pointed out that present civil and penal laws in India did not adequately provide for specific protection of women from sexual harassment in work places.

It was then made necessary for the employers in work places as well as other responsible persons or institutions to ensure prevention of sexual harassment of women by setting up these committees.

 

#India-‘Don’t lock us up, make city safer’ #Vaw


By Ramaninder K Bhatia, The Times of India, 1 January 2013

VADODARA: Vadodara police’s order of banning tuition classes before 7am and after 9pm in the city after the New Delhi gang rape, has evoked harsh criticism from women across the city. They want the rule to be revoked.

Police commissioner, IG Satish Sharma, said the notification to ban tuition classes early in the morning and late in the evening applied to both girls and boys. “We took this step after the Delhi rape to ensure that youngsters are not compelled to venture out at these hours to attend tuition classes. This is not meant to restrict any movement of girls in the city. The force is fully capable of ensuring the security and safety of women on the streets.”

However, not many interpret this notification as a women-friendly move. MSU has reportedly advanced the closing time for women hostels to 8.30 pm from the earlier deadline of 10 pm.

“It’s highly unfair. There is no such condition for the boys’ hostels. The male students are free to roam off campus 24 hours of the day while we have to get locked in our hostels by 8.30 pm. The police could have said that they would increase patrolling on roads instead of asking us to stay locked up inside,” DeepikaThakkar, a hosteller said.

“It’s like an admission on the part of the state that it can’t take the responsibility of keeping women safe on city roads after 9 pm. Instead of instilling confidence among women about their safety, they are made to feel vulnerable,” said Trupti Shah, member of Sahiyar, a women’s NGO, who was part of the group which met the district authorities to discuss the controversial order.

Prof Amita Verma, founder director of Women Studies Research Centre, MSU, said, “Women have to be safe in the society and it cannot be done by asking them to stay at home and hide. It is for the state to ensure that they stay safe even when they step out of their homes. This order does not make any sense.”

Deeptha Achar, a MSU professor, said, “By telling women to stay at home does not mean that the roads would become safe for them. This reflects inequality.”

 

Two-year-old who was allegedly raped by her uncle dies in Gujarat hospital #Vaw


Edited by Sindhu Manjesh | Updated: December 26, 2012 09:39 IST

Two-year-old who was allegedly raped by her uncle dies in Gujarat hospital

VadodaraA two-year-old who was raped, allegedly by her maternal uncle, and then thrown into a thorny bush, has died in a Vadodara hospital. The child had been found wailing in the bush by a few young men in the Gujarat town of Halol on Friday. They had also managed to pin down the uncle and hand him over to the police.

The child’s parents, who are from Nepal, rushed her to a hospital nearby, from where she was shifted to SSG hospital in Vadodara for treatment. The police said that the father is a private security guard. The accused is the mother’s brother and was visiting the family.

A case of rape and kidnapping was registered against the accused and now a murder charge under section 302 of the IPC has been added. The distraught parents have demanded the death penalty for the accused.

On Saturday, trading and business organisations, NGOs, and the autorickshaw association had protested in Halol and in a memorandum sought severe punishment for the accused for the heinous crime.

Another case of rape was also reported in Gujarat on Monday. A 20-year-old from Bharuch has filed a complaint against an auto driver, alleging that he had raped her about nine months back while ferrying her to school. The girl has alleged that the driver had threatened her with dire consequences if she revealed the incident to her parents. On Monday though, the girl finally broke down before her parents and recounted her trauma.

News of these cases comes at a time when India has been incensed by the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student on December 16 in Delhi. The gang-rape survivor, ‘Amanat’ (NOT her real name) is still battling for her life at Safdarjung Hospital in the capital.

(With inputs from PTI)

 

Gujarat: Govt accused of manipulating youth employment data



DNA, Ahmedabad, 8 December 2012

Ahmedabad: Gujarat government’s tall claim of providing employment to 65,000 youth under ‘Swami Vivekananda Youth Employment Week’ have been contradicted by its won reply to a RTI plea filed on issue.

Jyoti Karmachari Mandal (JKM), the organisation that filed the plea seeking details of Rojgar Melas held in state, has accused the state government of manipulating figures to mislead people.

They alleged that state government’s reply showed that beneficiaries were given employment letters and not appointment letters as claimed, with no signature by the appointing industry. As per labour laws, an employee should be provided appointment letter and not employment letter.

The reply also suggested that name of many beneficiaries had been repeated not once but as much as three times. In Ahmedabad, 4,370 were recruited under ‘Rojgar Mela’ but all on apprentice, with no legal benefits to the beneficiary.

Member of Documentation and Study Centre for Action, Trupti Shah said, “A look at the list of beneficiaries from Vadodara would indicate that out of the 3,534 candidates appointed for the post of apprentice, there were not more than 2,700 actual beneficiaries, while the names of rest 752 beneficiaries (21.27%) were repeated/duplicate.”

A total of Rs 1.87 crore was spent for holding 489 such meets. It was found that quality of job of 37.07% of the beneficiaries was not actual employment as 11,172 (30.4%) are on apprentice and 2,452 (6.67%) are trainees, who do not receive salaries but stipend. Also, the stipend paid is too less than the salaries.

Some of the candidates whose name had cropped up in the list claimed that they had no idea as to how their name had appeared on the list of beneficiaries of ‘rojgar mela’.

In Anand, 2,464 candidates were provided jobs and 621 of them were given the job of school co-ordinator. Though they were promised a salary of Rs 4,500-5,000 per month, they actually received 3,100-3,500.

 

RTI activist targets Narendra Modi over foreign travel, seeks information


 

PTI, 3 October 2012

Ahmedabad: A Vadodara-based RTI activist on Tuesday asked the state’s BJP government to provide information about travelling expenses incurred by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues for attending a series of conference in 2007. Trupti Shah has sent a letter to Modi saying information about his and his Ministers’ travel-related expenses during ‘women empowerment sammelans’ had not been provided till date.

The letter comes in the wake of Modi seeking answers from the Centre regarding Congress President Sonia Gandhi‘s trips abroad which, he alleged, have cost the exchequer Rs 1880 crore. Shah said she had filed a Right to Information (RTI) application on July 18, 2007 seeking details about the expenses incurred by the state government for organising the sammelans in 27 places across the state in 2007.

Shah alleged she was denied the information even after repeated reminders. She said the state’s General Administrative Department (GAD), in a letter dated November 1, 2007, provided the list of 27 places visited by Modi from March 10, 2007 to September 20, 2007. But regarding the travelling expenses, the letter stated “the office of the Chief Minister did not mention the travelling expenses and so the CM’s travelling expenses may be considered nil.”
Now, RTI activist targets Modi over foreign travel, seeks infor

This, the activist alleged, is “ridiculous” and “unbelievable” because Modi had travelled to most of the 27 places by helicopter. Shah then shot off a letter on November 20, 2007 seeking details about the name and agencies who bore the expenditure. When her letter didn’t elicit a response from the GAD, she sent a reminder on January 18, 2008 and again on April 17, 2008 but she did not get any reply, Shah alleged.

After failing to get the required information, Shah filed a complaint under the RTI Act before the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Gujarat. In the last hearing on September 26, 2012, the CIC directed the GAD to hand over the relevant information to Shah before the next hearing in October. The officer concerned said the information was not available though they have requested the CMO and other ministers to provide it, Shah said.

 

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