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Mulayam reinstates Akhilesh Yadav: Amar Singh hails decision, says conspiracy to break party ‘failed’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh hailed SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s decision to revoke expulsion of his son Akhilesh Yadav and brother Ramgopal as the right thing and said the conspiracy to break the party and the family has “failed”.”Mulayam Singhji has done the right thing. He has given a message through his decision that he will not let either the Samajwadi Party or his family break till he is alive. The conspiracy of the people who wanted the party and the family to break has failed,” he said.Singh also clarified that he does not want to break the party.Congratulating Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and SP General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav, he said, “Those who had this misconception that I will try to break the party, I would like to tell them that I am not here to break the party. instead I want to keep it united.””If somebody is still hurt due to me, I want to tell that I am ready to sacrifice myself to ensure unity in SP pariwar and the workers,” he said.”We have to fight the communal forces and ensure that secular front is victorious in the upcoming elections,” Singh added.Earlier in the day, when Amar Singh was asked about the crisis in the party after supremo Mulayam Singh expelled Akhilesh and Ramgopal for six years after they put up candidates against the official nominees and summoned a party meet on Sunday.Amar had said, “The foundation of this party was laid by Mulayam Singh with much dedication and hard work. I have said this earlier and will say it now, that Mulayam Singh is the chief of SP and the father of Akhilesh Yadav as well,” he said.Mulayam had yesterday said he had taken the action against Akhilesh and Ramgopal to save the party which he had built through hard efforts.”We have to save the party. The party comes first. That is why we are expelling both Akhilesh and Ramgopal,” he had said.He explained that the decision was taken after Ramgopal, in his capacity as general secretary, called an emergency meeting of the party on January 1 and Akhilesh “supported” it.Ramgopal called the meeting after a showcause notice was issued to him and Akhilesh by Mulayam for releasing a list of candidates, parallel to the one issued officially by Mulayam.

Last minute patch-up in feud-ridden SP; Akhilesh Yadav, Ram Gopal back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a massive show of strength by Akhilesh Yadav, who was expelled from SP by father Mulayam Singh Yadav, the party supremo on Saturday backed down revoking with immediate effect the expulsion orders of his son and brother Ram Gopal.After hectic confabulations involving Akhilesh Yadav’s warring uncle Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam and the Chief Minister, Shivpal tweeted that on the SP supremo’s directive, expulsion of Akhilesh and Ram Gopal Yadav from SP was being revoked with immediate effect. “I am coming after having met party chief Mulayam Singh along with CM Akhilesh Yadav. Netaji has given the order that the suspension orders of Akhilesh and Ram Gopal are terminated with immediate effect,” Shivpal said. “All of us together will fight communal forces and we will once again form a SP government in UP with full majority. These are my orders. We will hold discussions within ourselves and decide, and prepare for the upcoming elections,” he said. “All matters have been solved and we will fight the upcoming polls together. We will all sit togther with Netaji and I am sure all problems will be resolved,” he said. On a day of fast-paced developments, Akhilesh earlier in the day convened a meeting of SP legislators where over 200 of the 229 party MLAs turned up expressing their loyalty with the chief minister, a day after he was expelled from the party for indulging in “indiscipline”, pushing the ruling party to the precipice of a vertical split.Some SP MLCs and senior party functionaries loyal to Akhilesh also attended the meeting at the chief minister’s official residence at 5-Kalidas Marg.Senior SP leader and UP cabinet minister Azam Khan then arrived at the CM’s residence and after a brief stay, they drove to Mulayam’s bungalow at a stone’s throw distance.

Game UP: Samajwadi Party faces split as Mulayam expels Akhilesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav dropped a bombshell, expelling his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday evening, all eyes are now on the party’s one-day national convention on Sunday.Mulayam also expelled his cousin and party general secretary Ramgopal Yadav for calling the emergency session of delegates, and accused him of “spoiling the career of the chief minister.” The SP chief said both Akhilesh and Ramgopal have been sacked for weakening the party and stated that his son didn’t even consulted him on state matters.In a fight to the finish, Mulayam and his brother Shivpal Yadav have summoned a meeting of party MLAs on Saturday and those named as candidates. Both factions of the Yadav family are vying to entice as many MLAs as they can to strengthen the party. “This expulsion is unconstitutional,” said Ramgopal, alleging that of late, the SP has made a practice of ignoring its playbook. “Half an hour after we were given notice, we were expelled. Even a criminal is given a chance to explain,” said a disgruntled Ramgopal.Party sources from Lucknow told DNA that the convention will appeal to Mulayam to continue to lead the party, but relook the list of candidates he had announced unilaterally on Wednesday and also revoke the decision to expel the Chief Minister. The list, announced by Mulayam, has several candidates backed by Shivpal whose candidacy had been fiercely opposed by Akhilesh. This included gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed, who faces 44 serious criminal charges — including murder.Defying the party and his father, Akhilesh released his own rebel list on Thursday of 235 candidates. One of them included Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Formerly with the Congress before she switched to the BJP, Joshi is the MLA from Lucknow Cantt constituency.The party’s senior leader Madhukar Jaitley described the situation as “unfortunate”. He said a situation was unprecedented where a father, also the founder of the party, was compelled to expel his son. SP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said there was still room for reconciliation, but expressed concern at the move coming at a time when the state was on the verge of elections.Saturday will be a crucial day for the Mulayam and Shivpal camps, party sources said. The majority of MLAs have so far reposed their faith in the Chief Minister.On October 28, Akhilesh had mustered the support of 190 MLAs out of SP’s 229 against his uncle Shivpal. Besides legislators, the majority of party leaders as well owe allegiance to the Chief Minister, as they see him as the future of the party. Immediately after the decision, reports from Lucknow said workers thronged Akhilesh’s official residence, shouting slogans against Shivpal. Over 100 MLAs reached Akhilesh’s house to express support. There were also shouts of self-immolation as the crowds turned emotional.With elections now so close, there is hardly any possibility of the party replacing the Chief Minister now. In case of a majority of MLAs expressing a no-confidence motion, Akhilesh may be allowed to continue as caretaker. Otherwise, the state will move towards the imposition of President’s rule. Sources in Raj Bhawan said Governor Ram Naik is keeping a close eye on the developments, but, so far, no communication has been made to him from either the Mulayam or Akhilesh camp.Denying speculations that Akhilesh will resign, his loyalist Gomti Yadav said the CM will stay on till his last day in power.Already other parties are moving in to align forces. West Bengal CM and Trinamul Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee called up Akhilesh and offered support, saying “you are like my brother.” Congress leader Jayanta Prasad is already mediating between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh for a possible electoral tie-up.While UP’s ruling party has been headed for a split for some time now, the break point came after Ramgopal called an emergency convention of the party in defiance of the party chief. This came after Mulayam issued a show-cause notice to his son, asking him why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for releasing a parallel list of candidates, which include several party leaders close to him and who did not make it to the official list released by his father a day before. Akhilesh’s list include 187 candidates who have also featured in his father’s list.The Chief Minister’s defiant move was seen as a last-ditch effort to pressure his father into reconsidering the candidacy of his key aides after they failed to reach common ground at a meeting in Lucknow. In recent months, Akhilesh has engaged in a bitter power tussle with Shivpal, who is the party’s UP chief. Notably, Shivpal was present next to Mulayam, when he announced the expulsion of Akhilesh.The SP’s internal battle gives an added advantage to the BJP and Mayawati’s BSP in the mega battle being touted as the semi-final before the general elections in 2019. Elections to UP’s 403 assembly seats are expected to be announced by the Election Commission any day now.The battle, which had been festering for over a year, had been triggered by Shivpal to control the party. This was resisted by Akhilesh, mentored by Ramgopal, his father’s cousin. Akhilesh has contended with a constant undermining of his decisions by Mulayam, under the alleged influence of Shivpal. Among the initiatives which his father thwarted include the lobbying for an alliance with the Congress for state elections, and a request to shun politicians with criminal backgrounds as candidates.Battle between the bahusIt is not just the father and son who are locked in a political battle. It is also a battle between the daughters-in-law. Aparna, wife of Mulayam’s second son Prateek, has stood by uncle Shivpal against Akhilesh’s wife Dimple, who is also an MP. Aparna had recently been handed a ticket from Lucknow Cantt. With the situation getting uglier between the father and the son, theories about the rift continue to emerge. Akhilesh’s supporters allege that Sadhna Gupta, the party chief’s second wife, and the Chief Minister’s stepmother, has instigated him against his eldest son. Now, with his expulsion, Akhilesh, Aparna and Sadhna are vying to become the youth face of the SP. Who will win the political games now remains to be seen.UP Caste Composition in 2016OBC 44%Dalits (Scs) 21.1%Tribals (Sts) 0.8%Forward Caste 16%Muslims 19.3%Christians 0.18%Out of OBCsYadavs -9%Lodhi -7%Jats -1.7%KUSHWAHA (MAURYA, SHAKYA, KOERI, KACHHI, SAINI) 4%Kurmi – 3%Other OBCs (including Sunars, few Muslim OBCs) -20%Jatavs Dalits -9%Non-Jatav Dalits (includes Pasis, Mallah and Valmikis) -11%

Yadav vs Yadav: Akhilesh puts ‘final’ stamp on his list, asks candidates to prepare for upcoming polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday confirmed the list announced by him as the final one.Akhilesh asked the candidates to go to their constituencies, prepare for the upcoming elections and mark their victory.The decision was announced at the Samajwadi Party core group meet held at Akhilesh’s residence earlier on Friday.On Thursday, Akhilesh released a list of 235 candidates out of a total of 403 seats for the upcoming state assembly elections, a day after his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had released the official list, hinting at a deepening crisis within the party.Intense political activities continued at the Samajwadi Party headquarters and at the official residence of the chief minister yesterday.Akhilesh met Mulayam Singh, but as per sources, the party chief refused to make changes in the list of 325 candidates issued by him on Wednesday.According to reports, Akhilesh has removed the name of his sister-in-law Aparna Yadav from the list of candidates that will contest next year?s state assembly polls.She was earlier given a ticket by Mulayam Singh Yadav to contest from the Lucknow Cantt seat.

UP Elections 2017: SP headed for virtual split, Akhilesh Yadav releases own list of candidates for 235 seats

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The feud in Uttar Pradesh’s first family appeared to be worsening, with an unhappy Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday meeting legislators who have not found place in the list of 325 declared candidates and then conveying his objections to his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav who had announced the nominees yesterday. After the meeting, SP MLA Indal Singh said that UP CM is likely to come up with his own list of candidates for the upcoming UP elections.According to ANI, Akhilesh Yadav has released his own list of candidates for 235 constituencies. Of them, 171 are seating MLAs and there are 64 new faces. Hectic political activities began in the morning with party leaders gathering outside the residences of Akhilesh and Mulayam. A big crowd assembled outside Shivpal’s residence also. Akhilesh, clearly upset over being apparently kept out of the process to select candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls, met at his 5-Kalidas Marg residence here his supporters, including legislators and office bearers who do not figure in the list, party sources said. Later, he spoke to Mulayam to convey his displeasure over the list of candidates from which names of his close confidants are missing, the sources said.Mulayam, along with his brother and state party chief Shivpal Yadav, yesterday declared candidates for 325 of the 403 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and ruled out projecting Akhilesh as the Chief Ministerial candidate.Akhilesh was away on Bundelkhand tour when the list was released at a hurriedly-convened press conference. The Chief Minister and Shivpal have been involved in a power struggle for several months now. The list, which includes 176 sitting MLAs, announced by Mulayam and Shivpal in the absence of Akhilesh, has left out several pro-Akhilesh ministers, including Ram Govind Chaudhary, Pawan Pandey and Arvind Singh Gope, and does not carry names of over 50 sitting MLAs.Besides, 10 ministers, including Shivpal, sacked by the chief minister over the past few months have got tickets. These former ministers were in open defiance of Akhilesh and it paid off. Within hours after release of the list, which clearly bore the stamp of Mulayam and Shivpal, Akhilesh had said he would take up the choice of candidates with the party chief.”The list does not include names of certain candidates who are sure to win. I will take it up with the SP chief and tell him that some of them have done really good work and they should be given tickets,” an upset Akhilesh had said last night. In a late night tit-for-tat action, the Chief Minister struck back sacking two Shivpal loyalists — Surabhi Shukla, vice-chairperson of UP Awas Vikas Parishad and her husband Sandeep Shukla from the post of advisor of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam. Sandeep has been fielded from Sultanpur Sadar seat.With agency inputs

From crimes against women to juvenile offenders, Indian courts acted tough in 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A debatable amendment in juvenile law paved the way for prosecution of children between 16-18 years as adults for heinous offences with a 17-year-old rape accused becoming the first such offender to be tried in 2016 by one of the city trial courts, which acted tough in dealing with crime against women.From renowned climate scientist R K Pachauri to Peepli Live director Mahmood Farooqui to sacked AAP minister Sandeep Kumar, several well-known faces came under the lens for crime against women, as courts dealt with several cases of betrayal of relationships.”These are the times when gruesome crimes against women have become rampant and courts cannot turn a blind eye to the need to send a strong deterrent message to the perpetrators of such crimes. Such offences require exemplary punishment,” Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain remarked in his verdict in one of the cases.While the maximum punishment of death for two was pronounced in the Jigisha Ghosh murder case of 2009, the progress of a case which was keenly watched globally was the 2014 case of gangrape of a Danish national in which five vagabonds were sentenced to life.Several offences against women and children by their trusted friends or family members and persons in authority also shocked the conscience of the nation, with courts acting tough on the accused and saying perpetrators of such crimes do not deserve any sympathy.Courts “cannot and should not give a licence to those who keep on looking for opportunities to exploit the sentiments and vulnerability of girls”, Additional Sessions Judge Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj said in another order. A widely-reported case was the award of seven-year jail term to Farooqui for raping an American friend at his residence.Pachauri, the ex-TERI boss, was under constant media glare in a case of sexual harassment lodged by his former colleague and continued to remain on bail. However, he was allowed to go abroad several times by various courts.While some activists criticised the latest amendment in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 for treating offenders aged between 16-18 years as adults for heinous offences like rape and murder, a juvenile board this August transferred a rape case against a 17-year-old for prosecution by a regular court under the penal law.Among other such cases, two men were sentenced to life term and 10 years, one for raping a step-daughter and the other for violating his daughter and making her pregnant, with judges observing that the “sacrosanct relationship” of father and daughter was “demolished” and the children could not be given a safe environment.While a teacher was sent to jail for six months for sexually harassing a girl student in 2013, one of the Delhi courts sent JNU student, Anmol Ratan, to custody for betraying the trust of a fellow student who was allegedly raped by him after spiking her drink.Several Delhi courts dealt with over half-a-dozen cases of crime against women involving AAP leaders and MLAs including that of sacked minister Sandeep Kumar who spent two months in jail in a rape case after a CD of an alleged sex scandal surfaced. AAP members also faced prosecution in cases of crime against women ranging from sexual assault, molestation, attempt to murder, domestic violence, threat and abetment to suicide with controversial Okhla, Narela, Sangam Vihar and Deoli MLAs, Amanatullah Khan, Sharad Chauhan, Dinesh Mohaniya and Prakash Jarwal, respectively cooling their heels in Tihar jail for sometime in connection with one or the other offences against women.Former AAP minister Somnath Bharti’s encounter with law was far from over as the case lodged by his estranged wife for alleged domestic violence continued in a trial court. Another AAP worker Ramesh Bhardwaj, allegedly involved in abetting suicide of a woman party worker, was given bail by a court here after he remained in jail for some days.Cases of stalking and voyeurism affecting privacy of women were also dealt with sternly as the perpetrators got varying jail terms by courts which stressed the need for “zero tolerance” to crime against women and asked the government to formulate policies to sensitise youth towards gender equality.”Whether it is a public transport system or public place or shopping malls or multiplexes, women find themselves vulnerable to the threat of stalking everywhere,” a court observed.Even women, who lodged false rape cases, were not spared by the courts which pulled them up and directed initiation of perjury proceedings against them for misusing laws meant to protect them, with a court observing in one such case that a woman had humiliated the accused and “made a mockery of the judicial system”.A court here also felt it was time now to have laws to protect and restore the dignity of men charged with false rape cases “as everyone is just fighting to protect the honour of women”, and it has to be examined whether a person acquitted of rape charges be considered as a “rape survivor”.So was the position in a domestic violence case in which the court imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on a woman for lodging a false case against her second husband and condemned it saying if she was spared, “a wrong message would go that laws to protect women are being misused.”To sum up the courts’ role in dealing with crimes against women, another judge observed “the increasing trend of crimes against women can be arrested only once the society realises that any form of deviance against women would not be tolerated and more so in extreme cases of brutality”. “Hence the criminal justice system must instill confidence in the minds of people, especially women.”

Sheena Bora murder case: Indrani Mukerjea performs post-death rituals for father

Mumbai: Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, on Tuesday performed the post-death rituals for her father at Brahman Seva Samiti hall here and returned to the Byculla Women’s prison in the evening.

The special CBI court in Mumbai had last week granted her permission to perform the rituals anywhere in Mumbai. The court, however, had rejected her plea for interim bail to visit her hometown, Guwahati, for the purpose, following her father Upendra Bora’s death on 15 December.

Indrani Mukherjee arrives to attend the post-death rituals of her father in Mulund, Mumbai on Tuesday. A special CBI court had last week granted Indrani the permission to attend the rituals anywhere in Mumbai . PTIIndrani Mukherjee arrives to attend the post-death rituals of her father in Mulund, Mumbai on Tuesday. A special CBI court had last week granted Indrani the permission to attend the rituals anywhere in Mumbai . PTI

Indrani Mukherjee arrives to attend the post-death rituals of her father in Mulund, Mumbai on Tuesday. A special CBI court had last week granted Indrani the permission to attend the rituals anywhere in Mumbai . PTI

Indrani left jail at around 7.30 am today with a police escort for Brahman Seva Samiti hall in Mulund. After
performing rituals there till 4.30 pm, she visited a nearby temple for prayers for an hour, a police officer said.

Judge HS Mahajan had said in his order that she shall not speak to media during the time she was out of the prison.

She shall be brought back to jail by 7 pm, the judge had said.

CBI had opposed Indrani’s request for interim bail to visit Assam. It had produced an e-mail sent by her son
Mikhail, which said he did not want her to visit Guwahati.

Indrani’s intention was to influence prosecution witnesses and there was also a possibility that she would try
to escape, CBI said.

Indrani, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and her former driver Shyam Rai are accused of killing Sheena, her daughter from an earlier relationship, in April 2012. Her husband and former media baron Peter Mukerjea too has been arrested in the case for being party to the conspiracy.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 22:19 IST

India says it is in touch with Yemen, Saudi Arabia authorities for Father Tom’s release

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Monday said it was in regular touch with Yemeni authorities and Saudi Arabia regarding the safe release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was abducted nearly nine months ago from war-torn Yemen, after a video of the priest pleading for help became viral.”You are aware of the circumstances currently prevailing in Yemen where fighting is going on with no central authority in that country.”With regard to the safe release of Father Tom who was abducted some months ago, we have been in regular touch with countries in the region, especially Saudi Arabia as also the local Yemeni authorities. Efforts continue in this regard,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.In the video, also uploaded on Facebook, Tom was seen as pleading for help from Indian government and fellow Christians including Pope Francis. However, the veracity of the video could not be ascertained.He also said “several months have gone by and my captors have made many contacts with the government of India to get me released. Honourable President and Prime Minister of India, I am very sad nothing has been done seriously in my regard. Reports have been in news that everything is being done to get me released quickly but in reality nothing seems to have happened.”He further said had he been “a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously by authorities and people and (they) would have got me released. I am from India and therefore, I perhaps am not considered as of much value”.Uzhunnalil was abducted from the port city of Aden on March 4 by militant group ISIS.

Yadav vs Yadav: Fresh power play by Akhilesh, Shivpal over ticket distribution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The contentious issue of ticket distribution today again exposed the rift in Samajwadi Party with state party chief Shivpal Yadav attacking Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav over his reported parallel list of candidates.The choice of candidates for 175 seats by Shivpal has apparently not gone down well with his defiant nephew Akhilesh who, according to party insiders, is understood to have prepared his own list of preferred candidates for all the 403 UP Assembly seats and sent it to his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.This is Akhilesh’s second power play in the last three days. On December 24, Akhilesh had met first-time MLAs at his residence and promised to give them party tickets.Chinks in the ruling party’s armour once again came to the fore when Shivpal sent out a series of tweets virtually suggesting that he was the boss when it came to distributing tickets for the assembly elections due in few months.Shivpal said the name of 175 candidates were already finalised and warned that any indiscipline would not be tolerated as it may harm the party’s image. He asserted that distribution of party tickets was done on on the basis of winnability.”Tickets will be distributed based on wins. So far 175 people have been given tickets. The Chief Minister will be selected by the legislature party which is according to the party’s constitution. No indiscipline will be tolerated in the party,” he tweeted in Hindi.While party sources maintained that Mulayam will take the final call on candidates, UP minister Juhi Singh sought to downplay any controversy over ticket distribution saying it was a non-issue.During their recent public turf war after Akhilesh was replaced with Shivpal as party chief by Mulayam, the former had insisted that he should have a say in the ticket distribution as the election was a test of his government’s performance.The latest development comes after Mulayam had brokered a fragile peace between Shivpal and Akhilesh as the infighting threatened to damage SP’s poll prospects.As differences over ticket distribution cropped up, opposition parties took a swipe at the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh.”This is a sign that the party (SP) is in total disarray and they talk about giving a fight to the BJP,” UP BJP General Secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.The tussle in Samajwadi Party will prove to be its nemesis in the coming polls, Pathak said.Congress termed the development as SP’s “internal matter”.

Kashmir’s Christian community keeps X’mas a low-key affair

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Standing in solidarity with the victims of unrest, Kashmir’s Christian community on Sunday won the hearts of the majority Muslim community by keeping Christmas celebrations a low-key affair Unlike past, the churches were not decorated and Carol singing was missing too. Churches had deliberately done away with the decorative exterior lighting.Even the customary Santa Claus was missing in the churches as a mark of respect for the people who suffered during the five months of unrest in Kashmir. “So many people have suffered. So many people have died. Kashmiris did not celebrate Eid this year. So therefore we decided to celebrate Christmas with simplicity,” Shami Joseph, an official at the Holy Family Catholic Church, told DNA.More than 90 people have been killed and over 13,000 people injured in the unrest which began after the killing of Hizbul Mujhadeen poster boy Burhan Wani on July 8.Over 1,100 people mostly teenagers have suffered injuries in their eyes when security forces fired pellets to quell the violent mobs across Kashmir. Over 5000 persons have been arrested of whom 500 detained under Public Safety Act, under which a person can be jailed without trial and bail up to two years.“So many of our brothers and sisters suffered due to the unrest. We focused on the spiritual aspect of the celebration rather than the external aspects,” said Father Roy Mathews of Holy Family Catholic Church.

Mumbai: 3.5 year-old girl abducted, killed by minor boys for ransom; body cut into pieces

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, a three-and-half-year-old girl was allegedly abducted and murdered by two minor boys for a ransom of Rs 1 crore in South Mumbai here, police said.The incident came to the fore last midnight after the girl’s body, which was cut into pieces, was recovered from Kazipura, Haji Kasam Chawl in Nagpada area.The two accused were also placed under arrest in the wee hours, they said.According to police, the victim had gone missing since December 5 and a case was registered by her parents in this regard with the JJ Marg police station.Victim’s parents had received a call from unidentified persons, demanding Rs 1 crore as ransom. Unable to shell out such a huge amount, the father agreed to pay Rs 28 lakh to the alleged kidnappers, DCP (Zone 1), Manojkumar Sharma said.The abductors had later asked the girl’s father to come with ransom sum at Kalwa in neighbouring Thane.During the course of investigation, a 16-year-old boy, who lived in the neighbourhood of the girl and had passed on the information of kidnapping to the parents, was detained and quizzed by the police.Further interrogation revealed that the boy and his accomplice, also aged 16, had abducted the girl on December 5 and later strangulated her with a cell phone charger wire on the very same day, the official said.Both the accused were arrested in the wee hours and further investigations were on, Sharma said, adding that the body has been sent for postmortem.

Congo talks near deal for Kabila to step down in 2017 | Reuters

By Aaron Ross

KINSHASA Political rivals in Democratic Republic of Congo neared a deal on Saturday for President Joseph Kabila to leave power in 2017 after dozens of people were killed during protests this week at the end of his mandate.Under the agreement, elections would be held next year and Kabila, who took power in Africa’s fourth most populous country after his father was assassinated in 2001, would agree not to change the constitution to run for a third term. Roman Catholic bishops who have mediated during weeks of talks were upbeat about reaching a deal in time for a planned signing ceremony on Friday, but Congo’s main opposition bloc warned that several “significant” differences remained.”We have finished practically 95 percent of the work,” Catholic Bishops Conference president Marcel Utembi told reporters. “There remains a short way to go.”Divisions persisted over whether the prime minister will come from the main opposition bloc and on the composition of the electoral commission, which the opposition accuses of pro-government bias.

“If the divergences are not bridged, it will be difficult to sign this accord,” opposition leader Jean Marc Kabund told reporters. Kabila, whose representatives participated in the talks, did not comment.At least 40 people were killed this week in a crackdown by security forces against demonstrators who blew whistles and banged pots and pans in protests demanding Kabila leave office, according to the United Nations.

Kabila’s critics accuse him of deliberately postponing the presidential election that was due last month in order to cling to power beyond the end of his constitutional mandate.The government say the delay was due to difficulties registering millions of voters and the constitutional court ruled in May that Kabila could stay in office until his successor is elected.Mineral-rich Congo has not had a peaceful power transition since independence in 1960, and Church negotiators have billed the talks as an attempt to stop the country sliding back into war.

Millions of people died in regional conflicts between 1996 and 2003 and Pope Francis has called for a peaceful solution to the current standoff.The last day of the talks between the ruling coalition and opposition parties began at 11 a.m. local time (1000 GMT) after negotiations went through the night. Remaining issues are to be resolved in small groups with the support of the church’s secretariate while the bishops return to their dioceses for Christmas, Utembi said. (Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Sam Holmes and Helen Popper)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 19:22 IST

Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh to contest 40 seats in Punjab polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM), led by Prakash Ambedkar, which has only one legislator in Maharashtra, has decided to contest 40 seats in the upcoming Punjab assembly polls.The party has no presence outside Akola and Washim district in Vidarbha region of the state.Prakash Ambedkar is the grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, father of the Indian constitution.”In Punjab, Dalit community is prevalent in almost each assembly constituency and are 32% of the total population. To rope in these voters, BBM has decided to contest 40 seats out of total 117 seats,” Ambedkar said.”The Republican Party of India (RPI) has no presence in Punjab. Earlier, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party had a hold in a few pockets, but has lost supporters in the last few years. Which is why I think that BBM has strong chances of opening its account in the state,” he added.A team of 40 retired bureaucrats from the Punjab cadre will do the leg work for Ambedkar in Punjab.”Today, I held a meeting of these retired IAS officers who had expressed their desire to join politics directly or indirectly. They will handle rallies and campaign in the state in our support,” Ambedkar, who is on a tour of Punjab from the last Wednesday said and added that the process to select candidates will begin very soon.BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal alliance is currently in power in Punjab.A party leader said that Aam Aadami Party has expressed its desire to tie up with the BBM for the assembly polls. However Ambedkar said he has not received any official communication from AAP as yet. BBM’s lone legislator Baliram Siraskar won the 2014 Maharashtra assembly polls from Akola constituency.The party has a complete hold over Akola Zilla Parishad, and 5 Panchayat Samitis from the same district. Party’s Nafisa Shaikh won president’s post of Buldhana Municipal Council in recently concluded civic polls.Punjab government’s Assembly tenure will end in March 2017.

Sanskari passport: Now sadhus can mention names of spiritual gurus instead of biological parents

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sadhus and sanyasis can now mention names of their spiritual gurus instead of biological parents under new passport rules announced which also eliminate the mandatory requirement of the birth certificate as the proof of date of birth (DOB).The rules, which were announced by Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh, also provides a provision for government servants, who are not able to get “no objection certificate” from their respective ministries/departments.In order to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of issue of passport, the ministry has taken a number of steps in the realm of passport policy which is expected to benefit the citizens of India applying for a passport, Singh noted.In case of proof of DOB while filing application, it has now been decided that all applicants of passports can submit any one of the documents –transfer/School leaving/ Matriculation Certificate, PAN card, Aadhaar Card/E-Aadhaar having the DOB of applicant, copy of the extract of the service record of the applicant, driving licence, Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or LIC policy bond.Birth Certificate issued by the Registrar of Births & Deaths or the Municipal Corporation or any other prescribed authority whosoever has been empowered under the Registration of Birth & Deaths Act, 1969 to register the birth of a child born in India can also be given as DOB proof.As per the extant statutory provisions of the Passport Rules, 1980, all the applicants born on or after January 26, 1989, had to mandatory submit the birth certificate as the DOB proof to get a passport.The government has also accepted the demand by the sadhus/sanyasis that they should be allowed to write names of their gurus instead of names of their parents, Singh said, adding but they have to provide at least one public document such as EPIC, PAN card, Adhaar Card, etc wherein the name of the guru has been recorded against the column(s) for parent(s) name(s).In case of government servants, who are not able to obtain the Identity Certificate/ No-Objection Certificate from their employer concerned and intend to get the passport on urgent basis can now get the passport by submitting a self- declaration that he/she has given prior Intimation letter to his/her employer informing that he/she was applying for an ordinary passport.A report of a inter-ministerial committee with members from MEA and Women and Child Development ministry to examine issues pertaining to applications where mother/child has insisted that the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to children with single parent and to adopted children has also been accepted.Based on the report, policy changes have been made which include no mandatory requirement of a marriage certificate for married applicants as also provide name of the only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children and to also issue passports where the name of either the father or the mother is not required to be printed at the request of the applicant. Under the new rules, total number of Annexes prescribed in the Passport Rule, 1980, has been brought down to 9 from the present 15 and all the annexes that are required to be given by the applicants would be self-declaration on plain paper. “No attestation/swearing by/before any Notary/Executive Magistrate/First Class Judicial Magistrate would be henceforth necessary,” as per the new rules, which also do not require the applicant to provide the name of her/his spouse in case of separated or divorced persons. Such applicants would not be required to provide even the Divorce Decree. Orphaned children who do not have any proof of DOB such as Birth Certificate or the Matriculation Certificate or the declaratory court order, may now submit a declaration given by the Head of the Orphanage/Child Care Home on official letter head of the organisation confirming the DOB of the applicant.For children not born out of wedlock, the applicant should submit only self-declaration form while submitting the application and in case of issue of passport to in-country domestically-adopted children, submission of the registered adoption deed would no longer be required. Asked about the rules applicable to get a passport for a child born through surrogacy, Chief Passport Officer Arun K Chatterjee said there was a specific list of documents required as per the Indian Council For Medical Research regulations.Since the bill dealing with surrogacy is still pending before the Lok Sabha, changes can only be carried out after it is passed, he added.Singh also said the necessary notifications would soon be published in the Official Gazette to give effect to these changes. Instructions are also being issued to the Passport Issuing Authorities in India and abroad on these revised regulations.”MEA expects that the changes in the Passport Rules would further ease the process for passport applicants in getting their Passport.”At the same time, it would enable this Ministry to continue to deliver passport related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce,” Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.Singh also said the ministry was examining a pilot project under which the head post offices could be used to provide passport services. On when will the passport services like ‘Tatkal’ can become cashless, Chatterjee said they have done a tie-up with SBI and were getting machines to make the service totally cashless and expressed hope it will start functioning in next fortnight or so. He also mentioned that currently there were 89 passport seva kendras apart from 38 passport offices and seven passport centres in the country. Responding to a separate query on demonetization and the update on the recomendations of the inter-ministerial task force, Swarup said it was still under the preview of the Department of Economic Affairs.”We continue to pursue with them and we hope that very soon we will have some recommendations…Government will take a considered view in the matter,” he added.

Norway child ‘abuse’: India to provide help on boy’s mother’s request, says Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday said India will provide help on the request of the mother of the boy, who has been taken away by the Norway authorities even as Norwegian embassy here asked for “restraint” in the case, assuring that it is being handled with “complete sensitivity and awareness”.Swaraj’s reaction came a day after she had asked the Indian Ambassador in Oslo to send a report on the allegations made by the couple that the Norwegian authorities took away their five-year-old child on frivolous complaint of abuse.While father and son are Norwegian nationals, the mother is an Indian citizen.
ALSO READ Sushma Swaraj seeks report on 5-year-old child taken from Indian couple in Norway”I have received the report. Father and son are Norwegian nationals. We will represent on request of the mother, who is an Indian national,” Swaraj tweeted.Reacting to the case, the Spokesperson in Norwegian Embassy said the mission is aware and understands “the concerns on the ongoing child welfare case involving an Norwegian/Indian family in Norway”.”The Embassy would like to reiterate that child welfare cases are handled in accordance to the Norwegian Child Welfare Act, which includes directions from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”The Act applies to all children in Norway, regardless of their background, residential status or citizenship. The basic principle of the Act is that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”Since child welfare cases are highly sensitive, the cases are therefore subject to a strict duty of confidentiality. The Embassy, therefore, requests restraint and assures that the Norwegian authorities are dealing with the case with complete sensitivity and awareness. When available and permissible, updates on the case will be provided to the media and the general public.” This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

NRI couple in Norway lose custody of child, seeks Sushma Swaraj’s help: All you need to know

A five-and-a-half-year-old boy was taken away from his NRI parents by Norwegian authorities on Wednesday, reports said. The officials accused the parents of beating the child. This is the third such incident in the past five years where a child was taken away by the Child Welfare Department of Norway. Speaking to The Indian Express, the father of the boy, Anil Kumar said that the authorities did not even give them prior information. The child, Aryan, was taken into custody on 13 December from his kindergarten school at 9.30 am. “They did not give us prior information. At 10 am, the same day, four policemen came to my house, took my wife into custody, and interrogated her from 11.15 am to 2.45 pm,” said Kumar

Kumar, who is a citizen of Norway, moved to Oslo 26 years ago from Punjab and is a owner of an Indian restaurant. Speaking to CNN-News18, Aryan’s father said that the authorities had absolutely no evidence against them and that the authorities did not have summons to take Aryan.

“Aryan cannot sleep. He cries all the time and he misses us. Aryan’s mother (Gurvinderjit Kaur) hasn’t stopped crying. We have never hit him, there is no evidence against us,” Kumar told the channel.

Kumar, who also is the vice-president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP in Oslo, said that Aryan was sent to a children’s welfare home in Hamar, about 150 kilometres away from Oslo. Kumar is a Norwegian citizen and his wife holds an Indian passport. They have appealed to the Indian government for help alleging that their son was taken away without any evidence and is suffering at a children’s home under the custody of child welfare department. External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj, on Thursday stepped in to help family.

Sushma sought a report from Indian Ambassador in Norway on the allegations made by the Indian couple that the Norwegian authorities had taken away their five-year-old child on frivolous complaint of abuse. BJP leader Vijay Jolly had written to her and the Indian Ambassador in Norway after the couple sought his help in getting back the custody of their child. The parents also alleged that the authorities asked leading questions to the child. “How will a small kid know? The questions were leading. We have never hit our child,” Kumar told News18.

Meanwhile, MEA officials said, “Our Embassy officials in Oslo have spoken to the boy’s father Anil Kumar Sharma and extended full support. However, Sharma informed the mission that he has hired a lawyer to represent him in the case.” When contacted, Norwegian Embassy spokesperson said, “The Embassy became aware of this case yesterday evening. We have asked relevant authorities in Norway to provide us with further information, and are awaiting their response.”

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“We met the child welfare officials twice, on 14 and 16 December, and they haven’t been able to produce any evidence. They said they received a complaint from a person. We are not sure who registered this baseless complaint against us… By doing this, he or she has ruined our family life,” Kumar was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

In his letter to Indian Ambassador Debraj Pradhan, Jolly had raised concern on “forcible custody” of the boy Aryan by Child Welfare Department of Norway on “baseless and fabricated complaint” in Oslo on 13 December. Jolly said he has received a call from a senior MEA official saying that help will be given to the Indian couple.

The Indian embassy in Norway confirmed to News18 that Indian ambassador Debraj Pradhan has already spoken to the child’s father. Quoting sources, the channel reported that Kumar has hired a lawyer to defend his family in court and “the ambassador will be meeting him again.”

Norway’s child welfare department was tight-lipped on the exact facts of the case. News18 reported:

“When the channel (CNN-News18) emailed them to ascertain the status of the case and the charges against the parents they responded saying, “The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion is responsible for the general child welfare policy. However, the government does not have the authority to comment on or intervene in individual cases.”

It is still not clear when the child would be returned to his parents. Government sources have indicated that the legal processes may take time.

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse. In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents. In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children aged seven and two years old. Later, they were were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

What does the Child Protection Laws in Norway specify?

The Norway child act places great importance on family ties and child’s upbringing in a healthy atmosphere with their parents. According to the  Norwegian Child Welfare Act is applicable to all children and their parents living in Norway, regardless of their residential status, religion and nationality. The general child welfare policy is mainly comes under the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion in Norway. The child welfare cases are handled by the local child welfare services and their job is to conduct family investigations in case of child abuse.

The Child Welfare Service in Nowray is also known as Barnevernet. Barnevernet is an independent body and no ministers can instruct the board in decisions related to the welfare of child. Reports cite many cases where the Barnevernet has been criticised by social workers and child psychologists who argued that they need to reform their methods. Every year nearly 53,000 such cases were handled by the child welfare service in Norway.

How common is the practice of separating children?

The Indian Express reported that over 80 percent of cases where the Child Welfare Services concludes that some kind of intervention is needed, they offer various kinds of assistance to the parents. In 2014, at least 43,000 families got assistance and were let of, while 9,611 children were removed — temporarily or permanently — from the custody of the parents.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 15:02 IST

UP: 7-year-old raped in Lucknow, hospitalised in serious condition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, a 7-year-old girl was allegedly raped in Lucknow’s Ashiyana Police Station area. She has been hospitalised in a serious condition.As per TOI, the girl resides in Kila Mohamadi village of Aashiana. Her father works as a class III employee with Railways in Lucknow.The victim had gone to buy toffee at 3.30 pm but did not return. Her parents began to look for her but after failing to find her they lodged a missing report at the Aashiana police station.When the search was going on, some locals found bleeding in a grove near a Gurudwara in Ashiana. She was taken to Lok Bandhu Hospital by the police and later to the King George’s Medical University.According to Circle Officer, Cantt, Avanish Mishra, there were grievous injuries in the girl’s private part indicating sexual assault. He also said that since the girl was found quite far from her home and it is not possible for a child her age to travel so far. “It seemed that someone picked her from way,” he said.

Sheena Bora murder: CBI court reserves order on Indrani Mukherjea’s bail plea

Mumbai: A special CBI court on Wednesday reserved its order on the interim bail sought by Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, to conduct post-death rituals of her father.

The CBI on Wednesday opposed her visit to Assam to conduct rituals of her father, Upendra Kumar Bora, who died there on 15 December.

In its reply to the court, the CBI also annexed an e-mail written by Indrani’s son Mikhail to the agency saying that he doesn’t want her to visit Guwahati.

Mikhail, an important witness in the case, has said that his grandfather had been bed-ridden since the last one year and he had been looking after both his grandparents for the last three years without any financial and mental support from Indrani.

He has said that his grandparents had legally adopted him as their son and he has already commenced the funeral rituals.

File image of Indrani Mukerjea. News 18

File image of Indrani Mukerjea. News 18

“Indrani has been accused of murdering my elder sister Sheena Bora and ruining my family. Therefore, it is my utmost plea to you sir that I don’t want Indrani to come to Guwahati and visit me as this will create chaos and unnecessary disturbance in my life due to media and other persons, and will hamper commencing post-death rituals of my grandfather,” Mikhail said in the mail to CBI.

In its reply to the court, the central agency has said that Indrani has filed the application in order to move out of jail and with intention to influence prosecution witness as the trial is to commence shortly.

It also said that safety and security of Indrani is required to be looked into with regard to the proposed journey to Guwahati. “There is always a possibility that she may escape from the custody,” the CBI said.

It has also said that Indrani’s mother Durga Rani died on 1 October last year, but Indrani mentioned in her plea thatshe died in November and this doesn’t reflect Indrani’s closeness with her parents.

Special public prosecutors Bharat Badami and Kavita Patil told the court that the funeral was already over and Mikhail has conducted the rituals.

“The Brahman bhojan (ritual) is kept on 27 December, while priests can be called in jail and all the rituals can be performed in the prison itself,” Badami told the court.

However, Indrani’s lawyer requested the court that if not Guwahati, she must be allowed to do the rituals in Nashik, Haridwar or Mumbai itself.

“Indrani wants to mourn. When her mother passed away she was not told about it. She needs to observe mourning, perform Sharad and offer food to Bhramins,” her lawyer said.

The court is likely to pass order on her bail application tomorrow. The court is at present hearing arguments on framing of charges.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:57 IST

UP polls | Problems faced by people due to demonetization will lead us to victory: Akhilesh Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav feels the days of caste-based politics in the state are over and now the two Ds — development and demonetization problems — will work in favour of the Samajwadi Party in the upcoming assembly polls.According to him, his family feud is no more a factor and all issues have been changed post demonetization. “That is a thing of past now. We are working together to win the elections. Issues have changed and post demonetization nobody remembers that (family feud) now. All the other issues have been left behind and demonetization has emerged as the key issue,” he said.He asserted that Uttar Pradesh will vote for his work, image and not on caste equations. “Our work in last five years and the problems people are facing due to demonetization will lead us to victory in upcoming elections. Jo kataarein ATM ke bahar lagi hai wo polling booth ke bahar lagegi (polling booths will see long queues like ones outside ATMs now),” Akhilesh.When asked who he considers the bigger rival — BJP or BSP, he said people of Uttar Pradesh have lost faith in both of them. “BJP has done nothing for Uttar Pradesh in last two and a half years. The Prime Minister was elected from UP, home minister and defence minister are also representing UP. They have maximum number of MPs from UP but they have given nothing to the state apart from Adarsh Gaon Yojna and nothing is happening on that front also,” he said.”As far as BSP is concerned, people are not interested in getting elephants installed everywhere,” he added.His father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has already ruled out any pre-poll alliance with Congress but Akhilesh said it will be premature to predict anything as of now. “Of course the party president will take a call on that but I believe that we will get 300 plus seats if we enter into a pre-poll alliance with Congress. I know that netaji (Mulayam) has said there will be merger, no alliances but there is still time for the elections and you must wait and watch. Politics is full of surprises and you never know what will happen tomorrow,” he said.”I do not have any doubt on getting an absolute majority but we can get 300 plus seats if we fight together. Samajwadis believe that Congress is their best friend when it is weak,” he said.

Standing tall

HS Doreswamy is a 98-year-old freedom fighter who is still battling for his idea of a just India.

Indrani Mukerjea breaks down after learning about father’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, broke down on Monday outside the court here after learning about her father Upendra Kumar Bora’s death on December 15.Indrani, her husband and former media baron Peter Mukerjea and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna were produced in the court today for arguments on framing of charges. After the special prosecutors Bharat Badami and Kavita Patil finished the arguments, CBI’s investigating officer informed Indrani about her father’s demise in Assam. Indrani, through her lawyer, told the special judge H S Mahajan that CBI had been insensitive. She was informed only today when her father had died on Thursday, she told the court.”It’s very insensitive,” her lawyer said, adding that neither the CBI nor the jail officials informed her, and action should be taken against them for this lapse. The judge said he would warn the CBI officer at the hearing tomorrow. While coming out of the court, Indrani broke down. She was heard saying to the investigating officer, “You didn’t do the right thing. You should have told me earlier. You hadn’t told me about my mother’s death too (back in October 2015).” Indrani, her driver Shyam Rai (who has now turned approver in the case) and Khanna are accused of killing her daughter Sheena inside a car here in April 2012.Peter Mukerjea is accused of being a party to the conspiracy.

Rebel Aleppo’s final agony | Reuters

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Ellen Francis

AMMAN/BEIRUT As the bombardment of Aleppo intensified in the days before the collapse of the city’s rebel enclave, Mahmoud Issa would try to comfort his terrified children.”My small daughter would sleep with her hands over her ears … I would tell her ‘don’t be afraid, I am next to you.'” Issa told Reuters there was another motive too. “What being close means of course is that we die together, so no one who stays alive would be sad about the others.”Thousands of people trapped in eastern Aleppo faced cold, hunger, destitution and an uncertain wait to leave their city as refugees while government forces seized the last rebel pocket, a major prize in the Syrian war.As reports spread of killings by government soldiers and allied militiamen, denied by Damascus, many were hit by the painful reality that they may never return home.The battle for Aleppo had begun in 2012, a year after the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, but it was only this summer that the army and allied Shi’ite militias backed by Russian air power besieged the rebels’ eastern zone.On Nov. 24, the attackers made a sudden advance prompting retreats by the rebels that ended with their acceptance of a ceasefire and agreement to withdraw last Tuesday.Despite the evacuation of around 10,000 people, many more remained stuck after the agreement broke down, hostage to complex negotiations between armed groups on each side.Images from within the last rebel-held area in recent days showed crowds of people huddling around fires, clothes pulled tight against the bitter weather, seeking shelter among piles of rubble and twisted metal.”NOBODY TO BURY THEM”
“All the residents were crammed in three or four districts. People were in the streets, so any mortar shell that fell caused a massacre. The dead needed somebody to bury them. There was nobody to bury them,” a man in his 40s who was evacuated from the city told Reuters.Like others interviewed for this article, the man asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. On Wednesday, the area was pummelled by air strikes and artillery fire, a bombardment that reached a climax before midnight.”The shells were falling around us at the rate of my breathing,” said Modar Shekho, a nurse whose father and brother were both killed by bombs in the last two weeks. He escaped Aleppo last week in a convoy to rejoin his family in the rebel-held countryside outside the city.The White Helmets civil defence rescue group, which operates in Syria’s rebel-held areas, had suspended organised service after volunteers were scattered in the retreat and much of its equipment was lost or rendered useless by fuel shortages.”We are working with our hands just to get people from under the rubble,” said Ibrahim Abu Laith, a civil defence official.Bodies were lying in the streets, residents said.

Photographs sent by a medic showed a man in a field clinic picking his way between people lying on the floor under blankets in a corridor with blood smeared on the wall. FAMILIES SEPARATED IN CHAOS
Most people had only a bag or two of possessions with them.”Everyone in Aleppo has moved nearly ten times. There was no longer any place. Every time I move to a house it gets shelled,” said Adnan Abed al-Raouf, a former civil servant.In the chaos, families were split up. Wadah Qadour, a former construction foreman, described how a man carried his bleeding wife looking for help had failed to realise their daughter was not following behind — one of the families separated in the chaos. “The girl was put in an orphanage,” said Qadour. One Reuters photograph showed a mother cradling her child in a blanket as they sat by the side of a road beside rubble.

“It got dark outside. People squatted in the streets, and they started making fires to keep warm. Most people hid from the cold in open shops,” said Shekho, the nurse whose father and brother had died. “Thousands of families slept in the streets waiting for the buses to come back.” Crowds attempted to reach buses on Thursday, when at least three convoys managed to leave Aleppo for the rebel-held areas in countryside to the west.When vehicles arrived at midnight, everybody rushed for a place. “Each of us picked up his stuff and we went right away,” said Shekho. “Thousands of families were crowding into the buses.” He managed to leave Aleppo. Still, thousands of people remain stranded, with estimates as high as tens of thousands. “They were still waiting in the streets and it got really cold and the buses were late,” said another nurse in Aleppo. REPORTS OF KILLINGS
Growing panic centred around unconfirmed reports of summary killings and other accusations of abuses by the army and its allies in captured areas. Five people told Reuters about the same incident involving young men from their neighbourhood in al-Kalasa who had fled into the basement of a clinic. They were not heard of again and their former neighbours were convinced they had been killed in the government advance.

Six other people from the Bustan al-Qasr quarter said they had been told by people who remain that the bodies of nine members of a family called Ajami had been found in a house. Damascus and its allies – which include the Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the Iraqi militia Harakat al-Nujaba – have denied that any mass arrests or summary killings took place. An elderly man told Reuters his identity card had been confiscated at a government check point and he was told to go to a school to collect it. Once there, he and some younger men were put into a room. Soldiers told them they would be killed but at the last minute took him and some others out. Then they heard shooting from inside the room, he said. Reuters was not able to verify the reports independently. HARD CHOICES
For rebels trying to decide what to do in the face of defeat, fear for families and other civilians weighed heavily.After vowing never to leave, rebels acknowledged they had no alternative as bombardments pounded residential areas. They accepted the terms of a withdrawal set out in a U.S.-Russian proposal that offered them safe passage out of the city, after it was presented to them by U.S. officials, rebel officials said. But no sooner had they embraced the idea of surrendering, than Russia declared there was no deal.Rebel commanders decided their only option was to fight to the death, said the commander of the Jabha Shamiya rebel group. “They were very hard days, because we were responsible for civilians – women, children, the elderly,” said Abu Ali Saqour, speaking from eastern Aleppo. Later that night, the army and its allies made another lightning advance, taking the Sheikh Saeed district after intense fighting and pushing the rebels back during the next day to a last tiny pocket. New talks between Russia and Turkey, the main foreign supporter of the rebels, led to a new evacuation deal, but implementation would be halting at best, leaving thousands of people in limbo in freezing temperatures. Yousef al Ragheb, a fighter from the Fastaqim rebel group, was ordered by his commanders to shred stacks of documents and dump equipment from a headquarters. After hearing that the ceasefire was holding, Abdullah Istanbuli, a protester-turned-fighter, spent hours burning his belongings and smashing his furniture to prevent it being looted after he left. “We are burning our memories … No I don’t want any one to live in my house after me,” he said. (Reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman and Ellen Francis in Beirut. Additional reporting by Tom Perry and Lisa Barrington in Beirut. Writing by Angus McDowall in Beirut; Editing by Michael Georgy and Peter Millership)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 21:52 IST

Swaraj continues to promptly respond to Twitter pleas, promises help in bringing back body of Indian from Tokyo

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recuperating after a kidney transplant at AIIMS here, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj continues to promptly respond to pleas for helping Indians abroad — this time from a family which is unable to bring back the mortal remains of a member who died in Tokyo.”We will bear all the expenses (to bring back the body) and do this without delay,” Swaraj on Sunday tweeted from the hospital bed here, a day after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) sought her help for the family of Gopal Ram who died eight days ago in the Japanese capital.DCW Chief Swati Maliwal had written to Swaraj seeking intervention after Radha Debi, wife of Gopal, approached the Commission seeking help, saying the family was unable to bring the body due to financial constraints.The External Affairs Minister is known for her prompt response in addressing problems of distressed Indians abroad, many of whom have approached her through twitter. Even during her hospitalisation, Swaraj, 64, who underwent a kidney transplant on December 10, has continued to respond to requests for help.
ALSO READ American woman alleges gang-rape, Sushma Swaraj assures action against culprits48-year-old Gopal Ram, a resident of Ambedkar Nagar here, had gone to Tokyo in September last year looking for greener pastures. He died of a cardiac arrest in the Japanese capital on December 10.”The family is severely distressed and needs your kind support. As we all aware you have been extremely pro-active in resolving such matters. Therefore, I am forwarding the representation along with this letter for your kind perusal. Hoping for your support in this matter,” Maliwal said in a letter to Swaraj on Saturday.
ALSO READ Great news: Sushma Swaraj recovering well after successful kidney transplant Gopal was working in Tokyo as a cook in a hotel and, according to a family member, he was fired within three months after which he started working in some local shop.His financial condition was bad because of which he was in distress, he said.On December 10, the family received a call from a person who worked with Gopal, saying that he has passed away following a heart attack.”Since then we have been in touch with Indian Embassy officials in Japan and also have written to the MEA but they have asked us to arrange for several documents and it is becoming extremely difficult for us to arrange things as we are financially not sound.”We want the government of India to help us bring back the body of my father so that we can perform his last rites,” Gopal’s son Jatin said.

Parliament clears Disabilities Bill 2014, but are women benefitting from this?

By Maya Palit

In July 2015, disability activist Nidhi Goyal told the media a hair-raising story about a young woman she had met in Gujarat. The young woman was visually challenged and her father had been secretly giving her birth control pills. Like many others in the country, he was labouring under the misconception that women with disabilities give birth to babies with disabilities, and the greater misconception that a person with disability does not have the right to be a parent. Her story is one of several instances that demonstrate the urgency of having laws in place to protect women with disabilities, who are especially vulnerable to discrimination.

With debates over demonetisation and corruption dominating the Winter Session of the Rajya Sabha, the chances of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill (2014) being discussed by the Upper House were looking slim. That was until Wednesday, when the Bill was passed without discussion with 119 amendments. The Bill will protect approximately 2.68 crore people with disabilities in the country.

The Bill has been praised for bringing in a more nuanced and expansive understanding of disability, as it now recognizes 19 conditions, including autism, Parkinson’s Disease and the impact of acid attack – far more than the seven that were in the first version of the Persons with Disabilities Act (1995). The most significant changes are the revision of the notion of ‘guardianship’, and that penalties have been introduced for violations of the Act. Two decades ago, there were no penal provisions, but now people can be punished with a jail term from six months up to two years, and a fine of between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh.

Representational imageRepresentational image

Representational image

Although, the disheartening thing about the Bill is that it hasn’t improved all that much on its clauses about women with disabilities. According to studies carried out by the research institute PRS Legislative, the ‘Penalty for outraging the modesty of a woman’ clause (Clause 105b) in the bill has ended up reducing the minimum penalty for offenders against women with disabilities. The minimum sentence is six months, as opposed to existing laws in the Indian Penal Code that give offenders a minimum sentence of one year. Shockingly, this was not amended in the new version of the Bill.

The Bill has been pretty disappointing on other fronts too. Although Clause 3 acknowledges that ‘special measures’ should be taken to protect the rights of women and children with disabilities, last year women’s rights activists campaigned for the incorporation of a separate sub section that would address the needs of women with disabilities and follow the guidelines set out by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“The problems with the previous bill include Clause 105f, which stated that the Bill penalized anyone who performed forced sterilization on women with disabilities, but it made an exception for those with severe disabilities – in their cases, a guardian is allowed to consent for the procedure,” said Amba Salelkar, a legal researcher who works with the Equals Centre for Promotion of Social Justice. “This is a negation of women’s consent, and the denial of their full legal capacity is one of the major problems with the Bill. Because of course, women in general have their decision-making powers severely curtailed. The practices that keep impacting women – like the institutionalization of people with disabilities – are not adequately dealt with under the Bill. The Bill is set to regulate establishments and set up guardianship for people with disabilities, but really it gives no credence to how women with disabilities can further exercise their legal capacity and live independently within the community,” she added.

According to the recommendations laid out in a proposed draft (in possession of The Ladies Finger) that was prepared by Salelkar and gender rights activist Nidhi Goyal, “Women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation”. This is why they suggested a set of expansive measures, like the implementation of gender-specific programs, encouraging the representation of women with disabilities in decision-making bodies, collecting data on the barriers that prevent women with disabilities from entering education, disseminating information on sexual and reproductive health, and creating short stay facilities that could protect women victims of abuse.

There certainly need to be measures in place that protect women with disabilities from abuse and violence, but the State also has ‘positive obligations’ towards them, like ensuring bathroom facilities for them. And these need to be addressed in the form of tangible changes rather than tokenism.

It appears that the Bill has been watering down, rather than expanding its approach to the issues faced by disabled women. According to Salelkar, the 2011 draft had an entire section devoted to the subject, which was then diluted in 2012 and then even more in the 2014 Act. “A Bill about disability naturally needs to take a multipronged approach when it comes to women with disabilities, because of the double discrimination they face, which is why we campaigned last year for the inclusion of a separate chapter on women with disabilities. It is sad that that has been missed out and that the Bill has been passed without discussion,” she said.

The new Bill has a provision under Clause 13 that allows people to appeal against a district court’s decision about their guardianship. This could prove to be helpful for women who are being treated unfairly by their guardians, an improvement that has left some experts thinking that the useful amendments in the new Bill could have a positive impact on women. “If I were to zoom out and look at the bill in its entirety, I’d say it has come a long way, particularly with the guardianship clause. But the issues that confronted women still stand, like the lower stringency for termination of pregnancy (you require one rather than two medical personnel to confirm that the medical procedure had to be undertaken) and the lower penalties for outrage of a woman’s modesty,” said Nivedita Rao, a legal analyst who works with PRS Legislative.

There seemed to be a lot of quipping amongst MPs in the Rajya Sabha session about disability being hard to interpret, and that everyone in the House suffers from some form of intellectual disability. Perhaps a more useful discussion could have taken place about increasing protection for women with disabilities from sexual harassment and forced sterilization. Who knows, they might even have found the time to incorporate demands for a more expansive section on women into the Bill.

The Ladies Finger (TLF) is a leading online women’s magazine delivering fresh and witty perspectives on politics, culture, health, sex, work and everything in between.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 09:24 IST

Exploring the oldest school in Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sadiq Saifi, 15, takes an auto ride till the main bus stand and an hour long bus ride to reach his school in Ajmeri Gate from Ghaziabad, every day. Ask him if he would like to study at a school near his home and he will refuse. Ubaid Alam, 17, came from Sambal district in Uttar Pradesh to study at the only Anglo-Arabic school in the country, stays with his uncle here, and does not want to return to the old school in his village.A little walk away from the New Delhi Railway station takes you to a sprawling campus of the Anglo-Arabic Senior Secondary School. On entering you get the feel of entering a bygone Mughal era, as the large courtyard, the red sandstone gateway, and the long silent corridors give a nostalgic sight to anyone entering the building.It thus comes as no surprise to learn that the school’s premises have served as a perfect Mughal/Colonial era setup for some renowned movies. The famous Jallianwala Bagh scene from Ben Kingsley-starrer Gandhi, 1982, was shot in the school football field. Scenes from The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Dil Se, and Saat Uchakke were shot here too.The double-storeyed building was built by Nawab Ghaziuddin, father of the first Nizam of Hyderabad, in 1692, as Madarsah Ghaziuddin, and is the oldest living educational institution in North India that represents the Mughal era Madarsah. The school which still preserves its original design, started as a place for giving spiritual education to the elite class of the walled city. However, with the weakening of the Mughal Empire, the Madarsah closed in the early 1790s, but with the support of local nobility, it stood again as a centre for oriental literature, science, and art in the year 1792.The school houses a mosque and an elegant tomb (maqbara) of Nawab Ghaziuddin himself enclosed within lattice screens made of marble (jaali). The maqbara of this Delhi noble is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), while the school building is maintained by the heritage department under DDA. There are a few other unknown tombs and a Sufi shrine, that lies in an underground cellar, and thus has earned the name of ‘Taikhane wale baba’.The school also has a prominent Alumni, the list includes — Liaquat Ali Khan, first PM of Pakistan, Maulana Qasim Nanautwi, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (famous pragmatist and philosopher of the 19th century) among others.Commenting on the makeup of the students, current principal Mohammad Wasim Ahmed reveals that while a majority of students are within Delhi, there are a few coming in from other states like Bihar, Rajasthan, and Eastern UP. For these students, there is a hostel facility within the premises.The school currently has 1,800 students out of which five per cent are non-Muslims. The admission process is the same as any other government school in the country; the classes are from 6th to 12th. This is the only school in the country that teaches Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hindi as well as English. Unlike other schools in Delhi that focus on Science, Commerce and Arts as streams, Sociology, Geography, Engineering drawing are also taught as main subjects here. The school completes its 325 years early next year.On the question of women students, the school has 74 women studying here after they opened its gates to female students in 2012. In certain cases, women students have left other institutions in order to study here. Nitika Yadav, 16, is a case in point. She joined the school early this year in Class 11 to study subjects realted ot her field Commerce, leaving behind a good private school education to study here. Her reasons: she wanted to focus on the ideal discipline, along with non-theoretical knowledge.Apart from students, students have earned distinct fame in arts and sports. The football shield has been won by them year after year. As for other activities the principal proudly says, “We have been the best in co-curricular activities and even won the first prize in the National Qawwali competition last year and came second this year.”Certainly, there’s a lot to celebrate here.

Asaram Bapu rape and murder case: ‘We do not want to die,’ witnesses petition SC

Witnesses whose deposition could have a serious bearing on a number of cases against self-styled Godman Asaram ‘Bapu’ and his son, Narayan Sai, have petitioned the Supreme Court with a strange request: They do not want to die.

The four witnesses, the list includes a journalist from the Dainik Jagaran newspaper, claim they need protection because they survived murderous attacks by alleged followers of Asaram. As many as three witnesses who deposed in the cases — there are many spread across four states — involving Asaram and his son, have been murdered by unidentified killers.

Their fears appear genuine.

Asaram, who has over 400 centres across 12 nations and over two million followers, is currently in Jodhpur jail while his son is lodged in a jail in Surat. Both are facing charges of rape and killing children for occult practices.

Among those who were killed was Asaram’s personal (ayurvedic) physician, Amrut Prajapati, gunned down by motorcycle-borne assailants in Rajkot in June 2014, and Akhil Gupta, Asaram’s personal cook, shot dead in Muzaffarnagar on 12 January, 2015. The third witness to be killed was Kirpal Singh — he was to testify in the 2013 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) – on 10 July, 2015 in Shahjahanpur. Another person, Rahul Sachan, a key witness, went missing in the afternoon of 21 November, 2015. He is also feared dead.

Sachan – a former personal assistant to Asaram from 2009 to 2013 — had been calling cops every week from his home in Balagunj in UP for almost a year to make one, strange request: “Save me till I depose in the courts, if they find me, they will surely kill me.”

File photo of Asaram. PTIFile photo of Asaram. PTI

File photo of Asaram. PTI

Soon after a deposition at a Jodhpur court in February, 2015, he was attacked by one Satyanarayan Yadav, an alleged follower of Asaram. Sachan escaped with stab wounds on his chest and even managed police protection from UP Police. Sachan also demanded that the assault and murder of key witnesses be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) because he felt followers of Asaram and his son, Narayan Sai, were “trying their best to tamper with witnesses in the case”.

The Allahabad High Court, pushed by the Supreme Court, got him an armed constable but once the deputed constable went on leave in early November, 2015, no replacements were offered. The killers, probably lurking nearby, picked him up and – in the records of the police — Sachan was “a missing person”.

Afzal Mehendi, a senior officer in charge of the Balagunj police station — entrusted to ensure security for Sachan — said efforts are still on to trace him. “The case is not closed, and Sachan’s guard was replaced within a few days. We were in constant touch with him.”

But those petitioning the country’s apex court argue it was police laxity that helped Sachan’s kidnappers complete their job with consummate ease.

“Sachan complained about the cops, it was ignored, he got twitter threats (see attachment), it was ignored. I doubt he is alive,” says one of the four petitioners, Mahendra Chawla, once personal assistant (PA) to Narayan Sai, and now a prime witness in the cases.

The country’s premier investigating agency moved in only this August to probe Sachan’s disappearance after a public interest litigation was filed before the Allahabad High Court by an Indian origin lawyer based in faraway New Zealand, Bennet Castellino. In the PIL, Castellino — who had already earned a name for himself for taking on dubious Godmen and pastors across the world – argued that the CBI’s investigation was necessary because the Uttar Pradesh police had messed up the investigation.

Besides Chawla, other petitioners include Naresh Gupta, father of late Akhil Gupta, the murdered witness. Also in the list is the father of an alleged minor rape victim of Asaram and whose son was assaulted despite police protection, and a journalist, Narendra Yadav.

The petition mentions how one Narayan Pandey, alleged attacker of the brother of the rape victim, was arrested but, later managed to procure bail and allegedly murdered Kirpal Singh. The journalist, Yadav, has claimed he was also attacked by unidentified assailants. Yadav has also mentioned in the petition about how Pandey – though back in Shahjahanpur jail – has been writing threatening letters.

Chawla, who lives in an undisclosed location in Haryana, said the 2015 attack on Sachan in court was “actually meant for me, but the killers attacked Sachan”.

A former sub-broker and insurance agent, Chawla said he had once found solace in the ashram but later grew disillusioned after seeing the father-son duo committing a “series of illegal activities”. Eventually, he deposed against both last year. The threats, claims Chawla, started immediately after his deposition.

Now, Chawla lives in a one room home, and has a armed constable round the clock for protection. But the fear of death hangs menacingly on his head like the proverbial Sword of Damocles, he even made a chilling deposition in his affidavit to the Allahabad High Court: “I want to live at least till I complete my testimony in the Surat and Ahmedabad cases.”

“I know I am on the radar of the killers. A single constable is not enough to stave off the murderers. I genuinely live in fear,” he said in a telephonic interview from his hideout in Haryana.

Chawla says there are times when he covers his face with a dupatta to go out and buy essentials like milk and vegetables from the neighbouring market.

On paper, the seems to be going from bad to worse for Asaram and his son, against whom allegations of occult practices surfaced in 2008 following the mysterious death of Abhishek and Deepesh Vaghela (cousins) in Asaram’s Motera Ashram. The post mortem report said Deepesh’s small and large intestines, stomach, spleen, kidneys and bladder were missing. Yet, Asaram and his son got the shaft from both the Gujarat High Court and the Supreme Court which held there was enough scientific reason to proceed with a charge of death caused by negligence and not murder.

Eventually, Gujarat police submitted a chargesheet in 2012 against seven of Asaram’s followers. The Gujarat government appointed the DK Trivedi commission, tasking it to probe charges occult practices and also of rape – a school girl in Jodhpur and two sisters in Surat – against the father-son duo. Asaram is lodged in Jodhpur jail since August 2013 while his son has been behind bars at Surat’s Lajpore central prison since December 2013.

And then, in what appeared to be a strange series of incidents, a gang of unidentified killers started silencing the witnesses.

The Supreme Court, throughout last year, heard how the attacks had continued on those deposing against Asaram and his son, both lodged in a jail in Jodhpur. Asaram – known for openly flouting rules because of his Godman status – grabbed headlines early this year when he used a handset from within the premises of Jodhpur prison to threaten Kirpal Singh, the witness in Shajahanpur. Singh, in turn, recorded his voice and handed over the clip to the Shaharanpur police. But soon, Singh was killed.

The charges, however, have been denied by Asaram’s counsel, Saurav Ajay Gupta, who called them “baseless and unproven”. There are nearly ten cases pending against Asaram and his son in courts in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.

The next hearing in the Supreme Court is slated for January, 2017. The petitioners are hoping against hope, they know if they get killed, the cases could take a peculiar, U-turn.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 12:27 IST

The women scientists who took India into space

The BBC meets three Indian female scientists who prove that rocket science is not a male preserve.

Rajinikanth describes Jayalalithaa as a ‘kohinoor diamond’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth on Sunday paid rich tributes to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, describing her as a ‘kohinoor diamond’ who had made her way up through difficulties in a male-dominated society.At a condolence meeting, organised by the South Indian Artistes’ Association or the Nadigar Sangam for Jayalalithaa and actor-journalist Cho S Ramaswami, Rajinikanth also recalled his strong statements against her during the 1996 Assembly polls, which had “hurt” her.”I had hurt her. I was a key reason for her (party’s) defeat,” he said, referring to his criticism of the then AIADMK government.The actor had then famously remarked that “even god can’t save Tamil Nadu” if Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK was elected to power again. The then DMK-TMC (Tamil Maanila Congress) combine had swept the polls amid strong anti-incumbency.Jayalalithaa, however, later proved to be a “golden-hearted” leader, Rajinikanth said.Paying rich tributes to the former chief minister, he said it was with great difficulty that she could take over the reins of the AIADMK following the death of its founder and her political mentor MG Ramachandran and that she had even overtaken him in achievements.Having lost her father at the age of two and mother 20 years later, she faced various challenges including having no family but achieved fame by hard work in a male-dominated society, he said. “Today, she is resting like a kohinoor diamond at the MGR memorial site and enjoys the love and affection of so many people,” he added.Hospitalised on September 22 and having suffered a cardiac arrest on December 4, 68-year-old Jayalalithaa had passed away the next day.Rajinikanth also paid rich tributes to Ramaswamy, his long time friend. Ramaswamy, a veteran journalist, satirist, playwright and actor died of illness on December 7.

Muzaffarnagar: RSS leader dies of shock after son’s arrest in theft case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An RSS leader died of heart attack after his son was arrested in a theft case at Khatoli town in Muzaffarnagar, police said on Sunday .A police team led by Sub Inspector Ajay Kumar arrested Abheykand Sharma from his house on Saturday for the latter’s alleged role in a theft case, SHO K P Singh said.Abheykhand’s father Chetan Prakash died later due to the shock over his son’s arrest, he said.Meanwhile, SI Ajay Kumar, was suspended over allegedly misbehaving with the accused’s father.A group of Hindu activists also staged a protest against the incident.

MP govt to cover wedding expenses of daughters of cops killed in the line of duty

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Madhya Pradesh government will bear marriage expenses of all the police officials who die in the line of duty, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced in Bhopal on Saturday.Chouhan, who attended the marriage ceremony of slain jail head constable Ramashankar Yadav’s daughter Sonia last night, donned the role of the girl’s father as he welcomed guests at the entry gate. “If any police personnel dies in the line of duty, then the state government will bear all the expenses of their daughter’s marriage and these girls will be treated as the state’s daughter,” an official release from the state government said.The state government claimed that it had left no stone unturned to make this (Sonia’s) marriage a grand event. Yadav was allegedly killed by eight SIMI activists on the intervening nights of October 30-31 before they escaped from the high security jail by scaling its walls with the help of bedsheets. The activists were later gunned down by Bhopal Police in an alleged encounter.Chouhan had then promised that the government will not only offer job to any family member but will also make all arrangements for the marriage of Sonia. The chief minister also handed over an appointment letter for the post of Assistant Grade-III to Sonia as her marriage gift on the occasion.Chouhan stayed at the wedding till all rituals were done and said that Sonia is a daughter of Madhya Pradesh. He conveyed greetings to both the families on the occasion. Madhya Pradesh Minister of State for Cooperatives (independent charge) Vishwas Sarang was among others present at the function.

Mick Jagger a dad again at 73 | Reuters

NEW YORK Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger became a father for the eighth time on Thursday when his ballet dancer girlfriend gave birth to a son in New York, his publicist said.”Melanie Hamrick & Mick Jagger’s son was born today in New York and they are both delighted.”Mick was at the hospital for the arrival. Mother and baby are doing well and we request that the media respect their privacy at this time,” Fran Curtis, the long-time publicist for the Rolling Stones, said in a statement.

The 73-year-old singer already has seven children with previous partners, as well as five grandchildren, and he became a great-grandfather in May 2014.

Jagger and Hamrick, 29, began dating about two years ago, according to media reports.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 21:58 IST

Campaign to employ acid attack victims goes viral

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Like most Indian women, Mamta had an arranged marriage. She didn’t want to get married, but just like the rest, she had no say in the matter. While speaking to Humans of Bombay, Mamta said she went along with it hoping for the best. However, the husband was physically and emotionally abusive. When Mamta became pregnant, she decided that the best option would be to abort the foetus. “My mother agreed but he found out somehow and filed a case against us. I was forced to carry my son to term. I believed that since he fought so hard to make sure that I gave birth to our son, he must surely want him. I believed he wanted to be a good father to him.”However, things took a turn for the worse. Mamta’s husband stopped letting her see their son and demanded Rs 50,000 to let her see him. On August 21, 2010, while Mamta was sleeping in her family home, her husband crept into the house with their son’s milk bottle filled with acid and emptied it all over her face. “I woke up screaming in agony. My mother tried washing the acid off but the damage was already done. I lost my left eye,” she says. Mamta, an acid attack survivor, is a beauticianWhile Mamta can carry on with the fact that she has to live with her scars, she finds it difficult to live not knowing the whereabouts of her son. The police say that they cannot do anything until she locates her son.Mamta was then approached by the NGO Make Love Not Scars, which is teaming up with Humans of Bombay and The Logical Indian to provide employment opportunities to women who are victims of acid attacks. The initiative called ‘Skills Not Scars’ was also promoted through a BuzzFeed India video starring comedian Tanmay Bhat that went viral on the internet on Tuesday with over 2,500 shares on Facebook.Skills Not Scars has a list of acid attack survivors, which includes eight women and one man. Each of these individuals has a unique story. Take the case of Reshma. This 19-year-old, who has been the face of the Make Love,Not Scars campaign recently walked the ramp during the New York Fashion Week.

Spinning the wheels of change

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A few weeks ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took an extremely bold step. He banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, and replaced them with new notes. There was a huge uproar, some celebratory, some not. Nevertheless, it affected the entire country. A step like this is why I really respect our Prime Minister.Narendra Modi’s humble beginnings are not unknown to us. But what nobody understands is that this is the reason he is so capable of being the prime minister of a developing country like India. Our past leaders (a majority of them, at least) come from educated, wealthy backgrounds. Even if they attempted to think for the poorer sections of society, it would be difficult as they have never personally experienced poverty. Modi, on the other hand, understands the larger problems our country is facing, because he has risen above all the challenges that came his way. The Swachh Bharat mission to make India clean is so important to our development. The underprivileged parts of India live in filthy conditions. Cleanliness will improve health standards, which will in turn lead to eradication of diseases, and will improve the standard of living. We might have to pay a little extra on our bills right now, but it will all hopefully lead to a much cleaner and healthier country. People keep saying that they don’t see any change, but they don’t realise that a million years’ mess can’t be cleaned up in a day.His efforts to make India a digital country are also commendable. Our PM is trying to ensure banking services are available to every strata of society. Yesterday, something significant happened—for the first time—my father paid our domestic help by cheque instead of regular cash. Switching to digital methods means the government is able to track almost everything, which decreases the chances of corruption and crime. This brings us to his most recent decision—demonetization. This was a revolutionary step to fight black money, corruption and terrorism. There are several arguments—it would cost the RBI a huge amount, it would not eliminate black money in the form of gold and foreign currency, etc. Yet, the point is that it has cost people with black money a serious amount. Finally, people might learn to start paying taxes like a regular working person instead of cheating their way through.If everyone started paying taxes, it would mean that the government could finally earn enough to help poverty-stricken India.It could earn enough to then, as Modi promised, reduce taxes for everyone, so there could be higher income levels. It could reduce interest rates as well. In the long run, this is a feasible plan, only if everyone actually cooperates.If we cooperate with Modi and work with him, and understand the motives behind his decisions instead of protesting against him, life would definitely become much easier for everyone. I think it has been a long while since India had such a revolutionary leader. Aviva Mehta is an 18-year-old writer, who is currently taking a gap year, and is constantly looking for free WiFi.NaMo’s humble beginnings NaMo’s humble beginnings are the reason he is capable of being India’s PM. Our past leaders (most of them) come from educated, wealthy backgrounds. Even if they attempted to think for the poor, they couldn’t as they have never personally experienced povertyCommendable effortsThe Swachh Bharat mission to make India clean is important to improve health standards. Modi’s efforts to make India a digital country are commendable. Switching to digital methods means the government is able to track almost everything

Farooq Abdullah’s statement on Hurriyat shows NC was involved in Kashmir unrest: Mehbooba Mufti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday slammed National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah for his remarks that his party is not against separatist Hurriyat, saying it showed that the Opposition party was behind the violence in the Valley over last few months.She alleged that NC wants to keep the atmosphere charged in the Valley as it “can go to any extent for power”. “He (Abdullah) used to say that Hurriyat leaders should be thrown into river Jhelum. Today he is talking about something else. It again makes it clear that NC will play with the lives of anyone, including children and women, for power,” Mehbooba told reporters here. “The statement of Farooq telling his party workers to lend full support to Hurriyat makes clear one thing which we did not mention till now that NC can go to any extent for power,” she said.The chief minister said NC can play with the lives of anyone including children and women, for power. “In the last four-five months, the criminal element which entered into the situation here, who pelted stones on vehicles, burnt schools and attacked camps… this statement makes it clear that NC was involved in such activities in these months,” she charged. The Chief Minister said NC leadership has asked its party workers to not let the situation improve.
ALSO READ We are with Hurriyat till they are on right track: Farooq Abdullah”Now when the situation is improving, children are going to school and tourism is also picking up slowly, Farooq has once again asked his workers, giving them an order, to create that situation once again in which the atmosphere in J&K will remain charged,” she said. Abdullah, while addressing his party workers at a function to commemorate the 111th birth anniversary of his father and party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah at Hazratbal yesterday, had said his party was not against the Hurriyat and supported the Kashmiri’s demand for their rights but it would not tread the “wrong path” for achieving these goals.He had also asked his party workers not to be away from “this struggle” because “We are a part of this struggle. We have fought regularly for the interests of this Valley.” Mehbooba said Abdullah is not concerned about the struggle because since 1947 till now, NC has only struggled for power. “Even today I feel that, by the statement yesterday, he has hinted at his workers to not let the situation improve because they want power at any cost,” she alleged.She noted that Abdullah’s son Omar has been a Minister (of state) for External Affairs in the BJP-led government and had said that Pakistan should be labelled as a terror state. Farooq Abdullah also regularly used to say that Pakistan should be bombed, Mehbooba said.

We are with Hurriyat till they are on right track: Farooq Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opposition National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Monday said his party was not against Hurriyat Conference and supported the Kashmiri people’s demand for their rights but it would not tread the “wrong path” for achieving these goals.Addressing his party workers at a function to commemorate the 111th birth anniversary of his father and party founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah at Hazratbal, he asked the Hurriyat leaders not to go separate ways saying “be united and we are also standing with you”. “Do not think of us as your enemies, we are not. But we are not ready to tread the wrong path. So, I am telling you from this sacred place that you (Hurriyat) move forward, we are with you till your steps are on the right track and till you take this nation forward in a right manner,” he said. However, later talking to reporters, Abdullah said the issue was not whether he was with the Hurriyat or not.”This agitation which talks about demanding the rights of the people of Kashmir, NC is with them on this to the extent of they talking about rights. We neither were nor are against (demanding) the rights,” he said.The former Union minister said the people talking of “freedom” were indulging in propaganda. He also said the “fire” in the Valley would not be extinguished till India and Pakistan do justice with the people of the state.”Remember this, till this fire is there, it cannot be extinguished till India and Pakistan do justice with us, with the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The more they try to extinguish this fire, the more it will rise,” he said.He asked his party workers not to be away from “this struggle”. “We are a part of this struggle. We have fought regularly for the interests of this Valley,” he said.Responding to his criticism by the BJP over his recent remarks over India’s claim on PoK, Abdullah said he has never spoken anything against the country.”Farooq Abdullah has never spoken anything anti-national. This (Kashmir) issue is not my creation. This issue is from 1948, it is not anything new. It is still in the UN Security Council. It is in the agreement between India and Pakistan which Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister of India and Zulfikar Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan signed that Kashmir issue would be resolved through dialogue,” he said. He said both the countries would have to resolve their issues through dialogue.”I do not know anything about whether they (Pakistan Prime Minister s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz and NSA Ajit Doval) talked or not. But one day both the countries will have to resolve their issues through dialogue. There is no other way,” he said. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes to solve this issue and “I hope one day he will talk to Pakistan as there is no other option”.”Both the countries should exhibit restraint. When border skirmishes happen, people on both sides suffer losses. Both are parts of Kashmir,” he said. Commenting on the Prime Minister’s remarks at a Jalandhar rally that he was determined to stop the flow of water into Pakistan and bring it for farmers of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said people of India were “befooled”.”People of India were befooled. What did Modi say in Jalandhar? He said he will stop Pakistan’s water. Which rivers has he stopped water from?” he said.

‘Special’ kids show sporting side on World Disability Day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>These kids may be special but their infectious enthusiasm at the Second Annual Special Sports Meet held to mark World Disability Day showed that they were dependent on no one. At least, not on the playing field. Students from local schools like Upasna, Green Ribbon, Udaan, Stimulus, Billabong International participated in the event which was held at Kothari International School Sec 50 Noida.Children in the age group of 3 years to 16 years made their parents proud as they participated in different races and games. The parents were equally involved in all the activities as they beamed and cheered on their kids.Talking to DNA, Meena Vardhan, mother of Akash Vardhan who was one of the participants said, “I worked as an organiser, volunteer and host in these types of events and I really support them in each event.” “Parental support is the most important thing for a child and i support my kid in every other way. It is really good that schools are merging with this foundation,” said Vikas Sharma, father of another of the special participants.The event involved activities like a one legged race for the age group of 8-11 years, shotput for 5-7 years, basketball for 12-16 years, hit the target (throw ball) for 3-5 years and 6-8 years and many more sports.Volunteers said that such events, if held regularly, would help boost the confidence of the participants. “It is the second sports meet and it is beautiful experience to see all these children participating,” said a volunteer.Sharing her experience about the meet, Dr Sonali Kataria Co-founder of Sunrise Learning Foundation said, “This second sports meet is different from the first one as it involved more participants and volunteers this time. We help the children to feel the joy of participation, competing and wining.”Winners were awarded special prizes, certificates and medals were awarded as a gesture to boost their confidence and learning skills.

Rosberg stuns Formula One with retirement bombshell | Reuters

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON Nico Rosberg stunned Formula One on Friday with the shock announcement that he was retiring only days after achieving a lifetime ambition by winning his first world championship with Mercedes.”From the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became world champion,” the German said in a statement.”On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start. I wanted to enjoy every part of the experience, knowing it might be the last time,” the 31-year-old added.The driver, who had given no previous indication of his intentions, said he had made the decision the day after the title race.Rosberg, who was due to attend the governing FIA’s gala prize-giving in Vienna later on Friday along with team mate and triple world champion Lewis Hamilton, did not say what he planned to do next.He will leave with a record of 23 wins in 206 races – putting him equal 12th on the all-time lists with Brazilian triple champion Nelson Piquet – and as only the second son of a champion to take the title.His Finnish father Keke was champion with Williams in 1982.Nico Rosberg was also the first German driver to win the Formula One title with a German car and team, and now becomes the first champion to walk away without defending the title since Frenchman Alain Prost in 1993.”Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my ‘one thing’ to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target. And now I’ve made it,” he said.

“I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. My strongest emotion right now is deep gratitude to everybody who supported me to make that dream happen.”HAMILTON RIVALRY
Rosberg’s battles with Hamilton, his boyhood friend and rival in karting, have lit up the last couple of seasons – and provided plenty of headlines – and he said that too had taken its toll.”This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough,” said the man who also partnered seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, and beat him, in his early career at Mercedes.

“I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before. And of course that had an impact on the ones I love too.”The Monaco-based German married his childhood sweetheart Vivian in 2014 and they had a daughter last year. A devoted family man, Rosberg said his wife was the first person to know his decision.He acknowledged that his retirement had put his “racing family” in a difficult position, although Hamilton will now be an even stronger favourite to win his fourth title next season.Rivals also will see a dream vacancy that every driver on the starting grid would jump at if given the chance, Mercedes being the most dominant team in the sport with 19 wins in 21 races this season.Mercedes have won the drivers’ and constructors’ titles for the past three years in a row and will start next season, despite significant rule changes, as favourites again.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff hailed a “brave move” and said it was “testament to the strength of his character”.”The clarity of his judgement meant I accepted his decision straight away when he told me,” added the Austrian.Wolff said Mercedes would take time to evaluate their options and they will probably need it, given that the top drivers are already signed up by rivals.One who is still available is reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, who has impressed at tail-enders Manor.The 22-year-old, who holds joint Mauritian and German nationality, was passed over, however, when Mercedes-powered Force India went looking for a replacement from the Mercedes stable for Nico Hulkenberg.Frenchman Esteban Ocon, 20, who is also a Mercedes-contracted driver, was chosen instead with Wolff describing him at the time as boasting the most impressive track record in junior formulae.That, however, is unlikely to stop others from thumbing through their contracts to see whether they can engineer a move. (Editing by Ed Osmond)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 20:13 IST

UP Elections 2017: Akhilesh refuses to rule out Congress alliance, hits out at Amar Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav appeared not averse to an alliance with Congress for UP Assembly polls, saying such a combine can win over 300 seats in the 403-member House, but firmly ruled out any tie-up with BSP.Only last month, Samajwadi Party supremo and Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav had ruled out any pre-poll alliance and asserted that there can only be mergers.Replying to a volley of questions on a possible tie-up with Congress against the backdrop of its poll strategist Prashant Kishor meeting Mulayam and and himself later, the Chief Minister said that a final decision on the alliance will be taken by the SP supremo and he can only give suggestions. Akhilesh also suggested that Congress will have to accept that it may have to fight on a fewer number of seats than it wants in an alliance because a tie-up will not work out if it keeps thinking about “profit and loss”. He also hit back at BSP chief Mayawati, who had recently mocked him for calling her ‘bua’, saying her problem is that BSP is not in contention to capture power and added that he will no longer call her ‘bua’ (father’s sister). Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit here, Akhilesh (43) attacked the Modi government over demonetization and took potshots at his rivals, including Amar Singh, within SP.”It is a big dream,” he quipped when asked if Amar Singh was also a contender for the Chief Minister’s post. He, however, asserted that the murky infighting that put his uncle Shivpal Yadav against him is behind him and he, “like Arjun is focusing on one goal, which is to form government in the state again”. It is for Congress, which has projected Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial candidate, to take a final decision on an alliance, he said, adding that Kishor had met him after meeting Mulayam. “When there is an alliance, somebody has to accept that he will get fewer number of seats (to contest). If you keep thinking about profit and loss, then it will not work out. We are anyway going to form government again with a majority and if they (Congress) also come along, then we will cross 300,” he said.Akhilesh said that he conveyed this to Kishor too. “It (UP polls) is a big battle. If the ally is good, then we can sort out other parties,” the Chief Minister said, though he ruled out any alliance with BSP which, he noted, had formed government with BJP three times earlier and Mayawati “used to tie” Rakhi to some BJP leaders.Attacking the central government, he said it has made everybody stand in queue and wondered if this was the ‘achchhe din’ for which people had voted for Narendra Modi.”It has harmed the economy,” he said. Attacking BJP and BSP, SP’s main rivals in UP, Akhilesh Yadav said one of them has made life difficult for people and forced them to break their piggy banks, a reference to demonetization, while another does not believe in speaking out. His referring to Mayawati as ‘bua’ was not about personal but political relationship as people much senior to him in politics called her ‘Behen ji’, he said.”I gave her more respect but she has not accepted it. I will no longer call her ‘bua’,” he said. Asked about his bitter fight with ‘chacha’ Shivpal Yadav, the UP Chief Minister quipped that there should be talk about “uncle”, a reference to Amar Singh, too. Without naming him, Akhilesh said Mulayam had brought him in party to strengthen it and his “language and behaviour should be in a manner that helps SP form the government again.”Asked if he wanted to sack Amar Singh from the party, he said, “If I had been state president of the party, I would have made a proposal and sent to neta ji (Mualayam).” He, however, did not elaborate on this. Akhilesh was the state president before he was replaced by Shivpal.Apparently attacking Amar Singh, he said “if somebody brings a type-writer from outside” so that the decision of his removal could be faxed to him, then he will not accept it.To a question if he wanted to form his own party, he said “in politics, you should sack those from the party who want to sack you. This is our party.”Responding to BJP’s barb that demonetization had harmed SP as the alleged illicit money kept by it for the polls is no longer useful, he said the decision will help his party as leaders and workers of other outfits will be forced to use cycle, SP’s election symbol. A grand alliance like Bihar is not possible in UP, he added. Asked about differences between him and his father, he responded in lighter vein that he was a footballer while Mulayam was a wrestler. He, however, insisted that all the infighting in his party had not made any impact on his government’s performance and cited the Metro work in Lucknow and Luchnow-Agra expressway as evidence.He also supported West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over her attack on the central government, saying if anything happens in a state, the Chief Minister should be informed.

Demonetisation: If banks don’t have money, what’s the point?

Banks without money are redundant. In Delhi these past 48 hours have been a telling experience. We are an incredible people that despite the fiscal architecture being compelled to collapse like a condemned building, life goes on with very little change. The cab driver is stoic. The traffic is no less than it was in October, somehow, the social fabric is holding on.

A fellow passenger coming in from the US is carrying a few thousand one dollar bills. Says, it helps him avoid hassles and queues and everyone takes dollars as tips and payments and he will pay his hotel bill by card and he doesn’t need a single rupee in the capital of the country.

I tell him it is illegal to give people foreign exchange. He laughs at me. He has brought in below the legal limit and he will take back the rest. And no one rejects his bills.

Imagine if you will, thousands of NRIs swarming in to India with one dollar bills…we could be like Zimbabwe, kill the local currency and use dollars. I jest but the kernel of possibility is a thought.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

I go to the bank and I am told the money for the day has not arrived. It finally does and is greeted with cheers like one of those UN Relief convoys. This is a decent branch where they are not rude — they just cannot give you Rs 24000 because they divvy up the Rs 10 lakhs allotted to them for the day into maximums of Rs 10,000. This is a fortunate bank. Many others have got zilch.

Ironically, the right hand man of a BJP politician tries to cash his cheque and then moans about the limit and the bank manager tells him it is his Sarkar and there is nothing she can do. Good for her.

The crisis thickens as people complain they cannot pay their staff and that new cheque books will take ten days to get delivered.

One man has lost his father and has to feed the ‘baradri’ for three days. He is seeking loans from neighbours. History is kicking in. The collective spirit of helping each other and giving and taking to put it simply is what is keeping this nation’s morale at least at half-mast. Everyone is giving him a little…that is our magic potion Getafix.

Yes, indeed, the patience is impressive. There is still this over-riding belief that something magical will happen and this sacrifice will not be in vain.There has to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or moral rectitude. The rich have been unseated and poor will inherit the earth. This sentiment permeates the average man who firmly believes that the comeuppance of the wealthy is a wonderful thing.

Then why are the wealthy not unhappy. I know of people whose lifestyle stank of ill-gotten gains. Over seventy years of half open desk drawers and shady premium payoffs surely there have been several thousand colossal ‘victims’ of this cleaning up. None of them seem perturbed. Hasn’t anyone lost a fortune, aren’t there folks out there who had cupboards full of now pointless high denomination notes who should be in agony and writhing on the floor. Nto one of the few you would suspect had illegal hoards is batting an eyelid.

Either they are damn fine actors or they know something I don’t.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 13:33 IST

The nine-year-old Kashmiri girl who rules the kickboxing world

Nine-year-old kickboxing champion Tajamul Islam from Kashmir is an unlikely heroine.

Demonetization: Shorter queues, but cash dispensing machines running dry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Queues at most of the ATMs and banks across the city were shorter than expected on Wednesday though there were complaints that cash dispensing machines were either dry or shut and customers could not draw the maximum permissible amount.When asked about the situation, Central Bank Executive Director RC Lodha said, “We have made adequate arrangements to meet the higher demand for cash as salaries would be credited into customers account (as the month turns). In our bank there would be no shortage of cash.” However, many customers who went to banks today to withdraw money for their monthly expenses, a day ahead of the salary day, complained that they got very less cash, much below the withdrawal limit. “I managed to get only Rs 4,000 this morning against the withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 as I was told that there was hardly any cash supply to the banks in the last few days. I will have to wait and try my luck later in the day,” said Swamy, a South Mumbai resident.Barring banks with huge customer base, the turnouts were lower as compared to the initial days of note ban. But in some places, the rush increased in the afternoon after banks were replenished with cash to meet customer demands amid fears of heightened crunch due to salary payments. Many others complained about ATMs being shut in their area for a fortnight while some others said they were being given coins during high withdrawals. “There are 4-5 ATMs of leading banks in my locality. But they have been shut since over a week, being dry on cash,” said Animesh, a resident of Andheri.However, they were a few who seemed to be unfazed by the cash chaos resulting out of the demonetization move. According to a Bhandup resident Hemang Palan, the situation on the ground has improved significantly compared to the panic in initial days leading to marginal rush and queues outside banks. “The situation was chaotic in initial days but not now. I think people have realised that this move to demonetise high denomination notes is in the larger benefit of the people and hence they are bearing with the decision,” he said.Also, public has come to terms with the fact that it may take some more days to resolve the crisis entirely as most of the ATMs are yet to be recalibrated. Nitin Sharma, a budding artist said, one has to bear some pain to get some gain in the coming months. “Me and my retired father did face difficulties in first few days, but there is no such rush or mismanagement. Bigger customer base banks, undoubtedly, are having a bit rush but they have streamlined their services and there are separate queues for senior citizens,” he said.
ALSO READ Crisis to hopefully end by Jan 2017, says demonetization committee head NaiduHowever, some people expressed their displeasure over the design and parity of new notes. A senior doctor working with a government hospital said, “I withdrew some thousands. Though there was no rush outside the bank, I was shocked to find disparity in the note designs. For a few seconds, I thought it was fake. Then I downloaded the Narendra Modi Keynote app and confirmed it by running Modi’s speech after scanning it.” He also claimed that situation of cash crisis was improving fast.

ED proceedings against Karti: P Chidambaram objects in Madras HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday alleged in the Madras High Court that the Enforcement Directorate proceedings against his son Karti under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) had been launched to cause political embarrassment to him.He made his submissions in an affidavit before Justice B Rajendran who reserved orders on a petition filed by Karti challenging the summons issued by the ED seeking his appearance in connection with its money laundering probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal of the 2G scam. The judge reserved orders after hearing elaborate arguments by senior Supreme Court counsel Gopal Subramaniam on behalf of Karti Chidambaram and Anand Grover for ED. Chidambaram in his affidavit claimed that the ED lacked jurisdiction under the PMLA to proceed against his son and contended that CBI had not found any offence under any law in respect of FIPB approval over which his son was being probed.”No scheduled offence exists, proceeds of crime do not exist and thus the respondents (ED) absolutely lack jurisdiction under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 to proceed further,” he said.He further said, “I regret to submit that the proceedings initiated against the petitioner (Karti) have been undertaken in order to cause political embarrassment to me and besmirch myreputation and that of my family members.” In the petition filed on his behalf by his power of attorney N R R Arun Natarajan, Karti sought to quash the ED’s August 19 summons contending that it was motivated by malice in law.He said he had reasons to believe that there had been determined campaign to bring discredit and harm to the reputation of his father Chidambaram. ED’s probe against Karti pertains to firms identified as Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited and Chess Global Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, where he had been a Director, and a few others for alleged violations under PMLA. The ED had told the court that further probe relating to the FIPB approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal and related issues were subject of further investigation under the anti-money laundering laws.The agency had also told the court that further probe relating to Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in the Aircel-Maxis deal and related issues are subject of further investigation under anti-money laundering laws. Chidambaram, during whose tenure as Finance Minister in 2006 the FIPB approval was given, submitted that the approval matter was investigated by the CBI fully and the agency had submitted its status reports to the Supreme Court.He said CBI had recorded his statement in 2014 December and that of FIPB officials. “In their statements to the CBI, all the persons affirmed that the approval was granted by FIPB and recommended to the Finance Minister for his approval in accordance with the guidelines. The Finance Minister granted approval in the ordinary course of government business.”Chidambaram pointed out that the charge sheet in the Aircel-Maxis case was filed on August 28, 2014 and the statements in respect of the FIPB approval from the officials concerned were recorded thereafter in the course of further probe under CrPc. “It is thereafter that the status reports were filed in the Supreme Court. The CBI has not found or reported any offence under any law in respect of the said FIPB approval,” he submitted adding thus no offence was made out.

Jadavpur University student’s body found 3 days after he drowned

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three days after Jadavpur University engineering student Rounak Saha fell off a boat into the Hooghly river, the police eventually found his nearly decomposed body from underneath the Fairlie Place Ghat Jetty this afternoon.The body was identified by Rounak’s father, DC Port Sudeep Sarkar said.A post-mortem is being done to ascertain the exact reason behind the cause of the death, he said. The 19-year-old drowned in the Hooghly after he fell down from the boat, which had four friends on board, on a cruise on Thursday afternoon. The police has registered murder cases after the boy’s family lodged a complaint against the four friends of Rounak, who accompanied him during Thursday’s boat ride and the boatman Sheikh Saifuddin, who was later arrested.Alleging that his son was “murdered”, Rounak’s father Subrata Saha today claimed that he was approached by the parents of his son’s four friends and was offered money to withdraw the complaints. “We are looking into everything. The post mortem report is crucial and we are waiting for it. We are speaking to the majhi (boatman) and Rounak’s four friends who were there on the boat with him to ascertain what exactly happened… there are questions which need to be clarified. We are trying to get a clear picture,” another senior officer, in-charge of the investigation, told PTI.

Demonetisation: Modi asks youth, traders to help create a ‘less-cash society’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday talked about the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on the radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and appealed to the people of India to help him create a “less-cash society”.

“A lot of people have asked me to talk more about the currency ban,” said the Prime Minister, as he began talking about demonetisation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked people to help create a 'less-cash society'. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked people to help create a ‘less-cash society’. PTI

“When I had taken this decision, I had said that this is full of difficulties. And the implementation of this decision was also bound to be difficult. I knew about the kind of difficulties people would have to face,” Modi said. “I knew that it will definitely take 50 days to come out of the effect [of demonetisation],” he added.

“But for 70 years, we have been tolerating the disease of corruption and black money. The cure to that disease cannot be simple,” he said.

“But I see your support. Despite so many attempts to dissuade you, you have understood this move for the welfare of this nation,” said the Prime Minister. “The entire world is watching this move. Every economist is analysing this move. The world is watching whether 1.25 crore Indians, despite difficulties, will achieve success.”

He then said that India trusts its citizens who will make the country emerge successful after “this test of fire”.

“Bank branches and officials are involved in this process. It is because of their efforts that India will succeed,” he said. “I have seen that banks and post office officials are working. And when it comes to humanity, they are two steps ahead of everyone else. I remember when the Jan Dhan Yojana was announced, the way the bank officials worked showed that they did something which had not been done in 70 years,” he added.

“There are still some people who have a bad habit of trying to find loopholes. They are trying to find other means to save their black money and benaami money,” Modi said.

“They are trying to influence and oppress the poor people to do this. I want to tell these people: Following laws or not is up to you. But please do not play with the lives of the poor. Don’t do anything because of which the poor suffer because of your actions,” he said.

Modi also said that demonetisation was changing rural lives too. He said that because of demonetisation, in one week, Rs 13,000 crore was deposited in many municipalities this year, which was much greater than last year.

“I want to thank the farmers. Compared to last year, the sowing by farmers has increased. Despite difficulties, the farmers have found solutions. The farmers always stand resilient,” he said.

“Small traders also faced difficulties. But they are achieving a lot through technology,” Modi said. He also asked small traders and businessmen to use bank apps on their mobile phones and “learn how to participate in trade through cashless transactions.”

“I also want to thanks labourers,” Modi said. “They are forced to give a cut to many people after getting their wages. Through mobile phones and e-wallets, you can avoid giving these cuts,” he added.

“I took this decision for the poor and the needy,” he said.

The prime minister then appealed to the youth to help teach others about technology and online transactions.

“I want to talk to the youth. I know that you have liked and supported this decision. You are my real soldiers. This is a golden opportunity to help India,” he said.

“Many elders in your family will not know what an app is. You know how to conduct transactions online,” he said.

“Our dream is a cashless society. But why can’t India move towards a ‘less-cash society’. I know you will not disappoint me,” said the prime minister.

“There are many opportunities for mobile and e-banking. Every bank offers online transactions. Through Jan Dhan Yojana, crores of people have RuPay card. Many have started using that,” he said.

He also talked about the benefits of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which he said was “very simple, like sending a Whatsapp message. Even an illiterate person knows how to send a Whatsapp message. You don’t even need a smartphone to do this.”

“There is an entire generation which does not know about online transactions,” Modi said. “Make a promise that you will be a part of a cashless society. Every day, educate at least ten families about technology and online transactions,” he said, asking support from the youth.

“I invite you to not only support the government but also become soldiers of this change. There are many countries where the youth changed the country. Revolution is done by the youth,” Modi said.

Before his radio address, Modi had also tweeted, asking citizens to “embrace e-banking, mobile banking & more such technology”.

The prime minister, in his Mann Ki Baat address, also talked about how Amitabh Bachchan talked about the importance of cleanliness on the occasion of the birth anniversary of hi father Harivansh Rai Bachchan.

He also talked about celebrating Diwali with the soldiers of the army and asked people to always support the jawans of the nation.

Lastly, he also talked about how the participation of the students of Jammu and Kashmir in their examinations showed that “the children of Jammu and Kashmir want to touch new heights of development through education”.

First Published On : Nov 27, 2016 12:09 IST

26/11 Tribute: The call of the sea

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“It’ll be a long picnic,” says Manav Mehta.The 16-year-old is referring to a more than 300-hour non-stop, relay swim in a vast sea, riddled with sharks and jellyfish. Seasickness-induced barfing, severe sunburns, bruises, blisters and sleeplessness are guaranteed to add to his company of five swimmers over the fortnight.You’d be forgiven to think that Mehta is off-kilter for equating the gruelling and brutal journey to a picnic. Fortunately for team Sea Hawks, this is precisely the kind of mental make-up that will see them through their expedition: a 1,000km open water relay swim from Mumbai to Mangalore.Mehta, Wing Commander Paramvir Singh, Sergeant (retired) G Narihari, LAC Vicky Tokas, Mumbai policeman Shrikant Palande and national-level swimmer and coach Rahul Chiplunkar took to the 28degree Celsius water at the Gateway of India on Saturday evening.Flagged off with much pomp, swimmer number one, Wing Commander Singh, started freestyling until team Sea Hawks disappeared into the Arabian Sea. Sticking to their sequence, swimmer number two, Palande would replace him in the water after an hour, such that each swimmer would take to the water every five hours. The sequence and the swimming are expected to continue non-stop for two weeks, until December 10, when the team hopes to reach Mangalore. “The first three days are horrible,” admits the cheerful team leader and Singh. The 41-year-old, who conceived this swim, is a serial expeditionist, having led the record-breaking 433.11km-Goa-Mumbai open water relay swim as well as the first human effort to swim the 2,800km-length of the Ganga from Devprayag to Frazergunj, both in 2015. “It’s your mental strength and the motivation that keeps you going.”Tribute to terror victimsSports and adventure, feels Singh, offer great avenues to impact society. So it’s only natural that the Air Force officer, whose father was in the Army, looks at this expedition as a way of showing solidarity with the civilians and officers who perished in the 2008 attacks as well as with those killed in the line of fire at Pathankot and Uri earlier this year. “The 26/11 attack shook the world. Not just India, but many lives were lost from Israel, Canada, France, Britain, Australia and the US. This Guinness record attempt is an apt way of spreading the message of peace and condemning terror,” says the 41-year-old.“Our team comprises people from all strata of society,” he says, referring to his mates from the armed forces, the Mumbai police, civilians and youth, who are supported in the endeavour by IDBI Bank. “But they are all of the same mindset and feel strongly for the cause.”Fortitude and fitnessThe six swimmers’ quest for a record will be monitored by an independent observer of the Swimming Federation of India. Shekhar Kale will be onboard the second of the three fishing trawlers that are vital to Sea Hawks’ mission. Staying up day and night, closely watching each of the six swimmers incessantly come easy swells or rough surges, it will be his word that will seal the record, assuming that the six members just keep swimming for the 343-odd hours.Open sea swimming isn’t for the faint-hearted, and some even consider the Mumbai-Goa stretch to be among the toughest, more than the English Channel, to swim. The team leader is aware that fatigue levels will be exceptionally high. Cuts and bruises are par for the course and waves in rough weather feel like whiplash. “Besides, we’ll have to be mindful of marine life like jelly fish, sting rays, sharks, and rocky coastline. Sea-sickness is inevitable as are sunburns and mouth ulcers. And these challenges will only multiply, making the expedition demanding,” says Singh.This is why it is critical that each member be mentally strong and demonstrate ample team spirit. The slightest of hesitancy to get into the water or giving up in rough weather or due to exhaustion would jeopardise the expedition, derailing months of preparation, involving planning as per tidal patterns and undercurrents and getting approvals and clearances from the police, the coast guard and the navy.“I need mentally strong people. Nobody can be a part of the expedition if they don’t exhibit the right attitude. There is no room for an agenda or one-upmanship,” clarifies Singh, for whom this is the first such expedition with assistant sub-inspector Palande and swimmer Chiplunkar. “I know their capabilities and endurance levels. But even exceptional swimmers can falter in such a challenge. It’s not physical strength, rather 80 per cent of what is required is mental strength. We cannot afford to raise hands.”Ensuring the six of them are tethered in an unyielding bond has been the wing commander’s toughest challenge since he conceived the tribute swim four months ago. Given that his mates live in different places, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Willingdon, it has helped that some of them have been together on a few expeditions earlier. “We are more like a family now,” says Mehta, the youngest among the six men. “I talk to them about my crushes and they tell me about their girlfriends.”Ready to goMental strength aside, the Sea Hawks aren’t overlooking the physical attributes. An average day’s training includes an 8-10km run, a few hours of strength building, which would involve high-intensity exercises as cycling, cardio or crossfit, and a few hours of swimming.“We don’t want to build muscles, because muscles rupture easily under water. We need to build strength and add reserves,” says Singh. So the six members have been increasing carbohydrates and fat in their diet to bulk up.“It’s not just Vidya Balan who puts on weight for a suitable role. We do that too,” he quips. “After a few days at sea, when not even a drop of water stays in your stomach because you are throwing up constantly, it’s the fat that keeps you going.”Accordingly, their rations onboard the trawler will include food that is easy to ingest, such as fruits, coconuts and noodles. “And adequate supplies of ORLS (oral rehydration solutions) and energy drinks,” adds Mehta.So what will they look forward to when they aren’t in water. “The sunrise and the sunset are amazing sights,” says Mehta.“Truly phenomenal. That’s also the time when one tends to become philosophical,” adds the team leader. “I ask questions, like how does one define happiness? Everyone has a different definition. I’ve realised over time that happiness is relative…”So is it the happiness that prompts such expeditions? “It’s for the same reason that people climb the Everest… because it’s there. Our challenges are much like that, because of our passion for the open sea.”

2008 Mumbai Attacks: In idle moments, memories of attack haunt, says 26/11 survivor

Mumbai: Dr N P Vaswani, who stared the death in the face eight years ago, says he is so busy that he has no time to look back and this has kept him going. But when Vaswani, a survivor of Mumbai terror attack of November 2008, has time to think, the memory haunts him.

“By God’s grace I am so busy, that I don’t look behind. But when I sit idle I feel disturbed. Whole day I am busy with my patients, if I had been idle, I would have died. So, my work has kept me alive,” he told PTI as another anniversary of the attack which began on 26 November, 2008, approaches.

Not much seemed to have changed in terms of security post the attack, he said.

“I am still scared to sit in my clinic and the fear is still there. They should improve the security. What I’am seeing is not security. They have put up CCTVs, but nobody keeps a watch whether it’s working or not. CCTVs are not being utilised to the extent they should be. So the security is just on paper.”

Recounting his experience of the fateful night, he said, “I was face to face with a terrorist. I was fired upon, but I escaped….Somebody who came to protect me died on the spot.”



“I was in (Hotel) Taj. I had an appointment with a High Court judge at 10 pm, so I came down from the lift and saw everybody dead on the floor. Not a single soul was alive.

“There was a person in black dress who asked me not to venture out as some kind of gang-war was going on outside,” Dr Vaswani said.

“I said gangwar keeps on happening and stepped ahead, but this person jumped and tried to protect me. Seeing this, the terrorist shot at the person, leaving him dead. I got into lift and escaped upstairs to the room of my patient. I was in the room whole night and (next) whole day until commandos came and rescued me,” he said.

“I was the first person to be rescued because my patient was the mother of the President of Qatar. She was a VIP guest, so the External Affairs Ministry and all got involved,” he said.

Another survivor, Devika Rotawan, said, “I will never be able to forget that night (of November 26, 2008).”

Devika, who was only 13 years old then, said her family’s life changed in a big way in the aftermath of attack.

“There are both positive and negative changes in our lives. The positive change is I have got some award and people have appreciated me. But the downside is my father is jobless now and there is a financial crisis. His business folded up as people stopped dealing with him due to fear of terrorists,” she said.

“There is problem at our village too. People asked us not to visit there, fearing that terrorists might follow us to the village,” she added.

On the ill-fated night, Devika, her father Natwarlal and her brother Akash were waiting for a train at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) when Ajmal Kasab and other terrorists opened fire indiscriminately.

Shot in the right leg, Devika, who became the youngest eye-witness to depose in the court during Kasab‘s trial, had to use crutches for a long time.

The attack by Pakistani terrorists at multiple places across Mumbai left 166 people dead and several others injured.

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 10:45 IST

Across the border

India’s scrapping of large rupee notes has affected its neighbours in myriad ways.

A mother, a friend, a confidante and a crime-fighter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Think of women detectives in fiction and the name that comes to mind is Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s elderly spinster who relied on her sharp intellect to solve crimes. Now noted Tamil author Ambai has come up with a similar figure, Sudha Gupta, a woman detective who goes about solving various crimes in contemporary Mumbai. Ambai’s stories as well as Sudha Gupta are cast in a different mould from Christie’s and Miss Marple. Where Jane Marple lives a sedate life among a social strata that can be termed genteel, Sudha is an active and spunky woman. She revels in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, travels by local trains and taxis, and is constantly bullying her policeman friend Govind Shelke for his chauvinistic attitude. Sudha’s investigative skills are the foil to uncovering deeper social issues that are particularly relevant to women. This hardly comes as a surprise as Ambai is the psuedonym for CS Lakshmi, a feminist scholar — a fact reflected in the acute awareness of gender relationships and societal attitudes in all the three stories in A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge, the first of more Sudha Gupta stories in the future, confirms Ambai.Like most private detectives, Sudha’s pet grouse is that most of the work that comes to her involves suspicious husbands and wives demanding surveillance on their spouses. But police inspector Govind Shelke values her keen intuition and ability to forge a trusty bond with people. Shelke turns to her for assistance when he is in need of a breakthrough and Sudha rarely disappoints. The book comprises three long stories or rather novellas: As the Day Darkens, The Paperboat Maker, and A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge. In As the Day Darkens, three sisters, aged 14, 12 and 10, go missing on a beach, the father is in hospital, and the mother is clueless about their whereabouts. The police are also clueless, till Sudha uncovers a vital clue that leads to uncovering a dark chapter in the family’s history. In The Paperboat Maker, Sudha has an unsual request from her cook, Chellammal, who wants her to uncover the antecedents of prospective grooms for her daughter.As Sudha probes, she uncovers a heartwarming story of a single mother’s struggle to bring up her children. A Meeting on the Andheri Overbridge is about how Sudha helps an elderly woman who owns considerable wealth to assert her right to property against unsympathetic family members. Among the three stories, it is As The Day Darkens that stands out because of its suspense. As a woman, Sudha is able to juggle multiple roles — working woman, wife, mother, employer, friend and confidante — with elan and humour. “We see such women every day in Mumbai,” says Ambai in an e-mail interview. “Women have to run and catch a train, hop into a bus or auto, bargain with vendors in the train but they also have the time and patience to extend a helping hand for a pregnant or old lady or time to read and think on women’s rights. They are also very savvy where technology is concerned.”

Dementization ke side-effects: Woman gets ex-lover thrashed after spotting him in line

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was the experience that a 35-year-old man waiting in a queue outside a bank in Nashik must have wished he never had. As he was standing outside a bank on Trimbak Road on Monday, the man was spotted by his ex-lover, a 23-year-old woman. However, what followed was not reunion of estranged lovers, but settling of an old score as the woman claimed that he had walked out of the relationship four years back. The woman had gone to the bank to exchange old high denomination notes when she noticed a familiar face that of her former boyfriend, who, she later told police, had ditched her.The woman immediately informed her brother and father who came to the spot and allegedly thrashed him in full view of public and bank staffers, police said, adding later on her complaint a case was registered against the man. In her complaint with Satpur police station, the girl said they were close till he ditched her four years ago and are not in contact since, till she bumped into him in the bank queue.”The alleged boyfriend was brought to police station and questioned. He was bruised and we sent him to the civil hospital,” an official of the Satpur police station told PTI. A non-cognisable case has been registered against the man under sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of IPC, police said.

Nepal bans new Indian Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While some Nepalese citizens are bearing the brunt of demonetization and trying to exchange the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, the Nepal Rastra Bank has reportedly banned Rs 500 and Rs 2000. The Nepal Rastra bank said that the new Indian notes can’t be exchanged until the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issues a notification under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, reported Hindustan Times. Ramu Poudel, the Nepal Rastra Bank’s chief for the eastern region was quoted saying: “As of now, our understanding with the Reserve Bank of India is that a Nepali citizen can hold up to Indian Rs 25,000 (in the) old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Even the fate of those old notes is uncertain, how can these new Indian notes coming into the market be considered as legal”: Normally, Indian currency is widely accepted in Nepal and a lot of people in the country are facing trouble when exchanging notes.Nepali migrant workers hit in IndiaWhen Bishnu Pandey, a Nepali migrant working in India, returned home two weeks ago, he had hoped to clear a loan taken by his family to rebuild its village home with his savings. But the 35-year-old New Delhi restaurant worker had his dreams shattered after the bank refused to exchange cash worth $440 because of a crackdown on “black money” ordered by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The shock announcement to ban 500 and 1,000 rupee bills – worth $7.50 and $15 – seeks to flush out billions of dollars in unaccounted wealth and hit the finances of militants suspected of using fake currency to fund operations. “I don’t think I am the target but I became a victim,” Pandey told Reuters outside a bank branch in Kathmandu, showing stacks of the old Indian notes that are no longer legal tender.”I have no money now to return to work and I have no way to pay back the family debt,” he said, referring to $275 his father borrowed to repair his house damaged in earthquakes last year that killed 9,000 people and destroyed nearly one million homes.The tall, lanky Pandey, from Naubise village in Dhading district, 24 km (15 miles) from Kathmandu, is one of hundreds of thousands in the desperately poor Himalayan country hit by the currency ban announced two weeks ago.Families of migrants like Pandey, students seeking admissions in Indian colleges, those seeking medical treatment, pilgrims and those visiting families across the open border have all been hit. Unlike people in India, they can’t deposit or swap old notes at banks that will accept them until Dec. 30.Pashupati Murarka, chief of the Federation of the Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), estimates that dud banknotes worth as much as 10 billion Indian rupees ($146 million) may be held by individuals and the informal sector.Nara Bahadur Thapa, an official at the central bank, said Nepal received 70 billion rupees ($640 million) in remittances from migrant workers in India every year.Thousands of Gurkha soldiers retired from the Indian army also get their pensions paid in the Indian currency.Nepali Prime Minister Prachanda, a former Maoist rebel commander, spoke to Modi over phone last week seeking arrangements for the exchange of Indian cash held in Nepal, his aides said.Modi pledged to resolve the issue, but no arrangements have been made yet, they said.With inputs from agencies

Man rapes 3-yr-old neighbour, leaves her in a pit for dead

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 35-year-old man raped the three-and-a-half-year-old daughter of his neighbour on Monday and dumped her in a ditch, taking her to be dead. The girl was rescued nine hours after the horrific incident, and the accused, identified as Birbal, was arrested from his home.The incident took place in the Harijan Basti locality of north Delhi. The victim is undergoing treatment at a city hospital, and her condition is reported to be stable.Around 9pm on Monday, the Police Control Room (PCR) received a call regarding kidnapping of a minor girl. A police team reached the location, where the father of the victim informed them that the child was playing outside their home before she went missing. She was last seen at 7pm.A case of kidnapping was registered and the police swung into action to find the child. A team including Assistant Sub-Inspector Naseeb Singh, and Constables Jaideep and Pradeep was formed to handle the sensitive matter.Locals in the area were questioned, who revealed that they had seen the girl playing.The elder sister of the victim then told the police that she had seen someone giving her a chocolate. On the basis of this input, the police started their inquiry. It then came to the fore that someone had seen a man, who lived in the same building as the victim, with her. Accused Birbal had worked with the victim’s father as well.Birbal was picked up from his home after midnight. “He was in an inebriated condition and could not even speak or stand properly. He denied that he was with the victim. Finally early on Tuesday morning, he regained consciousness and confessed that he had raped and killed the child,” a police officer said.Based on the information provided by the accused, the police started looking for the girl near the Sarai Rohilla railway station. After searching for almost an hour, they spotted her in a pit near the tracks. “The girl was numb and had no clothes on her body. We were shocked to see her,” said the landlord of the victim’s house. The only sign of life she showed was when she started crying on seeing her mother. She was immediately rushed to the Bara Hindu Rao Hospital.”A case under section 363 (kidnapping), 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (rape) and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act has been registered at the Sarai Rohilla police station. Further investigation is underway,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), North, Madhur Verma.

Madhya Pradesh by-polls: BJP retains Nepanagar Assembly seat, defeats Congress

Bhopal: BJP on Tuesday retained the Nepanagar Assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh with party candidate Manju Dadu defeating her nearest Congress rival Antar Singh Barde by a margin of 42,198 votes.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Manju bagged 99,626 votes while Barde got 57,428 votes, an election official said.

BJP fielded Manju Dadu, daughter of late MLA Rajendra Shyamlal Dadu whose death in an accident necessitated the bypoll.

BJP retained the seat by winning it with a margin of 42,198 votes.Dadu’s father had won the election in 2013 by a margin of 22178 RPT 22178 votes.

Besides Congress and BJP, the Republican Party of India (A) (nominee Ms Revanta) and Lok Janshakti Party (Ber Singh) also contested the bypoll.

The reserved seat (ST) had recorded 71.25 per cent polling during the byelection held on 19 November.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 14:54 IST

Moshe, like his father, will probably become Rabbi of Nariman House one day, says uncle

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Remember baby Moshe? Eight years ago, the images of a crying two-year-old were were splashed across television channels and newspapers. He was miraculously saved from terrorists by his nanny Sandra Samuel during the 26/11 attacks. His uncle and namesake, Moshe Holtzberg is in Mumbai now.Ten-year-old Moshe resides in Afula now and studies in the fifth standard. Holtzberg was in the city on Monday to attend a prayer service at Nariman House, the sameChabad Centre where young Moshe’s father Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, mother Rivka Gavriel and four guests fell to terrorist bullets. Moshe is the sole surviving member of the Holtzberg family.President of Israel Rueven Rivlin is also in the city. He also attended the prayer services at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and Nariman House.Since this year, November 26 falls on a Saturday, the day of Sabbath (a day of religious observance and abstinence from work kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening), the community decided to observe prayers on Monday.Little Moshe also does this little tweaking. He enjoys celebrating his birthday and “if it falls on a Friday, and since Saturday is Sabbath, he will ensure that it is celebrated on a Sunday, so that it is celebrated properly,” said Holtzberg.The memories of 26/11 is one reason why Holtzberg is not staying in the Chabad House now. Also, it is not safe to stay there. He stays at a hotel in Marine Drive instead.Those memories, however, doesn’t stop young Moshe from returning to India. “He will certainly come to India but I am not sure when. May be the PM or the President should invite him. It is his home. He lived here. Like his father, probably he will be the Rabbi of Nariman House one day. It was after all set up by his parents,” said Holtzberg.”He wants to be an emissary like his father and make the world a better place. He wants to fight darkness with light,” said he.The Holtzberg family feels that Nariman House should function as before. “It should be more inviting and welcoming. As per a settlement, it was supposed to be redone in a year. It took two years for them (Chabad Lubavitch movement) to make the first two floors. And now they say there is a funds crunch. We want the whole building to function. Maybe there can be a school there,” said Holtzberg, the youngest among the two surviving brothers and four sisters.And where’s that nanny now? “She is in Jerusalem and works at a place for special kids. It is a two-hour drive from where my nephew stays and she visits them off and on. Two other children Gavriel had passed away due to genetic disorders before the Mumbai attack. Sandra used to take care of them when they were in Mumbai. She is helping kids in that institution. She is very happy to do that work,” said Moshe.The family makes it a point to have a special thanks to Sandra. “Had she not been there, God forbid, what would have happened.”Does Moshe remember 26/11? “He goes to his parents’ grave every year, where a special prayer has to be recited by him. But he prefers to stand alone beyond a point. He knows what happened, but keeps it in a special compartment in his head. He does not talk about it to anyone. His grandfather tells me that he has faint memories of his parents,” said Holtzberg.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Updates on Indore-Patna express train derailment, PM Modi hits back at Mamata Banerjee on demonetization, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indore-Patna express derailment: Death toll rises to 112, Suresh Prabhu arrives at siteOver 100 people were killed and at least 200 injured after 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna express train derailed on Sunday morning near Pukhrayan area in Kanpur. Follow the live updates here.PM Modi rakes up chit fund scam to blunt Mamata’s demonetization attackIn an indirect reference to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is opposing the demonetisation drive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that politicians under whom chit-fund scams prospered are now raising a finger at him even as the decision was not taken to trouble anyone but to safeguard future of India’s youth. Read more here.Putting a friend’s black money in your account? You could get seven years in jail!Warning people against depositing their unaccounted old currency in someone else’s bank account, the tax department has decided to slap charges under the newly enforced Benami Transactions Act. Read more here. PV Sindhu outclasses Sun Yu to win maiden China Open Super Series titlePV Sindhu had suffered second-round exits at the Denmark Open and French Open but held her nerve in China to win the title. Read more here.Aamir Khan visits wrestler Geeta Phogat’s wedding!Aamir Khan, who essays the role of Geeta Phogat’s father Mahavir Singh in his upcoming film Dangal, visited the wrestler’s house in Bilal and wished her a happy married life. See pictures here.

BJP banks on Sukhbir Badal’s skills to beat odds in Punjab polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP leadership may be unsure of its prospects in Punjab, where it is in government headed by ally Shiromani Akali Dal, but is banking on SAD President and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s political smarts and election management skills to surprise rivals as polls approach. “He (Sukhbir) is confident and we believe in him. There were doubts about our chances in 2012 Assembly polls as well but he was confident and turned out to be correct even though Congress had begun celebrating before the votes were counted. He is a skillful politician,” a top BJP leader said.Beating the odds, SAD-BJP alliance had returned to power in 2012 with Akalis doing better than the saffron party in terms of strike rate. The surprise success was then put down to shrewd poll management of Badal, who had taken a lead role in overseeing the polls with his father and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal keeping away from the hustle and bustle. Akalis had got better of Congress by small margins in a number of seats and many believed that Sukhbir outsmarted the Opposition by tactically propping up Independents and better micro-level management.As Amarinder Singh-led Congress fancies its chances after staying out of power for a decade and AAP too emerging as a formidable force, political watchers believe that the odds are stacked against the NDA. BJP sources said their alliance might have lost on perception due to a “shrill” campaign by Opposition parties, especially AAP which has targeted Badals over drug menace and corruption, but are hopeful of a comeback due to “visible development” in the state under the Badal government and division of votes due to tripolar contests.

Demonetisation: Severe cash crunch compels citizens to seek psychiatric help

An 18-year-old boy walked into the clinic of clinical psychiatrist Dr Purnima Nagaraja this week. This engineering student in Hyderabad said he was tormented by the thought that he had not received his weekly pocket money of Rs 1,200 from his father.

“I cannot eat a snack or drink tea. I cannot borrow more as I am yet to clear off my previous debt at the college canteen. I feel guilty because even the canteen owner does not have money,” he told Dr Nagaraja. He could pay at the clinic because it accepted old notes or a promissory note in cases where no money was at hand.

Women argue with bank employees after an ATM machine ran out of cash outside a bank in Ahmedabad on Friday. Reuters

Women argue with bank employees after an ATM machine ran out of cash outside a bank in Ahmedabad on Friday. Reuters

Attendance at most colleges in and around Hyderabad has fallen by about 50 percent because there is no change to pay public transport like a bus or autorickshaw. Driving your own vehicle also adds to cost as the petrol bunk will give you fuel only in big denominations, as there is no change. It may seem rather strange that in these times of cash crunch, people are actually reaching out to psychiatrists but this is seen as the first reaction to a stress caused by acute anxiety.

What can a shrink possibly offer as a solution? Experts say in most cases, people are only looking to have a person to listen to their financial woes and the sense of despair arising out of that.

“With the kind of rumours floating around on social media, people are feeling very anxious and in some cases, there are turning even paranoid,” says Dr Nagaraja. “Like one, that says all lockers will now be opened in the presence of an Income Tax official. Or another that says, all phones are being tapped.”

Add to that the videos of people burning money circulating on WhatsApp; articles both praising and critiquing the decision to demonetise confuses and scares people all the more. Particularly because the management of the economy with its complicated jargon is not easy for everyone to understand.

In many cases, worried families are bringing their aggrieved members to psychiatrists for crisis intervention. A father whose daughter’s wedding is fixed in November came to meet Dr C Venkata Suresh, a psychiatrist at Hyderabad’s Yashoda Hospital, this week. He was undergoing acute stress due to his inability to access his own money kept in the bank. This was before the government relaxed the withdrawal limit to Rs 2.5 lakh for a wedding.

“I counselled him that he will get his money back, told him that this is for nation building. In this case, I had to give him a tranquiliser to calm his mind because he was very nervous,” says Suresh. Another patient, who had applied for a US visa, got panic attacks because of the situation and was slipping into a depressed state of mind.

Psychiatrists say the feeling of happiness, contentment, and well-being is controlled by a chemical called serotonin. Its levels dip when the mind is under acute stress. They warn that a prolonged spell of disruption and worry could lead to impulse control disorder, which is an urge that could harm oneself or others.

Most of the other patients being referred are those who are used to handle a lot of cash daily and are feeling disoriented when the currency flow has almost dried up. These are mostly traders and shopkeepers who now keep asking “how long is this going to continue”

Experts say this is a new experience for mainland India as it is not used to an unstable economy or a situation in which rationing of some kind takes place. News is being consumed far more than usual for the latest updates. The government’s decision to change the withdrawal limit thrice in the last ten days has led to doubts if it knows the roadmap well.

Psychiatrists believe that the present crisis has also led to a trust deficit, with everyone suspecting the other of stashing unaccounted cash. “Everyone sees each other as a crook, with suspicion,” says Dr Nagaraja. “The fabric of trust is slowly broken, which is not good for society in the long run.”

Experts say it is important for this crisis to get over in a week or two. Already many are resorting to obsessive hoarding of Rs 100 notes, which is a disorder arising out of frustration. Tempers are running high and the Supreme Court has already cautioned the government that there could be riots on the streets if the currency is not provided in the banks soon.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 09:29 IST

Asaram cases: SC seeks Centre’s response on plea for CBI probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Supreme Court on Friday sought the response of the Centre and five states on a plea seeking a CBI probe into the alleged murder of children through black magic and attacks on ten witnesses in Asaram Bapu rape cases.A bench of Justices A K Sikri and A M Sapre while issuing notice to the Centre, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh governments, said that it is the high time that issue of witness protection needs to be dealt with. The four petitioners are — Mahinder Chawla, a witness in a rape case involving Asaram, Naresh Gupta, the father of a murdered witness, Karamvir Singh, the father of a child rape victim and Narender Yadav, a journalist who allegedly escaped a murder attempt. They have filed the plea seeking CBI probe into the matters.”A very dangerous scenario has emerged which attacks the heart of our constitutional rights and freedoms, where the rich and powerful accused openly subvert the rule of law and pollute the streams of justice by murdering, attacking and threatening witnesses with impunity. “Recently several witnesses in the Asaram Bapu and Narayan Sai rape cases were killed, attacked or went missing under mysterious circumstances,” the plea said.The petitioners also sought directions from the court to the Centre and states for central forces’ protection to the witnesses who have been attacked.The petition filed through advocate Utsav Singh Bains said that a CBI probe is needed on the attacks on the witnesses and into “the murder of a child by black magic by Narayan Sai and Asaram in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, into the mysterious deaths of two children at the Motera Ashram of Gujarat and two more children at Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh”.

Amit Sibal’s defamation case against Delhi CM: SC sends it to Delhi HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Delhi High Court to decide the plea of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking quashing of the defamation case filed against him by former Union minister Kapil Sibal’s lawyer son Amit Sibal.A bench of justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, while remanding back the matter to the High Court, made clear that the proceedings before the trial court in the defamation complaint would continue. The clarification regarding continuance of the trial court proceedings was made when senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Sibal, expressed the apprehension that Kejriwal and others may use the order for remanding the case back to the High Court to seek a stay on the pending proceedings before the Patiala House courts here.Amit Sibal had filed the defamation complaint against Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan for alleging conflict of interest on his part. The apex court had earlier said that it may remand the matter back to the High Court to decide Kejriwal and others’ plea seeking discharge in the case on merit. The Delhi High Court had in its judgement on January 16, 2014 asked the trial court to consider the pleas of Kejriwal and others seeking discharge from the defamation case.The High Court had also refused to quash defamation proceedings against AAP leaders. Challenging the order, Amit Sibal told the apex court that the High Court cannot confer the power to discharge on a Magistrate in a triable case instituted on a private complaint.Kejriwal had held a press conference on May 15, 2013, alleging conflict of interest on the part of Sibal, saying he appeared in the court for a telecom firm when his father was the communications minister. Following the accusation, Amit Sibal had filed the defamation complaint. The trial court had issued summonses to them on July 24, 2013.

Bulandshahr gang rape case: SC asks Azam Khan to apologise

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Thursday directed controversial Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan to tender an “unconditional apology” for alleged remarks on the sensational Bulandshahr gang rape case while seeking assistance of the Attorney General in dealing with the issue of statements made by persons holding public offices in such cases.A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy referred to the old adage that “words once spoken cannot be recalled” and asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Khan, that “if he (Khan) files an affidavit tendering unconditional apology, the matter ends”. During the hearing, Sibal told the bench that though Khan has not said anything, attributed to him, against the victims in the case, but if the father of the victim felt “insulted or offended” in any manner then the Samajwadi Party leader is willing to apologise.”Let the affidavit tendering unconditional apology be filed within two weeks,” the bench said, adding that it would deliberate upon the questions framed by it earlier regarding the freedom of speech and expression and probable impact of statements of those holding high offices on free and fair probe in heinous cases including rape and molestation. Terming dignity of women as “uncompromisable”, the bench asked the state government to ensure that the minor survivor of the gang rape gets admission in a nearby central school of the choice of her father.The cost of admission and education shall be borne by the state government and the Centre will render all assistance for it, the court said, noting the school will ensure the dignity of the rape survivor. “The controversy does not end here. The unconditional apology to be given by R-2 (Khan) will be considered by this court as to whether it should be accepted. The issue of questions framed by this court earlier will be deliberated upon. We request Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to assist this court,” the bench, which fixed the matter for further hearing on December 7, said.Noted jurist and amicus curiae Fali S Nariman told the bench that the questions framed by the court should be debated upon so that a decision could be given on the issue regarding statements by persons holding high offices in cases like rape and molestation. However, the bench observed, “The responsibility of the press, the responsibility of the persons holding public offices qua dignity of a woman should be there.” The brutal incident had happened on the night of July 29when a group of highway robbers stopped the car of a Noida- based family and sexually assaulted a woman and her daughter after dragging them out of the vehicle at gun-point.The apex court had on August 29 taken note of the alleged controversial remarks of Khan that the gang rape case was a “political conspiracy”.As the hearing commenced today, Sibal said that Khan has filed an affidavit in pursuance to the court’s direction.He said that Khan has not stated anything that has been alleged against him and there was no question of insulting the victims.”He (Khan) has not said the word ‘political conspiracy’.He has termed the incident as shocking. We have been issued a notice for saying the words which he (Khan) has not said at all,” he told the bench.However, advocate Kislay Pandey, who was appearing for the petitioner, alleged that Khan has filed a “doctored” CD having his statements in the apex court in which the some words have been deliberately and intentionally deleted.He also referred to the statements of Khan which were carried by the media, both print and electronic.Sibal sought to counter this saying there was nothing like that and Khan had never intended to say that it was a ‘political conspiracy’.To this, the bench said, “The word that has been said conveys a meaning. You (Khan) cannot say that this has been done to blame the party. How can a minister say that it is done to blame the party.”The counsel for the petitioner told the bench that the victim has suffered a lot in the case and the state government should look after her education.When the bench asked the state’s counsel about it, he said that a compensation of Rs 10.5 lakh each has been given to the mother and the girl, besides two residential flats.On the issue of education of the girl, the state said that it would take steps for her admission in a Kendriya Vidyalaya that is near her house.Initially, the FIR was lodged by the Uttar Pradesh Police under various provisions on July 30. The CBI had re-registered the case on August 18 in pursuance to the Allahabad High Court’s interim order.The man, whose wife and daughter were gang raped in July on a highway in Bulandshahr, had on August 13 moved the apex court seeking transfer of the case to Delhi, besides lodging of an FIR against Khan as well as several policemen.The Allahabad High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the incident, besides deciding to monitor the investigation.

Why nuns are silent about sexual abuse within the Catholic church in India: It’s never taken seriously

By Maya Palit

“If it comes out, it will be like a tsunami,” the nun Manju Kulapuram said, earlier this year, about the rampant sexual abuse of women by the men of the Catholic church in India. Evidently, Kulapuram was onto something — and it’s across denominations, nor confined just to the Catholic church. Unlike other work places, which in theory are meant to have set up mandatory internal complaints committees, there is no formal institution in place that addresses sexual abuse inflicted by members of the clergy.

On 14 November, a woman based in Kozhikode registered a police complaint about a parish priest in Nadakkavu St Mary’s English Church. She alleged that he sexually harassed her over email and messages after she contacted him with a request to pray for her daughter on her birthday in August. She complained to the bishop at the Malabar Diocese of the Church of South India, even showing him copies of the interactions with the priest, but was not taken seriously: the bishop said there were plenty of other churches in Kozhikode that she could attend. Although the priest was briefly transferred to Nilambur in September, he was back at Nadakkavu in just over a month. It was only after she contacted the police through Anweshi, a women’s counselling centre that a case was registered and the priest was charged under Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Numerous cases have not made it that far. A 2016 report suggested that when higher-ups of the church are alerted to these incidents, they often choose to either ignore them or, at the most, transfer the perpetrator. Sr. Kulapuram says that a fellow nun was videotaped while bathing, by a seminarian, while they were both attending a seminar away from home; she was dissuaded from pursuing the legal route and told that she’d get justice from the church. This never materialised — the priest was sent to Rome to continue his theological studies, and the victim abandoned religious life altogether. A version of the familiar promotion-for-accused and demotion-for-victim model.

Things may have changed since the 1950s, when fellow priests are said to have advised Reverend Louis Brouillard, a serial child molestor in Guam, to do regular penance instead of stopping him. But abusers still tend to get off with minimal official punishment.

A case in point is the apparent reinduction of a convicted child molestor, Father Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, into the Roman Catholic Church of South India in January. One of his victims from Minnesota says that she was 14 when he first raped her in his parish office, and during the year-long period of abuse, he forced her to say that she contributed to his becoming impure. Although Jeyapaul was sentenced to one year of prison in Minnesota, where he had been posted previously, in 2015, he served a shorter prison term under the condition that he would not return to work that kept him in contact with children. When he returned to India, a bishop lifted the five-year-old suspension, apparently in consultation with Rome.

This August, Shanthi Roselin took on the Catholic church after an investigation into the murder of her 17-year-old daughter by a Walayar priest in Kovai, Tamil Nadu, three years ago, revealed that church authorities were very much aware of her having been sexually assaulted. Strangely enough, they reported it to Rome while hiding the information from the local police. A report in The Indian Express describes Roselin reiterating how unfathomable the priest’s breach of trust was by stating repeatedly, “He was our God”. The police finally arrested five Catholic priests associated with the intentional omission of crucial information about the girl. But the leniency and the long delays give perpetrators ample time to threaten their victims. This was frighteningly apparent in a case where a Catholic priest in Kerala, who had abused a man for over a year, had his brothers intimidate the victim with death threats and demand that he withdraw his complaint to Church authorities.

Another in-depth study of sexual abuse by the clergy cited Virginia Saldanha, who had worked for years with the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, and said that the frequent cry about sexual assault complaints being dealt with ‘in-house’ really meant that the victim would be harried.

Shalini Mulackal, the first female president of the Indian Theological Association, confirms, is that nuns rarely disclose incidents because of the surrounding taboo

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India announced in August that it was going to draft a policy after a letter from the Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace, an advocacy group for religious women, told them that the number of cases of sexual abuse were increasing. Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said the tentative title was ‘Policy on Sexual Harassment in Work Places’, suggesting it would mirror the policies used in other work places. He was vague about the contents of the draft, but insisted it would address sexual harassment in the Church “systematically and comprehensively”.

Others have rather less faith in the glacial pace or trajectory of the Catholic Church. Because the Lord may move in mysterious ways. In September, Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, the head of a Christian women’s collective, argued at a meeting of Christian women’s groups in Hyderabad, that individuals should move outside the Catholic Church and follow the law. The meeting ended with the decision to start a legal subcommittee under the Indian Christian Women’s Movement to record cases of harassment and assault, provide counseling for victims and introduce new protocols for dealing with sexual abuse.

In 2015, Spotlight took to the big screen the real-life cover-up of decades-long child abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Boston. When the film was released, the Boston archdiocese told the media that there is “zero abuse” taking place today — sounding about as believable as the statement made in April this year by Philemon Doss, the president of the Conference of Diocesan Priests of India: “In India, it [child sex abuse] is not very rampant, maybe in foreign countries [it is].”

That the Vatican formally created a church tribunal for addressing and holding accountable bishops who were involved in cover-ups of sexual assault only in 2015 is appalling. Perhaps the guidelines for tackling sexual abuse that were formulated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in late September will resemble the policies used by other workplaces. But the situation at the moment, as Shalini Mulackal, the first female president of the Indian Theological Association, confirms, is that nuns rarely disclose incidents because of the surrounding taboo. When they do, the bishops in charge don’t do much besides transferring the priest accused of sexual abuse or offer him counselling. Or send them on a Roman Holiday.

The Ladies Finger (TLF) is an online women’s magazine

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 14:27 IST

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