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Vol : 05 : #69 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

Right to protest can't be termed

terrorist act under UAPA: HC

New Delhi : The Delhi High

Court on Tuesday held that the fundamental

right to protest is not outlawed

and cannot be termed as a "terrorist

act" within the meaning of the

stringent anti-terror law UAPA.

It made this observation while

granting bail to JNU student and

Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita

in a case of larger conspiracy related

to the northeast Delhi riots last year,

in which 53 people were killed while

more than 400 were injured.

A bench of Justices Siddharth

Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani

said: "Right to protest is a fundamental

right that flows from the constitutionally

guaranteed right to assemble

peaceably and without arms

enshrined in Article 19(1)(b) of our

Constitution, surely the right to

protest is not outlawed and cannot be

termed as a 'terrorist act' within the

meaning of the UAPA, unless of

course the ingredients of the offences

under Sections 15, 17 and/or 18 of

the UAPA are clearly discernible

from the factual allegations contained

in charge sheet and the material

filed therewith."

The High Court emphasised that

offences under the UAPA are treated

as extremely serious, inviting very

severe punishment; and therefore, the

formation of an independent judicial

view by the court at every step of the

way, is imperative.

The bench added that it is constrained

to say, that it appears, that in

its anxiety to suppress dissent and in

the morbid fear that matters may get

out of hand, the state has blurred the

line between the constitutionally

guaranteed "right to protest" and "terrorist

activity".

"If such blurring gains traction,

democracy would be in peril," said

the bench.

Kalita was arrested for allegedly

hatching a conspiracy to orchestrate

riots in Delhi, the capital's first since

1984's anti-Sikh riots. She was

accused of calling people to come out

and block roads against the Centre's

contentious Citizenship Amendment

Act (CAA). The police claimed this

resulted in violence, which broke out

between anti- and pro-CAA protesters,

leading to death of 53 people and

leaving more than 400 injured. On

January 29, a trial court dismissed

bail applications of Kalita.

Citing allegations contained in

charge sheet and the material

adduced therewith, the court said:

"We do not think that the accusations

made against the appellant under sections

15, 17 and/or 18 of the UAPA

are prima facie true."

The court added that inflammatory

speeches, 'chakka jams', instigation

of women protesters and other

actions, to which Kalita was alleged

to have been party to, crossed the line

of peaceful protests permissible

under the constitutional guarantee,

but, would yet not amount to commission

of a "terrorist act" as understood

under the UAPA.

"We are afraid, that in our opinion,

shorn-off the superfluous verbiage,

hyperbole and the stretched inferences

drawn from them by the prosecuting

agency, the factual allegations

made against the appellant do not

prima facie disclose the commission

of any offence under Sections 15, 17

and/or 18 of the UAPA," said the

court.

Patiently waited for

a year on Galwan

but no clarity: Sonia

New Delhi : Congress interim president

Sonia Gandhi, in a statement on

Tuesday, said that the Congress party

joins a grateful nation in remembrance

of the supreme sacrifice made by 20

brave soldiers of the Bihar Regiment

in Galwan Valley, including their commanding

officer, who lost their lives in

the confrontation with PLA troops of

China on the night of 14-15 June

2020.

Her statement has come on the first

anniversary of the Galwan Valley

standoff.

"Having patiently waited for the

government to come clean and inform

the nation about the circumstances in

which the unprecedented incident

happened and reassure the people that

the sacrifice of our brave jawans was

not in vain, the Congress Party reiterates

its concern that no clarity is yet

available and the Prime Minister's last

word on the subject a year ago was

that no transgression had occurred,"

she said.

She added that the Congress has

repeatedly sought details of the

episode in light of the PM's statement,

as well as details of what progress has

been made towards restoring the status

quo ante prior to April 2020. "The disengagement

agreement with China

appears to have worked entirely to

India's disadvantage so far," the statement

said.

"The Congress Party urges the government

to take the nation into confidence

and ensure that their performance

is worthy of the commitment of

our soldiers who are standing bravely

and resolutely at the borders."

Sukhbir Badal detained

for protest against

SCAMS IN PUNJAB

Chandigarh :

Shiromani Akali Dal

president Sukhbir Badal

along with several legislators

and leaders were

detained by Punjab

police on Tuesday when

they were marching

towards the residence of

Chief Minister

Amarinder Singh near

here to lodge their

protest. The Akali Dal-BSP combine

was demanding the dismissal of Health

Minister Balbir Sidhu and a CBI probe

into irregularities in sale of vaccines

and medical kits for Covid patients.

"There is a scam in Covid-19 vaccination,

there is a scam in Fateh Kit,

there is a scam in SC scholarship, there

is a scam in SC scholarship. Farmers'

land is being acquired," Badal told the

media. During the protest, the police

detained several protesters before using

water cannons against them when they

were on the way to the Chief Minister's

farmhouse at Siswan, on the outskirts

of Chandigarh, and sent them to the

nearby police station.

The Akali workers were joined by

BSP activists as the two parties have

forged an alliance ahead of the 2022

Assembly elections. Bahujan Samaj

Party (BSP) state president Jasbir

Singh Garhi was also detained from the

protest site along with Akali legislators,

including Bikram Singh Majithia. A

day earlier, the Aam Aadmi Party

staged a protest in front of the residence

of Amarinder Singh against the

alleged scam in the post-matric scholarship

scheme for Dalit students.


2

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Athletes could be kicked out of

Olympics for violating Covid rules

Tokyo : Athletes and officials who violate

the Covid-19 rules could be kicked out

of the Olympics, according to revised rules

outlined in the third and final editions of

the Tokyo 2020 playbook revealed on

Tuesday.

The third version of the playbook, published

by the International Olympic

Committee (IOC), the International

Paralympic Committee (IPC), and the

Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, added

more than 10 pages compared to the second

edition. Most of the contents are regulations

about testing, consequences and

sanctions.

Athletes may be exposed to the following

non-exhaustive range of potential consequences

of warnings, temporary or permanent

withdrawal of accreditation, temporary

or permanent ineligibility, or exclusion

from the Games, disqualification or

financial sanctions, the playbook said.

This updated version of the playbook

highlights that there may also be measures

or sanctions imposed by the respective

organisations or the Japanese authorities in

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

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Email :

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accordance with their respective rules and

regulations. "It is crucial that the measures

outlined in the playbook are respected in

order to make the Games safe and secure

for all Games participants, and the people

of Japan," IOC Olympic Games executive

director Christophe Dubi said. Hidemasa

Nakamura, Tokyo 2020 Main Operations

Mumbai : Crude oil prices

surged to multi-year highs on

Monday on hopes of rising

demand, along with estimates of

tightening supplies.

The August contract of Brent

crude oil the Intercontinental

Exchange (ICE) surged 0.92 per

cent to $73.36 per barrel.

Similarly, the July contract of

WTI crude on the NYMEX was

at $71.56, higher by 0.92 per

cent from its previous close.

Increase in vaccine coverage

across the globe has raise hopes

of normalising economic activities

and eventual rise in oil

demand. The International

Energy Agency (IEA), in its Oil

Market Report for June 2021,

said that global oil demand is set

to return to pre-pandemic levels

by the end of 2022, rising 5.4

mb/d (millions of barrels per

day) in 2021 and a further 3.1

mb/d next year. It also noted that

Centre chief, was confident that the playbook

would be strictly followed by the participants.

"The top priority of the Tokyo

2020 Games is safety, and the playbook are

key to that objective," he said.

"I am confident that with everyone's

cooperation, these playbook will have laid

the foundation for safe and secure Games."

Start vaccination of teachers, students, says Punjab CM

Chandigarh : Punjab Chief Minister

Amarinder Singh on Tuesday directed the

health authorities to start vaccination of

teachers, non-teaching staff and students in

18-45 age group from all schools and colleges

from June 21, to enable educational

institutions in the state to open safely.

He also directed the department to

ensure that all persons with co-morbidities

as well as disabilities, and government

employees, are vaccinated on priority.

Staff in hospitality industry, parlours,

service outlets, including shops, restaurants,

gyms, etc, should also be vaccinated

at the earliest, he said, at the Covid review

meeting.

Judicial officers and lawyers should also

be prioritised so that normal court functioning

can safely resume, directed

Amarinder Singh, while asking the Health

Department to reach out proactively to

nursing mothers, who have been clarified

to be eligible for vaccination.

Expressing concern over the gender gap

in vaccination, he directed the health

experts to identified the reasons and rectify

the situation. The Chief Minister also

ordered ward wise and village wise campaigns

in cities, towns and rural areas that

saw higher positivity and mortality in order

to prioritise them for vaccination.

Pointing out that Punjab was perhaps

the only state in the country to have put in

place a vaccination strategy for the 18-45

age group that prioritises the poor and the

vulnerable, the Chief Minister expressed

happiness that almost one lakh co-morbid

youth and 3.5 lakh young construction and

other workers, had been vaccinated free of

cost by the state government.

Over 70,000 young family members of

healthcare workers have been prioritised,

while 'rehriwalas', bus drivers, shop workers

and other deserving categories are also

receiving vaccination from the state supplies,

he noted.

Health Secretary Hussan Lal said the

number of Covishield doses received by

the state so far for the 18-45 age group

stood at 586,000, of which 530,610 had

been used and the state has a balance stock

of 55,390.

Covaxin doses received were 150,850,

with 66,040 utilised.

Oil prices reach multi-year

high on demand hopes

the Organisation of the

Petroleum Exporting Countries

(OPEC) and its allies, would

have to raise its output to meet

the reviving demand.

Zak Zorro: First Indian to Release

Afro Album Named "Afrolina"

* The Asian Independent and people associated with it are not responsible for any claims made by the advertisers and do not endorse in any products or services advertised. Please visit www.theasianindependent.com/tc for more information.

Zakeer Hussain popularly known as ‘Zak Zorro’ released his

latest album

‘Afrolina’ on June15,

2021. An album with

11 distinct dance

tracks namely

‘Carolina’, ‘Maria’,

‘Dubai Way’,

‘Killempa’,

‘Chikka’, ‘Oley’,

‘African Lady’,

‘Somebody’,‘Dil Pe’,

‘Superhero’ and ‘Call

my Name.’

With this album,

Zak Zorro gets the

unique distinction of

becoming the first

Indian Music

Producer and Singer

to produce an Afrobeat Music album. Speaking on the release, Zak

said “Music is the strongest form of magic, it is an explosive

expression of love, and we are all touched by it no matter what

culture, race or country we come from”. Further expanding on his

fascination for afrobeat in particular, he said “The thing about

Afrobeat is, it just uplifts your mood from the very 1st beat and

makes you move your whole body and I think that’s what people

around the world need now more than ever.”

Zak sees himself as a global artist not bound by any single

genre or style, he has always been influenced by world music and

his vision is to record in as many different styles as possible.

However, as a music purist he makes sure to follow important elements

and protocols of each different genre in their pure form.

Afrolina is an honest attempt at ensuring the authenticity of the

music remains while the vibe only gets one to groove to each beat.

The Album is produced by Icon Art Productions. All the songs

are written and composed by the very talented award winning

music producer, Sammyoung (Dubai based afro music producer).‘Afrolina’

released on 15th June ‘2021 on all the major digital

stores iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify, Gaana, Saavan & YouTube

on the ZakZorro channel worldwide.

TASMAC sold Rs 164 cr worth

of liquor in just one day

Chennai : The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TAS-

MAC) has sold liquor worth Rs 164 crore in the state in just one day.

All liquor outlets and bars opened in the state on Monday.

According to reports from the TASMAC, Madurai zone accounted

for the maximum sales of Rs 49.54 crore followed by Chennai

region with sales worth Rs 42.96 crore, Salem Rs 38.72 crore, and

Trichy region accounting for the sale of Rs 33.65 crore worth of

liquor.

However there was no sale in the Coimbatore region as the shops

are closed in the area following the higher number of Covid-19 cases.

Shops in Nilgiris, Erode, Salem, Tiruppur, Karur, Namakkal,

Thanjavur, Tiruvavur, Nagapattinam, and Myladuthurai remain

closed as the number of cases are high.

Of the 5,338 shops in Tamil Nadu, 2,900 reopened on Monday.

The founder president of Pattali Makkal Katchi(PMK), Dr S.

Ramadoss has called upon the state government to rework its policy

on liquor and to enforce a total prohibition in the state for the health

of the people of the state. He has also said that the claims of Chief

Minister Stalin that TASMAC shops were allowed to function following

the brewing of illicit liquor in the state as well as to prevent

smuggling of liquor from neighbouring states.

Ramadoss has in a statement said, "Stalin should work his way to

enforce total prohibition in the state of Tamil Nadu for the sake of the

health of the people of the state, both mental and physical."


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

Year after Galwan clash: Indian

Army develops military infra,

deploys around 60K troops

New Delhi : A year after the Galwan

valley clash in eastern Ladakh, China is

still sitting at the Line of Actual Control

(LAC) while India has geared up for a long

grind. Indian and Chinese military delegates

have had 11 rounds of talks to resolve

the border disputes at the friction points.

The only thing that has happened is that

both the countries have agreed to resolve

the dispute peacefully.

The Indian Army has focused on being

better prepared to face Chinese belligerence

in Ladakh over the last year, as a final

resolution seems far off. India has

enhanced military infrastructure, increased

troop deployment to 50,000 to 60,000

troops, and constructed better roads to

improve connectivity for quick force

mobilisation.

The force continues to be on high alert

with its enhanced troop deployment of over

50,000 men on the ground in Ladakh for

the last one year, including during the

harsh winter when the temperature dips to

minus 40-degree Celsius.

Last month, Indian Army chief General

M.M. Naravane had said that the troops are

on high alert along the LAC, keeping a

watch on the activities of the Chinese

People's Liberation Army.

Naravane said that India wants the status

quo ante of April 2020 to be restored.

He also stated that India has made it clear

to China that de-escalation will only be

considered once disengagement is completed

to the mutual satisfaction of both

sides. He said that Indian troops are on

high alert and deployments have not

thinned after the disengagement in

Pangong River. The Army chief maintained

that China has deployed around

50,000 to 60,000 troops in eastern Ladakh

in immediate depth so India has also made

mirror deployment in depth. Even after 11

rounds of military talks at the Corps

Commander level to find a resolution,

there is still no breakthrough despite the

disengagement in Pangong. Indian and

Chinese forces have met to resolve the border

disputes at the other friction areas like

Hot Springs, Gogra and the 900 sq km

Depsang plains.

Naravane also said that Indian is currently

concentrating on resolving the outstanding

problems at other friction points

like Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang. He

had pointed out that India's stand during

the disengagement agreement in the

Pangong Lake area remained the same that

the status quo ante of April 2020 must be

restored. The army chief also stated that

trust levels between the two countries are

low, but pointed out that the trust deficit

should not hinder the negotiation process.

In the Galwan valley, where a bloody clash

between the forces of the two nations left

20 Indian four Chinese soldiers dead on

June 15 last year, including Commanding

Officer Col Santosh Babu, the troops had

concentrated at just 1.5 km apart.

Following the clash, the Patrol Point 14

became a 'no patrol zone' and both sides

pulled back by 1.5 km each and the area

turned into a buffer zone. India had objected

to China's observation post near Patrol

Point 14 that had led to the clash.

The clash had sparked a war-like situation.

By the end of August last year, there

was a further build up across the broder

and the Pangong Lake had turned into a

battle zone, as India occupied the key

mountain tops at the Kailash Range overlooking

the southern bank of the lake.

Currently, no patrolling is being done till

Patrol Point 14. It is necessary to maintain

strict vigil through various surveillance

methods to keep a check on Chinese activities

as they continue to be present in big

numbers, not too far away from the contentious

point. Further, China has also been

enhancing its surveillance capabilities. It

has developed an unmanned aerial vehicle

(UAV) with plateau operation capabilities

and has planned to deploy it along the Line

of Actual Control with India in the Kailash

mountain range, sources said.

China has also enhanced troops, artillery

and armour in three sectors of the LAC --

western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand,

Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim,

Arunachal).

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

3

Bodies of migrants recovered

after boat capsize in Yemen

Aden : The bodies of scores of migrants were recovered after their

boat capsized off

the waters of

Yemen, a government

official said.

"The boat that

was carrying nearly

200 migrants on

board capsized two

days ago, leaving

scores of bodies

floating off the

waters of Ras al-

Ara area in the

southern province of Lahj," the official told Xinhua news agency on

Monday.

He confirmed that most of the migrants came from the Horn of

Africa and died as a result of the accident. Local Yemeni authorities,

including the coast guards troops, are still working to retrieve more

bodies, according to the official.

The region has recorded several tragic accidents as a result of

overturning of overloaded smuggling boats.

In most of the cases, desperate East African migrants attempted to

cross the dangerous route to reach the Middle East, mainly Saudi

Arabia, via war-torn Yemen. According to the International

Organization for Migration, 5,100 immigrants have arrived in Yemen

so far this year, compared to 35,000 in 2020 and 127,000 in 2019

before the coronavirus outbreak that reduced the demand for labour

in Gulf states.

Pakistan's Covid tally reaches 943,027

Islamabad :

Pakistan's overall

Covid-19 caseload has

reached 943,027 after

an additional 838 people

tested positive for

the virus, the National

Command and

Operation Centre

(NCOC) said on

Tuesday. According to

the NCOC, the country

has recorded 880,316 recoveries so far, reports Xinhua news

agency.

There are 40,929 active cases are under treatment across the country,

including 2,611 who are in critical condition.

According to the NCOC, the pandemic killed 59 people on

Monday, increasing the death toll to 21,782.

Pakistan's Punjab province and Sindh province are the worst-hit

regions of the country with 344,196 and 328,663 infections, respectively.

Biz concerns exist, but knowledge sharing will

boost investment interest: Aussie official

New Delhi : Knowledge among

investors of both Australia and India

regarding the commercial interests and

regulatory framework in both the country

would help improve the trade and

investment relations between the two

countries, said Catherine Gallagher,

Minister Commercial, Australian High

Commission New Delhi and Head of

Austrade South Asia.

Observing that there has been a lingering

perception over an adverse business

environment in India, the Official

told IANS that the perception seems to

be changing now with the reform agenda

picking pace in India.

She also said that Australian Trade

and Investment Commission has been

passing on communicating to the

Australian businesses on the changing

scenario in India in a bid to drive them

to invest in India.

Gallagher was of the view that the

recently launched Australia India

Business Exchange (AIBX) would play

a major role in making business communities

in both the countries aware of

the opportunities available to them and

the regulatory environment.

"I think there is a perception that

doing business with India can be difficulty

and they can have issues. But now

we have also seen and what we are

pushing in our communication to our

Australian businesses, the length at

which India has moved forwards and

moved up in the ease of doing business

and also the regular reform and the pace

at which India has been changing," the

official told IANS.

She noted that more work needs to be

done to highlight the reform agenda

undertaken in India. The AIBX would

play a major role in sharing information

to the business entities in both the countries.

AIBX is a four-year programme

and significant progress is expected to

be made in the upcoming Australian

financial year starting July largely in

healthcare and medical sector. In the

past couple of months, a lot of progress

has been made in terms of the exchange.

She said: "We are currently looking at a

lot of work for the demand study report

on critical minerals."

Gallagher also said that Australian

companies can play a significant role in

terms of skill and technology sharing

with India liberalising its mining sector.

Other areas where Australia can

share its expertise with India include

infrastructure, water and rail technology

among others, she said.

"We are doing a lot of work in water,

also in rail technology really exploring

the opportunity to work more closely

around critical minerals demand."

With a view to provide prospective

investors an in-depth knowledge on the

opportunities available in both the countries

and the existing environment, she

said the AIBX website goes sector by

sector in terms of its approach, as every

sector its own dynamics and regulatory

issues. Talking of the sector-specific

studies being undertaken, she said: "We

have a health sector report being commissioned.

We have just put up online an e-commerce

market report. We have an infrastructure

report being commissioned

and an alcohol and wine report that is

being commissioned."

All these reports would provide the

required insight to prospective

investors, she said.

She also expressed hopes that

offline, person-to-person meetings

would soon start to boost the relations

between the trading community and

investors of both the communities.

Inviting Indian investors to Australia,

Gallagher noted that the Australian has

been doing "incredibly well" in the face

of the pandemic and the business environment

there is conducive for new

businesses. With several India companies

already present there, she said:

"Any new player would be in good

company."


4

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Release BHIMA KOREGAON Accused:

Nobel Laureates, EU MPs to PM, CJI

“Show compassion and responsibility in order to avoid catastrophic consequences,” the letter said.

Several notable academics, Nobel laureates and European parliamentarians have collectively written a letter addressed to

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, and other Indian authorities,

demanding the release of political prisoners apprehended in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.

GOA TOURISM stakeholders demand

strict protocols till next MARCH

Panaji : Strict enforcement

of protocol for entry to Goa,

quarantine centre for tourists

and putting off high-capacity

events like electronic dance

music (EDM) festivals till

March 2022, are some of the

measures recommended by

tourism industry stakeholders

in the state to Chief Minister

Pramod Sawant in order to "rebuild

the image of Goa to all

tourists".

The Travel and Tourism

Association of Goa, one of the

state's oldest industry stakeholder

bodies has also called

for a collaboration with the Goa

Tourism Ministry in order to

make good the negative publicity

which the state had received

in the wake of the second wave

of the Covid pandemic, which

saw hundreds of lives lost and

hospitals overflowing with

patients.

"No high capacity events

such as Hunar Haat, Sunburn,

religious or entertainment

events to be allowed till March

2022. These events are super

spreaders," the Association's

president Nilesh Shah said in a

letter addressed to Chief

Minister Pramod Sawant on

Tuesday.

"Keeping in mind, the second

wave of the pandemic and

the negative publicity that Goa

has generated over the past

month, we at TTAG feel that

we need to rebuild the image of

Goa in the eyes and minds of

all tourists," the letter also said,

adding that the tourist state had

suffered negative publicity over

the last two to three months and

the damage caused by it to

Goa's image needed to be

undone.

The Association also said

that the government should

ensure and amplify the availability

of enough oxygen beds,

testing centres, quarantine centres,

on-time treatment, quick

recovery rates, emergency

response teams to build tourist

confidence. The letter has also

called for setting up special

quarantine centers near the airport,

railway and main bus

stands for arriving tourists,

while also advocating strict

enforcement of entry protocol,

including setting up of mandatory

testing facilities or vetting

of Covid-19 negative certificates.

"Officers at these entry

points should be properly

trained and strict enforcement

with accountability of officers

posted with strict penalties for

any mistakes and negligence of

duty," Shah said in his letter.

Clear and no-nonsense signages

urging tourists to follow Covid-

19 protocol should also be set

up at high traffic locations like

tourist sightseeing points,

beaches, religious institutes,

monuments, casinos, cruise

boats, etc, the letter also said.

The Association has also

said that all tourism related

businesses should be issued

notices to ensure functioning

up to only 50 to 75 per cent of

their carrying capacity for the

next six months. "All tourism

related businesses should only

take 50-75 per cent of their

actual carrying capacity for at

least six months to ensure

social distancing. Actual carrying

capacity of each premises

should be clearly displayed and

the reduced capacity should be

stated," the letter said.

Goa, one of the top beach

tourism destinations in the

country has had to virtually

shut down the tourism industry

in the wake of the second

Covid wave, which saw the

state top the rate of positivity

charts in the country.

The signatories of the letter include

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk and

Wole Soyinka, prominent literary critic

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, cognitive

scientist Noam Chomsky, and

Former President of the United

Nations Working Group on Arbitrary

Detention, José Antonio Guevara-

Bermúdez

On 1 January 2018, Dalits from all

walks of life came together in Bhima

Koregaon, about 40 km from Pune, to

commemorate a 200-year-old battle in

which the Dalit-dominated British

army defeated Peshwas in

Maharashtra. Stone-pelting and violent

clashes had marred the event, followed

by protests by the Dalit community

over the violence.

Several activists, including

Professor Shoma Sen, advocate

Surendra Gadling, cultural activist

Sudhir Dhawale, human rights activist

Rona Wilson, Jesuit priest Stan

Swamy, and anti-displacement activist

Mahesh Raut, had later been charged

for inciting the Bhima Koregaon violence.

What Does the Letter Say?

The signatories marked their concern

over the unavailability of prompt

medical care in jails amid the pandemic,

and demanded that a temporary

administrative order be issued to

release the political prisoners in India.

“We are alarmed that a number of

human rights defenders who are currently

awaiting trial

in Indian jails have

developed serious

health issues owing

to over-congestion,

neglect, absence of

appropriate medical

care, and

deplorable hygiene

conditions.

The Letter

The petitioners

noted that among

the 16 human rights

defenders arrested

in relation to the

Bhima Koregaon

case, many are senior

citizens or those

who suffer from

comorbidities. At

least six of them

have contracted COVID-19 due to the

deplorable living conditions in the

prisons.

“In a moment of unprecedented

national calamity, we ask for decisive

action by the government and court to

set the BK-16 at liberty to avert further

tragedy. When the prison is unable to

provide for the health and safety of the

prisoners, the family has a right to

offer such care as they deem necessary.”

The Letter

The letter outlined the demands of

the petitioners as follows:

Release the BK-16 from overcrowded

and unsafe prisons immediately

Allow them to be cared for by their

kin

Show compassion and responsibility

in order to avoid catastrophic consequences

Ensure them their Constitutional

right to live and die in dignity

“We strongly believe that by turning

a blind eye to the toll exacted by

COVID on those it holds in its custody,

the government is in violation of

its Constitutional duty to safeguard the

life of these citizens,” the letter added.

Courtesy : The Quint


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

5

They suffer today in jail because they believed

in the ‘idea of India, in the Constitution’

It was the virtual ‘midnight knock’! The irony was that the knock took place in broad daylight, and expectedly in a

blatantly unjust, uncivilised and unconstitutional manner. On 6 June 6, 2018, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling,

Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson were arrested from their residences in various parts of the country.

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*

The arrests of others then continued

in a phased manner: on August 28,

2018, Arun Ferreira, Sudha

Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Vernon

Gonsalves; on April 14, 2020, Anand

Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha; on

July 28, 2020, Hanybabu Tarayil; on

September 10, 2020, Sagar Gorkhe,

Ramesh Gaichor and (the next day)

Jyoti Jagtap – all three from the Kabir

Kala Manch were arrested from Pune;

finally on October 8, 2020, Fr Stan

Swamy was arrested from Ranchi.

It is three years now since the first

arrests in the Bhima-Koregaon conspiracy

case were made. Today, sixteen

(referred to as the BK-16) of the

country’s committed citizens continue

to languish in jail, with bail being

denied to them and with absolutely no

signs of any trial beginning. They are

no ordinary men and women; they are

trade unionists, human rights activists,

academics, lawyers, intellectuals and

artists.

Their crime? To take sides with the

poor and the marginalised, to be a

voice for the voiceless, to fight for the

rights of the Adivasis and Dalits, the

women and children, the workers and

farmers. They have fought battles in

courts; helped organise people to fight

for their legitimate rights; consistently

exposed the nexus between the politicians

and their powerfully rich friends

and above all been working for a society

which is more just, equitable, free,

fraternal and humane. In doing so they

have also raised the hackles of the

BJP, RSS and their ilk, who obviously

have not taken things lightly.

The arrests were preceded by interrogations

and investigations; then

came the raids! During the raids, the

police seized their laptops, mobile

phones, pen drives, CDs, documents

and apparently whatever they could

lay their hands upon (the tragedy was

when they seized Fr Stan’s personal

belongings – which consisted of practically

nothing! With media posting

those photos – the joke actually was

on the fascist clowns!).

All sixteen of them have been

charged under provisions of anti-terror

law Unlawful Activities Prevention

Act (UAPA) and IPC sections 153 A

(promoting enmity between groups),

505 (1)(b) (with intent to cause, or

which is likely to cause, fear or alarm

to the public). 117 (abetting commission

of offence by the public or by

more than 10 persons). They have also

been charged under Sections 13

(unlawful activities), 16 (terrorist act),

18 (conspiracy), 18B (recruiting of

any person or persons for terrorist act)

20 (being a member of a terrorist gang

or organization) and 39 (offence relating

to support given to terrorist organisation)

of the UAPA.

All fabricated charges – without the

slightest shred of evidence! Besides,

fairly recently the US-based digital

forensic analyst in a report has provided

significant information of how socalled

‘electronic evidence’ was planted

in the computer of Rona Wilson

one of the sixteen!

All these arrests apparently have

their ‘roots’ in a mass rally of Dalits,

who assemble every year on January 1

in Bhima Koregaon, a small village

about 30 km north-east of Pune; the

massive rally, which brings together

lakhs of Dalits from all over the country,

commemorates the historic victory

of lower-caste Mahar soldiers in the

British army over the Brahmin

Peshwa-led Maratha Empire in 1818;

and 2018 marked the 200th anniversary

of the Bhima Koregaon battle.

In the run-up to the rally, a coalition

of 260 non-profit organisations held

on December 31, 2017, an event called

‘Elgar Parishad’ at Pune’s Shaniwar

Wada. This was the seat of the

Peshwai, the Brahmin rulers of the

Maratha Empire who rigidly enforced

caste discrimination. The Elgar

Parishad featured several well-known

personalities like politicians Prakash

Ambedkar and Jignesh Mewani and

Dalit rights activist Radhika Vemula.

The Marathas and some of the

upper castes resented the Dalit gathering

and apparently Hindutva leaders

like Milind Ekbote, head of the Hindu

Ekta Manch, and Sambhaji Bhide,

chief of the Shiv Pratishthan

Hindustan made provocative, anti-

Dalit speeches a few days before the

event. Large-scale violence broke out

in some parts of Maharashtra on

January 1 and 2, 2018. On 3 January,

police filed cases against Ekbote and

Bhide, for allegedly instigating the

violence on Dalits.

However, while Ekbote was

released on bail soon after being

arrested in March, Bhide has not yet

been arrested, despite a Supreme

Court order demanding his arrest.

Bhide is close to several of the RSS

leaders including PM Modi.

Strangely the tables soon turned —

very obviously with pressure from the

‘higher-ups’: the victims became the

perpetrators. In June 2018, five

activists (as we mentioned earlier),

mainly organisers of the Elgar

Parishad, were arrested for apparently

‘inciting the violence’ and this was

followed by the arrest of eleven others

till Fr Stan’s arrest on October 8, 2020

(most of these latter are not connected

with the Elgar Parishad or for that

matter with Bhima-Koregaon).

These past three years, there is

national and even international outrage

at this unconstitutional and

repressive act by the Government and

their henchmen from the National

Intelligence Agency (NIA). Civil society

from across the board, including

intellectuals, academics have these

past three years written statements,

signed petitions, held press conferences

and protest rallies in different

parts of the country and the world.

On June 11, 2021, hundreds of concerned

citizens from all walks of life

joined family and friends of the BK-16

in a pathbreaking webinar Campaign

Against State Repression, demanding

the immediate release of those incarcerated

and the repeal of the UAPA.

Writing a powerful op-ed in the

“Indian Express” (June 10, 2021)

under the title ‘When justice is incarcerated’,

well-known human rights

worker and author Harsh Mander said:

“Three years later, the trial against

them has still not commenced. The

state has succeeded in misusing the

law – with the complicity of all institutions

of criminal justice – to confine

behind bars the BK-16 accused, without

any opportunity for either bail or

to prove their innocence. The flimsy

evidence marshalled against the

accused rests on some alleged emails,

but independent agencies contest that

these are malign insertions though

malware.

“The experience of the BK-16

accused reveals the ease with which it

is possible for the executive to smear

reputations, and imprison indefinitely

without bail or trial, people who dissent

and organise struggles against

state policies. During the pandemic,

when governments globally have

decongested prisons, the state has

been steadfast in its opposition to bail

for these pre-trial political prisoners,

even after they displayed worrying

signs of life-threatening illness.”

In his article Mander not only voices

the plain truth but also the concerns

of millions of Indians and others; he

also exposes the brutality and the lack

of humanity that is clearly the DNA of

a fascist regime that brooks no dissent!

Already in 2018, noted historian

Ramachandra Guha lashed out at the

government over the arrests of

activists, calling it a “brutal, authoritarian,

oppressive, arbitrary. Illegal act

by the Maharashtra police”. Guha categorically

stated:

“Corporate cronies of the ruling

government were bent on grabbing

tribal land, forest and mineral

resources. This is absolutely chilling.

This is being done to not only intimidate

and silence those detained but

also those who could potentially come

to their legal rescue. The courts must

intervene to stop this persecution and

harassment of independent voices.

Sudha Bharadwaj is as far from violence

and illegality as Amit Shah is

close to those things. As a biographer

of Gandhi, I have no doubt that if the

Mahatma was alive today, he would

don his lawyer’s robes and defend

Bharadwaj in court; that is assuming

the Modi Sarkar hadn’t yet detained

and arrested him too.”

Going further he said:

“(Those arrested) are people who

represent the country’s disenfranchised

and the dispossessed. What is

happening in the Adivasi heartland of

India… it is murder, rape, physical,

natural, social… and these were the

lawyers representing the tribals… and

their arrest leaves those dispossessed

unrepresented in court.”

In past three years, there is national

and international outrage at this

unconstitutional and repressive act by

the Government and NIA

In a letter dated June 10, 2021 and

addressed to the Prime Minister, the

Chief Justice of India and others, as

many as fifty-seven top international

personalities, including Nobel laureates,

academics, human rights defenders,

lawyers, cultural personalities,

and members of Parliament of

European countries, have urged them

to ensure immediate release of human

rights defenders in India “into safe

conditions”.

Signatories to the letter include

Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk (Nobel

Prize for Literature 2018) and

Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka (Nobel

Prize for Literature 1986), former

president of the United Nations

Working Group on Arbitrary

Detention José Antonio Guevara-

Bermúdez, and former Archbishop of

Canterbury Rowan Williams.

These eminent international personalities

have clearly stated in their

letter that the Indian government and

authorities should show compassion

and responsibility in the current

Covid- 19 emergency and release

them given the spread of the pandemic

in Indian prisons. Their constitutional

right to live and die in dignity

needs to be guaranteed under the present

circumstances, given that legal

recourse takes a long time and all of

the arrested are under pre-trial detention,

they add.

This appeal follows an initiative of

International Solidarity for Academic

Freedom in India (Insaf India), a collective

of diasporic Indian academics

and professionals from around the

world, the as well as numerous prominent

lawyers and members of parliament

from Germany, UK, Spain,

Ireland and other countries.

The open letter said:

“Among the thousands in India

arrested for ‘political offences’ is a

group known as the Bhima-Koregaon

(BK)-16: four academics, three

lawyers, two independent journalists,

a union organizer and social activist, a

poet, three performing artists, and a

Jesuit priest. See Page 22


6 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Debt-hit SsangYong's workers to take unpaid leave for 2 years

Seoul/New Delhi. Half of

SsangYong Motor Company's

workers will go on unpaid leave

for two years beginning next

month as part of self-help measures

as the debt-ridden automaker

is striving to speed up its sales

process, the company said on

Monday.

The automaker has been

under court receivership since

April as its parent, Mahindra &

Mahindra (M&M) failed to

attract an investor amid the prolonged

pandemic and worsening

financial status.

Over half of SsangYong

workers last week voted for the

company's proposal of a twoyear

unpaid leave to half of its

4,800 employees, as well as cut

in their wages and other welfare

benefits to stay afloat with costreduction

efforts.

The company also plans to

sell further assets to raise funds

and not to hire new employees

over the next five years to

streamline its structure, while

the union promised to stage no

strike for years to come, reports

Yonhap news agency.

The South Korean auto firm

is looking for a new majority

investor as its parent company

Mahindra and Mahindra has

decided to pull out of the carmaker.

Talking to the media earlier

this year, then M&M MD Pawan

Goenka (since retired) said that

the company is actively scouting

for an investor to take majority

stake in SsangYong to keep it

going. The new investor would

have the majority stake and

M&M will have 30 per cent or

Key Taliban commander

arrested in Afghanistan

Kabul. A key Taliban divisional

commander has been arrested in

Afghanistan's northern province

of Takhar, amidst the ongoing

violence in country, a local

spokesman confirmed on

Monday.

"Rohullah Rohani and one of

his protectors have been arrested

following an operative task conducted

by personnel National

Directorate of Security (NDS),

or national intelligence agency

in Yangi Qala district in Takhar,"

the spokesman told Xinhua news

agency.

The province has been the

scene of recent heavy clashes.

The Taliban militant group

has not responded to the report

so far.

The report came as Taliban

militants have attacked security

forces and captured several suburban

districts across

Afghanistan in recent weeks.

In neighbouring Kunduz

province, Afghan national security

forces launched a counterattack

early Monday and evict

militants from Khan Abad district

which was captured by

Taliban militants over the weekend,

local officials confirmed.

Since the official withdrawal

of the US and other NATO

troops in Afghanistan on May 1,

the Taliban have intensified

attacks on provincial capitals,

districts, bases and checkpoints.

Tens of thousands of Afghans

have been displaced in the past

few weeks.

The withdrawal of international

troops is due to be completed

by September 11 at the

latest.

less if the deal goes through.

SsangYong said the unpaid

leave is a "reasonable" and

"effective" way to cut labour

costs and maintain employment

without massive layoffs, hoping

it will speed up the prolonged

merger and acquisition (M&A)

process. "The restructuring plan

provides the momentum for a

successful M&A under

favourable conditions,"

SsangYong said in a statement.

SsangYong said it will submit

the rehabilitation plan to the

Seoul Bankruptcy Court, which

is expected to post a notice for

an auction later this month. Lee

Dong-gull, Governor of the

state-run Korea Development

Bank (KDB), a main creditor of

SsangYong, told reporters that it

will decide on whether to give

financial help to the carmaker if

the rehabilitation plan is feasible.

The self-rescue measures

that will force half of

SsangYong's workers to go on

unpaid leave were a "step forward,"

but are "insufficient," Lee

told reporters.

The KDB will provide financial

support to SsangYong if the

carmaker attracts an investor

with management capability, Lee

said. The SUV-focused automaker

has scaled down the production

due to a shortage of supplies

and weak demand, and currently

rolls out about 8,000 vehicles a

month with a double shift system.

In December, SsangYong

filed for court receivership after

failing to obtain approval for the

rollover of 165 billion won ($147

million) worth of loans from

creditors.

B'desh actress sues businessman, 5

others over attempted rape, murder

Dhaka. Top Bangladeshi film

star Pori Moni has filed a case

against businessman Nasiruddin

Mahmud and five other individuals

alleging that they attempted

to rape and murder her.

Shamsunnahar Smrity, popularly

known as Pori Moni, is one

of the top Bangladeshi film stars,

and was recently included in the

Forbes list of 'Asia-Pacific's

Most Influential Celebrities' on

Social Media.

The case was filed on Sunday

night at the Savar police station

located in the outskirts of Dhaka

under the Women and Children

Repression Prevention Act and

Penal Code 307, Additional

Superintendent of Police,

Abdullah Hil Kafi told IANS.

Addressing a press conference

before filing the case, the

actress alleged that Mahmud had

assaulted and threatened to murder

her at the Uttara Boat Club

on the night of June 9, adding

that she was rescued by the staff

at the facility.

She added that at one point,

the businessman forced her to

drink by putting the neck of a

bottle into her mouth, beat her up

and tried to rape her at the same

time. Pori Moni also claimed

that she tried to file a case in the

Banani police station shortly

after the incident but it was

denied, adding that no one had

helped her. "I can't commit suicide,

if you get any news of my

death, for sure, I'll be killed by

these guys, anytime, as I'm

threatened by Nasiruddin," she

said. In a Facebook post addressing

Prime Minister Sheikh

Hasina, she said: "I was about

two and a half years old when

my mother died. Today, I need a

mother. Please save me.

"I have asked for help from so

many people. They always listen

and say that they'll 'look into it'.

But no one has helped me yet, I

haven't found justice in the last

three or four days. I feel helpless

right now."

An official from the Savar

police station, Kazi Mainul

Islam said several teams of

the law enforcement agencies

are trying to nab the culprits.

IANS tried reaching out to

the accused businessman on

the phone, but it was

switched off.

Pak, India agree to share ownership of Basmati rice

Islamabad. In a rare agreement

between two arch-rivals India

and Pakistan, which have a history

of long-time rivalry with

disputes on every front from sea

to land, exporters from both

sides of the border have mutually

agreed to share the ownership

of the regions prized Basmati

rice, a solution considered the

most workable to reach the

European markets. "There has to

be a joint ownership, which is a

logical solution to the dispute,"

said Faizan Ali Ghouri, a

Pakistani rice exporter. The fight

between India and Pakistan over

the claim of the origin of

Basmati rice has a long history,

as this variety is produced largely

on both sides of the border.

India has filed a claim in the

European Union (EU) seeking a

geographical indication (GI) tag

for Basmati rice. Pakistan, on the

other hand, has opposed India's

claim and has filed a request for

a protected GI tag. "There is no

logic in both countries' claim for

the sole exclusivity of Basmati

rice. Although its origin is

Pakistani Punjab, it is grown in

both sides of the border.

Therefore, a joint ownership is

the only viable solution to the

long-standing dispute," said

Ghouri. "The EU buyers

also prefer joint ownership

of the rice variety as they

want to keep both New

Delhi and Islamabad on

board in terms of commodity

exports," he added.

Ghouri's views were seconded

by Ashok Sethi, the

director of Punjab Rice

Millers Export Association

in India, who also suggested that

both the countries should jointly

protect the Basmati heritage.

"India and Pakistan are the only

two countries which produce

Basmati in the world. Both

should jointly work together to

save the heritage and protect the

GI regime of the rice," said

Sethi. It is pertinent to mention

that EU had recognised Basmati

as a joint product of India and

Pakistan in 2006. Both Pakistan

and India make good money

from their respective exports of

Basmati rice. Pakistan annually

earns $2.2 billion, while India

makes about $6.8 billion from

Basmati exports. "Both countries

export Basmati rice. India, in its

application to the EU, has never

stated that it is the only Basmati

producer in the world," insisted

Vijay Sethi, a New Delhi-based

exporter. While both sides still

have their own historical details

on the origin of Basmati, it is

rare to see two arch-rivals, who

are not ready to come to the table

for talks until their demands are

met, come down to a mutual

agreement.

Pakistan demands India to

reverse its August 5, 2019 decision

that changed the special

status of the erstwhile state of

Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated

it into two Union

Territories by abrogating

Articles 370 and 35A, as a

benchmark to make way for

dialogue and address other

issues between the two countries.

India, on the other hand,

demands Pakistan to stop crossborder

terrorism and take decisive

action against terror elements,

which it claims, enjoy

the support of the establishment.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

TN govt reclaims temple land worth Rs 160 cr in Chennai

Chennai. The Tamil Nadu

government has reclaimed land

worth Rs 160 crore of the

Kancheepuram Ekambareswar

temple from a trust that ran the

Seetha Kingston House

Matriculation Higher

Secondary School.

The Hindu Religious and

Charitable Endowments

(HR&CE) department on

Sunday took possession of the

32 ground property on

Poonamalle High Road at

Kilpauk in Chennai. This land

is a part of a 141 ground land of

the

Kancheepuram

Ekambareswar temple.

The trust had leased 44.5

grounds of the temple of which

12.5 grounds was returned to

the temple.

Ground is a measure used in

Tamil Nadu, where one ground

equals 2.5 cents of land.

The HR & CE Minister P.K.

Sekar Babu and the

Department Commissioner J.

Kumaragurubaran received the

papers of the temple property

from the trust officials on

Sunday.

Babu told IANS, "We have

taken steps to retrieve the

remaining area from other tenants

who had even sub-leased

the property. There is litigation

over two properties and we are

expecting to retrieve the land

within six months."

Social Media activist arrested

for defamatory content

Chennai. Popular Social media

commentator and supporter of

AIADMK and BJP, Kishore K.

Swamy was arrested by the

Chennai city police on charges

of circulating defamatory content

against DMK leaders and

former chief ministers C.N.

Annadurai and M.

Karunanidhi. He is also booked

for using abusive and defamatory

language on social media

against present Chief minister

M.K. Stalin.

He was arrested twice earlier

for allegedly posting derogatory

content against women journalists

on social media, mainly

on Twitter. The social media

activist during his two earlier

arrests was released immediately.

Kishor K. Swamy was

arrested on Monday by the

Sankar Nagar Police following

a complaint by the DMK, IT in

charge of Kancheepuram district,

Ravichandran which was

lodged on June 10. The complainant

in his petition before

the police alleged that the

social media activist had used

defamatory content against former

chief ministers and highly

respected leaders of Tamil

Nadu, Late C.N. Annadurai and

M. Karunanidhi. The petitioner

also alleged that defamatory

content was also used against

the present Chief Minister,

M.K. Stalin.

A senior police officer with

the Chennai police while

speaking to IANS said,

"Kishore K. Swamy was arrested

under Sections - 153,

505(1)(b) and Section

505(1)(c) of the IPC."

He was produced before the

residence of a magistrate and

she remanded Kishor K.

Swamy to judicial custody till

June 28. He is lodged in

Chengalpettu sub-jail.

Tibetans thank Himachal

for supporting them

Shimla. Central Tibetan

Administration (CTA) Penpa

Tsering on Monday expressed

gratitude to Himachal Pradesh

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur

for extending support to their

community in the state.

CTA's Chief Representative

Officer, based in Shimla,

Tenzin Nawang presented a letter

to the Chief Minister on

behalf of Tsering.

In the letter, the President

thanked the Chief Minister for

the support provided by the

state and its people for providing

home to His Holiness, the

Dalai Lama and the Tibetan

people.

The Dalai Lama has lived in

India since fleeing his homeland

in 1959. The Tibetan

administration in exile is based

in Dharamsala, some 250 km

from the state capital.

The HR&CE said in a statement

that the Calavala Cunnan

Chetty Charities trust had taken

44.5 grounds of the land of the

Ekambareswar Temple on

Poonamalle High Road,

Kilpauk for a 99-year lease and

was running the Seetha

Kingston school there.

The HR&CE department

moved the court for the

retrieval of the land and the

Madras High Court ruled in

favour of the HR&CE department.

The value of the remaining

96.5 grounds of land is

estimated to be Rs 483 crore

and the department, according

to the minister will go in for litigation

and will retrieve the

7

land within six months.

Subletting of temple properties

was rampant in Tamil

Nadu and the DMK government

after assuming office had

called upon the HR&CE

department to take steps for the

retrieval of the temple land

given on lease.

There is a loss of around

40,000 acres of temple land

across Tamil Nadu when the

land details of 1984-85 were

compared with that of 2019-

20. The government has

ordered to upload all details of

the temple properties including

land and other assets online so

that it comes in the public

domain.

Shouts of 'Go back' greet Lakshadweep

Administrator Patel on arrival

Thiruvananthapuram.

Across Lakshadweep, Monday

was observed as a day of

protest by islanders, who

dressed in black and shouted

slogans of "go back" from their

homes as Union Territory

Administrator Praful Khoda

Patel landed there around 2.30

p.m.

Black flags were also raised

from some homes as the

protests rent the air.

Meanwhile, police officials

taking the videos of the protest,

and also of homes from where

black flags were flying

This is his seventh visit by

Patel after taking over as the

new Administrator. He is slated

to stay there for a week.

For a while now, Kerala's

Congress and the ruling Left

here have been up in arms and

have expressed solidarity with

the islanders, who are on a

protest mode after new measures

and accusing Patel of trying

to implement the "Sangh

parivar agenda".

Earlier in the day, Patel on

Monday ducked his travel to

the island through the Cochin

airport, said Congress MPs

from Kerala.

Hibi Eden and T.N.

Prathapan had arrived in the

VVIP lounge of the airport here

after getting information that

Patel is arriving here on a special

flight to fly onward to

Lakshwadeep.

"We had information that

Patel would land here on a special

flight and from here, would

take a scheduled Air India ATR

flight to the island. But after we

reached here, we found out that

he is not landing here and

instead is flying from Daman

and Diu," said Eden.

"All know that we

(Congress) are on a protest

against the 'reforms' of the

administrator, which are

against the interests of the

islanders. We came to meet

him to request him to allow a

delegation of Congress MPs

to visit the island and also to

see that no new rules should

be enacted which do not have

the concurrence of the

islanders," added Eden, who

represents the Ernakulam Lok

Sabha constituency, where

Lakshadweep has a fullfledged

office.

BJP trying to divide Bengal: Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata. West Bengal Chief

Minister Mamata Banerjee

alleged on Monday that the BJP

government at the Centre cannot

accept defeat and it is now

trying to divide the state.

The Chief Minister's criticism

came at a time when several

BJP MPs and MLAs have

decided to request the Central

government to declare North

Bengal as a Union Territory.

"We have never differentiated

between North Bengal and

South Bengal. West Bengal is

West Bengal and there is no

difference between these two

parts of the state. We have tried

to give equal importance to

both the parts of Bengal and

developed them equally.

"I would even like to say

that in some cases, development

in North Bengal has been

more than that of South Bengal.

We will not allow the Centre to

divide the state in any way,"

Banerjee said in a press conference

on Monday.

The Chief Minister's allegation

came after BJP MLAs and

MPs held a meeting on Sunday

evening and decided to appeal

to the Centre to declare five

districts -- Cooch Behar,

Darjeeling, Alipurduar,

Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong -- as

UT.

"There has been a lot of

infiltration from China and

Bangladesh in this region and

nobody is safe. Even the people's

representatives have to

take security cover because of

this situation. In this condition,

we would appeal to the Centre

to declare these districts of

North Bengal as a Union

Territory," a BJP MP present in

the meeting told IANS on condition

of anonymity.

Alleging that the central BJP

leaders are behind this 'conspiracy',

the Chief Minister said,

"BJP cannot accept defeat and

so it is trying to sell Cooch

Behar, Darjeeling, Alipurduar,

Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong. We

will never allow this to happen.

BJP should stop this divide and

rule policy and concentrate on

its job."

Referring to BJP's policy in

Kashmir, Banerjee said, "What

they did in Kashmir they are

trying to do here. What is happening

in Kashmir? Is it

democracy? You don't allow

anyone to speak. You keep the

leaders under house arrest and

throttle the voice of the people.

Are they trying to do the same

thing here? We will never allow

this."

According to a senior

Trinamool Congress leader, the

BJP is trying to do this for a

long time and even during the

election campaign, it said that

if it comes to power, it would

divide North Bengal and South

Bengal.


8 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NAPM Condemns the unjustifiable order of the Supreme Court

to Evict around One Lakh Residents of Khori Gaon, Haryana,

without Rehabilitation in the Middle of the Pandemic

Right to Housing of Working-Class

people Living in Precarious Conditions

is inalienable: ‘Environmental

Protection’ cannot be an excuse to

deprive vulnerable people of shelter

15th June, 2021: National Alliance of

People’s Movements denounces the illtimed

and grossly arbitrary order of the

Supreme Court on 7 June, 2021, directing

Faridabad Municipal Corporation to

demolish the entire Housing Board

Society of Khori Gaon, rendering

homeless about 1,00,000 people (as

conveyed by the locals) in the middle of

the pandemic. We also condemn the

clamping down on legitimate citizens’

protests against demolition without

prior rehabilitation, particularly the use

of lathi charge and the detention and

arrest of protestors.

Execution of the order of the Apex

Court within the stipulated time period

of maximum 6 weeks from 7 July will

impact more than 10,000 households

belonging predominantly to migrant

labourers, who have been living on the

land for over 2 decades. Many of the

residents came to work as mine-workers

in this part of the Aravallis, when mining

activities were taking place in the

region. They lost their livelihoods as

mining was rightly prohibited, over the

years, to conserve the environment.

Many of them have also been more

recently and seriously affected by loss

of work during the extended time of the

pandemic.

The residents claim that they have

time and again shown in court that they

bought the land on which the houses are

constructed, around two decades back.

However, the Supreme Court refused to

adequately acknowledge the need for

their proper rehabilitation. The court

Order sees the people as ‘encroachers’

on forest land falling under the Punjab

Land Preservation Act (PLPA), thereby

pitting against each other, environmental

and social justice rights. Ironically,

though not unusually, the drastic measures

are taken against residents of the 15

colonies, who are labourers and working-class

migrant workers, whereas various

high-end hotel complexes built on

the same land are said to be left undisturbed

and illegal mining activities continue

in the area.

Following earlier demolitions in

April 2021, the residents, who have

been fighting cases against eviction for

a decade, had approached the Supreme

Court for protection and rehabilitation

before demolition. However, the

Supreme Court Order advised ‘no compromise’

in their removal from the land

and permitted the use of the police force

if needed.

In the latest, ongoing protests, following

the Supreme Court order on 7

July, the residents appeal to the Haryana

Government and Supreme Court on

humanitarian grounds, demanding that

‘protection of the environment’ not be

used as a stick to beat an already struggling

community, which includes over

20,000 children below 18 and 5,000

pregnant, lactating and single mothers.

The local people claim that the authorities

have already cut their water supply

and electricity. Women protesting on

14th June spoke of the disproportionate

gendered impact the displacement is

going to have, leaving single women,

and other vulnerable women bereft of

community support, as well as on the

older people currently living in the community.

Evicting them now would be

signing their death sentence, people say.

While the Supreme Court order prescribes

strict action against the workingclass

communities living in Khori

Gaon, construction work continues

unabated adding to the over 500 farm

houses, hotels, and multistorey buildings

and illegal mining that takes place

with no legal action against those

responsible for destroying the environment.

National Alliance of People’s

Movements (NAPM) is deeply concerned

about the right to life, safety,

health and housing of the affected communities.

While we fully subscribe to

the need to save the Aravalli Forest

cover from mining, real estate and other

destructive activities, we also emphasize

the need to protect constitutional

and human rights of vulnerable populations

and hold accountable the organized

mafia that has a much bigger role

in the destruction of the forest for profit.

We stand in solidarity with the ongoing

protests of the people of Khori

Gaon, led by women of the community

and with other networks, groups and

concerned citizens raising their voices

against the damaging Supreme Court

Order and demolition drive. We demand

the following:

1. The Supreme Court must immediately

stay its Order on the demolition

of the 10,000 households, at

least during the pandemic period.

The principle set by the Apex Court

itself on previous occasions of ‘no

displacement, without rehabilitation’

must be upheld under all circumstances.

2. No forced evictions or demolitions

must be undertaken by the Govt of

Haryana, during the pandemic,

especially when the National

Disaster Management Act is in

force.

3. The Haryana Govt must put in place

a structured and transparent mechanism

and Plan of Action for the full

and fair rehabilitation of the over

1,00,000 residents of Khori Gaon:

a. The 2,545 houses already constructed

under JNNURM and lying vacant

since 2011 must be allotted on priority

to the residents.

b. All other people should be recognized

and provided rehabilitation

through Pradhan Mantri Aawas

Yojana (PMAY).

c. Persons who don’t have necessary

documents to fall under PMAY

should be seen as migrant workers

and provided rehabilitation in rental

housing.

4. Transit camps, with all requisite

amenities, including food, water,

health care, sanitation, covid safety

measures, must be made available

for the residents, during the process

of shifting.

5. Any pending cases against the protestors

must be withdrawn immediately

and no further punitive action

be taken against them.

6. Legal action must be initiated

against those who sold land which

falls under PLPA to the current residents

of Khori Gaon, starting two

decades back, in unauthorized ways.

7. A High-Level Independent

Committee must be set up to inquire

into the more than 500 farm houses,

hotels etc also occupying this land.

8. The Parliamentary Standing

Committee must initiate a dialogue

with the concerned departments of

the Govt. of Haryana and the Union

Govt. to arrive at a more environmentally

just legal plan for the longterm

protection of the Aravalli

forests and to protect the housing

and livelihood rights of the poor

who have settled in these government

lands over time. The use of the

PLPA Act must be carefully investigated

before vulnerable people are

treated as ‘encroachers’.

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao

Andolan (NBA) and National

Alliance of People’s Movements

(NAPM); Dr. Sunilam, Adv.

Aradhna Bhargava, Kisan

Sangharsh Samiti; Rajkumar Sinha,

Chutka Parmaanu Virodhi

Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Madhya

Pradesh;

Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh,

Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

(MKSS), National Campaign for

People’s Right to Information;

Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union

for Civil Liberties (PUCL); Kailash

Meena NAPM Rajasthan;

Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti

Abhiyan; Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi

Jan Parishad & Niyamgiri Suraksha

Samiti, Manorama, Posco Pratirodh

Sangram Samiti; Lingaraj Pradhan,

Satya Banchor, Anant, Kalyan

Anand, Arun Jena, Trilochan Punji,

Lakshimipriya Mohanty and

Balakrishna Sand, Manas Patnaik,

NAPM Odisha;

Sandeep Pandey (Socialist Party of

India); Richa Singh & Rambeti

(Sangatin Kisaan Mazdoor

Sangathan, Sitapur); Rajeev Yadav

& Masihuddin bhai (Rihai Manch,

Lucknow & Azamgadh); Arundhati

Dhuru & Zainab Khatun (Mahila

Yuva Adhikar Manch, Lucknow),

Suresh Rathaur (MNREGA

Mazdoor Union, Varanasi); Arvind

Murti & Altamas Ansari (Inquilabi

Kamgaar Union, Mau), Jagriti Rahi

(Vision Sansthan, Varanasi); Satish

Singh (Sarvodayi Vikas Samiti,

Varanasi); Nakul Singh Sawney

(Chal Chitra Abhiyan,

Muzaffarnagar); NAPM Uttar

Pradesh

P. Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh

Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union-

APVVU, Ramakrishnam Raju,

United Forum for RTI and NAPM,

Chakri (Samalochana), Balu Gadi,

Bapji Juvvala, NAPM Andhra

Pradesh;

Jeevan Kumar & Syed Bilal (Human

Rights Forum), P. Shankar (Dalit

Bahujan Front), Vissa Kiran Kumar

& Kondal (Rythu Swarajya Vedika),

Ravi Kanneganti (Rythu JAC),

Ashalatha (MAKAAM), Krishna

(Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika-

TVV), M. Venkatayya (Telangana

Vyavasaya Vruttidarula Union-

TVVU), Meera Sanghamitra,

NAPM Telangana;

Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union;

Maj Gen (Retd) S.G.Vombatkere,

NAPM, Nalini Gowda, KRRS,

Nawaz, Dwiji Guru, Nalini, Madhu

Bhushan and Mamatha Yajaman,

Susheela, Shashank, NAPM

Karnataka

Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay

Iyakkam, Madurai; Geetha

Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector

Workers Federation; Suthanthiran,

Lenin, Inamul Hasan, Arul Doss,

Vikash NAPM Tamilnadu;

Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan,

Prof. Kusumam Joseph, Sharath

Cheloor, Vijayaraghavan Cheliya,

Majeendran, Magline, NAPM,

Kerala;

Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-Moolnivasi

Astivtva Raksha Samiti; Basant

Hetamsaria, Aloka Kujur, Dr. Leo A.

Singh, Afzal Anish, Sushma Biruli,

Durga Nayak, Jipal Murmu, Priti

Ranjan Dash, Ashok Verma, NAPM

Jharkhand;

Anand Mazgaonkar, Swati Desai,

Krishnakant, Parth, Paryavaran

Suraksha Samiti; Nita Mahadev,

Mudita, Lok Samiti; Dev Desai,

Mujahid Nafees, Ramesh Tadvi and

Bharat Jambucha, NAPM Gujarat;

Vimal Bhai, Matu Jan sangathan; Jabar

Singh, Uma, NAPM, Uttarakhand;

Manshi Asher and Himshi Singh,

Himdhara, NAPM Himachal

Pradesh

Eric Pinto, Abhijeet, Tania Devaiah,

Caroline, Diana Tavers, Emil,

Francesca, NAPM Goa

Gautam Bandopadhyay, Nadi Ghati

Morcha; Kaladas Dahariya,

RELAA, Alok Shukla, Shalini Gera,

NAPM Chhattisgarh;

Samar Bagchi, Amitava Mitra, Binayak

Sen, Sujato Bhadro, Pradip

Chatterjee, Pasarul Alam, Amitava

Mitra, Tapas Das, Tahomina

Mandal, Pabitra Mandal, Kazi Md.

Sherif, Biswajit Basak, Ayesha

Khatun, Rupak Mukherjee, Milan

Das, Asit Roy, Mita Bhatta, Yasin,

Matiur Rahman, Baiwajit Basa,

NAPM West Bengal;

Suniti SR, Sanjay M G, Suhas Kolhekar,

Prasad Bagwe, Mukta Srivastava,

Yuvraj Gatkal, Geetanjali Chavan,

Bilal Khan, Jameela, Ghar Bachao

Ghar Banao Andolan; Chetan Salve,

Narmada Bachao Andolan, Pervin

Jehangir, NAPM Maharashtra;

J S Walia, NAPM Haryana; Guruwant

Singh, Narbinder Singh, NAPM

Punjab;

Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan, Jan

Jagran Shakti Sangathan; Mahendra

Yadav, Kosi Navnirman Manch;

NAPM Bihar;

Rajendra Ravi, NAPM; Bhupender

Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini;

Anjali Bharadwaj and Amrita Johri,

Satark Nagrik Sangathan; Sanjeev

Kumar, Dalit Adivasi Shakti

Adhikar Manch; Anita Kapoor,

Delhi Shahri Mahila Kaamgaar

Union; Sunita Rani, National

Domestic Workers Union; Nanhu

Prasad, National Cyclist Union;

Madhuresh Kumar, Priya Pillai,

Aryaman Jain, Divyansh Khurana,

Evita Das; Anil TV, Delhi Solidarity

Group, MJ Vijayan (PIPFPD)

For any further details, contact:

napmindia@gmail.com


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 9

Ram Mandir Trust issues another clarification

Ayodhya. Champat Rai, the

general secretary of the Shri

Ram Janambhoomi Teerth

Kshetra Trust, has issued

another statement amid the

allegations of corruption in the

purchase of Ram temple land.

He said that the trust is

working to provide the Shri

Ram Janambhoomi temple a

grand look according to Vastu

Shastra, to make the complex

safe in all respects and convenient

for the visitors.

He said that important temples/places

falling within the

boundary of the construction

wall and retaining wall in the

east and west part of this temple

have been purchased with

mutual consent.

It has been the decision of

the pilgrimage area that every

institution/person displaced in

this process will be rehabilitated.

The selection of land for

rehabilitation is being done

with the consent of the concerned

institutions/individuals.

Under this process 1.20

hectares of land located at

Bagh Bijesi, Ayodhya has been

purchased with complete transparency

and with the consent

of important temples like

Kaushalya Sadan etc.

It is worth noting that the

above-mentioned land is on a

prime location situated on the

route near Ayodhya Railway

Station, the statement said.

In relation to this land, from

the year 2011, the contract was

executed in favour of the present

vendors at different times

Over 2,000 illegal

migrants rescued off

Libyan coast last week

Tripoli. The International

Organization for Migration

(IOM) said that more than 2,000

illegal migrants were rescued off

the Libyan coast and returned to

the country last week.

"In the period of June 6-12,

2,083 migrants were rescued or

intercepted at sea and returned to

Libya," the IOM said in a statement

on Monday.

According to the UN agency,

a total of 12,794 illegal migrants,

including women and children,

have been rescued so far this

year, reports Xinhua news

agency

Meanwhile, 190 of them have

died and 487 went missing off

(2011, 2017 and 2019).

On investigation, these

plots were found suitable for

use, after which the concerned

persons were contacted. The

value sought for the land was

compared with the current

market price and the final due

amount was fixed at about Rs

1,423 per square feet, which is

much less than the present

market value of the nearby

area.

He said that after agreeing

on the price, "the concerned

persons were required to complete

their earlier contracts,

only then the respective land

which was in the pilgrimage

area, could have been

achieved."

As soon as the deed of land

was done in favour of the persons

contracting with the pilgrimage

area, the deal was

signed and registered with full

readiness and transparency.

It has been the decision of

the trust from day one that all

payments will be made directly

from the bank to the account.

The same decision has been

followed in the purchase

process of the concerned land.

It is also ensured that all the

taxes imposed by the government

are paid.

"The persons who made

allegation did not inquire

about the facts from any official

of the pilgrimage area

before making the allegation.

This has created confusion in

the society. All Shri Ram devotees

are requested not to

believe in any such propaganda

so that the ongoing construction

work of Shri Ram

Janambhoomi temple is completed

with transparency and

without any hindrance," the

statement said.

SC gives IUML time to file rejoinder to MHA's citizenship notification

New Delhi. The Supreme Court

on Tuesday granted two weeks'

time to the Indian Union Muslim

League to respond to Centre's

contention that its May 28 notification

was meant for legal

migrants and had nothing to do

with the Citizenship Amendment

Act, 2019 (CAA).

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal,

appearing on behalf of IUML,

contended that the affidavit filed

by the Centre was served upon

on his client only on Monday

and they required time to file

their rejoinder.

A bench of Justice Indira

Banerjee and M.R. Shah allowed

Sibal's plea and granted two

the Libyan coast on the Central

Mediterranean route.

Libya has been plagued by

insecurity and chaos since the

fall of the late leader Muammar

Gaddafi in 2011, making it a preferred

point of departure for illegal

immigrants wanting to cross

the Mediterranean Sea toward

European shores.

Rescued migrants end up

inside overcrowded reception

centres across Libya, despite

repeated international calls to

close them.

The IOM Displacement

Tracking Matrix (DTM) identified

and located 348,372 internally

displaced persons in Libya.

weeks' time to file response.

Attorney General K.K.

Venugopal appeared for the

Centre in the matter.

The Ministry of Home

Affairs, in an affidavit, said: "It

is submitted that the notification

dated 28 May 2021 has no relation

whatsoever with the CAA."

The MHA added, "Similar

delegation of power has been

permitted by central government

in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2016 and

2018 also. It is submitted that the

notification dated May 28, 2021

does not relate to the Citizenship

(Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA)

which has been inserted into the

Act as section 6B."

Choksi trial adjourned

as his health declines

New Delhi : The trial of the fugitive

businessman Mehul Choksi, who is wanted

in India in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab

National Bank (PNB) fraud case has been

adjourned to June 25 due to decline in his

health condition, local media reported.

The trial was expected to begin in the

Roseau Magistrate court on Monday,

Dominica News Online, a news outlet in

Caribbean island said. At the hearing, two

of Dominica's top criminal attorneys were

added to Choksi's legal team for this matter.

Zena Moore-Dyer and her daughter

Gina Dyer-Munro have joined Julien

Prevost, Wayne Norde and Cara

Shillingford-Marsh.

The defence attorneys presented to the

court a medical document which stated that

Choksi is incapacitated and as a result, he

was unable to attend the proceeding, it

said.

It further said that the prosecution team

also saw the addition of Harpreet Singh

Giani, an Indian-born lawyer based in

London, who said he appears as a consultant

to the prosecution on the matter.

The States case is led by the acting

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)

The Home Ministry maintained

the notification, issued on

several representations, including

those from current Rajasthan

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in

Sherma Dalrymple, with assistance from

attorney-at-law Lennox Lawrence, Jodie

Luke and Heather Felix Evans.

On June 2, the 62-year-old diamantaire

pleaded not guilty to illegal entry in

2004 and 2009, does not provide

any relaxations to the foreigners

and it is applicable to those who

have entered the country legally

with valid passports and visas.

The IUML, in an application

in the top court, said during the

pendency of challenge to CAA,

the MHA has gone ahead and

issued an order dated May 28,

whereby the Centre, relying on

Section 16 of the Citizenship Act

1955, the power to grant citizenship

under Sections 5(citizenship

by registration) and 6(citizenship

by naturalisation) have been delegated

to collectors of certain

districts to grant citizenship to

persons. IUML argued that notification

on the ground that the

provisions of Citizenship Act, do

not permit the classification of

applicants on the basis of religion.

Dominica.

According to the charges of the police,

Choksi entered Dominica illegally on May

24, 2021, at Toucari Beach. However his

attorneys alleged that he was kidnapped,

beaten and unwillingly brought to

Dominica from Antigua.

Choksi is remanded in police custody at

the Dominica China Friendship Hospital

(DCFH) where he has been a patient since

May 29, 2021. On June 11, a high court

judge denied bail to the alleged fugitive on

the basis that he is a "flight risk."

Choksi had gone missing on May 23

from Antigua sparking a massive manhunt.

He was reportedly captured in Dominica.

On June 8, the Indian authorities

described Choksi as an Indian citizen in its

affidavit filed in Dominican High Court,

saying that his application for renunciation

of citizenship was "rejected".

It also noted that he is therefore erroneously

claiming renunciation of citizenship

under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

He had taken the citizenship of Antigua

in 2017 and left India on January 4, 2018

days before the bank loan fraud case came

to light.

The Centre via May 28 notification

delegated the power to

grant citizenship to the collectors

of 13 more districts -- Morbi,

Rajkot, Patan and Vadodara in

Gujarat, Jalore, Udaipur, Pali,

Barmer and Sirohi in Rajasthan,

Durg and Balodabazar in

Chhattisgarh, Faridabad in

Haryana and Jalandhar in Punjab

-- and to the home secretaries of

Haryana and Punjab.

"Therefore, now District

Collectors of 29 districts and

Home Secretaries of 9 States

will exercise powers of Central

Government to grant citizenship

to the specified category of foreigners,"

said the affidavit.


10 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Mammootty urges all with

working used devices to

donate to needy school kids

Thiruvananthapuram :

When it comes to charity,

Superstar Mammootty is always

a leader as he now has begun a

new initiative requesting all

those who are having functional

smart phones, tablets or a laptops,

to donate, so as to give it to

children who do not have the

required option to carry forward

their studies online.

The southern star has joined

the Care and Share International

Foundation, and along with others,

is expecting to make this a

huge success, which in turn will

provide succour to those children

who are unable to attend the

online classes.

Mammootty has given a clarion

call to all those who wish to

donate, they can get in touch

with 'Speed and Safe Courier'

agency at their locality and

deposit it with them.

A receipt will be given and no

courier charges will be collected.

It will then arrive at the office of

the Foundation and they will do

the needful by distributing it to

the needy.

The online classes through

the KITE-Victers channel of the

state government began on June

1 and for three weeks it has been

a trial run.

Chief Minister Pinarayi

Vijayan took the first lead by

calling a meeting of telecom

service providers to ensure that

they handle the connectivity

issues being faced in a few areas.

The telecom providers have

assured Vijayan that they will

chip in to help to install new

towers at areas where connectivity

is poor.

State Education Minister V.

Sivankutty has said that in a preliminary

study conducted soon

after June 1, there were 49,000

students who did not have handheld

devices or a TV to take part

in the classes.

However, KITE Victers CEO

Anvar Sadath said the survey to

find out the number of children

who do not have handheld

devices or a TV to take part in

the on-line classes is currently

on and of the 4.2 million students,

there is a possibility of

around 10 to 15 per cent who

might not have the facility.

Facebook expands affordable,

UK Chancellor in-laws hit with

5.5m pound bill in Amazon

India tax dispute : Report

New Delhi : A joint venture

between UK Chancellor Rishi

Sunak's billionaire in-laws and

the internet retailing giant

Amazon is in a multimillionpound

dispute with the Indian

tax authorities, a Guardian

investigation has found.

The disclosure adds to the list

of legal battles currently involving

the joint venture, following

news on Friday that India's competition

commission has been

given permission to relaunch an

investigation into Amazon. The

Guardian reported that small

traders claim they are being

squeezed out of business by the

multinational's selling practices

and that the US retailer's 1 billion-pound-a-year

venture with

the chancellor's father-in-law,

the technology entrepreneur NR

Narayana Murthy, could be

bypassing Indian foreign ownership

rules. Amazon says it is

operating in full compliance

with local laws.

The emergence of the tax case

follows last week's G7 discussions,

when the finance ministers

of the world's largest

economies agreed a global deal

designed to make tech companies

pay more tax. In India, foreign

companies are banned from

running an online retailer that

holds inventory and then sells

the goods directly to Indian consumers

online. So, instead, the

Amazon.in website is run as a

"marketplace", with Indian

retailers selling their products

via the site in return for a fee to

the US giant, the report said.

One of the largest sellers on

Amazon.in is a company called

Cloudtail, a business indirectly

76 per cent -- owned by an

investment firm controlled by

the Murthy family. The remaining

quarter of Cloudtail is owned

by Amazon. An analysis of the

company's accounts and activities

by the Guardian shows that

Cloudtail: faces a 5.5 million

pound demand -- including

"interest and penalties" -- from

India's tax authorities has paid

"meagre" taxes over the past

four years, while using a business

model described as Amazon

"on steroids" has filled its top

two posts -- chief executive and

finance director -- with Amazon

executives, while Cloudtail's

holding company, Prione, has

also been run by former Amazon

managers.

Cloudtail's most recent

accounts state: "The company

has received a show cause notice

in the current year from

Directorate General of Goods

and Service Tax Intelligence

amounting to Rs 5,455 lakh (5.5

million pound) along with interest

and penalties for service taxrelated

matters."

It is not known precisely what

the tax dispute is about. The

company said it was contesting

the bill, and added: "Since this

matter is sub judice, we are

unable to comment any further."

fast internet access in India

New Delhi : In a bid to expand

affordable internet access for the

public, Facebook India on Tuesday

announced new partnerships with

internet service providers (ISPs) D-

Vois and Netplus.

The ISPs will use Facebook

Connectivity's Express Wi-Fi platform

to launch public Wi-Fi hotspots

across Bengaluru and several cities in

Punjab.

"From Dharavi in Mumbai to

Shillong, Aizawl, Vadodara, Rajkot,

and many other towns and cities, the

Express Wi-Fi platform is helping

expand internet connectivity in the

country, enabling economic opportunities,

innovation, and expression for

people, businesses, and communities

alike," said Manish Chopra, Director

and Head of Partnerships, Facebook

India. Express Wi-Fi is a software

platform that enables mobile operators,

satellite operators, and ISPs to

build, grow, and monetise their Wi-Fi

businesses in a sustainable and scalable

way.

The platform is used by partners in

more than 30 countries, connecting

millions of people around the world.

In India, the platform has already

been deployed by eight partners, providing

public Wi-Fi options to people

across 12 states.

D-VoiS has a presence in 60 cities

and operates its broadband services

under the brand ION.

"ION plans to expand public Wi-

Fi to thousands of hotspots at restaurants,

bus-stands, malls, cafes, hospitals,

and other public spaces," said

Ramesh Sathyanarayana, Founder,

D-vois Communications.

Netplus Broadband, the internet

arm of Fastway Group, is another

leading ISP in the country.

"The Express Wi-Fi services will

be available at several high footfall

public areas such as malls, hospitals,

bus stands, and market complexes

across the cities of Amritsar,

Ludhiana, Jalandar, Patiala, and

Bhatinda," informed Prem Ojha,

Fastway Group CEO.

During the current Covid crisis in

India, Facebook also leveraged the

Express Wi-Fi partner networks to

share Covid-related information from

credible sources with micro communities

and towns across the country.

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www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Strongly condemn promoting tobacco,

alcohol or guns in songs: Daler Mehndi

New Delhi. Punjabi pop music

icon Daler Mehndi says that he

is personally against the use of

dirty, obnoxious words in music.

"Since I am a teetotaler, I strongly

condemn showcasing, promoting

tobacco, alcohol or guns

in songs," he says.

Having said that, Mehndi

adds that one can't necessarily

pick on Punjabi songs, and that it

is songs in general -- the words

are a reflection of the society.

"Look at certain Bollywood

songs, the current hip hop lingo,

certain Bhojpuri songs, so you

can't generalise 'Punjabi' songs

to be looking down at women as

objects or singularly promoting

alcohol -- I think that credit is to

be shared by the entertainment

industry across languages. The

onus of the choice and promotion

and then consumption thereof

lies not only with the singer,

song writer, lyricist, record label

or producer but also the audience,"

he told IANSlife in an

interview.

Asked about the growing

popularity of Punjabi music on

the world stage, and the tone

having being set with music pioneers

like himself as early as the

1990s, Mehndi says:

"It feels good, the seed I

sowed is a huge tree today. What

'Bolo Ta Ra Ra' did was change

the music scenario and now

every Bollywood to South

Indian film has a song with a

Punjabi Pop flavour. I write the

mukhdas of all my songs, compose

them, design the rhythm

patterns, and are unique and

that's why over three generations

can be seen dancing to my songs.

The times may have changed, a

wider audience, fans directly

engaging with their favourite

singers, actors, the world has

shrunk and horizons have

widened and still 'tunaking' to

'Tunak Tunak Tun'."

Finally, why does he think

Punjabi beats resonate so well

with people who may not even

understand the lyrics?

"It is simply because these

beats are robust, flamboyant,

hailing from the land of valour,

love, purity, truth, innovation,

and simply great spirits.

Punjabis are Daler -- big

hearts and so there automatically

will be the beat (heartbeat)!

Our beats are vibrant,

there is joy. It's a great combo

of melody and beats which

imparts a feel good factor.

And who doesn't want to feel

good! So it resonates with the

listeners."

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted

at siddhi.j@ians.in)

Priyanka Gandhi demands CBI

enquiry into UP scribe's death

New Delhi. Congress General

Secretary Priyanka Gandhi

Vadra has written to Uttar

Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi

Adityanath demanding a CBI

enquiry into the death of a TV

journalist based in Uttar Pradesh

who had been found dead under

mysterious circumstances in

Pratapgarh district. She in the

letter wrote, "The law and order

has collapsed and liquor mafia

from Aligarh to Pratapgarh have

been found indulged in spurious

liquor trade, hundreds have died,

and those journalists who had

been exposing them are

attacked." She also demanded

financial assistance to the victim's

family. Just a day before his

death, Sulabh Srivastava, who

worked for a TV channel, wrote

to the Uttar Pradesh Police on

Saturday saying he felt threatened

following his recent

reportage of liquor mafias in the

district. Seeking protection,

Srivastava had said he had been

informed by sources that the

liquor mafia was angry with him

after the publication of his report

and wanted to harm him or his

family. The Pratapgarh police

has said that the journalist died

in a 'motorcycle accident'.

"Srivastava was returning on his

motorcycle after media coverage,

at around 11 p.m. on

Sunday. He fell from his motorcycle

near a brick kiln. Some

labourers lifted him from the

road and then used his phone to

call his friends.

"He was taken to the district

hospital where the doctors

declared him dead," the

Pratapgarh police said in a statement.

ASIA

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

11

'Bell Bottom' to release

in theatres on July 27

Mumbai. The Akshay Kumar-starrer spy

thriller "Bell Bottom" has now been scheduled for

a theatrical release on July 27.

Akshay posted a video on Instagram on Tuesday

to announce the news.

The film was earlier scheduled for an April

2021 release but was pushed due to the second

wave of Covid-19 in the country.

"I know you have patiently waited for the

release of #Bellbottom. Couldn't be happier to

finally announce the release of our film. Arriving

on the big screens worldwide

#BellBottomOn27July," Akshay captioned the

video.

Directed by Ranjit M. Tewari, "Bell Bottom"

stars Akshay alongside Vaani Kapoor, Huma

Qureshi and Lara Dutta.

Fishing ban ends in TN, but

fewer boats to venture into sea

Chennai. Even as the fishing ban in Tamil Nadu

ended on Monday midnight, less fishing boats are

likely to venture into the sea for deep-sea fishing.

Around 1,200 fishing boats are attached to the

Kasimedu fishing harbour and only about 350 of

these are likely to venture into the sea on Tuesday.

Officials with the fishing harbour said that most

of the fishing boats require maintenance and repair

and hence these cannot go into to sea. Most of the

boats will complete the maintenance work and take

to the sea in a fortnight, officials said.

Another issue faced by the fishing harbour and

fishermen is that there is no money for maintenance

as most of the fishermen have not been

working since lockdown commenced.

Most of the fishermen who frequent Kasimedu

market are from Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and a

large number of these fishermen have left for their

home states following lockdown and lack of jobs.

At present the wholesale fish stalls of the

Kasimedu market are functioning and with the

lockdown getting lifted the retail market will also

be opened as the fishermen community is expecting

a government announcement on the opening of

the retail market soon.

Rajesh Thomas, a software engineer with an

MNC while speaking to IANS said, "We were regulars

at the Kasimedu market where most of the

Chennai populace go to purchase fish. However,

the market was shut down and fish was a rarity and

we expect things to be normal, maybe in a week's

time." The market will be abuzz once the number

of fishing boats ventures into the sea increases and

even if a boat goes into the deep sea, it will return

back in more than a week's time and only then the

market will normalize.

On kanshi TV

channel 772.

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6 :00 pm

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6 :00 pm

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12 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

UK PM delays easing of remaining Covid curbs in England

London. UK Prime Minister

Boris Johnson has confirmed a

four-week delay to the lifting

of all the remaining Covid

restrictions in England beyond

June 21, citing the risk of

highly transmissible Delta

variant.

The confirmed delay means

the lifting of restrictions will

not take place until July 19, as

the new move will allow more

time for people to be vaccinated

given the dangers of the

Delta variant, Xinhua news

agency quoted Johnson as saying

at a press conference on

Monday evening.

"I think it is sensible to wait

just a little longer," Johnson

said.

"As things stand, and on the

evidence that I can see right

now, I'm confident that we will

not need more than four

weeks."

He said that his government

was "so concerned" by the

Delta variant that is "now

spreading faster than the third

wave predicted in the February

roadmap".

"We're seeing cases growing

by about 64 percent per

week, and in the worst affected

areas, it's doubling every

week," he said.

The government will step

up its efforts to vaccinate the

people in the country, he said.

The over-40s who have had

their first jab will only have to

wait eight weeks instead of 12

weeks for their second jab, and

23 and 24-year-olds will start

to be offered a vaccine from

Tuesday, the Prime Minister

said.

More than 41.6 million people

have received their first

dose of a Covid vaccine and

more than 29.9 million have

received their second dose

across Britain, according to

the latest official figures.

Meanwhile, weddings can

go ahead with more than 30

people from June 21, as long

as people stick with social distancing,

the Prime Minister

confirmed.

The UK reported another

7,742 Covid-19 cases in the

past 24 hours, bringing the

total ninfection tally in the

country to 4,589,398, according

to official figures.

The country also recorded

another three coronavirusrelated

fatalities, bringing the

total number of deaths in

Britain to 128,171.

Protest is not terror activity, HC grants bail to 3 in Delhi riots

New Delhi,. The Delhi High

Court on Tuesday granted bail

to Natasha Narwal, Devangana

Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha, in

a Delhi Riots case under the

Unlawful Activities

(Prevention) Act.

A bench comprising of

Justices Siddharth Mridul and

Anup J. Bhambhani held that

prima facie, no offence under

sections 15, 17 or 18 of the

UAPA is made-out on the basis

of the material on record in the

present case against the three.

Granting bail to Narwal, the

court said: "we can discern no

specific or particularised allegation,

much less any material

to bear-out the allegation, that

the appellant incited violence,

what to talk of committing a

terrorist act or a conspiracy or

act preparatory to the commission

of a terrorist act as understood

in the UAPA."

The court noted that it is

constrained to express, that it

seems, that in its anxiety to

suppress dissent, in the mind of

the state, the line between the

constitutionally guaranteed

right to protest and terrorist

activity seems to be getting

somewhat blurred. "If this

mindset gains traction, it would

be a sad day for democracy",

said the court.

While granting bail to

Tanha, the court said: "Foisting

extremely grave and serious

penal provisions engrafted in

sections 15, 17 and 18 of the

UAPA frivolously upon people,

would undermine the intent and

purpose of the Parliament in

enacting a law that is meant to

address threats to the very existence

of our Nation. Wanton

use of serious penal provisions

would only trivialise them."

The court said bail to three

was subject to personal bond of

Rs 50,000 and two local

sureties. And the conditions

also include the three surrendering

their passports and not

indulging in activities, which

could hamper the case.

Tanha is a student pursuing

graduation at Jamia

Millia Islamia. He was arrested

in the Delhi riots case

under UAPA in May 2020 and

has been in continuous custody

since then. Narwal and

Kalita are PhD scholars at

Jawaharlal Nehru University,

who are associated with the

Pinjra Tod Collective. They

have been in custody since

May 2020. The case pertains

to Delhi police investigation

into the "larger conspiracy",

which led to the riots in

February 2020. According to

police, the three accused along

with other accused persons,

conspired to cause disruption,

which could lead to disturbance

in law and order at an

unprecedented scale.

Covid-19 can cause severe inflammation in brain

London. Researchers have found

that coronavirus disease can

cause severe inflammation in the

central nervous system.

The study, led by a team of

researchers from the University

of Freiburg in Germany, showed

that a severe inflammatory

response can develop in the central

nervous system of Covid-19

patients involving different

immune cells around the vascular

system and in the brain tissue.

"Even though there was

already evidence of central nervous

system involvement in

Covid-19, the extent of

inflammation in the brain

surprised us," said lead

author Henrike Salie,

Faculty of Medicine at

the University's Medical

Center. "In particular the

many microglial nodules

we detected cannot usually

be found in the

healthy brain," added

Marius Schwabenland,

Faculty of Medicine, at

the varsity.

For the study, published

in the journal

Immunity, the

team used a

novel measurement

method,

imaging mass

cytometry, and

were able to

determine different

cell types as

well as virusinfected

cells

and their spatial

interaction in

previously

unseen detail.

In particular,

the essential defense cells of

the brain, known as microglial

cells, are particularly strongly

activated, and we also observed

migration of T-killer cells and

development of a pronounced

neuroinflammation in the brain

stem.

The immune changes are

particularly detectable near

small brain vessels. In these

areas, the viral receptor ACE2

is expressed, onto which the

coronavirus can dock, and the

virus is also directly

detectable there, the

researchers said. "It seems

plausible that the immune

cells recognise infected cells

there and that inflammation

then spreads to the nerve tissue,

causing symptoms It is

possible that early

immunomodulatory or

immunosuppressive treatment

could reduce inflammation,"

said Professor Bertram

Bengsch, Section Head of

Translational Systems

Immunology

in

Hepatogastroenterology at

varsity.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

'Lagaan' turns 20: Aamir Khan goes down memory lane

Mumbai. Aamir Khan tells you

he wouldn't be inclined to relive

the mammoth experience of

making "Lagaan", the film that

marked his debut as producer

exactly two decades ago on this

date, struck box office gold and

eventually took him to the

Oscars.

"If you ask me to make

Lagaan again, I will not even

attempt it. I will not have the

courage to make Lagaan again,"

says the superstar-filmmaker,

about the Ashutosh Gowarikerdirectorial

that defied every

stereotype of the era, in the

process reorganising quite a few

idioms of mainstream

Bollywood in its time.

Perhaps there is a sense of

fulfilment that an achiever of his

stature experiences while looking

back at a work as consummate

as "Lagaan" that would bar

him from revisiting the film.

Aamir, anyway, is rarely

known to repeat what he has

scored with once.

Today, as the film completes

20 years, the actor romances the

good old days when he shot the

film, which eventually became

India's third-ever official entry at

the Oscars in best foreign feature

film category. While he confesses

picking one memory from that

incredible journey is tough for

him, he recalls a few unforgettable

ones.

He remembers actor Paul

Blackthorne, for instance, the

English actor who played the

much-hated antagonist Captain

Russell. Aamir remembers

Russell as a "gentle giant" offcamera,

who would read out

"Winnie The Pooh" to everyone.

"Paul Blackthorne who

played the villain, in real life he

is such a sweetheart. He is a gentle

giant and so soft-spoken. He

was always laughing, always

joking around. We had a massive

make-up room where all of us

used to get ready. The person

who used to be entertaining all

of us was Paul. He would sit on

his chair and read 'Winnie the

Pooh' aloud. Every morning,

we'd sit, get our makeup done

and he'd be reading 'Winnie The

Pooh' loudly and we'd enjoy it.

Captain Russel would read out

Winnie The Pooh to us," Aamir

tells IANS, as he bursts out

laughing recalling the memory.

Another of Aamir's favourite

recollections is of how the

Nine IPS officers

transferred in UP

Lucknow. In another administrative

reshuffle, nine IPS officers

including six district police

chiefs were shifted by the Uttar

Pradesh government late on

Monday night.

According to an official

release, SSP Meerut, Ajay Sahni

has been shifted to Jaunpur in

the same capacity, while SP,

Jaunpur, Raj Karan Nayyar, was

shifted in the same capacity to

DGP headquarters.

Similarly, Moradabad SSP

Prabhakar Chaudhary was given

the charge of Meerut SSP while

Pawan Kumar who was on waiting

list, has been posted as new

Moradabad SSP. PAC commandant

Agra, Poonam is the new

Amroha SP, while Amroha SP

Suniti has been shifted to DGP

headquarters in Lucknow. SP,

Kaushambhi Abhinandan is the

new SP of Banda, while SP,

Banda Siddharth Meena is now

SP, Railways in Prayagraj. SP,

rules and manuals, Radhe

Shyam is the new SP,

Kaushambhi.

Gayatri Mantra prepared the

entire unit for a gruelling day's

shoot ahead. "There were things

that became a habit. We would

travel in a bus to the location at 4

a.m. and reach the location at 5

a.m. Every day it became a norm

that for six months the 'Gayatri

Mantra' used to be played. One

of the actors just played it (on

speaker) in the morning. It used

to be dark, and we all had just

woken up a while back. It had a

good effect on us. There was not

a single day that we missed it,"

he recalls.

For Aamir, as well as the

entire unit, "Lagaan" has been a

chapter that will always be integral

to their lives. It is a reason

why he has stayed in touch with

the team.

"I am in touch with Paul,

Rachel Shelley (who played

Elizabeth), with all other actors.

Until five months back we had a

Whatsapp group. Then I stopped

using a cellphone, so I'm not a

part of it," Aamir says.

For the actor, having his family

on the set of the film on the

first day is still a beautiful memory.

"I think one of the memorable

things for me is that since

this was my first film as a producer,

my uncle (Nasir Hussain),

with whom I have worked as an

AD (assistant director), was like

my boss. I have learnt under him.

He was a producer-director. My

father (Tahir Hussain) has been a

producer-director. So, that first

13 suspected terrorists

arrested in Indonesia

day of shooting of 'Lagaan',

when my uncle and aunt had

arrived, my parents were there,

my grandmother was there, (former

wife) Reena's parents were

there. It was the first day that my

parents and my uncle and aunt,

who had seen me grow up as a

child, were seeing me produce a

film," recalls the actor. He adds:

"They came to set, they saw the

whole village. We had built the

village, we had built the temple

on the hill and behind the temple,

which you never see in the film

because it is on the other side of

the village, we had built a huge

10,000 square-foot area for the

production site. Costume rooms,

lunch rooms -- so there was massive

space at the back. So, it was

13

a very important moment for me

to see my parents, uncle and aunt

come to set, look at it and realise

that now I have become a producer."

Aamir says he did not

expect the kind of response the

film garnered post release. The

reaction to the climactic cricket

match in the story, which occupies

the last hour of the film, was

a pleasant surprise, too. "People

in the theatres in the last one hour

used to convert it into a stadium.

The audience would shout,

'Bhuvan! Bhuvan!' We didn't

expect this kind of a response. It

was a dream response," he sums

up.

Indeed, it is a dream response

that the film still continues to see,

after two decades.

Drone attack on

military base at

Baghdad airport

Baghdda. A drone strike targeted

a military base housing US

forces in the Baghdad

International airport area, inflicting

no casualties, security

sources said. The drone dropped

bombs on Monday, striking the

outer fence of the military base,

the sources told Xinhua news

agency. On June 9, three drones

attacked the military base at the

airport in southwestern

Baghdad, and one of the drones

was shot down, according to a

statement by the Iraqi Joint

Operations Command.

No group has claimed responsibility

for the attack.

Iraqi military bases housing

US troops across Iraq and the

American embassy in the Green

Zone have been frequently targeted

by mortar and rocket

attacks.

Jakarta. The Indonesian

National Police's counterterrorism

squad known as Densus 88

has arrested 13 suspected terrorists

in the country's Riau

province.

Details of the arrested people

hasn't been issued, Xinhua news

agency reported.

The National Police's

spokesperson Ahmad Ramadhan

said on Monday that the special

unit is still investigating the

case.

Police operation against terrorism

has been running for several

years in Riau.

In August last year, five suspected

terrorists were arrested in

the Kampar district of the

province.

Densus 88 uncovered a training

site for terrorists in the same

district in November 2019.


14 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Mehul Choksi still an Indian

citizen: Indian authorities

New Delhi. The Indian authorities

have described fugitive businessman

Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in India

in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National

Bank (PNB) fraud case as an Indian

citizen in its affidavit filed in

Dominican High Court, saying that his

application for renunciation of citizenship

was "rejected".

And noted that he is therefore erroneously

claiming renunciation of citizenship

under the Citizenship Act,

1955.

The 14-page affidavit filed on June

8 said "the Indian citizenship of Mr

MC (Mehul Choksi) has still not

ceased as on date and therefore, his

claim of renunciation of Indian citizenship

is contrary to the laws in India as

is completely erroneous", adding, "the

claim of Choksi being bogus, this

Honourable court may kindly reject the

said erroneous claim at the threshold".

It further pointed out that Choksi

had submitted his Indian passport to

Indian High Commission in

Georgetown, Guyana, for renouncing

his Indian citizenship on December 14,

2018.

"Under Section 8 of the Indian citizenship

act, 1955 the declaration of

renunciation should be registered and

only then a person shall cease to be a

citizen of India. Read with Rule 38 of

the act, the declaration of registration

has to be made to India's Ministry of

Home Affairs through the Indian mission,"

it said.

The affidavit further stated that

while Choksi did submit his passport,

the Indian Home Ministry on January

29, 2019 "found deficiencies in the

declaration" and also "noted that

Choksi was an economic fugitive

offender" advising Indian mission in

Guyana to "consider the rejection of

his declaration of renunciation".

The affidavit also pointed out that

the Ministry of External Affairs had

also in a letter dated October 15, 2019,

confirmed that his application of

renunciation stood rejected by the

Indian High Commission in Guyana

and had communicated him on March

15, 2019.

The affidavit stated, "no entries

regarding the application for surrender

of Indian nationality were made in the

consular register of the mission". This

was further confirmed by the MHA in

its official memorandum on May 31,

2021.

It said that Choksi's Indian Passport,

number--Z3396732 was issued on

September 10, 2015 from Mumbai. He

acquired his Antigua and Barbuda

nationality on November 16, 2017 with

passport number B007713.

The affidavit also said that "concerned

authorities may be directed to

immediately transfer/deport/handover

Choksi to the Indian authorities".

It also said that India has already

raised the issue of cancellation of citizenship

of Choksi granted by the

Government of Antigua and Barbuda

on the grounds that citizenship was

fraudulently obtained by Choksi.

The affidavit was filed by consular

officer at the High Commission of

India to the Commonwealth of

Dominica.

It said Choksi is wanted by Indian

law enforcement agencies for investigation

of the crime committed by him

in India.The Central Bureau of

Investigation and the Enforcement

Directorate (ED) are probing the PNB

bank fraud case against Choksi and his

nephew Nirav Modi.

Choksi went missing from Antigua

and Barbuda on May 23, sparking a

massive manhunt. He was captured in

Dominica on May 26, and faces

charges of illegal entry.

He had taken the citizenship of

Antigua in 2017 and left India on

January 4, 2018 days before the case

came to light.

Sri Lanka arrests captain

of burnt cargo ship

Colombo. Sri Lanka's Criminal

Investigations Department has

arrested the captain of the burnt

MV X-Press Pearl container ship

which caught fire on the outskirts

of the Colombo Port on

May 20.

Police Spokesman DIG Ajith

Rohana said on Monday that the

captain was arrested from a hotel

in capital Colombo, where he

and other crew members were

held, and will be produced

before a local High Court,

reports Xinhua news agency.

Rohana said the Department

had earlier recorded statements

from the captain and several others

including the chief engineer

of the vessel over the incident.

The X Press Pearl ship is registered

under the flag of

Singapore and was carrying

1,486 containers with 25 tonnes

of nitric acid and several other

chemicals and cosmetics from

the port of Hazira, India, on May

15.

The vessel sent out a distress

call while sailing close to the

Colombo Port on May 20, and

soon caught fire.

The Sri Lankan Navy dispatched

vessels to bring the fire

under control.

The Marine Environment

Protection Authority said that the

burning of the X Press Pearl vessel

had caused a massive environmental

disaster as beaches

from the south coast to the west

coast had been damaged by

debris washed ashore.

Sri Lanka's Marine Protection

Environment Authority over the

weekend removed approximately

1,000 metric tonnes of waste

from its beaches following the

disaster on board the vessel,

local media reported.

The 1,000 metric tonnes of

collected waste is now stored

in a yard which has a license

for hazardous waste storage,

officials said.

Sri Lanka's State Minister

of Ports and Shipping told

the local News 1st that following

talks with the

Attorney General and the

Justice Minister, a claim of

$40 million was made for the

damage caused by the X-

Press Pearl.

He said this was a preliminary

claim and in the future

that figure would increase to

a much larger amount.

Spice Girls to drop new song to

celebrate 25 years of 'Wannabe'

London. The British girl group

Spice Girls will release a new

song digitally on July 9 this year,

to celebrate 25 years of their

debut single "Wannabe".

"Wannabe 25" is an EP that

will include the original track, an

unheard demo of the track and a

remix by Junior Vasquez,

besides "Feed Your Love", a

song featuring vocals by all five

original band members that has

never been released before.

The group also plans to

release vinyl and cassette versions

on July 23. This is their

first new release since 2007.

"Wannabe is 25! To celebrate

we're releasing a limited edition

vinyl and cassette, featuring:

Wannabe (original single),

Wannabe (Junior Vasquez remix

edit), Wannabe (demo) and previously

unreleased track 'Feed

Your Love'. The EP will be

released digitally on the 9th of

July, with the vinyl and cassette

following on the 23rd

July. Swipe up in stories to

pre-order," the group wrote

on its official Instagram

page, with a party popper

emoji.

To celebrate the anniversary,

the group have also launched the

#IAmASpicGirl campaign,

which invites all fans to take a

trip down memory lane and

share their stories that may be

featured on the Spice Girls website

and social media pages as

part of the celebration. Fans can

send in their videos and messages

on the group's social media

using the hashtag

#IAMASPICEGIRL or write to

spicegirls@umusic.com, reports

femalefirst.co.uk.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

15

Pak FM slams former govt for

spoiling Kulbhushan Jadhav case

Islamabad, June . Pakistan

Foreign Minister Shah

Mahmood Qureshi has

slammed the former Pakistan

Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-

N) government for spoiling the

case of Kulbhushan Jadhav.

"The PML-N are the ones

who mishandled the

Kulbhushan Jadhav case," he

said. Qureshi said that the

incumbent Imran Khan government

was implementing the

recommendations of the

International Court of Justice

(ICJ), adding that India wanted

to delay the matter and drag

Pakistan back to The Haguebased

court.

"We are implementing the

recommendations of the ICJ

and we took measures on their

advice. India didn't want consular

access to Jadhav, rather

wanted to drag Pakistan to the

ICJ once again," he added.

Qureshi's statement comes

after a bill, aimed at complying

with the orders of the ICJ in the

Jadhav case, was passed by the

lower house of Parliament last

week.

Pakistan has been calling on

India to appoint a counsel for

Jadhav in a review case, being

heard in the Islamabad High

Court (IHC).

However, the Indian High

4 soldiers killed in

Pakistan IED blast

Commission, raising question

over the high court's decision to

appoint a defence counsel in

the case, has challenged the

case.

Pakistan maintains that

India is deliberately trying to

linger the matter and accuse

Pakistan for not complying

with the orders of the ICJ.

Qureshi stated that the

opposition political parties

should refrain from putting

hurdles in the adoption of the

bill.

"The opposition should not

show ignorance by making

statements in this regard. It

should avoid strengthening

the Indian point of view," he

said.

Retired Indian Navy officer

Jadhav was sentenced to death

in 2017 by a military court in

Pakistan on charges of espionage

and terrorism.

India had subsequently

approached the ICJ against the

denial of consular access to

Jadhav, besides challenging

the death sentence.

Pakistan maintains that it is

ready to comply with the judgment

of the ICJ. But accuses

India for deliberately trying to

drag the matter and ignoring

Pakistan's demand to appoint

a counsel in the case.

India opens vacancies for Nepali

women in Military Police

Islamabad. Four soldiers of

the paramilitary Frontier Corps

(FC) were killed in an improvised

explosive device explosion

in Pakistan's Balochistan

province, an army statement

said.

The blast took place in the

provincial capital of Quetta on

Monday, the military's media

wing Inter-Services Public

Relations (ISPR) said in the

statement.

A large-scale area sanitisation

operation by FC

Balochistan to hunt the terrorists

is underway, Xinhua news

agency quoted the statement as

saying. The ISPR said in the

statement that "such cowardly

acts by inimical elements cannot

sabotage the hard-earned

peace and prosperity in

Balochistan". "Security forces

are determined to neutralize

their nefarious designs even at

the cost of blood and lives," it

added. Located along the

Pakistan-Afghanistan border,

Balochistan have faced serious

security challenges from terrorists

based within the province

and across the border in the

past. A spike in terrorist activities

in the province has been

witnessed over the last few

months with frequent attacks

targeting security forces and

civilians.

Rebel BSP MLAs meet Akhilesh,

discuss their future

Lucknow : Nine suspended

Bahujan Samaj

Party (BSP) legislators, on

Tuesday, met Samajwadi

Party president Akhilesh

Yadav.

Led by rebel BSP MLA

Aslam Raini, the BSP legislators

are believed to

have discussed the issue of

Samajwadi party tickets

for the upcoming assembly

elections. The rebel BSP MLAs

made a quiet entry into the

Samajwadi Party office and left

from the rear gate to avoid the

media. SP sources said that the

party president had assured the

rebel leaders that they would be

accommodated in the SP and

given tickets.

Meanwhile, the two senior

BSP MLAs, Lalji Varma

and Ram Achal Rajbhar,

have still not disclosed their

future plans. They have not

met any SP leader so far.

A senior SP functionary,

said, "It is clear that the

Samajwadi Party is emerging

as the only viable alternative

to the ruling BJP in

the 2022 assembly and leaders

from various parties are coming

to us which indicates the people's

mood."

Kathmandu,. In a first, the

Indian Army has opened vacancies

for Nepali women in the

Corps of Military Police.

The announcement comes at

a time when there are calls to

abrogate the recruitment of

Nepali youths in the Indian

Army.

The Army says that that it

wants to continue the recruitment

of Nepali youths both

male and female in a bid to

widen the scope for the youngsters.

The Indian Embassy in

Kathmandu has released the

announcement calling for eligible

Nepali females to submit

their application through the

online.

The announcement has set a

certain criteria but has also

given some relaxation to the

children of who parent died

during service in the Indian

Army.

As per the criteria those who

have passed class 10, aged

between 16 to 21 years or those

who were born between

October 1, 2000, to between

April 1, 2004, and height above

than 152 cm can apply.

The deadline for submitting

application is July 20.

Those categorised as Veer

Nari, are eligible to apply up to

30 years, according to the

notice.

Those who fulfil the criteria

will go for further selection

process in Ambal, Lucknow,

Jabalpur, Pune, Belgaum and

Shillong.

The kids of former Indian

Army recruits, Veer Nari and

whose fathers were killed while

on duty will get waive in

weight and grace marks of 20

in the written examination.

As per the treaty between

Nepal and India, there is a separate

Gorkha Regiment in

Indian Army and over lakhs of

Nepali nationals have served in

various positions in the Indian

Army and retired.

The recruitment of Nepali

youths began in 1816 during

the rule of the East India

Company.

Over 32,00 Nepali nationals

are currently serving in the

Indian Army at various capacities

in seven Gorkha Rifle regiments

(1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th,

9th and 11th), each of which

has five to six battalions

(around 800 soldiers each).

The 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th

regiments went to the British

Army after Independence in

1947. These have now been

consolidated into one Gorkha

Regiment.

Currently over lakhs of veterans

are receiving pensions

after retiring from the Indian

Army.

It was the Communist Party

of Nepal-Maoist who demanded

the scrapping of the recruitment

of Nepali youths in Indian

and British Armies before they

waged the civil war in the

country in 1996.

After 2007, the Maoists

were in the government in

Nepal in different capacities

but they never raised the issue

with Indian and British governments

about scrapping provisions

of Gorkha recruitment in

Indian and British Armies.

But instead of scrapping the

recruitment process, both

Indian and British Armies are

expanding the recruitment

process and now Indian Army

has started recruiting women

too.


16 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

UN shared Rohingya data

without informed consent

Kolkata : The UN Refugee

Agency (UNHCR) has been accused

of "improperly collecting and sharing

personal information" from the

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh,

which, in turn, was shared it with

Myanmar to verify the refugees for

possible repatriation.

The US-based Human Rights

Watch (HRW) has alleged that the

UNHCR did not conduct a full data

impact assessment, as its policies

require, and in some cases failed to

obtain refugees' informed consent to

share their data with Myanmar, the

country they had fled.

Since 2018, the UNHCR has registered

hundreds of thousands of

Rohingya refugees in Bangladeshi

camps and the Dhaka government has

issued them identity cards, which are

needed for essential aid and services.

Bangladesh then used this UNHCR

collected information, including analog

photographs, thumbprint images,

and other biographic data, when it

submitted refugee details to the

Myanmar government for possible

repatriation.

"The UNHCR's data collection

practices with Rohingya in

Bangladesh were contrary to the

agency's own policies and exposed

refugees to further risk," said Lama

Fakih, crisis and conflict director at

HRW. "The UNHCR should only

allow data that it collects to be shared

with countries of origin when it has

properly obtained free and informed

consent from participants."

Since 2016, over 800,000 Rohingya

from Myanmar were expelled or fled

crimes against humanity and acts of

genocide across the border to

Bangladesh.

The Myanmar government has

been hauled up for crimes against

humanity and persecution against the

remaining Rohingya population.

From September 2020 to March

2021, HRW interviewed 24 Rohingya

refugees about their registration experiences

with the UNHCR in Cox's

Bazar, Bangladesh, and spoke to 20

aid workers, analysts, local activists,

journalists, and lawyers who observed

or participated in the Rohingya registration.

HRW sent detailed questions and

its research findings to UNHCR in

February and April, and received

responses from the UN Agency on

May 10. UNHCR denied any wrongdoing

or policy violations, stating that

it had explained all purposes of the

data gathering exercise and obtained

consent. The Agency said that its data

collection efforts were aimed at finding

durable solutions for the refugees

and that no Rohingya were put at risk.

In 2018, the Bangladesh government

sought to supplement previous

registrations by beginning a joint registration

exercise with UNHCR.

The government aimed to provide

an identity card for refugees called a

"Smart Card", that allows them to

obtain aid and services.

The government also sought to

gather personal data collected by

UNHCR to submit to Myanmar for

repatriation eligibility assessments.

The UNHCR said this would help

protect the refugees' right of return.

In a January meeting with HRW,

the UNHCR said that field officers

had asked Rohingya for permission to

share their data for repatriation eligibility

assessments, explaining that a

Smart Card would still be issued to

those who did not agree. However, at

the time of the registration exercise,

UNHCR staff said publicly that the

data was not linked to repatriations,

including on a September 2018

Rohingya community radio show, and

in November 2018 comments to international

media.

Rohingya refugees had in fact

staged protests in the camps that

month partly out of concern that data

collection would be used to facilitate

forced returns.

The refugees HRW interviewed

also gave a different account than

UNHCR staff had outlined in the

January meeting.

All but one of the 24 said that

UNHCR staff told them that they had

to register to get the Smart Cards to

access aid, and they did not mention

anything about sharing data with

Myanmar, or linking it to repatriation

eligibility assessments. Three said

they were told after giving their data

that it might be used for repatriation

purposes.

One said he noticed after leaving

the registration center that the box to

share data with Myanmar, on a receipt

printed out and given to refugees only

in English, had been checked "yes",

although he was never asked. He was

one of only three among the refugees

interviewed who could read English.

HRW viewed the English-only

receipt that UNHCR gave to Rohingya

refugees after their registration. It

includes a box noting "yes" or "no" as

to whether the information can be

shared with the Myanmar government.

HRW interviewed 21 refugees whose

names were included in the list verified

by Myanmar for repatriation.

Twelve of the 21 people were

added to repatriation eligibility assessment

lists in 2019, lists drawn up

based on the data collected by

UNHCR.

The 21 said that after being registered

they later learned that their information

had been shared with

Myanmar and their names were on

lists of people verified for return.

They all went into hiding in other

camps because they feared being

forcibly returned. So far, Bangladesh

has not forced any Rohingya in the

camps to return against their will to

Myanmar.

One of the 24 refugees interviewed

said that the UNHCR field officer registering

him asked if he consented to

have his data shared with the

Myanmar government.

He said he felt pressure not to

refuse: "I could not say no because I

needed the Smart Card and I did not

think that I could say no to the datasharing

question and still get the card."

The UNHCR in this case did not

seek free and informed consent, which

would have required making certain

that the refugees knew and understood

the risks of sharing their and their family's

data with Myanmar, that they had

the ability to opt-out without prejudice,

and that they could get the Smart

Card even if they did not agree.

The Agency staff told HRW that

they did not discuss any specific risks

with Rohingya before registering

them, and the Rohingya interviewed

said they were not told about any such

risks. Between 2018 and 2021, the

Bangladesh government submitted at

least 830,000 names of Rohingya

refugees to Myanmar along with biometric

and other data for each person,

for repatriation eligibility assessments.

Myanmar reportedly agreed to allow

about 42,000 Rohingya to return.

UNHCR told HRW that it played

no role in drawing up these lists but

that the names and other data included

in the lists submitted from 2019

onwards, including biometrics, came

from analog versions of the data it had

gathered during the joint registration

exercise, for example, non-digital

thumbprint images.

In its global guidelines on sharing

information on individual cases, the

UN Agency acknowledges the risks of

sharing such information and says that

"UNHCR should not share any (individual

case) information with the

authorities of the country of origin." In

the Myanmar context, risks include

involuntary Rohingya returns to

Myanmar, particularly given

Bangladesh's forced repatriation of

Rohingya to Myanmar in the 1970s

and 1990s. In those cases, UNHCR

tacitly condoned Bangladesh's coerced

returns. Bangladesh's submission of

lists to Myanmar may also have put

refugees, or at least the subset that

Myanmar agreed to return, on track to

receive Myanmar's National

Verification Cards (NVCs), which

many Rohingya reject because they

believe it undermines their claims to

Myanmar citizenship.

The UNHCR-Bangladesh exercise

appears to have violated the agency's

policy on protecting personal data that

it collects, which requires UNHCR to

tell people in a language and manner

they understand why it is collecting

their data and whether it will be transferred

to another entity, said HRW's

Lama Fakih.

It also appears to have undermined

the objective of UNHCR's policies

that aim to ensure that consent is not

coerced.

UNHCR's Handbook on Voluntary

Repatriation says that the agency

should never directly link registration

or other verification exercises with

registration for voluntary repatriations

because "linking the two may create

confusion for the refugees by giving

the impression that one needs to register

for voluntary repatriation in order

to be entitled to assistance in the country

of asylum. This may seriously

jeopardise voluntariness". Linking the

eligibility assessment and registration

for services did create confusion,

Human Rights Watch said.

Nearly all of the refugees interviewed

did not understand that their

data would be shared with the

Myanmar government.

In the one case in which the refugee

was told that it would be, he said he

felt he could not refuse consent without

jeopardizing his access to services.

The UNHCR should have recognised

that Bangladesh sharing data

with Myanmar raised serious protection

concerns.

"The idea of sharing data with

Myanmar, or allowing data to be

shared with Myanmar, on this community

should have been out of the question

until there were minimum guarantees

in place � which there aren't,"

said an aid worker familiar with the

process in Bangladesh. Finally,

UNHCR has a policy requiring a data

protection impact assessment before it

enters into data transfer arrangements

like the one in Bangladesh.

However, staff said they did not

carry out a "full-fledged" impact

assessment, only undertaking several

risk assessments prior to signing the

data-sharing agreement with

Bangladesh.

The apparent failure to take into

account the history of forced returns

from Bangladesh to Myanmar, in

those assessments, is important.

UNHCR should not combine collecting

people's data for services or

identity cards with data collection for

repatriation eligibility, HRW said.

UNHCR should ensure that people

who agree to have their data shared are

able to withdraw that consent and

know how to do so. The agency should

only share data or allow data that it

collects to be shared with countries of

origin when it has taken all efforts to

obtain free and informed consent.

"Humanitarian agencies obviously

need to collect and share some data so

they can provide refugees with protection,

services, and assist with safe,

dignified, and voluntary returns,"

Fakih said.

"But a refugee has the right to control

their data, who has access to it,

and for what purposes, and UNHCR

and other agencies should be accountable

to those whose data they hold."


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

17

Study finds microplastics in aquifers near

waste dumpyards of Chennai Corp

Chennai : A study conducted by a

team of researchers from Anna

University and St. Joseph's College of

Engineering in Chennai have detected

the presence of microplastics in water

bodies near waste dumping yards of

Chennai Corporation.

The microplastics measuring less

than 5 mm were found in water

sources near the Corporation dumping

yards of Perungudi and Kodungaiyur.

The study found that in every litre

of the water source within 1 to 2 km of

these two dump yards there was the

presence of 2 to 80 microplastic particles

detected. These microplastics,

according to the research team would

have made their way into the groundwater

after major plastics were broken

down due to weathering and would

have entered into the aquifers through

the waste in the dumping yards.

The microplastics could cause

health problems to those who drink

water from these aquifers and it will

also make its way to the sea along with

the groundwater harming the marine

ecosystem and ecology. K. Manikanda

Bharath, who was the corresponding

author of the study, speaking to IANS

said, "The maximum microplastic

samples we found in 1 litre water in

Kodungaiyur was 23 but in Perungudi

New Delhi : As barbaric military

clash with China at Galwan

valley at Line of Actual Control

in eastern Ladakh completes a

year, the Indian Army gets a dedicated

freight corridor for faster

mobilisation of tanks, big guns

and other military equipment.

"The Indian Army on

Monday conducted a successful

trial by moving a military train

loaded with vehicles and equipment

from New Rewari to New

Phulera, validating the efficacy

of the dedicated freight corridor,"

the Army stated.

These trials herald the first

step in this process to pave the

way for enhancing the operational

readiness of Armed

it was 80. This is owing to the fact that

Perungudi yard is on marshland and

water is available through the year and

these microplastics go down into the

Army gets freight corridor for

faster mobilisation of equipment

Forces. The intricate and synchronised

coordination by the

Indian Army with Dedicated

Freight Corridor Corporation of

India Ltd (DFCCIL) and Indian

Railways will significantly

enhance the mobilisation capability

of the Armed Forces.

"These trials were part of the

"Whole of the Nation Approach"

for optimising national resources

and achieve seamless synergy

among various ministries and

departments," the force stated.

Interactions by the Indian

Army with all stakeholders

including DFCCIL and Indian

Railways will now assist in leveraging

the Dedicated Freight

Corridor and allied infrastructure

groundwater along with the water in

the marshland."

He said, "With houses across the

city using single use surgical masks

into the mobilisation matrix of

Armed Forces. Development of

infrastructure at certain locations

to support mobilisation and trials

to validate move of defence

owned rolling stock on Roll On-

Roll Off (RO-RO) service is being

formalised and modalities are

being evolved. "This initiative

would set in place processes to

ensure that military requirements

are dovetailed in the national

infrastructure development at the

planning stage itself," the force

added. Since May 2020 when

standoff with China in eastern

Ladakh started, the Indian Army

started ramping up road and transport

infrastructure for fast mobilisation

of the men and equipment.

and N95 masks, the proportion of

these microplastics entering the water

bodies could be much higher in the

days to come."

Noida : At least 61 men and

women were arrested from a

farmhouse in Noida where they

were having a pool party in

complete violation of the

lockdown norms enforced in

the city to contain the spread

of the coronavirus.

The Noida police is now

planning to meet the farmhouse

owners to refrain them

from holding weekend liquor

parties.

On Sunday, 61 young men

and women were arrested by

the Noida police from a farmhouse

located in Sector-135

for partying and violating

Covid-19 protocols. The

Noida police also recovered

expensive liquor and beer

bottles from the spot. Earlier,

on Saturday night, 14 persons

were arrested by the police for

an alleged pool party organised

in Sector-135 at Noida

Expressway.

In view of the increasing parties

held on weekends, Noida

police have now decided to take

strict action against such gatherings.

The police have decided to

set up barriers and will question

anyone who is seen going

towards farmhouses after 7 p.m.

Noida Zone Deputy

Commissioner Of Police

(DCP), Rajesh AS, told IANS,

"We will start strict checking on

all the roads leading to the farmhouses

by setting up barriers.

After 7 p.m. every person will

be questioned and strict checking

will also be done."

Doctors also warned that drinking

water contaminated with microplastics

could lead to skin ailments, ulcers, and

serious respiratory illness in some

people.

Ramesh Chandradas, a gastroenterologist

with a leading private hospital

in Chennai, speaking to IANS said,

"Regular usage of water with

microplastics would lead to the formation

of ulcers as well as intestinal

issues and can also become cancerous

in the long run."

The study also found that of the

4,500 tonne of solid waste generated

daily in the Chennai corporation, 7.5

per cent is plastic waste. Of the fifteen

zones in Chennai corporation, waste

from eight zones are dumped in

Kodungaiyur while the remaining

seven zones dump it at Perungudi.

Suchithra Menon, Scientist and

independent researcher on biowastes,

speaking to IANS said, "In the west,

they have developed a system wherein

biomining is used where you can

extract metals from e-waste and the

rest of the solid waste can be used to

generate biogas. Also dumping in

open yards is an issue to be taken care

of on a war footing for a healthy environment

and thereby a healthy society."

Noida police raids pool party,

arrests 61 for flouting norms

"We will hold a meeting with

the farmhouse owners, we don't

know why they are flouting all

regulations. We have earlier

taken action against two to three

farmhouse owners. We have

informed all the farmhouse

owners about a meeting with the

police which we will hold in the

next few days."

Noida zone DCP said, "From

now onwards if any farmhouse

owner gives permission to hold

such a party, we (police) will

take action against them too."

According to information

shared by the police, on June

13, the police arrested 61 people,

out of which 46 are men

and 15 women. They were

arrested by the Noida

Expressway police from Green

Beauty farmhouse Number 4

located in Noida's Sector-

135. The police also recovered

12 Kingfisher beer bottles

supplied from Haryana

and two McDowell English

liquor bottles.

The police said, "All the

accused were taking a bath

in the swimming pool while

partying in violation of the

lockdown rules and were

spitting in the open and were

not even wearing mask. The

police challaned all the

accused on the spot with a

penalty of Rs 6,100 for not

wearing masks while a case

was also registered against

them." Earlier on Saturday, the

police had arrested young men

and women who were holding a

similar party. Noida police

revealed, "Nine men and 5

women were arrested for partying

and flouting the Covid-19

lockdown rules by the Noida

police on June 12."

However, most of the party

revellers are reported to be residents

of Delhi-NCR and all of

them have been booked under

cases invoking relevant sections.

Even during the Covid-19

pandemic, people are not holding

back from attending parties.


18 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Naomi Osaka, making the right moves, mentally!

(Asian Independent)- When you

think of an elite athlete what comes to

your mind? Superbeings with

indomitable willpower? Tremendous

strength and resilience? Highly functional

skills and abilities? All of it is

true. It is unthinkable that some athletes

can struggle with mental health

issues, like lesser mortals.

The gruelling nature of professional

sports involves intense physical

training, vulnerability to injury, the

pressure to perform, be the epitome of

calm and focus adds to the psychological

challenges. If that’s not all, the

struggle to balance interpersonal relationships,

personal trauma, intrusiveness

of the media and the insatiable

appetite of fans, and contractual agreements

add to the stressors. Some can

handle it; some pretend to manage it

and some, like Naomi Osaka, a fourtime

Grand Slam winner, the secondranked

player in the world succumb

under the weight of expectations.

May was Mental Health month.

And, it seems uncanny, Naomi

announced her decision to not participate

in any press conferences during

the French Open. Her reason – to protect

her mental health. In her post,

dated May 31, Osaka writes, “I have

suffered long bouts of depression

since the US Open in 2018 and I have

had a really hard time coping with

that… I get huge waves of anxiety

before I speak to the world’s media. I

get really nervous and find it stressful

to always try to engage and give you

the best answers I can.”

Amidst the boos during her first

Grand Slam win over Serena

Williams, in the US Open in 2018,

Naomi has been in the centre of media

attention and pressure. Mari Osaka,

Naomi’s sister, stated that every time

her sister plays in a clay court tournament,

the press asks her about her poor

record on the surface, which adds to

the already negative swirl of thoughts

in her head.

She has made a bold move in the

fight for self-preservation and selfcare.

And, it has resulted in her ouster

from the French Open and penalty for

breaching her professional commitment.

Most top-notch performers tend

to struggle bearing the pressure of

responsibilities that come with the

crown of glory. In Naomi’s case, it

was the media interviews and for others

in the workplace scenario, it is the

travail of tight deadlines, heavy workload,

harassment, over supervision,

discrimination, job insecurity, autonomy

and more. Over the past decade,

mental and emotional health issues

have increased significantly. While the

pandemic has negatively impacted

mental wellness, it is important to note

that mental health issues have skyrocketed

in these unique times. Paying

more attention to employee mental

health is becoming a bigger part of the

conversation in today’s workplace.

The challenge for most people to

accept it speak about it openly, is due

to the following reasons:

the lack of understanding about

mental health

attitudes around mental illness are

reinforced in our culture and media

the perception of mental health

issues as a sign of weakness

being seen as someone who is not a

team player

being thought as less dedicated

the fear of being excluded from the

team or coveted projects

The pressure to please exists in

society in general. You sacrifice so

much of yourself to fulfil the needs of

others; constantly walking on

eggshells to live up to exacting standards

expected of you. And, it takes

extraordinary strength to own up to

your failures, in public and do what’s

best for YOU and choose YOU.

With it the realisation that for your

own peace, you can’t pour into people’s

lives without taking care of your

own. The clarity of knowing how

much you are willing or unwilling to

take on, or what relationships you are

willing or not willing to establish with

co-workers. Workplace boundaries are

needed to clarify your responsibility,

protect you from uncomfortable situations,

to help you safeguard your mental

wellness and own happiness at

work. Defining boundaries at work is

imperative for a healthy life-work balance

else you might start to feel overwhelmed,

frustrated, disconnected,

underappreciated, disrespected or

worse. Setting boundaries is opening

yourself to self-love.

Prioritise your values by making

time for the things that are important

to you. Be open and honest about your

boundaries and communicate it with

your co-workers. Elucidate and share

upfront what’s non-negotiable so that

those with whom you work understand

your hard-nos.

Take the time off that’s been given

to you. You need it for your mental

health, if not your physical health.

Be mindful that you do not overdo

the overtime and tire yourself out.

Stay committed to your idea of a

life-work balance.

Speak out when a boundary gets

violated.

Be ready for boundary breaches.

There’s going to be pushback as not

everyone is going to understand your

boundaries or agree with them.

Be intentional and only say yes to

the things that really matter.

Let your boundaries liberate you.

Organisations on their part can

recognise that stress related to work is

a genuine health issue and be more

supportive in creating an environment

where people feel safe.

Create a safe space for people to

share their grievances

Devise a stress management policy

in consultation with the employees

Encourage an environment where

people have more say over their duties

and career growth prospects

Factor their personal lives and

understand that the demands of home

prevail over work Importantly, they

can make decisions that protect their

health and well-being without any

implied consequences. As for the

French Open – Naomi incident, it

could be a catalyst for mental health

and perhaps someday be treated at the

same level and understanding as physical

injuries and illnesses in the sports

world. To quote, Martina Navratilova,

“As athletes we are taught to take care

of our body, and perhaps the mental &

emotional aspect gets short shrift. This

is about more than doing or not doing

a press conference.”

Farzana Suri

Farzana Suri is a Victory Coach,

and coaches people on life, relationships,

business and career. She can

be reached on

farzana@farzanasuri.com or

www.farzanasuri.com

Author: Farzana Suri,

Victory Coach

As pandemic subsides, Taj & other Agra monuments to reopen after 2 months

Agra : With some respite on the

Covid-19 pandemic front, after steep

decline in numbers, the district authorities

are all set to welcome domestic

tourists to the historical monuments in

Agra. In the wake of alarming rise in

the number of Covid patients, the Taj

and other monuments were shut down

for visitors, two months ago.

The Archaeological Survey of India

has in a circular announced reopening

of monuments from June 16. The

tourism industry captains in Agra have

welcomed the decision and have asked

for resumption of international flights.

Hoteliers have also demanded sops

and a special package to help the

industry steer out of the crisis. "At

least some relief can be considered in

taxes and electricity bills," said senior

hotelier Surendra Sharma.

Hotels in Agra have been either

shut or partially opened since March

2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has virtually

crippled the hospitality and

travel industry, which have been

demanding special schemes and sops

to ease the pangs from continued shut

down. Though the reopening of the

monuments would help to some

extent, but until international flights

were resumed, there could be no positive

turn around, feel the hoteliers.

The 17th century monument of

love, the Taj Mahal attracted more

than seven million tourists annually,

before the pandemic.

District officials indicated that visitors

to the monuments would need to

take appropriate precautions before

they are allowed entry. Care would be

taken to ensure there was no crowding.

Initially tickets would be issued

online. For the past one week, there

has been a welcome decline in the

daily numbers of Covid-19 patients. In

the past 24 hours only six cases were

reported. Health department officials

said the city's medical infrastructure

had been streamlined, and necessary

follow up measures were being taken

in the rural areas.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

19

THE SECOND WAVE WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMERED

(Samaj Weekly)- The second wave

in India has now eased off and the

MP’s who could not be found have

now come upfront to claim that a lot of

lives have been saved and the situation

has been professionally dealt by the

Government.

There are two sides to the story, one

is of the Government and the other is

of the millions of people who have lost

their beloved ones through incompetence

of the Government. Due to the

Government’s failure the Sikh and the

Muslim brotherhood came upfront to

help the Covid 19 sufferers. The people

did not know who to call for help

because the MP’S were unavailable.

It was such a dire situation that the

Sikh and the Muslim Brotherhood

opened doors of their religious places

for the Corona virus sufferers. The

Sikhs arranged for the ventilators and

the oxygen tanks. The Muslim

Brotherhood helped the Hindu families

in cremating their beloved ones.

A lot of volunteers did come

upfront to assist but upon them FIR’s

were served. At the time, the

Government showed of no sympathy

or mercy towards those who were desperately

trying to save their beloved

ones. Now the Government through

sweet talk is trying to win them back

but is not having any effect because

they have been deeply scarred.

The families in thousands have

been unable to cremate their beloved

ones as per Hindu rights and this

thought is going to haunt them all their

lives. They will always hold the

Government responsible for this.

During the first wave mostly the

towns and the cities felt the full blunt

but now in the second wave even the

rural areas have been sucked in. This

time the death toll is colossal because

the Government failed to put necessary

measures in place. Shortage of

oxygen supply to the hospitals and

elsewhere has been the main cause to

these deaths.

Late Dr K. K. Agarwal a highly

respected figure in the medical field,

who since first wave in India was

always active in helping and advising

people about Covid 19. Unfortunately,

even after having two doses of Corona

vaccine, he himself fell victim to it.

He was hospitalised but sadly

passed away. Till his last breath, he

from his ICU bed kept reminding the

doctors that it falls under their duty to

save lives endangered by Covid 19.

Even after knowing that he had very

limited time to live, he carried on

advising others about it. This shows

that he cared for others more than his

own self. People like him are very rare

indeed.

The bodies in thousands have been

shallowly buried in sand on the banks

of river Ganges. The high winds have

Mitej Teji

exposed some and the dogs and vultures

are feeding on them. It is quite

horrifying to watch corpses floating

around in the River Ganges. It holds of

high regard in Hindu belief so immediate

action is needed to save its creditability.

From late Dr K K Agarwal’s

case, we should learn that two doses of

vaccine do not guarantee full protection

but they only shield you and maximise

recovery rate. So the guide lines

must be followed at all times.

Sadvi Pragia in her speech has

mentioned that when a Brahamin, a

Kshatriya or a Vaishya is referred by

his Varna he does not mind but when a

Shudra is referred by his Varna why

does he get offended?

To know the answer she will have

to go beyond Dharma and study

Bharat’s Historical Development since

Aryan arrival. The first batch entered

Bharat through Hindu Kush and they

are the ones who have invented Varnas

to establish difference between the

Aryans and the Natives of India. To

degrade and demoralise them, they

named them as Shudras and introduced

caste system into the system to

cause division amongst them.

She should learn about the Naag

Vansh and the Sindh Ghatti Sabita.

How advance they were and what their

achievements were. Only then she will

understand who these Shudras are and

why they get upset by this word. She

should take note that Mohenjo-Daro

and Harappa are evidence to their

advancement. The other three Varnas

presently are known as Swaran Jaatis

and the Shudras are considered as

down trodden Jaatis. The Aryans have

enforced hatred against the Shudras in

such a way through the Vedas and

Shastras that even today it is persistent.

She is trying to play insane but

deep down in her heart she knows the

reason why the Shudras get offended

by this word. The Shudras will have to

immediately unite to save the Indian

Constitution drafted and finalised by

Baba Sahib Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

A large number of the Brahmins

and the Hindus are in support of the

Indian Constitution. It is only a small

sect of the Hindus who with the support

of the religious organisations are

trying to spread Hindutva in India.

They are forcing non Hindus to say Jai

Shree Ram and those resenting are

getting beaten and deaths are happening.

People from all walks of life and

origin are falling prey to these groups.

Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Govind

Singh, Guru Ravi Dass, Sant Kabir,

Sant Gyaneshwar and Sirdi Sai Baba

have all opposed Manusmriti because

it categorises society but on the other

hand the Constitution unites all. Until

2014 and under Constitution’s guidance

India was on its way to become a

superpower but now under BJP

Government the progress has halted

because for them spreading of

Hindutva is of more importance. Since

Independence, India has maintained

gradual progress but now it seems has

come to an end. No one knows when it

will flourish again.

Latest promise by Mr Modi Ji is

that all the poor families will be given

free food. All are hoping that this happens

because the poor are struggling to

survive and the prices are increasing

every day. India is in a dire state so

please unite and save our Constitution.

Jai Bharat.

Vishal Kalra Won ‘The Emerging Entrepreneur

of the year in IT & ITES 2021 Award’

After founding IT start-up, this 25-year-old Young Entrepreneur is touching new heights

Already Won title of Young

Entrepreneur of the year 2020 ,

Global Icon Awards 2020 and

tagged as Youth Icon in Web

development and IT services in

pan India and bagged global

projects

Vishal Kalra (25), founder of

Designistic (an IT start-up), has

added another achievement to

his kitty. After winning the title

of the Young Entrepreneur of the

year 2020 by IAF India, Youth

Icon in Web Development and

IT Services in Pan India 2020 by

Global Icon Awards, This young

entrepreneur this time won the

“Emerging Entrepreneur of the

year in IT & ITES 2021 Award

by Asian-African Chamber of

Commerce and Industry.”

Today’s tech-savvy generation

has seen the birth of many

an entrepreneur. But entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist?

Much lesser.. and certainly not

one who is 25-years-old. That is

the distinction young Vishal

Kalra has achieved in the shortest

possible time. Born in the

small village of Apra in

Jalandhar city, Vishal was all of

18 when he began his arduous

journey as an entrepreneur-cum

philanthropist. At an age when

young boys can only be engaged

with sports, Vishal was busy

organizing blood camps, clothes

collection campaigns, eye donation

awareness camps, tree plantations,

and free medical checkups

in tandem with an NGO.

Working his way up from the

grassroots and accumulating

adequate know-how along the

way, he started his NGO at the

age of 21, “Apra Blood Sewa”,

which is running successfully till

date.

This amalgamation of passion,

courage and killer instinct

is what led him to the achievement

of his IT start up,

“Designistic”.

Speaking about the idea

behind Designistic, Vishal says,

“Instead of looking for a lucrative

job, I was always in search

of an idea that created jobs.” As

is often the case, Vishal started

Designistic from his home with

the investment of a laptop.

Designistic offers a plethora of

services towards developing

your brand. It is almost like a

one-stop solution to all the IT

needs and has achieved tremendous

success in a very short span

of time.

Ask Vishal what keeps him

motivated even when the chips

are down, and he is quick to

credit his success to his humble

upbringing. His father, Mr.

Rakesh Kalra, a bank professional

and his Mother Mrs.

Geeta Kalra, a homemaker has

left no stone in turned to Devote

in Vishal’s upbringing. “Their

continuous support and assistance

is the reason I have been

able to reach my zenith at such a

young age. Throughout their life,

they have done so much for me..

And now it is my turn,” he says.

So how did this small town

boy achieve the impossible?

Vishal pursued his B.Com

(Professional) from DRV DAV

College, Phillaur, followed by an

MBA (Finance & Marketing)

from GNA University,

Phagwara.

“I’m not a dreamer, but a creator,”

he says, adding, “Being

able to handle stumbling blocks

with patience and hard work

made it possible for me to last

and outshine in this tech-savvy

world.” Those who know him

insist Vishal was always an avid

learner on a quest for knowledge

and innovation. In 2018, he got

pre-placed in Justdial as a sales

executive. In three months, he

progressed and joined Kantar

IMRB as a field in-charge for

Punjab, Himachal, Jammu and

Kashmir, and Chandigarh. After

learning all he could in five

months, Vishal had the blueprint

of Designistic ready.

“Designistic has no employees,

I haven’t hired anyone on a

salary basis. I have a team of 28

freelancers with different expertise

whom I work with as per

requirement,” explains Vishal.

Today, Designistic holds the

distinction of an ISO 9001:2015

Certified Company. Vishal

reveals that the start-up revolutionized

his life in the way it provided

him opportunities to flourish.

In addition to domestic

clients, Designistic boasts a slew

of foreign clients today. “The

business is nurturing and it will

continue to grow. Life throws

curveballs and the way we handle

it makes all the difference.

The world’s most successful

people have also faced setbacks

but to be able to lift yourself is

what makes you stand apart. I

believe that there’s much to learn

and explore and I aim to make

my company a worldwide niche

brand in the sector of IT”, Vishal

Added.

Interestingly, Vishal is also

working towards expanding it as

a franchisee and already setup 3

franchisee’s. By that, Designistic

will become a pioneer IT company

with its own franchisee. In all

of 25 years, Vishal has accumulated

many professional certifications

at national and international

levels.

He has also been awarded and

appreciated at various competitions

and events. This list will

keep growing by the passing

years and he will reach the apex

by his consistent efforts and hard

work. Designistic is fully prepared

to expand its wings at

international level. At this young

age Vishal has proved that, “If

you can dream it, you can

achieve it”.

Vishal’s journey has been

nothing short of spectacular, but

he is quick to downplay his success

with wise words that betray

his young age:

“It takes time to nurture and

develop achievements and success.

For me, success is nothing

major but a state of contentment

achieved with the fusion of

never-ending efforts and diligence.”


20 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Appointment of Justice Arun Mishra as

Chairperson, NHRC: Another Move to Subvert

& Destroy Democratic Institutions

(Samaj Weekly)- We, the members

of various Human Rights Organisations

and Concerned individuals, condemn

the appointment of former SC Judge,

Shri Arun Kumar Mishra, as the next

Chairperson of the National Human

Rights Commission (NHRC) of India

by the selection Committee headed by

the Prime Minister.

What is troubling is that the decision

to appoint Justice Arun Kumar Mishra

as NHRC Head was despite the objection

raised by the Leader of the

Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Shri

Mallikarjun Kharge, who suggested

that a person representing Dalits,

Adivasis, Minorities or other marginalised

sections instead be appointed as

Chairperson, considering that the bulk

of victims of state abuse comes from

these communities. The suggestion was

ignored and no reasons for discarding

the same have been placed on record by

the government.

Very clearly, the decision shows

open contempt for the mandate of the

NHRC which places emphasis on independent

functioning and autonomy.

This was an opportunity to nominate a

retired CJI or retied justice, with a

proven track record of a concern for

human rights thereby augmenting the

reputation of the NHRC as an institution

serious about redressing human

rights violations. The public have a

right to know the basis for the decision

of the Selection Committee.

This decision made by the Modi-led

Government smacks of brazen arrogance

and indifference to public opinion

and once again highlights the cynical

disdain of the government for democratic

norms and constitutional proprieties.

By appointing Justice Arun

Mishra, whose tenure as a former

Supreme Court judge was very controversial,

the Modi government has

demonstrated once again, that the basis

for their selection is not guided by the

requirements of a Head of the NHRC or

even the track record of defending

human rights by the person so selected.

Instead, what matters is whether the

person selected was close to the ruling

dispensation.

We would like to point out that in

matters involving critical right to life

and livelihood issues of people from the

margins of society, Justice Mishra as

SC judge had scant respect for their

plight. He was much criticised for

ordering the eviction of millions of

poor forest dwellers in a PIL challenging

the Forest Rights Act and the order

was kept in abeyance only after numerous

nation-wide agitations launched by

affected tribal communities. In personal

liberty matters, he tended to prefer a

hard line, favouring state action over

charges of violation of individual liberties.

In land acquisition matters, a study

of the dominant pattern in his orders

indicated a tendency to favour the state

as against individual land owners who

challenged the land acquisition. In

short, in all politically sensitive cases

he always sided with the Central

Government or acted in a manner to

Justice Arun Kumar Mishra

help some of the top leaders of the

Central Government. These include

Loya Case, Sahara Birla Corruption

Case, Sanjiv Bhat Case, Haren Pandya

Case, the tussle within CBI case, bail

for Anand Teltumbde and Gautam

Navlakha.

We highlight only cases relating to

human rights. His record in deciding

land acquisition cases involving compensation

claims indicated a clear bias

to dismiss the appeals filed by private

individuals in favour of the respondentstate.

In contrast, in matters where the

appeals were field by the state

(Governments) and its instrumentalities,

invariably he either allowed the

appeals or partly decided them in

their favour. He infamously presided

over a 5-judge Bench on land acquisition,

set up to reconcile a conflict in

opinion between an earlier 3-judge

Bench and a Bench presided by him.

Requests that he should recuse himself

as there was conflict of interest with

him heading the 5-judge Bench which

was examining his previous judgment,

not

only fell on deaf ears, but brushed

aside.

It is very clear that Justice Arun

Mishra seems to have been rewarded

for having declared his fealty to Prime

Minister Modi in a Judicial Conference

involving judges from 24 countries on

20th January, 2020. Notwithstanding

that he was still a sitting SC judge,

Justice Mishra unabashedly described

PM Modi, in glowing terms, in his presence,

as “an internationally acclaimed

visionary… (a) versatile genius who

thinks globally and acts locally …”.

The supreme irony of a sitting Supreme

Court Judge openly describing the PM,

as the Head of the Executive, in such

flowery terms indicating his closeness

to the ruling regime was not lost on discerning

jurists, lawyers and concerned

citizens. How can a person who made

an improper and unwarranted statement

praising the PM in his very presence, be

trusted by people to act without fear or

favour to protect their human rights

violated by the government?

Few have forgotten the unprecedented

action of 4 of the senior most SC

judges consisting of Justice Gogoi,

Chelameswar, Madan Lokur and

Joseph, conducting a press conference

in January, 2019. The immediate trigger

for the press conference was the assignment

of the Judge Loya case to a Bench

headed by Justice Arun Kumar Mishra.

The 4 judges also pointed to how cases

were being fixed and sent to particular

Benches – and people inside the judicial

system knew that the court was of

Justice Arun Mishra – for favourable

orders. It is therefore not strange that

throwing democratic proprieties to the

wind, the Government has appointed

Justice Arun Mishra as the Chairperson

of NHRC. Equally troubling is the

appointment of former Director of

Intelligence Bureau, Rajiv Jain as a

member of the NHRC, when he has no

human rights qualifications to speak of.

Through such arbitrary and partial

action, the government has demonstrated

their scant respect for the foundational

principles of good governance

and constitutional rule – which requires

independent institutions which remain

autonomous from the control of the

executive; impartial institutional leaders

who exhibit allegiance not to a

leader but to the Constitution of India;

and in whose working ethos embody

the principles of transparency, accountability

and responsibility.

The appointment is one more brazen

and deliberate blow by the Central

Government to the Constitution, rule of

law and human rights.

It is important to point out that the

NHRC was created as an independent

body which would enquire into complaints

of abuse and violations of

human rights by the State and its agencies.

The NHRC, created by the PHR

Act, is guided by the Paris Principles.

What stands out is that the appointment

of Justice Arun Mishra is a flagrant violation

of the `Paris Principles’ which

govern the recognition of the NHRC in

international law. The Paris Principles

mandate the international minimum

standards that all National Human

Rights Institutions (NHRI) have to

meet – irrespective of the size of the

NHRIs – if they are to be `legitimate,

credible and effective in promoting and

protecting human rights’.

Of the 6 foundational principles, the

appointment of Justice Mishra directly

violates 3:

(1) Independence: International law

recognises that even though NHRI’s are

State institutions, set up and funded by

the State, NHRI’s must be independent

from government and from NGOs. As

one international document points out,

NHRI’s must have legal independence,

operational independence, policy independence

and financial independence.

(2) Pluralism: ensuring that the composition

of the NHRI’s reflects the

social forces (from civilian society)

who are the targets of social discrimination,

inequality and rights violations.

(3) Accountability. The NHRC’s are

morally accountable to the larger citizenry

who is at the receiving end of the

brazen rights violations committed with

impunity by state forces confident that

they are always immune from being

held accountable for their actions.

While the NHRCs may comply with the

legal accountability of placing reports

before Parliament, the issue of owning

up to their moral and ethical accountability

is of utmost importance.

The NHRC itself has acknowledged

their responsibility to comply with the

Paris Principles and accreditation by

GANHRI (Global Alliance of National

Human Rights Institutions set up by the

UN Human Rights Council). They have

declared in their website that they have

complied with the above principles sufficient

to be re-accredited as an “A”

Level NHRI by GANHRI in 2019.

The appointment of Justice Mishra

seriously repudiates the Paris Principles

and has to be questioned.

There can be no iota of doubt that

effective NHRI’s should have “independent

members who exercise independent

thinking and leadership”. As

the judiciary never tires of saying, justice

should not only be done, but seen to

be done. A big casualty of the appointment

of a person like Justice Mishra

will be the trust and confidence of people,

especially victims of rights violations

in the independence of the NHRC.

This apart, the other request of Mr.

Kharge who suggested that there be

greater diversity in selection of NHRC

members by appointing Dalit, Adivasi

or Minority communities, was also

summarily rejected by PM – headed

Selection Committee who reportedly

finalised the appointments of the former

Director of Intelligence Bureau,

Mr. Rajiv Jain, and former J&K HC

Judge, MK Mittal as members.

Once again, the Selection

Committee has shown the scant respect

it has for Dalit, Adivasi, minority and

marginalised communities by appointing

former police/ security officials

who were seen to be close to the ruling

dispensation thereby ignoring the

demand for ensuring diversity in

appointment of NHRC members.

It is a moot question as to whether in

a nation of 1.38 billion people, there are

no independent thinking, credible, constitutionally

sensitive members from

Dalit, Adivasi and minority communities.

When repeatedly, only government

officers, especially police officers are

appointed as NHRC members, it confirms

the suspicion that the

Government is rewarding such officials

for their loyalty to the ruling regimes.

Similarly, it is a valid question raised

by members of the Dalit, Adivasi,

Minority and other marginalised communities

as to why members of their

communities, who have been former

judges of High Courts and Supreme

Courts, leading academics and professionals

amongst them are seldom

appointed as members of the NHRC.

This too highlights the claim of the

government of respecting diversity as

bare tokenism, and that too in bad faith.

It is time the voices of the silent majority

are heeded and non-officials from

these communities are recognised and

appointed to the NHRC. It will greatly

help assuage the feeling of alienation

and frustration that many such communities

feel today and make them feel

confident about constitutional democracy

in India.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

21

Can Pasmanda Caste Muslims Ever Make a

Parallel Rise and Rule Jammu & Kashmir ?

The so-called Muslim leadership across J&K valley remains in the hands of upper caste

Kashmiri, Dogri and Pahari Muslims with the only exception of Gujjar and Bakarwals.

JAVED BEIGH

Jammu & Kashmir is India’s

Muslim-majority administrative unit.

While Muslims constitute over 95% of

the population of Kashmir valley, they

are a substantial minority in the Jammu

region, constituting nearly 40% of the

total population of Jammu region,

including an overwhelming majority in

Pir Panchal and near majority in Chenab

valley of Jammu region. Yet interestingly,

the so-called “Muslim” leadership

across Jammu and Kashmir valley

remains suffocatingly in the hands of

upper caste Kashmiri, Dogri and Pahari

Muslims. The only exception is the

nomadic tribal community of Gujjar and

Bakarwals, a Scheduled Tribe community

and the only Pasmanda Muslim

community of J&K that which can

claim some degree of political empowerment,

though even that is not exactly

proportional to their population in the

Union territory.

The reason why I wish to raise this

question in the context of Jammu &

Kashmir is because of the growing

social assertion of Pasmanda Muslim

community in north India, which is now

challenging the dominance of upper

caste Muslims in the political setup of

Indian polity and demanding their fair

political representation that matches

their strong numerical majority of nearly

85% of the total population of

Muslims in India, much more than even

(estimated) 75% of Hindu Dalits, OBCs

and Adivasis that form the total Hindu

population of India.

To begin with, let us first understand

the concept of ‘caste’ as opposed to

‘class’ in the context of Muslim society

of Kashmir valley as well as rest of

India. While theologically Islam is an

egalitarian faith that teaches equality

and there is no concept of “caste” in

Islam, the social evil of casteism however

found its way among Muslim converts

of both Kashmir valley and rest of

India, despite the promise of early

Muslim Sufi missionaries of Islam

being a casteless social way of life.

The caste system among Muslims of

South Asia does not strictly adhere to

Hindu Brahminical ‘Varna system’, but

instead there are hundreds of

‘biradaris’, which are equivalent of

Hindu ‘jatis’. The Muslim ‘biradaris’ in

India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are

loosely organised under three-fold classification.

At the top are, what is known

as ‘Ashrafs’ or upper caste Muslims that

claim descendance from Arab and

Central Asian Muslims immigrants.

This category also includes Muslim

converts from upper caste Hindus like

Rajputs and Kshatriyas. The second category

comprises ‘Ajlaf’ Muslims or

those who have converted from occupational

Shudra Hindu castes like

weavers, tailors, washermen etc. In

modern times, they are also described as

OBC under the Constitution of India.

The last category at the bottom of the

pyramid are those Muslims, who have

converted from Dalit Hindus, which are

categorised under ‘Arzal’ Muslims or

Scheduled Castes. Then there are

Muslim tribal and nomadic communities

as well, who are also placed at the

bottom of this unofficial caste system

among Muslims of South Asia.

Is Asaduddin Owaisi Doing a

Kanshi Ram in Politics?

The caste system among Muslims of

J&K roughly follows this pattern, where

Syeds and Pirs are at top, followed by

occupational castes like Wani, Khandey,

Lone etc., and then Shudra castes like

Chopan, Hajjam, Hani and so on. At the

bottom lie Kashmiri Muslim Dalits

called ‘Wattals’, a community historically

engaged in manual scavenging.

Pasmanda Muslim activists of north

India point to near absence of their community

not only from Muslim social and

cultural organisations like All India

Muslim Personal Law Board, but also

from state-funded minority institutions

like Aligarh Muslim University and

Jamia Milia Islamia, both of which they

point are staffed exclusively by upper

caste Ashrafi Muslims from Syed,

Pathan and Mughal ‘biradaris’. The situation

is incidentally not any different

in J&K either, whether nearly all

Muslim religious charitable, social

organizations are under the hegemoneous

control of upper caste Kashmiri

& Dogri/Pahari Muslims.

Pasmanda Muslim activists additionally

point at their woeful low representation

in the political set up of Indian

polity, which has remained in dominating

stranglehold of upper caste Ashrafi

Muslims, who are not more than 15% of

Indian Muslim population. Khalid Anis

Ansari, a Pasmanda intellectual, in his

writing points that out of 400 Muslims,

who were elected to the Lok Sabha from

first Lok Sabha till 14th Lok Sabha, a

staggering 340 were from upper Ashraf

Muslim castes and only 60 members

were from Pasmanda Muslim community,

which means an 11% population of

Indian Pasmanda Muslim population

had only 0.8% representation in the Lok

Sabha for nearly seven decades. For

Jammu & Kashmir, there would be perhaps

no member ever from Pasmanda

Muslim community in the Lok Sabha,

even though Gujjar and Bakarwal community

had few representatives in the

Assembly or erstwhile J&K state. This

is a highly shameful record for our state

that claims to have an overwhelming

Muslim majority status.

Pasmanda Muslim activism has

come of age in north and western India

in parallel to growing Dalit and Hindu

OBC social, cultural and political assertion

and accordingly many Pasmanda

Muslim-focused social organisations

have come up in different parts of India,

including All India Backward Muslim

Morcha of Dr Ejaz Ali, All India

Pasmanda Mahaz of Ali Anwar from

Bihar and All India Muslim OBC

Organisation of Shabbir Ansari from

Maharashtra. The Pasmanda movement

in the rest of India has taken inspiration

from movement of reformation and

political assertion by Dalit and OBC

icons like Jyotiba Phule, Periyar, Baba

Sahab Ambedkar, BP Mandal, Kanshi

Ram, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav

and Lalu Yadav.

While there is still no political organisation

solely driven by Pasmanda

Muslim leadership in any state of India

and most of the demands for political

assertation are right now focused on

giving more political representation to

Pasmanda Muslim castes within existing

political party set up, a Pasmanda

Muslim-focused political party may

also come up in future in states like UP

& Bihar, where Pasmanda Muslim

activism is very high. This is bound to

create a ripple effect in Jammu &

Kashmir as well, even as younger generations

of Pasmanda caste Kashmiri

and Dogri Muslims observe growing

Pasmanda Muslim movement in rest of

India and are also becoming an active

participant of issues pertaining to emancipation

of the community. I am sure

that time is not far, when both Kashmir

valley and Jammu regions will also see

a parallel rise of political class from

region’s vast Pasmanda caste Muslim

community.

Courtesy : News 18

Anti-caste Rapper from JNU Manages to Raise

Rs 38 Lakh in 3 Hours to Fund Oxford Dream

After completing his graduate and postgraduate studies from JNU, rapper Sumeet Samos is now set to pursue his second master’s degree from the University of Oxford.

Anti-caste activist and rapper by the

name of Sumeet Samos Turuk has

recently managed to raise Rs 38 lakh in

three hours by crowdfunding to realise

his dream of studying at Oxford. The

son of a schoolteacher from Koraputm

Odisha, Sumeet is a former student of

the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru

University in New Delhi. The young

Dalit activist grew popular as an anticaste

rapper a few years ago with his

angry lyrics again caste discrimination

and oppression making a widespread

mark, especially among the youth.

After having completed his

undergraduate and postgraduate

degrees in Spanish and

Latin American literature,

Sumeet applied for a second

master’s degree from the

University of Oxford. In

January, Sumeet received his

acceptance letter from Oxford.

However, he ran into a roadblock

after his scholarship

applications fell through.

Speaking to The Print, Sumeet

said that he failed to receive

the scholarship due to a delay in his

English verification process. Unable to

avail of any of the existing scholarships,

Sumeet tried to seek help from the

Odisha government. At first, the latter

agreed to pay for a part of Sumeet’s

tuition fee but later refused on the

grounds that this was Sumeet’s second

master’s degree. Requests to other

politicians to help out with the funding

did not come to fruition either.

That was when Sumeet decided to

turn to crowdfunding for his education.

Inspired by a Kashmiri student who

managed to crowdfund his education to

Oxford, Sumeet turned to some of his

friends who were popular on social

media platforms and shared his pitch. A

crowdfunding campaign was started on

Milaap.org. According to the report in

The Print, the campaign received an

overwhelming response. Sumeet managed

to raise Rs 38 lakh in just three

hours. Sumeet is now set to pursue his

second master’s degree from Oxford

University as part of its MSc program in

Modern South Asian Studies. His classes

start in October. Courtesy : News 18


22 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Women-centric Indian documentary

to premiere at UK film fest

New Delhi : 'WOMB -

Women of my Billion', a powerful

narrative that highlights the

plight, dreams, rights and fight of

the women of today's India

against all forms of violence, is

all set for its world premiere at the

opening night UK Gala of the

London Indian Film Festival

2021. The festival line up is a

"love letter to India", given the

ongoing hardships of the COVID-

19 pandemic, say makers. Deeply

shocked and disturbed by the

highway 91 rape case that was

reported in 2016 in India, Srishti

Bakshi decided to not be a silent

spectator to rising crime against

women in her country.

The documentary captures

her 3800-kilometre on foot journey

from Kanyakumari to

Srinagar over 230 days and her

heroic effort to create awareness

on women's safety and empowerment

through financial and

digital literacy.

"The film highlights survivor

stories of activist Pragya Prasun

Singh, Lt. Col. Sangeeta Tiwari

and Neha Rai and stands a crucial

testament to the worldwide

crisis which has only aggravated

in these times of the pandemic.

"An Awedacious Original,

'WOMB' is a poignant and heartwarming

watch exploring the

social and political issues faced

by women of today's India. The

documentary feature highlights

the monumental journey through

Srishti's lens, her interaction

with over 85,000 women over

more than 100 workshops she

conducted in schools, villages

and institutions on her walk from

Kanyakumari to Kashmir.

Emotional and powerful, the

documentary is a unique testament

to seemingly insurmountable

challenges in these unprecedented

times and the everyday

'sheroes' who are battling to

overcome," said a statement.

"In this documentary we have

celebrated ordinary women

who've shown extraordinary

courage to rise above their limitations

and challenge deeply

entrenched gender norms. We

did this to unite the majority

because what we discovered was

that 'gender-based violence is a

crime perpetrated by the minority

but perpetuated by the silence

of the majority," says a very passionate

Bakshi.

According to Director Ajitesh

Sharma, "Violence against

women and girls is a human

rights violation. And since the

outbreak of COVID-19 and the

world locking down to live within

four walls, emerging data and

reports from those on the front

lines, have shown that all types of

violence against women and

girls, particularly domestic violence,

has only intensified. With

'WOMB', I aim to bring forth

inspiring stories of fight and survival

which Srishti was privy to

by meeting brave women on her

walk. My aim is to pass on this

privilege of knowing these

women and their stories to inspire

conversations on how gender

norms need to be overhauled."

The film is the debut feature by

director Ajitesh Sharma and produced

by International Emmy

Winning Producer of 'Delhi

Crime' Apoorva Bakshi along

with Monisha Thyagarajan and

Gururaj Dixit. The 12th Bagri

Foundation London Indian Film

Festival 2021 and its sister festivals

in Birmingham and

Manchester will showcase

WOMB as the opening film for

the festival slated to take place

from June 17-July 4. The film

also showcases at the New York

Indian Film festival slated from

June 4.

Cartographer of Agha Shahid Ali's longings

New Delhi : When at the age of 15,

Manan Kapoor discovered Kashmiri

poet Agha Shahid Ali, something hit

him with a force.

"It was as if his poems spoke to me.

His work was so different from what we

had been reading at school. That was

the moment my voyage of discovering

Shahid began -- with the poetry collection

'The Veiled Suite'," says Kapoor,

whose biography of Agha Shahid Ali,

'A Map of Longings' (Penguin Random

House), recently hit the stands.

In the book, Kapoor explores the

concerns that shaped Shahid's (1949-

2001) life and works, following in the

footsteps of the 'Beloved Witness' from

Kashmir to New Delhi and finally to

the United States. Charting the poet's

friendships with figures like Begum

Akhtar and James Merrill, Kapoor

looks at the lives he touched and also

traces the complex evolution of

Shahid's evocative verses, which

mapped various cultures and geographies,

and mourned injustice and loss -

- both personal and political.

Drawing on various unpublished

materials and interviews with

the poet's family, friends, students

and acquaintances, Kapoor

narrates the riveting story of a

major literary voice. The 27-

years-old author, who studied at

the Ambedkar University, did

most of his research papers and

assignments on Shahid's poetry.

"Eventually, I realised, there is

this wonderful world-renowned

poet, who led an extremely

interesting life.

But there was not a lot written

about him, apart from a few

essays. The first essay on Shahid

that I read was Amitav Ghosh's

'The Ghat of the Only World'.

"The more I read about Shahid, I

realised that his life is worth being celebrated

and written about. It was basically

a book that I wanted to read. So I

did research, got in touch with his family

and friends and worked on it,"

Kapoor says. Stressing that the poet's

family was generous and forthcoming,

inviting him to their homes, Manan also

went to Kashmir a couple of times to

meet the poet's late father Agha Ashraf

Ali besides other family members.

Although Kapoor wanted to go to the

US to do some more research on the

poet who died of brain cancer, he was

denied a visa by the American

Embassy. "That was a setback as I

could not visit the archives. But the

people there shared some of the documents

I required. All those I had to meet

in the US, I got in touch on Skype.

However, I feel that a visit to the

archives would have turned out richer,"

he says.

Stressing that Shahid's poetry is one

of the biggest examples of what Indian

English can be, Kapoor feels that it

enriches the language in multiple ways.

"There is that transaction, right.

During the time he was writing, a lot of

new poets started to emerge, working in

English. Their concerns were deeply

rooted in the Indian sub-continent. The

circle of people choosing to write in

English was growing. For him, there

was no question of 'this is not my language'.

That was the language spoken at

home and he started writing in it from

the age of nine or ten," Kapoor says.

Kapoor, who took four years to complete

the book, says that he is yet to

decide on his next.

"However, it is going to be fiction,"

he concludes.

Continue Page 5

They suffer today in jail because

they believed in the ‘idea of India, ...

A majority of them are senior citizens,

some of whom have comorbidities

that render them particularly vulnerable.

All are human rights defenders

with a record of writing, speaking

and organizing for the rights of workers,

minorities, Dalits, and Adivasis

through peaceful and constitutional

means”.

Their letter ends unequivocally:

“With this letter, we call on the

Indian authorities to take urgent and

prompt action:

Release the BK-16 from overcrowded

and unsafe prisons immediately.

Allow them to be cared for by their

kin.

Show compassion and responsibility

in order to avoid catastrophic consequences.

Ensure them their constitutional

right to live and die in dignity”.

The country is going through dark

times: every single democratic institution

is being systematically dismantled

and even destroyed.

Constitutional and other independent

authorities, which were well known

for their objectivity and impartiality in

the past, have now become caged parrots;

this is so obvious be it the case of

the Central Bureau of Investigation

(CBI), the NIA and for that matter,

even the Election Commission.

Some of those in the judiciary –

have brought a pillar of democracy

down to the ground with their totally

obnoxious, prejudiced and one-sided

judgements. The less said about mainstream

media the better: they have lost

their morality and become a wholly

lapdog one. The ruling regime has

thrown all propriety to the wind with

their brazen corrupt, communal,

insensitive anti-national and unconstitutional

ways.

But thank God for the BK-16:

Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling,

Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen Rona

Wilson Arun Ferreira, Sudha

Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Vernon

Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam

Navlakha, Hanybabu Tarayil, Sagar

Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap

and Fr Stan Swamy.

The system that has incarcerated

them is brutal, rotten and unjust. They

suffer today in jail because they

believed in the idea of India, in the

Constitution, in the ‘we the people’, in

the rights of the excluded and the

exploited. They were voices of

democracy and of dissent – and

because of that, they are paying the

price today.

We all need to be eternally grateful

for these heroes, these real freedom

fighters of today’s India! We who are

not yet in prison – are called to be

more visible and vocal: to keep the

torch which they have given us, burning!

The struggle for their immediate

freedom, for justice for all and for the

complete repeal of the UAPA must

continue relentlessly.

We cannot be complacent or think

that what has happened to the BK-16

does not concern us! Our engagement

today may guarantee a more liveable

India for future generations. Deep

down we know that we will overcome:

because justice and truth always triumph

– till then the struggle will continue!

Courtesy : Counterview


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

23

When 'THE LIGHT OF ASIA'

impacted Tagore, Vivekanand

In late-February 1912, a play called

Buddha was staged at the Royal Court

Theatre in London. This was produced

by William Poel, the noted theatre figure

best known for his presentations of

Shakespeare. The play was adapted for

stage by S.C. Bose. It has been speculated

that he was Sarat Chandra Bose,

the elder brother of Subhas Chandra

Bose, and later to become a prominent

figure in the Indian freedom movement

himself. Sarat Chandra Bose was

indeed in London at that time studying

law. The evidence, however, is not conclusive.5

Buddha was a significant success.

The driving force behind it was

Kedar Nath Das Gupta, who had come

to London in 1907 fleeing possible

police action against him in Calcutta for

having been a revolutionary there. In

1912, Das Gupta would also set up the

Indian Art and Dramatic Society, which

organized an evening dedicated to the

works of Rabindranath Tagore in his

presence at the Royal Albert Hall.

Tagore would win the 1913 Nobel Prize

in Literature for his collection of songs

called Gitanjali.

Tagore, the poet of Indian nationalism,

was India's pre-eminent cultural

and literary personality of the twentieth

century. The influence of the Buddha

on his poetry and his novels has been

much studied and written about. This

influence came about in diverse ways.

His immediate family was steeped in

Buddhist study. In 1859 his father

Debendranath Tagore had been to

Ceylon and had come back with not just

knowledge of but keen interest in the

Buddha's life and his teachings. He

wrote Sakya Muni O Nirvan Tattvai in

1882. Satyendranath Tagore,

Rabindranath's elder brother, who had

accompanied their father to Ceylon,

wrote Bauddha Dharma in 1901. The

Brahmo Samaj, of which the Tagore

family was an integral part, had also

taken up the study of the Buddha's

teachings. A very early influence

regarding the Buddha on Rabindranath

Tagore was that of Rajendralala Mitra,

who has figured in this narrative earlier.

In January 1922, Rabindranath

Tagore would visit Bodh Gaya and

issue this statement:

I am sure it will be admitted by all

Hindus who are true to their own ideals,

that it is an intolerable wrong to allow

the temple raised on the spot where

Lord Buddha attained his enlightenment

to remain under the control of a

rival sect which can neither have the

intimate knowledge of or sympathy for

the Buddhist religion and its rites of

worship. I consider it to be a sacred

duty for all individuals believing in

freedom and justice this great historical

site to the community of people who

still reverently carry on that particular

current of history in their own living

faith.

Rabindranath Tagore had taken The

Light of Asia with him when he went to

Bodh Gaya. While the imprint of the

Buddha is very distinctive in many of

his works, the influence of The Light of

Asia specifically has been traced in the

poem 'Bidaye' of Kalpana

Kavyagrantha. It has apparently never

been translated into English before and

is being done so for the first time here:

Let me now depart, It's time to break

the bonds. In your blissful sleep, You

shudder in dreams of separation. At

dawn your vacant eyes, Will search and

brim with glistening tears. It's time to

break the bonds. Though Your ruby lips

and sad eyes are yet to utter, So many

words of endearment. The bird will fly

across the seas Leaving the happy nest

behind. From across the firmament I

hear the call. It's time to break

the bonds.

Tagore's stance on the

Mahabodhi Temple at Buddha

Gaya was completely different

to the one his Japanese friend

and admirer Okakura Kakuzo

had taken years earlier.

Okakura Kakuzo was an artist

who had in 1895 'issued a call

for a painting competition to

represent scenes from the life

of the Buddha in a new form'.

There was an enthusiastic

response and a number of

works resulted, but these were

'dogged by critics' accusations

of inauthenticity'. Okakura

must have decided that he had

to visit India to get a better

sense of 'historical authenticity'

to depict the life of the

Buddha. In addition, he had

been persuaded by a wealthy American

woman, Josephine MacLeod, to join

her on her journey to Calcutta to meet

Vivekananda. MacLeod had been

Vivekananda's ardent admirer and

benefactor since 1894. Okakura was

planning to host another Chicago-like

World Parliament of Religions in Japan

and hence his visit to the man who had

been the most charismatic presence at

Chicago in 1893 was most welcome.

Okakura Kakuzo reached Calcutta in

early January 1902 and struck an

instant rapport with Vivekananda and

invited him to Japan. The two were in

Buddha Gaya together sometime in the

last week of January 1902.

Vivekananda had been there sixteen

years earlier. On 7 February 1902

Vivekananda told Josephine MacLeod:

We [Okakura and he] have safely

reached Benaras . . . I am rather better

here than at Buddha Gaya. There was

no hitch to our friend [Okakura] being

admitted to the chief temple and

[allowed to] touch the Sign of Shiva

and to worship. The Buddhists, it seems

are always admitted ...

A few weeks later Okakura made a

second trip to Buddha Gaya with another

Japanese Buddhist priest Tokuno

Oda, who had come to Calcutta in April

1901 as Okakura's emissary to

Vivekananda. The two Japanese went to

meet the Mahant to negotiate the purchase

of land close to the Mahabodhi

Temple. On his return to Calcutta,

Okakura wrote to the Mahant on 26

April 1902 expressing his desire to

'erect a rest house [close to the

Mahabodhi Temple] for followers of

Mahayana Buddhism in Japan' and his

willingness to purchase land at a 'fair

and reasonable price' for this purpose.

He had distanced himself from the 'representatives

of the Hinayana Buddhism

of Ceylon, Siam or other places,' who

had been agitating for total Buddhist

control over the Mahabodhi Temple.

Okakura gave his Calcutta address as

'c/o Swami Vivekananda, the Math,

Belur, Howrah'. Obviously,

Vivekananda would have been in the

know about Okakura's proposal, which,

as it turned out, was acceptable to the

Mahant as well. A few months later, on

4 July 1902,

Vivekananda passed

away. It is clear that

Okakura was deeply

influenced by

Vivekananda in his

views on Buddhism and

its relationship with

Hinduism which were at

variance with

Dharmapala's. Later

Okakura would become

an important part of

Tagore's orbit for a

while.

As for Sister

Nivedita, born Margaret

Noble, she would visit

Bodh Gaya in early

October 1904. Her

entourage had included

twenty men and women,

among whom were the

scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose and his

wife, Rabindranath Tagore and his son,

and the historian Jadunath Sarkar. She

would write to MacLeod on 15 October

1904 from Rajgir:

We have been a party of 20 spending

4 days at Bodh-Gaya . . . and I think it

has been an event in all our lives . . . In

the mornings we had tea by 6 and then

readings 'Light of Asia' Web of Indian

Life [Nivedita's own book] etc, and

talks. All gathered together in the great

verandeh. Our Mahant is like a King.

Evenings 'we went out after tea' to the

Temple and Tree ...

Rabindranath Tagore was not the

only member of the distinguished

Tagore family on whom The Light of

Asia would have a marked influence.

His nephew Abanindranath Tagore, the

first Indian artist to gain international

recognition just as his uncle was earning

a global name for himself, had

painted Buddha and Sujata in 1902.

Partha Mitter, the noted historian of

Indian art, has written that:

Buddha and Sujata departed from

Varma's historicism [Raja Ravi Varma,

who painted mythological figures].

Abanindranath chose an actual historical

figure, though the Buddha here was

the saviour imagined by the Orientalist

Edwin Arnold. His description of the

shy maiden who brought the Buddha

his first nourishment was the inspiration

here.

In Book the Sixth, of The Light of

Asia, Arnold describes that transformative

moment thus:

So,'thinking him divine,' Sujata drew

Tremblingly nigh, and kissed the

earth and said,

With sweet face bent, "Would that

the Holy One

Inhabiting this grove,

Giver of Good,

Merciful unto me his handmaiden,

Vouchsafing now his presence,

might accept These our poor gifts of

snowy curds, fresh made,

With milk as white as new-carved

ivory!"

Today, about a twenty-minute walk

east from the Mahabodhi Temple in

Bodh Gaya stands Sujata Stupa or

Sujata Ghar that honours this milkmaid

who ended the seven years of self-mortification

of Siddhartha Gautama

paving the way for his enlightenment.

(This is an extract from "The Light

of Asia -- the poem that defined The

Buddha" by Jairam Ramesh that is

being carried with the permission of the

publisher, Penguin/Viking)


24 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

G-7 SUMMIT DISAPPOINTS

The 3Cs: Covid, China and

addressed the summit virtually. He

Climate Change dominated the G-7

Summit. But overall the leaders were

not able to present a united stand on

any major issue.

The 47th annual G-7 Summit,

ended on Sunday last at the Carbis

Bay in Cornwall, UK. Though the

British Prime Minister wanted the

summit to showcase his brand of

'Global Britain', after the Brexit. But

there were terse exchanges between

the French, EU and British leaders

and officials on the issue. In effect the

summit turned out to be more Biden

focussed and expectations were raised

high on some real agreement taking

place on the 3C's before the summit,

though that was not the result ultimately.

Broadly, Biden sought to set a new

tone after the unrestrained Trump

years. Most G-7 leaders seemed

relieved to have a return to a more

predictable and traditional US administration.

France's Emmanuel Macron

welcomed Biden back to the "club."

But the final Communique showed

that even Biden's expectations to

ensure a consensus on many of his

promises fell short.

Covid-19

On the issue of Covid-19, the leaders

of the seven most affluent western

nations seemed united, but there was

difference of opinion on the way forward.

Earlier, they had showed commitment

to donate 1 billion Covid-19

vaccine doses over the next year to

poorer countries. But in reality the

bloc fell short of its own goal -- 613

million new doses pledged, instead of

a billion.

Even so, the vaccine effort gave

Biden some help with his China push.

over the months to come," the communique

said.

China

On the second day of the summit,

US unveiled plans to counter China

through infrastructure funding for

poorer nations. Promising to "collectively

catalyse" hundreds of billions

of infrastructure investment for lowand

middle-income countries, the G7

leaders said they would offer a "values-driven,

high-standard and transparent"

partnership.

G-7s "Build Back Better World"

(B3W) project was aimed directly at

competing with China's trillion-dollar

is hostile to China." Macron was one

leader who sought the middle ground.

China hit back at these statements

dismissively saying that the days

when "global decisions" were dictated

by a "small group of countries are

long gone". Chinese embassy in

London issued a statement saying that

world affairs should be handled

through "consultation by all countries",

and added that the valid global

system was the "international order

based on the principles" of the United

Nations.

The final version of the communique

skirted B3W, instead creating a

on its promise to channel $100bn a

year to poor nations coping with climate

change's negative affects.

Environment campaigners further

warned there could be no over-arching

deal to protect the climate unless

$100 billion sum is reached and guaranteed

at the vital COP-26 climate

conference in Glasgow in coming

December.

Teresa Anderson, from Action Aid

said that the G7 must announce real

finance through grants and stop turning

a blind eye while the world's poorest

and most marginalised are hit

hardest.

conveyed India's commitment to "collective"

solution to global health challenges,

and called for "one earth, one

health" approach, which aims for

unity and solidarity among the states

of the world to deal with the pandemic.

He also emphasised the need to

keep raw materials for vaccines easily

accessible.

Mr. Modi further sought G7's support

for a proposal moved by India

and South Africa at the WTO for a

TRIPS waiver. This waiver will help

India scale up production of anti-

COVID-19 vaccines. The argument

found strong support from Australia

and other countries. French President

Emmanuel Macron too argued for

strengthening the abilities of countries

like India that can play a vital role to

contain the pandemic.

Summit's Attainment

The UK summit was the first G-7

summit to be held in last two years,

and will serve as a blueprint for international

gatherings in the post-pandemic

age. The western leaders met

after four turbulent years of Donald

Trump in the White House, and

though Biden was welcomed into the

Club, yet he seemed unable to make a

significant mark at the summit, as

most of pre-summit promises were

not included in the final communique

and this shows that he'll have to work

hard to convince his European allies.

It was also the final summit for

German Chancellor Angela Merkel,

who has served as a bulwark for

Europe for 16 years, a position which

is being eyed by Macron to become

"Dean" of the club. Also there was no

mention of a new US-UK Atlantic

Charter modelled on the historic statement

Biden has criticised China for a transactional

Belt and Road Infrastructure (BRI) task force to study how to spur infrastructure

The summit made some progress,

made by Churchill and

brand of vaccine diplomacy,

where the shots are being doled out

for geopolitical advantage. Biden

called on democracies to counter

China and Russia by donating vaccines

equally and based on need,

initiative, which has been widely criticised

for saddling small countries

with unmanageable debt, including

even G-7 member Italy since its

launch in 2013.

However, several leaders, including

development abroad. It

made no mention of BRI, though

Biden renewed his call at a press conference,

and said that, "I proposed that

we have a democratic alternative to

the Belt and Road initiative, to build

especially on heralding the demise of

coal - the fuel that drove the industrial

revolution and sent emissions soaring.

President Biden talked about the

end of coal for power generation in

America (with no details of a date, or

Roosevelt on the post-war world

order, a dream cherished by both

Biden and Johnson to be remembered

as the one who led the world's economic

recovery post-pandemic.

The summit's Communique which

without seeking favours in return.

German Chancellor Angela back better."

of how he would get legislation was issued several hours after the end

The COVAX facility, backed by Merkel, pushed back over worries Climate Change

passed through the Congress). The of the summit, promises many things

the World Health Organization about turning the G-7 into an anti- The claim by environmental president also trumpeted the end of but falls short of what was expected to

(WHO) and the Global Alliance for China group, suggesting any infrastructure

activists before and after the summit coal finance for poor nations, with the be achieved before the summit.

Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI),

programme should be was that the world's rich nations, hope that this may heap pressure on (Asad Mirza is a political commen-

aims to secure 2 billion vaccine doses

for lower-income countries by the end

framed as a more positive, pro-environment

effort.

which caused the climate crisis, know

what's expected of them - but they

China to follow suit.

India

tator based in New Delhi. He writes

on Muslims, educational, international

of 2021. "We will work together with French President Emmanuel consistently fail to deliver in full. As PM Modi had announced last

affairs, interfaith and current

the private sector, the G20 and other Macron also pushed back publicly, They asserted that for the umpteenth month that due to surging Covid cases affairs.

Email:

countries to increase this contribution saying that the "G-7 is not a group that time the rich club has failed to deliver in India, he'd not travel to the UK, he asad.mirza.nd@gmail.com)

Delhi Govt to begin single window facility for EV-charging scheme

New Delhi : Taking forward its

electric vehicles policy in the city, the

Delhi government is set to start a single

window facility for installation of

charging points for electric-run vehicles

in private and semi-public spaces

in the city.

The upgraded scheme for installation

of charging facilities will involve

private and semi-public spaces as well

as cooperative group housing societies

(CGHS), high rises, Residents Welfare

Associations (RWAs) etc. Delhi

Dialogue Commission of Delhi

Government, which has been supervising

the electric vehicle policy after

a series of discussion with various representatives

involved, including transport

and power departments, Delhi

M u n i c i p a l

Corporations (MCD),

New Delhi Municipal

Council (NDMC),

power Discoms etc,

has decided to implement

upgraded

scheme.

"Delhi will soon get

an innovative, singlewindow

process for

installation of slow

and fast EV chargers.

The decision was

taken at the charging

infrastructure working

group to empanel vendors

through discoms

for smooth roll-out of

EV chargers in private and semipublic

places," said Jasmine

Shah, vice-chairperson of DDC,

a think tank of the Delhi government.

Delhi government further

informed that institutional buildings

like hospitals and commercial

spaces like malls and theatres

will also be involved in the policy.

The government said the initiatives

have come considering

the growing demands of electric

charging stations in individual

houses and residential apartments

and other private sectors.

The electric vehicles scheme

of Delhi government was

launched last year aiming to

reduce fuel-running vehicles up to 25

per cent by 2024. To promote the

scheme, the government in February

this year had ordered all its departments,

autonomous bodies and grantee

institutions to replace their existing

fleet of hired conventional fuel vehicles

to electric vehicles.

To encourage the people of Delhi to

adopt e-vehicles instead of fuel-run

vehicles and has also offered a subsidy

of 10,000 per kWh to the first 1,000 e-

cars or electric four wheelers, with a

capping of Rs 150,000 per vehicle.

A subsidy of Rs 5,000 per kWh of

the battery capacity up to Rs 30,000 is

also to be given on the purchase of

each electric two-wheeler, auto-rickshaw,

rickshaw and freight vehicle.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021

25

THE FUTURE OF NATIONAL

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

Former Supreme Court Judge

Arun Mishra has taken over as Chair

Person of National Human Rights

Commission. Mishra was over staying

in his official residence after his

retirement and had not vacated the

place and sought extension under

this pretext or that. It was mandated

that only former Chief Justice of

Supreme Court would be eligible to

be the chairperson of NHRC but

because of non availability of ‘eligible’

person, the government amended

the law adding that any former

judge of Supreme Court would be

eligible to become the Chairperson

of National Human Rights

Commission.

National Human Rights

Commission came into existence

after tremendous international pressure

on India on human rights

issues. At the time of its formation

in 1993, the then government led by

P V Narsimha Rao appointed Justice

Rangnath Mishra, former Chief

Justice of India, as its first president.

Justice Mishra was known to protect

those big names of the Congress

Party involved in Delhi pogrom

against Sikhs in 1984. Shockingly

the Commission led by him said, ”

The commission therefore accept

the submission advanced before it

that the incidents against the Sikhs

on October 31st, 1984 started as a

natural reaction to the situation and

at that stage there was no organised

attempt to cause or spread violence

by rioting spread against Sikhs. The

Commission however reiterated that

the Sikhs as a community has not

committed any crime and were not

answerable for the abominable

attempt of the assailants.”

Rangnath Mishra got awarded for

his service to the Congress Party

and protecting Narsimha Rao, the

most inefficient home minister of

India when Indira Gandhi was

assassinated. Congress Party when

enjoyed unchallenged power had

violated all norms and procedures.

After retirement from National

Human Rights Commission,

Rangnath Mishra was appointed as

Rajya Sabha Member by the

Congress Party 1998-2004.

BJP is following the same text

book cases started by the Congress

Party and Mishras are common beneficiary.

Justice Arun Mishra during

his tenure pushed law against the

marginalised and protected the

interest of the government. As a

judge in the Supreme Court, he

mentioned that prime minister of

India is a visionary and a global

leader. In various cases of corruption,

he protected the corporate

houses and government.

Arun Mishra broke precedent and

sat in a committee which was made

to review his own judgement. In the

case of compensation related to land

acquisition he shamelessly proclaimed

that if the farmers were not

taken compensation but it has been

deposited in the treasury then it

should be regarded as paid. He protected

big business interests and

stood against the marginalised.

However, the biggest anti human

rights judgement of Arun Mishra

came on February 13th, 2019 when

he ordered eviction of one million

adivasis from their own homeland

without considering the crucial

aspect of their rehabilitation.

Making every indigenous person

look as criminal, Arun Mishra’s

judgment showed what ails Indian

judicial system and why it was

extremely necessary to have more

judges from the marginalised sections

in our top judicial services.

Though the Supreme Court stayed

the order yet it had already done the

damage. There are many such cases

where the victims of evictions too

were shown no mercy and ‘developmental’

projects were approved

without considering the issues of

honourable rehabilitation of the

rural or urban poor.

Hence the man whose track

record of being fair towards marginalised,

Dalits, adivasis has been

seemingly unfair, Arun Mishra’s

appointment at the National Human

Rights Commission is a signal by

the current regime to actually use

the Human Rights context to deny

justice to the marginalised. One can

not expect justice at the hands of

those who when in full power actually

denied them every opportunity.

The irony of our institutional

bodies related to the rights of the

marginalised or human rights is that

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

they have no space for civil society

activists or campaigner. These institutions

have become a easy space to

provide favor to those who have

‘given’ their ‘services’ to the government.

The institutions have

become hogwash and will only be

used to provide legitimacy to the

misdeeds of the state. They will represent

India at all the international

forums and deny everything that the

people are fighting for.

We dont expect the government

bodies to do miracles but they have

been useful on many occasions

when the head of the institution is

determined to fight the cause of

human rights and marginalised communities

and people. NHRC has

done many things with the help of

civil society organisations.

Mr Arun Mishra can undo many

things of the past by igniting the

NHRC and helping the marginalised

and the poor in getting justice. Will

he be able to do so or will he accept

everything that the government does

as it is headed by a ‘visionary

leader’ ?


26 16-06-2021 to 30-06-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

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