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Archives for : February2018

U.P – Quack’s reuse of needle suspected after spurt in HIV cases in one village

An investigation into a spurt of HIV infection cases in a village found that several villagers who went to Rajendra Yadav, a quack in Unnao district for treatment were treated with the same needle

A local quack in Uttar Pradesh has infected 21 villagers with the deadly HIV virus by injecting them with infected needles and contaminated syringes, highlighting the threat unqualified medics pose in villages of this most populated state of India.

The incident was reported in Bangarmau in Unnao district, 45 km south west of Lucknow, where the officials have identified the quack Rajendra Yadav who had given injections to villagers. An FIR has been registered against him but he could not be arrested so far.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sushil Choudhury told this reporter on telephone from Unnao that the quack used to treat patients with common cold, cough, pains and diarrhea. “The villagers said that he used to give injections and have rarely seen him change the needle. This probably has lead to the spread of HIV,” he said.

Doctor says that the quack used to go to village after village on his bicycle and used to treat patients under trees. Villagers said that he used to give injections for almost all ailments and used to charge ₹10.

Healthcare facilities in villages are very poor and villagers go to these quacks without realising whether they are qualified to practice medicine. The unqualified medical practitioners treat minor ailments with injections of antibiotics, painkillers or steroids.

“Eyebrows were raised when there was sudden spurt in HIV cases in that region. In 2017, 12 cases of HIV against 27 suspected cases were found, which was a bit on the higher side considering the fact that Bangarmau is a small hamlet. Investigation showed that almost of them have taken injection from one person,” he said.

“This was an important lead. We set up special medical camps in villages that comes under Bangarmau and checked 566 people, of whom 21 were found HIV positive. Most of the cases are from Premganj and Chakmirapur villages,” Dr Chaudhury said. “We have widened our net and are now checking all patients who have received injections from Rajendra Yadav. The number of HIV patients could go up,” he stated.

Mehtab Alam, Project Manager of Raza Hussain Memorial Charitable Trust, an NGO that works with HIV and AIDS patients in Unnao and adjoining areas including Bangarmau said that quacks do not use disposable syringes. They use glass syringes and use one needle to inject hundreds of patients.

“Villagers are ignorant about [medical] hygiene. The quacks generally wash syringes and needle with water in front of villagers and use them giving an impression that washing with water make these syringes and needles safe,” he said.

Mehtab said it is also being investigated whether the spurt in HIV cases is due to greater movement of truck drivers, who are a target community of HIV intervention programmes, in the area. This is Bangarmau lies between the Agra-Lucknow expressway to the north and the Delhi-Kolkata national highway at Kanpur to the south. “This is a matter of investigation as how the said needle got infected with HIV which later transmitted disease to other patients,” he said.

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#Goodnews -Australian govt will not finance Adani group’s rail link project #StopAdani

Adani has sought a 900 million dollar concessional loan for rail to link the Carmichael mine to port.

Press Trust of India, Sydney
A protester holds a sign as he participates in a national Day of Action against Adani’s planned coal mine project in northeast Australia at Bondi Beach last October.
A protester holds a sign as he participates in a national Day of Action against Adani’s planned coal mine project in northeast Australia at Bondi Beach last October.(Reuters File Photo)

The Australian government said on Sunday it would not finance Adani group’s rail-link project that supports the Indian energy giant’s 16.5 billion dollars Carmichael coal mine, according to a media report.

Adani has sought a 900 million dollar concessional loan for rail to link the Carmichael mine to port. The announcement by minister Karen Andrews could spell the end of the project entirely if it can’t secure private finance.

Andrews, the assistant minister for vocational education and skills, said that since “all the approvals are already in place for the Adani mine” it was now “just a financing issue for Adani” whether the mine goes ahead.

“Let’s be clear, though, given the position that the Labor state government took to the last election and their election, there won’t be financing from the federal government,” Andrews was quoted as saying by Sky News Australia.

Asked to confirm there would not be federal financing, she said: “No, it won’t be proceeding. For there to be money available from the Naif (Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility), that would require the support from the Queensland Labor government”.

She further clarified that the advice she has been given by the resource minister and given the position the Labor government took to last year’s state election there won’t be financing from the federal government for this rail line

Nevertheless, Andrews talked up the benefits of the mine, labelling it “very important for employment and jobs in northern Australia” and said she would like to see it proceed.

There was no immediate reaction from the Adani group.

The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, stepped up the opposition’s rhetoric on the Adani mine last week, first refusing to rule out stopping the project on Tuesday and then on Friday threatening the mine’s licence in a bid to boost the party’s environmental credentials for the Batman by-election.

Before its re-election last year, the Queensland Labor government promised to veto Adani’s application for a loan from the Naif.

Federal Labor, which has already ruled out providing a public subsidy or loan to the Adani mine, is now looking at further measures to block it.

The Carmichael project, expected to create hundreds of jobs in Australia, has been facing opposition from environmentalists and indigenous groups.

The Adani Group has for over five years battled the opposition to any expansion of the Abbot Point port, saying it will cut into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The Adani group entered Australia in 2010 with the purchase of the greenfield Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, and the Abbot Point port near Bowen in the north.

Adani Australia currently employs over 800 people and has invested over $3.3 billion in Queensland, which is the biggest investments by an Indian company in Australia, the company said on its website.

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Students sell pakodas in convocation robes to protest PM Modi’s comments on employment


  • The young students sold ‘ModiPakodas’, ‘Amit Shah Pakoda’ and ‘Dr Yeddy Pakodas’.
  • The police later removed the degree robes of the protesting students and took them into custody.


‘Pakoda’ protest: The students were protesting against PM Modi’s recent remarks that selling pakodas is also a form of employment and can be seen in the light of ‘job creation‘.

pakoda protest, students sell pakoda, bengaluru, pm modi, employment, job creation, modi bengalore rally, indian expressThe students were protesting against PM Modi’s recent remarks that selling pakodas is also a form of employment and can be seen in the light of ‘job creation’. (Picture Source: ANI)

In an apparent protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments on employment in the country, college students in Bengaluru donning convocation robes sold ‘pakodas’ to passersby on Sunday ahead of the PM’s rally there. They were later taken into custody by the city police. The students were protesting against PM Modi’s recent remarks that selling pakodas is also a form of employment and can be seen in the light of ‘job creation’.

The students gathered close to the Mehkri Circle in Bengaluru, a city which is considered the IT-hub of the country and is known to provide employment opportunities to IT professionals from across the country.


A short distance away, in the state capital of poll-bound Karnataka’s Palace Grounds, the Prime Minister addressed a campaign rally.


In an interview to a news channel in January, PM Modi, talking about employment in the country, had said that even an individual selling pakodas at a road-side stall outside the channel’s studio earns Rs 200 a day and is ’employed’.

The protestors labelled the fried dumplings ‘Modi Pakodas’, ‘Amit Shah Pakoda’ and ‘Dr Yeddy Pakodas’, an jibe towards the PM, the BJP chief and the state party chief Yeddyurappa, selling the snack to the public, which included BJP supporters and workers heading towards the PM’s rally.

A short distance away, in the state capital of poll-bound Karnataka’s Palace Grounds, the Prime Minister addressed a campaign rally. (Picture Source: ANI)pakoda protest, students sell pakoda, bengaluru, pm modi, employment, job creation, modi bengalore rally, indian expressThey were later taken into custody by the city police. (Picture Source: ANI)(With PTI and ANI)

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‘It’s about Adani’: Did India deny me a journalist’s visa because of a story? #StopAdani


Silhouette of hands and arms behind Indian flag

Some observers believe India’s judiciary and media are under attack.


Even professional cynics harbour some romantic notions — ideas which look childish or embarrassing when held to scrutiny. Here’s mine: I’m proud of being born in the world’s largest democracy, India.

It’s the ‘democracy’ bit I value. Renowned historian Ramachandra Guha is fond of pointing out that India was almost the only post-colonial society to pursue an open society, rather than an autocratic state.

Political theorist Sunil Khilnani notes that “independent India appears as the third great democratic experiment launched at the end of the 18th century by the American and French revolutions” — and that while it’s the youngest of the three experiments, the country’s scale may make it the most significant.

The concept is embraced by every man on the street, every politician. And up until now, by me. No matter what its problems, India has universal suffrage, a constitution that promises equal rights, and a jostling, noisy media. When I visit I find myself in the middle of an opinionated crowd. Friends, family, strangers: no-one holds back on what they think.

Indian man painted in green and orange holds two flags in front of huge crowd

PHOTO Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP has been accused of fuelling religious and racial tensions.


So when outsiders fault the country’s slow progress my comeback is usually along the lines of “democracy is messy; we’re not China”.

In the last few years, with violent nationalism on the rise, a spate of reports highlighting inequalities of caste and gender, independent media and judiciary under unrelenting attack, and fake news being used to serve political agendas, that defence has become harder to sustain. Last week I gave it up for good.

For months colleagues and I have been working on a series of programs about India since independence for Radio National. We received a grant to travel to the subcontinent and interview the country’s best and brightest: historians, economists, investigative journalists, satirists, environmentalists, academics, architects and student leaders.

We were advised to apply for journalist visas back in December, well ahead of our planned flight in February. We waited. And waited. Jokes were made about bureaucracy.

I called the Sydney visa office to check where they were up to and found their helpline was outsourced to somewhere in India and no-one there had a clue about what was happening back here. More jokes. Then anxiety crept in.

I called DFAT, who had given us the grant, to ask if they knew what the hold-up was. I called friends who were old India hands, people who worked at embassies, journalists who might have a contact. I sent countless emails, I called Julie Bishop’s office, I called Delhi.

Reassurances flowed — this was “always the way”, the consulate “often waits until the last moment”. But that last moment was a fortnight away, a week away. Then, with days to go, a highly placed government source admitted there was a problem: “It’s about the Adani story.”

In October last year, reporter Stephen Long and the Four Corners team dug into the dealings of the company behind the controversial Adani coal mine and found a history of environmental and corporate malfeasance. It was a hard-hitting piece but still it seemed incredible that it could affect our visit. After all, India is a democracy.

We never got our visas. We haven’t had an official explanation. We did receive some strange emails: requests to send a list of who we would talk to and offers to have someone accompany us around Delhi. There are troubling questions about what this means for Australian journalism. But that’s not all that’s at stake.

Indigenous man Adrian Burragubba leads a protest against the proposed mine outside Queensland Parliament in Brisbane.

PHOTO A highly placed source say India’s failure to issue the visas was related to ABC reporting of Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine.


When we emailed our interviewees to say we had not been granted visas and would have to cancel the trip, the responses were swift and astute. “I’m so, so sorry but I’m not surprised.” “Is this about the Adani expose?”

There were apologies for this ‘shabby’, ‘wretched’, treatment. “I fear for our democracy,” wrote one.

“Sad, sad, sad,” wrote another. “This is India.”

There is of course another India highlighted by those responses. Rather than succumbing to cynicism, the people we set out to interview are trying to hold their leaders and their country to account — through books and articles, on stage and screen, on the streets and in the academy.

They have more to lose than a couple of visas. Some have been jailed, trolled or intimidated, other have seen colleagues murdered or faced death threats themselves, yet they were willing to talk to us then, and now.

As a nod to our own democracy, we could do them the courtesy of listening.

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MD Anderson Cancer Center disowns conference which Baba Ramdev is to inaugurate at IIT Madras

After ‘cancer is karma’ remark, Baba Ramdev to inaugurate research conference at IIT Madras

MD Anderson Cancer Center is demanding its name and logo be removed from promotional materials for an international cancer conference that will feature a prominent Indian yogi who has blamed cancer in part on karma for past sins.

The Houston research hospital, which sponsored the last conference in 2016, posted notice Sunday on Twitter that it is not supporting the Translational Cancer Research Conference set to start Thursday in Chennai, India.

Yogi Baba Ramdev — whose protests against government corruption and comments about homosexuality and the nature of disease have made him made a controversial figure in the South Asian country — is scheduled to give the inaugural address at the seventh biannual meeting.

“In the past, MD Anderson has sponsored this conference through its Global Academic Program,” MD Anderson said on its Twitter page and in a statement Sunday. “But this year, we’re not a sponsor. Our name and logo are being used without permission, and we’ve requested they be removed from promotional materials.”

The four-day conference’s theme this year is Cancer Prevention and Treatment: From Ancient Medicine to Modern Medicine. It is hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology.

MD Anderson’s name and logo remained on the conference website through Monday evening. It’s unclear when the website was first posted but it still referred to the last day for registration being Jan. 21. The cancer center’s name was displayed prominently for the 2016 conference.

An MD Anderson spokeswoman attributed the institution’s historic sponsorship of the conference to the involvement of two MD Anderson professors – Varsha Gandhi and Sen Pathak – long active in the organizing of the conference. The spokesperson was not able to determine Monday night why the institution was not a sponsor this year.

MD Anderson officials were alerted to the conference promotional materials by a health watchdog journalist Sunday on Twitter. They provided a full response a few hours later, noting that the professors were participating on their own time.

In the past, MD Anderson has sponsored this conference through its Global Academic Program. But this year, we’re not a sponsor. Our name and logo are being used without permission, and we’ve requested they be removed from promotional materials. (1/2)

Conference organizers also include Bharat Aggarwal, the former MD Anderson faculty member who has had to retract 18 papers, mostly for image manipulation. The subject of a lengthy investigation by the cancer center, he retired from the MD Anderson at the end of 2015.

The conference website identifies Aggarwal’s affiliation now as the Inflammation Research Center in San Diego.


The conference was the subject of a story that was posted Sunday on the website of the New Indian Express. It emphasized the presence of Ramdev, who in November had defended Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s statement that people dying of cancer or in accidents were paying for sins they committed. The minister subsequently apologized, but also said that his remarks had been distorted.

“What Himanta Biswa Sarmaji has said on karmic action is correct if you see it in totality,” Ramdev said at the time, according to an article in the Indian newspaper, The Pioneer. “People had to bear what they do in life.”

Ramdev is an entrepreneur known for his work in business, politics and agriculture, and Ayurveda, the ancient system of medicine developed in India.

The New Indian Express article also quoted Ramdev as saying, “Everything is related to karma – our birth and death are related to karma. Several reasons cause diseases and one among them is karma.”

The article also notes that Ramdev has “courted controversy over claims that he had cured over 1,000 cancer and HIV patients through the practice of yoga and concoctions marketed by his pharmacy, Patanjali.”

His 2006 suggestion that sex education, as a means of AIDS prevention, should be replaced by yoga education, brought a cease-and-desist order from the Indian Union Health Ministry to avoid making such claims in the future.

In 2009, after the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality, Ramdev reportedly said that homosexuality could be treated.

In 2011, Ramdev led a hunger strike of 65,000 to pressure the government into rooting out corruption and repatriating money earned on the black market. He continued the strike – and later led another – despite negotiations that produced a government initiative on corruption.

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A candle for Ankit

… and his lost love and a flickering secularism. A worrying silence echoes in the public sphere

Ankit Saxena was killed in west Delhi’s Khyala area on Thursday night allegedly by the family members of a woman with whom he was in a relationship.

It was an act of violence and terror, albeit of a critically different kind. When 23-year-old Ankit Saxena’s throat was slit after an altercation with the family members of his childhood sweetheart a few days ago, while the usual suspects of the BJP, Manoj Tiwari, and the Bajrang Dal swung into pre-scripted, hate-driven action, a worrying silence from votaries of “secularism” and “religious progressives” echoed in the public sphere.

It would be easy to assuage the guilt caused by this silence by brushing off Ankit’s murder as an act of individual brutality and insanity, atypical and distinguished from organised, targeted killings in the name of faith or caste. Young Ankit’s death can also then be distinguished aside and away from the “secularism and Constitution in danger” paradigm. Warning bells need not be rung. For the venomous proponents of the “love jihad” myth, this is an act in reverse, with the young man, a Hindu, a victim. For both sides of the deep communal divide, the response is common: Greater segregation, less democratisation for the young, no sharing of spaces. Do no candles need to be lit for Ankit and his lost love?

The traumatised 20-year-old Muslim woman has so far found no friends, terrified as she is of being another victim in her family’s act of violence and hate. She has courageously named her relatives as those who, in all likelihood, are guilty, and is inconsolable in grief. The police have said her life is under threat. So far, at least, she battles alone, clear that she will be coerced into a life shorn of autonomy, choice and love if left to her family and community. Tragically, her younger 16-year-old brother was set upon her as a spy, monitoring the calls that she made and the messages she received from Ankit.

Yes, she is a Muslim and it was a Muslim father and uncle who, in all probability, we are told, did Ankit to his death. Yes, while it was an individual act of brute terror, its construct stood upon an inward, rigid, communal non-negotiable — that the autonomy of choice is out of bounds for a woman. That while we may speak of “secularism”, when it comes to protection of life and liberty and equality before the law and Constitution (and God knows what travesties those notions in today’s India are), this self-limiting definition does not extend to breaching the physical ghettos of space, mind and spirit.

Ankit and his childhood sweetheart played and dreamed together as they grew up on the lanes and streets of a mixed west Delhi neighbourhood, Raghubir Nagar. Their affection and attachment, which was to prove fatal, endured even as her family moved away, physical distance not eroding a bond that an urban, secular space had forged. Newspaper reports say they were planning a court marriage on his birthday next month. Now, with such a tragedy unfolding, rabidly communal outfits like the Bajrang Dal have made even the woman’s family, economically, victims: A beauty parlour run by female relatives of the Muslim woman in the mixed neighbourhood was forcibly closed down reportedly after the owner of the rental premises, Vinod Kumar, was threatened by west Delhi Bajrang Dal chief Jagjit Singh Goldie. In all likelihood, the extended family is likely to flee back to the recesses of Uttar Pradesh to escape the “shame of the limelight”.

Ankit’s father, Yashpal, has made heartfelt appeals to politicians and the media to refrain from communalising the issue. “We have lost our son. We are not against any community,” he has pleaded, objecting to the coverage on some electronic media.

Babasaheb Ambedkar, that critical political philosopher who had the uncanny knack of spotting the deeply political in the personal, had, among so much else, written about and advocated promotion of inter-caste marriages to ensure and enable the withering away of caste exclusion and discrimination.

Such marriages that breach societal and religious taboos break new ground and show us the way, he had argued. He pushed this argument even further, saying that a state wedded to the principles of equality and non-discrimination must encourage such alliances, partnerships and liaisons.

No wonder, then, that in some states like Maharashtra, the government is meant to provide incentives to such unconventional alliances.

Can or will or should the same principle also be extended to inter-faith marriages, partnerships? To genuinely tackle the communal demon, a green, secular and progressive signal must be given to marriages and partnerships between adults of different communities. Not only do we see no reference to this debate but the studied and uncomfortable silence and discomfort after Ankit’s murder can probably be located here.

The battle for constitutional values and secularism has been limited to the rights between ghettos, physical and real. These ghettos have been spawned over decades with targeted violence against minorities being the cause. Within these ghettos, the inter-mingling between equals is limited and even controlled. Our battle for a lived secularism has given up, virtually completely, the re-doubled struggle needed to breach these ghettos, often at great risk, to forge freer, common spaces.

The streets and lanes of Delhi where Ankit and his lost love played and bonded need to be the shared and common spaces in which our dreams of a robust, flourishing Indian secularism prosper and grow. As do other locales still live and present in a myriad, different Indian milieus. This imaginative and creative re-fashioning of the struggle is critical for a real-life secularism to emerge from its own embers.

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India – 75% Bohra women admit female genital mutilation #StopFGM #Vaw

Key findings

Girls subjected to khafd or FGM/C are usually about seven years old Khafd or FGM/C was remembered as a painful experience by 97% of women in the study, who reported painful urination, physical discomfort, difficulty walking and bleeding immediately following the procedure. Approximately 33% of women subjected to khafd believe FGM/C has negatively impacted their sexual life.

 75% Bohra women admit female genital mutilation: study The research also showed that 97 per cent of the female respondents, who remembered their own FGM as children, recalled it being very painful. (AP Photo/File)

India is increasingly becoming the hub for the performance of female genital mutilation (FGM) and cutting (C) on Bohra expats and foreign women. This is primarily due to a recent legal action of FGM/C among Bohras in Australia and USA and the absence of an anti-FGM law in India. This information was revealed in the first qualitative report released on Monday, by Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor in New Delhi titled, ‘The Clitoral Hood a Contested Site: Khafd or Female Genital mutilation/Cutting(FGM/C) in India.’ The Indian participants were from 13 locations across five states: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Kerala. Bohra expats from Canada, UAE and the US also participated in this study. The study included responses from 94 participants, of which 83 were women survivors of FGM and 11 were men. The women surveyed were aged between 17 and 89 years. All the interviewees together had 81 daughters, of which six were too young, 55 were subjected to khafd and 20 were not. This indicated that nearly 75 per cent of the daughters underwent FGM.

Currently, there is no official data by National Crime Records Bureau, to support the existence of FGM in India, according to an affidavit submitted by the ministry for women and child development to the Supreme Court in December 2017. Very few national field research studies have been published to understand the practice of khafd (FGM) in India due to lack of evidence.

A survey done by ‘WeSpeakOut’ a survivor-led movement to end FGM, suggests that the practice may not be restricted to Bohras. The survey, details of which will be released in Delhi on February 5, which is observed as ‘International Day of Zero Tolerance’, says that the custom also exists among certain Kerala Sunni families. Unlike the Bohras, where girls undergo the procedure when they are around seven, in Kerala it is done to toddlers.

There has been a debate on what to call the procedure that involves the ritual removal of the clitoral hood. The UN, which considers all procedures involving the alteration or injuring of the female genitalia for non-medical reasons as a violation of the human rights, calls it FGM. Members of ‘WeSpeakOut’ use the term but also refer to it as Female Genital Cutting (FGC) so that they are seen as less ‘value judgmental’. The group had said they wanted to avoid the word ‘mutilation’ to get their community’s support for the cause. The Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association for Religious Freedom (DBWRF), whose members oppose the campaign against the custom, use the term Female Circumcision (FC) and they maintain that FC and FGM are two different procedures, and that they are against FGM.

Belying the government’s admission to the Supreme Court that there is no data on the existence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in India, a new qualitative study shows that 75 per cent of 94 respondents interviewed had subjected their daughters to the practice.

The study titled “The Clitoral Hood A Contested Site”, was released Monday before International Day for Zero Tolerance for FGM. The detailed study was conducted by independent researchers Lakshmi Anantnarayan, Shabana Diler and Natasha Menon along with WeSpeakOut, a coalition of Bohra women against FGM and the women’s rights organisation Nari Samata Manch.

The research also showed that 97 per cent of the female respondents, who remembered their own FGM as children, recalled it being very painful. Also known as khafz in the Bohra community (a Shia Muslim sect), the procedure involves partial or complete removal of the clitoral hood or the clitoris once the girl is seven years old.

While 33 per cent of female respondents said FGM has had an adverse impact on their sexual life, 10 per cent of the women reported having frequent urinary tract infections, and incontinence, with one reported case of excessive bleeding. A majority of the female respondents reported they felt low self-esteem, shame, betrayal, anger, and suffered from depression as a direct consequence of FGM.

The Indian Express had reported on December 28, 2017, that the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), in an affidavit to the SC, had said there was official data or study on the existence of FGM in India.

The study released on Monday comprises in-depth interviews with 83 women and 11 men – both proponents and opponents of FGM – from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Kerala (where a few Sunni Muslim families were found practising FGM) as well as from the United States, Canada and United Arab Emirates, countries with significant Bohra diaspora.

88 respondents said they cumulatively knew 1,248 women in their families who had undergone khafz. Also, the prevalence of the practice varied from 64 per cent in upper income groups to 100 per cent among poorer families. “This only shows that lower income groups are more vulnerable to pressure and surveillance from religious heads,” said Anantnarayan, one of the researchers.

The study also debunks the myth that men from the community are oblivious to the practice and shows they are involved in the perpetuation of the practice on political and personal levels with many insisting on marrying women who have been “cut”.

Masooma Ranalvi, an FGM survivor and founder of WeSpeakOut, said there was a move to ban FGM across the world. “Why is the Union government not listening to pleas of women from our community? Eight months ago, the WCD Ministry was all set to issue an advisory on the FGM ban to all states but they never went ahead with it. The current government has time and again said that issues of Muslim women need to be addressed. The relationship between the Syedna (a Dawoodi Bohra community leader) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is cordial. Why then, can’t the issue be taken up?” she said.

Durga Nandini of, India said that first public evidence on the existence of FGM came in December 2015 in the form of an online petition asking for its ban supported by over 1 lakh people.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who released the FGM report Monday said the government has chosen to go only after triple talaq “so as to score political points” instead of taking on the “politically more challenging” issue of FGM among Bohras.

“In this particular case (FGM), it is a specific wrong done within a specific community…Therefore, it should be seen as a human rights issue involving the rights and dignity of Indian women. It doesn’t matter to me which community is doing it,” said Tharoor.

The Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association for Religious Freedom (DBWRF), who are in favour of the practice, also issued a statement Monday disapproving the study. Samina Kanchwala, Secretary, DBWRF said khafz is circumcision and not mutilation. “Khafz is a harmless cultural/religious practice unique to the Dawoodi Bohra community. We reiterate that there is no place for any kind of mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra religion and culture.”

A procedure undertaken without formal training

Zubeda, a 50-year-old circumciser

Zubeda learnt to do khatna after she got married. She was oriented into the practice by her auntin-law and then by the doctor she worked with. “I have done 6,000 khatnas in 20 years. There is no training as such. My aunt-in-law used to cut girls with a blade and would apply black ointment after it,” said Zubeda, adding that she may have performed around 500 khatnas on Bohra women from foreign countries.

Durraiya, a mother

Durraiya’s eight-year-old daughter, who underwent khatna in May 2017, developed major complications after the process. A traditional circumsiser did the job for her. But after coming back home, the child started bleeding profusely. When the blood flow didn’t stop, she rushed her to a hospital. “I was sure that it would be made into a police case. I told the circumciser to come with me to the hospital. The hospital did some dressing and gave her medicines, but the bleeding didn’t stop. The next morning, my daughter was taken to a second hospital, where the doctor stitched the cut portion,” she said.

Dr Sujaat Vaali, obstetrician and gynaecologist

There is a very small region between the skin and the clitoris. Only a specialist with a lot of experience can separate the two and be able to cut only the skin/hood/prepuce. So, in most cases the clitoris gets affected. Given that most girls are cut when they are seven-years-old by traditional cutters without anaesthesia, and the procedure happens in a minute or two, the operator cannot get enough separation between the clitoris and the skin surrounding the clitoris. So, usually they end up cutting the clitoris, along with the skin covering the clitoris.

Indian Express and Mumbai Mirror

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Did PM Modi say Karnataka has 7 lakh villages?

It was claimed on social media that Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing a rally at Bengaluru, Karnataka on February 4 had reportedly said that there are 7 lakh villages in Karnataka that are yet to be electrified. This claim was made based on a headline flashed on a TV news channel ‘News9’ which reported that PM Modi had said that ‘7 lakh villages in Karnataka are living in the dark’.


News9’s report was picked up by social media users, who took potshots at PM Modi over this alleged claim.

There are 6,40,867 villages in entire India, let alone Karnataka; 80% of these were electrified by 2014.

An example of deliberate lies by PM Modi in election rallies.

PM Modi’s alleged claim was also latched on to by the opposition. Congress leader Pawan Khera was among those who tweeted about the PM’s alleged gaffe.

According to Modiji, there are 7 lakh unelectrified villages in Karnataka. Just so that he knows, there are 6,40,867 villages in India. Not the first time @PMOIndia caught peddling misinformation. Thanks Dr Singh for pointing this out. 

This particular piece of information turned out to be false. Posted below is the video in which PM Modi spoke about the state of electrification in Karnataka. As can be heard clearly, PM Modi is saying, “Aap sochiye, agar ek din bengaluru mein bijli na aye, toh kaisa hahakar mach jayega, lekin karnataka mein aise 7 lakh aur pure desh mein aise 4 crore GHAR hain jo azadi ke itne varsho baad bhi andhere ki zindagi ji rahe hain” (Please think, if Bengaluru does not get electricity for a day, what chaos will it lead to. But in Karnataka, there are 7 lakh and in the entire country 4 crore households which are living in darkness even after so many years of independence). PM Modi is referring to households and not villages when he refers to the figure of 7 lakh.

According to the official data which can be accessed here, Karnataka has roughly 6.5 lakh households which are still in need of electricity. PM’s claim of 7 lakh unelectrified households is in the range of the official data available. In terms of percentage of electrification achieved, Karnataka stands at 93% and is among the better performing states in terms of electrification coverage and higher than BJP ruled states such as Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

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IDENTIFIED: Admin of the FB page that called for violence against 100+ inter-faith couples

On February 4, 2018, Alt News published an article that shockingly revealed how a list of more than 100 couples who had entered into inter-religious union were being targeted on social media and a page called “Hindutva Varta” was openly calling for violence against these couples by putting out links to their Facebook profiles as a list in the public domain.

Alt News has identified the perpetrator of these threats. The Facebook page by the name ‘Hindutva Vaarta‘ had urged social media members to track and hunt down Muslim men who are in a relationship with Hindu women. A person called Satish Mylavarapu admitted to being the admin of the page.

Hindutva FB page publishes list of 100+ couples in inter-faith marriages, calls for violence 

I am proud to be admin of that page हिंदुत्व वार्ता … Will create new page again

Mylavarapu has been rather brazen on social media, openly posting threats and inciting violence against members of a particular community. His viciousness can be judged by the fact that he openly pays tributes to Nathuram Godse and claims that Godse saved the country. In the following tweet, along with a picture of Nathuram Godse, Mylavarapu writes, “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Desh Bachcha Gaye Nathuram”.

रघुपति राघव राजा राम,

देश बचा गए नाथूराम।

Many of Mylavarapu’s tweets call for genocide against ethnic communities and religious minorities.

“Army exercises maximum restraint. They acted only in self – defence when stones were being hurled on them from all sides by a mob of about 200 people’, says @AmanSinhaLaw, Spokesperson BJP

Maximum restraint?? What the use…. If you need to save india… You have conduct genocide in Kashmir valley… No other go.

In the following tweet, he urges members of the Sikh Community (Khalsa) to crush Islam.

12 बज गए । इसी समय मुग़ल आतंकवादियों को सिखों ने घसीट घसीट के मारा था । और ऐसा मारा था कि आज भी उनकी पुश्ते घर मे गिलास भी गिर जाए तो पलँग के नीचे दुबक जाती है और कहती है12 बज गए कहि सरदार तो नही आ गए । 

@TajinderBagga ji की यादाश्त कमजोर हो गयी है, को चाहिए के 21वें सदी में फिर से इस्लाम को पैरों तले रौंद दे…

His bigotry did not even spare Ankit Saxena who was killed by the family members of the Muslim woman he was in love with, justifying his murder and claiming that it is the wicked Indian constitution that led to his death, and not Islam.

ये नमाज़ी है… मर गया यही सोचते कि सब एक समान है, इसकी हत्या ने नही की… हमारी विकृत ने की…

After Alt News’ story on the call for violence against inter-faith couples led to a huge uproar, the FB page ‘Hindutva Vaarta’ was suspended. Mylavarapu however was nonplussed about the fact that his page was taken off Facebook, resolving to bide his time.

Hindutva FB page publishes list of 100+ couples in inter-faith marriages, calls for violence 

अरे पेज बैन कर दिए, id 30 दिन के लिए बैन कर दिए… अब क्या हिन्दू लड़कियों को अपने हाथों से जिहादियों के हाथ सौंप दी??? सेक्युलर कहलाने का इतना शौक नही है

This nonchalance on the part of those who are openly issuing violent threats in the public domain is a serious cause for concern. Such threats are a direct affront to the authority of the state which is expected to crack down with a heavy hand on those who challenge its monopoly over the legitimate use of force. Moreover, these calls for ‘tracking and hunting down’ Muslim boys is not only blatantly communal but calls upon ordinary citizens to adopt violent tactics, openly fuelling communal tension and conflict. Alt News calls for strict action to be initiated against the admin of the page.

IDENTIFIED: Admin of the FB page that called for violence against 100+ inter-faith couples

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