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Archives for : December2017

Unwell Maoist Leader Kobad Ghandy Rearrested Within Days of Being Released After Eight Years

Mumbai: The shock arrest of a top leader of the CPI (Maoist), Kobad Ghandy, days after being released on bail on December 12 has been strongly condemned by the Revolutionary Writers Association and the Civil Liberties Committee (CLC) who said the police was using these kinds of tactics to prolong the incarceration of political activists.

Just minutes after Ghandy stepped out of the magistrate’s court in Achampet of Nagarkurnool district in Telangana after attending an ongoing trial on December 16, a team of over 50 policemen stopped him at the entrance of the court. The policemen – some from Telangana and the rest from Jharkhand – took him in custody and by evening he was flown directly to Ranchi instead of being produced in Hyderabad.  Ghandy, the Maoist ideologue who was released on bail on December 12 by the Vishakhapatnam trial court after spending over eight years in jail, is currently lodged at the Tenughat sub-jail in Bokaro district of Jharkhand in a separate case of murder.

According to Balla Ravindra, a lawyer representing Ghandy and also the general secretary of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, the 71- year old Ghandy was shaken by this sudden arrest. “They flouted established procedures and took him away to Jharkhand. Since they already had a booked flight ticket for 7 pm, they did not even wait for his medical test, (mandatory under the Code of Criminal Procedure) to be conducted,” Ravindra said. In a handwritten note, Ghandy speaks of being unwell and being advised medical rest and says, “if anything happens to my health in jail, I will hold the government responsible.”

In the incident of 2007 for which he has now been arrested, Naxals had allegedly attacked one CISF camp in the Bokaro Thermal Power station (BTPS) police station area. Six persons were killed and many others injured in the attack allegedly planned and executed by over 300 Naxals at the CISF camp and the adjoining Gandhi Nagar police station. A series of bombs were exploded and the Naxals had allegedly resorted to firing. Ghandy has been booked under several sections of the Indian Penal Code for murder, and rioting and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. All persons, booked in that case have already been acquitted or released on bail. A chargesheet is yet to be filed against Ghandy in this case.

Ghandy, who has spent several years in Tihar jail and later at Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam prison, has been booked in seven cases in all. He has already been acquitted in three. Between his transit from Telangana to Bokaro, the Jharkhand police – led by the Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Kumar – produced him before the Nampally court in Hyderabad. The magistrate granted permission instantly.

In his note, Ghandy said, “I and the Cherlapalli jail authorities wrote to the Tenughat Junior First Class Magistrate twice for (my) production. But there was no response.” Ravindra pointed out this is an old tactic used across the country to prolong incarceration of “political prisoners”. A similar incident had occurred in Nagpur, Maharashtra, when Arun Ferreira, a Mumbai- based political activist and now a lawyer was rearrested outside the Nagpur central prisons on September 29, 2011 soon after his release. Ferreira too, was booked in several cases, all relating to his alleged involvement in Naxal activities, only to be later acquitted from all. In all Ferreira spent nearly five years – from 2008 to 2013 in Nagpur prison.

One more warrant has been pending against Ghandy in the Surat court. His lawyers and civil rights groups have demanded that he be produced before the designated courts and the trial be commenced in each of them, instead of waiting for his release in one case and then re-arresting him. “We are preparing our appeal against the arrest,” advocate Ravindra said.

Responding to the arrest, rights activist Varavara Rao said Ghandy has been suffering with several ailments including an enlarged prostrate. “ He wanted to travel to Surat for the case in which a warrant is pending against him.”

Ghandy, a native of Mumbai stayed in Telangana even after his release since he had to appear before another court in Bellampalli of Mancherial district of Telangana on December 20. “He was planning to then go back to Mumbai after completing all the formalities here. His doctor at Apollo hospital has said he is not up to travelling,” Ravindra said.

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Delhi-  Hundreds of Transgender Persons Protest against the Transgender Persons Bill 2016

English: Widowed hijras lament Koothandavar's ...

English: Widowed hijras lament Koothandavar’s death. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New Delhi: December 17, 2017: 

Hundreds of transgender, intersex and gender non confirming people and their allies came together in Delhi at Parliament street on Sunday morning to protest against the Government of India’s Transgender persons (Protection of Rights) bill, 2016. Waves of protests and press conferences have been taking place over the last week in all these states and today all these groups converged in Delhi. 

Members of communities all across the country came to Delhi from W. Bengal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Maharashtra, Kerala and Bihar. 

  1. Raja, MP, came to the protest site and pledged his support to the protesters. He said “No one can tell you who you are. Go ahead and raise your voice. Let us see how sensitive the Parliament really is to the concerns of the people”.

Kavita Krishnan from AIPWA also pledged her support to the protestors, linking their issues to the widespread curtailing of rights across minority communities, as did Gargi di from NFIW. Representatives from JNU workers and students organizations, such as JNUSU, BAPSA, AISF, BASO, and AISA. A passing AAP worker saw the protest and took to the stage to voice his support and link this to the passage of the women’s reservation bill.

In 2016, the Ministry of Social Justice brought forward a modified version of its bill on transgender persons. This version of the bill had regressive provisions and was met with widespread resistance. The Central Government formed a Standing Committee to better understand the issues, which brought out a broadly progressive report in 2017, but also indicated the largely negative response of the Ministry of Social Justice to its own recommendations. Confusion remains over what suggestions of the Standing Committee had been accepted. Some media reports claimed the government had accepted nine changes but there has been no official confirmation from the social justice Ministry.

Aparna from West Bengal said “How can the government tell me who I am? If I do not accept my mother and parents telling me what my gender should be, do you think I accept this government’s opinion? If this government will police and criminalize our identity, why doesn’t it just kill us?” The protest at parliament street came in the backdrop of the central government’s decision to introduce the bill in the current winter session of parliament despite nationwide protests on key provisions of the bill. Veena from Karnataka said “Many of us come from poor backgrounds and our only acceptance is from the transgender community, our only livelihood is from traditional begging. If even that is criminalized, we will starve”. Anjali from Telangana said “If we are given the chance to work, we will do a great job and excel, but for that we need the NALSA judgment to be implemented”.

Grace Banu from Tamil Nadu said “Without reservation, we have no opportunities. No one is ready to offer us the chance to work”. Chandramukhi Muvvala from Hyderabad said “Implement the NALSA judgment!”

After the supreme court passed its historic NALSA verdict in 2014 that called for reservations and recognised the rights of trans people, a private members bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha by DMK MP Tiruchi Siva. But last year, the government brought it’s own version of the bill in the Lok Sabha, wwhich largely did away with the progressive points of the NALSA verdict or the Private Member’s Bill. In 2016, the Ministry of Social Justice brought forward the modified version of its bill which had several regressive provisions:

  1. introducing the criminalization of the traditional hijra livelihoods and family structures.
  2. upholding a governmental screening committee for deciding who is and is not transgender, which is a violation of the Supreme Court’s NALSA vs. UOI 2014 judgement.
  3. encoding discrimination with lower penalties for sexual and physical violence against transgender people
  4. upholding a regressive and unscientific definition of a transgender person.
  5. rejecting Reservation Policies and other Affirmative Actions as proposed for transgender people in Supreme Court’s NALSA judgement.


Our key demands are:

Hold widespread consultations with transgender community members from all gender identities and regional identities before bringing this bill before the Lok Sabha

Implement the key recommendations that will decriminalize the transgender community and provide equal penalties for violence against transgender people as for all people.

Uphold reservation and anti-discrimination policies that hold the key to liberating transgender people from the widespread barriers to employment and education we face. 


Transgender persons have a strong physical and/or cognitive discomfort with the gender which is socially, legally and medically unambiguously assigned to our bodies at birth. Persons who don’t identify as transgender are cisgender.

Intersex: Persons with intersex variations have bodies that do not conform to medical, legal and social categories of male and female, in various ways [anatomical, chromosomal, hormonal etc]. Some intersex persons are uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, in which case they may be transgender and intersex; but if not, they can be cisgender and intersex.

Hijra: The Hijra community is a sociocultural group whereby some members of the transgender and intersex communities formally enter a traditional system of living together and mutual support. They may take on different identities and names in various local languages: kinnar in Hindi, tirunangai in Tamil, aravani in Tamil, mangalamukhi in Kannada. Some kinnars may identify as Triteeya prakriti or third gender while others do not.

Transgender woman: Transgender women are transgender persons who identify as women, regardless of how they look, or dress. Some transgender women are also hijra identified while others are not.

Transgender man: Transgender men are transgender persons who identify as men, regardless of how they look, or dress. In Tamil Nadu some transmen may also identify as thirunambi.

Shivashaktis and Jogtas/Jogappas: These are culturally specific groups who are socially permitted a feminine gender expression  in the context of specific religious roles.

Genderqueer/Gender non-binary/Gender fluid/Agender/Intergender: Persons who do not identify within the gender binary may have a variety of gender identities including but not limited to these categories above.

The Indian Census attempted to assess the number of transgender persons while collecting census data for the first time in 2011, finding a total population of around 4.88 Lakh. However, these data are likely to be a severe underestimate, because many trans persons might identify within the gender binary, while others who identify as transgender may not be able to openly communicate their transgender identity. In 70 years of independence, all governments and political parties have mostly ignored the existence and rights of trans persons, even though the most important responsibility of the State is towards those who have been historically marginalised due to their identities.

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#Goodnews- Right to health be made a fundamental right: Private member bill introduced in RS

The bill states that all citizens should also have access to basic health services, emergency medical treatment and mental healthcare


A right to health under which people are entitled to avail health protection services free of cost should be in place on the lines of the right to education, according to a private member bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha.

YSR Congress MP V Vijayasai Reddy has proposed an amendment in the Constitution by introducing a new article 21 B for making right to health a fundamental right.

The state shall provide a system of health protection to all citizens, including prevention, treatment and control of diseases and access to essential medicines, the bill proposes.

It states that all citizens should also have access to basic health services, emergency medical treatment and mental healthcare.

The bill seeks to secure the above objectives with the state earmarking not less than 8 per cent of the annual financial statement for healthcare.

The state shall provide the system of health protection in a manner deemed fit by it, states the bill that was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

Giving the rationale behind the bill, Reddy said, “The government expenditure on health is only 1.4 per cent of the GDP and the public health infrastructure is inadequate and unequally distributed.”

He said that the Draft National Health Policy, 2015, takes note of the fact that over 63 million people are faced with poverty every year due to healthcare costs alone as there is no financial protection for the vast majority of healthcare needs.

“By widening the scope of Article 21 held that providing adequate medical facilities for the people is an obligation of the government in a welfare state,” he said.

The right to health is also internationally recognised as a fundamental human right. It is also included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, of which India is a signatory.

Private members bills can be introduced by any member of Parliament but have little possibility of getting the parliamentary nod.

Hindutan times

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 Commission of Inquiry Report on the Incident of Kalinganagar Firing Justifies State Violence on Citizens



Image result for Incident of Kalinganagar Firing

Police firing on adivasis leading to 13 deaths in Kalinganagar on January 2, 2006 to acquire land for a private company to usher in industrialization had sent shock waves across the country. Today, it is equally painful and shocking to see the findings of the P K Mohanty Commission of Inquiry that was constituted to inquire into the incident.  As concerned citizens, we find it important to share our responses to the report:

  1. Can the lathis, axes, bows and arrows of the people deemed to be “deadly weapons” stand against the modern arms and ammunition of the Odisha police? Based on the deposition of the Jajpur Collector, the Commission has said that near about 1000 villagers on January 2, 2006 gathered with lathis, axes, bows and arrows who posed a threat to the law and order problem for the construction of the boundary wall of Tata. Therefore 12 platoons of police (over 500 armed police personnel) were stationed with modern arms and weapons.

Here, the question arises how the gathering of those villagers with their traditional weapons to protect their lands and livelihoods has been termed ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’ whereas the presence of such a large contingent of armed police for the construction work of a private company like TATA as “adequate” and “cannot be faulted”? The Commission’s justification of this large presence of police resorting to barbaric violence for their “own self-defence” leading to the killing of 13 adivasis is once again establishing the monopoly of violence that the State and administration carry. The Commission is also making clear that citizens have no right to protect their own lives and livelihood. The protection of the interests of a corporate entity like Tata is the sole concern of the Commission like other Commissions have done in the past.


  1. The Mishra Commission that was constituted to inquire into the police firing in December, 2000 in Rayagada district where three adivasis were killed and seven injured did not question the justification of police firing. The adivasis of Rayagada were fighting against bauxite mining and alumina plant of Aditya Birla. This time the PK Mohanty Commission too has justified police firing in the process of land acquisition for Tatas. Both Commissions have justified the killing of people for the self defence of police personnel. However, deployment of armed police forces to acquire land for a private company against the wishes and consent of the people have not been deemed unjustified by any Commission. In both cases, the police firing created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that became favourable for companies to forcibly acquire land; this has been overlooked by both by a sitting judge as well as by the retired judge. This makes us doubt the impartiality of both Commissions.

  2. The Mohanty Commission has pointed out that land had been acquired between the years 1990 to 1995 and that from 1995 to 2005 people’s disappointment regarding compensation and rehabilitation built up. Those expressions of discontent were peacefully and democratically expressed according to the Commission. This is a success of the people’s movement that a Commission set up by the government has acknowledged the discontent of the people with the land acquisition process. It is to be noted that both BJD – BJP and Congress were in power, a fact that is pointed out by the Commission too. Why has the Commission not been able to point out that the administration and elected representatives in power have been equally responsible for the increasing discontent of the people? Had this discontent been addressed instead of their working in favour of the company, such a tragic incident of firing and loss of lives would not have happened.

  3. The Commission has not hesitated to question the role of some respected citizens for the aftermath of the incidents following the police confrontation with local people in May 2005. The Commission in a biased manner has questioned the role of political activists and NGOs from events around May 2005 and onwards who, according to the Commission, have “taken advantage of the volatile situation, mobilised, instigated and led the villagers to adopt a path of confrontation.”  Political activists and NGOs have been standing in protection of people’s rights and ensuring that the government machinery should work democratically in the interest of people. That is why they have been targeted by the State on several occasions. Here, in justifying the use of excess police force for land acquisition of a corporate entity reveals how the Commission has undoubtedly protected the interest of the corporate.

  4. The Commission has held responsible three doctors for the incident of chopping of palms of the deceased after post-mortem and at the same time absolved them of any “oblique intent”.  On the other hand, the Commission has highlighted the role of political activists and additionally attributed them with the intention of having “hijacked and converted the agitation.”  It is questionable whether the Commission was working towards giving justice to the family of the deceased or instead giving a clean chit to the administration and police in order to uphold the business interests of Tata.

  5. The Commission had ample opportunity to question the state government why measures had not been taken to implement land settlements as per the Odisha Survey and Settlement Act before declaring the area as Kalinganagar Industrial Complex.  Of the 13,000 acres of land earmarked for the complex, the Commission has highlighted that 7,057 acres belong to the private owners.  The area came under the control of the Odisha government from the Sukinda royal family under the Odisha Estate Abolition Act 1951. Subsequently, most of the private land in this area was claimed as public land which the government arbitrarily sold to a private company. This was one of the main grievances of the people. For what “public interest”  did the government use its authority to keep compensation money of the private land to itself. The Commission has maintained silence on this matter too.

  6. To recommend jobs of temporary nature to those who gave up their lives in protecting their land to avoid facing uncertainty is a travesty. Such a recommendation of the Commission to provide suitable employment to one member in each family is tantamount to the privatization of lives and livelihoods of individuals.  No doubt that such precedence will establish a wrong trend. It would have been appropriate to offer a government job.

We, the undersigned citizens, strongly disagree with the findings of the Commission report.  In the last many years when state violence has been increasing against those fighting for their lands and livelihoods, such a report is legitimising the coercive tactics and undemocratic actions of state and companies.  We plan to come together on January 2, 2018 for a collective protest against the police firing and state repression on people’s movements struggling for the protection of land and livelihoods.


Biswapriya Kanungo  (Human Rights Activist),  Debaranjan  (GASS), Lenin Kumar (Janabaadi), Lingaraj Azad (Niyamagiri Suraksha Samiti), Mahendra Parida and Banshidhar Parida ( AITF), Manohar and Pradip Sahu (CSD, Odisha), Narendra Mohanty (INSAF), Prafulla Samantra (NAPM), Pramodini Pradhan (PUCL), Radhakant Sethi (CPI-ML  Liberation), Ranjana (WSS- Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression), Sivram (CPI-ML Red Star), Srikanta Mohanty (CPI-ML , Odisha), Tapan Mishra (Chaasi Mulya Sangha) and Srimanta Mohanty.

Contact Numbers:  9437426647/9437762272

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Punjab -Congress Sweeps Civic Polls, Wins All 3 Municipal Corporations

Polling was held in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala municipal corporations, several municipal councils and nagar panchayats.

Congress Sweeps Punjab Civic Polls, Wins All 3 Municipal Corporations
Image for representation only. (Photo: Getty Images)
New Delhi: Ruling Congress on Sunday swept the three municipal corporation polls – Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala, even as the opposition SAD-BJP alleged misuse of official machinery.

The Congress swept most of the wards in the three municipal corporations as results were declared late evening, prompting celebrations in the ruling camp. The Akali-BJP alliance, however, demanded countermanding of the Patiala corporation polls citing gross poll code violations.

Polling was also held in 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats today, amid tight security arrangements.

For the three municipal corporations, Patiala registered the highest poll percentage of over 62.22 per cent followed by Jalandhar at 57.2 and Amritsar at 51 per cent while the voting percentage in the 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats ranged between 60-86 per cent.

Congress swept the Patiala municipal corporation winning 59 wards while the opposition failed to open account. In Jalandhar, 66 wards fell into the Congress’s kitty followed by BJP (8) and SAD (4).

In Amritsar, Congress won 64, SAD 7, BJP 6 and 8 wards went to the independents.

Overall, the Congress won 189 wards in the three municipal corporations followed by BJP with 14, SAD with 11, while ten were won by independents.

My heartfelt thanks to people of Punjab for turning out in huge numbers to support the Congress in MC, Nagar Panchayat & Council elections. The sweeping victory for @INCPunjab is a clear vindication of our policies and a defeat of the Opposition’s false propaganda.

In the municipal council and nagar panchayat polls, the Congress won from 267 places as against 37 by SAD, 15 by BJP, 94 by Independents.

The AAP received a severe drubbing winning from only one place.

The voting started at 8 AM and continued till 4 PM, a spokesman of the state election commission said here.

Tight security arrangements were made to ensure fair and free polling, which by and large remained peaceful barring a stray incident, officials said.

The major political outfits: ruling Congress, SAD-BJP and AAP were contesting the civic polls on their party symbols. A total of 8,000 election staff and 15,500 police personnel were deployed at the polling stations.

The Election Commission (EC) had ordered videography of 103 hyper sensitive wards.

Polling was held in 222 out of 225 wards in the three municipal corporations and 327 of the 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats.

In 90 wards, the candidates had earlier won unopposed and out of these three candidates belonged to the Patiala Municipal Corporation and 87 to municipal councils and nagar panchayats.

Nearly 900 candidates were in fray for the elections to the three municipal corporations of Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar.

The civic polls were held nine months after the assembly elections after which the Congress had wrested power from SAD-BJP combine in the state.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hailed the poll results as a “clear vindication of the Congress policies and a resounding defeat of the opposition’s deceitful propaganda.”

Meanwhile, SAD-BJP demanded countermanding of the Patiala Corporation elections. A SAD-BJP delegation submitted a memorandum to State Election Commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu here and also sat on a dharna outside his office.

The SAD-BJP leaders claimed that they had vidoegraphic evidence of blatant rigging and violence in Patiala.

Former minister and SAD leader Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, who led the SAD-BJP delegation, alleged “the Congress had murdered democracy in the State by using police force to commit atrocities on Akali-BJP cadre”.

Cheema said even former SAD Mayor from Patiala, Amarinder Singh Bajaj, was manhandled.

He alleged that in Mullanpur Dakha a SAD candidate’s mother was attacked and injured by Congress supporters.

“Similarly SAD polling agents were attacked by Congressmen in Sahnewal who barged into their booths with a group of outsiders. In Ghanour when Akali-BJP supporters protested casting of fake votes they were thrashed..,” he said adding the SAD-BJP would now take recourse to democratic protests as well as legal remedy.

BJP demanded a repoll in Patiala, Ghagga and some wards in Mullanpur Dakha and Jalandhar, alleging violation of model code and misuse of machinery.

Former chief minister Parkash Badal described the entire process of civic poll as “utterly uncivilised” and a huge blow to democracy in Punjab.

“This day will be remembered as a black Sunday for democracy in Punjab,” Badal said in a statement here.

The AAP also alleged misuse of government machinery by the ruling Congress in the polls.

Meanwhile, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar thanked the people and party workers for ensuring smooth and impressive turnout in the polls.”

He expressed the confidence that with Rahul Gandhi taking over the reins of the party, the euphoria would translate into victories for Congress.

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Hindu Jagran Manch Warns Aligarh Christian Schools Against Celebrating Christmas #WTFnews

The group, Calls It ‘Step Towards Forced Conversion

Hindu Jagran Manch is a right-wing Hindutva group affiliated to Yogi Adityanath‘s Hindu Yuva Vahini.
Hindu Jagran Manch Warns Aligarh Christian Schools Against Celebrating Christmas, Calls It 'Step Towards Forced Conversion'
A Muslim woman walks with her child, dressed as Santa Claus, to take part in the Christmas Day celebrations, in Chennai.

Christian schools in  Uttar Pradesh‘s Aligarh have been issued a warning by the Hindu Jagran Manch, a right-wing Hindutva group affiliated to Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini, not to celebrate Christmas as it may lure the students to Christianity.

The HYM suspects Christmas celebration in schools, with a major population of Hindu students, is a step ‘towards forced conversions’, reportedThe Times of India. 

Students are asked to bring toys and gifts which is an easy way to lure them to Christianity, city president of Hindu Jagran Manch, Sonu Savita told the daily, adding that such kind of activities can affect the mentality of Hindu students.

The threat comes just days after Bajrang Dal activists accused a group carol-singing Christians of coversion, and torched their car of priest outside a police station in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh.

Hindu Yuva Vahini, set up in 2002 by Yogi Adityanath who is now Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, had early this year, filed a complaint against the pastor of a church, accusing him of converting Hindus to Christianity.

A church event in Maharajganj district in eastern Uttar Pradesh, attended by more than 150 people, including 10 American tourists, was stopped by the police after the right-wing Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) alleged that religious conversion was being carried out.

Mass was held there quite often but as this time foreigners were involved, the HYV suspected that conversion was going on.

Back in 2014, Yogi Adityanath had warned Christians not to celebrate Christmas outside Churches. “If they can call our Ghar Wapasi programme wrong then holding such function by the Christian missionaries is also wrong. Many such ceremonies by them (Christian priests) have been reported and stopped by the administration and any further plans too should be scuttled,” he had then told The Economic Times.

Hindutva rising

As it turns out, the statistics do not support the Hindutva fear of mass conversions. Over the past four decades, the proportion of Christians in the population has actually fallen: to 2.3% in the last Census of 2011 from 2.6% in 1971.

Much of this anti-minority sentiment is driven by the internal logic of Hindutva. As defined by Vinayak Savarkar, the man who coined the term “Hindutva”, anyone who did not consider India his “punyabhumi” (religious land) was not a Hindu and therefore was a second-class citizen in a Hindu nation. Both Islam and Christianity, which originated not in the subcontinent but in West Asia, are therefore suspect.

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India – Download stay anonymous with TISS mental health chat app nULTA #mustshare

Seek help, stay anonymous with new TISS mental health chat app
Posters for the iCALL app (L) and helpline
Counsellors on iCALL’s pilot app advise on suicidal thoughts, sex issues

Amental health helpline at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has recently introduced a chat service on a pilot basis to offer greater anonymity to those seeking counselling.

The iCALL helpline – a field action project of the School of Human Ecology to provide counselling, psycho-social support, information and referral services – introduced the chat service in October, and it has already clocked 45 chats between October 23 and December 15.

“People find it more convenient to chat as it offers them greater anonymity. While typing, people tend to open up more as they can do it from anywhere, unlike calling. If you are talking about depression or other personal problems, you would need to go to a private area to call so that others don’t overhear,” said Tanuja Babre, programme coordinator, iCALL.

Currently, users can access iCALL’s chat service through its Android-based mobile app nULTA. Each chat sessions last 45 minutes and users must pay an application user service fee of Rs 99 per session, while the counselling is free.

Babre said training counsellors to provide the chat service was a challenge, as there were no ready training modules available. “We conducted a lot of mock sessions for counsellors on how to read the transcripts and understand what a client was going through. There were no existing training programmes. While listening to a call, the tone of the voice perhaps could aid the counsellor; however, in chats, people express themselves more freely. Moreover, a counsellor paraphrases the content of the chat for more clarity.”

Since the launch, the chats have covered a range of issues, from sexual and relationship concerns and study-related problems, to more serious issues such as suicidal feelings and self-harm.

“A majority of our chat clientele is in the 11to 30 age group, though a lot of older people also find it comfortable, as they are used to WhatsApp; they trust a chat more. There are other similar services which do not deal with suicides and sexual concerns, but we do. Many students chat with us, reaching out for issues such as suicide or self-harm. Relationships and health concerns leading to emotional distress are among the biggest issues,” Babre said.

The school plans to expand the project into a full-fledged service after the pilot period ends in December, offering lengthier sessions and better technological platforms for the application. “The pilot was for us to gauge interest among people. Now we know a lot of people are interested in this service.”

The iCALL service does not prescribe medication. “It would be unethical for us to do so. We have a wide network of mental health professionals and civil society organisations, and we refer clients to these on-ground services if required,” Babre said.

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Rehabilitation plan for Tansa Pipeline Project Affected openly violated Right To Education Act, 2009’

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan filed complained with MCGM

Demand compensation and strict action for violation of the Act

Mumbai | 18th December 2017: Apart from other major problems in Mahul, Mumbai-the rehabilitation site for the Tansa Pipeline Project Affected Families, the sample survey (of 130 children) carried out by the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) revealed that major provisions of Right To Education Act, 2009 are openly violated in the rehabilitation process which resulted in dropping out and traveling to really far off places to attend schools. This is in complete contravention to the core principles of RTE which also include free and compulsory education.

Since the demolition was carried out in the middle of an academic year, children had to continue their schooling in their old schools at original places. The rehabilitation site is variably at a distant place from the original places. The distance range from 10KMs to 20KMs. This has put a financial burden in the form of transportation cost on the poor families. Survey reveals that at least Rs. 200 is spent per day on to and fro transportation cost. This is really a huge cost for a family belonging to EWS or LIG. Majority of the PAFs belongs to these economic groups.Survey also recorded that in some cases where the parents cannot afford this transportation cost have simply stopped sending their children to school.

Due to the long distance between new home and old school, most of the mothers stay at school until it is over so as to save the multiple traveling cost. 

No arrangements were made by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to accommodate children in a new school at the rehabilitation site so that their academic year is not affected.  MCGM is the responsible body for carrying out rehabilitation of the Tansa Pipeline Project Affected Families.


Non-functional local sewage treatment plant has caused sewage to overflow making the streets filthier. School going children making their way to school from one those streets in Mahul rehabilitation site

RTE provisions stipulate the provisions of schools upto 5th standard and 8th standard within 1KM and 3KM respectively with free transportation so that the travelling cost can be waved off. This is to ensure that transportation cost should not become deterrent in sending children to school. However none of these basic provisions of the Act seems to be taken into consideration while making rehabilitation plan for the Tansa Pipeline Project Affected Families. GBGBA has filed a complaint today before MCGM against the violation of the Act and has sought quick action with a warning of mass action for inaction.

 Full complaint below…


Date: 18th December, 2017
The Administrative Officer (School),
3 rd Floor, Room No 306, M/West,
Ward Office Building,
Sharad Bhau Acharya Marg Chembur (East )
Subject: Complaint regarding violation of ‘Right To Education Act, 2009’ with regards to the
rehabilitation of Tansa Pipeline Project Affected Families/Persons.
Respected Sir/Madam,
We are writing to you regarding violation of children’s right to education due to the unexpected
and anti-humanity demolition of slum in the Tanasa pipeline area that took place with the
starting of this year. This was done as part of the orders from Hon. Bombay High Court in PIL
No. 140/2006.


The houses of the slum community that earlier lived in Tanasa pipeline area were demolished
and they have been rehabilitated in Mahul which is at variable distance ranging from 10KMs to
20KMs from the original places.
The demolition has disrupted lives and livelihood of the marginalised community trying hard to
sustain themselves through their hard, honest labour. The adults work to meet their daily needs
and send their children to schools with the hope of breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and
deprivation. When families are uprooted from their place of stay the children are the hapless,
silent victims. You will be well aware that the children coming to our MCGM schools come for
joy of learning, meeting their peers and teachers. They come with the hope of a future better
than their parents, they too have aspirations and dreams and also possess capacity and ability
to realise them. Our MCGM has the mandate to support this lot of children and we are aware
that its personnel have been trying to honour it.


However education does not take place in a vacuum. Being uprooted from the place of stay is a
grave, traumatic experience. Children see the helplessness and humiliation of their parents and
are unable to respond constructively. The safe-place of school can assuage some of this
frustration; provide support, along with nutrition and protection. The MCGM provides these
securities because they are aware that these are children’s rights and that they are duty-bound
to fulfill them. Ironically another arm of the MCGM through its aggressive, untimely demolition
drive has taken these rights away.
We thus decided to bring this situation to your notice and have conducted a sample survey of
about 130 children enrolled in MCGM schools. From our sample survey it has emerged that at
the Mahul rehabilitation site where the families removed from Tanasa have been shifted, the
situation regarding education is seriously inadequate or rather absent. The provisions of ‘Right
To Education Act, 2009’ are not taken into consideration while making the rehabilitation plan for
the Tansa Pipeline Project Affected Families.
As you know demolition was done in the middle of the academic year, especially of the primary
municipal schools, a Children enrolled in the MCGM schools in Tanasa Pipeline area who are
now shifted to Mahul are unable continue their schooling. Following are the specific violations
of the Right to Education Act, 2009.
The MCGM schools in Mahul are unable to accommodate the additional number of children.
There is in fact need for a new school altogether. (Section 6 & 8 provision of schools
within 1 km for Standard Ist to Vth and 3 Km for Standards VIth to VIIIth as well as Section
The children admitted to a new school in the middle of an academic year have a problem of
adapting to the school in short time and cannot catch-up well with teaching-learning. (Special
Provisions for Migrant Families (Section 6 & 9 k). Provision of residential schools or
facilities for transport in an event of migration or inaccessible distances. And Quality Instruction
(Sections 8 f, g, h, & 29) Classroom instruction for about 220 working days per year.)
As a result of which many children are continuing their schooling in the old schools in Tansa
Pipeline and their parents who are already economically burdened are now facing a huge
additional financial pressure in the form of transportation cost. (same as above.)
The to-and-fro cost of accessing school is nothing less than Rs. 200 per day. In
many cases families which cannot afford the transportation cost have simply
stopped sending their children to school. (Same as above).
This sudden gap in education is especially detrimental to children to have no additional
academic support outside school enjoyed by most better-off children. (Section 8 f, g, h, & 29).
Children below 6 years are unable to go the Anganwadies they were attending at Tansa
Pipeline. This has violated their right to Early Childhood Care and Education. (Section 11 RtE


While this is not directly under the Education Department, MCGM children’s right to health,
nutrition is also violated due to this irresponsible and callous act and is bound to have serious
ramifications on develop, growth and learning.


We thus demand:
1. Enough Compensation to the families whose children dropped going to school as a
result of financial burden in the form of transportation cost or any other cost.
2. Appropriate compensation to families for transportation costs taking their children to
Tansa Pipeline area schools and back.
3. Immediate free transport arrangement to-and-fro to Tanasa Pipeline school till new
schools are made available as per RTE Act 2009 norms at Mahul.
4. Strict action against concerned authorities for violating the ‘Right To Education Act,
2005’ in the planning of rehabilitation for the Tansa Pipeline Affected Persons/Families.
5. Set clear time-lines and channels of operations to ensure the above especially as per
the latest guidelines set by Government of India to redress public grievances.
Hope you will do the needful in immediate effect. We will compelled to approach the State
Commission for Protection of Child Rights if our plea is not responded to positively.
Medha Patkar Bilal Khan Ghanashyam Sonar
Phone: 9958660556
(Attachment: Copies of 42 survey sheets containing information of approx. 130
Copy to:
1. Education Officer
Education Department Municiapal Corporation of Greater Mumbai,
Hindu Colony Lakhamshi Nappu Marg, Dadar ( E), Mumbai -400 014
2. Dy. Education Officer,
Zone V
3 rd Floor, Room No 306, M/West,
Ward Office Building,
Sharad Bhau Acharya Marg Chembur (East )
3. Dy. Municipal Commissioner (Education)
F/S, Ward Office, 3rd floor, Parel,
Mumbai -400 012
4. Additional Municipal Commissioner (City),
Municipal Head Office, Annex Building,
Third Floor, Mahapalika Marg, Fort, Mumbai-400001
5. Mumbai Municipal Commissioner,
Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai,
Head Quarter,
Mumbai C.S.T. 400001
6. Principal Secretary, Urban Development (I),
7. Deputy Director of Education,
Mumbai Region,
Jawahar Bal Bhawan, Netaji Subhash Marg, Charni Road,
Mumbai – 400004



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Adani Cancels $2.6 Billion Contract With Australian Mining Giant #Goodnews

The move marks the latest blow to the long-delayed Carmichael mine, which has yet to line up financing as a growing list of Australian and international banks, including three Chinese state lenders, have said they would not back the project.

Adani Cancels Plans With Contractor For Australian Coal Mine

Adani and Downer said they had agreed to cancel all letters of award for mine services and related infra


  1. Adani had plans with Downer EDI for its Carmichael coal mine in Australia
  2. Project has been long delayed due to court challenges from green groups
  3. Several banks have refused to back Carmichael mine project

Melbourne: Adani said on Monday it had cancelled plans with Downer EDI Ltd to help develop and run its Carmichael coal mine in Australia after failing to secure a cheap government loan for the 16.5 billion Australian dollars ($13 billion) project.

The move marks the latest blow to the long-delayed Carmichael mine, which has yet to line up financing as a growing list of Australian and international banks, including three Chinese state lenders, have said they would not back the project.

Adani and Downer said on Monday they had agreed to cancel all letters of award for mine services and related infrastructure, after the premier of the state of Queensland said she would veto a 900 million Australian dollars loan from the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) for the mine’s rail line.

“Following on from the NAIF veto last week, and in line with its vision to achieve the lowest quartile cost of production by ensuring flexibility and efficiencies in the supply chain, Adani has decided to develop and operate the mine on an owner operator basis,” Adani Australia said in a statement.

The company said it remained committed to the project, which has been delayed for years due to numerous court challenges from green groups concerned about climate change and potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

The letters of award that Downer received in 2014 were preliminary agreements that were expected to lead to contracts worth more than 2 billion Australian dollars over seven years to build infrastructure and run Adani’s mine, Downer said at the time.

The companies never got to the stage of signing actual contracts, and Downer never included the 2 billion Australian dollars in its pipeline of “work in hand”. However its shares fell 1.6 per cent in early trade on Monday in a broader market that was up 0.4 per cent.

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Vasai hamlet near Mumbai gets electricity first time in 70 years



Vasai village gets power connection for first time
Villagers hand over a letter of appreciation to social activist Sushant Patil; (top) one of the families which got an electricity connection
Devkundi-Jambulpada village is located at a distance of just 4 km from Mira-Bhayandar

It took seven long decades for the Devkundi-Jambulpada village in Vasai, Palghar district to get electricity. So when the villagers saw a bulb glow for the first time on December 15, it was like a dream come true.

Not only is the wait for electricity for 70-odd years after Independence surprising, what is more shocking is that the village is located at a distance of just 4km from the twin cities of Mira- Bhayandar and is close to the busy Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway 8. Also, there are high-end resorts and a couple of good hotels glowing with electricity in the area.

Residents of Devkundi-Jambulpada hamlet in Vasai, Palghar district, four kilometres from the twin cities of Mira Road and Bhayander celebrated when their village was lit with electricity for the first time since independence.

While a resort located metres away from the hamlet has boasted of power for the past 15 years, the village received power only a few weeks ago, after Vasai-based social activist Sushant Patil took up the issue with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in November 2016.

Patil is part of Bhumiputra Rozgar Haqq Sarakshan Samiti (a tribal welfare outfit of local unemployed youths).

“The chief minister immediately ordered energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule to look into the matter and provide electricity to the village. However, bureaucratic wrangles delayed the same, but we did not give up,” Patil said.

Power is being supplied to the village under the Deendayal Upadhaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (Rural Electrification scheme) of the central government.

It took a herculean effort on the part of a Vasai-based social activist Sushant Patil to ensure the village with a population of 100 gets the basic civic amenity.

Patil took up the matter with the authorities concerned from time to time.

Bawankule asked for the village details and I readily provided the same,” Patil said.

On Bawankule’s instructions, the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) visited and surveyed the hamlet and within a few days, they installed nine electricity poles.

“We have provided electricity under Pandit Deendayal Gram Jyoti Yojana (Rural Electrification scheme). We have also provided free electronic power meters, LED bulbs to each household coupled with free wiring, as per orders,” said a MSEDCL official from Vasai.

However, he refused to comment on the delay of providing power to the villagers.

Devkundi-Jambulpada is surrounded by thick forests and has a population of just 100 people, who are majorly katkaris (farm labourers) working in nearby paddy fields.

The villagers had been living in fear of leopard attacks as there was no power and students used the dim light of lanterns for their studies.

“Many villagers had migrated to Mira and Bhayander in search of livelihood as our village did not have any power. We will now try to bring them back since we have electricity,” Patil said.

The villagers were glad to see their homes lit with LED bulbs and also performed pujas in their homes.

“We have sent a letter of gratitude to MSEDCL for bringing power to the village 70 years after independence,” Patil said

But his efforts bore fruit only after he raised the issue with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis last year.

The village has been electrified under the Deendayal Upadhaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, an ambitious rural electrification scheme of the Centre.

Until now, Devkundi-Jambulpada used to live in constant fear of leopard attacks as it is surrounded by thick forests.

Amajority of the residents of Devkundi- Jambulpada comprises katkaris (farm labourers) working in nearby paddy fields. In the absence of electricity, they used to finish their work before it turned dark to avoid attacks from wild animals and reptiles.

“We are really thankful of this BJP government who not only responded promptly but was also cooperative,” said Patil, who heads Bhumiputra Rozgar Haqq Sarakshan Samiti, a tribal welfare outfit of local unemployed youths.

He was also thankful to Maharashtra energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule.

Patil said when he took up the matter with Bawankule, he took prompt action and sent the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) officials to the village to survey it. Within a few days, the MSEDCL installed nine electricity poles and provided free electronic power meters, LED bulbs and wirings to each household in the village.

Scores of students would study under the dim light of lanterns using expensive kerosene and the tribals would always live in the fear of leopard attacks, as the entire hamlet is under darkness, after night and women and children would walk in the night to reach their homes and with the power, villagers can be assured of electricity.

Lack of electricity had forced many villagers to migrate to other places such as Mira and Bhayandar. The villagers welcomed the much-awaited facility with a pooja.

Mumbai Mirror and HT

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