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Archives for : September2018

Adani groundwater bores investigated amid claims they were sunk without approval



Adani says it is abiding by the Carmichael project’s conditions, as an investigation is launched by a state department.


The Queensland environment department has launched an investigation into a series of groundwater bores drilled by Indian miner Adani, which conservationists say were sunk without approval.

The environmental group Coast and Country has obtained high resolution satellite and drone imagery which it says shows the “illegal” works at the site of Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project in north Queensland.

“Adani have sunk six dewatering bores,” said the group’s Derec Davies.

“They’ve needed approval, a groundwater approval, for these bores. They don’t have that.

“They’ve drilled into Great Artesian Basin aquifers, they’ve put at risk our groundwater particularly at a time when half the country’s in drought.”

Dewatering bores are used in mining operations to depressurise the coal seam and to lower groundwater levels for open cut and underground operations.

The company has told the ABC that it is abiding by the conditions of the Carmichael project’s approvals.

“Drilling has been undertaken at the Carmichael mine site to take geological samples and monitor underground water levels,” said an Adani spokeswoman.

“This is project stage one activity as permitted under Environmental Authority for the mine, which was issued in April 2016.”

An Adani spokeswoman also said the company had “not been notified of an investigation.”

“Like all resources companies, we have ongoing dialogue with regulators about our operations and regularly submit information to them as required under our various approvals.”

Asked a series of detailed questions about the bores, the environment department said the “bores were recently drilled and were not in place at the time of a recent inspection of the site” by departmental staff.

“The department is now investigating the location and purpose of these bores,” a spokesman for the department said.

Conservationists have repeatedly warned that Adani’s dewatering plans will see groundwater levels plummet, threatening the nearby Doongmabulla Springs, which are recognised as a nationally important wetland.

“It’s very concerning that Adani has apparently started work without confirming through the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan that the aquifer feeding these springs is not going to be disturbed by the mining,” said Jo Bragg from Queensland’s Environmental Defenders Office, which is acting for Coast and Country.

In a statement to the ABC, the environment department said that “the EA for Carmichael Coal Mine states that Project Stage 2 activities cannot commence until [the department] approves the Black-Throated Finch Management Plan (BTFMP) and the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP).”

“Adani Mining Pty Ltd is required to identify the source of the Doongmabulla Springs complex prior to the approval of the GDEMP.”

Adani has lodged a draft GDEMP but it is yet to be accepted by the Queensland Government.

The drilling of dewatering bores is classified as a “Stage 2” activity under Adani’s Environmental Authority (EA).

Mr Davies claims drone footage showed that Adani had performed other “Stage 2” work in contravention of its EA, such as building access roads and clearing trees and other vegetation for the construction of the six bores.

“Through aerial imagery, we can see that Adani have cleared vegetation, put in roads, put in permanent infrastructure to impact our groundwater at a time of great drought and climate change. Adani have put at risk the sensitive, one-million-year-old springs by doing this illegal activity.”

Ms Bragg alleges the bores were drilled before Adani lodged its first Annual Return in March this year to Queensland’s department of environment and science.

“The annual return lodged by Adani does in fact say that they’ve done zero works relating to the site. The persuasive evidence unearthed by our clients is that that this is not true, that in fact project Stage 2 works have commenced including dewatering, including site clearance, including roadworks.”

Last week the Queensland Government announced it would prosecute Abbot Point Bulkcoal, owned by Adani, over the alleged release of coal-laden water near the Great Barrier Reef last year.

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Churu Drug Trials: 4 Months On, Dalit Victims Report Severe Damage To Health And Caste-Based Harassment


It was mid April, the onset of the heat wave in Rajasthan. Twenty-one-year-old Mamta had spent three consecutive days lying on her bed next to a mud wall in her round, thatched hut. That day she gave her husband, 24-year-old Oma Ram, an ultimatum: either he finds work outside their village or she would leave.

When Oma Ram was 13 years old, his father died. Since then, he had been fending for himself by alternating as a shepherd for the village cattle and as a farm labourer during the four-month farming season each year. Like most young men from his community—Meghwals, enlisted as a Scheduled Caste in Rajasthan—he owns a small patch of farm land, two beeghas that yield abysmal harvests from millets and barley. Depending on it for livelihood is not possible. In the last two years, since his marriage, the lack of money had marred his household more than ever. With increasingly dismal rainfall each year, chances of finding work on farms closer home had grown bleak. According to the local doctor, Mamta had contracted jaundice due to regular bouts of starvation and hunger.

Digaria, Oma Ram and Mamta’s village in Rajasthan’s Churu district, is occupied primarily by the Meghwals. The gram pradhan Umed Singh said that it has a voting population of 1,600, and is clubbed with four other villages under the Ghantiyal Badi panchayat. Untouchability is rampantly practised. Dalits are not allowed entry into the district’s famous Babosa Balaji Maharaj temple. They can only draw water from designated wells, and regularly face thrashing if found sitting on cots in the presence of the Rajput and Brahmin landowners whose farms they work in. Traditionally, the Meghwals worked as weavers and wood carvers, but over the years, working as farm labourers has become their primary occupation. Several people I met said that for a 12-hour shift, they are paid Rs 200.

On the day of Mamta’s ultimatum, Oma Ram went to the village square to look for leads for potential employment. Sher Singh, a Rajput truck driver from Palasa village, part of the same gram panchayat as Digaria, was recruiting daily-wagers to work at a week-long medical camp in Jaipur. The job, as Singh described to those interested, was to set up the tents, serve food and refreshments to incoming patients, keep the surroundings clean and help the medical personnel. The promised daily wage was Rs 500, alongside free food and lodging.

The next morning, on 18 April, Oma Ram and 20 other men from his village—all young Meghwals—left with Singh for Jaipur. After a five-hour drive, they reached the isolated Malpani Hospital and were lodged in its basement. The basement had seven other people from Bharatpur and Jaipur, who had come for the same work. The hospital workers told the men that the camp doctors will come two days later, and that until then they should not leave the basement at any cost. “The basement was filthy with mounds of medical trash in several corners. On one side, there were a couple of hospital beds and we were asked to rest there,” Sohan Lal, a 19-year-old student who had come to work so he could earn his college fee, told me.

On 19 April, around 10 am, they were provided with a meal. Several of the men recounted that Rahul Saini, a hospital doctor, gave all 28 of them small, white round tablets to swallow after they had eaten. “He said that we should take the tablets to get rid of any fatigue, indigestion or body pain,” Moora Ram, a 40-year-old farm labourer from Digaria, said. Saini said that the tablets “will help us relax and sleep better,” he added. “Once we take the tablets, we will also be eligible for free examination by the doctors.”

Within an hour of taking the tablets, 17 of the men fell unconscious. Seeing this effect, four others refused to take the tablet and escaped to Digaria. “They informed our family members of what was happening in the hospital,” Shammamal, a 25-year-old mason who had been administered the tablet, said.

“We could hardly get up from the bed the next day. Some had muscle cramps, skin allergies and fever. Others felt nauseous, got diarrhea.” Sohan Lal said. By then, their relatives from Digaria had arrived. “The hospital staff informed us that they conducted a medical prashikshan”—a clinical trial—“on us.”

When the Digaria residents who had gathered at Malpani Hospital learnt what had happened, they began protesting, and insisted that the hospital staff give them details of the trial. The staff gave in. It was then that Oma Ram and the others found out that they had been made to undergo a Phase 2 trial for GRC 27864, a drug manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant Glenmark. The drug is intended to treat hip- or knee-osteoarthritis pain on patients between the ages 40 and 60. Phase 2 trials are usually conducted on mid-sized groups, to assess how well the drug in question is performing.

Under the law, it is mandatory to get written consent from the clinical-trial participant. Each victim I spoke to said that they were not informed of the trial, nor were any others present in the basement. Further, the trial was conducted on healthy men who were far younger than the target age for the drug. Shammalal said, “We had gone to earn a living, we ended up losing all our strength to do that in the days to come.”



According to an RTI response from the Director General of Health Services in India to a query filed by the Swasthya Adhikar Manch, a public-health advocacy group, nearly 5,000 people lost their lives between 2005 and 2017 as a result of clinical trials in India, and 20,758 were reported to have faced severe adverse health consequences. Till date, compensation has been given in only 187 cases of death.

Data presented before the Supreme Court by the Rajasthan government states that between 2005 and 2013, 95 people in the state lost their lives due to clinical trials, and 361 patients continue to face adverse effects. In 2012, the Swasthya Adhikar Manch, the Drug Trial Peedit Sangh, Rajasthan Nagrik Manch, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan and Jan Swasthya Abhiya—all civil-society organisations—filed a PIL in the Supreme Court to demand strict regulations for ethical clinical trials in India, adequate compensation for victims and action against guilty medical practitioners. Since then, the court has passed several orders in the case—including directions that the central government must discuss with states all facets of a legal framework to regulate and monitor clinical trials of new drugs by foreign firms across India. “Uncontrolled clinical trials are causing havoc to human life,” the court reportedly said. “There are so many legal and ethical issues involved with clinical trials and the government has not done anything so far.” The PIL is next slated for hearing on 12 September.

Despite the ongoing hearing, since 2015, the government has amended crucial rules concerning drug trials in India, walking back many of the progressive changes from previous years. On the eve of the PIL’s hearing, the ordeal undergone by the men from Churu and what has followed since the case was first reported in April are sobering reminders of the reality of clinical drug trials in India.

In the days following the illegal trial in April, several local and mainstream media outlets reported the story. Three days later, on 23 April, the Swasthya Adhikar Manch, the chief petitioner in the PIL before the court, filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission. Referring to the media reports regarding the illegal trial, the complaint requested that “the matter be investigated and that action be taken against the hospital and medical practitioners involved in the incident.”

Meanwhile, Sohan Lal and several other victims decided to file a police complaint against Sher Singh and the hospital staff. A group of them visited the Vishwakarma police station in Jaipur, under which Malpani Hospital falls. “We had to do a sit-in protest outside the police station for two weeks to get the complaint filed,” he said. In the FIR filed on 29 May, Sohan Lal’s statement said, “Since the trial, we have developed skin allergies, chest pain, weakness, nausea and diarrhea … many of those who were with me and I are still under treatment for the effects of the trial at the government hospital in Sandwa, Sujangarh and Bidasar.” He added, “The effects of the drug are impacting our minds and bodies even today.”

On 2 May 2018, the Office of the Drugs Controller General of India, which falls under the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, issued a notice to Glenmark Pharmaceutical Limited. The DGI’s notice stated that, taking cognisance of the media reports regarding the trial, an investigation team constituted by the CDSCO had looked into the trial and discovered multiple violations. The team found that, as per Malpani Hospital’s records, only three people were officially enrolled for the Phase 2 clinical trial of GRC 27864 tablets. While looking into the records of the three persons, the CDSCO team found that the identities of all the three people were falsified in all accounts—their address, phone numbers and their signatures on the consent forms. The report also mentioned that around 25 people were recruited as volunteers without following the procedure for ethical trials, or without seeking their prior approval.

The CDSCO investigators also found that the clinical-trial room was “not adequate,” as it did not have any ventilation, washrooms or proper spacing between beds. They also found that neither the procedures for recruiting the 25 or so subjects nor the procedure for the trial was reviewed by the Ethics Committee—under Schedule Y of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, approval from an ethics committee within the institute or an independent committee is mandatory.

According to the CDSCO, Malpani Hospital in Jaipur is conducting 18 drug trials at present. The hospital is one of 23 sites where Glenmark had initiated Phase 2 clinical trials for GRC 27864. Soon after the CDSCO notice, Glenmark issued a media statement: “As soon as we became aware of the alleged irregularities at Malpani Hospital, we suspended the trial at the site in the interest of patient safety. Further, we have all the requisite approvals in place for the trial at the site and have submitted all supporting documents of our approvals to the regulator.”

In the last four months, despite the fact that several investigations by the media as well as government-constituted teams have found that the drug trial was non-consensual and that the complainants continue to face adverse health effects, no officials have met the complainants. The ethics committee members and the principal investigators of the trial, who are responsible for the medical management of the victims, have not visited or met them either.

Baghu Ram, a 23-year old, has lost ten kgs since April. He told me that he was admitted in the Sandwa Community Health Centre for a lung infection and chest pain that he had had for over a month. He can no longer take up a labour-intensive job. “My parents lost all their savings in getting me treated. I used to work as a part-time mason. But I can hardly pick up more than two bricks at a time.”

Sohan Lal, the 19-year-old, said he had missed most classes this college semester. He complained of incessant breathlessness, headaches and poor eyesight. “In a government hospital, if you tell the doctor that you have a headache, they give you a tablet. If you say that you are restless, they again give you a tablet. That is the only medical treatment they know of,” he said. “No one is checking on us for the long-term impact of this trial on us. And we can’t afford to pay a private doctor to know on our own.”

Baghu Ram's prescription for treatment. Credit: Neha Dixit for The Caravan.
Baghu Ram’s prescription for treatment. Credit: Neha Dixit for The Caravan.

Post the trial, Oma Ram has suffered from restlessness and anxiety. “I feel like sleeping in the dark the whole day. I take up work but feel jittery. It happened four or five times, when I started working at a local construction site and could not concentrate,” he told me, “as if someone has kept a rock on my body.”

Meanwhile, the FIR filed by Sohan Lal and others against Sher Singh and Malpani hospital has resulted in the Dalits facing threats and harassment in the village. Sohan Lal told me that on 15 May, Sher Singh came to Digaria with goons in tow, attempting to scare them into withdrawing their police complaint against Malpani hospital. The Rajputs also threatened the Dalit labourers, saying that they will make sure that the complainants do not get work in the farmlands in the next cropping season.

“We have informed the police several times over but there has been no action. When Rajputs file a case against us even for asking our wages on time, the police do not even take a minute to take us into custody,” says Moora Ram.

Sohan Lal says that their fight is now for systemic change. “We don’t want compensation. We want dignity and justice.” Last month, a newly constructed Ambedkar shrine was vandalised for the third time since its construction. “We know the Rajputs. We have removed the Ambedkar statue for now. We will place it back once we get justice,” he said.

I contacted Rajiv Gupta, the principal investigator for the clinical trial at Malpani hospital. He refused to comment, saying that “the investigation is on.” NK Malpani, founder of Malpani hospital, declined to comment on the incident


Before 2005, clinical trials in India were only allowed on drug molecules discovered in the country. In 2005, Schedule Y of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act was modified to allow early-phase clinical trials to be conducted in the country. Soon after, global pharmaceutical companies began to project India as the preferred destination for global clinical trials.

Internationally, recruiting patients for clinical trials is a difficult and expensive task—the cost of standard of clinical care, mandatory health insurance, high documentation, counselling and training for a clinical-trial volunteer as mandated by law is high even in developed countries. Many trials that are conducted in India could not be conducted in these countries, as they rely on people’s lack of access to affordable, good-quality care.

With the arrival of global clinical trials in India, the Indian Council for Medical Research revised its first guidelines on “Ethical considerations involved in research on Human Subjects” in 2000, and again in 2006. There was a multifold increase in new trials from 2008 to 2012.

According to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, each clinical trial needs the approval of an Institutional Ethics Committee that comprises 8 to 10 members. According to the Clinical Development Services Agency (CDSA) under the Ministry of Science and Technology in India, the responsibility of the Ethics Committee is to review studies that are to be conducted on humans. “The committee will make unbiased recommendations on all types of research proposals with a view to safeguard the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of all actual and potential research subjects. The goals of research, however important, should not be permitted to override the health and well-being of the research subjects,” the CDSA states. It adds that the committee shall also look into “the informed consent process, study/ protocol risk benefit ratio, distribution of burden and benefit and provisions for appropriate compensation process, wherever required” and will “review the proposals before start of the study and monitor the research throughout the study until and after completion of the study through appropriate well documented procedures, for example … assessment of all Severe Adverse Events and advise for compensation to regulatory authority.”

But until 2012, any ten people sitting in any part of the country could approve a clinical trial. Instances of abuse, neglect and exploitation were disturbingly common—including trials on mentally ill patientsand on Bhopal gas victims in Madhya Pradesh. After the Swasthya Adhikar Manch’s PIL was filed, the court directed that no new drug trials be allowed to begin unless they were conducted strictly under Schedule Y of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Further, the court noted that the only trials that could proceed were to do with unmet medical needs in the country, where risk-and-benefit analysis had been conducted, and which related to an innovation pertaining to an existing therapy.

Around the same time, the 59th Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Health and Family Welfare commented on the functioning CDSCO, claiming that there was an “apparent nexus that exists between drug manufacturers and many experts” at the organisation and that there had been many reported instances of poor and illiterate citizens of India being used as “guinea pigs” by multinational drug manufacturers.

In 2013, a committee constituted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and headed by the professor Ranjit Roy Chaudhury reviewed issues pertinent to clinical trials in India, and suggested corrective measures—broadly, that clinical trials must only take place at government-accredited centres; that informed consent must be taken and that the process of obtaining it must be recorded; and there must be a provision for the care of those suffering from adverse health effects due to the trial. Schedule Y was soon amended in accordance with these. These amendments included compensation of trial injuries, limiting the number of trials an investigator can undertake, mandatory audio–video recording of the informed-consent process and reporting deadlines for serious adverse events, among others.

But after these regulations were brought in, global sponsors began pulling out and the number of new trials plummeted. The United States government halted federally funded trials in India.

Since 2015, many of these changes have been diluted or reversed. The latest rules favour the pharmaceutical companies and deliberately overlook the rights of the clinical-trial participants. For instance, a government circular issued on 2 August 2016 removed the 50-bed restriction for conducting clinical trials. The DGCI also modified the requirement regarding audio-video recordings of consent procedure, limiting it to new chemical studies or studies for anti-HIV and anti-leprosy drugs.

The CDSA’s guidelines allow the ethics committees to oversee clinical trials and decide on the level of compensation given to patients who suffer adverse events. In 2016, the government also removed the restriction on the number of trials a principal investigator can work on at any given time, which was previously set at three, stating that and this too could be decided by the ethics committee. The CDSCO also noted that the EC can approve the addition of a new site or investigator to a trial in the normal course of the trial without obtaining a No Objection Certificate from Drug Controller General of India. These new rules and circulars clearly go against the spirit of the Supreme Court orders. “Fearful of losing clinical trial business to ‘rival’ countries, the Indian government is diluting its laws related to drug trials,” Amulya Nidhi, the convenor of the Swasthya Adhikar Manch, said.

In India, the concerns regarding drug trials do not end at the procedure followed during the investigation. Several independent reports confirm that most trials in India have been conducted on the poor. While this alone is grave cause for concern, the benefits of the research that is carried out do not reach the communities that the subjects are part of—most often poor and oppressed castes—as drugs found to be effective following these trials are not affordable for these groups. Such practices are in violation of the Declaration of Helsinki, a set of ethical principles followed by the global medical community, which states that “medical research is only justified if there is a reasonable likelihood that the populations in which the research is carried out stand to benefit from the results of the research.”

“The Indian example suggests that research-ethics frameworks and national policies for economic development are increasingly intertwined,” Nidhi said. “Most, if not all, clinical trials happen because of financial interests of the pharmaceutical or implant company involved in the trial. The government should ask for further transparency in such trials.”

According to Sanjay Parikh, a Supreme Court lawyer who is representing the Swasthya Adhikar Manch in their PIL, most clinical trials in India are conducted in violation of laws and human rights. “The drug companies have been exploiting the poor people, taking advantage of the fact that there is no proper implementation of laws and strict monitoring by the concerned authorities. There is still no provision for criminal liability of the pharma companies who act in gross negligence resulting in deaths and serious adverse events. If clinical trials have to be conducted in our country, there has to be strict regulation and implementation in consonance with our constitutional protections, in particular for the lives of the poor people.”

On 24 May 2018, the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the principal secretary in Rajasthan government’s health department and the commissioner of police in Jaipur, asking them to respond with their investigation of the Churu trials within four weeks. There has been no response till date.

For the Dalit residents of Digaria, the hopelessness that set in with the lack of jobs has only been aggravated by fear. “Till date, only the educated, the rich were migrating from the village for jobs. When the poor migrate, they turn us into guinea pigs,” said Baghu Ram. He told me that most residents have become fearful of leaving the village. The area is also rife with rumours of organ-trafficking and human trafficking. “As it is we could never finish school, we don’t have land. Now, what are they getting by incapacitating us, depriving us of the physical energy to eat two square meals?”

Oma Ram said that his wife Mamta left 20 days after his return from Jaipur. “She said I was a coward who was making excuses not to work,” he said, before adding, “At least she will get two square meals at her parents’ house.”

Churu Drug Trials: Four months on, Dalit victims report severe damage to health and caste-based harassment

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Karwan: A voyage of love in times of gathering darkness

  • Lynching videos are widely and avidly shared among young Hindutva activists — as evidence of their valour
  • More worrying by far was our finding that the police had increasingly taken on the work of lynch mobs.
  • Most troubling of all, we found in all these local communities a profound and pervasive absence of compassion.

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Reconciliation: Karwan e Mohabbat’s Journey of Solidarity Through A Wounded India, edited by Harsh Mander. Natasha Badhwar and John Dayal. It has been published by Context, an imprint of Westland Publications.

In the autumn of 2017, the Karwan e Mohabbat, Caravan of Love, undertook its first journey of atonement, solidarity, healing, conscience and justice with people who had been targets of hate attacks across our wounded land. It was a small, audacious effort to offer a garland of empathy across many parts of India—a tiny lamp lit amidst a tempest of hate.

The purpose of this voyage in these times of gathering darkness across those parts of India most severely ravaged by lynching was twofold: to respond with solidarity to the everyday fear that has settled in the hearts of Muslims, Dalits and Christians, and to challenge and break the worrying silence of the majority with a call to conscience.

The Karwan, a broad-based, collaborative civil society initiative of independent individuals, people’s organisations and social movements, visited the families of those who had lost loved ones to lynching, to attacks on Dalits, targeted shootings by police, and violence on women branded as witches.

Our journey began from Assam on 4 September 2017. It passed through Jharkhand and Karnataka before regathering at Tilak Vihar in Delhi one week later. The second phase of the Karwan involved all participants travelling together in a bus that started out from Delhi and moved on to western Uttar Pradesh (UP), Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Entirely crowd-funded and with an exceptional group of volunteers—writers, journalists, social workers, teachers, lawyers—we intersected India from east to west over the span of a month. Late every night, I wrote an update before trying to catch a few hours of sleep. The first part of this volume brings together and builds on those updates.

In each state, the members of the Karwan offered atonement and solidarity to the families of the victims, and tried to assess how they were coping and what they needed for livelihood, psycho-social care and the pursuit of justice. We also held public peace and reconciliation meetings—Aman Sabhas.

Everywhere, the Karwan found minorities living in endemic and lingering fear, and with hate and state violence, resigned to these as normalised elements of everyday living. We encountered widows, mothers, fathers and children, numbed with incomprehension at the loathing and violence that had snatched from them their loved ones. I wondered (as I wrote during the Karwan), ‘How could the parents of two teenaged boys in Nagaon, Assam, come to terms with the lynching of their sons by a mob from the neighbouring village, gouging out their eyes, severing their ears while accusing them of being cow thieves? Why would anyone murder and mutilate a person they did not even know? Why would complete strangers stab Harish Pujari fourteen times near Mangalore, pulling out his intestines, only because they mistook him for a Muslim when he was riding pillion behind his Muslim friend?’

Across India, Dalits are viciously attacked by upper-caste neighbours seeking to crush any and all signs of assertion. Single women, branded as witches, remain vulnerable to incredible, medieval cruelty by families and neighbours. Christians in tribal regions are subjugated by violence that targets their priests, nuns and places of worship, and by laws that criminalise religious conversions. But the foremost targets of hate violence by lynching and police killings are Muslims.

Against Muslims, the weapon of choice is public lynching. The lynching of African Americans in the US used to be public spectacle, spurred by religious fervour and watched by white families over picnics. In today’s India, lynchings are videographed public performances. The attackers themselves catch most lynch attacks on mobile phone cameras. Images ofthe victims, humiliated, cringing, begging for their lives, are put up on social media. These lynching videos are widely and avidly shared among young Hindutva activists—as evidence of their valour, as proof of their immunity from state action, as public exhibition of the humiliation of the communities they consider their enemies, and to draft new recruits into militant Hindu-supremacist organisations.

Our consistent finding was that families hit by hate violence were bereft of protection and justice from the state. In the case of almost all the fifty-odd families we met during our travels through eight states, the police had registered criminal charges against the victims, treating the accused with kid gloves, leaving their bail applications unopposed, or erasing their crimes altogether. A lynch mob, for instance, attacks a vehicle transporting cattle, killing some of the transporters. The police register criminal cases of illegal cow-smuggling, animal cruelty and rash driving against the victims. They obliterate the fact that the men were lynched. In other cases, they mention anonymous mobs that are never caught. The families of people attacked by lynch mobs sometimes do not even file complaints with the police because they fear that far from giving them justice, the police will register criminal charges against them.

More worrying by far was our finding that the police had increasingly taken on the work of lynch mobs. There were tens of instances of the police executing Muslim men, alleging that they were cattle smugglers or dangerous criminals, often claiming that they had fired at the police. Unlike mob lynching, murderous extrajudicial action has barely registered on the national conscience. It is as though majoritarian public opinion first outsourced its hate violence to lynch mobs, and lynch mobs in BJP-ruled states like UP, Haryana and Rajasthan are now outsourcing it onwards to the police.

Most troubling of all, we found in all these local communities a profound and pervasive absence of compassion. They constructed high walls between what they saw as ‘Hindu suffering’, which moved them, troubled them and enraged them, and ‘Muslim suffering’ which somehow was deserved, or at least inevitable.

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A Woman Got Violent Rape Threats For Responding to ‘Non-Feminist’ Matrimonial Ad in Newspaper

She fears that the police won’t help either.

She fears that the police won’t help either.

(TRIGGER WARNING: News18 has access to all the screenshots that have been circulating on social media. However, we decided to not put them on display fearing any emotional and/or physical outbursts that the reader could be intentionally/unintentionally subjected to while reading this article.)

Often gracing the pages of newspapers are the familiar and continually regressive matrimonial advertisements. The pages filled with the same requirements: “Need a fair, tall and young” bride for prospective grooms.

It’s 2018 and nothing much has changed.

While the definition of a good Indian bahu is pretty much inspired from any Sooraj Barjatya movie– someone who will clean the house, cook for the husband, and do her household chores with thorough diligence, there has been a new addition to the definition. To be a good wife, she also must be a ‘non-feminist’. Because women who seek equal rights must be evil, no?

Recently, a matrimonial advertisement was published in The Hindu. The prospective groom, in his own words, was in urgent requirement of an “attractive and below 26 years of age strictly” bride who should be a “non-smoker, a good cook and non-feminist”. But the man, who is 37 years old and earns an eight-figure salary, does not forget to finish before the oh-so-modern “caste, creed, religion, and nationality no bar”. If that’s not modern enough, he is not interested in taking any dowry either.

The advertisement naturally sparked an outrage on the Internet.

But 21-year-old Anupreet Kaur was not having it. She decided to call out the sexist advertisement on her Instagram story.

rape threat email

Taking a picture of the advertisement, Anupreet wrote, “This makes me so uncomfortable. What do you mean by non-feminist?”

Reading Anupreet’s story was her friend Priyanshu, who was obviously intrigued by the story, “first, ignored it, like everyone does. But then I got very uncomfortable looking at the advertisement” and decided to email the man who had posted the advertisement after Anupreet encouraged her to send an email.

The email, embellished with a heavy dose of derision and mockery, was written in absolute jest by Priyanshu. She only wanted to call out the man for his sexist advertisement. In the email, Priyanshu jokes that she  “identifies as a stigmatic, forced female identity” who is very “nationalist and anti-feminist” and “saves a lot of cows”.

She signed off the email with “All the worst to you.”

However, the reply she received petrified Priyanshu, Anupreet and literally every individual who has come across the email after it was shared on the girls’ Instagram stories.

Calling her a ‘pathetic, ranting feminist b***h’, the man threatened Priyanshu with rape and violent sexual abuse. With further threats on the lines of mutilating her breasts and sexual organs, the man ended his reply by challenging Priyanshu to send her location and pictures.

The experience has been nothing short of traumatising for both Anupreet and Priyanshu. Talking to News18, Priyanshu said, “Jisko aisa threat milta hai sirf wahi samajh sakta hai, baaki kisi ko samajh nahi aata (Only those who get such vile threats can truly understand how it feels when you’re at the receiving end. No one else gets it).”

Priyanshu also said that while people have been mostly supportive, “a lot of people are also writing s**t in my inbox. I have been getting many hate messages from even girls. The insensitivity of people is killing me from the inside.” Priyanshu said that the hate messages are playing with her mental health and she has not been able to sleep well for the past two nights.

Priyanshu is contemplating going to the cyber-crime cell but remains unsure. “I have filed 2-3 FIRs previously. But my experience was not very nice. As it turns out, they often treat the victim like you’re the culprit. Not actually the culprit. But it’s easy to get the drift. Also, I have my exams going on, and I do not want to compromise on my attendance.”

Priyanshu and Anupreet then decided to take the help of their friend living in Bengaluru, Ashwin Joseph, to bring the advertisement and the man’s violent response to The Hindu’s notice.

The Hindu responded to Ashwin’s complaint and said that the head office was in touch with the legal team and they would let the girls know of whatever action is taken next.

rape threats email

However, by then, several people started to email the man. They started to receive replies that were filled with gut-wrenching details of violence.

In those emails, the man threatens other women to not act ‘over-smart’ or he would kill them, dismember their body parts and dissolve them in industrial liquid, adding that he could not wait to “dispatch them into the realms of the dead after vigourous sessions of torture”.

Priyanshu and Anupreet’s told News18 that their own investigation led them to find out that the man was using the ProtonMail email service, the same service used by Cambridge Analytica to cover their tracks after having collected information of over 50 million Facebook users previously. These emails self-destruct after a finite number of hours, days or months. Knowing that the man’s tracks are well-covered, Anupreet decided to message the email service as well, discussing the threats issued by the anonymous man.

The Instagram stories, which have been going viral on social media, were also shared by rapper and music-composer, Raftaar, who said that “rape and death threats are not a way to shows your manhood”, adding that while it is impossible to eradicate every negative imprint in the society, it is imperative to start spreading positivity to see a slow change but a change nonetheless.

rape threats email

This morning, Priyanshu and Anupreet, who have not received any correspondence from the newspaper till the time of publishing this story, uploaded a photo from The Hindu where a small disclaimer reads that the readers are requested to verify the veracity of an advertisement before making any complaints about the advertisements published in the newspaper, further adding that the newspaper or its publisher do not take any responsibility for the authenticity of the advertisement or the advertiser.

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TISS gay community angry over ‘queerphobic’ remark

TISS gay community angry over ‘queerphobic’ remark

Queer Collective slams students for personal attack on cultural secy.

Days after rejoicing the Supreme Court’s order on the abolition of section 377, the LGBTQIA+ community from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences castigated another section of students who allegedly passed a “queerphobic” remark. Called the Queer Collective, the institute’s gay community issued a statement on Tuesday, expressing anger over the comment directed at the cultural secretary of the Students’ Union at a gathering on September 7.

“The personal attack by a research scholar included references to the person’s family, caste and economic background. There was a lack of acknowledgement of the student’s identity as an openly queer person, besides using an aggressive manner of speech and violently occupying the space and disrupting scope for meaningful engagement,” read the statement by the collective.

It all started when at the students’ general body meeting consensus could not be reached over budgetary allocation to Gender Amity Cell, SC/ST Cell, and Equal Opportunities Cell. “However, some general body members took it upon themselves to coerce the union to pass the budget in its current form despite a lack of quorum,” the statement from the students’ union said.

“This is a classic case of cisgender heterosexuality oppressing people who do not bow to the binaries of gender,” said the statement, adding that the episode was an attempt to silence marginalised voices. “We firmly believe that such behaviour does disservice to the cause of creating a safe space for students from practicing their politics,” the statement from the Queer Collective concluded.

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‘Digital India’ De-facto ‘Deleted India’ #Poem


By- Rohit Prajapati

Slum Dwellers will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Street Vendors will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Small Shops will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Ordinary People will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Public Transport System will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Not Poverty, but Poor will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Natural Resources will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Ponds and Lakes will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Rivers and Ravines will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Employment will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Equality will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Environment will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Nature will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Love and compassion will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Gender Justice will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Communal Harmony will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Public Health Facilities will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Public Education Schools will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Right to Protest will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Voice of Dissent will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Freedom of Expression will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Rule of Law will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Democracy will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Real Life will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Dignified Life will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

Peace & Justice will be ‘Deleted’ in ‘Digital India’.

That is why I want to ‘Delete’  ‘Digital India’.

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UN Begins Talks on World’s First Treaty to Regulate High Seas

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A trawler in Johnstone Strait, BC, Canada. Human activities such as pollution, overfishing, mining, geo-engineering and climate change have made an international agreement to protect the high seas more critical than ever. Credit: Winky/cc by 2.0

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 7 2018 (IPS) – After several years of preliminary discussions, the United Nations has begun its first round of inter-governmental negotiations to draft the world’s first legally binding treaty to protect and regulate the “high seas”—which, by definition, extend beyond 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) and are considered “international waters” shared globally.

“The high seas cover half our planet and are vital to the functioning of the whole ocean and all life on Earth. The current high seas governance system is weak, fragmented and unfit to address the threats we now face in the 21stt century from climate change, illegal and overfishing, plastics pollution and habitat loss”, says Peggy Kalas, Coordinator of the High Seas Alliance, a partnership of 40+ non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“This is an historic opportunity to protect the biodiversity and functions of the high seas through legally binding commitments” she added.

The two-week Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which concludes 17 September, is described as the first in a series of four negotiating sessions which are expected to continue through 2020.

Asked about the contentious issues facing negotiators, Dr Veronica Frank, Political Advisor at Greenpeace International, told IPS “although it is still early, we can expect that some of the potential issues that will require attention include the relationship between the new Global Ocean Treaty and existing legal instruments and bodies.”

These will include those who regulate activities such as fishing and mining, and what role
these other organizations will play in the management of activities that may impact on the marine environment in future ocean sanctuaries on the high seas.

“Also tricky is the issue of marine genetic resources, especially how to ensure the access and sharing of benefits from their use,” Dr Frank said.

Asked how different the proposed treaty would be from the historic 1994 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Essam Yassin Mohammed, Principal Researcher on Oceans and Environmental Economics at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), told IPS: “This new treaty is particularly significant because it is the first time the high seas will be governed.”

These negotiations are an opportunity, not just to protect the health of the oceans, but also to make sure all countries ― not just the wealthy few ― can benefit from the ocean’s resources in a sustainable way, he pointed out.

“As important as The Law of the Sea is, it only covers the band of water up to 200 miles from the coast. It does not cover the use and sustainable management of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction,” he added.

While this was acceptable in an era when the technological capacities that enabled people to venture beyond this area were limited, rapid innovation and technological advancement has changed this. Increasingly, economic activities are taking place in the high seas, he noted.

Most are unregulated and pose a major threat to marine biodiversity. It is more urgent than ever to fill this governance gap and monitor and regulate any activity in the high seas and make sure they benefit everyone ― particularly the poorest countries, he argued.

According to the High Seas Alliance, the ocean’s key role in mitigating climate change, which includes absorbing 90% of the extra heat and 26% of the excess carbon dioxide created by human sources, has had a devastating effect on the ocean itself.

Managing the multitude of other anthropogenic stressors exerted on it will increase its resilience to climate change and ocean acidification and protect unique marine ecosystems, many of which are still unexplored and undiscovered. Because these are international waters, the conservation measures needed can only be put into place via a global treaty, the Alliance said.

Dr Frank said the new treaty must create a global process for the designation and effective implementation of highly protected sanctuaries in areas beyond national borders.

Such global process must include the following elements: (a) a clear objective and a duty to cooperate to protect, maintain, and restore ocean health and resilience through a global network of marine protected areas, in particular highly protected marine reserves, and (b) the identification of potential areas that meet the conservation objective.

Asked about the existing law of the sea treaty, she said UNCLOS, which is the constitution of the ocean, sets the jurisdictional framework, ie general rights and obligations of Parties in different maritime zones, including some general obligations to cooperate and protect marine life and marine living resources that also apply to waters beyond national borders.

However, the Convention doesn’t spell out what these obligations entail in practice and puts much more emphasis on the traditional freedoms to use the high seas.

The Convention does not even mention the term biodiversity, she said, pointing out that
the treaty under negotiation will be the third so-called “Implementing Agreement” under UNCLOS – after the agreement for the implementation of Part XI on seabed minerals and one on fish stocks – and it will implement, specify and operationalise UNCLOS broad environmental provisions in relation to the protection of the global oceans.

Dr Frank said this is the first time in history that governments are negotiating rules that will bring UNCLOS in line with modern principles of environmental governance and provide effective protection to global oceans.

The writer can be contacted at

UN Begins Talks on World’s First Treaty to Regulate High Seas

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India- All This Urban Naxalism Talk

Alishan Jafri

Urban naxalism is one of the many salient major threats that new India faces apart from the minor ones like poverty, rapes, saffron fanaticism, lynchings, hate speech, farmer suicides, children dying due to lack of oxygen in hospitals, riots, an undeclared emergency, unprecedented attacks on muslims, dalits, public intellectuals, political opposition and journalists etc. I as a sane citizen of this nation understand this grave threat in its true sense.

First of all, our jails are full of people from the depressed sections of society. Most of them are under trials since years. However, what we fail to see here is that our jails give a roof to so many muslims, dalits and tribals. They (the intellectuals) keep crying for dalits and muslims but they don’t want them to enjoy the social security that our jails offer. How can these urban naxals be so cruel? Why do they want to take away their shelter and make them homeless again?

The current onslaught on activists/lawyers who redundantly take stands for the ‘vulnerable other’ makes them so fearful. This is exactly not what advocate Indira Jaising foolishly calls it- ‘an attempt to kill the defense of the defenseless’. Tell me if you can think, will the defenseless be safer in jail or outside it? It is certain that the move to quell this artificial dissent is as big a masterstroke as demonetization. Everyday these urban naxal journalists, professors and writers pollute young brains who otherwise have the opportunity to join nationalist organizations like the satan sanstha. They can visit it to learn the art of making indigenous pistols and swadeshi bombs that can be used in case we have a war with Pakistan or at least unleash a Kasganj, Koregaon, Kathua or Una. The satan sanstha still hold press conferences to make us even more nationalist than Thou.

I am thankful that I could listen to a newslaundry interview where a maoist expert said that 40% Indians are urban naxals. His figures are impeccable, contrary to what the black hearted curly haired satirist anchor wanted you to believe. This figure is not as shocking as the sudden appearance of Atal Bihari Vajpayee on all the DUSU posters of the ABVP. I am a DU student and it is really satisfying to see nationalist organizations promise students, an urban naxal crackdown on campus once they come to power. It is the most important thing to be tackled. Issues like increasing fees, HECI, women safety, student rights and the recent attacks on students in various colleges are redundant. DSJ, my own college, that charges the maximum fees for minimum facilities in the entire Delhi University is a non issue for every student political organization. No one talks about how efficiently public education has deteriorated in the recent times.

These virulent intellectuals even criticise men who have died for the nation. Had they not killed Akhlaq, I and you would not have known of Dadri. Similarly I only came to know of Palwal because of Junaid’s lynching. How on earth would have these places become smart without getting famous? Why can’t fellow citizens whose ancestors forcefully stayed back in ‘47, pay the rent by dying and make their homeland great again. I really hate this Urban naxal scepticism. When Muslims are ready to be sidelined/ humiliated/ killed for the greater good of a would be majoritarian India, these urban naxals shamelessly talk about sickularism. How can they stoop so low?

Maybe the 40 percent Indians who somehow have access to the Internet or TV are so urban naxal that they still feel pained about Pehlu Khan and Rakhbar who have managed to get so much media attention for Alwar. A land where an eight year old innocent Asifa’s killers and rapists get immunity by ministers taking out marches with the tricolour. Despite the fact that these ministers admitted to have acted in consequence of clear orders from the ‘high command’, we were keen to have the PM speak up. Forcing people to speak and take stands, when they don’t want to, is absurd to those urban naxals. Firstly he did not utter a word for weeks but after all the struggle when he rose up to condemn, still it was hard to ascertain what made him lose his ferocious eloquence. If he did not wish to speak we should have let it be; it would have gone down in history, although it is interesting to hear him out! He neither condemned his ministers who took out marches in support nor did he object to the use of tricolour for such a vile cause. His generic statement made everybody happy: the accused’s side and victim’s side; both.

Although the urban naxal audience was rendered unimpressed by this monotonous but cute rhetoric. It was rather disturbing to them. We don’t need to imagine how dangerous that assassination plot letter was, or how dangerous the guns/weapons in the allegedly stolen catalogue are, for 2 reasons. First: one does not need to imagine or dream of reality. We should endure it, resist it, we may like or dislike it but we ought not to ignore it. Second: As they say that imagination is the beginning of creation, however in our case it is the beginning of the end. It is evident that anyone cannot simply search about them on the internet.

When you knit the horrors of people around you into a narrative it is cardinal to restrain your intellectual scrutiny within a pragmatic frame of reference, with which you can distinguish between your present misery and your wounds from the past. Doing so is a difficult task as often the ambits of our past overlap with our present. This may be due to either a consciously architected mala fide intent of an ideology, person, group, myths, and history itself that plagues the masses or due to a prolonged period of agony like that in Palestine, where there is a constancy of pain that has detained their ability to tell apart their sorrows of the past from their present plight. New India has incorporated this feature to paralyze our discourse.

We keep looking for issues that can divert the attention of public. Apart from Urban Naxals there maybe libero-jihadists, urban-saffronists and others hiding in our cities. Who knows? We need another book on these untouched political subjects as well.

These species are yet to be discovered. New Indian political taxonomists can do that in a matter of hours.

Nonetheless history remains the only instrument to gauge anomalous developments in the society. We have had examples. of how the critics of the erstwhile dictatorial regimes were silenced before democracy died there. We have seen and lived through the emergency. Urban naxalism crackdown on TV debates is an attempt make India great again. The list of urban naxals is out on Twitter. Those researchers who have made this list know what it can lead to. Our patriotic mobs can be easily incited to kill these urban naxals. Real courts take so much time to prosecute and it even asks for concrete evidence to pronounce a sentence. Is that really necessary? We all know that how the doctored tapes at JNU produced anti-nationals on 9th feb, 2016. Why can’t our courts understand what so many of us seem to desire? On the other hand our great Media courts seem to have sentenced them to death. Lastly, are we fed up of being democratic? Come on, it’s been 70 years; ‘ let us just move on’ remains the only audible message in the silence that sorroundings all this Urban Naxal talk.

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Kerala nun writes to Vatican envoy against Jalandhar diocese bishop Franco Mullakal

Former judge of Kerala High Court Kemal Pasha at a meeting organised in support of the demand for the arrest of Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal in Kochi on Sunday.

Nun writes to Pope’s ambassador against Jalandhar bishop, questions Church’s ‘silence’


  • In the letter to Apostolic Nuncio Giambattista Diquattro, the nun wondered whether the Catholic Church has concern only for bishops and priests.
  • The letter to the ambassador comes even as public support for the aggrieved nun is growing.
  • The hunger strike and public protest in Kochi by several nuns demanding Bishop Franco’s arrest entered the fourth day on Tuesday.
Five nuns took to the streets demanding justice for their fellow nun and staged a protest at Vanchi Square near the IG office in Kochi demanding Bishop’s arrest on Saturday

Nun writes to Pope’s ambassador against Jalandhar bishop, questions Church’s ‘silence’

KOTTAYAM/KOCHI: Facing increasing stigma and persecution from local church authorities ever since she accused Jalandhar bishop Franco Mullakal + of repeatedly raping her, the Kottayam-based nun has written to the ambassador of the Pope in India pleading that a “speedy enquiry” be conducted into the case and that “Bishop Franco be removed from his responsibilities”. Copies of the seven-page letter dated September 8, 2018, were released to the media on Tuesday.

In the letter to Apostolic Nuncio Giambattista Diquattro, the nun wondered whether the “Catholic Church has concern only for bishops and priests. We would like to know if is there any provision in Canon Law for justice for nuns and women?”

Claiming that she and those supporting her in her trauma are being virtually ostracised, including denial of Holy Mass at her convent in Kuruvilangad, the letter says that “the silence on the part of the Church is leading me to further humiliation and character assassination”. She demanded whether “Church authorities can give back what I have lost”.

It is a conspiracy against church, says bishop accused of raping Kerala nun

The letter to the ambassador comes even as public support for the aggrieved nun is growing. The hunger strike and public protest in Kochi by several nuns demanding Bishop Franco’s arrest entered the fourth day on Tuesday.

In her letter, the nun, obviously referring to insinuations on her silence after she was first molested, said that she “had tremendous fear and shame to bring this out into the open. I feared suppression of the congregation and threats to my family members”.

Bishop may be served summons notice tomorrow

She also says in the letter that she discreetly hinted to her Superior General and her counsellors that the bishop was taking many disciplinary actions against her “just because I resisted to lie down with him. As they failed to understand even the seriousness of these words, I could not tell them more than this”. She also alleged that Bishop Franco was trying to manipulate the investigation with wrong information and money, political power and support from other ecclesiastical authorities.

Accusing the bishop of being a serial offender, the nun writes, “Bishop Franco always had an eagle’s eye on a few other MJ (Missionaries of Jesus) sisters as well. Whichever sister Bishop Franco felt attraction to, he tried to put them in his trap by force or taking advantage of their weaknesses.” The letter points out that several nuns have left the Church because of the actions of the bishop in the last five years.

Seeking the nuncio’s intervention, the nun pleads in her letter that “being a religious sister who has been denied justice from the congregation and from the Church authority of Latin and Syro Malabar Churches, once again I implore your mercy on my situation”.

Bishop Mulakkal rubbished the charges against him as “baseless and concocted” and accused the nun of “blackmailing” him. He said only three persons knew the truth – “The complainant’s sister, myself and God”.

Copies of the letter were sent to 21 others, including Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India president Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Delhi metropolitan archbishop Anil Couto. Incidentally, the nun first wrote to the nuncio in January 2018, detailing the allegations of rape, sexual exploitation and mental torture. Though the letter was handed over to the nuncio during a meeting in Bengaluru by Bishop Kurian Valiayakandathil, Bishop of Bhagalpur, the nun received no reply. Then in May 2018, she sent letters to Rome, including to Pope Francis, by courier. Though the letters were delivered, there was no reply from any of them. In June 2018, the nun wrote to the Vatican’s state secretary, Cardinal Pietro Parolin Segretario, but once again, to no avail.

Meanwhile, Kerala government has rejected allegations of attempts to sabotage the case. Saying that there was no pressure on the government in acting against the bishop, senior minister E P Jayarajan said in Kannur on Tuesday: “A very strong investigation is being carried out in the case. It is proceeding in the right direction.”

Police are contemplating sending fresh summons to Bishop Franco to appear before it in Kottayam and a final decision will be taken on the matter after a review meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

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