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Archives for : June2018

Highlights Deadly Cost of Plastic- #WorldEnvironmentDay

Plastic bags and bottles comprise a major part of the rubbish that clogs this delicate mountain ecosystem when scores of Hindu devotees flock to the Amarnath cave in Kashmir to worship a representation of the god Shiva. Credit: Athar Parvaiz/IPS

Plastic bags and bottles comprise a major part of the rubbish that clogs this delicate mountain ecosystem when scores of Hindu devotees flock to the Amarnath cave in Kashmir to worship a representation of the god Shiva. Credit: Athar Parvaiz/IPS

ROME, May 31 2018 (IPS) – On June 5th, World Environment Day will be hosted in India under the banner of “Beat Plastic Pollution,” aiming to raise awareness and civic engagement alongside creating a global movement to reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.

World Environment Day addresses four main campaigns. First, it seeks to decrease the amount of single-use plastic items. Second, it will try to improve plastic waste management, since plastic takes hundreds of years to degrade, poisoning the soil and even getting into the food we eat.

Third, it aims to phase out microplastics because recent studies show that 90 percent of bottled water and 83 percent of tap water contain plastic particles which affect blood, stomach and lungs. Finally, this global platform intends to coordinate further research in order to create alternatives to plastic.

As synthetic polymers can be transformed into cheap, lightweight and durable products, demand for plastic is growing worldwide, rising from 5 million tons in the 1950s to over 300 million tons in 2017. The UN has estimated that more than 5 trillion plastic bags are consumed annually while 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce plastic.

At the same time, 50 percent of this plastic is for single-time use, making the share of plastic in human-generated waste 10 percent. The problem is intensified by the fact that every year, 13 million tons of plastic get into the ocean killing 100,000 marine animals. In his report, Future of the Sea: Plastic Pollution, Professor Richard C. Thompson describes human plastic consumption through the “Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework”.

The DPSIR framework in relation to inputs and impacts of plastics and microplastics in the marine environment. Modified from original by P. J. Kershaw (UNEP 2016).

According to Professor Thompson, the driver which leads to the highest amount of litter is the demand for plastic production. Intensive fisheries and shipping, alongside increased tourism and consumerism overload waste management, lead to the ineffective waste treatment that contributes to plastic pollution.

Professor Thompson suggests reduction of plastic usage, effective clean up and waste management, recycling, education of society and good governance.

Plastic pollution affects oceans the most. Professor Thompson says that around 70 percent of litter in the ocean is plastic. The major part of this litter in the oceans originates from land pollution as plastic gets into the rivers and finds its way to the oceans. This problem has negative consequences for marine organisms, leading to their death and even extinction. Ocean pollution also decreases the value of coastlines, necessitating costly ongoing clean-up operations.

The team of US and Australian researchers led by Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia, listed countries which pollute oceans with plastic waste the most. According to their results, China and Indonesia are the leading countries responsible for plastic pollution of global sea lanes.

As a 2010 report from The Wall Street Journal estimates, together, both China and Indonesia are the source of more than a third of plastic litter into the global waters. From the graph, it is possible to conclude that majority of mismanaged plastic waste in the oceans is tracked back to Asian countries, many of them developing states with poor recycling and waste management systems.

Even though the exact quantity of plastic waste in the environment is unknown, it is certain that without any action, quantity of plastic waste alongside its horrific impacts will continue to grow. It has been estimated that in the next eight years, the quantity of plastic items produced will equal the amount of plastic produced in the whole twentieth century.

Fortunately, an increasing number of individuals avoid consuming single-use plastic items and volunteer to clean the environment. However, individual action alone is not enough to solve this global problem.

As the source of the problem lies in “manufacturing, distribution, consumption and trade systems for plastic,” the whole “global economy needs to change”. Subsequently, active involvement of governments who will implement competent legislation regarding production and management of plastic items is needed.

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Modi and Adani: the old friends laying waste to India’s environment


India’s environment has been subjugated to the whims of the prime minister’s industrial cronies. How can the world believe him on climate change?

Aditi Roy Ghatak, 

On Thursday, 22 May, 2014 – Narendra Modi’s last day as chief minister of Gujarat, the western Indian state he had ruled for 12 years – the prime minister-elect waved to his supporters at Ahmedabad airport. 

A smiling Modi stood on the stairs of the aircraft that would whisk him to Delhi and the pinnacle of Indian power, but even amid the jubilation some eyebrows were raisedBehind the soon-to-be globally famous waist-coated figure, a purple and blue legend was stamped across the fuselage – “adani”.

As chief minister, Modi had flaunted norms and processes unapologetically, but even some followers and ‘bhakts’ (devotees), were embarrassed by his open display of cronyism with fellow Gujarati and trader-turned-tycoon Gautam Adani, whose remarkable ascension to power and pelf has run parallel with Modi’s own rise to the top.

Those familiar with Modi’s standard electioneering procedure knew that every day of his iconoclastic campaign, Modi had taken off from Ahmedabad in an EMB-135BJ, an Embraer business jet, to address rallies across the country. The plane was owned by Karnavati Aviation, a company in the Adani Group. Modi’s old friend ensured the man he wanted to be India’s prime minister came home to rest each night.

In fact, a fleet of three Adani-owned aircraft – the jet and two choppers – had served the leader. The pilot of the Embraer reportedly said it had been bought by the Adani family in anticipation of Modi’s busy election schedule. Adani maintained that Modi was paying for the use of his aircraft. After the electoral commission got sticky about candidate-corporate cronyism and demanded declarations of electoral spending, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it spent Rs 77.83 crore ($12.57 million) on chartering aircraft for its star campaigners.

How much was paid to Adani companies is not known. How much else Adani gained from this high-flying association is however a matter of high public interest and much reported, as is Modi’s keenness to be the transformational leader who will make India the top global industrial destination.

His sights are clearly trained on the world. Modi has built his stature through an international charm offensive, the latest iteration of which was his recommitment to the goals of the Paris climate accord.

Report: Modi and Trump avoid climate change tension on state visit

In his June 2017  speech announcing the US’ withdrawal from the deal, president Donald Trump singled out India, accusing them of rent-seeking to the tune of “billions and billions and billions” on the back of the UN accord. Modi fired back at Trump in a joint announcement with French president Emmanuel Macron – with whom Trump has a short but confrontational history. Modi said India would go “above and beyond” the accord in the fight to stop climate change. On Monday, at a meeting with Trump at the White House, the subject was studiously ignored as the two leaders skirted their differences.

It was a remarkable turnaround for a country that has long been suspicious of the UN climate process. In 2015, Modi told the climate conference that delivered the Paris accord that “the consequences of the industrial age powered by fossil fuel are evident, especially on the lives of the poor”. Now, he said “the world’s billions at the bottom of the development ladder are seeking space to grow”. In other words: the rich world did this, they can deal with it.

Less than two years later, Modi is positioning India as one of the global climate elite and seeking the investment and plaudits of large economies. In reality, India’s coal development threatens to blow its national climate goals and with it, the international target to hold global warming “well below 2C”.

A report released in April identified 370 coal power stations in planning and construction across the country. If all go into operation, it will be all but impossible to meet, let alone exceed India’s Paris commitment to get 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

“India’s Paris pledges might be met if they built these plants and only ran them 40% of the time, but that’d be a colossal waste of money, and once built there’d be huge incentives to run the plants more despite their contrary climate goals,” said study author Steve Davis, an associate professor at the University of California Irvine.

Modi has gained a reputation as a solar champion but one that lacks nuance. India does have ambitions to install 100GW of solar power by 2022, which the government has incentivised. There is a rub though, even as global and Indian majors – including Adani – show great interest. SA Aiyar, consulting editor of the Economic Times, warned in April that India’s power infrastructure was not ready to absorb its dash for solar. “We should hurry slowly,” he said. An oversupply of electricity – a paradoxical problem that exists in India even with its 200 million people who lack access – could cripple the thermal electricity sector, which India still relies on for supply, and the banks that have underwritten it.

Despite India’s formal position and even as Modi throws himself behind the Paris agreement, Adani is adamant he is going to construct an enormous coal mine in the Australian outback. In this he has prime minister Modi’s blessing. “We see Adani as a flagship project,” an Indian trade official told the Canberra Times in April. The State Bank of India has signed a memorandum of understanding with Adani for a $1bn loan to the project.

According the company, the mine would see 2.3bn tonnes of coal dug up over a predicted lifetime of 60 years. The most obvious place for that coal to be burnt is in Adani’s fleet of power stations back at home.

Modi tells the world what it wants to hear but his primary constituency is a group of industrial cronies – of whom Adani is first among equals – whose interests are unaligned with actions that address climate change, nor any of India’s plethora of environmental crises.

The relationship with Modi is far from covert. Adani – along with some other businessmen – regularly accompany the prime minister on state visits. Generally, the pair’s interests are viewed as synonymous. At the peak of Modi’s obstreperous relationship with BJP paterfamilias Lal Krishna Advani, a former mentor the prime minister no longer had use for, Modi’s bête noire and Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, tweeted a telling piece of advice to Advani: drop the ‘v’ from his name and all would be well. The jest was a deadly serious one and a remarkable commentary on Modi; his motivations, the company he keeps and the counsel that prevails with him.

Cronyism has long been a way of life in India. A vast country of 1.3 billion people, sharply stratified with the richest 1% owning 58% of the total wealth, India ranks in the top ten of the Economist’s list of countries with a sizeable crony sector. For the first time in the history of independent India, however, accusations of business cronyism are now regularly levelled at the prime minister’s office, with Gautam Adani the centrepiece of the conversation.

Adani’s business grew 12-fold during Modi’s chief ministership and has grown by leaps and bounds since Modi’s ascension to prime ministership. In 2014, he seemed to emerge from nowhere to enter the ranks of the ten richest Indians as Adani Enterprises moved from trading to everything that mattered. In the year after 13 September, 2013, when Modi was declared the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, shares in Adani Enterprises jumped 265% and turnover grew 20-fold, according to India’s leading business newspaper the Economic Times. Adani’s personal wealth grew 152% in 2014.

In an interview with Reuters given a month before Modi won the prime ministership, Adani said: “Crony capitalism should not be there. I definitely agree with that. But how you define crony capitalism is another issue… If you are, basically, working closely with the government, that doesn’t mean it’s crony capitalism.” Adani was approached for comment for this article, but did not respond.

A recent investigation by Economic and Political Weekly discovered changes made by Modi’s government to the rules that govern special economic zones had advantaged Adani companies to the tune of Rs 500 crore ($77m). Adani’s ability to secure government connivance under Modi’s has been remarkable, well-documented and long-practiced. Leases of state land in Gujurat to Adani companies, approved by Modi’s state government in the 2000s, have attracted strong criticism. Adani reportedly attained the leases for as little as one cent per square metre, then sublet it to other companies for up to $11 per sq metre.

But Adani failed to see a problem, claiming his companies had improved the properties. “You can say very well that land has been given to Adani,” he told Reuters. “So what? Has Adani taken away land and not developed anything?”

In return, Modi has enjoyed Adani’s unflappable support. After a pogrom killed hundreds of people, mostly Muslims, in Gujarat in 2002, Modi’s alleged sanctioning of the killings drew criticism from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – India’s leading business chamber. Adani jumped to Modi’s defence, setting up a rival chamber of commerce, the Resurgent Group of Gujarat (RGG) and threatening to leave the CII. He, along with some other business interests, put up funds for Modi to host the first Vibrant Gujarat summit for which they hired Apco, a US public affairs consultancy. The summit – known as the “Indian Davos” – became a stepping stone for Modi to court global business. Cowed, the CII eventually apologised to Modi.

Modi, whose core political identity is grounded in Hindutva – a distorted version of Hinduism that seeks the hegemony of Hindus in secular India – was cleared of complicity in the killings in 2012, but he has never fully condemned the violence nor apologised for failing to stop it.

Hindutva was Modi’s avenue to power. He was born into a grocer family; grocers in India have traditionally been entrepreneurial but young Modi’s sense of enterprise took him in a different direction. Still in his teens, he quit home and joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, a right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation and the parent of the BJP).

Public speaking, organisation and repartee came easily to Modi. He underwent training at the RSS camp in Nagpur, took charge of its students wing, rallied forces against Indira Gandhi’s State of Emergency eventually becoming the official spokesperson of the BJP in New Delhi in the 1990s. Then, in a move that was quite unprecedented in the RSS circuit, Modi reportedly took a three-month long course in public relations and image management in the US. Modi had already emerged as a demagogue with the Indian masses, now he learnt how to be a resonant voice of reason and reform on the world stage.

Modi has now reached the pinnacle of political power in India, having crushed all opposition parties. This takeover and the accompanying influence of business cronies has meant a “downhill drive for Indian environmental sanctity,” says Dr Dhrubajyoti Ghosh UN Global 500 laureate and winner of the 2016 Luc Hoffmann Award.

At the Paris climate conference, Modi told the world India would enlarge its forests to absorb 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Returning home, Modi directed the environment ministry to loosen its regulations. He wanted to “facilitate a right of passage to big industry in erstwhile inviolable areas,” Ghosh tells Climate Home. Coal mines were exempted from public hearings, irrigation projects proceeded without the proper clearances and the right of tribal village councils to oppose an industrial project was weakened.

“Agricultural workers, agricultural fields, forest dwellers and forests are the low-lying fruit that the government targets with a denial of elementary ecological rights,” says Ghosh.

In Modi’s India, those who seek to defend the powerless find themselves targeted. Greenpeace fell afoul of the government as it opposed the clearing of the sal forests of Mahan (home to more than 14,000 indigenous people in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh) by Mauritius-based coal miner Essar Energy.

“How can protecting our forests be described as anti-national and promoting the economic interests of a [foreign] company like Essar Energy… be called as having nationalistic sentiments?” wondered the Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, after being stopped from boarding a flight to London to talk to concerned audiences there about NGO efforts to save the Mahan forest. During Modi’s first year in office, nearly 9,000 NGOs that received foreign funding – including Greenpeace India – had their licenses cancelled.

For tribal leaders the stakes are even higher. Kuni Sikaka fought a 12-year battle against the London-headquartered, Indian-owned Vedanta group’s proposed aluminum mine and refinery in her people’s sacred Niyamgiri Hills in the eastern state of Odisha. Last month, Sikaka and her husband were reportedly arrested and paraded at the police station as Maoists, before being released. Police said they had surrendered their struggle.

Vedanta boss Anil Agarwal is also amongst the top Modi acolytes. His company was recently blacklisted by Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) – the world’s largest sovereign wealth or state-owned investment fund – citing its poor track record and the “unacceptable risk that your company will cause or contribute to severe environmental damage and serious or systematic human rights violations”.

Agarwal and Vedanta rarely miss an opportunity to endorse Modi’s policies and the government’s support for extractive industries. Agarwal is not alone in his fascination for the prime minister that he and other like-minded industrialists have financed to power; neither is he alone in getting away with violations. The GPFG exclusion list of Indian companies is growing and features operations that have major interests in metals, coal and thermal power.

A Comptroller and Auditor General’s report in March this year severely faulted the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MEFCC), finding companies that violated environment clearance conditions were rarely penalised. The report attributed it to disempowered officials and understaffed offices.

If these shortcomings were sins of omission, there are graver sins of commission, such as a proposed amnesty for companies operating without statutory environmental clearances. The intrepid journalist Nitin Sethi, writing for the Business Standard, put into the public domain news of these confabulations between government and violators.

Perhaps the most egregious fix, given the prominence of the issue and its consequences for Indians’ health, is the government’s attempts to defer a December 2017 deadline for air pollution standards for thermal power plants. Without these, India’s hopes of reducing deadly air pollution from its electricity sector are nixed.

In public, the environment ministry and the power ministry have different stories to tell. The late environment minister Anil Dave, who died in May, told parliament in March that the standards would come into force from 6 December. The reality is that of the more than 400 thermal power plants in India, none have complied with the standards.

In February, the head of the Central Electricity Authority Ravindra Kumar Verma quietly let slip that “completely meeting requirements of revised environmental norms by December 2017 may not be feasible”. More recently, power minister Piyush Goyal told the Financial Times the country’s coal power stations, three-quarters of which are owned by the government, will “take some more time” to comply.

The weakening of India’s environmental institutions has opened the door for development that disregards climate or environmental concerns. According to data compiled by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the rate at which the National Board of Wildlife has rejected industrial projects due to wildlife concerns has fallen from 11.9% under the previous government, to less than 0.01% under Modi.

“The government has reconfigured the National Board for Wildlife to reduce the authority of independent experts; removed the moratorium on new industries in critically-polluted areas; diluted forest norms, making room for industry to encroach on national parks with big budget propaganda on how all this will help the forests, wildlife and overall development,” says Ghosh.

Modi wears the liberalisation of environmental laws as a badge of success, bragging about it in newspaper interviews. He and Adani know that sweeping aside environmental protections and ambitions can make industrialists – and by extension their political patronage – very, very rich.

Way back in 1994, before Modi became chief minister, the Gujarat Maritime Board approved a captive jetty at the Mundra port. This was Adani’s chance to break into big money. In the Mundra Special Economic Zone, a concession granted to Adani by the state government, there had been 3,000 hectares of mangroves. Almost overnight, close to two million trees disappeared without a trace.

Residents and NGOs are still seeking reparations for the illegal damage to the environment. But even in this ancient, local dispute, Adani has benefitted from Modi’s rise to government. In 2015, the environment ministry withdrew a demand made by the previous government for a Rs 200 crore ($31m) restoration fund from Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZ), India’s largest private multi-port operator. Environmental clearances issued in 2009 to the company’s waterfront development project at Mundra were extended. Several stringent conditions the ministry had earlier issued were also withdrawn.

More than 30 years after the clearances, Noor Mohammad, who was ejected from his home in Mundra where Adani now has its port and power plant, told the Australian ABC the destruction of tidal mangroves and ash from coal burnt at Adani’s power station had damaged the fishing.

“The Adani project is harming us. Their coal dust and stream discharge are harming us.” Mohammad said his catch was a quarter of what it once was. “There are no fish in the sea water near the coast. All living creatures are dead.” His warning to the Australian audience: be wary of Adani and his powerful friend.

Narendra Modi’s new incarnation as a climate warrior and defender of the Paris climate agreement rubs off quickly, especially when his old ally from home begins talking about his future plans. According to Adani, coal from the Australian mine will expand power generation in India, providing cheap electricity to “100 million people for 100 years”. That is despite Modi’s supposed climate ambitions.

Clearly Adani knows something the ordinary Indian does not.

Modi and Adani: the old friends laying waste to India’s environment


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What Pranab Mukherjee should Tell RSS Cadres

 By-Ram Puniyani

Ram Puniyani

Dialogue is an essential part of democratic process. But what do you do when people wanting to usurp democracy through democratic means want to have dialogue with those believing in secular democratic Constitution of India? We are witnessing strong views being articulated for and against Pranab Mukherjee’s agreeing to be the chief guest at RSS cadre program. On one side there are those who see that dialogue should be undertaken with likes of RSS, as RSS is the major force in the country. On other hand there are those who feel that RSS is outside the pale of democratic process as it does not believe in Indian nationalism and wants a Hindu nation. RSS mouth piece Organizer on 14th August 1947 wrote, “Let us no longer allow ourselves to be influenced by false notions of nationhood. Much of the mental confusion and the present and future troubles can be removed by the ready recognition of the simple fact that in Hindustan only the Hindus form the nation and the national structure must be built on that safe and sound foundation…the nation itself must be built up of Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations.” On similar lines Narendra Modi on the eve of 2014 elections had proclaimed that he was born in a Hindu family, he is a nationalist, so he is a Hindu nationalist.

Pranab Mukherjee had been a Congressman all his life, has upheld Indian Constitution and secularism all through, so why should he attend the invitation of an organization, primarily meant to create a Hindu nation. There are two aspects of this; the same can be seen from two angles. Those opposing his acceptance of the invitation rightly say that this will give legitimacy to RSS, and its divisive agenda. On the other side it can be argued that this can be used as an opportunity to speak one’s mind on the divisive agenda of RSS and warn its own cadres to forgo the path of Hindu nationalism and adopt the path of Indian Nationalism and Indian Constitution which is the outcome of the free do movement of India.

Can Mr. Mukherjee show the mirror to RSS and tell them as to what Gandhi, Patel and Nehru thought of the ideology and nationalism of RSS. In the aftermath of murder of the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, Patel wrote, ““All their (RSS) leaders’ speeches were full of communal poison.  As a final result of the poisonous atmosphere was created in which such a ghastly tragedy (Gandhi’s murder) became possible. RSS men expressed their joy and distributed sweets after Gandhi’s death.” excerpts from Sardar Patel’s letters to M S Golwalkar and S P Mookerjee.  (Outlook, April 27, 1998). All this happened not just because of an act of insanity but due to unfolding of the ideology of Hindu nationalism, espoused by RSS.

While there are claims that Gandhi himself visited the RSS shakha and met so and so, the fact is that Gandhi was never impressed by RSS. Pyarelal, Gandhi’s secretary records that in the wake of 1946 violence, a member of Gandhi’s entourage praised the efficiency, discipline courage and capacity for hard work shown by RSS cadres at Wagah, a major transit camp for refugees in Punjab. Gandhi answered, “but don’t foget, even so had Hitler’s Nazis and fascists under Mussolini.” Gandhi characterized RSS as a communal body with a totalitarian outlook. (Khaki Shorts: saffron Flags, page 22)

Earlier to this also Gandhi had written on the topic from which one can try to understand as to what Gandhi thought of RSS. In Harijan of 9 August 1942, Gandhi writes, “I had heard of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its activities; and also know that it was a communal organisation”, this was in response to the slogans and some speech against ‘other’ community, about which a complaint was made.” In this Gandhi is referring to the drill of RSS volunteers, who shouted that this Nation belongs to Hindus alone and once the British leave we will subjugate the non Hindus. In response to the rowdyism indulged by communal organisations, he writes, “I hear many things about RSS. I have heard it said the Sangh is at the root of all this mischief”. [Gandhi, Collected Works xcviii, 320-322, Publications Division, Ministry of Informational and Broadcasting, New Delhi 1958)

Has RSS changed over the years? Is recalling all this is out of place? The same hate ideology, which killed Gandhi, has become much more intensified over years. The violence unleashed in the name of Ram Temple, Holy Cow-Beef is not committed just by those who are wielding swords, lathis and daggers; the underlying factor is the ideology, the ideology of all this Hindu nationalism. It’s true that RSS has grown in size and is a formidable force. Still its agenda remains the same. Over years the hatred spread against religious minorities by using communal version of history is manifested time and over again, be it the issue of Padmavat, love Jihad or what have you, the constructed events of the past are the base of spreading hatred against the minorities of today. The murder of Pastor Stains and anti Christian violence is also based on the propaganda of conversion by ‘force, fraud and allurement’, which cannot be sustained by the demographic pattern shown by census figures.

Can RSS give up its Hindu nationalist ideology? Can RSS disown Golwalkar’s “We or our Nationhood defined” or “Bunch of Thoughts”? If Mr. Mukherjee wants to convert RSS into an organization believing in Indian, plural nationalism with diversity, he is probably aiming at a task close to impossible. So by being the guest at their function; either Mukherjee lands up giving legitimacy to the Hindu nationalism of RSS or he has to pick up the gauntlet and tell RSS to overthrow its divisive ideology to come to the path which Gandhi had shown, path which Patel and Nehru had followed, the one of secular democratic India!

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Is a Farcical Probe Being Done into the Gorakhpur Tragedy?

Bail has been denied to the ailing ex-principal of BRD Medical College Dr Rajiv Mishra and his wife, although documents do not indicate their culpability.
BRD Gorakhpur
Newsclick Image by Sumit

While the Supreme Court will hear the bail plea of Dr Rajiv Mishra, former principal of Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College and Hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur, his family has alleged that the doctors are being victimised to shield the real culprits sitting in Lucknow. At least 30 children had died last year in BRD hospital allegedly because of the shortage of oxygen supply.

It has been over nine months since Dr Mishra and his wife Dr Purnima Mishra, along with four staffers are languishing in jail without bail. Both were denied bail by the Allahabad High Court, which had said on April 30 – while declining to grant bail – that the “order for the release of the petitioner on bail cannot be passed in the present facts and circumstances of the matter”.

Dr Rajiv is seriously unwell. Newsclick has accessed his medical record which says he is a heart patient with chronic liver cirrhosis (non-alcoholic). In addition, he is also suffering from Esophageal Varices (enlarged or swollen blood vessels in the esophagus).

“My parents are senior doctors aged 60-plus and their health has been deteriorating so much that jail authorities had to admit my father at RML Hospital in Lucknow twice. He is struggling for his life. He had been in the ICU for two weeks. But there has been no relief even from the side of the court. His medical condition is being ignored under the government’s pressure,” his son Dr Purak Mishra told Newsclick alleging that “the treatment in jail is also apathetic”.

“We have been requesting proper medical care of my parents but even the recommendations by doctors are ignored. Apart from being physically unwell, they are being mentally tortured by keeping them with convicted criminals. It is as if everyone has decided that they are the culprits even before the court reaches any verdict,” he said.

The enquiry in the case – he alleged – has been done under tremendous pressure and had a number of loopholes. The statements recorded were also “highly influenced”. “The doctors were arrested just to satisfy the collective media outburst and without any substantial prima facie evidence. My parents never got the chance to put forward their side of the story and evidence. They have not spoken out yet even once,” he said.

The government in their counter, filed in the court, said Dr Purak has maintained that there was no shortage of oxygen and deaths were natural. “Then why has Dr Mishra been booked under 308?” he asks.

He added that other corruption charges are also an attempt to divert the attention and make them scapegoats to save the higher official and the state failure.

The farcical investigation into the BRD tragedy

Dr Rajiv has been charged under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) besides section 7/13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

It has been alleged that the petitioner had stopped payment to the Lucknow-based company (Pushpa Sales), which used to supply oxygen for getting illegal kickbacks. As a result, the firm stopped oxygen supply that resulted in the tragic death of several children in the hospital on the intervening night of August 10-11.

Dr Rajiv Mishra, being the principal, was head of the college and hence is being held morally responsible for the deaths of children. However, having a deeper look at his role will make it clear that he was just one of the signatories in the process of payments and cannot alone be held accountable.

BRD had to clear a dues of over Rs 63 lakh (21 bills from November 23, 2016 to July 13, 2017) of Pushpa Sales, which had reportedly shot off several letters and reminders to the medical college and other authorities concerned such as the then Gorakhpur District Magistrate Rajiv Rautela, UP Government’s Principal Secretary for Medical Education Anita Jain Bhatnagar, Director General of Medical Education KK Gupta and even to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. But no payment was made. All these letters are in possession of Newsclick.

The firm finally sent a legal notice – a copy of which is available with Newsclick  – stating that the oxygen supply will be terminated if the payment is not made within 15 days. This notice was received by the medical college on August 2, 2017.

The principal was constantly being threatened by the liquid oxygen supplier for its dues. He also wrote multiple reminder letters to the DM, the DGME and the principal secretary of the state health department, urging for the budget to be issued so that the dues can be cleared. But all these efforts met no response. All letters written by the principal are available with Newsclick.

Dr Rajiv Mishra also informed the above mentioned high-ranking officials about dues in a conference call. Records also suggest that he had been convincing Pushpa Sales to not terminate the oxygen supply and wait for the govt. to issue the budget for dues. Earlier as well, when the agency threatened to terminate the supply, he had written to officials concerned and National Human Rights Commission to intervene and not let the company disrupt the crucial supply.

Going by the records of the case, it appears that the government failed to provide an adequate budget to clear the dues of the supplier despite repeated letters sent by Dr Rajiv to higher officials. The first budget of Rs 1.24 crore for the financial year 2017-18 came to the BRD on April 21, 2017. The fund was allotted under the head of drugs and chemicals but there were orders from the government to pay for each item only from the budget allotted for it. It was also directed that bills of the last financial year (2017-18) will be paid only and no backlog dues will be cleared.

The supplier was paid Rs 33 lakh in two instalments on May 7 and June 2 last year. The rest amount was spent on procurements of medicines and other necessary drugs and chemicals, the hospital needed. Newsclick has supporting documents in this regard.

The second instalment of Rs 1.33 crore of the budget came on May 18, 2017. It was meant to be spent on 24-Hour Central Pathology Lab (POCT). Newsclick has a copy of the budget that clearly states that the money is supposed to be paid only to the pathology dues.

The third instalment of funds was received by the BRD on e-mail on August 8, 2017, at 2:30 pm – a copy of which is available with Newsclick. It could be used only if the payment advice, which was sent through an e-mail, had reached the BRD in the form of a hard copy. It was received on August 9 (a day before the incident) when Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was visiting the medical college.

Soon after receiving the hard copy of the advice with regard to the funds, the principal signed and cleared the budget in time for the payment to the supplier. Tokens were released and the total payment was initiated which was credited in the bank account of Pushpa Sales in next 24 hours (on August 11, 2017). Notably, the payment was made within the 15-day period given by the supplier in its legal notice. The documents in this regard are available with Newsclick.

A fund of Rs 250 lakh, allotted to the BRD on March 30, was lapsed and it has been referred by the police in the charge sheet against the principal. The payment backlog appears to arise because of this lapse, for which enquiry committee was set up by the principal. The committee report, accessed by Newsclick, clearly states that it was the fault of a clerk and DDO (drawing disbursing officer).

“It is clear that there was no space of any delay, as largely projected by the government. The office of the DGME is responsible for the financial decisions of the hospital, including the issuance of the budget. If there is a delay in issuing the funds for the oxygen supplier despite a number of letters the company and the principal, shouldn’t the DGME be held responsible for that? The DGME did not give any response to the reminder letters and while he should have been probed for the same, he was made the main complainant in the case and he was also heading the enquiry committee. Under him, can the committee be expected to do a fair enquiry?” asked Dr Purak.

Another shocking truth is that the principal was not even informed about the oxygen shortage. The oxygen staff was supposed to inform him when the level reaches down to 4500 mmwc (as per the contract, a copy of which is available with Newsclick), but there is no record available of any information being relayed to the principal. He – as the documents suggest – was never communicated about the shortage of liquid oxygen.

“My father (the then principal) was first informed (about the shortage) on August 10 when the unfortunate incident of deaths happened after the level of oxygen had dropped to 900mmwc, which is extremely low. He had left for Rishikesh on official visit on August 10 morning as ordered by the DGME (a copy of the order is available with Newsclick) and he had delegated his responsibilities to the acting principal. It’s clear that he couldn’t have done anything at that time to control the situation,” said Dr Purak.

As far as the case of Dr Purnima Mishra – wife of Dr Rajiv Mishra – is concerned, she was deployed at the BRD as the project officer of the clinical trial unit of the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy.

“She was neither directly associated with the BRD, nor has she got any financial power. Then how can she take interest in the administrative matters?” asks Purak.

He says as the apex court says that a bail is a legal right and jail is an exception. Also, since the enquiry report has been filed long back and the investigation is closed, they (his parents) cannot influence it in any way.

BRD medical college is the only hospital in an area of 200 km where encephalitis is rampant and primary health care is ignored. The city sees hundreds of deaths every year and the hospital functions on very limited resources and has been constantly facing apathy of government and officials. In such situation, how much a doctor can be held responsible for? Is the argument of moral responsibility of deaths valid when a person is not equipped to handle the number of cases that come?

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India – Check what Hindutva WhatsApp groups say Narendra Modi should learn from Kairana

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi looking at his phone | @narendramodi/Facebook

That a Muslim won the seat hurts them more than the BJP’s defeat.

By- Shivam Vij-

On Hindutva WhatsApp groups in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP’s defeat in the Kairana bypoll is a matter of vindication. I-told-you-so is the tone of most responses. They blame Modi’s alleged desertion of the Hindutva agenda, but also Hindus for not being united enough.

1. “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas is taking Modi down,” says one C.M. Tiwari in a group called “Rajesh Yuva Vahini”. But Modi still has time, he says, and should focus on upper caste Hindus, otherwise he can forget 2019.

Here’s the group’s profile picture. Perhaps that’s the eponymous Mr. Rajesh with RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat.

2. On a group called “Mission Lok Sabha 2019”, one member said that the BJP shouldn’t be worried about bypoll losses because the solution is easy. All that Narendra Modi has to do is to pass a law to build a grand Ram Mandir on the disputed site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. “Give everyone a shock, fulfil your promise to Hindus. This will defeat opposition unity because Hindus are still with you, their only hope is you. This is the only way to win 2019.”

3. One viral message, cross-posted across pro-BJP, Hindutva WhatsApp groups, takes to fake news. “Today I am very happy,” it says, “I was sad at the Kairana defeat in the morning but I was overjoyed when I heard Kairana’s new Lok Sabha MP speak. She said her victory was the victory of Islam!” Of course she said no such thing. Instead, she said that Jats and Muslims alike voted for her, bringing communal harmony back to the area that saw Jat-Muslim riots in 2013.

But the blatant fake news that she called it the victory of Islam was to give the result a communal colour. “This is a slap on the faces of those Hindus who voted for Tabassum Begum just because they are opposed to Modi, and for casteist reasons. As soon as she won, she insulted their ‘bhaichara’ by removing the ‘bhai’ and showing them they are only ‘chara’ (fodder),” said another message.

Another similar message falsely claims that Tabassum Begum said the result was “a victory of Allah and the defeat of Ram. And here are we Hindus counting the cost of petrol! Shame on us!”.

4. Some messages say that Muslims are being ungrateful in not voting for the BJP. “Modi ji gave Abdul a toilet, a gas stove, a bank account, insurance, scholarship for his daughter… but Abdul stabbed Modi ji in the back in Kairana. Come back Modi ji, time for your ghar wapsi.”

No matter how much Modi offers chaddars at Sufi shrines, no matter how many mosques he visits, he is not going to get Muslim votes, the same message warns. “The message from Kairana is that he may lose Hindu votes instead.”

Lord Ram

5. While most messages politely beseech Modi to stick to Hindutva, one poem in shuddhHindi doesn’t mince words. From doing an alliance with a soft-separatist PDP in Kashmir to not building the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, it counts all the Hindutva problems with Modi.

6. One long message from “Raghavendra Hindu” says that Modi was not made Prime Minister to build roads or toilets or clean the streets. “Calling himself pradhan sewak, it looks like Modi has started thinking he really is a sewak. But he was elected to rule India and end the Muslim rule. When media used to call Modi the killer of Muslims, Hindu nationalists used to feel proud of him. Modi was made Prime Minister because after hundreds of years they found someone who can teach these people a lesson in their own language,” it says. It says Modi will have to explain what he has done for Rashtra and Dharma, nation and faith. From Ram Mandir to Article 370 to population control, it asks of all the popular Hindutva concerns.

7. Most messages are centred around Hindutva, but there’s only one that mentions the problems of sugarcane farmers and the BJP’s alienation of Dalits. For this, it blames neither Modi nor Yogi, but Yogi’s ministerial colleagues.

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Modi-loving Bollywood can learn from Kim Kardashian, who raised prison reforms with Trump

Kim Kardashian meets Donald Trump to discuss prison reforms and sentencing | @realDonaldTrump / Twitter

Our Bollywood celebrities line up to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for no reason at all but to enjoy a fan moment.

American TV reality show star Kim Kardashian West met Donald Trump, Wednesday to discuss prison reforms and sentencing of a 63-year-old grandmother who had been jailed since 1997 for a non-violent drug case without a parole.

Kardashian West used her celebrity status and her meeting with Trump to highlight an important issue.

Closer home, just look at how our own B-town celebrities line up to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi – apparently for no reason at all but to enjoy a fan moment.

Here are some big names who have met Modi without a cause.

Kangana Ranaut met Modi in person at the Rising India summit held in March this year. She used that opportunity to tell the world how Modi inspired her – a typical fangirl moment. When the nationalist actor Akshay Kumar met Modi, he used the opportunity to promote his film ‘Toilet-Ek Prem Katha’, which was inspired by Modi’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan. ‘Singham’ actor Ajay Devgn’s wife Kajol also met the PM in 2016 in the capacity of Hindustan Unilever’s brand ambassador to discuss Lifebuoy’s ‘Help a child reach 5’ campaign. Just like Akshay Kumar, she also praised him for his Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.

Apart from kite-flying before elections, our Bhaijaan Salman Khan had also met Modi in November 2014 but why he met him is still unclear.

Virat Kohli went to the Modi’s office to invite him for his wedding with Anushka Sharma. But he chose not to speak about the corruption and nepotism in cricket boards with the so-called anti-corruption PM.

All these meets end up bolstering only Modi’s image, and don’t amount to anything. Oh yes, they do generate a star-struck selfie or that perfect photo-op for a tweet.

Not kind to criticism

Of course, there are exceptions. Priyanka Chopra and Aamir Khan.

Last year in May, Priyanka met him in Berlin when Modi was there for his four-day tour to Germany, Spain Russia and France, for no overt reason. But the second time she met him in April this year, it was in the capacity of a Unicef goodwill ambassador. She invited him for a conference on ‘Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health’, scheduled for later this year.

Aamir Khan met Modi in June 2014 to shine light on issues highlighted by his TV show ‘Satyamev Jayate’. But Aamir has since gone silent. Modi government does not take kindly to criticism. When Aamir quoted his wife Kiran Rao about his anxieties over rising intolerance, he was massively trolled and quickly labelled anti-national and anti-Sanksari and asked to go to Pakistan. Shah Rukh Khan faced a volley of attack when he similarly spoke against extreme intolerance.

Neither Modi nor his supporters are open to criticism. It is not just Aamir Khan, even a Modi-supporter like Akshay Kumar is afraid. He has deleted his old tweets criticising fuel price hike in fear of embarrassing his political idol.

The attacks go beyond trolling. There is a real price to pay for speaking your mind in the new political climate. Actor Prakash Raj hasn’t been offered a single role in Bollywood ever since he started criticising the government and the political ideology that it emboldens.

Why waste an opportunity

Both Kajol and Priyanka, however, met Modi in the capacity of a representative of an organisation and not as private citizens whereas Kim Kardashian didn’t need to be the UN ambassador to discuss prison reforms with Trump.

Forget Kim Kardashian or Bollywood stars, when I was a student activist in Panjab University, our team used to meet politicians in power. Apart from greeting and clicking pictures, we also used the few minutes to discuss policies that were hurting the students. My power as student politician was limited and I wasn’t famous. But why waste a meeting with someone who is powerful? If young students can understand the value of such an opportunity, why can’t the big stars?

Here’s what Hindutva WhatsApp groups say Narendra Modi should learn from Kairana

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Black Doctor and Family Called ‘Black B*tches’ and ‘N*ggers’ in Attack at Florida Luxury Resort Pool

Dr. Covey Banks, a physician, and her family were vacationing in Florida when they were attacked in a hotel pool.


By Martin Cizmar / Raw Story

Dr. Covey Banks, a physician, and her family were vacationing in Florida when they were attacked in a hotel pool.

In a Facebook post with video of the family yelling and calling her a “black btch” and “ngger,” Banks described an encounter that started because she dared point the direction of the restroom to a woman who wanted a child to simply pee in the pool at the Omni luxury hotel.

The family came back and became belligerent—in the video, a man holding a can of Miller Lite and slurring his speech tells her to “get back in the pool” and “don’t come to Florida” as she shoots video of the women attacking her—splashing Banks and her family and then finally escalating into intense verbal abuse.


What’s worse, when Banks asked hotel security to act they refused to immediately remove the family from the hotel.
“My niece saw them going into their room, which was in the same building and on the same floor as ours and my kids were frightened when we seen them at the pool later Sunday evening,” Banks writes.

Banks then called the police, who were also unhelpful in her telling, telling her that if she wanted to press charges they would both be charged.

“She screams, curses, yells racial slurs, obviously under the influence, swings at my niece but she got a scratch on her arm for being stopped and we’ll BOTH be charged?!” Banks wrote.

After she posted about the incident on Facebook, Banks was initially censored because of the other family’s language though that was changed and her story has now been covered by Splinter News and Atlanta Black Star.

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Haryana – Unhappy with BJP, 120 Dalits convert to Buddhism

He said the dalits had been protesting for past nearly four months demanding CBI probe into the Jind’s Dalit girl gangrape and murder case this year and an ordinance by the state government to make the SC/ST Act more stringent.

120 Dalits From Haryana Convert To Buddhism, Blame BJP Government

120 individuals belonging to Dalit community from Haryana’s Jind district converted to Buddhism.

CHANDIGARH:  As many as 120 Dalits from Haryana’s Jind district have converted to Buddhism over non-fulfilment of their demands including making SC/ST Act more stringent, Dalit leader Dinesh Khapad claimed today.

He said the dalits had been protesting for past nearly four months demanding CBI probe into the Jind’s Dalit girl gangrape and murder case this year and an ordinance by the state government to make the SC/ST Act more stringent.

“We had a meeting with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on March 7. He had then said that all our demands will be met within 15 days,” he said, adding their demands remained unfulfilled.

On May 31, the 120 individuals belonging to Dalit community from Haryana’s Jind district converted to Buddhism in Delhi, Mr Khapad said.

The protesters were also demanding employment for the kin of two martyrs killed in Jammu and Kashmir and government jobs for the family members of a man murdered in Jind.

“On May 20, we had given one more week’s time and threatened that we will convert if demands were not met. The chief minister visited Jind on May 26-27, but he did not meet us. It was then that we started our march on foot to Delhi, where we converted on May 31,” he said.

“This government showed its anti-Dalit approach and we were left with no other choice,” he added.

He said if the government still does not accept their demands, “thousands of others will convert to Buddhism in August

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Sikh Truckers, migrant workers jittery after Shillong attacks

Steps taken to ensure security for Shillong-bound vehicles: Ri Bhoi DC
Truckers, migrant workers jittery after Umsning attacks

From Saurav Borah

UMSNING (Ri Bhoi): Satpal Singh appeared worried and weary as he stood beside his half-charred truck, parked by the highway at Umran, barely two km from the police outpost here.

The middle-aged man belonging to the Sikh community apparently is fighting a lone battle against the turn of events after miscreants set his truck on fire in the wee hours of Sunday while he and his driver were sleeping inside the vehicle after a late dinner.

“We were en route to Agartala from Nepal and had retired after a hard day’s work when our slumber was cut short. The tin sheets we carried and the truck (bearing a Punjab registration number and now charred beyond recognition) are worth Rs 40lakh, and till they are insured, our life and livelihoods are at stake,” Singh told The Shillong Times.

There were half a dozen loaded trucks parked behind Singh’s vehicle this afternoon, carrying mostly marbles en route to Barak Valley and Agartala. But the unrest triggered by “misleading social media posts” in the wake of an altercation between a handful of locals and a section from the Sikh community in Shillong, is taking a toll on their psyche.

“We will have to play it safe and travel the way convoys do now. We have families back in Rajasthan and therefore hope for normalcy to return,” said a tad nervous Ram Chander, a transporter carrying marble tiles to Silchar.

An uneasy calm amid simmering tension is apparent during the day hours as security forces near Umsning police outpost were seen stopping Shillong-bound vehicles and only allowing them after clearance from the Special Branch police in the Meghalaya capital.

“We have tightened things since the unrest in Shillong and the attacks on vehicles entering the city since June 1. Night patrolling has been extended till the wee hours. We are managing despite limited manpower even as additional forces are on their way,” Francis Megam, the officer in-charge of Umsning outpost told this correspondent.

“The day hours are relatively easier to control even as we would want people not violate curfew regulations,” Megam added.

Police suspect the attack on the Punjab-registered truck as “targetted” as there were about 14 others parked behind but with number plates bearing registration numbers from Rajasthan, Haryana and Assam.

Worse still, three migrant workers from Bengal were attacked by a group of unidentified youths at Syadrit, just two km from the police outpost, on Saturday night.

“We were having dinner in our room around 9.30pm on Saturday when a group of eight to ten boys barged into our compound and beat us without any provocation. They abused us and even called us dkhar (foreigners) directing us to leave the place. I have been here since 2006 but this is the first time we have been attacked,” Dipankar Choudhury, a fish supplier hailing from Malda district of Bengal, told this correspondent.

Fifty such fish traders engaged mainly by pond owners in the Umsning area left for their hometown in Bengal on Sunday.

“We plan to leave this evening but with a hope to return when the situation eases. We have requested the police to keep us posted as we have families to feed and our livelihoods hinge on the trade we do here,” Choudhury, currently nursing a swollen eye, said.

At Khanapara in Guwahati, many passengers were seen stranded this morning, what with at least three taxi driver associations on an indefinite strike from Monday, demanding protection to vehicles entering Shillong. About four vehicles belonging to these associations have been attacked in and around Mawlai since Friday.

Unlike other days, there were relatively lesser vehicles at the Pahammawlein toll plaza on Monday.

Ri Bhoi deputy commissioner, Rosetta M. Kurbah however said there was nothing to worry for Shillong bound vehicles from Guwahati, as patrolling has been stepped up since the unrest.

“Things are normal in Ri Bhoi district but we are still keeping tight vigil. We are coordinating with our counterparts in the district and police administration in East Khasi Hills to ensure safe passage to the vehicles coming from Guwahati,” Kurbah told this correspondent.


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Rajinikanth’s ‘Kaala’ producers move Karnataka HC

Actor Rajinikanth (R) with producer Dhanush during a promotional event of their file Kaala.   –  The Hindu


‘Kaala’ producer K Dhanush and his wife Aishwarya have filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking directions to the state government and Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) for smooth release of the film. ‘Kaala’ is scheduled to be released worldwide on June 7 but KFCC had said the film would neither be distributed nor screened in the state.

In the plea, Dhanush, who is Rajinikanth’s son-in-law, submitted that it is the fundamental right of the petitioners under the Constitution to exhibit the film. “CBFC has issued a certification under Section 5B of the Cinematograph Act, 1952, for the release of ‘Kaala’ after following due process and adhering to all guidelines. After receiving such a certificate, it is the fundamental right of the petitioner under Article 19(1) of the Constitution to exhibit the film,” the petitioners submitted.

The petitioners also have sought security at theatres and for movie-goers, directors, producers and cast associated with ‘Kaala’ in Karnataka. They have made the government, home department, state police chief, Bengaluru city police commissioner, Central Board of Film Certification and KFCC as respondents in their plea.

The petitioners stated that KFCC took a decision to neither distribute nor screen ‘Kaala’ in Karnataka following Rajinikanth’s alleged views on the Cauvery dispute, demanding release of water to Tamil Nadu as per Supreme Court direction.

The petitioners also said KFCC President Sa Ra Govindu on May 30 had issued a press statement saying the film will neither be distributed nor screened anywhere in Karnataka. They also said the several pro-Kannada organisations had made representations to Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy requesting a ban on ‘Kaala.’ The petition is likely to come up for hearing today.

Meanwhile, controversial actor Prakash Raj has questioned the ban on Kaala in Karnataka. “What’s film #kaala got to do with Kaveri issue..? why is film fraternity targeted always..?Will Jds/congress government let fringe elements take law into their hands… like bjp did with #Padmavat.. or ..will you step in to assure common man.. his right for choice. #justasking..,” tweeted the multi-lingual actor.

In a statement, Raj said, “Who are these people to decide what most Kannadigas want or don’t want? What about the distributors, investors and theatre owners and the thousands of those whose lives depend on them? And what about the lakhs and lakhs of cinema lovers because of whom, all these people earn a living?”

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Bengaluru Ola Driver Molests Passenger, Forces Her To Strip For Photos #Vaw

The Ola driver in Bengaluru allegedly forced the woman to strip, after trying to choke her. He took photos and allegedly shared them on WhatsApp.

Bengaluru Ola Driver Allegedly Molests Passenger, Forces Her To Strip For Photos

The Bengaluru woman says the Ola driver stopped the car at a deserted spot and assaulted her

BENGALURU:  A 26-year-old woman in Bengaluru was held captive in an Ola cab and allegedly molested by the driver who also forced her to strip for photos.

The woman, an architect, was on her way to the airport in the early hours of Friday June 1 when the cab driver allegedly took a detour claiming it was a faster route.

She was alone in the cab, and wanted to catch an early flight to Mumbai.

The woman has told the police that the driver stopped the car at a deserted spot and assaulted her. He allegedly threatened to call more men and have her gang-raped.

The driver allegedly forced the woman to strip, after trying to choke her. He took photos and allegedly shared them on WhatsApp.

“Based on a mail from the woman, we have registered an FIR. We appreciate the lady for immediately informing the police, bravely,” said senior Bengaluru police officer Seemant Kumar Singh.

The driver, Arun V, was arrested within three hours.

“We have also issued a notice to Ola Cabs as to why the police verification of this driver was not done,” Mr Singh added.

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