16-02-2021 The Asian Independent

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Vol : 05 : #61 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

'UK wants to see irreversible

progress in easing restrictions'

London : British Prime Minister

Boris Johnson on Monday said that his

government will be "very prudent" in

easing coronavirus restrictions to

ensure a "cautious but irreversible"

progress.

"We’ve got to be very prudent and

what we want to see is progress that is

cautious but irreversible," Johnson

said on his plan for easing the current

lockdown, which is expected to be

announced on February 22, Xinhua

reported.

"I think that’s what the public and

people up and down the country will

want to see," he told the media.

Johnson said that "too many people

are dying" due to the pandemic and

while rates of infections are "coming

down" they remain "comparatively

high".

The road-map exiting the lockdown

is expected to include the earliest possible

dates for reopening schools and

different sectors of the economy, he

added.

"If we possibly can, we’ll be setting

out dates," Johnson said.

"The dates that we will be setting

out will be the dates by which we hope

we can do something at the earliest, if

you see what I mean -- so it’s the target

date by which we hope to do something

at the earliest."

"If, because of the rate of infection,

we have to push something off a little

bit to the right -- delay it for a little bit

-- we won’t hesitate to do that," he

Prime Minister Modi sends

chadar to Ajmer Dargah

New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has handed over a

ceremonial chadar to Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas

Naqvi to be offered at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah on the 809th Urs

of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.

"Handed over a Chadar that would be offered at the Ajmer

Sharif Dargah on the 809th Urs of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti", the

Prime Minister said and tweeted a photograph of the Chadar being

handed over to Naqvi.

The chadar has been handed over to Naqvi, who will offer it at

Ajmer on Tuesday.

The Shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti is sacred for

both Hindus and Muslims and devotees across the country throng

to Ajmer during the urs of the saint held every year.

The flag of the urs was hoisted last week traditionally by the

Gori family after a procession from Khadim Mohalla to Buland

Darwaza of the dargah. This is the fourth year in a row that a delegation

from Pakistan will not attend the Urs. IB sources said there

was no demand from Pakistan for the visa.

This year the urs started on February 9 and will conclude on

February 28. The sixth day of the Urs, regarded the most auspicious,

is called "Chhati Sharif".

added.

Meanwhile, the first travellers

Kajol’s witty quip

about ’National

Sarcasm Society’

Mumbai : Actress Kajol,

who is known for her sharp wit

and sense of humour, has

shared a funny quip on sarcasm

on social media, along with the

snapshot of a funny face.

"NATIONAL SARCASM

SOCIETY: Like we need ur

support" she wrote as caption.

The actress recently shared a

hilarious message on social

media that she would want a

calorie refund for things that

did not taste good.

Kajol’s latest release is the

OTT film Tribhanga: Tedhi

Medhi Crazy.

Actress-director Renuka

Shahane has called the shots for

the film that also stars Mithila

Palkar and Tanvi Azmi.

Dehradun :

Uttarakhand DGP

Ashok Kumar on

Monday said he is

expecting that the rescue

operation in disaster-hit

Chamoli may

wind up in the next 3-4

days.

"I think the rescue

operation may wind up

in 3-4 days. By that

time, we may be able to

cover everything. But if

the need be, the rescue

operation may continue

for more days, may be for

another one month," said

Kumar. Meanwhile, rescuers

found five more bodies including

three from inside a tunnel

of the disaster-hit Tapovan

project in Chamoli district in

Uttarakhand since Sunday

night taking the total number of

bodies recovered so far to 55.

During the excavation work

inside the tunnel, nine bodies

have been found so far, officials

said. Elsewhere, seven

bodies were recovered from

Reni area where the Rishiganga

project was destroyed in the

floods. With the recovery of

five more bodies since Sunday

night, the total has gone up to

55. Nearly 200 people went

missing after the Feb 7 morning

deluge. This is the first time

since the Feb 7 floods that the

rescuers have been able to find

bodies inside the tunnel. "We

are expecting more bodies as

hopes for survival are receding,"

admitted a top official.

There is still no contact with

the remaining people trapped

inside. DIG Nilesh Anand

Bharne, who is spokesman of

the state police, claimed the

rescue work had been speeded

up with the installation of some

required to stay at quarantine hotels in

England have begun arriving at

London’s Heathrow Airport.

From Monday, all British and Irish

citizens and British residents who

arrive in England after being in the

"red list" of more than 30 high-risk

countries now have to self-isolate in

hotels. The "red list" countries include

South Africa, Portugal and South

American nations.

The new measures, designed to prevent

coronavirus variants from entering

the country, apply to arrivals who

have been in one of those countries in

the past 10 days.

Another 10,972 people in Britain

have tested positive for Covid-19,

bringing the total number of coronavirus

cases in the country to

4,038,078, according to official figures

released Sunday.

Meanwhile, more than 15 million

people of the most vulnerable groups

in Britain have received a first dose of

a coronavirus jab, according to the latest

official figures.

England is currently under the third

national lockdown since outbreak of

the pandemic in the country. Similar

restriction measures are also in place

in Scotland, Wales and Northern

Ireland.

To bring life back to normal, countries

such as Britain, China, Germany,

Russia and the United States have

been racing against time to roll out

coronavirus vaccines.

Rescue operation may wind

up in 3-4 days: DGP

additional machines

like excavators. The

rescuers are working

on two places - one

inside the tunnel and

other at the remains

of the Rishiganga

project in Reni.

They have stopped

drilling process

inside the tunnel,

said Superintendent

of Police (SP)

Chamoli.

After days of digging

and excavation

works, jawans of army, ITBP,

NDRF and SDRF, who are

engaged in the rescue works,

had managed open a sizeable

portion of the tunnel. But the

presence of heavy silt and

sludge inside the tunnel slowed

down the excavation and digging

work, top government

officials admitted. Rescuers

also consulted NTPC officials

to understand the complicated

design of the tunnel.

As the bodies started recovering

from the debris inside the

tunnel, the rescuers are slowly

digging the tunnel so that bodies

should not get hammered.


2

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Ex-SC judge Justice P.B. Sawant dead,

was co-convener of Elgar Parishad

Pune (Maharashtra), Mumbai

Legal luminary and former judge of

the Bombay High Court and Supreme

Court, Justice P.B. Sawant, who was

one of the co-conveners of the Elgar

Parishad in 2017, passed away here

following a cardiac arrest on Monday,

his family said.

A former Chairman of Press

Council of India, Justice Sawant was

90 and breathed his last at his family

home here around 9.30 a.m.

Justice Sawant is survived by his

wife Jayashree, a lawyer son

Vishwajeet and two daughters Sujata

and Rajashri, his grandson Aditya told

IANS.

His last rites will be performed in

Pune on Tuesday after his son reaches

here, said another family member.

After a thriving legal practice in

Mumbai, Justice Sawant was appointed

judge of Bombay High Court in

1973 and later elevated to the Supreme

DMRC set to upgrade its Automatic

New Delhi : Delhi Metro

has decided to upgrade its

Automatic Fare Collection

System.

IANS spoke to Anup Dayal,

Executive Director, Corporate

Communications, DMRC, on

the subject. Dayal said, "In

order to upgrade ticketing technology,

DMRC envisages to

upgrade the existing Automatic

Fare Collection System to

enable the QR Code, EMV

(Account Based Ticketing) and

Rupay based open loop ticketing

following the NCMC standard

model as specified by

MoHUA (Ministry of Housing

Team AI :

Devinder Chander

Editor-in-chief

Columnists

V.B. Rawat

Farzana Suri

Arun Kumar

Rahul Kumar

Harminder K. Bhogal

Head Office

Samaj Media Enterprise Ltd

Suite 507, Hawthorns House

Halfords Lane, Smethwick,

Birmingham U.K.,B66 1BB

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The Asian Independent is an

Intellectual Property of

Samaj Media Enterprise Ltd

Court in 1989.

Among his notable early achievements

was probing the crash of the Air

India aircraft 'Gauri Shankar' on a

Kuala Lumpur-Mumbai flight, which

crashed during hard-landing at

Mumbai's Sahar International Airport

on June 21, 1982, during a thunderstorm,

killing at least 17 passengers.

Associated with many human

rights, civil liberties, public and social

causes, Justice Sawant was one of the

three judges - along with late Justice

V.R. Krishna Iyer and late Justice H.

Suresh - of an independent panel,

Indian Peoples Tribunal that probed

the post-Godhra violence in Gujarat in

2002.

In 2003, he headed the Justice P.B.

Sawant Commission of Enquiry to

probe social crusader Kisan Baburao

alias Anna Hazare's corruption allegations

against four ministers of the then

Congress-NCP government in

Fare Collection System

and Urban Affairs) for interoperability

with other operators

by use of non-proprietary standards

so that the interface is

scalable to other networks

(transit operator/retail

outlets/parking etc.) in

Delhi/NCR."

Maharashtra.

Later, the Commission's observations

created a massive political furore

and led to the resignation of two

Cabinet ministers.

Dayal further said, "Delhi

Metro has invited Expressions

of Interest (EOI) for implementation

of QR Code, EMV

enabled Account Bases

Ticketing (Master/VISA), and

RUPAY based Open Loop

Ticketing in DMRC including

Comprehensive Maintenance

of AFC system of Phase I, II

and III stations of supplied

equipments/parts."

This Expression of Interest

(EOI) is to solicit and examine

the response of the Financial

Institutions, banks along with

firms, companies and entities

that are capable of upgrading

the AFC System and provide

Comprehensive Onsite

Maintenance of supplied equipments

and parts.

Dayal further said that the

key dates for delivery and commissioning

will be detailed out

in the RFP Document.

Internet restored in protest-hit

Myanmar after shutdown

Nay Pyi Taw : Internet access in Myanmar is

returning to normal after a full-blown connection

snap amid ongoing protests in the country

against the military takeover, traffic tracker

NetBlocks reported on Monday.

"Internet connectivity is being restored in

#Myanmar from 9 am local time; network data

show national connectivity rising to ordinary

levels after information blackout; social media

still restricted for most users; incident duration

~8 hours," Sputnik news reported citing

NetBlocks.

On Sunday, the watchdog confirmed that a

"near-total Internet shutdown" was in effect in

the country starting 1 a.m. local time (18.30

GMT on Saturday) following "state-ordered

information blackout," with national connectivity

down to 14 per cent of normal levels.

On February 1, the Myanmar military seized

power hours before the new parliament was due

to hold its inaugural session.

Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu

Kyi, was arrested alongside other senior officials,

after the military accused her party of rigging

the November elections.

Protests have since broken out nationwide to

demanding restoration of the civilian government.

On December 31, 2017, Justice

Sawant along with his colleague

Justice B.G. Kolse-Patil co-convened

the Elgar Parishad followed by a series

of repercussions like caste riots in

Bhima-Koregaon on January 1, 2018,

the police swoop on alleged urban

Maoists from different parts of India

and culminated in a major socio-political

churning.

"Justice Sawant was a very ideal,

public-minded and dignified person.

He excelled in every field as a judge,

as an activist, as a social worker... The

manner in which he conducted himself

in public life serves as an example to

all of us," said retired Justice Kolse-

Patil, crusader and a personal friend of

Justice Sawant.

Maharashtra Trade Unions Joint

Action Committee (TUJAC) convener

Vishwa Utagi described Justice

Sawant as a "pillar of strength to the

cause of the working class, a fierce

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upholder of civil and human rights for

citizens" whose loss will be felt

deeply.

Well-known activist lawyer Asim

Sarode said Justice Sawant was a

reformer in the socio-legal fields who

regularly used to guide and mentor

young lawyers, exhorting them to

work for social justice through the

legal profession.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil

Deshmukh said he was pained to learn

of Justice Sawant's passing and condoled

the bereaved family.

Former Chief Minister Prithviraj

Chavan described Justice Sawant's

demise as a "great loss for

Maharashtra's progressive movement"

as he strove for secularism and equality

after retiring as a judge.

Several prominent personalities

from the legal, social and political arenas

have condoled the demise of

Justice Sawant.

Biden calls for

gun law reform

on Parkland

shooting anniv

Washington : US President Joe Biden has called for the

Congress to pass gun law reforms, including a ban on assault

weapons. Biden released the statement on Sunday, the third

anniversary of the Parkland school shooting in Florida, the BBC

reported. "All across our nation, parents, spouses, children, siblings,

and friends have known the pain of losing a loved one to

gun violence," he said. In 2018, 17 people at Marjory Stoneman

Douglas High School were killed by an ex-student armed with

an AR-15 rifle. Many of the school's teenage survivors went on

to become prominent advocates for gun legislation reform.

The right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment

to the US constitution and is staunchly defended by many conservatives,

including ex-president Donald Trump.

In his statement, President Biden also called for the introduction

of background checks for all gun sales, a ban on high-capacity

magazines, and for an end to legal immunity for gun manufacturers.

"We owe it to all those we've lost and to all those left behind

to grieve to make a change," Biden said. "The time to act is

now." In a separate statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said

Congress would resurrect background check legislation that had

stalled when Republican former President Donald Trump was in

office. "Now, working with the Democratic Senate and Biden-

Harris Administration, we will enact these and other life-saving

bills and deliver the progress that the Parkland community and

the American people deserve and demand," she said.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

3

Indian-origin UK minister

in India for climate talks

New Delhi : Alok Sharma, an

Indian-origin Minister in the UK

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's

Cabinet, on Monday arrived here for

two days of climate discussions with

Indian leaders.

Sharma, the COP26 President-

Designate to lead the crucial UN climate

talks, will meet senior Indian

Ministers, as well as leaders from

business and civil society, to discuss

strengthening the UK-India climate

partnership and preparing for a successful

COP26 summit later this year.

In his first visit to Asia as COP

(Conference of the Parties) President,

Sharma is expected to welcome India's

significant progress on climate action

and clean energy transition, an official

statement by New Delhi-based British

High Commission said.

He will highlight Prime Minister

Narendra Modi's global leadership in

setting up the International Solar

Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for

Disaster Resilient Infrastructure

(CDRI), the latter of which the UK is

proud to co-chair.

India's expertise is expected to be

of great value to global discussions on

a clean energy transition as part of

COP preparations, it said.

In his meetings with business,

Sharma will highlight the huge opportunities

in the low carbon economy,

celebrate existing commitments to

achieve net zero emissions and

encourage influential businesses to

promote the growing movement of

corporate climate action throughout

their sector and supply chain.

Sharma will also meet with civil

society, including experts and young

thinkers, to discuss challenges and

possible solutions to climate change,

and to hear how they are trying to

mobilise younger generations in support

of climate action.

After a year of virtual meetings, the

in-person visit signals a step-change in

momentum to COP26 or UN climate

change conference preparations, and

reinforces Sharma's ambition to run an

inclusive negotiating process that

incorporates the views of all countries.

Sharma said: "When it comes to climate

action, India is a key partner and

a global leader. Together we can make

change happen -- delivering real

progress on reducing emissions and

building global commitments.

"The UK and India are already a

joint force for good against climate

change, and we look forward to

strengthening this partnership in the

run up to COP26 and beyond."

High Commissioner to India, Alex

Ellis CMG said: "Alok Sharma's visit

is the latest step in protecting our planet

by making COP26 a success and

will further develop the UK-India climate

partnership on clean and resilient

development.

"Hearing from the Indian government

first hand, as well as civil society

and business will be essential in

informing the approach of the UK

Presidency as we work towards a comprehensive,

ambitious and balanced

outcome at COP26."

Sharma's visit follows those of the

UK Foreign Secretary and

International Trade Secretary, and

paves the way for Prime Minister

Boris Johnson's visit later this year,

during which climate cooperation will

be a focus.

As host of COP26, the UK is setting

a strong example on climate

action, with a legally binding target to

cut emissions to net zero by 2050.

Between 1990 and 2018, the UK

nearly halved emissions whilst growing

the economy by 75 per cent, and

will cut coal use in the power sector

entirely by 2025.

The UK has committed to double

its International Climate Finance to at

least e11.6bn over the next five years,

to help developing countries to take

action. The UK's Presidency of

COP26 in 2021 and India's Presidency

of the G20 in 2023 provide important

platforms for driving global action and

implementing the Paris Agreement.

India and the UK share many common

priorities on climate action and

are working closely together to ensure

action in the run-up to COP26 and

beyond.

Priority themes at COP26 with

great potential for collaboration

include: adaptation and resilience;

corporate action; green finance; clean

growth and technology; and naturebased

solutions.

Petrol, diesel prices rise

for 7th consecutive day

New Delhi : Petrol and diesel prices

maintained a northward rally on

Monday, the seventh consecutive day

when the retail prices have risen across

the country, with oil on the boil in global

markets and both crude and product

prices seeing a big spike. Accordingly,

oil marketing companies raised the

pump price of diesel by a high level of

29 paise per litre and petrol by another

26 paise per litre in Delhi.

With this increase, petrol is now

priced at Rs 88.99 a litre and diesel Rs

79.35 a litre in the national capital.

In the last seven days, the price has

gone up by Rs 2.06 per litre for petrol

while diesel rate has risen by Rs 2.56 a

litre.

Across the country as well the petrol

price increase ranged from 23-26 paise per

litre and diesel price 28-30 paise per litre

depending on the level of local taxes on the

two petroleum products.

In Mumbai, petrol price is just Rs 4 per

litre short (Rs 95.46 a litre) of touching

three digit mark of Rs 100 per litre for the

very first ever anywhere in the country.

Diesel price in the city is closing on Rs 90

a litre (Rs 86.34 a litre). In all other metros,

petrol is over Rs 90 a litre mark while

diesel is well over Rs 80 a litre barring

Delhi The increase on Monday has followed

the firming global oil prices (both

product and crude) that have maintained a

record streak of gains in the past few days

with crude reaching close to $ 63.5 a barrel

mark (single day gain over 2 per cent).

But experts said that fresh lockdown in

various parts of the globe on new coronavirus

strain may impact demand and push

down prices soon. Also, Saudi Arabia unilateral

production cuts may also be withdrawn

post March putting downward pressure

on oil prices.

Though firm global crude and product

price is the reason for the increase in retail

price of petrol and diesel, it is interesting to

note that even though crude has been hovering

just over $55 a barrel for a long time

earlier, OMCs had gone in for

both a pause in price of auto

fuels as well increase in its

retail prices on consecutive

days.

Crude prices have remained

firm for the last few weeks in

the wake of unilateral production

cuts announced by Saudi

Arabia and a pick up in consumption

in all major

economies globally.

The petrol and diesel prices

have increased 19 times in

2021 with the two auto fuels

increasing by Rs 5.28 and Rs

5.48 per litre respectively so

far this year.

The last few increases in pump prices in

petrol and diesel has taken its price to

record levels across the country in all

major metro cities and other towns. The

last time the retail price of auto fuels were

closer to current levels was on October 4,

2018 when crude prices had shot up up $

80 a barrel.

The current price rise is largely on

account of steep increase in central taxes of

petrol and diesel and firm crude prices. The

Budget has also imposed a new agriculture

infrastructure and development cess. Oil

minister Dharmendra Pradhan has ruled

out any cut in duty on petro products.

UP: One killed in

encounter while

in police remand

Lucknow : Giridhari Vishwakarma, the main accused in the

murder of another history-sheeter Ajit Singh last month in

Lucknow, was shot dead by the Lucknow police in an encounter at

2.30 a.m. on Monday. The police spokesman said they were taking

Giridhari to Khargapur area in Vibhuti Khand in Gomti Nagar

to retrieve the weapon used in the Ajit Singh murder on January 6,

when the accused shoved aside a sub inspector, snatched his

revolver and tried to flee at the railway crossing.

Other members of the police team chased Giridhari and shot

him. The police took an injured Giridhari to the Ram Manohar

Lohia hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Two police personnel have also been injured in the encounter.

It may be recalled that a history sheeter, Ajit Singh, was shot

dead in Gomti Nagar area on January 6.

The main accused, Giridhari, was arrested from Delhi on

January 11. Giridhari was in police custody from February 13 to

16 and the police was trying to retrieve the weapon used in the

crime.


4

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Role of Mumbai activistlawyer

under scanner in

'Toolkit' case, NBW issued

New Delhi : The role of two

more activists is under scanner

in the 'Toolkit' document case

shared by global climate

activist Greta Thunberg in support

of the farmer protests.

Non-bailable warrants are out

against activists Nikita Jacob,

who is a lawyer by profession,

and Shantanu as a police team

is looking for them.

The development comes at a

time when outrage is spiralling

over the arrest of Disha Ravi, a

Bengaluru college graduate and

climate activist, on conspiracy

and sedition charges in relation

to the 'Toolkit' document case.

Disha Ravi was produced in a

Delhi court on Sunday and was

sent to five days in police custody.

Nikita's social media profile

states that she is a practicing

advocate enrolled with the

Maharashtra & Goa State Bar

Council and registered with the

Bombay High Court (OS).

According to Delhi Police

Special Cell sources, a team

went to search Nikita Jacob's

house on February 11. Since

the team arrived at Nikita's

Rebel Kerala NCP MLA Kappen

to announce new party

Thiruvananthapuram :

Kerala's rebel NCP MLA Mani

C. Kappen on Monday constituted

a 10-member committee

which was given the task of

floating a new party and also to

decide its name and symbol.

Kappen expects results from

the committee in a week's time.

"The committee is chaired

by Kappen and hold a meeting

in the state capital soon and by

two weeks we expect to finalise

even the state office bearers,"

said a NCP leader on condition

of anonymity. The decision of

floating a new party was taken

soon after Kappen met top

UDF leaders on Sunday.

Last week the Kerala unit of

the NCP, presently an ally of

the ruling Left Democratic

Front (LDF), split when

Kappen who leads the breakaway

faction announced his

decision to quit the LDF.

On Sunday he joined the

Congress-led UDF at a rally led

by Leader of Opposition

Ramesh Chennithala.

The entire top brass of the

UDF was present to receive

Kappen at his home in Pala

Assembly constituency in

Kottayam district.

Each of them spoke against

the raw deal given by the CPI-

M leadership for dumping

Kappen in favour of a party

which he had defeated in a

home around evening, officials

could not question her.

Nikita's role in the campaign

came to the fore after Swedish

environmental activist Greta

Thunberg tweeted a 'toolkit'

related to the farmers' protests

against the Centre's three farm

laws.

The Delhi Police had registered

an FIR on February 4 on

charges of sedition, criminal

conspiracy and promoting

hatred among groups under

Sections 124-A, 120-A and

153-A of the Indian Penal Code

bypoll in 2019.

Kappen opened up on

Saturday after arriving from

Delhi, where the state NCP

leadership had a meeting with

its national president over the

impasse in the state unit.

NCP in Kerala over the

years has been an ally of the

Left and had two legislators,

including a state minister, while

a third seat is vacant after the

death of one of their sitting legislators

in 2019.

NCP got a major boost when

Kappen won the Pala Assembly

seat in 2019, following the

death of veteran K.M. Mani

who was the legislator from

Pala since its inception in 1967

and had not lost a single

Assembly election.

Kappen who lost to Mani in

2011 and 2016, won the seat in

2019 as K.M. Mani's party -

Kerala Congress (Mani) failed

to capitalise on the sympathy

factor. But things nosedived for

Kappen ever since K.M. Mani's

against the "creators" of the

'toolkit' which was later shared

by Thunberg.

The police later described

Disha Ravi as a key conspirator

in the document's formulation

and dissemination and said that

she had started a WhatsApp

group and collaborated to draft

the document.

"In this process, they all collaborated

with pro-Khalistani

Poetic Justice Foundation to

spread disaffection against the

Indian state. She was the one

who shared the 'Toolkit' doc

with Greta Thunberg," said a

senior police officer.

Meanwhile, several activists

and politicians have expressed

concern over the arrest of Disha

Ravi. Delhi Chief Minister

Arvind Kejriwal has expressed

his opposition to the arrest of

21-year-old eco-activist Disha

Ravi saying the move by the

Delhi Police was an "unprecedented

attack on democracy".

"Arrest of 21-yr-old Disha

Ravi is an unprecedented attack

on democracy. Supporting our

farmers is not a crime," he said

in a tweet.

son, Jose K. Mani, who now

leads the Kerala Congress

(Mani) along with his supporters,

became an ally of the LDF,

while its other faction led by

P.J. Joseph continued in the

UDF.

And it became more evident

after the LDF's success in the

local body polls in December,

especially in districts like

Kottayam and Pathanamthitta,

where Jose K. Mani was able to

bring in more seats for the Left.

There were also whispers

that Kappen would have to

vacate his seat in the upcoming

Assembly polls in April-May

for Jose K. Mani who has

already quit the Rajya Sabha

and is all set to contest from

Pala.

Kappen also announced that

he would launch his election

campaign as part of the opposition

UDF next week.

With Kappen also announcing

a new party it would be the

25th political party presently

aligned to one of the three

political fronts in the state

which has a representation in

the 140-member Kerala

Assembly.

While the ruling Left has 12

parties, the UDF has seven,

while the BJP-led NDA has

five with 18 other parties which

are not part of any political

front.

Covid: Hotel quarantine

comes into force in UK

London : All British and

Irish citizens and UK residents

who arrive in England after

being in a high-risk Covid

country now have to quarantine

in hotels, officials said.

The "red list" of 33 countries

includes Portugal, Brazil

and South Africa. The new

regulations, which aim to stop

Covid-19 variants entering the

country, apply to arrivals who

have been in one of those

places in the past 10 days, the

BBC reported on Monday.

They will have to pre-book

and pay 1,750 pounds to spend

10 days quarantining in the

government-sanctioned hotels.

That covers the cost of the

hotel, transport and testing.

Health Secretary Matt

Hancock said the emergence of

new variants meant the government

"must go further" with its

travel restrictions.

The government says it has

struck deals with 16 hotels so

far, providing 4,963 rooms for

the new quarantine system,

with a further 58,000 rooms

currently on standby.

"The rules coming into force

today will bolster the quarantine

system and provide another

layer of security against new

variants at the border,"

Hancock said.

The health secretary added

that the measures were "important

to protect our vaccination

programme". On Sunday, the

government announced that

more than 15 million people in

the UK had received their first

coronavirus jab, in what the

prime minister described as a

"significant milestone".

Meanwhile, all travellers

arriving into Scotland from

abroad by air - rather than just

those from the 33 "high risk"

countries - now have to go into

quarantine hotels.

People travelling from red

list countries to Wales and

Northern Ireland will be

required to book and pay for

quarantine in England, as neither

destination has any direct

international flights.

Any passenger required to

stay in a quarantine hotel in

England needs to reserve a

room online in advance

using a government

portal.

The additional rate

for one extra adult or a

child aged over 12 is

650 pounds, and for a

child aged five to 12 it

is 325 pounds. Those

who fail to quarantine

in such hotels face

fines of 5,000 to 10,000

pounds, while anyone who lies

on their passenger locator form

about having been in a country

on the red list faces a prison

sentence of up to 10 years.

A new testing regime for all

travellers arriving in England

has also started, with two tests

required during the quarantine

process. They will be required

to get a test on days two and

eight of their 10-day quarantine

period, whether they are isolating

at home or in a hotel. The

tests, conducted by NHS Test

and Trace, will cost travellers

210 pounds.

Those who do not take the

tests could face a 2,000 pounds

fine. On Sunday the government

said another 258 people

had died in the UK within 28

days of testing positive for

Covid-19, bringing the total to

117,166. There were another

10,972 confirmed cases.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

5

70% OTT users say threats to artists,

directors, producers are worrying

New Delhi : Seventy per cent OTT

users do not approve of threats of

intimidation, violence and death

issued to artists, directors and producers

of movies and shows.

As per a LocalCircles survey, there

have been a spate of cases of threats of

intimidation, violence and death

issued to artists, directors and producers

of movies and shows.

Recently, one of the artists, Richa

Chadha received violence and death

threat for allegedly stereotyping Dalits

in the movie, "Madam Chief

Minister".

When OTT users were asked that

"Recently threats of intimidation, violence

and death have been issued

against artists, directors and producers

of OTT content. As a citizen of India

and consumer of OTT content, does

this worry you?" The majority of 58

per cent OTT users said "Yes, quite a

bit", and 15 per cent said "Yes, somewhat".

Further breaking down the poll,

12 per cent users said "No, doesn't

affect me much", while 15 per cent

said "Not at all", and 3 per cent couldn't

say.

Many of the members who participated

in the discussion on the subject

said that such threats should have no

place in the society and if they are not

acted upon sternly and swiftly by law

enforcement agencies, they will only

increase over time. According to many

OTT users, the concern or grievance

of an individual or a group of individuals

or an organisation must be raised

through appropriate pre-defined

Government channels, LocalCircles

said.

OTT platforms in 2020 have been a

sought-after source of entertainment

for many as people stayed home and

multiplexes and cinemas stayed closed

for most of the year. The consumers

use OTT platforms for the choice,

convenience and high-quality content

and amongst OTT users, majority

have subscription to two or more platforms.

However, as the industry

evolves and common standards are

created, OTT users demand better definition

and display of the minimum

age requirement and rating certification

so they can make informed choices

of what they want to watch.

Also, consumers are keen that the

code of regulation whatever approved

by the Government is shared with

them and made easily accessible on

the platforms. Finally, majority of the

Indian OTT users are concerned about

the various violence and death threats

being issued to artists, directors and

producers and want that effective

grievance channels must be created to

address concerns of individuals or

groups but such threats should not be

tolerated and stern and swift action

must be taken by law enforcement

agencies against those issuing such

threats

As people observed social distancing

and stayed home amid the

COVID-19 outbreak, the on-demand

over-the-top (OTT) video streaming

platforms for many became a primary

source of entertainment.

As more users were logging on to

OTTs, many film and series producers

also chose these platforms for launch

of their series and films. International

OTT players, mainly Netflix and

Amazon's Prime Video together

released approximately 30 original

titles while Indian OTT players like

Hotstar, Zee5, Sony Liv, MX Player

also released many titles and provided

entertainment to people on their fingertips.

With the rise of OTT's popularity in

India, there has also been many consumer

discussions on LocalCircles in

the last 12 months enabling consumers

to share both the pros and cons of OTT

platforms.

The pros largely have centered

around giving consumers increased

content choices as compared to pre-

OTT and the convenience to watch

content when they want to watch.

Consumers concerns on the other hand

have been on rating information display

by some platforms, age gating

and on content that can hurt the sentiments

of some communities. Amid

these developments, LocalCircles conducted

its OTT survey 2021 to better

understand users' pulse on how they

used OTT in 2020, what working well

along with any concerns. The survey

received over 50,000 responses from

OTT users located in 311 districts of

India.

The first question asked consumers

about their primary source of videobased

entertainment in 2020, 46 per

cent said "television channels via

DTH, cable or app)", 41 per cent said

"OTT platforms such as Youtube,

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar", and

8 per cent said "social media platforms

such as Tiktok, Instagram, Whatsapp".

There were also 3 per cent who said

"videos downloaded from the

Internet", and 2 per cent said "others".

Interestingly, there weren't any vote

casted for DVDs and VCDs, which

suggests that the once popular medium

of entertainment has vanished

from the modern living room.

There are currently more than 40

OTT video streaming platforms in

India. KPMG estimates that OTT revenue

climbed 26 per cent and subscriptions,

either ad-based or paid,

surged 47 per cent, with close to 325

million Indians today streaming the

favorite OTTs.

To better understand the number of

platforms, OTT users are typically

subscribed to, LocalCircles asked the

question and in response, 30 per cent

said four or more, 20 per cent said

three, 26 per cent said two, 18 per cent

said one. There were only 6 per cent of

7,834 OTT users who said that they

don't have not subscribed with any

OTT platforms currently but they take

them on an as needed basis. Some

platforms offer trial subscriptions

while some also offer subscription for

a single show or movie.

The next question tried to understand

the primary reasons for consumers

to use OTT platforms. The

majority of 50 per cent said "choice

and convenience", while 31 per cent

said "high-quality content". Further

breaking down the poll, 10 per cent of

consumers said "lower cost than other

entertainment channels", and 9 per

cent voted for other reasons.

The Government of India late last

year brought OTT video streaming

platforms under the ambit of the

Ministry of Information and

Broadcasting. Recently 17 OTT players

have adopted a self-regulation

code that was introduced in

September. These providers include

Amazon Prime Video, Netflix,

Disney-Hotstar, SonyLiv, MX Player,

Jio Cinema, Eros Now, Viacom

(Voot), Alt Balaji, Arre, HoiChoi,

Hungama, Shemaroo, Discovery Plus,

Aha and Lionsgate Play.

Consumers however currently seem

to have little understanding of the

OTT code of regulation and when

asked if they would like more information

about the OTT code of conduct,

majority of them i.e. 78 per cent

said "Yes," 14 per cent said "No", and

8 per cent couldn't say. OTT platforms

must enable this on and off platforms

such that the common OTT user

knows what to expect and what is a

deviation from the code.

We've to protect people's privacy: SC issues notice to WA, FB

New Delhi : People have grave

apprehensions on loss of privacy, the

Supreme Court said on Monday and

made it clear that it is the court's duty

to protect people's privacy as it was

hearing an application against the new

privacy policy of WhatsApp.

The observation came as senior

advocate Shyam Divan, representing

the petitioner Karmanya Singh Sareen,

sought direction to restrain WhatsApp

from implementing its new privacy

policy in India.

"They have come up with new differentiating

privacy policy for the

Europeans and different set of rules

applicable to Indians," argued Divan.

He added that till the time new data

protection law comes into force in

India, WhatsApp should not bring its

new privacy policy.

The Chief Justice replied, we will

issue notice in the matter.

A bench headed by Chief Justice

S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices

A.S. Bopanna and

V.Ramasubramanian told WhatsApp

counsel: "People have grave apprehensions

about loss of privacy. You

may be 2 or 3 trillion-dollar company,

but people value their privacy more

than your money, we have to protect

people's privacy." The top court issued

notice to WhatsApp and Facebook on

this plea against its new privacy policy.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and

Arvind Datar, appearing for

WhatsApp, strongly contested Divan's

argument, saying that the high court is

already seized of the matter.

Sibal said Europe has a different set

of laws, and WhatsApp new privacy

policy for India is similar to policy

applicable in the US, Australia and

other countries.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta,

representing the Centre, said the right

to privacy is a fundamental right and

they cannot compromised with the privacy

of people.

Divan cited that WhatsApp has

already delayed the implementation of

its new privacy policy till May this

year.

After a detailed hearing in the matter,

the top court issued notices to

WhatsApp, Facebook and Centre in

the matter and fixed for further hearing

after four weeks.


6 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

UK PM under pressure to lift all

Covid-19 lockdown restrictions

London : British Prime Minister

Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure

to lift all COVID-19 lockdowns in

two and a half months as lockdownsceptic

Tories called on him to commit

to a timetable for easing the restrictions

with a complete end to controls by the

end of April.

In a letter to the prime minister, leaders

of the Covid Recovery Group

(CRG) said the "tremendous pace" of

the vaccination rollout means restrictions

in England should begin easing

from early March, the a local newspaper

reported on Sunday.

They said ministers must produce a

cost-benefit analysis to justify any controls

that remain in place after that date,

with a "road-map" stating when they

would be removed, Xinhua news

agency reported on Sunday. The letter

was organised by the CRG chair and

deputy chair, Mark Harper and Steve

Baker, and was said to have the backing

of 63 Conservative Party lawmakers in

all.

The letter was sent to the prime minister

at a time when a government scientific

advisor warned that Britain could

face another coronavirus wave as big as

the current one if lockdown restrictions

were all lifted. Professor Steven Riley, a

member of the Scientific Pandemic

Influenza Group on Modelling, has said

the rollout of the vaccination program

did not mean coronavirus controls could

be dropped.

"No vaccine is perfect," he told a

BBC radio program. "We are certainly

going to be in the situation where we

can allow more infection in the community

but there is a limit."

"If for some reason we were to

choose to just pretend it (coronavirus)

wasn't here any more then there is the

potential to go back to a wave that is a

similar size to the one that we are in

now," he added. The prime minister

confirmed Saturday that the reopening

of schools "is still his priority", followed

by opening shops and then hospitality.

This was further reiterated by British

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who

said on Sunday that the British government

remained focused on reopening of

schools on March 8.

The British ministers said they are

confident they will meet their target of

getting an offer of a vaccine to all 15

million people in Britain in their four

priority groups, including all over 70s,

by February 15's deadline. During a

visit to a vaccine manufacturing facility

in Teesside on Saturday, Johnson said

he was "optimistic" he could announce

plans for a "cautious" easing of the rules

when he sets out his "road-map" out of

lockdown on February 22.

However, he said ministers would

have to look at the data "very, very

hard" before taking any decisions as

they did not want to be forced into a

"reverse ferret" if the disease started to

spread again.

In contrast, the CRG, in their letter,

said that the government's "national priority"

of re-opening schools in England

by March 8 "must" be achieved.

By Easter, they said pubs, restaurants

and other hospitality venues should be

able to open in a way that is Covidsecure

but still allows them to operate

"in a commercially viable manner".

And by the end of April, when all the

government's top nine priority groups,

including all over 50s, should have been

offered a vaccine, they said there will be

"no justification" for any legislative

restrictions to remain. "Covid is a serious

disease and we must control it.

However, just like Covid, lockdowns

and restrictions cause immense social

and health damage and have a huge

impact on people's livelihoods," the letter

said. "The vaccine gives us immunity

from Covid but it must also give us

permanent immunity from COVIDrelated

lockdowns and restrictions," it

said.

By March 8, the government's top

four priority groups, which account for

88 per cent of deaths and 55 per cent of

hospitalizations, will have had their first

dose of the vaccine at least three weeks

earlier allowing time for protection to

kick in, it said.

"All restrictions remaining after

March 8 should be proportionate to the

ever-increasing number of people we

have protected," it added.

"The burden is on ministers to

demonstrate the evidence of effectiveness

and proportionality with a costbenefit

analysis for each restriction, and

a roadmap for when they will be

removed," it noted.

Downing Street refused to be drawn

on reports suggesting that restrictions

on meeting friends in a park could be

among the first to be lifted once schools

are back. England is currently under the

third national lockdown since outbreak

of the pandemic in the country. Similar

restriction measures are also in place in

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To bring life back to normal, countries

such as Britain, China, Germany,

Russia and the United States have been

racing against time to roll out coronavirus

vaccines.

Not just to protest, people are also joining

farmers' agitation to earn a living

New Delhi : "I earn 500 rupees

every day by cooking, washing

dishes and other work in the farmers'

agitation. Along with boys

from my village, I am working on a

daily wages basis," Shekhar

Sharma, a resident of Shamli district

of Uttar Pradesh, was

employed at the airport but

returned home during the

Coronavirus pandemic, after he

was sacked. Left to his own

devices, he has found employment

in the farmers agitation, albeit on a

daily wages basis.

"I worked at the airport for the

past three years, but in the Corona

period, the company sacked me,"

he added. "There is no other earning

member in the house and I have

to take care of my mother and

brother." Sharma isn't an aberration.

Many other people like him

are earning a living thanks to the

farmers' agitation, which is going

on at Delhi's borders for more than

80 days. Although there is no shortage

of volunteers at the site of the

agitation, with thousands chipping

in at community kitchen for langars,

for some people, the farmers

protest is a means to feed hungry

mouths who depend on them.

On each agitation site, meals are

being cooked for hundreds of farmers.

Thousands of people are cooking

food, but the help of the workers

and labourers is also being

taken on a payment basis.

The scene is similar at the

Ghazipur border, where farmers

themselves are preparing langars,

but some tasks are being outsourced

to others who are paid on a

daily wages basis.

"I've been present in the farmers

agitation for the last one month,

earning Rs 300 every day by cutting

vegetables and washing dishes,"

says Ashok a resident of

Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. "Our

contractor pays the eight-member

team of cooks on a daily basis,"

adds Ashok.

Bulandshahr's Chandrapal also

earns Rs 500 every day by cooking

and washing utensils for farmers

from morning till dusk. "I've been

here for the past 15 days and came

here searching for employment,"

says Chandrapal.

Since December 21, Anjul

Kumar, is also working on a daily

wages basis, earning Rs 500 every

day. Though he also works back at

the village, he has joined his other

friends to work here.

Farmers have been protesting on

the borders of the national capital

since November 26 last year

against three newly enacted farm

laws. The 11 rounds of talks

between the Government and the

farmers ' organisations have

remained inconclusive so far.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Country is in the grip of

dictatorship, says writer

Ramachandra Guha

Bengaluru : Several

activists, including noted writer

Ramachandra Guha, took part

in a protest in front of Mysuru

Bank circle in Bengaluru on

Monday condemning the Delhi

police arresting 22-year-old

city based Climate change

activist, Disha Ravi.

While participating in the

protest against, Guha said:

"Now I can say that the country

is in the grip of dictatorship. I

condemn this arrest."

He added that those young

boys and girls who have taken

activism seriously are afraid of

coming out. "Such a scenario

existed when I was in my college

days, during Emergency

time," he said.

He wondered if the young

girl who is standing with farmers

rights and environmental

rights is arrested simply

because she is opposed to the

state.

"With her arrest, this government

is sending a loud and a

clear signal to youngsters of

this country that you cannot

have a mind of your own,

unless that is in sync with the

government's policies," he

charged. Quoting former prime

minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee,

Guha said the Union government

could have first spoken

with the activist instead of simply

arresting her. "Vajpayee

once said, those who speak

with their pen, must be first

spoken to. But this government

is not following him at all. By

this standard, I can safely say, if

(Balagangadhar) Tilak and

(Subhas Chandra) Bose,

(Chandrashekhar) Azad were to

be alive today, they too would

be behind bars and facing sedition

charges. This is worse than

the colonial regime," he said.

He added that by arresting

her the union government has

shown how vindictive it can be.

"Only paranoid rulers have

behaved in such a manner in

the past," he said and warned

youngsters those who are silent

should come out in the open to

oppose such repressive actions

of government.

"You (youngsters) might be

thinking that keeping quiet is

an option, let me tell you it is

not. They must oppose such

repression. As today it might be

a case Disha or other activists,

but there is no guarantee that it

can not happen to others," he

said He added that the country

seems to be heading for personification

of a cult person, one of

conformism and obedience.

"This won't do good for the

country. We need vibrant

democracy youths, who should

learn to question the government

and leaders," he said.

ASIA

Chinese vacating Finger 4 area of

Pangong lake, dismantling shelters

New Delhi : The Chinese

People's Liberation Army is finally

vacating Finger 4 area on the northern

bank of Pangong lake that it had

occupied last year and changed the

status quo on the Line of Actual

Control with India. The Chinese

troops are dismantling shelters and

removing other structures they had

built up during the occupation.

This is happening as per the disengagement

agreement between

India and China. The agreement

states that Chinese troops will move

back to Finger 8 and Indian troops

will pull back to the Dhan Singh

Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3

of the north bank of Pangong lake.

Further, there would be a temporary

moratorium on military activities,

including patrolling in the traditional

areas. The mountain spurs jutting

into the lake are referred to as

'Fingers' in military parlance. The

north bank of the lake is divided into

8 fingers. India has claimed its territory

till Finger 8 and China disputes

its claims till Finger 4.

There have been regular face-offs

between the two armies between

Finger 4 and Finger 8, a distance of

eight kilometres, on the northern

bank of the lake.

A senior government official said

there has been a considerable thinning

of troops from Finger 4. The

official also said that the PLA is

removing its boats from the lake.

China has deployed a lot of men and

materiel at Finger 4 and south of the

lake to alter the status quo at the

LAC.

Before the tensions last year,

boats were deployed beyond Finger

8 of the lake.

Once withdrawal happens,

patrolling will be resumed only

when both sides reach an agreement

in diplomatic and military talks that

would be held subsequently.

Further, Indian and Chinese

troops are also falling back from

eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation

positions on the south bank of the

lake. On the southern bank of the

lake, tanks that were separated by

less than 100 metres have been

pulled back by both countries'

forces.

India and China are engaged in a

nearly 10-month-long military

standoff at the Line of Actual

Control. The confrontations began

on the north bank of Pangong lake,

both in the waters and the bank as

Chinese incursions increased in

early May last year.

The confrontation later spilled

over to the southern bank following

which the Indian Army occupied

crucial heights irking the Chinese

that led to incidents of gunshots

being fired in the air.

Thiruvananthapuram :

Even as the ongoing protest by

the last grade PSC rank holders

in front of the Kerala

Secretariat entered their fourth

week, a special cabinet meeting

chaired by Chief Minister

Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday

cleared the appointment of over

100 people in a few semi-government

organisations.

Both the Congress and the

BJP have also joined the protesters,

with the former saying

that the Vijayan government,

which has just a month or two

left to complete its term, has put

the accelerator on these backdoor

appointment, which, it

alleges, have crossed over three

lakh. State Congress President

Mullapally Ramachdran

slammed Vijayan for his "stubbornness"

and "arrogance" for

not lending an ear to the genuine

demands of these hapless

youths. "Vijayan has cheated

the youths through this widespread

backdoor appointments,

which is contrary to their manifesto

which said they would see

that the PSC (in charge of

appointments to government

jobs) is strengthened besides

ensuring that the Employment

Exchanges working would be

effective and streamlined...

instead what has happened is a

free for all to the kith and kin of

CPI-M leaders and their workers,

who are getting such jobs

on the sly," he alleged.

Former state BJP President

P.K. Krishnadas, referring to

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

the protests, claimed while

Vijayan is giving plush jobs

with a salary of over Rs 3 lakh

to those who have not even

passed Class 10, in a reference

to Swapna Suresh, the prime

accused in the Kerala gold

smuggling case, unemployed

graduates, post graduates and

even PhD holders are left high

and dry. "Instead of providing

solace to the protesters, what

one saw was the decision that

came today from the government

that the tenure of the present

PSC list will not be extended,"

he said.

Protesters are out in the

streets here, as well as in Kochi

and Kozhikode. On Monday,

angry youths staging the

protests moved on their knees,

while at Kozhikode they went

around with begging bowls

demanding jobs. "This is my

last chance to get a government

job as I am getting age barred.

We have been pleading for long

to fill the vacancies from the

list, but nothing is happening.

We do not know what wrong

we did and mind you, we were

in the forefront of voting for

this present government. It will

7

Protests on against Vijayan's policy

on 'BACKDOOR' appointments

Dehradun : Even as rescuers continued

to look for more survivors after flash

flood damaged two hydroelectric projects

in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, the

SDRF said on Monday that it had

deployed men along the Rishiganga river

to monitor its water flow.

Even though a considerable flow of

water downstream from a lake formed in

the catchment area of the Rishiganga had

been recorded, State Disaster Response

Force (SDRF) personnel were deployed

at Pang and other areas along the river,

SDRF Commandant Navneet Bhullar

said.In addition, alert sensors have also

been set up along the river, he said.

Top government officials said that

people have been directed not to go near

the Rishiganga river and take all precautions.

Amid growing fears, the

Uttarakhand government had on Friday

sounded an alert after satellite images

indicated the formation of a lake in the

catchment area of the turbulent river. "We

have to remain alert as satellite pictures

show the formation of a 400-metre long

lake at Rishiganga," Chief Minister

be curtains for me and many, if

we miss this last chance," said a

young man, pleading for justice,

while being on his knees

with other protesters, here in

front of the state Secretariat.

Another young woman said

they studied hard and figured

on the rank list, but despite

their fervent pleas, the government

was paying no heed.

As two-time Chief Minister

Oommen Chandy, of the

Congress, came calling on the

protesters, a few of them were

seen pleading with him and

touching his feet as they

begged for his help.

"The problem is if the date

of the PSC rank list gets over,

only the judiciary can come to

the rescue of those seeking the

job... but when it comes to live

lists, the government has powers

to act, but nothing is happening,"

he said.

But playing down the

protest, CPI-M's acting state

Secretary and LDF convenor A.

Vijayaraghavan blamed the

Congress led opposition for

unleashing these hapless unemployed

youths to stage protests.

"This government has not

appointed a single person in

posts where the PSC does the

appointment. All what's happening

is those who have completed

10 years in temporary

basis have been absorbed and it

is a humanitarian gesture. It's

not possible to appoint people

where there are no vacancies as

cleared by the PSC," he said.

SDRF men monitoring Rishiganga

river flow, set up alert sensors

Trivendra Singh Rawat had said.

An 8-member SDRF team headed by

Bhullar had conducted a survey of the

lake and returned on Saturday evening to

Tapovan in Chamoli district after collecting

samples like mud and water and

videography of the area. "We have sent

these samples and videos to the police

headquarters in Dehradun for further

action," said Bhullar. Significantly, there

has been considerable discharge from the

lake also, Bhullar said. The government

has asked scientists of the Wadia Institute

of Himalayan Geology and the

Geological Survey of India to depute

teams to the Rishiganga valley to make a

detailed report on the lake formation.

Reports pouring in from different

areas of Chamoli district said that the

flow of Rishiganga had been disturbed

since Thursday afternoon. A glacial mudflow

on February 7 morning had triggered

a massive flash flood in the river at

Joshimath in Chamoli district, hitting

NTPC's Tapovan and Rishiganga hydro

projects. Over 200 persons had gone

missing after the disaster.


8 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

'Farm laws will lead to environmental

sustainability, nutritional security'

New Delhi : Amid involvement of

environmental activists in the ongoing

protests against the new farm laws, it

is important to understand the impact

of these laws on the environment as

the government claims agricultural

reforms will bring about a revolutionary

change in the lives of India's small

and marginal farmers.

IANS spoke to some experts in the

field of agriculture, including scientists,

officials and economists.

Farmers protesting along the borders

of the national capital for nearly

three months claim that the new farm

laws of the Centre will not benefit

farmers as APMC 'mandis' will collapse

and farmers will not get

Minimum Support Price for the crops

they grow after enforcement of new

laws, but experts are of the opinion

that these laws will not only benefit

farmers but also the consumers as new

reforms initiated by the Modi government

will also resolve several issues

related to environment and health.

In the existing Agricultural Produce

Market Committee (APMC) system,

there is no direct communication

between producers and consumers,

this gap suppresses market signals and

leads to rogue growing patterns which

ultimately leads to financial crisis for

farmers because of demand and supply

mismatch, said agricultural economist

Vijay Sardana who is in favour of

the new agricultural laws of the

Centre.

In a series of initiatives to bring

crucial reforms in agriculture and

allied sectors, the government enacted

two newly-framed laws and one

amended Act cleared by the

Parliament last year in September.

However, the Supreme Court has suspended

these laws at present, and a

committee set up by the apex court is

examining the various issues related to

these laws.

Experts say that the Farmers'

Produce Trade and Commerce

(Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2020

and the Farmers' (Empowerment and

Protection) Agreement on Price

Assurance and Farm Services Act,

2020 will enable a transformative shift

in Indian agricultural sustainability

and climate resilience.

They say that these laws will enable

the creation of newer markets for

farmers and better linkage of production

to market demand. This will result

in more holistic production planning

and can lead to crop diversification

away from water-intensive crops and

towards crops that will be more suitable

for the future in the Indian agroclimatic

scenario.

For example, millets which are

today in demand globally as health

super foods can be grown in areas with

lower water availability once there are

improved linkages of farmers to markets.

Premium for organic, pesticidefree

crops can also be passed back to

farmers to encourage them to grow

using these practices.

Agricultural scientists say that even

where more water-intensive crops

continue to be grown, newer technologies

will be introduced by market participants

in a more economically

viable manner to support precision

farming and drip irrigation over larger

land parcels, resulting in greater optimisation

of water and input usage.

Dr Manoj Kumar, acting Director,

ICAR-Central Potato Research

Institute said, the new laws will

encourage farmers for crop diversification

which is the need of the hour.

The new farm laws will give impetus

to diversification of the cropping

system with increased cultivation and

production of horticultural crops like

fruits and vegetables. This will add to

environmental sustainability, economic

viability and ensure food and nutritional

security of the country, he said.

A senior government official told

IANS that contract farming can result

in better overall environmental practices.

Starting with improved land planning

and utilisation of land to grow the

right crop mix. There will be a

stronger focus on meeting grower

requirements and many companies

engaged in contract farming have a

focus on Environmental, Social, and

Corporate Governance (ESG) and sustainability,

these practices will be

introduced through backward integration,

he added.

Citing an example, he said that better

pesticide management to ensure

lower residue in line with global MRL

standards or introduction of newer

variants such as drought resistant pesticide

through better access and availability

of R&D.

More modern infrastructure will

also be introduced in the value chain,

and private participants can make

investments to ensure these are climate-resilient

and will support changing

environmental conditions, thereby

resulting in lower wastage e.g. due to

unseasonal rains and flooding.

The Essential Commodities

(Amendment) Act, 2020 provides that

the supply of foodstuffs, including

cereals, pulses, potato, onions, edible

oilseeds and oils, may be regulated

only under extraordinary circumstances

which may include war,

famine, extraordinary price rise and

natural calamity of grave nature,

thereby removes fear of sudden imposition

of stock limits on the players in

the storage and food processing sectors.

Economist Vjay Sardana says that

in a surplus economy, under Essential

Commodities Act, excessive storage

leads to food wastage and losses of

surplus items, and on the other hand,

there is shortage of storage facilities

for other required commodities and

this imbalance puts additional pressure

on natural resources.

Most of the wastage occurs in the

case of fruits and vegetables. Farmers

suffer huge losses when there are

bumper harvests of perishable commodities.

With adequate processing

facilities, much of this wastage can be

reduced thus providing remunerative

prices to producers, ensuring greater

supply to consumers and reduce pollution.

This will ultimately reduce the

impact on environment.

Punjab women panel head denied

permission to meet activist in jail

Chandigarh : Punjab State Women's Commission

Chairperson Manisha

Gulati was denied

permission by the

Jail Superintendent

in Haryana's Karnal

town on Monday to

meet 23-year-old

labour rights activist

Nodeep Kaur, who

has been in custody

for over a month.

"This morning the

jail Superintendent of

Karnal called up the

office of Punjab State Women's Commission and said Gulati

would have to get the approval of the Haryana government to

meet Nodeep Kaur," a commission spokesperson said in a statement.

Nodeep Kaur was granted bail in an extortion case on

Thursday but remains in jail because she is facing another criminal

case. The Haryana government allegedly forcibly picked up

Nodeep and others on January 12 while they were protesting during

the farmers' agitation. She has been charged under Section

307 (attempt to murder) and extortion of the Indian Penal Code.

Heavy snow disrupts traffic

in China's Liaoning

Beijing : Heavy snow in China's

Liaoning province since Saturday night

has forced the closure of most of the

highways in the region.

Most parts of Liaoning saw snow and

rain between 8 pm on Saturday and 7 am

on Monday. A blanket of snow 10 to 16

cm deep was piled up in cities of Anshan

and Panjin during the period, according

to data by the provincial meteorological

bureau, Xinhua reported.

The maximum snowfall of 20 mm

was recorded in Liaoyang County, the

bureau said.

The transportation department of

Liaoning Province has issued traffic

controls with entry to highways shut

down and passenger vehicles with seats

of seven or above barred from several

expressways.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 9

NEPAL'S quake-ravaged Singha

Durbar opens after reconstruction

Kathmandu : Nepal's main administrative

complex Singha Durbar, which

was heavily ravaged in the 2015 devastating

earthquakes, came into operation

again on Monday after the completion

of most of the reconstruction works.

The complex had housed the Prime

Minister's Office, the Ministry of

Defence and the National Planning

Commission of Nepal for decades

before being devastated by the 2015

earthquakes.

Some 9,000 people were killed and

22,000 others injured in the twin devastating

earthquakes on April 25 and May

12, 2015 in Nepal, Xinhua reported.

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli

inaugurated the use of the restored areas

of Singha Durbar, whose western part is

still being reconstructed.

"Singha Durbar isn't just the main

administrative complex, it is also a historically

important site of the country,"

he said during the inauguration.

"The effort to bring the same building

into operation after a retrofitting is

commendable."

The government had decided to

New Delhi : The "toolkit"

posted by Greta Thunberg had a

"foreign expert" as resource person.

This name was also central

to an OSINT investigation

regarding info-war against India

– Pieter Friedrich, according to a

report by The Disinfolab.

The report titled "THE UN-

ENDING WAR: From Proxy

War to Info-War against India",

notes that it turns out, it was an

elaborate design, that was under

play since 2007. It involved a

slew of shady companies in the

US, fake foreign experts and

even ghost entities.

The linkages of the mastermind

could be traced back to a

major terror plot hatched against

India in 1990s in collusion with

ISI.

While taking the cover of

Khalistan, the network works for

Pakistani interests. The key players

on scene during the 1990

bombing plans are still around

and connected.

The network was targeting

Indian interest at the global

scale, including even Indian origin

American politicians.

The story also decodes how

some of the most prolific and

influential people in India – from

media to journalists and intellectuals

- provided a nourishing

eco-system to the network in

damaging Indian interests, as per

Disinfolab.

Disinfolab said the name of

one of the key players of their

story came up in the toolkit

dropped accidentally by

reconstruct the neo-classical structure

built in 1908 instead of demolishing it

for its archeological value.

Sushil Gyewali, Chief Executive

Officer of the National Reconstruction

Authority, said that restoration of the

Singha Durbar is an important achievement

of the reconstruction drive after

the 2015 earthquakes.

"The building has been retrofitted

using new modern technology keeping

the fundamental structure, style and its

antique value intact," he told Xinhua.

The Nepali government has spent

about 7.4 million dollars so far in

rebuilding the 12,461 square meter

structure.

Completing the remaining western

area of the complex is expected to cost

an additional 4.07 million dollars.

Gyewali said the reconstruction of

over 90 per cent of the earthquake-damaged

796,245 private houses and a

majority of the 7,553 school buildings

and hundreds of other public structures,

religious and cultural sites destroyed in

the 2015 earthquakes have so far been

completed.

Meet Pieter Friedrich, Greta’s resource

person with Khalistan, ISI links

Thunberg. The toolkit had mentioned

a foreign expert as

resource point – Pieter Friedrich.

It was startling. "Pieter was part

of a story we were already working

since about a month in context

of info-war against India," it

said.

The report notes that Info-

War/psy-war is one of the fanciest

discussion topics. "Yet, the

consciousness about its gravity

and impact in India doesn't seem

to be registering even with major

stake-holders. Though we did

expect it to be an elaborate

design against India, their reach

and depth within India and the

impunity with which it was operating

shocked us," it said.

The story goes far back into

the past. During the turmoil of

1980s, a hitherto an unknown

Khalistani Bhajan Singh Bhinder

@Iqbal Choudhary appears on

scene. He claimed his origins

from Malaysia, and was operating

from the US. He was essentially

funding the terror network

for carrying out large-scale violence

in various cities in India

through another

rerrorist Lal

Singh with the

help of

Pakistan's ISI.

Indian escaped

the the attack

by a whisker

when Lal

Singh got

arrested from

Dadar railway

station.

Bhinder was eventually also put

in India's Black-list till 2011, the

report said.

The attacks were part of a

larger conspiracy called K-2

(Kashmir – Khalistan) which

was hatched in Lahore under the

patronage of Amir ul Azeem, the

then Secretary of Jamaat–e-

Islami, and being supported by

several Pakistani establishment

players including Choudhary

Altaf Hussain, eventually

Governor of Punjab (Pakistan)

and uncle of present S&T

Minister of Pakistan Fawad

Chaudhary.

At the same time, while in

US, Bhinder and his gang was

also involved in a major transnational

drug trafficking network,

and a DVD piracy network.

In order to fund their drug

network, they managed to take

control of one of the most prominent

Gurudwaras in the US

(Fremont Gurudwara), after a

bloody fight within it. Fremont

receives millions of dollars in

contribution from devotees

every year.

The report said that all this

while Bhinder has also been trying

to procure weapons to be

sent to India via Pakistan. His

quest of arms almost got him in

the police net in the US. An

investigation by DEA Special

Agent Tim Lum reveals that

Bhinder was looking for massive

fire power to be sent to India.

The deal however failed to materialise,

as Bhinder got suspicious

about the Agent. It was a close

call for Bhinder.

It added that with change of

millennium, Bhinder also

changed his methods. In the

early 2000, after the efforts to

send weapons to India failed,

and with new media and online

platforms mushrooming,

Bhinder (or the masterminds

behind him) decided to shift

focus towards launching infowar

against India. To this end he

plans to set up flimsy organisation

and scouts for a suitable

‘white face', who could be used

as face for the info-war operations.

"By 2006-7 Bhinder finds a

young Christian Missionary

Pieter Freidrich, who seemed to

have a decent oratory and writing

skills but was still wanting in

terms of economic means. Pieter

was even willing to work as

security guard, and hence the

offer to become an 'expertactivist'

would have been quite

lucrative to refuse. Pieter came

on board and finds a new role as

an anti-Gandhi crusader," the

report said.

Myanmar: Protesters face upto

20 yrs’ prison under new law

Nay Pyi Taw:

Myanmar's military has

warned anti-coup protesters

across the country

that they could face

up to 20 years in prison

if they obstruct the

armed forces.

Long sentences and

fines will also apply to

those found to incite

"hatred or contempt"

towards the coup leaders,

the military said.

The legal changes were

announced as armoured vehicles appeared on the streets of several

cities, the BBC reported on Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in protests in

recent days. The demonstrators are demanding the release from

detention of their elected leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and

the restoration of democracy.

On Monday, Suu Kyi's lawyer said she would be detained for a

further two days. She will then be tried via video link at a court in the

capital Nay Pyi Taw on Wednesday, Khin Maung Zaw added.

Suu Kyi was rounded up with other members of the government

on February 1, but her detention was due to end on February 15.

The charges against her include possession of unlawful communication

devices - walkie-talkies used by her security staff.

Her party was elected in a resounding victory last November, but

the military has alleged voter fraud without providing proof.

The military's heightened presence is the latest sign of a potential

crackdown on opposition to the coup.

The ruling junta has also announced a series of legal changes,

imposing long prison sentences and fines on anyone found to incite

hatred towards the military, "by words, either spoken or written, or

by signs, or by visible representation". In a statement posted on a military

website on Monday, it said that people preventing the security

forces from carrying out their duties could face seven years in jail,

while those found to stir up fear or unrest in the public could be

imprisoned for three years. The news came hours after the Internet

was restored. Across the country on Sunday, hundreds of thousands

of protesters rallied against the military for the ninth day in a row.

In the city of Myitkyina, in Kachin state, shooting could be heard

as security forces clashed with anti-coup demonstrators. It was not

clear whether rubber bullets or live rounds were being fired.

Five journalists were among those arrested, but were later

released.


10 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Prince Harry and Meghan

expecting second child

Los Angeles : The Duke and

Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and

Meghan Markle, have confirmed that

they are expecting a younger brother or

sister for their one-year-old son, Archie.

A spokesperson for the royal couple

said: "We can confirm that Archie is

going to be a big brother. The Duke and

Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be

expecting their second child."

Sharing a black and white picture of

themselves under a tree with Harry resting

his hand on Meghan's head as she

lies cradling her bump, the couple sent

social media into a tizzy with the good

news. Misan Harriman, a friend of the

couple and the photographer who took

the photo that accompanied their

announcement, tweeted: "Meg, I was

there at your wedding to witness this

love story begin, and my friend, I am

honoured to capture it grow.

Congratulations to the Duke and

Duchess of Sussex on this joyous

news!"

The Buckingham Palace, responding

to the news, said: "Her Majesty, Duke of

Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and the

entire family are delighted and wish

them well", The Guardian reported.

The Sussexes' baby will be the Prince

Brunei deploys 4

military officers

in Mindanao

Bandar Seri Begawan : Brunei will deploy

four officers from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces

(RBAF) as members of the third Independent

Decommissioning Body Verification, Monitoring

and Assistance Team (IDB VMAT) in Philippines'

Mindanao. A flag handing-over ceremony was

held at Bolkiah Garrison gymnasium on Monday.

The Brunei flag was handed over by the Guest

of Honour, Major General Haji Hamzah,

Commander of the RBAF, to Lieutenant Colonel

Mohammad Shalleh as the head of the delegation,

Xinbhua reported. According to Brunei's defence

ministry, Shahril Anwar, the ministry's Permanent

Secretary, Christopher B. Montero, Ambassador

of the Philippines to Brunei, and some other senior

military officers attended the ceremony. The

defence ministry said that IDB VMAT is a step

forward in the peace process in Mindanao, the

Philippines, to oversee the process of decommissioning

of the forces and weapons of the Moro

Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The IDB VMAT is composed of foreign

experts from Brunei, Turkey, Norway, as well as

representatives from the government of the

Philippines and MILF.

of Wales' fifth grandchild and the Queen

and the Duke of Edinburgh's 10th or

11th great-grandchild, depending on

whether he or she arrives before or after

Zara Tindall's baby, which is also due in

2021. He or she will be eighth in line to

the throne and entitled to be a Lord or

Lady, but the duke and duchess are

expected to again opt for Master, like

Archie, or Miss, with the surname

Mountbatten-Windsor, the Guardian

report explained.

Harry retained his place in the line of

succession despite him and Meghan

stepping back as senior royals in

January last year, and dropping their

HRH style.

The Duke of York, Prince Andrew,

who was second in line when he was

born in 1960, will move down to ninth

place.

In November, Meghan disclosed the

devastation that the couple experienced

after she had a miscarriage last summer.

Speculation that the duchess might

be expecting a second child started after

she applied for and was granted a postponement

of her privacy trial against the

Mail on Sunday until the autumn for a

"confidential" reason, the Guardian

Any trial was averted when, on

Thursday, the duchess won her high

court privacy case against Associated

Newspapers Ltd over the Mail on

Sunday and Mail Online's publication of

extracts from a private handwritten letter

she wrote to her estranged father,

Thomas Markle, 76, after the judge,

Lord Justice Warby, granted summary

judgment in Meghan's favour.

Harry and Meghan's announcement

comes just five days after the royal family

celebrated the arrival of Princess

Eugenie's first child - a baby boy.

This new baby, like Archie, is set to

grow up thousands of miles away from

the Queen, Prince Charles, and Prince

William, as the Sussexes now live in

Montecito in California after leaving

royal life in a quest for personal and

financial freedom.

The couple have been busy securing

funding for their new life, signing a

lucrative deal with streaming giant

Netflix rumoured to be worth more than

150 million pound, and another multimillion-pound

podcast deal with

Spotify. Recently, Harry was seen

shooting with TV presenter and fellow

Brit, James Cordon, atop an open bus,

maintaining Covid protocall. The photos

went viral on social media.

Turkey to begin Covid

vaccination for teachers

next week : Minister

Istanbul : Turkey will begin

Covid-19 vaccinations for teachers

next week, Education

Minister Ziya Selcuk said on

Monday. Selcuk made the statement

at an opening ceremony of

a school in the southern

province of Igdir as the second

semester started with in-person

classes in village primary

schools across the country,

Xinhua reported. "The first dose

of vaccinations of teachers will

begin in the last week of

February," the Minister said. He

said that his ministry has submitted

lists of teachers to the

health ministry and their names

are now being registered in the

inoculation appointment system.

So far, more than 4.1 million

Turks have been vaccinated

since the start of the mass vaccination

programme on January

14 with China's Sinovac Covid-

19 vaccines, according to a data

from Turkey's Health Ministry.

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www.theasianindependent.co.uk

'BJP lost right to rule':

Amarinder on govt figures

of farmers' deaths

Chandigarh : Punjab Chief

Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday

expressed shock over the recent statements

of senior BJP leaders, including

the Union and Haryana Agriculture

Ministers, on the deaths of protesting

farmers, saying the party had lost the

moral and ethical right to continue to

rule at the Centre and in the state.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-

led government at the Centre should

step down in the interest of the nation,

as should the Manohar Lal Khattar

government in Haryana, he said, slamming

Union Agriculture Minister

Narendra Tomar's and state Agriculture

Minister J.P. Dalal's statements on the

deaths of farmers protesting against the

farm laws at the borders of the national

capital for more than two months

now.

Punjab alone has paid compensation

to families of 102 farmers who

have died in these protests, said the

Chief Minister, lashing out at Tomar

over his "outrageous statement" citing

Delhi Police information that only two

farmers have died and one has committed

suicide.

Even the media has released details

of more than 200 farmers (from various

states) who have lost their lives in

this agitation, Amarinder Singh pointed

out, while also lambasting Dalal

over the latter's "insensitive remark"

that farmers who have died in this agitation

would have died sitting at homes

anyway.

The Chief Minister also slammed

Tomar over his statement that the

Central government has no plans to

provide financial assistance from the

Kisan Kalyan Fund to the families of

the deceased farmers.

"It was deplorable that a government

that can spend Rs 8 crore on publicity

campaign for the new farm laws

cannot give compensation to the families

of the farmers who have sacrificed

their lives in fighting for their rights,"

he said.

"These statements of Tomar and

Dalal reflect a shocking lack of concern

on the part of the BJP leadership

towards the farmers who have been

braving the elements and the lathis of

Delhi and Haryana Police in their fight

for survival," he said.

Referring to Tomar's claim that the

Centre has no count of the deceased

farmers, Amarinder Singh said it was

appalling that a government which

claimed to be working in the interest of

the farmers does not even know how

many farmers had died in the protests

against their farm laws, just as they

had no idea, some months ago, on how

many migrants had died in the country

during the lockdown.

"What kind of government is this

that has no data (or so it claims) of

people dying on the streets in their own

country," he asked.

"Either the Agriculture Minister

deliberately lied on the floor of the

House or simply does not care to even

ascertain the facts and figures," he

said, adding that this was not the first

time a Central minister had made a

false statement in Parliament on the

issue of the farm laws or the farmers'

agitation.

"Another minister had earlier stated

falsely in the House that Punjab had

been taken on board on the farm laws

in its capacity as a member of the agricultural

reforms committee, which was

also a blatant lie," Amarinder Singh

said, adding that not once were these

legislations even mentioned in that

committee, in which Punjab was

included after one meeting had already

taken place.

ASIA

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

11

People will keep

coming and going at

protest site: Tikait

New Delhi : The farmer protests have

continued against the agricultural laws

for more than 80 days on Delhi's borders.

Now the crowd at the Ghazipur border

protest site has become thinner than

before, though BKU leader Rakesh

Tikait has already told the farmers "to

keep one eye on the border and one eye

on their farm."

The tents in which the farmers used to

sleep, are now almost empty. Only a few

people are seen eating food at the 'langars'

or community kitchens.

However, the number of farmers on

the border increases on Saturday and

Sunday. There are some farmers who

come from their villages in the morning

and go back again the same evening.

In fact, after the violence on Republic

Day, speculation was doing the rounds

that the farmers have started leaving

Ghazipur border and on January 27 it

was clearly visible that people were

departing the border.

On the night of January 27, after a

passionate appeal from Tikait, the farmers

again gathered at the border, coming

on tractors, two-wheelers and fourwheelers.

Tikait had given a boost to the protest

movement by gathering the farmers on

the border, but to continue the movement,

a new strategy was devised under

which the farmers were clearly told to

keep an eye both on their farms and on

the border protest site. After that the

farmers started returning to their villages

and coming back after a few days.

At present, the number of farmers on

the border is low, though it is difficult to

say whether farmers are quitting the

protest movement to go home or just to

tend their farms.

According to other farmers at the border,

the farmers who are returning to

their villages on tractors will come back

again. Due to the farm work they cannot

sit here continuously.

When Tikait was asked about the lack

of crowds on the border, he replied, "It is

not that the crowd is decreasing, the

farmers will keep coming, they have to

manage their fields and also manage the

movement." "They will not go home till

the agricultural laws are repealed. The

farmers are not on the streets but are sitting

in their tents. We have asked all

farmers to be on standby, when the need

arises we will call them here."

On kanshi TV

channel 772.

SATURDAY at

6 :00 pm

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6 :00 pm

Ambedkarites News and Views

by

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12 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

How Covid-19 impacted

children's dental care

New York : While many parents

the pandemic. The nationally representative

report is based on responses

feel that Covid-19 has made it difficult

to get dental care for their children,

from 1,882 parents with at least one

some noticed improvements in how

child aged 3-18. The American

their children are taking care of their

Association of Pediatric Dentists recommends

that children receive regular

teeth and gums at home during the

pandemic, according to a poll in the

teeth cleaning and exams every six

US. Others found that the dental office

months, starting when their first tooth

had closed or reduced patient visits to

comes in. Check-ups provide a consistent

opportunity to identify and treat

urgent cases, according to the C.S.

Mott Children's Hospital National Poll

tooth decay, to apply protective treatments

like sealants and fluoride var-

on Children's Health at Michigan

Medicine, University of Michigan.

nish, and to educate parents and children

about good dental hygiene.

"Regular preventive dental care

helps keep children's teeth healthy and

But to protect patients and staff,

allows providers to address any tooth

some dental offices have changed or

decay or dental problems before they

limited their operations to limit the

become more serious," said Mott Poll

spread of Covid-19.

Co-director Sarah Clark.

Sixty percent of parents in the poll

"Our findings highlight how the

have tried to get preventive dental care

pandemic may have disrupted families'

dental care and exasperated

started. While most got an appoint-

for their child since the pandemic

potential disparities among those with

ment in the usual time frame, 24 per

insurance barriers." Some parents

cent experienced a delay, and 7 per

attempted to continue their child's regular

dental check-ups, only to find a

all, said the report. Overall, one in

cent could not get an appointment at

lengthy wait time for an appointment,

three parents feel Covid-19 has made

Clark said. But the Mott Poll report

it harder to get preventive dental care

revealed a silver lining too: One in four parents described improvements in how their children are taking care of their teeth and gums at home during for their child.

IT Department conducts

raids on Mumbai-based

gutkha manufacturer

New Delhi : The Income

Tax Department has carried out

search and survey operations in

the premises of a Mumbaibased

group involved in manufacturing

tobacco-based product

including pan masala and

gutkha.

The raids on the group,

which is also involved in the

hospitality sector, were carried

out during February 8-13. The

search and seizure action has

led to detection of foreign

assets lying with a company

registered in tax haven British

Virgin Islands (BVI) with an

office in Dubai and controlled

and managed by the group's

Chairman. The net worth of the

BVI company is Rs 830 crore

created by siphoning of funds

from India, said an official

statement.

This fund has been round

tripped to India in the form of

share premium amounting to

Rs 638 crore in the flagship

companies of the group. During

the search action, various digital

evidences and forensic

analysis have yielded email

communications, establishing

control and management of the

company with the promoter of

the group searched.

One of the employees, who

was also a shareholder in the

BVI company, was identified

and cross-examined with the

promoter. It has been accepted

by the parties involved that the

employee was not aware about

being a shareholder in the company

and he had signed papers

on the instruction of the main

promoter. Further, it has been

found that the group has

availed bogus deduction under

Section 80IC of the Income Tax

Act, 1961 to an extent of Rs

398 crore. The group set up two

entities in Himachal Pradesh

and the group was found to

indulge in sham transactions in

order to claim the aforesaid

false deduction.

Further, unaccounted production

of pan masala of an

amount of Rs 247 crore at two

factory premises of the group

has also been detected during

the search. It has also been seen

that the assessee has falsely

claimed deduction u/s 10AA of

the Income Tax Act, 1961 of an

amount of Rs 63 crore in the

Gandhi Dham unit.

During the search action,

cash of Rs 13 lakh has been

seized and jewellery amounting

to Rs 7 crore was found and has

been put under prohibitory

orders. Prohibitory orders have

also been placed on 16 lockers

and in 11 premises. Thus, the

search action has led to detection

of unaccounted transactions

of around Rs 1,500 crore,

so far.

Penguin to publish awardwinning

author Irwin Allan

Sealy's new novel 'ASOCA'

New Delhi : Penguin

Random House India is to

publish prizewinning

writer Irwin Allan Sealys

stunning new novel, titled

"ASOCA: A Sutra", an

imagined memoir of

Ashoka The Great, the

emperor who ruled most

of the Indian Subcontinent

and played a pivotal role

in the spread of Buddhism

from India to other parts

of Asia in the 3rd century

BC.

Earlier, Penguin had

published the 30th

anniversary edition of

Sealy's critically

acclaimed debut novel

"The Trotter-Nama".

"Asoca", tells the story

of the emperor who went

from masterminding one

of the biggest and deadliest

wars to becoming one

of the most profound advocates

of non-violence. The

beauty of Sealy's prose will

transport readers to a time and

place that is remarkable.

Manasi Subramaniam,

Executive Editor and Head of

Literary Rights, Penguin

Random House India, says:

"It's an incendiary, powerful

work that appears to combine

the very best of Allan's preceding

books. Slipping easily from

mock gravitas to straightforward

humour, his infinite variety

is on full display here. It's a

rich, dark-but-whimsical parable

about nationhood and violence

and religion and personal

dilemmas. I found

it irreverent,

funny and

poignant, rich

with skepticism

and heart. I

absolutely loved

it."

Irwin Allan

Sealy was born

and raised in

India. He has

lived and worked

in Canada, the

USA, New

Zealand and

Australia. His first

novel "The

Trotter-Nama"

was published in

1988 by Knopf

and tells the story

of seven generations

of an Anglo-

Indian family. The

book garnered

great praise and

acclaim. Allan has won the

Commonwealth Writers' Prize,

Best First Book, Europe and

South Asia, in 1989, the

Sahitya Akademi Award in

1991, the Crossword Book

Award in 1998, and received

the Padma Shri in 2012. He

lives in Dehradun.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

13

Farmers’ Movement:

Time to Introspect

– Prem Singh

Two achievements of the ongoing

peasant movement in opposition to the

three agricultural laws which have

transformed this movement into nothing

sort of exemplary are: carving out a

space for democratic resistance; and

expanding awareness of the ill effects

of capitalism pushed through policies

of privatization-corporatization. These

two achievements of the peasant movement

contain special significance in

view of the dictatorial attitude of the

present government and in the face of

its organized manoeuvrings to discredit

every adversary citizens/organizations

and blind race on the path of privatization-corporatization.

Of these two

achievements, the second one is more

significant. India’s democracy lives on

despite all its shortcomings. There are

occasions of growing and shrinking

space for democratic rights in it. The

peasant movement has, for the first

time, at least warned the ruling class

and civil society against the blind

moves of the government in support of

privatization-corporatization. The daily

newspaper ‘Indian Express’, considered

to be a supporter of neo-liberal

reforms in its editorial policy, has stated

this fact while writing on the 26

January incident: “Reforms cannot be

imposed by turning a deaf ear to people’s

anxieties and concerns, due deliberations

must not be short-circuited in

framing laws. The hard work of communicating

and persuading on the farm

laws remains to be done. The farmer’

self-goal is, by no means, anyone’s victory”(27

January 2021)

Farmers have been struggling

against these “black” laws for the last 6

months. For the last 2 months, they

have been sitting on five borders of the

national capital, facing the outbreak of

the pandemic and severe cold.

Meanwhile, 171 agitators have died and

almost half a dozen have committed

suicide. The movement has set an

example at the level of operations, participation,

commitment and discipline.

Most importantly, the character of the

movement has been kept apolitical.

Although the farmers have organized

sit-ins on the borders of Delhi, the

movement has expanded across the

country, and has the support of important

farmer unions of most states. This

is the reason that despite government

efforts to discredit the movement, farmers

have also earned sympathy even

from the supporters of three agricultural

laws and corporatization of agriculture

sector.

It is true that the unfortunate incident

of indiscipline and violence during the

tractor parade of 26 January has shaken

the movement’s image. Hoisting the

flag of Nishan Sahib on the Red Fort

has been considered the most objectionable

in public minds. The 26 January

incident can be considered/analysed

from three sides : from the agitators’

side, from the government (including

security agencies) side and from the

opposition side. In this article the incident

has been considered and deliberated

upon from the agitators’ side.

The ongoing peasant movement

against agricultural laws has a shared

leadership in the form of the Samyukt

(united) Kisan Morcha (SKM). Shared

leadership of the Morcha will directly

be held responsible for the 26 January

incident. Interacting with the government

on behalf of the people and making

a statement in the press is the overhead

job of leadership. The real task of

the leadership is to explain the movement’s

issues, programs and

mode/methodology well to the participating

agitators. The moral

aura/strength of the movement remains

intact and floating when this work is

done with truth and transparency by

leadership of any movement. If India is

also a country of Gandhi, then this quality

of leadership should not be rare.

It is true that the deviations from the

route fixed under the agreement with

the Delhi Police were negligible compared

to the number of two and a half

lakh people and about one lakh tractors

attending the rally, but it is also true that

at all the picketing sites people started

marching ahead of schedule. It seems

that the leadership of the Morcha was

busy in managing their respective

unions in place of discharging the

responsibility of shared leadership.

Whereas it was its primary responsibility

to ensure that all those attending the

rally proceed according to time and

route at least from the points of departure.

Some agitators were initially

opposed to the route agreed with the

police. The dispute over the route took

a lot of weight on the Singhu border on

the evening of 25 January. The leadership

should have resolved this serious

dispute at all costs. In view of the

fragility of the situation, the police

should have been informed directly and

the public through the press. The leadership

did not clarify about their calls

made before the agreement of prescribed

rout asking people to reach

Rajpath and Red Fort. Most of the people

who had reached the picket sites the

night before or the same night to join

the rally, did not have proper knowledge

of the route. But surprisingly the

leadership did not take appropriate

action in this direction despite being

aware of the whole situation.

This issue of shared leadership can

be discussed further in the interest of

future of the movement. Within two

months of the struggle, the leadership

should have given the message that

even though the farmers of Punjab

started the movement, and also made it

strong, it is not just the Punjab farmers’

movement; nor is it limited to Punjab,

Haryana and West Uttar Pradesh only.

With this, unions left outside the

umbrella of SKM should have also

been included in the Morcha. Many

innovative things related to food, living

and entertainment were seen at picket

sites, courtesy imaginative people of

Punjab. People were got nettled as well

as miraculous by these innovative

moves. Study circles could have also

been organized in this sequence by the

leadership. Those who were named to

be anti-social elements or stabbing the

back of the movement were active in

the movement from the beginning. The

leadership should have convinced them

about the spirit and mode of the movement.

The ‘Jayakara’“Bole So Nihal” and

the flag of Nishan Sahib are the things

belonging to the sublime world of Guru

Maharajs. Issues in the mundane world

of ordinary human beings have to be

raised and resolved within the scope of

the constitution and with a sense of citizenship.

Had this understanding been

made of the senior and young citizens

involved in the movement, the incident

of hoisting the flag of Nishan Sahib on

the Red Fort might have been prevented

despite the provocation. If the teaching

and discussion camps were continued

at the sit-in sites, the suffering of

pandemics and cold in the open

grounds away from the comforts of

home and the grief of the death of loved

ones could teach people tolerance

instead of anger. The novelty of neoimperialism

in this ‘New India’ is that it

is being imposed by the ruling classes

of India, not the foreign powers. Great

tolerance would be needed to counter

this onslaught by own people.

I personally do not agree with the

decision of holding a tractor rally in the

capital; that too on Republic Day.

However, what could have happened on

26 January can also be imagined. The

Republic Day Parade would end at 12

noon on the Rajpath, and the tractor

parade of farmers would begin in full

swing at the scheduled ‘Janpath’. Had it

been possible to arrange for a live

broadcast at the departure points and

major intersections on the way, the

whole country and the world would

have witnesses that. Even if the government

did not repeal the laws, the movement

would have reached the next stage.

If this could not happen, then leadership

and activists need self-realization,

not to be disappointed. The movement

that has been accumulated for 6 months

has not fallen, cannot fall in fact. The

leadership should present the complete

report of the January 26 tractor parade –

what, why and how it happened – in

writing to the country. The footage/photos

of the peaceful parade running

along the route should be released to

the public. Where mistakes have

occurred, the same must be accepted

and apologized for, unconditionally.

The work should commence on planning

and preparing for the second phase

of the movement by learning from the

mistakes. People across the country can

be asked for suggestions and assistance

if the leadership desires so. This may be

the appropriate answer to ‘Government

conspiracy’.

Youth activists dedicated to the

preparations for the tractor parade of 26

January were engaged day and night

doing their duties. They had dreamed of

a disciplined and spectacular tractor

parade, which broke out in one stroke.

It is the duty of the leadership towards

them that they and other youths should

remain active in the movement with full

dedication and understanding. In the

next phase, there should be maximum

participation of women in the movement

and leadership. A leadership collegium

of all farmer unions which are

opposed to the corporatization of farming

should be formed at an all-India

level. A detailed outline should be made

in order to oppose the three agricultural

laws. It is necessary to understand that

those aspiring to become leaders in

mainstream politics should not use the

farmer movement for their personal

end. Next year, Republic Day will come

again. A peaceful and spectacular

parade can then be organized in Delhi

and/or in other parts of the country.

The repression cycle of the government

has started further. Attacks are

made at picket sites with the intention

to evacuate them forcibly and barricades

are erected to isolate them. There

are arrests of several common agitators,

and summons have been issued against

farmer leaders. Some people are missing

also. In such a predicament, the

emotional outburst of Rakesh Tikait has

infused a new lease of life in the movement.

However, emphasis is shifting

from the core issue of agri-laws and

democratic right of protest to ‘honour’.

This suits the government.

Government’s move to relate profarmer

tweets of two international

celebrities with its core agenda of hyper

nationalism is a well thought out strategy.

It seems that opponents of the government

are not understanding the trap.

The worst situation may be that even

after a long struggle, the peasant movement

will eventually be defeated. But

that would be an epic defeat. The established,

power-rich and resource-rich

trade unions, student unions, employeeofficer

unions of various departments

have surrendered their fields in front of

the privatization-corporatization without

waging a do or die fight. The union

of Indian Administrative Service (IAS)

used to be considered so strong that no

government could interfere in its jurisdiction.

The Modi government, by

defying the Union Public Service

Commission (UPSC), directly transferred

the people of the private sector to

the rank of Joint Secretaries through

lateral entry. This peasant movement

has led to the belief that the destiny of

the farmer is not self-annihilation, but a

consistent struggle against crony capitalism.

J&K Tourism Department restarts online registrations

Srinagar : The J&K Tourism

Department has restarted online mode of

registration of tourism units, officials said

on Monday.

Tourism, Culture, Youth Services and

Sports Secretary Sarmad Hafiz on Monday

formally kick started the restart of the

online service by clicking the button and

handing over the registration to two unit

holders. He said the portal is very dynamic

and user-friendly which will streamline the

registration process by a great measure.

As per this online mode, a tourism unit

holder can apply with the Tourism

Department for registration of his/her unit

under J&K Tourist Trade Act, 1978/2011

by simply logging on to a dedicated portal

www.tourismjk.nic.in with a set of documents

as per the check list available on the

portal. On receiving the application on the

dash board of the portal, the registering

authority would scrutinise the documents

online, conduct an inspection and issue the

registration certificate.

This would eliminate the human interface

between the Department and the unit

holder and the registration would be done

in the most transparent manner. Initially the

online registration has been restarted in

respect of travel units and gradually it

would be extended to other tourism units

and their renewals as well.


14 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Background

Fisheries is an important

source of food, nutrition,

employment and income in

India. The sector provides livelihood

to about 16 million fishers

and fish farmers at the primary

level and almost twice the number

along the value chain.

Recognising the importance of

the sector, an independent

Department of Fisheries was created

in 2019 to provide sustained

and focused attention towards

the development of the fisheries

sector. The fish production in

India has registered an average

annual growth rate of more than

seven per cent in the recent

years. The sector has been one of

the major contributors of foreign

exchange earnings with India

being one of the leading seafood

exporting nations in the world.

In recent years, the number of

policy shifts that have taken

place in India especially on the

environmental front is quite

alarming when looked at from

the perspective of the natural

resource dependent communities.

The latest being the sixth

draft of the National Fisheries

Policy. In this context, it is

essential that the information for

the fishworkers regarding their

livelihood and the cost to the

environment needs to be percolated

to the ground. This makes

it essential to build a support

group which will be informed,

aimed at assisting the fishworker

organizations to build up their

perspectives to address the

issues of the coast, environment

and livelihood through an

engagement with the research

and policy matters related to the

coast and environment.

Youth for the Coast is hosting

'Yemen's Houthi

militia launched

fresh attacks on

2 Saudi airports'

Sanaa : The Yemeni Houthi militia on

Monday said that they have launched new

cross-border attacks on two Saudi airports

in southwestern the kingdom, using three

bomb-laden drones.

"Our drone air force carried out attacks

on Jeddah International Airport and Abha

International Airport, forcing them to suspend

air traffic for two hours," Yahya

Sarea, spokesman of the Houthi militia,

said in a statement aired by the militia-run

al-Masirah television.

"The attacks were in response to the

escalation by the Saudi-led coalition," he

added. The Saudi-led Arab coalition has

made no comment yet on the militia's

claim, Xinhua reported.

Last week, the Houthis attacked the

Abha airport, causing a civilian plane on

the tarmac to catch fire, no injuries were

reported, said the Saudi-led coalition.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war

since late 2014 when the Iran-backed

Houthi militia seized control of several

northern provinces and forced the internationally-recognized

government of

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out

of the capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened

in the Yemeni conflict in 2015 to

support Hadi's government.

Youth for the Coast –

Call for Applications

a 6 day training programme for

early to mid career practitioners

from various fields who intend

to work on the various aspects of

the ocean and coast in India. We

aim to bring together young people

to develop their understanding

and extend solidarity to people’s

movements and organisations

in their own capacity.

Objectives:

To create a fundamental

understanding of ocean and

coast as an ecological system

that supports livelihoods of people

engaged in the small scale

fisheries sector.

To develop an understanding

of how the dynamics between

ecology, socio-economic and

socio-political aspects of the

ocean and coast are linked.

To introduce basic history of

fisheries development in India

and the narrative of struggle

from people’s movements to

contextualise discussions on

present challenges.

To give an overview of how

law, policy, and governance of

the ocean and coast are structured

and are changing under the

Blue Economy.

To build up support groups to

assist the fish workers movements

in respective coastal

states.

Programme

The first phase of Youth for

the Coast will be a six-day residential

course for the selected

Queen Silvia of Sweden

admitted to hospital

after ACCIDENT

Stockholm : Queen Silvia of Sweden was rushed to a

hospital with multiple fractures on Monday, following an

accident at the royal palace outside Stockholm.

"On Monday morning, the Queen fell accidentally in

her home, injuring her right wrist. The queen is now plastered

and is back home at Drottningholm palace and she

is feeling well under the circumstances," Swedish Royal

Court spokesman Johan Tegel told Xinhua.

It is not known whether the Queen, since 1976 married

to the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf, will have to

rearrange her schedule when recuperating.

"It's too early to say. Right now, program planners are

reviewing it," the court's Information Director Margareta

Thorgren said to news agency TT.

San Francisco : A new study

has revealed that California's

commuters are likely inhaling

chemicals at levels that increase

the risk for cancer and birth

defects. Even 20 minutes or

longer in the car also raises risk

of birth defects, said the study.

Benzene and formaldehyde --

both used in automobile manufacturing

-- are known to cause

cancer at or above certain levels

of exposure.

New University of

California-Riverside research

shows that the average commuter

in California is exceeding

the threshold for exposure,

breathing in unsustainably high

levels of both chemicals.

Both benzene and formaldehyde

are carcinogens, and benzene

carries the additional risk of

reproductive and developmental

toxicity.

"These chemicals are very

volatile, moving easily from

plastics and textiles to the air

that you breathe," said David

Volz, a professor of environmental

toxicology.

The study, published in the

journal Environment

International, calculated the

daily dose of benzene and

participants that will equip them

with information and resources

that confront the complex socioecology

of land and water.

During the course, the participants

will also engage in peer-topeer

learning, participate in field

visits, engage with community

leaders, academics and activists

currently working on coastal

issues to create their own chosen

project/intervention they would

like to design and implement.

The participants will also be

introduced to movements/organizations

working with the coastal

communities to facilitate understanding

of fishworkers regarding

the policy shifts happening

in their areas which will help

them respond at the local,

regional and national level.

Who can apply

Fishworkers, youth from

coastal communities,

researchers, media practitioners,

interested in engaging with the

issues of coast primarily from

the nine coastal states from the

Western and Eastern Coasts:

Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat,

Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra,

Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West

Bengal.

Age limit: 22-35

Language:

Primarily English; interpretation

will be provided for whoever

is not comfortable with

English

Contribution:

formaldehyde being inhaled by

drivers with commutes of at least

20 minutes per day.

It found that up to 90 per cent

of the population in Los Angeles,

San Diego, Orange, Santa Clara,

and Alameda counties have at

least a 10 per cent chance of

exceeding cancer risk from

inhaling the chemicals, based on

having 30-minute average commute

times. "Of course, there is a

range of exposure that depends

on how long you're in the car,

and how much of the compounds

your car is emitting," said

Aalekhya Reddam, a graduate

student in the Volz laboratory,

and lead author. Previously, Volz

and Reddam studied commuter

This programme is free of

cost. However, the shortlisted

participants are expected to submit

a refundable amount of Rs.

2000/-.

Health instruction

Any participant attending this

workshop needs to produce a

self declaration statement that

they do not have any Covid-19

symptoms or knowingly been in

contact with anyone displaying

the said symptoms within 14

days preceding the workshop.

The workshop will be conducted

maintaining the Covid-19 safe

protocols:, proper ventilation,

intermittent sanitation will be

ensured for the participants,

resource people and staff at the

venue.

Dates:

March 21: Day of Arrival

March 22- 27: Programme

Days

March 28: Day of Departure

Travel:

Participants are expected to

make their own arrangements to

arrive in Goa on the 21st of

March and Depart at 28th of

March before 12 noon. We

request participants to make

their arrangements via train

(sleeper/third AC) /bus as far as

possible. Travel expenses upon

submission of original bills/tickets

will be reimbursed.

Venue:

Goa

How to apply:

To apply for the Youth for the

Coast programme, kindly fill in

this application form:

Application Form

Last date: 25th February 2021

Contact: Write to

admin@delhiforum.net for any

queries regarding the programme.

Californian commuters inhaling

high levels of carcinogens: Study

exposure to a flame retardant

called TDCIPP or chlorinated

tris and found that longer commute

times increased exposure

to that carcinogen as well.

They set out on this study

wanting to understand the risk of

that compound relative to other

chemicals introduced during car

manufacturing.

Reddam advises commuters

to keep the windows open during

their rides if possible.

"At least with some air flow,

you'd be diluting the concentration

of these chemicals inside

your car," she said.

Benzene is used to produce

synthetic fibres, and formaldehyde

is a binder in plastics.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader

Rakesh Tikait’s tears has changed the

dynamics of not merely farmers

movement but politics particularly in

Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Till

January 26th, it was clear that the

protesting farmers were largely from

Punjab and those in power with their

daily calculators at hand were visualising

for a political profiteering from

the prolonged movement. They had

decided for a police action after the

red fort incident of January 26th.

Media was attempting to divert the

debate from farmers to deshdrohis or

anti nationals and the protesting

venue, we were told, was isolated as

more and more people started returning

to their homes. Most of those who

had been sitting felt that a police

action could happen any time. By the

evening reports started coming in with

heavy police mobilisation and Uttar

Pradesh chief minister ordering strong

action to get the place vacated. It was

also reported that police was planning

swift action and there was heavy

mobilisation of the same at the

Ghazipur border. Rakesh Tikait too

had visualised it. Till 26th, it was not

really a farmers movement but mostly

related to Punjab but Rakesh Tikait’s

tears shocked the farmers from predominantly

Jatland of Uttar Pradesh

and Haryana. Within no time, the

farmers started marching towards the

Ghazipur border and Uttar Pradesh

administration had to assure people

that they planned no action against the

Dharana and the police returned.

The full throated entry of the farmers

from Western Uttar Pradesh and

Haryana has worrying indications for

the ruling Bharatiya Janata party. It is

a reality that Jats for the last few elections

voted for BJP. Even Tikait was

used to weaken the position of Ajeet

Singh and RLD. The Mujaffarnagar

model of the BJP could not have succeeded

without involvement of the

powerful Jats and Gujjars but it is also

a fact that it is these two communities

which actually lost their political

power in the region to Rajputs and

Brahmins along with Banias who benefitted

from BJP’s rabid nationalism.

Now, the farmers are holding

Panchayats and Jats have come along

with Muslims. Tikait has said that voting

to BJP was his biggest fault and

the farmers have realised that the current

farm laws are only meant for

crony corporate.

The government till date have used

their ‘developmental model’ against

Dalits, Adivasis and OBCs but for the

first time their ‘model’ is being challenged

by the ruling castes, a part of

their own ‘structure’ and it has jolted

them from inside. There are Maha

Panchayats being organised in various

parts of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana

with massive presence of the people

and this is a message for BJP to not be

arrogant about its ‘government’. In

democracy it is people who are sovereign

and will decide. These indications

from Western Uttar Pradesh are

not good for BJP but it is also important

for the farmer leaders and others

to not allow them to play their

favourite Hindu Muslim card. So far

things look good but then in India any

one event changes the track so while

people are upset with the government

and Jats are hurt and it is the time to

build bridges among different communities.

The impact of this is visible everywhere.

I can tell you that even the

Savarna castes are upset at the

moment but we still find that many of

NEWS

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

of Kisan Andolan

the most marginalised castes are still

happy. Actually, it depends on how

people were understanding about the

issue but it is a fact that resentment

among the people is growing. There

was a time when in the trains and

buses you would not speak anything

because of the bhakts but now people

are openly questioning.

I was in Varanasi recently for a

short trip and an auto driver who took

me to the city was

speaking about the

problem that they

are facing. ‘ Sir, it is

not the politicians

but the administration

which is running our city and they

damn care. Poor is getting poorer,

Petrol-Diesel prices are so high, our

land is being snatched. Small shop

owners are dying. Who is happy ? And

he himself answered that a few friends

of PM from Gujarat want to take away

everything. People will revolt against

it, he says adding that BJP would find

it harder to get through this city with

ease.

At Assighat, I spoke to boatman,

Munnu Nishad who said that thanks to

Modi ji, he could survive with his

family during the Covid period. ‘ I did

not get any money but everyday we

got food to eat.’ He was happy with

the ‘developmental work’ in Varanasi.

A cab driver who took me to various

places was happy that Yogi Adityanath

was taking ‘action’ against the Mafias.

‘ Sir, UP is changed now. Roads are

wider and law and order has become

better’, he informed me.

But for me the biggest revelation

was in the train while returning to

Delhi. A couple, an army person and

some youngsters were questioning the

government. ‘ They have sold everything

that our forefathers had brought

for us, said a middle aged couple.

‘My daughter is MBA and

she was getting an offer of Rs

12 lakh per annum but after

Covid she is not even getting Rs

2 lakhs. This government is

busy with nationalist-anti

nationalist, jai Shri Ram’. I was

unaware of the union budget as

I really dont follow them for the

last few years but they were

upset the way the government

was destroying the public sector. Modi

ji want to give everything to Adani and

Ambani, he said. The Fauzi bhai was

upset with the new terms and conditions

related to pensions. The budget

for the army has been reduced he said.

In Kushinagar, Deoria, I spoke to

many of the OBC leaders who were

Modi fans last time, were upset with

the way government dealing with the

farm protests. A young aspiring politician

questioned Modi’s treatment to

issues related to Dalit OBCs. I can say

firmly that farmers issue has hurt

BJP’s core supporter and terming

them as anti national has

boomeranged. Party’s middle class

Hindu voters might think it great about

calling any one as anti national or

15

The political impact

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

Pakistani but the communities who

send their children to serve our borders

hail predominantly from

Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and

Rajasthan and mostly from farming

communities but those raising sloganeering

about our nationalism on our

TV channels idolise ‘Dalal Street’.

Terming every one as anti national

will only expose the ruling party and

its real intents.

The impact of the government’s

policies are now visible. Middle class

is getting crushed. Public sector

employees, bankers, Insurance companies,

all face an uncertain future.

Reservation is under the attack and

things have crossed its limit. People

tolerate things to an extent till it does

not affect them but now they are realising

that the ‘nationalism’ plank was

nothing but to handover India’s

resources to crony capitalists in the

name of ‘development’ and ‘growth’.

Whether it is good or bad but it took so

many years and death of innocent people

to make us realise the dangers of

the capitalism and its lethal mixture

with majoritarianism which has ultimately

hurt our socio-economic

growth resulting in hunger deaths, suicides

by farmers and others while

making the ‘economy’ and ‘growth’

‘exclusive’ domain of the powerful

cronies.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

Alexei Navalny is not an ordinary

person. He belongs to an elite class of

Russia that has all the luxuries of

social life. In Moscow, he lives in an

elite residential complex. Judging by

the data from the real estate database,

a three-room apartment in such a

house costs from 37.5 million rubles.

His own daughter entered Stanford

University and will study there for

free. The question is: who is doling

out charity to Alexei Navalny family

& far what? The people of Russia

must ponder over it.

Alexei Navalny himself studied at

Yale University, USA under the World

Leader program. He not only studied

there for free but also his accommodation

was paid by some unknown

people. He received an amount of $

32,500 as a scholarship. An ordinary

Russian hardly can think of such freebies

from the American donors.

In 2012, Navalny was elected a

member of the Board of Directors of

the largest Russian airline Aeroflot.

As a Director, he received a huge

amount of salary but his record at

Aeroflot was dubious. 19.9 bitcoins

were transferred to him secretly which

is already in public domain.

Alexei Navalny’s family massive

expenses on Thailand holidays can

open up the eyes of an ordinary

Truth about Alexei Navalny

Russian. The data released recently by

Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) found

$20,000, USD 70,000 respectively.

On a trip to Egypt, Alexei Navalny

spent USD 20,000. An ordinary

Middle Class family of Russia cannot

think of such heavy spading during

the holidays. People of Russia who

were earlier confounded by him &

associates who have been receiving

financial donations from western

powers to destabilize Russia, now are

found questioning him.

The Government of Russia has also

found that Alexei Navalny is being

assisted by by officials of the government

of the Kirov region, in particular,

an employee of the apparatus of

ing Khomeini for his mission for

many years, especially during his stay

in Paris, before he suddenly appeared

as the savior of Iran. ”

With this kind of dirty politics

financed by western powers should

plunge the country deeper into poverty

& hopelessness. Great leader

Vladimir Putin is known in the globe

for his hard work, sincerity, honesty

and perseverance who pulled Russia

out of deep poverty. According to

public opinion surveys conducted by

NGO Levada Center, Putin’s approval

rating was 60% in July 2020.

Political commentators claim that

Alexei Navalny

has been planted

the Deputy Chairman of the

by the west-

Government of the region G.N.

ern powers

Machekhin Vladimir Badin, employees

of the Federal Migration Service implement the “Tunisian scenario” in ous of rising

Navalny himself says that he wants to which are jeal-

(FMS), in particular, the head of the our country. It is pertinent to quite Russia. The

FMS Department in Oktyabrsky Former British intelligence Officer false propaganda spread about the

District of Kirov, Elena Postnikova John Coleman wrote: “Any leader great leader- Vladimir Putin by these

and possibly, personally the Governor who comes across as a strong personality

and suddenly appears to ‘save’ under the guidance & directions of US

powers across the globe knowingly

Nikita Belykh.

In 2004, as a result of the Orange the nation must be treated with CIA is a known secret now. Russia-

Revolution, Yanukovych was extreme suspicion. Remember that India bilateral relations have moved to

replaced by Yushchenko Alexei British intelligence had been prepar-

the next level of friendship when

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath

Singh went to Russia & struck a

heavy defense deals with Russia.

It is unfortunate that USA is not

happy with the defense deals that

Russia-India signed. A US

Congressional report has warned that

India’s decision to ink a multi-billion

dollar deal to purchase S-400 air

defence system from Russia may

prompt Washington to impose sanctions

on India. The majority of

Indians believe that Russia is a reliable

& trusted friend of India. On the

other side, the USA was and shall

remain a fair-weathered friend of

India.

The people of the world in general

and Russians in particular must not

allow politicians like Alexei Navalny

to disintegrate

-Dr. Rahul Kumar

the Senior Correspondent, Asian

Independent, UK

the country that

was rebuilt with

great difficulty

by true nationalists

like

Vladimir Putin.

Can a corrupt opposition leader like

Alexei Navalny salvage Russia from

future corruption? It is a moral duty of

every educated Russian to expose the

fake Liberator like Alexei Navalny to

save Russia as well marginalized

Russians


16 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Why are Chinese underwater

drones clogging oceans?

New Delhi : With China's burgeoning

ambition to meddle a finger into

the tiniest of geopolitical crevices,

one can never be sure what will be

found washed-up in one's backyard

with the ominous 'Made in China' tag.

Last month, an Indonesian fisherman

mistakenly netted an innocuous object

off Masalembu. The object later

turned out to be an 'Underwater

Glider' of Chinese origin.

Not surprisingly, a recent RUSI,

think tank on international defence

and security, report indicates that this

is only one of the many such instances

wherein such Chinese Uncrewed (or

Unmanned) Underwater Vehicles

(UUVs), also called Gliders, have

been 'discovered' in different parts of

the world's oceans.

In the recent past, there have been

at least four other instances where

Chinese Underwater Vehicles were

found; in December 2020 near

Selayar Island Indonesia; February

and March 2019 at Bangka and off

Riau Islands, Indonesia; and in

November 2016 at Quang Ngai,

Vietnam. Further, a December 2020

report indicates China had deployed

twelve such Gliders in the Indian

Ocean from their specialist survey

ship Xiangyanghong 06. These were

recovered by the same ship in

February 2020 after recording around

3,400 observations.

Interestingly, this recently recovered

Glider in Indonesia, like the

other four, belong to Sea Wing

�Haiyi' family developed by

Shenyang Institute of Automation,

Chinese Academy of Sciences.

It has an uncanny design resemblance

with the Littoral Battle space

Sensing- Glider (LBS-G) used by US

Navy. Given that LBS-G of USS

Bowditch was picked up by a Chinese

Communist Party Navy (CCP-N) ship

in 2016, one wonders whether the

resemblance is a mere coincidence!

In this regard, it would be telling

that in February 2020, Christopher

Wray, Director of the FBI had identified

China as �the biggest law

enforcement threat to the United

States', arguing that China was seeking

to �steal American technology

by any means.' Perhaps, the similarity

in design of the recovered glider can

serve as an apt case study in how blatant

technology theft can be fashionably

positioned as 'reverse engineering'.

While these Gliders may appear

benign to a layman, in reality they are

designed to gather data like temperature,

salinity, current, turbidity etc

Sumit Kumar Singh

below the sea surface which is crucial

for Submarine operations.

Every submarine operating country

maintains such databases for their

area of operation which gives them

vantage on both submarine as well as

anti-submarine operations or threats.

Gathering such data from the areas

near other countries is an indication of

a country's preoccupations with

undertaking submarine operations in

those areas. The deployment of such a

Glider in shores far away from China

that too astride important routes

towards the Indian Ocean, tells us

something interesting about Chinese

preoccupations. One would expect

that China would have become more

circumspect, if not cautious, while

resorting to underhand tactics to gather

data, especially after the infamous

Huawei fiasco which had invited the

opprobrium from many countries, or

India's banning more than 200

Chinese apps recently.

In addition to this, recent reports

have indicated the increased and

somewhat alarming presence of

Chinese fishing and research vessels

in the Indian Ocean Region and other

distant waters.

Gathering crucial bathymetric data

as a prelude to conducting submarine

operations appears to be one of the

most logical reasons behind these

deployments. Interestingly, the present

deployment pattern also covers the

Northern approaches to Australia with

whom China has had strained relations,

over a series of defence, trade

and foreign policy disputes. Add to

this, a �repugnant fake tweet' by the

Chinese government showing an

Australian soldier in poor light had

further unraveled Sino-Aussie relations.

This, if nothing else, illustrates,

albeit obliquely, the unethical, reprehensible,

below-the-belt stratagems

employed by the Chinese State

machinery to gain any sort of vantage,

over those it perceives as opposition.

Thus, Chinese espionage equipment

in one's backyard should not be surprising,

and may only be the tip of the

iceberg.

What is being done?

It will be significant to highlight

that this recent incident is not the first.

Increased activity of Chinese

Communist Party (CCP) Navy warships,

Research Vessels as well as

Chinese fishing vessels in last few

years is a clear indication of CCP's

less-than-benign unscrupulous intentions

in Indian Ocean region.

However, as any responsible and

stabilising force in the Indian Ocean

Region would do, India has stepped

up surveillance with its Naval ships,

maritime reconnaissance aircraft as

well as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Recent lease of two predator drones

has given an edge to the Navy in

keeping track of CCP and Chinese

vessels operating in the region.

As Indian Navy remains poised to

uphold freedom of navigation and a

rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific,

Chinese incursions in the Indian

Ocean are unlikely to go unchecked,

given that the CCP harbours malicious

intentions against most Indian

Ocean Region littorals.

Collaborative initiatives

Unlike the Chinese, whose geopolitical

machinations have left a trail of

debt traps and underhand methods for

making inroads into smaller countries,

the vision espoused by India is inclusive,

and genuinely tempered to

ensure greater common good in the

region. To put things in perspective,

one could surmise that India's retort to

the Chinese 'string of pearls' strategy

has been 'Security and Growth for all

in the Region' (SAGAR), realized

through a multitude of collaborative

initiatives with Indian Ocean Region

littorals. Given the rising presence of

dubious Chinese vessels and platforms

in the Indian Ocean Region

with their questionable, less-thanbenign

objectives, there is a need for

concentrated efforts and an inclusive

strategy to ensure the safety and security

of the great commons.

Astronomers discover 3 planets

orbiting younger Sun-like star

Washington : An international

team of astronomers has discovered a

trio of hot worlds larger than Earth

orbiting a much younger version of

our Sun called TOI 451.

The system resides in the recently

discovered Pisces-Eridanus stream, a

collection of stars less than 3 per cent

the age of our solar system that

stretches across one-third of the sky.

The researchers believe that the

newly discovered planetary system,

detailed in The Astronomical Journal,

will provide researchers with the rare

chance to study a group of growing

planets.

The planets were discovered in

images taken by NASA's Transiting

Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

between October and December 2018.

Follow-up studies of TOI 451 and

its planets included observations made

in 2019 and 2020 using NASA's

Spitzer Space Telescope, which has

since been retired, as well as many

ground-based facilities.

Archival infrared data from

NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-

Field Infrared Survey

Explorer (NEOWISE)

satellite suggests the system

retains a cool disk of

dust and rocky debris.

Other observations

show that TOI 451 likely

has two distant stellar

companions circling

each other far beyond the

planets.

"This system checks a

lot of boxes for astronomers," said

lead researcher Elisabeth Newton,

Assistant Professor at Dartmouth

College in Hanover, New Hampshire,

US.

"It's only 120 million years old and

just 400 light-years away, allowing

detailed observations of this young

planetary system. And because there

are three planets between two and four

times Earth's size, they make especially

promising targets for testing theories

about how planetary atmospheres

evolve." The young star TOI 451, better

known to astronomers as CD-38

1467, lies about 400 light-years away

in the constellation Eridanus.

It has 95 per cent of our Sun's mass,

but it is 12 per cent smaller, slightly

cooler, and emits 35 per cent less energy.

TOI 451 rotates every 5.1 days,

which is more than five times faster

than the Sun.

Even TOI 451's most distant planet

orbits three times closer than Mercury

ever approaches to the Sun, so all of

these worlds are quite hot and inhospitable

to life as we know it.

Temperature estimates range from

about 1,200 degrees Celsius for the

innermost planet to about 450 degrees

C for the outermost one.

TOI 451b orbits every 1.9 days, is

about 1.9 times Earth's size, and its

estimated mass ranges from two to 12

times Earth's. The next planet out, TOI

451 c, completes an orbit every 9.2

days, is about three times larger than

Earth, and holds between three and 16

times Earth's mass. The farthest and

largest world, TOI 451 d, circles the

star every 16 days, is four times the

size of our planet, and weighs between

four and 19 Earth masses.

Astronomers expect planets as big

as these to retain much of their atmospheres

despite the intense heat from

their nearby star.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

NAPM condemns the alarming rise in state repression

and clampdown on news outlets and journalists exposing

the anti-people nature of the establishment

• We call for immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats

• State is duty-bound to uphold the constitutionally guaranteed right of all media persons and groups reporting in public interest

17

NAPM is outraged at the increasing

number of instances of the state blatantly

targeting news outlets and journalists

who refuse to budge and report the truth

in public interest, despite threats from

those in power. These threats come

either directly from the establishment

and its agencies or from those whom the

State covertly enables to stifle fair and

fearless journalism.

Reports show that over the past

decade, more than 150 journalists in

India were arrested, had FIRs lodged

against them, were detained and interrogated,

either under ‘terror’ related

charges, sedition charges or UAPA, and,

after the beginning of the Coronavirus

pandemic, under the Disaster

Management Act and Epidemic

Diseases Act as well. The year 2020

alone saw 20% of these cases, with the

large majority concentrated in BJP ruled

states. At a time when many journalists

are also staring at retrenchments and

livelihood insecurity, the presence of

threats entailed by the very nature of

reporting under this regime only makes

matters worse.

It is now evident that large sections

of mainstream media have been steadily

converted into a toxic propaganda

machine, reflecting solely the voice of

the Centre, peddling lies, hate and misinformation

incessantly. At the same

time, journalists who stand by the ethics

of their profession face threats and even

violence, with almost 200 physical

attacks against them between 2014 and

2019, and multiple deaths.

Less than a month and a half into

2021, the instances of violence against

and targeting of journalists are already

too many to count. One of the most blatant

examples is the recent raid by the

Enforcement Directorate (ED) on

Newsclick, an independent online news

platform. Starting the 9th February, over

8 premises, including the office of

Newsclick, homes of some of its journalists

and senior management were

raided. For over a marathon 113 hours,

the ED camped at the residence of editor-in-chief

Prabir Purkayastha & writer

Githa Hariharan, virtually placing them

in home detention for 5 days.

NewsClick has been consistently reporting

on the farmers’ protests and also on

an entire range of people’s movements

and issues ignored by much of the mainstream

media.

On 30th January, Mandeep Punia, a

freelance journalist who has contributed

for The Caravan magazine and Junputh,

was dragged by the Delhi Police across

the police barricades at Singhu Border,

from where he had been reporting from

day 1 of the Farmers’ Protests. His

arrest has been the most recent and horrific

case of repression by the State

against journalists instrumental in

speaking truth to power. An FIR was

registered against him in Alipur Police

Station at 1.21 a.m. for allegedly

‘assaulting a police official’ at around

6.30 p.m, the previous evening. A video

of the police brutally dragging him at

the border went viral. His is one of the

rare cases in recent times in which an

arrested journalist receives bail, along

with a clear acknowledgement by the

Magistrate that ‘bail is a rule and jail is

an exception.’

As many as five FIRs have been filed

against prominent journalists Rajdeep

Sardesai, Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha,

The Caravan magazine’s editor and

founder Paresh Nath, its editor Anant

Nath and executive editor Vinod K Jose.

The given grounds for the FIRs are

allegedly ‘promoting enmity between

different groups, insult with intent to

provoke breach of peace and criminal

conspiracy’. These FIRs pertain to

tweets and reports which alleged that a

farmer was shot on 26th January, during

the Farmers’ Republic Day Parade. On

30th January, the UP police filed an FIR

against Siddharth Varadarajan, Founder

Editor of The Wire for a report that had

the allegations of the dead farmer’s

family.

Prior to this, on 25th January 2021,

three Kanpur based TV journalists,

Mohit Kashyap, Amit Singh and Yasin

Ali, were booked after they ran a story

that showed how children in a government

school were shivering in the cold

while practising yoga in the open. This

took place during a government event

which was attended by the technology

minister in the UP government, Ajit

Singh Pal. On 20th January 2021, a

lower court in Gujarat issued a non-bailable

arrest warrant against senior journalist

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta in a

defamation case filed by Adani against

him for stories published in The Wire in

2017. The Gujarat High Court subsequently

suspended the warrant and

directed him to appear before the lower

court in the matter.

Also in January, journalists Dhiren

Sadokpam, Paojel Chaoba and M Joy

Luwang from Manipur were arrested for

a piece in The Frontier Manipur. They

were charged with sedition and under

the draconian Unlawful Activities

Prevention Act (UAPA), laws which

have been used indiscriminately across

the country against activists and journalists

alike, especially in the past few

years.

These cases are proof to the attack on

free speech that is underway across the

country. They are a continuation of state

repression against journalists who have

been reporting on the government’s

excesses over the rights of its citizens.

The arrest and unconstitutional incarceration

of Siddique Kappan is symbolic

of this repression. He was on his way

to report the Hathras rape case in Uttar

Pradesh when he and three others were

charged and arrested under UAPA. He

has been in jail since October 2020

without trial or bail, not even allowed to

meet his extremely ill, 90-year-old

mother.

On 22nd November 2020, a TV journalist,

identified as Pongi Naganna was

arrested in Vishakapatnam, on the

charge of being a ‘courier’ for the

Maoists. This arrest was followed by

arrests of many other activists under

UAPA. Other major instances of journalists

being targeted include the repeated

arrests and incarceration over

months, of Prashant Kanojia for social

media posts calling out the UP Govt.

Looking back at 2020 reveals that this

trend is not new. In November, 2020 the

Meghalaya High Court refused to quash

criminal proceedings against Patricia

Mukhim, Editor of Shillong Times for a

Facebook post which was seen as tantamount

to promoting ‘disharmony

between communities’. Earlier in

November 2019, N Venugupal, the editor

of Veekshanam, a progressive

Telugu magazine, was charged under

UAPA

and the Telangana Public

Security Act.

On 26th September, 2020 senior

journalist Kamal Shukla, editor of

Bhumkal Sumatra magazine and head

of the Patrakar Suraksha Kanoon

Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, was physically

assaulted in Kanker (North Bastar)

district of Chhattisgarh. According to

local journalists, the incident took place

in the afternoon when Shukla went to

the local police station after hearing that

a journalist, Satish Yadav, had been

assaulted by local municipal corporators

belonging to the ruling Congress party.

Also in September, 2020 journalist

Kishorechandra Wangkhem was arrested

by the Manipur Police on charges of

sedition to be granted bail only in

December.

The continued incarceration, for over

2 years, of Kashmiri journalist Aasif

Sultan, who has been charged under

UAPA allegedly on grounds unrelated to

his journalism, is one of many

reminders that journalists in Kashmir

have been reporting under atrocious

conditions of surveillance and violence,

especially after the abrogation of Article

370. It is an extremely sad reflection of

our ‘democracy’ that crucial constitutional

matters such as blanket media and

internet curbs in Kashmir have not been

attended to with due urgency even by

the Apex Court.

The attitude of the state towards journalists

and the many strategies of suppression

they employ also include and

encourage attacks specifically targeted

against women journalists. Journalist

Neha Dixit who has been uncovering

many uncomfortable truths of state

excesses, has recently reported someone

barging into her home, as well as stalking;

and death and rape threats. Initially

the police refused to file an FIR against

the accused, in spite of the fact that she

was able to provide them with phone

numbers. An FIR was filed only after

much pursuit, although there is little

headway in the matter.

Recently, the Network of Women in

Media India expressed concerns over

Pushpa Rokde receiving warnings and

death threats, allegedly from the

‘Maoist South Bastar Pamed Area

Committee’, for her journalistic work as

well as for short-term work unconnected

to journalism. Considering her ongoing

reporting on state violence, as well

as on issues faced by Adivasi people in

the villages of the area, it is difficult to

imagine, though, why she would be

accused by ‘Maoists’ of being a ‘police

informer’, the statement said.

The journalists mentioned above are

by no means representative of the range

of attacks that have taken place in the

past decade. Journalists working in conflict

zones, in non-metro areas, face

challenges and forms of repression

which often do not even make the news.

We, therefore, need to be constantly vigilant

to safeguarding the interests of

those who are reporting from difficult

conditions.

See Page 24


18 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Are days of powerful

oratory back? Oratory

comes with conviction

leaders to cry against the opposition. They

give one to one interviews and ‘narrative’

is spread through the ‘experts’. The

‘experts’ are nothing but the members of

the coterie taken to spread the ‘narrative’

of the ruling party.

I have never liked Mamata Banerjee’s

politics but I admit she is a street fighter

and knows well how to counter the Modi

Shah duo. She has already raised the pitch

‘outsider-insider’ which made BJP

uncomfortable. Faithful Rahul Kanwal

asked why are you saying so as BJP will

have the local leader. Rahul Kanwal and

other faithful were just doing their

‘duties’. Mamata explained : ‘ I have not

spoken against any one. People from UP,

Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat,

Jharkhand, South India have been living

in Bengal and they are more Bengalies

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

than Bengalies. All of them are happy. My

point is UP should be run by UP wallah,

social and human rights activist Gujarat by the Gujarat people, Punjab by

Punjabis. You can not impose from Delhi

Oratory is important in todays time.

Narendra Modi gave a new term

‘andolanjeevi’ to his supporters which

was countered by activists vehemently.

Modi’s speech was nothing but addressed

to his audience and now that includes corporate

bosses too as he categorically said

that ‘private’ is important for ‘nation

building’.

The second most important speech

which was highly impressive and exposed

the Sangh Parivar agenda and governance

in the last six years, was of Mahua

Moitra, TMC member of Parliament in

Lok Sabha. It was definitely an extraordinary

speech, full of passion and each

word came from her heart and that is why

it was powerful. It rattled the ruling party

and the prime minister has to ‘compliment’

that ‘women’ MPs have worked

hard to take the government to task.

The issue of farmers was strongly

raised by Harsimaran Kaur who had been

a Minister a couple of months back but

was now opposing the government tooth

and nail. She exposed BJP’s double speak

on the issue and said how it treats the

allies. Akali Dal was the oldest ally of

BJP when it was actually looking for it.

Asaduddin Owaisi too spoke very well

but he is always a great orator who works

hard to get his facts. But the most interesting

of the speeches in Parliament was

that of Rahul Gandhi. His ‘hum do

hamare do’ ‘slogan’ rattled the ruling

cussion on the farmers issue and

explained the three farm bills in the simplest

way. Farmers in India have understood

it and people all over the country

are now realising it and ‘hum do hamare

do’ can become a powerful ‘slogan’ to

explain the method of the functioning of

the current regime.

And the most important part was

‘requesting for two minutes silence for

‘shaheed kisans’. This has jolted those

who did not speak a sentence, one word

for the kisans and did not want to discuss

the issue. How insensitive can be a

regime which looks for conspiracy theories

and has let loose its cyber goons to

continue with lies and calumny. Rahul

Gandhi’s symbolic gesture will have a

long impact and people will realise that

there are ways and means to convey the

message even when the party in power

was determined to not allow him to speak

on the issue.

While Congress is taking ideological

shape, it still does not have organisations

in states. We don’t know what it is doing

in West Bengal. Rahul Gandhi has so far

not visited Odisha. While Priyanka has

been active in Uttar Pradesh though on a

part time basis, there are many states

where the party does not seem to have

political action. It is important that ideological

clarity of the party is complimented

by the strong organisational network

and alliances on the ground.

your values and ideas on us. You use ED,

CBI and other agencies to push your

agenda.’ But Mamata did not stop with

this, the next line exposed the current

regime. “If you love India and the idea of

India then why are you appointing officials

from one state in important positions.’

This government is the least eligible

to give a sermon on diversity as it

never cared. It has been blatantly following

favouritism which is very much visible.

Officers from Gujarat are being given

special positions at the PMO as well as

Central government. Are there no officers

who can be trusted or capable of holding

important positions?

The thing is that everyone knows but it

needs a lot of strength to take the power

head on. Mamata is fighting and she

knows her fact well. Mahua Moitra spoke

with passion and conviction. Rahul

Gandhi’s speech too confirm the fact that

when you speak with ideological honesty

then you will be able to fight much better.

Modi Shah speaks powerfully because

they are committed to their ideology and

their constituency. The seculars were not

really committed to secularism and social

justice but fortunately things are changing.

Leaders are now realising that there

is no other way but to stick to convictions

and dedication to social justice, secularism

and socialism to counter the varnadharmi

capitalists, the Sethji Bhat ji combine

as described by Jyotiba Phule.

party. Rahul Gandhi’s speech in As BJP goes with full throated cries in Political leaders have understood and it

Parliament yesterday showed that with

experience he is also shining. Of course,

one can not speak confidently unless one

has an ideological clarity on the issue and

good that he has been persistent in his

approach during the last six seven years.

Unlike other top leaders who enjoyed

ministerial positions in two UPAs by

doing the balancing act, Rahul Gandhi

has thrown his weight behind social justice,

West Bengal to outdo Mamata Banerjee, I

loved how Mamata responded to ‘poor’

Rahul Kanwal and gave him a ‘lecture’ on

‘freedom of expression and duties of

media’. Mamata asked why Rajdeep

Sardesai taken off the air by the India

today group. When Rahul Kanwal

‘reminded’ Mamata that Rajdeep is very

much a part of India Today groups, she

asked him back but why is he not visible.

is time they build an alliance at the

ground level. There is no time for ‘experiment’.

The only thing they need to do is

not to poke their nose where they have no

organisation. Please introspect honestly

and make an alliance which has ideological

strength of Ambedkar-Phule-Periiyar-

Birsa Munda-Bhagat Singh’, engage in

some give and take to come to a loose

alliance if not permanent but ideological

secularism and socialism. If We all know why all the Bania chan-

strength is the must otherwise your MLAs

Congress had stood ideologically clear to

Hindutva’s ranting then it would not have

been in such a decline as it is today.

It is extraordinary that Rahul Gandhi

used his time allocated for the budget disnels

are now organising so many ‘conclaves’

in Kolkata. Basically, it is ‘building’

up the ‘mahual’ for their ‘jaati’ party.

Under the ‘pretext’ of conclave, these

channels give extraordinary space to BJP

and MPs will always ‘surprise’ you.

Good days are returning as netas are

working harder to make their points

stronger, in our parliament and outside.

May their tribe increase.

The life and times

of Bahurupiyas

The Bahurupiyas are one of the most marginalised communities

in India. They are engaged in life performances and depend

on the patronage of the powerful in the villages. In the olden

times, the Rajas and Maharajas patronised them as they would

massage their ego. They act on impersonation but it is not to

dupe any one but to perform. One day he becomes a Salim or

Jahapana Akbar while other day he could be a majnoo or a Seth

or a priest. I would call them ‘theatre artists’. Every day, they are

on a new role and earn through begging.

If you watch them or listen to them, you will realise how they

created various performances to keep their patrons happy. This

is their traditional occupation. In Rajasthan the contemtuous

term used for them was Bhand, which is an untouchable caste,

though most of them would deny that they ever face untouchability

or caste discrimination in the villages yet it is a reality that

their art is nothing but to keep their ‘patrons’ happy, They would

glorify them and laugh at themselves.

Traditional art forms were degraded for some communities

but it was their source of livelihood. Today, they remained even

at the margins of Dalit politics. None care for them. Interesting

part is that Bahurupiyas adopt all kinds of names. Hence a father

could sound like Hindu name Shiv Raj or Surendra while the son

is Shamshad. They keep roja as well as navratri fasts. They celebrate

all the festivals yet they have not been embraced by neither

Hindus nor Muslims.

The community of Bahurupiyas are based in Bandikui town

of district Dausa in Rajasthan. I was invited by the community

in January 2019 to discuss their issues of jobs, housing, land and

inclusion. Unfortunately, netas want to use them for their votes

but not keen to help them uplift with dignity.

In Bandikui, I had a candid discussion with Subhrati

Bahurupiya and Babu Khan. Both discussed in detail their plight

and future. They had been performing live for decades. Subhrati

or Shivraj, as he was mostly known during his performance, was

suffering from Cancer. He says that he never got any support

from the government even when on behalf of the Ministry of

Culture, he had gone to perform in Europe and many other countries.

He questioned why I should ask my children to engage in

this work when we can’t make two time meals.

This conversation of mine is with Babu Khan and Subhrati.

They are brothers and their children too are engaged in cultural

work. They go to villages to earn their money and depend mostly

on Savarna patronage. I am sharing this conversation in hope

that people will understand the plight of the wonderful community

which is thoroughly dispossessed and disempowered and

need our support to live a life with dignity. Subhrati Bahurupiya

passed away on July 3rd, 2019 at the age of 65.

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

I am also sharing a detailed article of mine in Hindi, about

the community and its practices and exclusion.

https://hindi.newsclick.in/bahauraupaiyaa-apanae-paehansa-kara-jaga-kao-hansaayaa

Follow me on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat

twitter at freetohumanity

Skype at vbrawat


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

19

Stop mindless concretisation

‘projects’ in Uttarakhand

In December we visited Uttarakhand

state : Rudraprayag, Ukhimath,

Agatstymuni and returned via

Devprayag, Rishikesh route to Delhi.

The scene was painful to say the least.

Mountains were being grilled and

drilled. It was completely devastating.

Everyone wants safer roads but we have

to also respect the environmental issues

of the region. Every 5-10 kilometre, we

saw dumping of the muck in the beautiful

rivers which are so fascinating and

beautiful. Why do we allow this muck

to be flown into our rivers there.

Nobody would justify the mindless

‘development’ there which is imposed

from some ‘experts’ in Delhi or

Dehradun. Uttarakhand’s mountains are

definitely beautiful though fragile. This

land was spiritual too but the last five

six years have seen the growth of lousyloudly

religious tourism with scant

respect for the environment as well as

local traditions. The religious tourism

being encouraged by the current regime

is for their ‘grand Hindutva’ project.

These were not known in the hill state

which has a very vibrant and open food

culture. People are religious but it is

their faith and not hatred towards any

one. They are simple and mostly accustomed

to their own traditional lifestyle,

with definitely a proud feeling of being

an Uttarakhandi. Rivers, mountains give

a spiritual look. They are so beautiful

that one wish to just sit and feel the

power of their ‘energy’. Do we need

luxurious cottages and roads to enjoy

the tranquillity of the hills ? I am not

suggesting that people should face difficulties

but that is also true when you go

to such places. The beautiful places can

not be ‘picnic’ spots where you come,

throw the garbage and return to your

home.

Religious tourism has not really

helped the tourism sector in the hills as

most of them come in groups, have least

respect for the environment and still

look for their ‘country food’. It means

that they don’t want to enjoy the local

delicacies of our environment but even

for one day they want to have ‘homelike’

stuff. This has resulted in various

states and communities creating their

own ‘dharmshalas’ as well as mushrooming

of ‘vaishnavite’ and Punjabi

Dhabas. If you promote tourism which

respects the environment and ecology, I

can definitely say, there are thousands

of such people who would love to visit

here. But religious tourists rarely ask

questions about environmental degradation

and everything is put on God’s

wrath and focus is more on rescue operations

and their bravery. After some

time, we forget and will claim that we

are ‘capable’ of handling such a crisis.

Question is why should we allow such a

crisis ?

The numerous dams that are coming

up on various rivers of Uttarakhand particularly

Alakananda , Mandikini and

others are just destroying them. It is

controlling them. Why

should we control the

natural flow of such

supremely pristine

rivers. We are fortunate

to have seen and felt the beauty of

these rivers which are our spiritual

strength. That built the civilisation in

the Himalayan region which we can

safely call Uttarakhand’s river valley

civilisation. Without mountains and

rivers, Uttarakhand is nothing. It is our

culture and our life and if any one wants

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

to visit these places, he or she needs to

face some hardships, otherwise what is

the use ? To give the religious people

luxury so that they come in large numbers

is pure commercialisation of the

place. Uttarakhand land is more spiritual

and hence religiosity here was not

that visible in public as you can witness

in UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat etc.

Even a place like Rishikesh is different

from Varanasi where people throng to

wipe their ‘ sins’. The crowd in various

ashrams in Muni ki reti used to be more

interested in spiritual discourse than

noisy bollywood bhajans being played

in other parts of North India. But that is

slowly changing because of ‘project’

Hindutva reaching the upper part of

Uttarakhand and through this the contractors

who want to profiteer from the

rich civilisation source, they term it

‘resource’ like water and minerals.

If the roads were being widened,

where was the need for a train project ?

From RudraPrayag to Agastyamuni –

Ukhimath, which is basically the valley

of river Mandakini, it was an absolute

disaster. The beautiful river was being

killed. I remember many of those who

fought against this mindless and insensitive

development were made villains.

Despite the 2013 disaster no lessons

were learnt as mushrooming of hotels

and restaurants, rafting etc increased

while the biggest threat came from the

numerous dams being built.

What is the message from Reni village?

It is a historic village where Gaura

Devi founded the Chipko movement.

She fought the battle to protect the forest

here from going in the hands of petty

contractors in 1974. Gaura Devi died as

an isolated

woman in

1991 but people

are now

realising how

true she was.

In 2019, the

villagers of

Reni filed a

petition

against the

Rishi Ganga Power Project but it was

rejected by the Uttarakhand High Court.

Reports are coming in about how mercilessly

these power projects, contractors

have been drilling mountains and killing

the river. The Supreme Court too

allowed these mindless projects to continue

even when various expert committees

have indicated that it is high risk to

have big dam projects in Uttarakhand.

Scientists are suggesting what is the use

of their opinion if the government continues

to ignore them ?

When I saw the highway from

Rishikesh to DevPrayag, it deeply saddened

me. Ganga looks stunning at various

locations here. The curves you will

find nowhere but when you kill the

mountains and dump the dirt in the

beautiful river, you are not merely

destroying the mountains or river but a

whole civilisation. I say it with conviction,

that without these beautiful rivers

and mountains, Uttarakhand means

nothing. It is these mountains that fascinated

us and made us proud to be called

a Pahadi.

I don’t think our rulers will ever

learn a lesson because rivers, mountains,

gods and goddesses, everything

has become a money minting machine. I

have said numerous times how fascinating

it is to be in the areas where these

beautiful rivers flow. They look youthful,

joyous and energetic. Why are we

killing them for our profits ? It is time

for the government to seriously think

over these issues. Protect the mountains

and rivers of Uttarakhand as they are

our biggest identity and asset. They are

our civilisation. Stop mindless ‘construction’

in the name of ‘development’.

I am sure, people will realise they are

better without ‘it’.

We laud the effective action of the

state government and round the clock

rescue operation done by the ITBP,

NDRF, SDRF and other agencies. They

deserve our appreciation but for the

rulers, I just want to request please don’t

impose a ‘developmental’ module from

Delhi or Dehradun. Stop this destruction

immediately and protect Uttarakhand

from this crude and vulgar assault in the

name of ‘development.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com


20 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Hindu Nationalism: From Genesis

to Present Ruling Dispensation

As per Indian Constitution India is a secular democratic Country. Lately Hindu nationalism has started impacting the nature

of state and citizenship in a very strong way. As Indian Nationalism developed during freedom movement, Hindu nationalism

and Muslim Nationalism came as opposites of Indian Nationalism. The origin of Hindu nationalism and also Muslim

Nationalism can be traced to colonial period. During colonial period, when the rising freedom movement was articulating

the concept and values of Indian nationalism, the section of Hindus, from the kings of princely states and upper caste elite to

begin with, kept aloof from freedom movement asserted the concept of Hindu Nationalism. Hindu nationalism is a politics

and a category with a specific meaning which is the agenda of RSS-BJP. Similar were the roots of Muslim nationalism.

Hindu Nationalism:

Historical roots

During colonial period the rising

classes of industrialists, businessmen,

workers and educated classes came

together and formed different organizations,

Madras Mahajan Sabha, Pune

Sarvajanik Sabha, Bombay

Association etc. These organizations

felt for the need for an over arching

political organization so went in to

form Indian National Congress in

1885. (1) The declining sections of

society, Muslim and Hindu landlords

and kings also decided to come together

to oppose the all inclusive politics

of Congress, which in due course

became the major vehicle of the values

of freedom movement. These declining

sections were feeling threatened

due to the social changes. To hide their

social decline they projected as if their

religion is in danger. They also did not

like the standing up to the colonial

masters by Congress, which had started

putting forward the demands for

different rising social groups and

thereby for India. National movement

and Congress saw this country as

India is a Nation in the making .

As per declining sections of landlords

and kings; standing up to, not

bowing in front of the ruler is against

the teachings of our religion so what

is needed according to them is to promote

the loyalty to the British. They,

Hindu and Muslim feudal elements,

came together and formed United

India Patriotic Association in 1888. (2)

The lead was taken by Nawab of

Dhaka and Raja of Kashi. Later due to

British machinations the Muslim elite

from this association separated and

formed Muslim league in 1906, while

in parallel to this the Hindu elite first

formed Punjab Hindu Sabha in 1909

and then Hindu Mahasabha in 1915.

These communal formations

argued for Muslim Nationalism and

Hindu nationalism respectively. Hindu

nationalists also developed the political

ideology of Hindutva, articulated

particularly by Savarkar in 1923 in his

book Hindutva or Who is a Hindu?

(3) While Hinduism is a religion,

Hindutva is a politics based on Aryan

race, this land and elite Brahmanical

culture. This was an enviable situation

for British as such groups would

weaken the rising national movement.

On one side they quietly supported the

Muslim League and parallel to this

they handled Hindu Mahasabha-RSS

with velvet gloves.

Ram Puniyani

Hindu Nationalism: RSS

Taking a cue from the ideology of

Hindutva, RSS came up in 1925, with

the path of Hindu Nationalism and

goal of Hindu Nation. The values of

rising classes embodied in the persona

of Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar, Gandhi,

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and many

others mainly revolved around Indian

Nationalism, built around the principles

of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

and Justice. The ideology of Muslim

League selectively drew from some

Muslim traditions to assert the class,

caste and gender hierarchy of feudal

society. While Hindu Mahasabha and

RSS had tomes like Manusmriti to talk

about similar graded hierarchies of

caste and gender. Muslim and Hindu

communalists were not part of freedom

movement as freedom movement

was all inclusive and aimed at secular

democratic values. Muslim and Hindu

communalists drew from glories of

Kings of the past and kept aloof from

anti-British struggle. (4)

Gandhi s attempt to draw the masses

in to anti British struggle was the

major point due to which the

Constitutionalists like Jinnah; traditionalists

of Muslim League and

Hindu Mahasabha further drifted

away, and consolidated themselves

after 1920s. The trajectory of Hindu

Nationalism from the decade of 1920

becomes very clear, to be on the side

of British to oppose the Muslim

Nationalists and also freedom struggle.

Same applies to Muslim League,

as it regarded Congress as a Hindu

party. The Freedom of the country and

tragic partition led to Muslim

Leaguers going to Pakistan while

leaving sufficient backlog to sustain

Muslim communalism here. Hindu

Nationalists in the form of Hindu

Mahasabha and RSS gradually started

asserting themselves, beginning with

murder of Mahatma Gandhi, who

surely was amongst the best of the

Hindus of that century. (5)

RSS: A Brief History

RSS was formed in 1925 in Nagpur.

The immediate cause of its formation

was the discomfort among the upper

castes/landlord elements due to the

non-cooperation movement launched

by Mahatma Gandhi as a part of freedom

movement (1920). This movement

brought the average people to the

freedom movement; this caused discomfort

to the elite sections of society.

At the same time, the non-Brahmin

movement in Maharashtra was shaking

the social relations of Brahminlandlord

on one side and Dalit-workers

on the other. The founders of RSS

were inspired by the ideas of nationalism

of Hitler. (6) The RSS had contempt

towards the concept of Indian

nationalism, which was the ideology

of freedom movement of India, led by

Gandhiji.

The RSS took off from Hindu

Mahasabha, an organization formed

by the Hindu kings and landlords.

Later this organization was led by a

middle class intellectual, Vinayak

Damodar Savarkar. He propounded

the ideology of Hindutva, Hindu-ness,

which is the concept of Nationalism

based on Brahminical values of hierarchy

of caste and gender. The RSS

founders were to make the concepts of

Hindutva and Hindu Rashtra as their

base ideology and politics. (7)

The RSS began with training its

volunteers in a new version of history

which was communal and had nothing

to do with truth. It said that India has

always been a Hindu nation and

Muslims are aggressors, Muslims and

Christians are foreigners. The concept

promoted by Gandhiji and Jawaharlal

Nehru that India is a land belonging to

people of all religions is wrong and

what is needed is to build a Hindu

nation and undermine the Muslim

nation. It decided to keep aloof from

direct electoral politics and went on to

create a set of volunteers, swayamsevaks,

trained in the ideology of

Hindutva. It kept aloof from freedom

movement as it was based on the values

of secularism and democracy. It

stood for Hindu nation and perpetuation

of Brahminical values in a new

garb.

It was, and is, exclusively a male

organization. When Laxmibai Kelkar

wanted women to be taken into RSS,

they were advised to form a subordinate

organization, Rashtra Sevika

Samiti (1936). In the very name of this

organization the word swayam (self) is

missing as this organization, like all

other communal organizations, stands

for superiority of males, and believes

in patriarchy. It discouraged people

from participating in movements related

to freedom. (8) Barring few exceptions

(K.B. Hedgewar), none from

RSS went to jail during freedom

movement. And those who happened

to go to jail went either looking for

more recruits for RSS or accidentally

went to jail and later on apologized to

the British and got themselves

released from prison (like Atal Bihari

Vajpayee). (9)

The RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha

held Gandhiji responsible for appeasement

of Muslims, for partition of the

country etc. On this charge, Nathuram

Godse, an ex-Pracharak of RSS, who

joined Hindu Mahasabha later, killed

the father of the nation. Sardar Vallabh

Bhai Patel had said that it was due to

the hate spread by the RSS that the

country lost its father Mahatma

Gandhi and Patel banned RSS for

some time. (10) Savarkar was also one

of the accused in the murder of

Gandhiji, but he was let off for lack of

corroborative evidence.

The RSS formed other subordinate

organizations. One of them was Akhil

Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad for

working among students. In 1951,

Shyama Prasad Mukherjee of Hindu

Mahasabha in collaboration with RSS

formed Bharatiya Jan Sangh. It raised

identity related issues and resorted to

war mongering by calling for Nuclear

weapons to be made by India. It also

demanded that Muslims should be

Indianized. It remained a marginal

force till it joined the Jaya Prakash

Narayan movement and became part

of the Janata Party. Meanwhile, RSS

was silently infiltrating in all the

wings of state and society, bureaucracy,

police, education, media, judiciary

and army. It was working to oppose

the progressive liberal values by promoting

religiosity and conservatism in

cultural arena. (11)

Jan Sangh joined Janata Party and

came to power in 1977; its leaders

became a part of the Government.

Using this opportunity, they planted

their workers in media and other areas

of the state apparatus. After splitting

Janata Party, the Jan Sangh component

emerged as Bharatiya Janata party on

the ground of Gandhian Socialism.

For electoral purposes it projected

those values it never believed like

Gandhian Socialism. It lent support to

Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 elections.

Meanwhile, it gave birth to Vishwa

Hindu Parishad and Vanvasi Kalyan

Ashram. VHP started taking up emotive

issues and Ram temple was made

the center of its political credo. They

went on to form Bajrang Dal on the

lines of storm troopers of Nazi party in

Germany. (12)

During 1960s and 1980s, it kept

propagating hate against minorities,

first against Muslims and then

Christians. The result was anti-minority

violence in many parts of the country.

In anti-Muslim violence, 80 per

cent of the victims are Muslims. Most

of the inquiry committee reports have

concluded that riots are generally

begun by RSS affiliates. (13) They

create one or other pretext leading to

violence. Due to communalization of

state apparatus, most of the guilty are

not punished. Many a time, other

political leaders have also used communal

violence for their narrow political

goals. The agitation around Ram

temple created a great deal of social

hysteria, leading to Babri demolition

and major violence in Mumbai,

Bhopal, Surat and other places.

Mumbai violence of 1992-93 shook

the whole country and instilled a great

amount of fear among minorities.

Due to violence, the RSS base

became stronger and its political wing

BJP too grew up to the extent that it

could grab power at the center in

1996. (14) It came to power again and

ruled the country, under RSS supervision,

for six years. From 1997, in

order to scare away Christian missionaries

from Adivasi areas, the areas

where their work is leading to empowerment

of poor Adivasis, it started violence

and during its course Pastor

Graham Stewart Stains (1999), along

with his two sons, was burnt alive on

the charge that he was indulging in

conversion. The Wadhva Commission,

which enquired into this murder,

opined that the Pastor had not done

any conversion. Most horrific form of

anti-Christian violence was witnessed

in the BJP-ruled Gujarat and later in

Kamdhamal in Orissa (2008). With

every act of communal violence, BJP

became stronger. (15)

After the 9/11 incident in the US,

when globally terrorist activities started

going up, the RSS intensified its

campaign of demonization of Muslims

saying that all terrorists are Muslims.

See Page 23


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

21

Bhima Koregaon case: Was evidence

planted to implicate activists?

US-based digital forensics firm finds malware was used to plant incriminating letters!

Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm has analysed an electronic copy of

activist Rona Wilson s laptop and arrived at the conclusion that an attacker used malware to infiltrate

the laptop and place incriminating evidence on it, reported The Washington Post.

Rona Wilson is the public relations

secretary for the Committee for Release

of Political Prisoners. He was at the

forefront of the struggle to release SAR

Geelani in the 2001 Parliament attack

case. Pune Police had raided his home

in April 2018, and he was arrested on

June 6, 2018.

He had been accused of being part of

a conspiracy to assassinate Prime

Minister Narendra Modi. Wilson was

accused of channeling funds towards

Maoist groups for this purpose. He was

charged under the Unlawful Activities

(Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the

charges were based on a letter he

allegedly wrote to a Maoist leader discussing

the need for guns and ammunition,

urging the group to assassinate the

Prime Minister.

The Washington Post report says,

Arsenal s report on the Indian case

does not identify the perpetrator of the

cyberattack. The analysis, which has not

been previously reported, was reviewed

by The Washington Post. Three outside

experts who reviewed the document at

The Post s request said the report s conclusions

were valid, adding, Arsenal

Consulting found that the letter along

with at least nine others had been

planted in a hidden folder on Wilson s

computer by an unidentified attacker

who used malware to control and spy on

the laptop. The Arsenal report finds

that evidence tampering took place over

Who Is Nodeep Kaur?

The Dalit activist has been in jail since January 12.

By Seraj Ali

On January 12, police officials

arrested a Dalit labour

rights activist, Nodeep Kaur,

from Delhi s Singhu Border.

She was arrested on a series of

charges attempt to murder,

extortion, criminal intimidation,

unlawful assembly, rioting with

deadly weapons and trespassing.

The police say they were

responding to a complaint of

illegal extortion from factory

owners by activists, under the

garb of workers unpaid salaries.

According to them, Nodeep and

her associates who were present

at the site, had become violent

and started beating police

officials with huge sticks and

lathis.

However, Rajveer Kaur, the

sister of Nodeep, has denied the

police s charge. She has also

alleged that her sister, Nodeep,

had been assaulted in police

custody. According to Nodeep s

lawyer, Jitendar Kumar, a medical

examination of Nodeep was

sought after she was arrested by

a vast timespan as the period between

the time the laptop was first compromised

and the time when the last piece

of incriminating evidence was placed on

it was two years! This startling revelation

suggests a vast conspiracy against

Rona Wilson and perhaps even others.

Arsenal s report gives details of the

chillingly detailed and systematic manner

in which the evidence was planted

on Wilson s laptop. According to the

Washington Post, Arsenal s report

gives a detailed account of the cyberattack.

One afternoon in June 2016, it

said, Wilson received several emails

that appeared to be from a fellow

activist he knew well. The friend urged

him to click on a link to download an

innocuous statement from a civil liberties

group. Instead, the report says, the

link deployed NetWire, a commercially

available form of malicious software

that allowed a hacker to access Wilson s

device.

The Washington Post report further

says, Arsenal discovered records of the

the Haryana police. The lawyer

and the family both claim that

Kaur s medical examination

was done on January 25 but the

report has not been received by

either party yet.

Courtesy : The Wire

London : Researchers have

found that an analysis of tweets

could reveal if anti-depressant

drugs are having the desired

impact on the patients.

The study by researchers of

the Research Programme on

Biomedical Informatics (GRIB)

from Universitat Pompeu Fabra

(UPF) and Hospital del Mar

Medical Research Institute

(IMIM) in Barcelona, Spain,

have identified behavioural and

linguistic changes in tweets in

Spanish published by users suffering

from depression and who

are taking medication to treat

this disease.

They focused on the changes

in the features of the messages

that may be associated with

treatment with anti-depressant

drugs.

The most notable results

revealed that during periods in

which users said they were

receiving anti-depressant drug

treatment, their Twitter activity

increased with longer messages

but posting fewer messages at

malware logging Wilson s keystrokes,

passwords and browsing activity. It also

recovered file system information

showing the attacker creating the hidden

folder to which at least 10 incriminating

letters were delivered and then

attempting to conceal those steps. The

letters were created using a newer version

of Microsoft Word that did not

exist on Wilson s computer, the report

said. Arsenal found no evidence that the

documents or the hidden folder were

ever opened.

night, according to the study

published in the Journal of

Medical Internet Research.

They also interacted more

with other users (for example,

through an increase in number of

mentions per tweet, which may

reflect an interest in interacting

with other people) and also an

increase in positive emotions

related to happiness and surprise.

"We can state that the behavioural

patterns of people who are

on treatment with anti-depressant

drugs change and tend to

resemble those of people who do

not suffer from depression," said

Angela Leis from the Research

Programme on Biomedical

Informatics.

Depression is one of the most

The recent revelations are even more

significant in light of similar revelations

by Amnesty last year that nine people

seeking to help the activists accused in

the Bhima Koregaon case were also targeted

with emails containing malicious

links that deployed the NetWire malware.

At present the chargesheet in the case

runs into thousands of pages, while the

16 accused have been suffering in custody,

being denied bail repeatedly, most

notably the sick and the elderly among

them such as poet Dr. Varavara Rao and

Jesuit Priest and Adivasi rights activist

Fr. Stan Swamy.

Rona Wilson

Courtesy : Sabrang

Tweets could reveal impact of anti-depressant drugs

widespread mental illnesses.

According to the World Health

Organization (WHO), it affects

more than 322 million people of

all age groups and is one of the

leading causes of disability

worldwide.

The possibility of analysing

massive data shared on social

networks provides new opportunities

to understand the behaviour

of their users better.

In this study, using Big Data

and text mining, the scientists

analysed tweets by users who

mentioned they were taking

drugs for the treatment of

depressive disorders.

The main goal was to detect

the effects of this medication

through changes in the language

used in their tweets or in the way

these people used Twitter.

There are various types of

anti-depressant drugs and this

study focused specifically on

selective serotonin reuptake

inhibitors, which are the most

commonly prescribed drug for

treating depression.


22 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Dalit Christians stage protest

march in southern INDIA

Dalit Christians in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu held a protest march in

Kumbakonam Diocese against the discrimination faced by Dalits.

By Bijay Kumar Minj, New Delhi

The protesters from eight Dalit

Christian groups marched on Feb. 6 to

submit a memorandum to the bishop

and other diocesan officials stating their

demand for a Dalit bishop in the diocese.

“Bishop Antonysamy Francis of

Kumbakonam will be retiring from his

post as he will reach the canonical

retirement age of 75 in December, so we

wanted to intensify our demand for a

bishop of Dalit origin in this diocese,”

Kudanthai Arasan, founder and president

of Viduthalai Tamil Puligal Katchi,

told UCA News.

“We have faced discrimination within

the Church as well as in civil society

for the past several decades, not only in

Tamil Nadu but also in some other

states and our demand remains the same

— to treat Dalit Christians equally.”

Arasan said Kumbakonam Diocese

was formed on Sept. 1, 1899, but even

after 121 years no initiative was taken

by the former three bishops and the

present bishop to appoint a Dalit as

bishop in any diocese in Tamil Nadu.

Stories Transform Lives

There are more than 2 million

Christians in the diocese and Dalit

Catholics account for 65 percent, he

said.

Arasan said that among 135 priests in

the diocese, 29 qualified priests are

from a Dalit background. Such caste

discrimination is against canon law, section

378.1, he said.

Franklin Caesar Thomas, coordinator

of the National Council of Dalit

Christians, told UCA News that over the

past 14 years not one of the 10 priests

elected was Dalit.

“The basic reason for all these discriminatory

practices is caste and an

untouchability mindset,” said Thomas, a

Supreme Court lawyer.

The struggle of Dalit Christians and

Muslims seeking the status of scheduled

caste started after a 1950 presidential

order removed the privileges given to

scheduled caste converts who were not

Hindus.

Related News-Indian Christians

demand equality for DalitsIndian

Christians demand equality for

DalitsIndian Christians show solidarity

with DalitsIndian Christians show solidarity

with DalitsIndian Christians call

for more Dalit prelatesIndian Christians

call for more Dalit prelatesNews portal

gives voice to India’s Dalit

ChristiansNews portal gives voice to

India’s Dalit Christians

While such privileges were restored

to Sikhs (1956) and to Buddhists

(1990), Christians and Muslims have

not been granted them and there seems

to be little hope for them.

Different commissions appointed by

the government have recommended that

Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims

should be included in the scheduled

caste list.

Dalits, or untouchables, are the lowest

caste within Hindu society. Huge

numbers of Dalits have converted to

Christianity and Islam over the decades,

though the religions offer limited protection

from societal prejudice.

The word Dalit means “trampled

upon” in Sanskrit and refers to all

groups once considered untouchable

and outside the four-tier Hindu caste

system. Government data shows 201

million of India’s 1.2 billion people

belong to this marginalized community.

Some 60 percent of India’s 25 million

Christians are of Dalit or tribal origin.

Courtesy : UCA News

Nodeep Kaur’s ‘illegal confinement’: Punjab

and Haryana HC take suo motu cognisance

The court directed the matter of the arrest of the Dalit activist to be listed in the urgent list and issued notice of motion to the State

Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi of the

Punjab and Haryana High Court took

suo motu cognisance of the alleged

‘illegal confinement’ of the 24-yearold

labour activist Nodeep Kaur on

February 12.

The order read: “Complaints dated

06.02.2021 (February 6) and

08.02.2021 (February 8) have been

received through e-mail regarding illegal

confinement of Nodeep Kaur,

Dalit Labour Activist by the Haryana

Police and under the orders of Hon’ble

Mr. Justice Jaswant Singh have been

treated as Criminal Writ Petition and

ordered to be listed on judicial side”.

Issuing “notice of motion to the

State of Haryana”, the Single-judge

Bench of the Punjab and Haryana

High Court listed the matter for hearing

on February 24, 2021. The State of

Haryana is expected to file a reply/status

report till then.

On January 12, 2021, the Haryana

Police reached her tent and arrested

Nodeep Kaur at Singhu Border, where

she was agitating with other farmers

against the laws. On February 2, Kaur

who has been lodged in Karnal Jail,

was denied bail by Sessions Court,

Sonipat, Haryana as it held that the

charges against her were serious. Her

family has also claimed that she is

being tortured and sexually assaulted

in custody.

She has been charged under sections

148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful

assembly), 332 (causing hurt to deter

public servant from his duty), 353

(assault on public servant), 186

(Obstructing public servant), 384

(extortion), 379-B (snatching and use

of force), and 307 (attempt to murder)

of the Indian Penal Code.

SabrangIndia has been closely

monitoring the matter. Previously,

Nodeep’s sister Rajveer had told us,

“She was beaten by male police officers,

she was hit on the back, on her

private parts. She was arrested on

January 12, and we reached the police

station [late that night] but were told

she had been sent to Karnal. There, the

next day, I found out that she had been

tortured, they did not even give her the

medicines we had handed over. The

SHO wanted to show her as a gang

leader, she is just 23 years old, has

completed her class 12 and was planning

to apply to the Delhi university as

an undergraduate. She is being framed

and we will fight that.”

Nodeep recently turned 24, spending

her birthday behind bars.

CJP had also started an online petition

on February 5 addressed to the

Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief

Justice Ravi Shankar Jha, seeking her

immediate release and dropping of all

charges. Nodeep Kaur had been sitting

on a peaceful protest at Singhu with a

group of factory workers from Kundli

Industrial Area, in solidarity with the

dissenting farmers. The workers have

also been facing similar problems like

the farmers, and have alleged they

have been exploited by employers,

their wages withheld, and jobs taken

away. This has increased since they

began to support the farmers movement.

The detention and the alleged torture

of Kaur sparked social media

debate and uproar and gained attention

after Meena Harris, the niece of

United States Vice President Kamala

Harris, tweeted about her release.

Significantly, Justice Arun Kumar

Tyagi also directed the matter to be

shown on the “urgent list”.

Courtesy : Sabrang


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

23

NATIONALISM + CORPORATISM = AGGRESSION

Nationalism means total control

over the nation through any manner that

helps to enforce authority. Corporatism

means establishing of control via

wealth. Through advantage of wealth

the corporations can easily buy the MPs

so the Government remains under their

influence. Ongoing protest on the borders

of Delhi in India is a good example.

The farmers, the labouring force, the

small business and transport companies

are joining together to derail BJP

Government because through Hindutva

is trying to establish Nationalism and

via Ambani and Adaani Corporations is

also trying to promote Corporatism in

India.

The BJP is based on the RSS ideology

and is exerting itself as the only

National party of India. All the rest are

being accounted as Anti-Nationals.

How much truth is in it, can be easily

seen when we refer to India’s struggle to

gain it’s INDEPENDENCE from the

British Raj. Gandhi Ji started death-fast

to stop the Dalit claims laid by Dr Bhim

Rao Ambedkar. But to assist Dr. Bhim

Rao Ambedkar, Babu Mangu Ram

Mughewal (a Ravidassian) and Babu

Chuni Lal Thapper (a Valmikian) sat in

oppose to Gandhi Ji. They both were

from Punjab.

A Dalit teenager activist, Nodeep

Kaur who came to Delhi from Punjab to

study but to support her education she

also did part time work in a factory.

She was a regular attendant at Singhu

border because her whole family supports

Kisaan movement in Punjab.

Unfortunately, out of a large number

of employees protesting for their wages

held by their employer, she was the only

one who was arrested and jailed. On the

social media a lot of dismay is present

against the Police in the manner they

have treated her.

Her sister who is also doing PHD in

Delhi has confirmed that Nodeep Kaur

has been brutally tortured and has sustained

grievous injuries all over her

body. If her sister’s statement is true,

this proves that under BJP ruling there is

total disregard for the Constitution of

India. The Constitution protects dignity

and pride of women. In the manner

Nodeep Kaur has been mishandled by

the law enforcers is indeed frightening.

It shows that the Police are failing to

abide and honour the Constitution.

Nodeep Kaur is from a poor family,

so the authorities have taken advantage

of her to show of the might of the BJP

– Mitej Teji

Government. They need to know that

she is from a Majabi Sikh family who

are honoured for their bravery. The

Valmikians who have adopted Sikh religion

are known as Majabi Sikhs.

Bhai Jiwan Singh Ji who freed Guru

Teg Bahadurs Sheesh from the Muslims

was honoured Guru Ka Rangretta Beta

by Guru Govind Singh Ji. Also when

Guru Govind Singh Ji picked a group of

five faithful and trustworthy Sikhs, one

of them was a Valmikian.

The Valmikians have been praised

for their bravery for many centuries.

During the 26th January’s Tractor

March, on the Social media was shown

Jaggi (a Sikh) with his bare hands fighting

with a large group of the Police.

They were beating him with lathy sticks

but his bravery was admired by millions

all around the world. He also comes

from a majabi Sikh family.

A Nihang Singh whilst making a

speech on the Singhu Border stage has

highly praised Jaggi and honoured him

as Guru Ka Rangretta Beta for his bravery.

He has made a request to all the

Sikh Brotherhood to stop differentiating

with the Majabi Sikhs.

He has also stated that Jaggi does not

own any land and he comes from a very

poor family. He has been tending his

services at Singhu Border since 26th

November 2020. There are thousands

more like Juggi in Punjab and has

requested the Sikh farmers to be more

supportive to them because they always

stand by the side of the Sikhs in time of

need.

The Kisaan protest has done unthinkable.

Nobody ever thought people from

all castes, culture and creed would join

on one platform. Today Hindu, Muslim,

Sikh, Buddhists and Christians have all

united to stop spread of Hindutva in

India.

Through Hindutva caste system is

going to regenerate. Marriage Act in

Uttar Pardesh has been introduced that

only allows marriages in own castes.

There is worldwide opposition to this

because it is unacceptable on humanitarian

grounds.

The Supreme Court in India has recommended

that inter-caste marriages

are the answer to stop developing of

severe tension amongst the people in

India. This goes against the ideology of

RSS because they want to establish

Hindu Supremacy in India and for them

inter-caste marriages are not acceptable.

Finally, the whole world stands in

support of Nodeep Kaur. They totally

disapprove of the police behaviour

towards her.

It is sad news for the women that If

Manusmriti finds its way into the parliament

then these type of scenes are going

to be a normal sight.

With Manusmriti will come dawn of

dark age for women in India.

Jai Bharat

With the Malegaon blast of 2006,

concrete evidences against RSS affiliate

ABVP’s member Pragya Singh

Thakur came to light. It was her motor

cycle which was used in the blast,

which brought the matters to surface.

It led to other RSS workers associated

with the Sadhvi. (16) The role of serving

military officer Lt Col Prasad

Shrikant Purohit, Swami Dyanand

Pande, and Major Upadhyay in the

blasts was being pursued doggedly by

Hemant Karkare, the chief of

Maharashtra ATS, before the 26/11

terror attack took place in Mumbai in

which Karkare was killed.

Most of the links of these blasts led

to those who were indoctrinated into

the ideology of Hindu Rashtra by

some or the other affiliates of RSS.

The Hindu Jagran Samiti, near Thane-

Mumbai, also allegedly resorted to

acts of terror. This organization is

inspired by Hindu Mahasabha and

RSS leaders and believes that Hindus,

the Devs (Gods), are facing the Danav

(demons) in the form of Muslims and

Christians in the Kali Yug (Dark

Ages). As per them such acts of terror

should be engineered to teach these

communities a lesson.

With the polarization of society on

the upswing, the electoral strength

went on the rise. With clever support

to Anna Hazare movement, RSS combine

succeeded in defaming Congress

on the eve of 2014 elections. With corporate

support and immaculate electoral

management, the BJP came to

power. From 2014 onwards apart from

other phenomenon, the number of

RSS shakhas rose phenomenally and

emotive issues have created an atmosphere

of intolerance in the society and

has succeeded in relegating minorities

to second class citizenship. (17)

Hindu Nationalists formed first Jan

Sangh (1951) and later present BJP.

Continue Page 20

Hindu Nationalism: From Genesis to...

The major issue taken up by these

nationalists was opposition to cooperative

farming, public sector and undertook

a program called ‘Indianization

of Muslims’, ‘protection of Cow’,

‘Love Jihad’ and Ghar Wapasi

(Reconversion to Hinduism) along

with hyper nationalism, directed

against Pakistan. Hate for Pakistan

hints at Indian Muslims association

with Pakistan and demonizes them in

society. The identity related issues

have been the staple diet for religious

nationalist tendencies. ‘Cow as our

mother’, Ram Temple, Ram Setu,

Abolition of article 370 and Uniform

civil code has been the foundation

around which emotive hysterical

movements have been built. While

they keep bringing to our notice as to

under whose rule more riots have

taken place, one forgets that the root of

communal violence lies in ‘Hate

other’ ideology spread by communal

streams. And most of the communal

violence led to coming to power of

communal party. Its major outcome is

polarization of communities along

religious lines.

Present Ruling Dispensation

Modi-BJP is part of Hindu nationalist

ideology. They gloss over the fact

that the large masses of Indian people,

Hindus never called and do not call

themselves Hindu nationalists. Gandhi

was not a Hindu nationalist despite

being a Hindu in the moral and social

sense. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was

not a Muslim nationalist, despite being

a devout Muslim, being a Muslim

scholar of highest caliber. During freedom

movement also most of the people

of all religions’ identified with

Indian Nationalism and not with religious

nationalism as being projected

by Modi and company. Even today

people of different religions identify

with Indian nationalism and not with

religious Nationalism on the lines of

Modi and his ilk.

Hindu nationalism is exclusive and

divisive, Indian Nationalism is inclusive;

rooted in the issues of this world,

and not the identity related ones.

Unfortunately Hindu nationalists have

been raising the pitch around identity

issues undermining the issues of the

poor and marginalized. The Indian

Nationalism, the product of our freedom

movement is being challenged by

the Hindu nationalism in India,

Buddhist Nationalism in Myanmar

and Sri Lanka and is a major threat to

the process of democratization in

those countries; Muslim Nationalism

has wrecked havoc in Pakistan, and

many other places.

As Modi came to power in 2014 on

the promises of ending corruption,

controlling price rise, controlling violence

against women, none of this

came true. Instead the rising prices

broke the back of common people.

The demonetization increased the miseries

of people as nearly 100 people

died while standing in the queues to

withdraw their own money, and later

99.7% of currency returned to the

banks. The implementation of GST

was tardy and increases the miseries of

traders and others. The state started

being more authoritarian to the extent

that many felt it is moving towards

‘elected autocracy’ (18). The institutions

of state, which are autonomous

like Election Commission,

Enforcement Directorate and CBI,

started showing their partisanship to

the ruling dispensation.

The overall atrocities against

Muslims, Christians and dalits started

going up. (19) The Muslims were targeted

in the name of cow-beef. Nearly

100 people died after 2014 in mob

lynching. Of these over 80% were

Muslims and remaining were dalits.

The campaign to stop interfaith marriage

took the form of intensifying the

attacks on interfaith couples where the

girl happens to be a Hindu. New legislations

are being brought in the name

of freedom of religion. These aim at

preventing conversions away from

Hinduism, while conversion to

Hinduism, in the name of Ghar Wapasi

(Return Home) is going on. Many a

prayer meetings have been attacked on

the pretext that conversion to

Christianity is going on. Sub radar

violence against Christians is an ongoing

phenomenon.

The tedious and painful exercise of

NRC (National Register of Citizens)

in Assam was undertaken on the premise

that nearly 50 Lakh Bangldeshi

infiltrators have entered Assam.

People were to submit their papers

related to citizenship. At the end of the

whole exercise 20 Lakh people were

found to be without papers. Of this

12.5 Lakh were Hindus and remaining

Muslims. In major violation of Indian

Constitution Citizenship Amendment

Act was brought in. This gives citizenship

to persecuted minorities in neighboring

countries. All are eligible for

citizenship barring Muslims as per this

law. The response to this came in the

form of massive Shaheen Bagh movement.

In city after city Muslim women

did the sit in’s, which went on in a

peaceful way (20). To disrupt this

great democratic movement for withdrawal

of CAA, the Delhi violence

was orchestrated. In this violence 50

people lost their lives of which 2/3rd

were Muslims. The major damage was

done to the Muslim properties.

The communal forces are always in

collusion with the big Corporate.

Three new farm laws have been

brought in. These laws are totally

opposed by farmers as it makes them

vulnerable in the hands of big corporations

eying the agricultural sector.

Huge protests are on in Delhi.

Government is impervious so far and

building barricades of nails and concrete

wall to prevent farmers from

entering Delhi to voice their protests.

(21)

The agenda of Hindu nationalism is

multifold. At one level it wants to put

the religious minorities, Muslims and

Christians on the margins. Dalits and

women are deprived of affirmative

action and status quo of their social

situation is maintined. The civic

norms have been shelved and social

activists working for the cause of

Adivaisis and Dalits have been labled

as Urban Naxals and put behind the

bars without any proper or expeditious

process to give justice to them. In a as

Jean Dreze points out that Hindu

nationalism is a revolt of the upper

caste male against the values of equality

due to which dalits and women are

marching towards equality. (22) In

revised edition of book on Partition

Ambedkar strongly opposed the formation

of Pakistan in the name of

Islam. His argument was that if

Pakistan is formed in the name of

Islam, the path of Hindu Raj will be

facilitated and Hindu raj will be a

great calamity for dalits.

Way Forward

Struggle for restoration of democratic

values is a big task in current

times. The misconceptions against

minorities have been constantly propagated

through multiple channels and

have become the part o social thinking

to a large extent. The hatred against

these sections is widely prevalent; it is

this hatred which forms the ground on

which violence can be orchestrated.

This violence in turn leads to polarization

and coming of communal forces

in seat of power. Communal forces in

power in turn strengthen the RSS, the

organization working the agenda of

Hindu nation.

A multilayered struggle to counter

the misconceptions against religious

minorities is the core task. This needs

to be supplemented by building the

bridges of love and amity between different

religious communities. The

social movements for defense of

human rights need to be supported and

a platform of social issues has to work

for the values of Indian Constitution,

where fraternity, equality and justice

have to accompany the liberty. Tasks

are immense.


24 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Institutions to protect democracy

have to show their strength

The raid on Newsclick by the

enforcement directorate unambiguously

shows how the government

‘respect’ those voices who differ with

it. The Enforcement Directorate these

days has become the new CBI and is

being used as a political tool. This is

deeply disturbing how these agencies

have allowed themselves to be used as

a political tool to harass the opponents

of the ruling party. When big media

has failed and turned completely the

loudspeaker of the Sarkari party, it is

these voices which have kept our

hopes high but then this government

is not satisfied with the presence of all

the ‘big’ ‘media houses’ with it.

Maybe, they also know the fact that

these media houses have completely

lost their credibility and that is why

people would love to watch all those

who may not be big but definitely

‘taller’ than the Darbaris and that is

why attempt to intimidate them.

The ‘outrage’ and ‘protests’ of BJP

mantris and netas were reserved for

hate monger Arnab Goswami. It is

interesting to see the events of how

the government asked twitter to

remove certain handles spreading poison

and hatred. Ambani channels

seeking ‘expert’ views of the head of

the notorious IT cell, on the hate campaign

on social media and whether it

needs to be regulated. Frankly speaking,

rules and regulation these days

are only meant to control the opponents

otherwise the ruling party can

do anything. It can get a comedian

arrested on the comments he did not

make. The mantriji can announce that

Rs 18,000 will be deposited in the

bank account immediately after

‘their’ government comes to power in

West Bengal without any ‘fear’ and

spineless darbaris start singing songs

of ‘valour’. None question that this is

unethical and pure bribery to the voters.

We still wait to hear from the

election commission about the same.

A young climate activist from

Banglore has just been arrested for

‘uploading’ the ‘kit’ on twitter.

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

Perhaps she will be accused of sedition.

The ‘court’ ‘accepted’ the plea of

the agencies and sent her a reminder.

These days we don’t see much questioning

of the authorities but simply

accepting what they demand. Most of

them have become actually

‘Executive Court. So, it is not justice

that we are looking for but ‘punishment’.

Perhaps that power to ‘punish’

is becoming the glamor and not the

issue of justice for all. The

Washington Post recently revealed

that the Bhima Koregaon ‘evidence’

was planted in the computers of the

accused by hacking but we did not

hear any outrage in the media. The

intimidation is growing. We now will

have a social media policy. The party

which used social media to divide

people and intimidate them is calling

to ‘regulate’. Reading, speaking and

participating in debates and discussion

is fast becoming crime. Those

who are spreading hatred are enjoying

the patronage and can say anything to

any one. Only those who respond to

such hatred face the criminalisation.

A couple

of days back

Rajya Sabha

Member Shri

R a n j a n

Gogoi said

that our judiciary

was ‘ram-shackled’ and it needed

change. I am not sure what he was

upset about judiciary but the way

things are not moving and stuck at a

certain level is not good for our democratic

set up. Gogoi virtually mocked

the ‘training courses’ at the National

Judicial Academy in Bhopal advising

them to ‘train’ the judges about how to

write judgements. While Mr Gogoi

was upset about non appointments of

the judges at various high courts and

Supreme Court, those who really

value judiciary as the most important

institution of a liberal and free democracy,

would be disappointed at the way

our courts ‘prioritised’ cases. It virtually

‘accepted’ things presented by the

executive most of the time. It had no

time to ask the agencies why charge

sheets have not been filed even after

two years of arrests of activists. The

biggest disappointment is that people

are languishing in jails for many many

years without any charge sheet but we

don’t see any outrage or anger in the

Courts against the executive.

An eminent lawyer like Sudha

Bhardwaj languishes in the jails without

chargesheet. Over 90% physically

disabled G N Saibaba continues to

face humiliation with continuous

incarceration in Nagpur Jail as one of

‘biggest criminals’ of India. Reports

suggest that he has contracted Covid

and is already ailing. There seems to

be no respect for basic values of

humanity. It is becoming more and

more cruel, perhaps to intimidate others.

You can’t love a person of your

choice. You can’t eat food of your

choice. They can’t watch anything of

your choice as the feeling of so many

people gets ‘hurt’ due to these ‘fundamental

rights’. A feudal society which

wants to control everything actually

feels threatened if an individual

makes an independent choice. It looks

that for everything we will have to

take permission from the state. Where

do people get protection and justice?

Those who are threatening are roaming

free in the name of ‘rastrabhakti’

while agencies trap and intimidate the

political opponents and dissenters.

Where will all this take to India.

American fought because they had

vibrant institutions. the judiciary and

media actually were in the forefront in

protecting people’s rights but back

home here we are distressed. What are

the avenues for the people to get justice

? Is there any chance that the person

will not be incarcerated for an

indefinite period and in the name of

justice you will only get a date for next

hearing or no hearing. An ailing

Varavara Rao has not been able to get

bail because the courts dont seem to be

convinced. In the Arnab case, Justice

Chandrachud so loudly said jail is an

exception but bail should be the rule

but where is it being implemented?

We may moan about the quality of

media and social media but the

biggest worry is the judiciary. People

may call Mr Ranjan Gogoi as hypocrite

but somewhere he spoke the

truth on ‘judiciary being ramshackled’.

Let us see how it responds

to it.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

In this context, we mark with

increasing worry, the impunity with

which so called ‘pro-nation’ individuals

and groups can make public threats

against journalists and media houses

and engage in vitriolic conspiracy theory

in the guise of ‘exposes’, inciting

viewers to violence and at times even

aggressively demanding that the state

hang them! Not only is no action taken

against them, but their voices are given

further platform by position holders

within the ruling party and its allies,

while those against whom threats are

made, are brought under state scrutiny

for amplifying voices of dissent, and

face arrests, raids and violence.

To return to the most recent events, a

youtuber calling for prominent independent

media journalists to ‘be

hanged’ for questioning state interventions

during lockdown and for reporting

on the Farmers’ Protests has been

brazenly lauded by BJP leaders including

Kapil Mishra, Tajinder Bagga and

CG Surya, ex Shiv-Sena member

Ramesh Solanki, RSS volunteer who

led the BJP’s social media campaign in

2014, Vikas Pandey, and others, with no

consideration for the grotesque nature of

the insinuations and the calls for violence.

At the same time, the BJP government

issues warnings to social media

platforms to curtail what it calls

Continue Page 17

NAPM condemns the alarming rise in state

repression and clampdown on news outlets...

‘inflammatory content and misinformation,’

showing a convenient disregard

for the truth and for the meaning of free

speech and journalism.

Article-19 of the Constitution guarantees

freedom of speech & expression

through writing, printing, pictures, electronic

broadcasting and media and it is

fundamental to the idea of democracy.

The control over information and news

by the Central and state governments

through brutal measures is nothing but

fascist in nature and goes against the

democratic framework enshrined in the

Indian Constitution. While there is a

need for legal frameworks for the protection

of journalists, the steps proposed

by some states, like the Maharashtra

Media Person and Media Institutions

Bill (2017) and the proposed

Chhattisgarh Protection of Media

Persons Act (2020) are insufficient,

especially in instances where reporting

takes place against government authorities

who are then tasked with protecting

the journalists. National Alliance of

People’s Movements condemns the violations

of freedom of press and expression

and the attempts to build a mainstream

media entirely under the control

of the state. In spite of the Supreme

Court’s recent observation that inflammatory

content needs to be checked, the

patronage provided to media establishments

by the current regime, turns them

into tools of indoctrination and obfuscation

of any form of opposition to government’s

catering to corporate, majoritarian

interests.

We demand that FIRs against journalists

be quashed and those currently

incarcerated be released immediately.

The State must stop acting as the violator

and protect the rights of journalists,

especially women subjected to threats of

gendered violence.

We denounce the state’s concerted

efforts to vilify media houses and journalists

who amplify the concerns of people

belonging to minority communities,

farmers, workers, women, activists, historically

oppressed communities asking

for their rights; or report on corporate,

environmental crimes or provide critical

reviews of anti-people policies. The

long-standing demand of many journalists

to ensure legislative protection for

media persons, based on the PUCL draft

bill and upholding human rights standards

must be duly considered.

We continue to stand in solidarity

with all the journalists who have been

targeted by the central government or

the state governments for reporting on

issues that have exposed their anti-people

policies, and with media platforms

across the country which show the true

state of affairs in society, be it in small

towns or big cities.

In times of corporate and state-controlled

mass media, we firmly believe

that democracy can be rescued only if

all of us, as citizens actively support and

invest in independent journalism.

After failed rape bid,

girl thrown off terrace

Pilibhit (Uttar

Pradesh) : A 16-yearold

girl was allegedly

thrown off a terrace

after a failed rape

attempt by two of her

neighbours, police

said on Sunday.

The two pushed the

girl down when they

saw her father enter

the house, alleged the

family.

The girl has suffered

several fractures

and internal injuries, said her father

while lodging a complaint with the

police in Jahanabad area.

Harish Vardhan Singh, Station

House Officer (SHO), said the

accused, identified as Arvind and

Mahendra, have been booked under

IPC section 354 (applying force to a

woman with intent to outrage her

modesty), 504 (intentional insult) and

323 (causing hurt), besides provisions

of the SC/ST Act and the POCSO Act.

The police have set up teams to

arrest the two youths who are now

absconding. According to reports the

incident took place on Saturday.

The minor's father alleged that he

found his daughter missing from her

room. On searching, he discovered the

mobile phone of the key accused, a

21-year-old youth who resides in the

neighbourhood.

He went to the youth's house to

enquire about the whereabouts of his

daughter. He claimed he was just in

time to prevent them from sexually

assaulting his daughter.

The two youths allegedly abused

him, making casteist remarks against

him. They then threw his daughter off

the roof.

When she regained consciousness,

she narrated her ordeal, saying the duo

had tried to outrage her modesty.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

Omar claims he and Farooq ’locked’

up at home, POLICE CLARIFIES

Srinagar : After former Chief Minister

Omar Abdullah claimed on Sunday that he

and his father Farooq Abdullah have been

"locked" up at their residence here without

any explanation by authorities, J&K Police

maintained that VIP protectees were

advised against moving out in view of

"adverse inputs".

Omar posted on Twitter photos of security

vehicles stationed outside his residence

on the Gupkar Road and said that his sister

and her children, who live next doors, have

been locked up as well. The National

Conference leader also asked under which

law he had been "detained". "This is the

’naya/new J&K’ after August 2019. We get

locked up in our homes with no explanation.

It’s bad enough they’ve locked my

father (a sitting MP) and me in our home;

they’ve locked my sister and her kids in

their home as well," Omar tweeted.

"Chalo, your new model of democracy

means that we are kept in our homes without

explanation. But on top of that, the staff

at the house aren’t also not being allowed in

and then you are surprised that I’m still

angry and bitter."

The two former Chief Ministers were

said to be planning to travel out of Srinagar

to address party workers.

The police claimed that due to adverse

intelligence inputs, the movement of protected

persons had been discouraged and

all concerned were informed well in

advance not to plan their tours on Sunday.

"Today is the 2nd anniversary of dreaded

Lethpora terror incident. There shall be

NO Road Opening Party on ground. Due to

adverse inputs, movement of

VIPs/Protected Persons has been discouraged

and all concerned informed in

advance NOT to plan a tour today," police

tweeted.

Omar Abdullah later asked the police to

share the written communication sent to

him and acknowledged by him that called

for restricting his movement on the second

anniversary of the Pulwama terror attack of

2019. In a series of tweets, Omar asked

under which law the police had "detained"

him at his home.

"I’m not even sure if this is actually a

police Twitter handle since it’s not verified.

But assuming it is, please tell me under

which law you have detained me in my

home today? You can advise me not to

leave my house but you can’t force me to

stay in using security as an excuse," the

former CM tweeted.

"Please share the written communication

addressed to me and acknowledged by

me (or my office), informing us in advance

of these restrictions. Surely, this anniversary

didn’t come as a surprise to the administration."

On Saturday, another former

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti alleged

that she was prevented from moving out of

her residence on the Gupkar Road to visit

south Kashmir’s Pulwama district to meet

with the family of teenager Athar Mushtaq

who was killed in an encounter on the

Srinagar outskirts on December 30, 2020.

16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021

25

SC says young adults choosing life

partners mustn’t succumb to ’class honour’

New Delhi : The Supreme Court, echoing B.R. Ambedkar’s

views that remedy for

breaking caste barriers is

inter-caste marriage, said

boys and girls choosing

their life partners cannot

succumb to the concept of

class honour or group thinking.

A bench comprising

Justices Sanjay Kishan

Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy

observed: "Educated younger boys and girls are choosing their life

partners which, in turn is a departure from the earlier norms of

society where caste and community played a major role."

Stressing it as a progressive outlook, the bench said this may

reduce caste and community tensions brought out by inter-marriage.

The bench said: "We are fortified in our view by earlier judicial

pronouncements of this Court clearly elucidating that the consent

of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary

once the two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock and

that their consent has to be piously given primacy."

The bench noted that intimacies of marriage lie within a core

zone of privacy, which is inviolable and even matters of faith

would have the least effect on them. "The right to marry a person

of choice was held to be integral to Article 21 of the Constitution,"

said the top court. A missing person complaint was lodged in

Karnataka by the father of a girl after she eloped and married a

person, based in north India, without informing him. The investigating

officer after learning about their marriage insisted that the

girl should appear in person at a police station to record a statement

to close the case, and if she fails, then there is a possibility

of kidnapping case against her husband. Faced with these dire consequences,

the couple moved the Supreme Court, which criticized

the police officer’s conduct putting the girl under threat of action.

The top court said the choice of an individual is an inextricable

part of dignity, for dignity cannot be thought of where there is erosion

of choice. "Such a right or choice is not is not expected to succumb

to the concept of ’class honour’ or ’group thinking’," said the

top court. Quashing the FIR lodged by the girl’s father, the bench

said it expects the police authorities to take action in this behalf in

the next eight weeks to lay down some guidelines and training programmes

on how to handle such socially sensitive cases.

The bench emphasized that girl’s family should accept the marriage

and re-establish social interaction with the couple. "Under

the garb of caste and community to alienate the child and the sonin-law

will hardly be a desirable social exercise," added the bench.

Concluding the order, the bench cited B.R. Ambedkar: "Where

society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter

of urgent necessity. The real remedy for breaking caste is intermarriage.

Nothing else will serve as the solvent of caste."

From climate activist to ’Toolkit

Editor’, who is Disha Ravi?

Protesting farmers hold candle

march for Pulwama martyrs

Ghazipur : The farmers, protesting against the Centre’s agricultural

laws at the Ghazipur border, on Sunday held a candlelight

march to express solidarity with families of the CRPF

jawans killed in the Pulwama terror attack.

The march saw participation of people from children to exservicemen.

As many as 13 ex-servicemen sat on a hunger strike

on Sunday to extend their support to the farmers.

Gurmeet Singh, a resident of Delhi’s Pandav Nagar, took his

daughter Gursahib Kaur at the protest site, and she was the

youngest to pay tribute to the Pulwama martyrs.

The peasants also offered flowers to the martyred security

personnel, designed a rangoli map of India and raised the slogans

of ’Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’.

Farmers’ organisations held candle marches, torch processions

and other programs across the country in memory of the

martyrs. On February 14, 2019, a terrorist drove an explosiveladen

SUV into a convoy of CRPF personnel in Jammu and

Kashmir’s Pulwama, killing 40.

New Delhi : Disha Ravi has been featured

in publications across the world as a

young activist voicing her strong opinions

about the environmental crisis in India.

However, the 21-year-old climate activist

from Soladevanahalli area of Bengaluru

was arrested by Delhi Police’s Special Cell

on Saturday for her alleged role in the infamous

"toolkit" which, according to police,

was behind the January 26 violence in the

capital. Graduating from Mount Carmel

College in Bengaluru, she has been regularly

writing columns and articles in leading

news portals on climate action and is a

familiar name in important climate forums

frequented by youth activists across the

globe. Disha describes herself as cofounder

of Fridays For Future, India.

In an interview to Auto Report Africa in

2020, she is quoted as saying: "My motivation

to join climate activism came from

seeing my grandparents, who are farmers,

struggle with the effects of the climate crisis.

At the time, I wasn’t aware that what

they were experiencing was the climate crisis

because climate education is non-existent

where I’m from. Only when I did my

research, did I find out about it." However,

Disha’s role came under the lens of the

Delhi Police after Swedish climate activist

Greta Thunberg tweeted a toolkit document

which the police say had led to the

January 26 violence in New Delhi. Though

the Delhi Police did not name Thunberg in

the FIR, it went ahead to register the case

against the authors of the toolkit.

The police later described Disha Ravi as

key conspirator in the document’s formulation

and dissemination and said that she

started a WhatsApp group and collaborated

to draft the document.

"In this process, they all collaborated

with pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice

Foundation to spread disaffection against

the Indian state. She was the one who

shared the Toolkit doc with Greta

Thunberg," said a senior police officer.

The "toolkit" is a term activists use for a

campaign information document.

However, the Delhi Police also said that

she asked Greta to remove the main document

after its incriminating details accidentally

leaked into the public domain. This is

many times more than the two lines editing

that she claims, they said.

The Delhi Police had registered an FIR

on February 4 on charges of sedition, criminal

conspiracy and promoting hatred

among groups under Sections 124-A, 120-

A and 153-A of the Indian Penal Code

against the "creators" of the ’toolkit’, which

was shared by Thunberg. After Disha Ravi

has been sent to police remand for five

days, sources in Delhi Police said that

more arrests are likely, based on the investigation

of the arrested accused.


26 16-02-2021 to 28-02-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Pak to deploy drones

to supervise

highways, motorways

Islamabad : In a first of its

kind initiative, Pakistan will

deploy drones for the supervision

of the country's highways and

motorways network, the media

reports on Sunday.

Citing sources in the National

Highways and Motorways Police,

The Geo News report said that the

system will be in place in a couple

of weeks. According to the sources,

the system would provide a record

of round-the-clock movement on

roads and it would not only help in

controlling and managing the traffic

volume across the motorways

and highways for its smooth and

safe flow, but also provide for

effective and timely interception of

crimes. The information gathered

by the drones could be used in nabbing

criminals.

The use of drone's technology

would be displayed towards the

end of this month at few points on

the motorways, the Geo News

report further quoted the sources

as saying. The project was discussed

at the National Highways

and Motorways Police (NHMP)

headquarters on February 12

under its Inspector General Syed

Kaleem Imam through a virtual

conference attended by officers of

the force from across the country.

New Delhi : Congress

leader Shashi Tharoor has

reacted sharply to the arrest of

Disha Ravi, the 21-year-old

activist from Bengaluru, for

her alleged involvement in

sharing the 'toolkit' related to

the farmers' protests.

Tharoor shared a picture of

disgraced J&K DSP Davinder

Singh who is out on bail, saying,

"Activists in jail while

accused terrorists are on bail.

Wondering how our authorities

would commemorate this

case on the anniversary of

Pulwama attack? You have the

answer in this pair of headlines,"

as he shared the news of

arrest of the climate activist.

Disha Ravi is one of the

founders of the 'Friday for

Future' campaign and allegedly edited the

'toolkit' and forwarded it on social media.

She was picked up from her house in

Soladevanahalli area of Bengaluru on

Saturday.

The Delhi Police had registered an FIR

on February 4 on charges of sedition, criminal

conspiracy and promoting hatred among

groups under Sections 124-A, 120-A and

153-A of the Indian Penal Code against the

"creators" of the 'toolkit', which was later

shared by global climate activist Greta

Myanmar amends law on protecting

citizens' personal freedom, security

Nay Pyi Taw : Myanmar's new military-led

State Administration Council

led by Commander-in-Chief of

Defence Services Sen-Gen Min Aung

Hlaing issued an order amending the

Protection of the Citizens for the

Personal Freedom and Personal

Security Law.

According to the order issued on

Saturday, Sections 5, 7 and 8 of the

law will be suspended during the state

of emergency declared on February 1,

reports Xinhua news agency.

The suspended Section 5 says that

the relevant ministry and responsible

authorities shall ensure that there is no

damage to the privacy and security of

the citizen except where this occurs in

accordance with existing law, and

when acting in accordance with existing

law, the authorities shall not enter

into a person's residence or private

places for the purpose of search,

seizure, or arrest, unless accompanied

by minimum of two witnesses from

local administration organizations.

The suspended Section 7 of the law

says that no one shall be detained for

more than 24 hours without permission

from a court unless the detention

is in accordance with existing law.

The Section 8 limited entering into

a citizen's private residence or room

for the purpose of search, seizure, or

arrest, surveilling, spying upon or

investigating any citizen which could

disturb their privacy and security or

affect their dignity, intercepting or disturbing

any citizen's communication

ACTIVISTS IN JAIL,

terrorists on bail:

Tharoor on Disha arrest

Thunberg. According to the police, the

unfolding of events during the farmers'

protest on January 26, including the violence

at the Red Fort, allegedly revealed

copycat execution of the 'action plan'

detailed in the 'toolkit'.

The police said that the intention of the

creators appeared to create disharmony

among various social, religious and cultural

groups and encourage disaffection and illwill

against the central government and

aimed at waging social, cultural and economic

war against India.

with another person or communications

equipment in any way, demanding

or obtaining personal telephonic

and electronic communications data

from telecom operators without order,

permission or warrant in accordance

with existing law or responsible

authority.

It also prohibited opening, searching,

seizing or destroying another person's

private correspondence, envelope,

package or parcel, unlawfully

interfering with a citizen's personal or

family matters or act in any way to

slander or harm their reputation and

unlawfully seizing the lawfully owned

movable or immoveable property of a

citizen or intentionally destroying

either directly or by indirect means.

The one-year state of emergency

was declared in Myanmar after former

President U Win Myint and State

Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were

detained along with other officials

from National League for Democracy

(NLD) by the military on February 1

after which a coup was staged.

The state power was handed over to

Commander-in-Chief of Defence

Services Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing

and the State Administration Council

was formed later.

The military had demanded the

postponement of new parliamentary

sessions, citing massive voting fraud

in the November 8, 2020 general elections,

which saw the NLD win a

majority of seats in both houses of parliament.

Myanmar's Union Election

Commission dismissed the allegation.

POLICE

announces

Rs 1 lakh reward

for info on

Lakha Sidhana

New Delhi : With Delhi Police continuing

with its

investigations in the

January 26 violence

during the 'tractor

march' in Delhi, it

has announced a

cash reward of Rs 1

lakh for information

leading to the

arrest of another

key accused Lakhbir Singh alias Lakha

Sidhana.

Delhi Police Crime Branch and

Special Cell are conducting raids in

Punjab, Haryana and Delhi-NCR in

search of the gangster turned activist

Sidhana, who has been in hiding since

the violence on January 26. However,

he has been posting videos on the social

media. Following the violence, Delhi

Police had announced cash reward of

Rs 1 lakh each for the arrest of Deep

Sidhu, Jugraj Singh, Gurjot Singh and

Gurjant Singh, and Rs 50,000 each for

Jagbir Singh, Buta Singh, Sukhdev

Singh and Ikbal Singh for their alleged

involvement in the violence that saw at

least one death and injuries to scores of

persons, including policemen.

Deep Sidhu and Ikbal Singh were

later arrested in connection with the

Red Fort violence and taken to the spot

on Saturday by Crime Branch to recreate

the crime scene.

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