A rape and acid attack survivor of the Dalit community was forced to drink acid while she was travelling on a train to Lucknow on Thursday. The police on Friday arrested two men in connection with the incident. The woman was admitted to the trauma centre of the King George’s Medical College.Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited her and promised swift action against the culprits. “Necessary action will be taken soon,” he tweeted soon after his visit. He also directed the police to provide security to the victim, while announcing ₹1 lakh assistance to her.In 2009, Bhondhu Singh and Guddu allegedly gang-raped her over a property dispute at her home at Unchahar in Rae Bareli and on December 25, 2013 attacked her with acid.On March 10, she had gone home to Rae Bareli to see her daughter, who is appearing for Board examinations. On Thursday morning, when she was returning to Lucknow by the Ganga-Gomti Express, the two persons attacked her and forced her to drink acid at the Mohanlalganj railway station, police said. Colleagues of the victim, who works at a cafe here, alleged that she was forced to drink acid by the accused so that she would not be able to raise her voice against them.A case was registered against the two persons at the Government Railway Police (GRP) station Charbagh under Section 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons) and 3(2)5 of the SC/ST Act.Selfies invite flakFour RPF (Railway Protection Force) jawans were suspended for negligence in duty. The police has also ordered action against three women constables after they clicked selfies with the victim by her hospital bed. The pictures were widely circulated on social media.A. Satish Ganesh, Inspector General Police (IGP)-Lucknow Zone, termed the three constables “insensitive” and directed the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) and the Senior Superintendent Police (SSP), Lucknow, to take action. Police ignored pleaThe victim’s colleagues alleged negligence on the part of the police, saying the woman had sought police protection in the past due to threats received by her but officials did not pay heed to it.According to NGO Stop Acid Attacks, the victim was attacked in 2009 by the accused after she filed a complaint soon after the rape, and on December 25, 2013, they made the acid attack on her. She also received a fresh threat letter on January 18, after which the police and administration assured help and security.
Over 17,260 farmers in Uttar Pradesh have received loan waiver certificates for only ₹1,000 or less under a scheme in which the BJP government had promised to waive farm loans of up to ₹1 lakh.Of the 17,262 farmers, 4,814 got loan waivers of amounts between ₹1 and ₹100, while 6,895 received waivers of amounts between ₹100 and ₹500 and another 5,553 got waivers between ₹500 and ₹1,000.Under the first phase of its farm loan waiver scheme, the BJP government said it had so far distributed loan waiver certificates amounting to ₹7,371 crore of more than 11.93 lakh farmers in the State.According to a statement issued by the government, 41,690 farmers have received loan waiver certificates of ₹1,000-10,000 while the largest chunk, 11.28 lakh farmers, received waiver certificates of more than ₹10,000 each.The government was forced to issue a clarification after criticism that some farmers received loan waiver certificates of inconsequential amounts under the loan waiver scheme.A farmer in Hamirpur’s Maudaha tehsil, Shanti, was shocked to receive a loan waiver certificate of ₹10.37 even though she had a debt of more than ₹50,000.Some farmers also reportedly received waiver certificates of less than ₹1, provoking the Samajwadi Party to accuse the Yogi Adityanath government of “cheating and humiliating” farmers.SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said that by “waiving off just Rs 3 of farmers with loans of Rs 1 lakh the BJP government had cheated farmers.”‘It’s interest component’Pressed to explain the low amounts of loan waiver in some certificates, the government issued a vague clarification. It said that apart from the loans, the interest outstanding too had been waived. “Due to this, in some cases the amount reflected is extremely low,” the government said.Fulfilling its election manifesto promise, the BJP government, in its first Cabinet meeting in April this year, had decided to waive farm loans, up to Rs. 1 lakh, of small and marginalised farmers.Along with the Rs 30,729 crore cost of the loan waiver, the government would settle around Rs 6000 crore of NPA of seven lakh small and marginalised farmers, to whom the banks had stopped issuing loans, through a one-time payment.
The Shiv Sena is all set to bring in a major organisational change as it readies for the national executive meet on Tuesday.Party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son and present chief of party’s youth wing, Yuva Sena, Aaditya Thackeray is all set to be made a part of the Sena’s highest decision making council, the Ashtapradhan Mandal – eight member body.Mr./ Thackeray who launched in to politics by his grandfather and founder of Sena late Bal Thackeray during Sena’s annual dussehra rally nine years ago is set to be party’s face as it plans to expand beyond Maharashtra. He was made the chief of youth wing few years back with an aim to groom him politically and now the eldest son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to be given an important responsibility within the party.“Aaditya has huge following among youngsters, not only in Maharashtra but also outside. While many have been waiting for this elevation, party will be focusing on projecting him as a national face in coming time,” a senior leader of the party said.In his recent interviews, Mr. Thackeray has not declined the possibility to contest the elections. The move would make him the first Thackeray to contest polls of the move goes ahead as planned. With his elevation, Mr. Thackeray and Yuva Sena will be given more important responsibilities to be played as party prepares for general and assembly elections. Party chief Uddhav Thackeray has already announced of going solo in the polls.Another new member who is on his way to make to the party’s top council is MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde. “All legislative party leaders have been the member of the Ashtapradhan Mandal in the past, except for Eknath Shinde. He too is likely to be inducted on Tuesday,” the leader said. The Party’s group leader in Lok Sabha, Anand Adsul is also being considered for the top decision making body of the party.Presently, the Mandal has former Chief Minister Manohar Joshi, former ministers Sudhir Joshi and Liladhar Dake, Lok Sabha MP Gajanan Kirtikar, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam, Transpprt Minister Divekar Raote and Industries Minister Subhash Desai.According to sources, both Manohar Joshi and Sudhir Joshi will be made advisors to Uddhav Thackeray, making way for the elevation of new faces.The party will also pass important resolutions on Tuesday by highlighting problems faced by the country such as inflation, national security, petrol rates etc.
The Bombay High Court at Goa on Friday held that Goa Marriott Resort cannot be given a special status and rejected the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority’s (GCZMA) second report that ruled out any Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violations by the hotel at Miramar. A Division Bench comprising Justices N.M. Jamdar and Prithviraj Chavan also asked the hotel to ensure that it does not obstruct public access to the beach and ordered the State government to take measures to make the path to the beach accessible. The case is being fought by environmental organisation Goa Foundation for over two decades.The court observed that “the government authorities unduly favoured the hotel by inventing a new set of criteria to determine the high tide line (HTL) and dropped all action against it for illegal constructions”. On the issue of HTL, the High Court blamed GCZMA for making the issue complex. “The high tide line will have to be drawn as per law, and it is not for the authorities to invent a new set of rules and criteria for a single construction. The hotel cannot enjoy a special status,” said the court.The order said GCZMA had accepted the second report favouring the hotel by introducing the concept of soil erosion to determine HTL of 1991. The first report prepared by the planning authorities had also concluded that there was no violation by the hotel, which was rejected by a Division Bench of the High Court earlier.The High Court has now asked the Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management to complete the task of identifying the HTL within four months and prepare a report. Further, it directed the authorities, including the State government, to act on the report within four weeks after receiving it and take action against the hotel if it is found to have carried out construction in violation of CRZ rules.Simultaneously, the court has directed the hotel and government to provide necessary documents in the case and ordered that the violation will be viewed seriously and treated as contempt of the court.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has smashed an international wildlife smuggling racket with the seizure of about 8,000 kg of shark fins in Mumbai and the coastal town of Veraval in Gujarat. Four persons, including the mastermind, have also been arrested.According to the DRI, the consignments were meant to be illegally exported to China and Hong Kong. The fins were procured from the seas along the coasts of Ratnagiri and Mumbai in Maharashtra, and Veraval and Okha in Gujarat. They are used for preparing “shark fin” soup in China and Vietnam. Usually served on special occasions such as weddings and banquets, it is considered a luxury food item and is of immense significance, with one bowl of soup costing at least $100.Acting on a tip-off that some exporters were indulging in the trans-border smuggling of fins of various species of sharks, the agency mounted surveillance and zeroed in on the suspects. The fins were to be smuggled out on the pretext of exports of dried ray skins, dried marine products, and fish maw, to evade detection. “In all, 3,000 kg of shark fins was seized from the godown at Sewri and 5,000 kg from the godown in Veraval. Investigations are under way to determine from when the gang had been operating,” said an official.The wildlife inspectors confirmed that the seized goods were shark fins. “It has come up during the investigations that the stocks are replenished regularly,” the official said.Through a notification dated February 6, 2015, the Finance Ministry has prohibited export of shark fins of all species. The agency said shark finning is an act of removing the fins, often while the shark is alive. Fishermen keep just the fins — only 1 to 5% of the fish’s weight — and throw away the rest, as they fetch a high price.With the fins having been removed, the sharks are unable to swim. As a result, they either sink to the bottom of the sea and die, or get eaten by other predators.In August 2013, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had approved a policy on “shark finning”, prohibiting removal of fins on board a vessel on the sea. The policy prescribes that any possession of shark fins would amount to “hunting” of a Schedule I species under the Wildlife Protection Act.India became signatory to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in September 2014 and listed five more shark species for conservation.
A group of teachers and students had made an attempt on their lives, two Manipur University officials said in a police complaint that led to the detention of 89 students and six faculty members this past Thursday midnight.Remanded to custodyA court in the State capital Imphal on Friday remanded six teachers and seven students to 15 days’ judicial custody and two other students to five days’ police custody.In his complaint, the university’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor K. Yugindro said some members of the university community had kidnapped him and Registrar in-charge M. Shyamkesho when they visited the campus on Thursday.Suspended Vice-Chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey had appointed the duo when the Ministry of Human Resource Development had sent him on leave after a committee was constituted to probe various allegations against him.“We were harassed and grilled for three hours inside a room. They let us go after forcing us to sign on a piece of paper saying we will never try to enter the university office again,” Mr. Yugindro’s said in the complaint.Some students and faculty members of the university attacked them using sticks and stones with the apparent attempt to kill them but they somehow managed to escape, it added.Later, Mr. Yugindro issued a statement saying the six arrested teachers have been placed under suspension for being in police custody.Trouble in varsity Trouble in Manipur University began in the first week of July with the students’ union demanding Mr. Pandey’s ouster for alleged misappropriation of funds. The teachers and employees unions joined the agitation a few days later. Tribal students’ organisations, however, have distanced themselves from the agitation.
Skandan Krishnan, a retired IAS officer of the 1982-batch, was on Wednesday appointed as the fourth adviser to Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, an official spokesman said.Former IAS officers Khurshid Ahmad Ganai and Kewal Krishan Sharma and former IPS officer K. Vijay Kumar are the other three advisers. The appointment of Mr. Krishnan comes over a month after B.B. Vyas resigned from the post in December last year on the eve of his appointment as the member of the UPSC. The Union Home Ministry had on Tuesday approved the appointment.
J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik’s remarks on Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti sparked a row on Wednesday, with all major regional parties accusing him of “crossing the line”.“Elections are round the corner (in J&K), her (Ms. Mufti’s) party is breaking up. It’s in a bad shape. She had come to power by stirring anti-India sentiments. Nobody should take her statements seriously,” said Mr. Malik in Jammu.The off-the-cuff remarks came after Ms. Mufti sought Mr. Malik’s intervention in a case of thrashing of a civilian in Pulwama allegedly by an Army officer. She also labelled both the BJP and the Congress as “political forces driven by Hindutva agenda”, while referring to the Madhya Pradesh government’s move to slap the stringent National Security Act on three persons held on charges of cow slaughter.“Political lines are getting blurred and its difficult to differentiate between the Congress and the BJP as Hindutva drives realpolitik in modern India,”she added.PDP, NC take umbrage Ms. Mufti said the Governor’s remarks “saddened” her because “a constitutional authority has taken sides so brazenly”.PDP spokesman Rafi Mir accused the Governor of “unreasonably interfering in politics”. “He is influencing the elections and the electorate against the PDP. It speaks volumes about his integrity and the leftover sanctity of the office he holds. He must desist from exceeding his jurisdiction,” said Mr. Mir.Former Chief Minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah also joined Ms. Mufti in criticising Mr. Malik. “Governor sahib, it’s an unacceptable statement and an unnecessary interference in politics. At this rate it won’t be long before people stop taking Raj Bhavan seriously, so please consider the office you occupy before you give statements,” said Mr. Abdullah. Ms. Mufti, who visited injured civilian Tawseef Wani in a Srinagar hospital on Tuesday evening, had said: “An Army Major has allegedly beaten him up so ruthlessly that he had to be hospitalised. The irony is that his brother serves in the Army.”She referred to the Army Major, who had killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sameer Tiger last year after taking up challenge to engage him in a gunfight in Pulwama, as the officer behind the incident. Later, the PDP chief spoke to the Army’s Corps Commander to register her protest. According to the family, Mr. Wani was picked up by the Army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles unit from Pulwama’s Achgoza village on February 4. “He was asked by the Major to pose with a gun or else get killed in an encounter,” claimed Mr. Wani’s relatives at the hospital.Mr. Wani’ brother is among three soldiers detained by the Army in the kidnapping and killing case of another soldier, Aurangzeb, which took place on the eve of Id on June 14 last year.
The major issue between the MGP and the BJP related to Dipak Dhavalikar’s insistence that he would contest the byelection to the Shiroda Assembly seat, ignoring the BJP’s requests not to do so. “If he [Sudin] thinks his brother’s interest is bigger than that of his party and the government, then I cannot do anything about it,” Mr. Sawant said.In a separate press conference soon after he was dropped from the Cabinet, Mr. Dhavalikar accused the BJP of breaking the party and called it “night-time dacoity.” “The chowkidars have shocked the people of Goa,” Mr. Dhavalikar said.Mr. Sawant, however, said the BJP was not responsible for engineering a split. The two MLAs had joined the party on their own, asserting that they had felt unsafe in the MGP. “They also feared they would be rendered unattached MLAs or sacked. When a person wants to join our party, he is always welcome.”Eye on 3 Assembly seatsThe MGP president said the party was considering fielding candidates for the election to Lok Sabha and three Assembly seats.On the issue of the MGP withdrawing support to the BJP-led coalition with his brother as its lone MLA, Mr. Dhavalikar said: “We will take a decision on this in a couple of days.”He also said the BJP was trying to finish off regional parties in the country, and accused the ruling party of committing “political dacoity” by poaching MLAs late at night. “There is little chance of BJP MLAs winning in the current political atmosphere. That is why they are luring MLAs. If one goes by what happened today, this national party uses and throws people and parties,” Mr. Dhavalikar said. Alves Gomes, the Aam Aadmi Party’s State convener, accused the BJP of “keeping daggers at all times that are used to stab ‘friends’ at any moment”. Deepak Pausakar, one of the two Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) MLAs who joined the BJP in the early hours of Wednesday, was sworn in as a Minister in the BJP-led coalition government by Goa Governor Mridula Sinha at Raj Bhavan late at night.Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and his Cabinet colleagues, among others, were present.The swearing-in was the culmination of a series of political developments which started at around 1.45 am when two of the three MLAs of the BJP ally MGP, Minister for Tourism Manohar Ajgaonkar and Mr. Pauskar, announced a split in the MGP legislature party and merged their group in the saffron party. Hours after the two joined the BJP, Mr. Sawant had dropped Deputy Chief Minister and senior MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar from the Cabinet. The Congress and the BJP now have 14 MLAs each in the House, whose current strength is 36. Four seats in the 40-member Assembly are vacant.Shiroda bypollAt a press conference at the State Secretariat, the Chief Minister said Mr. Dhavalikar had been dropped because his party had breached the coalition government’s common minimum programme. Mr. Sawant also blamed Mr. Dhavalikar for putting the interests of his brother and MGP president, Dipak Dhavalikar, ahead of those of the coalition government.
Dev Kanta Barooah, the Congress president during the Emergency, had no qualms about saying that the party depended on Ali-Coolie-Bangali for votes.Ali stood for migrant Muslims, Coolie – a British pejorative – for tea plantation workers and Bangali for migrant Bengali Hindus. Together, they are more than 60% of Assam’s 21,760,604 voters.The Congress received its first jolt in 1985 when the Asom Gana Parishad, riding on sentiments generated by the Assam agitation, secured votes of the indigenous communities, while the migrant Hindus and Muslims chose the now-defunct United Minorities Front.Plantation workers, casually referred to as “tea tribes”, brought from central India’s Chhotanagpur Plateau remained loyal to the Congress until most of them shifted allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014. That year, the BJP bagged four of the five Lok Sabha seats – Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Tezpur and Kaliabor – where the votes of the tea plantation workers matter.Tea plantation workers constitute 35-45% of the voters in these five seats where elections would be held in the first phase on April 11.A majority of the 800 tea estates and 65,000 small tea gardens are in the districts covered by the Dibrugarh and Jorhat parliamentary seats.“The liquor tragedy a month ago, the failure of the BJP government in granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to plantation workers, and non-revision of wages of tea workers will bring them back to the Congress,” Rupesh Gowala, general secretary of the Congress-affiliated Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha, said.Illegal brewersBrothers Avinash, 10, Mahesh, 8, and Mangal Pujor, 5, lost their parents to toxic sulai (country spirit) that eventually claimed 159 lives at Halmira and Borhola tea estates in Golaghat and Jorhat districts on February 21. Currently lodged at a children’s home in Bokakhat near Kaziranga National Park, they want to go back home to the labour lines of Halmira.“Their orphanhood would not have been noticed had this tragedy not been on a large scale. Otherwise, liquor and various diseases have been killing labourers for ages,” said Bablu Bhumij, head of the labour section where 47 people died that day.“The Congress had tried to control drinking among tea workers but the pro-industrialists BJP relaxed norms for running liquor shops and became lenient toward illegal brewers. We intend to make Assam’s tea belts dry areas,” Pawan Singh Ghatowar, five-time MP from Dibrugarh, seeking to regain the seat from BJP’s Rameswar Teli, said.“The government was quick in taking action against illegal brewers. The Congress is making this an issue because they have nothing else to tell the people in the tea gardens since the people are happy with beneficiary schemes and cash incentives,” Mr. Teli, the BJP candidate, said.Both Mr. Ghatowar and Mr. Teli belong to the tea community.The top contenders for the Jorhat seat are State Minister Topon Kumar Gogoi of the BJP and Sushanta Borgohain of the Congress. The latter hopes to cash in on the perceived resentment among tea workers against the BJP for replacing incumbent Kamakhya Prasad Tassa, a tea community leader, with Mr Gogoi.Seeking ST statusOne of six communities seeking ST status, the “tea tribes” constitute about 20% of Assam’s 3.3 crore population. According to the Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association, the community comprises 112 ethnic groups.But the Assam government submitted ethnographic reports of only 36 groups to the Union Tribal Ministry for granting ST status. “Leaving out the 76 groups will be an injustice,” a spokesperson of the association said.But the All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam has justified the government’s move. “The others cannot be included in the ST list as they enjoy the Scheduled Castes and OBC status. But yes, the government has to fast-track the case of the 36 groups,” its leader Stephen Lakra said. “The BJP government has advanced the process of granting ST status that the Congress sat upon for years. We will definitely take it to a logical conclusion if voted to power again,” Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP’s campaign strategist, said.Low wagesThe Congress and other opposition parties feel that incentives in cash and kind provided by the Sarbananda Sonowal government might impact the tea workers.“We are happy with the Rs 5,000 put in our bank accounts some time ago, but we would be happier with a higher daily wage,” Rabul Turi, a labour leader across a chain of estates in Golaghat district said.The current daily wage of a plantation worker in Assam is Rs 167. The minimum daily wage for tea workers in Rs 310 in Kerala, Rs 263 in Karnataka, and Rs 241 in Tamil Nadu, labour union leaders said.The newly-floated Adivasi National Party Assam, supporting independent candidates in Dibrugarh and Jorhat constituencies, has demanded payment of Rs 350 as proposed by the State advisory board for tea workers.Planters, though, say wages are already on the higher side. “Cheaper teas produced by Sri Lanka and Kenya have eaten into our markets. We cannot sell below a certain price as we have to factor in high wages, which comes to more than Rs 350 if free or subsidised rations, firewood allowance, housing, medical, free electricity and other benefits are taken into account,” a planter, declining to be quoted, said.