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Archives for : December2018

Bullets fired at farmers return to haunt BJP

Agriculture distress sweeping through the country was the major factor in deciding the fate of the governments in five states where election results were declared yesterday, and if it is not addressed, it will have a huge impact in the general elections scheduled next year.

The BJP lost in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and suffered heavy losses in Madhya Pradesh, where, at the time of writing this article, it appeared the state was headed for a hung assembly. It is significant to note that in the three states, the farmers have been up in arms against the government for the last few years.

In Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district, five protesting farmers were killed in the police firing in June last year, and one was beaten to death. In all the three states, the police slapped hundreds of cases against the farmers who were just fighting for the minimum support price.

Continuing with Madhya Pradesh, the government came out with a ‘Bhavantar’ scheme in which the chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, claimed that the difference in the minimum support price and the market price of the produce will be directly transferred to the farmers’ bank accounts. But that did not happen because of the many conditions imposed by the government.

One of the conditions required the farmers to register themselves in the mandis even before the harvest. And the government did not even purchase the full produce. For instance, the average produce of maize was 60 quintals per hectare but the government only purchased 19 quintals per hectare. The average market price per quintal of maize was Rs 600 to Rs 800 and the minimum selling price was Rs 1,425 per quintal, but the total difference wasn’t paid. The promises made in the Bhavantar scheme weren’t realised on the ground.

Similarly, the prime minister’s crop insurance scheme failed miserably, leaving the farmers absolutely convinced that they haven’t got any crop insurance for the last four-anda-half years. However, the farmers in poll-bound states did get some benefits but the number remained at 25%, making it amply clear that the scheme was merely a poll gimmick.

In the last one month, farmers are being paid 50 paise for a kg of cabbage, onions, and tomatoes. Last year, they were paid Rs 2.5 lakh per truck of these produces (18-20 tonnes) and this year, they got a measly Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 per truck. This year the average income of the farmers has dropped to Rs 1,700 per month, and it is a no-brainer that the anger has been directed towards the party ruling at the Centre.

In Chhattisgarh where the BJP was routed, the Congress had assured the farmers that it will purchase the paddy crops at the rate of Rs 2,400 per quintal (which is the double of what the farmers were getting). Similarly, the Congress declared that within ten days of coming to power in the state, farm loans of Rs 2 lakh and less will be waived off.

Going back to the Mandsaur police firing, what it did was bring together an alliance of 208 farmer organisations under the banner of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee. The farmers took out Kisan Mukti rallies in 19 states, covering 10,000 km, they organised a Kisan Mukti Sansad in Delhi on November 21-22, and held more than 500 Kisan Mukti conferences all over the country. And the last but not the least: the Kisan march on November 29-30 in Delhi demanding a special session of the Parliament to pass two Bills – waiving of loans and guaranteeing purchase of produce at minimum support price.

This march drew the support of 21 opposition parties. During the elections, on the one hand where there was frustration among the farmers, the support by major opposition parties created a hope. That is why they voted for ‘parivartan’.

The message to the Centre is clear: The farmers, for the first time in the country’s history, have come together to challenge the Centre. The PM may have gauged the unrest on the ground against the government which probably prompted him to address the issue of minimum support price in his recent poll speeches, but it was too late. And what he offered in return was too little.

— The writer is the president of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, and a two-time MLA from MP’s Multai

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Don’t identify even dead rape victims: SC

Every District Must Have A One-Stop Centre For Survivors

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the states and Union territories to set up ‘one-stop centre’ in every district within a year to provide integrated assistance to rape victims through police, medical, legal services along with counselling, relief and rehabilitation.

Holding that the victim of a sexual offence is often treated worse than the perpetrator, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said there is a need to treat survivors with sympathy and ensure they are not harassed while seeking justice. The court said the rape victim’s identity must not be disclosed by media and prosecution. Names can be revealed only in public interest with court’s permission, it said.

“A victim of rape will face discrimination and social ostracisation. Such victim will find it difficult to get a job, get married and get integrated in society like a normal human. Our criminal jurisprudence does not provide for an adequate witness protection programme and, therefore, the need is much greater to protect the victim. We hold that no person can print or publish the name of the victim or disclose any facts which can lead to the victim being identified,” Justice Gupta, who wrote the judgment, said.

The court said police officers investigating such cases should use a pseudonym to describe the victim unless it is absolutely necessary to write down her identity. “The copy of an FIR relating to rape offence against a women or offences against children falling within purview of Pocso shall not be put in the public domain,” it said. The court, however, said if an adult victim has no objection to her identity being revealed, she can authorise any person in writing to disclose her name.

The court turned down the plea that in cases where the victim is dead, use of her name should be permitted because it can become a rallying point to prevent such offences. “We are of the view, it is not necessary to disclose victim’s identity to arouse public opinion. All of us are fully aware that without disclosing her true identity, Nirbhaya became the most effective symbol of protest the country has ever known,” it said.

Holding that the victim of a sexual offence is often treated worse than the perpetrator, the bench said there is a need to ensure survivors

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India’s first cow minister Otaram Dewasi loses Sirohi seat in Rajasthan

He lost to independent candidate Sanyam Lodha by 10,000 votes.

Otaram Dewasi

According to his website, Otaram Dewasi is a resident of Pali district. (Photo: Twitter/@otaramjidewasi)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Vasundhara Raje won the Jhalarapatan assembly constituency for a fifth consecutive term
  • She defeated Congress candidate Manvendra Singh
  • BJP suffered losses in three key states

India’s first cow minister, Otaram Dewasi, from Rajasthan lost his seat in Sirohi in the assembly elections to independent candidate Sanyam Lodha by 10,000 votes.

According to information posted on his website, Otaram Dewasi is a resident of Mundara village under Sumerpur assembly constituency, Pali district.

His site states he used to work as a policeman with Rajasthan Police but had to leave the due to health problems.

While Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje won the Jhalarapatan assembly constituency for the fifth consecutive term on Tuesday, defeating Congress candidate Manvendra Singh, the poll count so far for the state swung largely in favour of Congress.

With the BJP suffering losses in three key states, its vote share has taken a sharp dip in Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh since the last assembly elections in 2013, but all these votes do not seem to have gone to the Congress alone as other players have also reaped the gains.

The vote share loss is even bigger for the saffron party since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, in which it had virtually swept all the three states by winning 62 out of 65 seats, as per the Election Commission data.

agencies

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