Bridge the Gap , Bring the Change
26 May 2013 Leave a comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Political Prisoners, Prison Tags: Bombay High Court, Gulail, India, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Mumbai Police, Muslim, National Human Rights Commission, Vile Parle
17 Mar 2013 3 Comments
in Advocacy, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tags: Bhiwandi, Friday, Indian Standard Time, Kurla, Madhya Pradesh, Matunga, Types of rape, Vile Parle
ByNitasha Natu, TNN | Mar 17, 2013, T
The husband of the Matunga victim grows vegetables near the tracks. They have an 18-month-old daughter who went missing six months ago. This is the victim’s second marriage; her first husband resides in Bhiwandi with their three kids.
“Two of the seven accused, Siddhu and Anoop, are known to the victim’s husband. Siddhu is a resident of Matunga labour camp,” said a police officer.
Around 6pm on Friday, the victim and her husband had a fight. Siddhu arrived at their house soon after and began instigating the victim’s husband to desert her. After Siddhu made a pass at her, the victim’s husband threatened to lodge a complaint with the RPF against him. This prompted Siddhu to leave.
Later that night, the couple was asleep when some men knocked at the door around 11.45pm. They claimed to be looking for a friend. “Once inside, some of the accused dragged out the victim’s husband and thrashed him with bamboo sticks. The others took turns to rape her,” said an officer. The victim was also sodomized. Her husband couldn’t come to her aid as he was injured. The accused left around 1.15am.
15 Mar 2013 4 Comments
in Advocacy, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tags: Andheri, discrimination, Human Rights, Indian Standard Time, Mumbai, Police, Rape, The Accused (1988 film), Vile Parle, Wednesday, Woman
The four, carrying alcohol bottles, barged into the room and accosted the man; brandishing a knife, they threatened him into silence, said the police. Even as three of the men pinned the driver down, one allegedly raped the woman.
After the first accused committed the crime, the four sat down and had a drink following which the remaining three took turns to allegedly rape the woman. The assault on the woman continued till morning when around 7am, the driver made an excuse of visiting the bathroom. From there, he called up his acquaintance. The friend approached the Vile Parle police who sent a team with him to the chawl. The four, who were still in the chawl room, were arrested and booked for gang rape, wrongful confinement and robbery.
The accused have confessed to have followed the victim and the driver to his room in the chawl.
28 Oct 2012 1 Comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Prison Tags: Asia, Capital punishment, China, discrimination, DNA, Human Rights, India, Kuwait, Mumbai, New Delhi, Oman, Pakistan, Paramara, Sarabjit Singh, UAE, Vile Parle
Indian techie Bhavesh Parmar’s return has highlighted the plight of Indian prisoners in Pakistan. But there are also 10,646 other Indians who’ve shared a similar plight inprisons across the globe since 2000, an RTI query by Thane resident and RTI activist Om Prakash Sharma to the ministry of external affairs has revealed. It also reveals that 29 Indians were given the death penalty in different countries during the same period for offences like drug running, theft and murder.
“If you go by figures available with international watchdog organisations, it’s clear that India has the largest number of its citizens incarcerated abroad,” Sharma told DNA. “The media glare on cases like Sarabjit Singh ensures that the government attempts to at least show that it is taking action. But other prisoners and their families struggle on their own, with no support forthcoming.”
Pakistan, with 2,372 Indians in prison, is second to the UAE, where the numbers nearly double at 4,315. Bangladesh follows with 2,008 Indians jailed, while Kuwait with 1,161 comes fourth. This is followed by China, with 673 Indian inmates, and Oman, with 429.
Incidentally, the UAE has given as many as 21 Indians the death penalty since 2000, followed by Kuwait with six death penalties, while Timor and Iran have executed one Indian each.
When asked to comment, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin defended the ministry, “The MEA extends every possible help to all Indian nationals, irrespective of where they are. There is no prioritisation on the basis of which country they’re incarcerated in.”
Sharma points out instances of how other countries go out of their way to help their nationals caught in a similar predicament.
“Look at the recent case of Italian marines who’re facing trial in India over murder charges after they shot dead two fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February this year. Their government has gone out on a limb to help them and is even using non-conventional tactics – like encouraging sporting events sponsored by Italian brands – to create sympathy for the marines.”
He lamented: “Indian authorities love to preen at the high table, calling the country an equal among superpowers. But the real acid test is how much they value they lives of their citizens. Even human rights activists, who hog the limelight when it comes to cases like Sarabjit, never speak about imprisonment of other Indians or the death penalties handed out.”
Don’t want to disturb him: Parmar’s mother
A day after 32-year-old software engineer Bhavesh Parmar reached his Vile Parle home after spending seven years in a Pakistani prison, his family is being very cautious. They have decided not to talk to him or let him talk to anyone else either, his mother Hansaben told DNA. She also said that it was too early to consult a psychiatrist and that they were going to give Bhavesh time to adjust to life back at home. pXX
10,646: Indians jailed abroad since 2000
4,315 in UAE
2,372 in Pakistan
2,008 in Bangladesh
1,161 in Kuwait
673 in China
429 in Oman
26 Oct 2012 1 Comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Political Prisoners Tags: Asia, Attari, Bhavesh, discrimination, Human Rights, India, indo pak, Lahore, Pakistan, Peace, Samjhauta Express, Vile Parle, Wagah
Yudhvir Rana & Bella Jaisinghani, TNN | Oct 26, 2012, 07.34AM IST
A software engineer by education, 32-year-old Bhavesh crossed into India in the afternoon through Wagah border, where Hansaben was waiting for him. “Mamma mil gayee,” he exclaimed on embracing his mother. “I am so happy. I came all the way to Attari almost crying.”
Bhavesh is believed to have wandered into Pakistan in 2004 in a mentally disturbed state. That was the year his father passed away from cancer. His long leave of absence from work cost Bhavesh his job with a leading manufacturer of ATM machines.
On Thursday, Bhavesh, attired in a salwar-kameez and a jacket, said he accidentally boarded Samjhauta Express from Amritsar and fainted before reaching Pakistan. It is unclear how he reached Amritsar or got on the train. According to activists, Bhavesh was arrested in 2007 and in 2009 sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. Bhavesh said he was treated well in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.
Vile Parle MLA Krishna Hegde, who accompanied Hansaben to Attari, said Bhavesh will be taken to Mumbai on Friday after all formalities are completed.
During the Thursday reunion , Bhavesh’s mother kept breaking down. “These tears are of happiness. I have finally got my son back,” Hansaben said. While she expressed delight at his return , she wished Pakistan had repatriated him immediately after the arrest.
The 57-year-old said Bhavesh’s mental condition worried her and she would get medical exams conducted . “Bhavesh was dedicated to his father’s treatment. But we lost my husband within three months.” Bhavesh disappeared after the death while Hansaben was away at her parents’ place as per local traditions. “I had told my neighbours to take care of Bhavesh. But when I returned I found him missing.” She did not lodge a missing report with the police since she thought he might have gone in search of another job.
Hansaben was clueless about her son’s whereabouts until 2008, when Intelligence Bureau informed her about his presence in Pakistani jail. “We started making efforts to bring him back when we came to know that he was imprisoned in Pakistan,” explained Hansaben. The process was not easy but as time passed immense support poured in for Bhavesh’s release . Britainbased lawye r Ja s Uppal reported the case to the United Nations, Amnesty International , Human Rights Watch and to others. In July 2012, Pakistani lawyer Awais Sheikh filed Bhavesh’s mercy petition before the country’s president Asif Ali Zardari.
Back in Mumbai, friends and neighbours at Kamla Terrace building in Vile Parle who had helped Hansaben through the ordeal awaited Bhavesh’s return. “I was to travel to Wagah but could not make it,” said activist Jatin Desai.
‘MAMMA MIL GAYEE’
Tragedy at home
Bhavesh Parmar, a software engineer, lived with his aged parents Hansaben and Kantilal Parmar at Kamla Terrace in Vile Parle He held a mid-level position with one of India’s largest manufacturers of ATMs The young man was left traumatized following the death of his father due to cancer in mid-2004 His prolonged absence from work owing to his father’s illness and then death cost him his job Unable to cope with the double blow, he wandered away from home in a disoriented state
Odyssey & ordeal
The 24-year-old ended up in Pakistan aboard Samjhauta Express in 2004 He was arrested in 2007 and a case was registered under section 14 of the Foreigners Act In 2009, Bhavesh was given a three-year sentence with a penalty of Rs 5,000 For non-payment of penalty, he was made to undergo further imprisonment of three months His case was placed before Pakistan’s supreme court and Bhavesh was declared an internee on June 2 for three months. The term ended on September 28
Sparks of hope
Earlier this year, Hansaben received a letter from journalist Neeraj Sharma informing that Bhavesh was in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore Sharma had interviewed a batch of prisoners released at Wagah. One of them, Ram Rajji, passed on a chit of paper on which Bhavesh had scribbled the family’s Mumbai address A friend of Bhavesh telephoned the reporter, who, in turn, put him through to Rajji Hansaben approached local MLA Krishna Hegde in February 2012. The MLA, in turn, sought help from MP Priya Dutt. The chain led to external affairs minister S M Krishna and the Indian High Commission in Pakistan Soon, activists across the UK, Pakistan and India reached out to help In Pakistan, lawyer Awais Sheikh represented Bhavesh to secure his release.
04 May 2012 Leave a comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Prison, Uncategorized Tags: Amritsar, India, indo-pak relations, Lahore, Mumbai, Mumbai Mirror, Pakistan, Peace, prisoners, Samjhauta Express, South Asia, Vile Parle
Letter from Pakistan – I want to return home
Nazia Sayed, Mumbai Mirror
Thursday, May 03, 2012 at 09:39:40 PM
The man in the photograph is 32-year-old Bhavesh Kumar. He went missing from Mumbai eight years ago. The letter you see is one he wrote to his mother – 57-year-old Hansa Kantilal Parmar – in February this year. She got the letter from a man called from Ram Rajji, who described Bhavesh as being “very quiet”, as being a man who cried when he thought of home but at most times recalled nothing.
Rajji had spent time with Bhavesh in jail; a jail in Lahore, where Bhavesh has spent the last eight years remembering and forgetting the past. For Hansa, the letter has brought fresh hope that she may yet see her long-lost son.
Bhavesh’s and his mother’s story reads like a melodramatic film script, even if no one’s sure how it will end. According to the version the police managed to piece together, Bhavesh had drifted into depression after his father’s death. He stole money from home before boarding a train to Amritsar.
There, though it’s unclear how, he managed to board the high-security Samjhauta Express, and once he got to Pakistan, he was detained because he had neither a visa nor any documents to prove who he was.
It’s hard to believe how smoothly things were going for him back in 2004. A bright student, Bhavesh had graduated from NIIT and landed himself a decent job. He lived with his family in Vile Parle, and like many parents of 24-year-old boys, his were on the look-out for a suitable bride.
Then his father lost a prolonged battle against cancer. “He was very close to his father, and after his death he went into depression,” Hansa told Mumbai Mirror. “He had not only lost his father but a friend as well. After that he also lost his job. The family fell into financial trouble and he blamed himself for not being able to look after us.”
Hansa had gone to her maternal home to perform some rituals when the next tragedy struck.
She got a call from her neighbours saying that Bhavesh had not returned home for a few weeks. Hansa returned immediately and when she couldn’t find him anywhere, registered a missing complaint with the police. “Some people told me he must’ve died or committed suicide, others said he had run away. I didn’t know what to do so I decided to wait,” she said.
She waited four years before she heard about her son: the good news was Bhavesh was alive; the bad news that he was in jail in Pakistan, and that getting him back would not be easy.
“In October 2008, officers from the Mumbai Police special branch came looking for me. They told me my son was being held in Kot Lakpath jail in Lahore,” Hansa said. “The cops also told me that he was mentally unstable, and that all he did was mutter the name of his college and call out for his mother. The police got my address from his college records,” Hansa said.
A few months later, there came another glimmer of hope. In July 2009, she got a letter from the Indian High Commission in Pakistan confirming that her son was indeed lodged in one of their jails.
The letter also stated that a team from the High Commission had met him, and that they had confirmed his nationality status to the government of Pakistan. The letter said that they were in touch with the Pakistani government and were seeking Bhavesh’s release and repatriation to India at the earliest.
Once again, Hansa was left with nothing else to do but wait; this time, for another two-and-a-half years (more painful, considering she knew where her son was but could do nothing to help him).
Out of the blue, on February 24 this year, she got a call – not from a police station or an embassy, as she had been expecting. It was from a man called Ram Rajji, Bhavesh’s fellow prisoner who had returned to India bearing a letter from her son.
Unlike Bhavesh, Rajji was the victim of a con. In 2004, an agent in Amritsar had told him he had arranged a job for him in Lahore, and that he would meet his point-of-contact when he reached that city. There was no one waiting for him and Rajji found himself in jail. He was released in February this year as part of a group of 19 Indian prisoners who were sent back home.
When Mumbai Mirror contacted Rajji, he said that Bhavesh seldom spoke about his home or his family. “For many years, he was very quiet. He used to break into tears when he remembered things from his past but at most times he recalled nothing. On the day I was getting released, he pushed a piece of paper in my hand and told me to give it to his mother. He also asked me to click a photograph of his and show it to his mother as proof that he was alive.”
Rajji was taken aback, mainly because of how quiet Bhavesh had been until then. “But I was moved by his sudden emotional outburst. I promised him that I would personally meet his mother and tell her that her son was alive.”
After receiving the letter, Hansa once again approached the authorities. Vile Parle (East) MLA Krishna Hegde, who is helping Hansa out, said, “I have written to the Ministry of External affairs explaining the situation. We are now waiting for their reply.”
For Hansa, the letter has brought with it fresh strength to fight. “For the first time in eight years my son remembered me. He scribbled his address on a piece of paper, he gave Rajji a message for me.”
And what was the message? “He said he wants to come back home.”
27 Apr 2012 2 Comments
in Advocacy, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights Tags: Bandra, Bombay Hospital, Breach Candy, charitable hospitals, discrimination, FSI, Gasoline direct injection, Health, Hospital, Human Rights, ICU, India, Intensive care unit, Lilavati, Maharashtra, medical ethics, Mumbai, Patient, Reena, trust hospitals, Vile Parle
Grants, concessions and exemptions given to the hospitals far exceed the cost of free treatment they are asked to carry out
Posted On Thursday, April 26, 2012
The death of accident victim Reena Kutekar, whose husband Ram desperately hunted for a hospital that would save her life, has brought into focus how badly poor patients are treated in private medical facilities across the city.
The story in most other hospitals in the city is alarmingly similar: though they are required by law to treat a certain number of economically backward patients, most people come away empty handed in their time of need.
The contention of the hospitals – from Jaslok to Breach Candy, from Lilavati to Hinduja – is that taking care of poor patients is a huge burden on them, and that they are asked to provide free treatment for nothing in return.
What these hospitals fail to reveal, however, is that the grants and concessions they are given by the government far exceed the cost of free treatment they are being asked to carry out. Running as charitable public trusts, their list of unaccounted-for exemptions is staggering:
1. Cheap land
If any charitable trust wants government land to build a hospital, it is charged only one-tenth of the market value in the island city, and one-twentieth of the market value in the suburbs. If the land is on lease, the price can be as low as Re 1 per square foot per year.
“Several facilities, such as Jaslok, Hinduja and Bombay Hospital, are on government land given to them on a Re 1 lease. Now they’re earning crores annually but still make excuses when it comes to treating poor patients,” said advocate Sanjeev Punalekar, who had filed a PIL on the issue in 2004.
2. Extra FSI
While the rest of the city’s commercial establishments have to make do with an Floor Space Index of 1.33 to 2, public trust hospitals get an additional FSI of up to 5.32 in the island city and up to 5 in the suburbs.
The FSI determines the height of the structure, which in turn translates into more room for patients, and more business. But the taller hospitals have hardly been of help to poor patients.
“The additional FSI and all other rebates come from the government. The rest of the money comes from patients. Ultimately, it is the government and public money that adds up to the surplus funds of hospitals,” said health activist Leni Chaudhary. “Then why not ensure that poor patients get treated?”
When contacted, Dr Pramod Lele, the CEO of the Mahim’s Hinduja Hospital, admitted that additional FSI proved beneficial in increasing the hospital’s “bed- strength”, but contented that they were asked to pay a premium for it. Not the best argument considering the demand-supply ratio of hospital rooms guarantees that this money is easily recovered.
3. Income Tax rebate
The exact rate of exemption varies from hospital to hospital, depending on how much money it makes. On average, however, 85 per cent of a public trust hospital’s income is exempt from tax. Even the remaining 15 per cent can be set aside as a corpus fund, ensuring that most hospitals have to pay no tax at all. The only catch is that anything accumulated above this 15 per cent in their account is taxable. Hospitals registered as research institutes are given similar concessions.
4. No Octroi
While Octroi rates in Maharashtra are inordinately high, hospitals are exempted from any additional tax for transporting equipment and machinery. In 2003, the BMC withdrew Octroi exemption from a few hospitals for not doing enough charity work. When contacted, a senior doctor from Lilavati hospital agreed that there had been several complaints made to the Charity Commissioner about norms being flouted, which had resulted in some rebates being pulled back for certain hospitals.
5. Duty free
All public trust hospitals are exempted from customs duty on imported machinery and medical equipment, as opposed to 10 per cent for all non-public-trust hospitals. When contacted, Customs officials said machinery and medicines from abroad were one of the most common items brought into the country. “As per the law, we clear them immediately,” an officer said.
6. Cheap Medicines
Hospitals procure generic drugs at nominal costs, and several medicines which are made available by the government under various programmes such as Tuberculosis and Malaria eradication are given to them at a fraction of the cost. However, health experts point out, that these drugs are then sold to patients at the market rate.
7. Low water and electricity rates
Despite being commercial establishments, hospitals are charged residential tariffs for water and electricity, which in itself is a huge benefit. The Residential rate for water per 1,000 litres, for example, is Rs 2.25 as opposed to Rs 38 for commercial use.
What hospitals are supposed to do
According to a Supreme Court judgment, charitable hospitals must admit a patient brought in an emergency and provide “essential medical facilities” until stabilisation. Transportation to a public hospital should be arranged, if necessary, and no deposit should be asked for.
Each hospital has to transfer 2 per cent of its income to an Indigent Patients Fund (IPF). The hospital has to reserve 10% of its beds for indigent patients (annual income less than Rs 25,000) who should be given free treatment.
A further 10% of its should be reserved for economically weak patients (annual income less than Rs 50,000) who should be treated at concessional rates. At the time of admission, all a patient has to provide is a certificate from the Tehsildar or a ration card or BPL card.
11 Apr 2012 22 Comments
‘FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION UNDER ATTACK’
Sanal Edamaruku, well known rationalist, under threat of arrest for exposing the “miracle”
On 10th March, Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Rationalist International, flew to Mumbai. The TV channel , TV-9 had invited him to investigate a “miracle” that caused local excitement. He went with the TV team to Irla in Vile Parle to inspect the crucifix standing there in front of the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni. This crucifix had become the centre of attraction for an ever growing crowd of believers coming from far and wide. The news of the miracle spread like wild fire. For some days, there were little droplets of water trickling from Jesus’ feet. Hundreds of people came every day to pray and collect some of the “holy water” in bottles and vessels.
Sanal Edamaruku identified the source of the water (a drainage near a washing room) and the mechanism how it reached Jesus feet (capillary action). The local church leaders, present during his investigation, appeared to be displeased. See the
investigation in detail on YouTube.hours later, in a live program on TV-9, Sanal explained his findings and accused the
concerned Catholic Church officials of miracle mongering, as they were beating the big drum for the drippling Jesus statue with
aggressive PR measures and by distributing photographs certifying the “miracle”
A heated debate began, in which the five church people, among them Fr. Augustine Palett, the priest of Our Lady of Velankanni
church, and representatives of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) demanded that Sanal apologize. But Sanal refused and argued against them. [The whole TV program is recorded. You can watch an abridged version of it on
When they saw Sanal refused to bow to their demands, they threatened to file a blasphemy case against him. And they did. On (10th April,2012, Sanal received a phone call from a Police official of Juhu Police Station in Mumbai directing him to come to the said police station to face the charges and get arrested. He also said that FIRs have also been filed in Andheri and some other police stations u/s 295 of Indian Penal Code on the allegations of hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community.
Mumbai police has announced that they were out to arrest him. It is apprehended that he can be arrested any moment.
The filing of FIRs by Mumbai police and threatening to arrest a well known rationalist who has been exposing miracles and superstitious beliefs for more than three decades is a serious attack on the freedom of expression.
Clause (h) of Article 51-A of Constitution of India states that :‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform.’In exposing the said miracle, Sanal was performing his fundamental duty enshrined in our constitution.It is distressing that the Mumbai police has chosen to harass and victimize him for doing his fundamental duty.
‘Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee’ appeals to all progressive individuals and organizations to protest and oppose the reprehensible steps of the Maharashtra police in filing FIRs against Sanal and stand behind him in solidarity for the cause of scientific thinking and freedom of expression.
N.D.Pancholi 11 April, 2012
Convenor, Sanal Edamaruku Defence Committee, “www.rationalistinternational.net.”