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The North-East Rolls Up Its Sleeves To Protest Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Student unions, civil society groups, and political parties from the north-eastern states are rallying against the revised Bill set to be introduced in the Parliament’s winter session.

Sabrangindia 16 Nov 2019
CAB
Image Courtesy: Telegraph India


As the Union government readies the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) for a reintroduction in the winter session of the Parliament, student unions, civil society organisations and political parties in the North-East gear up to protest such a move.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend theCitizenship Act, 1995 so as to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsi’s and Christians from neighbouringMuslim-majority nations.The new CAB, updated since its lapse in May 2019,includes provisions to amend the definition of illegal migrants, reduce the number of years required to obtain Indian citizenship through naturalization to six, and empower central Government to cancel the registration of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) in case of any violations.

ETV Bharat reported that the bill is likely to be tabled in the first half of the winter session, between November 18 and December 13.Taking note of the proposed move of the central government, opposition parties in the North-East have already started opposing such a move.
 

Students Unions Protest

On November 15, 2019, members and supporters of AsomJatiyabadi Yuba ChhatraParishad (AJYCP)took out rallies, and held sit-in demonstrations at several places, including Guwahati, Mangaldoi, Sonari and Jorthat.They raised slogans against the BJP-led central and Assam governments for allegedly adopting an “anti-Assam policy”with their push for amending the Citizenship Act'.

The All Assam Student Union (AASU) and NESO (North East Students Organization) also announced that its members will be holding demonstrations around the Raj Bhawan to oppose the proposed billon November 18. Times of Indiareportedgeneral secretary LurinjyotiGogoi saying, “the citizenship amendment will never be accepted. We will not let BJP destroy the state.”

The Telegraph further reported that at least another 11 political parties, under the banner of the Left Democratic Manch (LDM), Assam, on Friday announced an agitation against the bill on November 18. The protest will coincide with another demonstrations called by the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), in all northeastern state capitals the same day.

Samujjal Bhattacharyya, chief advisor for AASU and NESO, accused Assam Chief Minister SarbanandaSonowal of “not having the courage to speak in front of his national leaders.”

The proposed Bill has also received student opposition in other North-Eastern states.
 

Civil society and political parties

On November 15, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a joint body of major civil society organisations, demanded a written assurance from the Central Government on protection of the State’s interests and territory. Since the past month, they have been conducting“alert demonstrations” and “alert marches” to highlight the need to safeguard the State’s interests and territory.At one such alert meeting, MLA KMeghachandraadvised the State Government to make its stand clear to dispel the apprehension of people.As the agreement reached is being kept secret, people could not trust that the State's integrity will remain intact, he noted.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had earliersaid that if enacted, the Bill could be detrimental to the Northeastern region and the party would strongly oppose it.In Meghalaya, the Congresshas heldprotest ralliesagainst the CABinWilliamnagarof East Garo Hills,Resubelparaof North Garo Hills, Garobadha village in South West Garo Hills, with former Chief Minister, Dr.MukulSangma leading the charge.

In response to a 15-member Congress delegation that sought his support, CPI general secretary D Raja assured that his party will oppose the controversial Bill in the winter session. Raja further said that he will raise the Naga accord too in the Parliament.

Delhi-based rights group Rights & Risks Analysis Group had reported that pushing forthe revised CAB in the winter session of Parliament will have repercussions across the north-eastern states and balkanise the region. The bill, if passed, would throw out some 10 lakh people from Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

 

Related:

House heat for winter session: Enter citizenship amendment Bill

In shocking move, Bengal decides to build detention camps

Listen, Muslim Bhai

The North-East Rolls Up Its Sleeves To Protest Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Student unions, civil society groups, and political parties from the north-eastern states are rallying against the revised Bill set to be introduced in the Parliament’s winter session.

CAB
Image Courtesy: Telegraph India


As the Union government readies the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) for a reintroduction in the winter session of the Parliament, student unions, civil society organisations and political parties in the North-East gear up to protest such a move.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend theCitizenship Act, 1995 so as to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsi’s and Christians from neighbouringMuslim-majority nations.The new CAB, updated since its lapse in May 2019,includes provisions to amend the definition of illegal migrants, reduce the number of years required to obtain Indian citizenship through naturalization to six, and empower central Government to cancel the registration of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) in case of any violations.

ETV Bharat reported that the bill is likely to be tabled in the first half of the winter session, between November 18 and December 13.Taking note of the proposed move of the central government, opposition parties in the North-East have already started opposing such a move.
 

Students Unions Protest

On November 15, 2019, members and supporters of AsomJatiyabadi Yuba ChhatraParishad (AJYCP)took out rallies, and held sit-in demonstrations at several places, including Guwahati, Mangaldoi, Sonari and Jorthat.They raised slogans against the BJP-led central and Assam governments for allegedly adopting an “anti-Assam policy”with their push for amending the Citizenship Act'.

The All Assam Student Union (AASU) and NESO (North East Students Organization) also announced that its members will be holding demonstrations around the Raj Bhawan to oppose the proposed billon November 18. Times of Indiareportedgeneral secretary LurinjyotiGogoi saying, “the citizenship amendment will never be accepted. We will not let BJP destroy the state.”

The Telegraph further reported that at least another 11 political parties, under the banner of the Left Democratic Manch (LDM), Assam, on Friday announced an agitation against the bill on November 18. The protest will coincide with another demonstrations called by the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), in all northeastern state capitals the same day.

Samujjal Bhattacharyya, chief advisor for AASU and NESO, accused Assam Chief Minister SarbanandaSonowal of “not having the courage to speak in front of his national leaders.”

The proposed Bill has also received student opposition in other North-Eastern states.
 

Civil society and political parties

On November 15, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a joint body of major civil society organisations, demanded a written assurance from the Central Government on protection of the State’s interests and territory. Since the past month, they have been conducting“alert demonstrations” and “alert marches” to highlight the need to safeguard the State’s interests and territory.At one such alert meeting, MLA KMeghachandraadvised the State Government to make its stand clear to dispel the apprehension of people.As the agreement reached is being kept secret, people could not trust that the State's integrity will remain intact, he noted.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had earliersaid that if enacted, the Bill could be detrimental to the Northeastern region and the party would strongly oppose it.In Meghalaya, the Congresshas heldprotest ralliesagainst the CABinWilliamnagarof East Garo Hills,Resubelparaof North Garo Hills, Garobadha village in South West Garo Hills, with former Chief Minister, Dr.MukulSangma leading the charge.

In response to a 15-member Congress delegation that sought his support, CPI general secretary D Raja assured that his party will oppose the controversial Bill in the winter session. Raja further said that he will raise the Naga accord too in the Parliament.

Delhi-based rights group Rights & Risks Analysis Group had reported that pushing forthe revised CAB in the winter session of Parliament will have repercussions across the north-eastern states and balkanise the region. The bill, if passed, would throw out some 10 lakh people from Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

 

Related:

House heat for winter session: Enter citizenship amendment Bill

In shocking move, Bengal decides to build detention camps

Listen, Muslim Bhai

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Bhopal gas tragedy victims lose a true friend

Abdul Jabbar was shy of seeking funds. The advice by his friends to create a corpus (for which many of his well-wishers had expressed their eagerness to contribute) was always dismissed by him with cynicism

N D Sharma 16 Nov 2019


Bhopal: For over 30 years, Abdul Jabbar struggled to get medical and economic rehabilitation for the victims of Bhopal Gas Disaster of 1984 which had claimed an estimated 20,000 lives over the years and afflicted over a lakh of persons with a variety of ailments. Whatever has taken place in the two fields is mainly due to his efforts. But he left this world on Thursday night (November 14) without his own medical and economic rehabilitation.

Himself a victim of the world’s biggest industrial disaster, he was diabetic, had partially lost his eyesight (treated in a Tamil Nadu hospital with the funds collected through the efforts of senior journalist Hartosh Singh Bal) and was also suffering from heart and kidney problems. Sometime back his left foot was injured in an accident and the injury had developed gangrene. He was admitted to Kamla Nehru Hospital meant for the gas victims. Later he was taken to the so-called super speciality Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) which was constructed under the direction of the Supreme Court to provide specialised treatment to the gas victims.

Senior journalist and a close friend of Jabbar’s Aashutosh Shukla wrote in the Times of India two days ago that the two hospitals could not provide the required treatment to Jabbar. Shukla quoted Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO), Gas Relief, Ravi Verma as admitting to a shortage of expert doctors in the various Gas Relief hospitals and adding that Jabbar had been admitted to a private nursing home and the total expenditure on his treatment would be borne by the Gas Relief Department.

Whenever there was another programme like holding a rally or undertaking a march, the survivors made their own contributions to defray the expenses. This all had a disastrous effect on his family life as well as on his personal health.

Of the dozens of voluntary organisations which had sprung up in Bhopal in the wake of the tragedy, only Jabbar’s Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) remained active and completely dedicated to the victims’ rehabilitation. When Jabbar was not busy finalising a petition or appeal to seek relief for the victims, he was running around Gas Relief hospitals or dispensaries pleading the case of some survivor who had earlier been turned away. At other times he was trying to find some soft employment for those whose physical strength had been shattered by the effect of the MiC gas inhaled when the tragedy had occurred. His assistance had been sought by almost every one of the survivors either for getting medicine or for processing his papers for compensation or for pleading with a claims court judge who had rejected the papers on flimsy grounds.

Jabbar was shy of seeking funds. The advice by his friends to create a corpus (for which many of his well-wishers had expressed their eagerness to contribute) was always dismissed by him with cynicism. His belief was that fund collection led to various ills. Matters were arranged on ad hoc basis. Some public spirited advocates, Prashant Bhushan mainly, helped in preparation of petitions and appeals and some friends contributed for the paper work.

Whenever there was another programme like holding a rally or undertaking a march, the survivors made their own contributions to defray the expenses. This all had a disastrous effect on his family life as well as on his personal health.

With Jabbar’s death, it gets urgency. For those who wish to contribute, here are the details: Sayra Bano; Account No. 062510029807; Bank of Baroda (formerly Dena Bank); IFSC Code BKDN 0810625; T T Nagar Bhopal Branch.

After the Gas Relief hospitals had failed him and he was admitted to the private nursing home, the State Government had become aware of the gravity of his condition and taken the initiative to shift him to Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai, for better medical care. While the logistics were being worked out, Jabbar had two massive heart attacks, one after the other and that was all.

Some of his friends had, meanwhile, decided to seek public contributions to support his family comprising his wife Sayra and three young children. An account was also opened in a nationalised bank in Sayra’s name and an appeal was issued for contribution. With Jabbar’s death, it gets urgency. For those who wish to contribute, here are the details: Sayra Bano; Account No. 062510029807; Bank of Baroda (formerly Dena Bank); IFSC Code BKDN 0810625; T T Nagar Bhopal Branch.


Courtesy: https://enewsroom.in/

Bhopal gas tragedy victims lose a true friend

Abdul Jabbar was shy of seeking funds. The advice by his friends to create a corpus (for which many of his well-wishers had expressed their eagerness to contribute) was always dismissed by him with cynicism


Bhopal: For over 30 years, Abdul Jabbar struggled to get medical and economic rehabilitation for the victims of Bhopal Gas Disaster of 1984 which had claimed an estimated 20,000 lives over the years and afflicted over a lakh of persons with a variety of ailments. Whatever has taken place in the two fields is mainly due to his efforts. But he left this world on Thursday night (November 14) without his own medical and economic rehabilitation.

Himself a victim of the world’s biggest industrial disaster, he was diabetic, had partially lost his eyesight (treated in a Tamil Nadu hospital with the funds collected through the efforts of senior journalist Hartosh Singh Bal) and was also suffering from heart and kidney problems. Sometime back his left foot was injured in an accident and the injury had developed gangrene. He was admitted to Kamla Nehru Hospital meant for the gas victims. Later he was taken to the so-called super speciality Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) which was constructed under the direction of the Supreme Court to provide specialised treatment to the gas victims.

Senior journalist and a close friend of Jabbar’s Aashutosh Shukla wrote in the Times of India two days ago that the two hospitals could not provide the required treatment to Jabbar. Shukla quoted Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO), Gas Relief, Ravi Verma as admitting to a shortage of expert doctors in the various Gas Relief hospitals and adding that Jabbar had been admitted to a private nursing home and the total expenditure on his treatment would be borne by the Gas Relief Department.

Whenever there was another programme like holding a rally or undertaking a march, the survivors made their own contributions to defray the expenses. This all had a disastrous effect on his family life as well as on his personal health.

Of the dozens of voluntary organisations which had sprung up in Bhopal in the wake of the tragedy, only Jabbar’s Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) remained active and completely dedicated to the victims’ rehabilitation. When Jabbar was not busy finalising a petition or appeal to seek relief for the victims, he was running around Gas Relief hospitals or dispensaries pleading the case of some survivor who had earlier been turned away. At other times he was trying to find some soft employment for those whose physical strength had been shattered by the effect of the MiC gas inhaled when the tragedy had occurred. His assistance had been sought by almost every one of the survivors either for getting medicine or for processing his papers for compensation or for pleading with a claims court judge who had rejected the papers on flimsy grounds.

Jabbar was shy of seeking funds. The advice by his friends to create a corpus (for which many of his well-wishers had expressed their eagerness to contribute) was always dismissed by him with cynicism. His belief was that fund collection led to various ills. Matters were arranged on ad hoc basis. Some public spirited advocates, Prashant Bhushan mainly, helped in preparation of petitions and appeals and some friends contributed for the paper work.

Whenever there was another programme like holding a rally or undertaking a march, the survivors made their own contributions to defray the expenses. This all had a disastrous effect on his family life as well as on his personal health.

With Jabbar’s death, it gets urgency. For those who wish to contribute, here are the details: Sayra Bano; Account No. 062510029807; Bank of Baroda (formerly Dena Bank); IFSC Code BKDN 0810625; T T Nagar Bhopal Branch.

After the Gas Relief hospitals had failed him and he was admitted to the private nursing home, the State Government had become aware of the gravity of his condition and taken the initiative to shift him to Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai, for better medical care. While the logistics were being worked out, Jabbar had two massive heart attacks, one after the other and that was all.

Some of his friends had, meanwhile, decided to seek public contributions to support his family comprising his wife Sayra and three young children. An account was also opened in a nationalised bank in Sayra’s name and an appeal was issued for contribution. With Jabbar’s death, it gets urgency. For those who wish to contribute, here are the details: Sayra Bano; Account No. 062510029807; Bank of Baroda (formerly Dena Bank); IFSC Code BKDN 0810625; T T Nagar Bhopal Branch.


Courtesy: https://enewsroom.in/

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In shocking move, Bengal decides to build detention camps

Remember when Mamata Banerjee had said, ‘I’m your paharadar, nobody can displace you from Bengal’? Well, her true intentions are now under the scanner as her government is in the process of building two detention camps, apparently for accommodating just 110 under trial foreign nationals.

Sabrangindia 16 Nov 2019

Detention Camps

The radar spikes each time one hears that a detention camp is being set up in the rest of the country, apart from Assam. While Assam is supposed to finish the construction of a detention camp in Goalpara in accordance with the detention camp manual issued by Centre, other states like Maharashtra and Karnataka have already followed the bandwagon. There have been confirmed reports of Maharashtra government acquiring land for building a detention camp in the outskirts of Mumbai and construction of detention camp in outskirts of Bengaluru is already underway as confirmed by State government officials.

The reports of construction of detention camps in West Bengal, however, has struck like a bolt. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minsiter of West Bengal has vehemently criticised the process of NRC all along and leaves no opportunity to disparage it. The Telegraph reported that Bengal is in the process of constructing two detention camps, for which it has identified land in New Town and Bongaon.

The State’s Correctional Services Minister has said that the proposed detention camps had nothing to do with NRC and it is only for foreign nationals who are arrested on criminal charges and who mostly hail from sub-Saharan African nations. According to state correction services department, Bengal has 110 foreign nationals who are under trials. The Ministry further said that they are only following the Supreme Court’s directives about keeping foreign nationals in separate detention camps in accordance with international norms.

Mrinal Sharma, Policy Advisor with Amnesty International India said that the government does have the power to detain foreigners and build detention centres under the Foreigners Act, it is only to be sued as a last resort. She added that rampant use of detention was not in accordance with international law, which permits detention to be used only as a last resort where it is necessary, reasonable, and proportionate to a legitimate government objective.
 

Centre preps for nation-wide NRC

In November last year, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that process for framing guidelines for keeping foreign nationals in detention centre across the country was under preparation. Reportedly, the Central Ministry of Home Affairs issued a ‘2019 Model Detention manual’ in January this year to all the States and Union Territories specifying the amenities to be provided in such camps.
 

Bengal’s stand against NRC

The State’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has clearly stated time and again that Detention centres for undocumented immigrants will not be built in West Bengal. At an administrative review meeting in Siliguri town, she reiterated, “There is no question of detention camps. They have to do it through the state government, but we are not going to do that. You can be rest assured about it. There will be no detention camp in Bengal.”

West Bengal Communist Party of India (Marxist) Secretary Surya Kanta Mishra had said at a party gathering in Howrah that the party would lead people to demolish detention centres if the Centre tried to build them.

BJP state chief, however, dismissed these statements and mocking Banerjee said, “She loves to talk big,” Ghosh said. “Could she prevent implementation of GST, abrogation of Article 370 and the Triple Talaq Bill? She will not be able to prevent it once the process of National Register of Citizens is launched by the Centre.”

It is not just the ruling government in Bengal that has been against the implementation of nation-wide NRC. There is a Joint Forum Against NRC which is set to begin a rally from November 15 onwards which is to begin from Darjeeling and conclude at Kakdwip on December 8. Kanhaiya Kumar is to flag off the yatra. In the Yatra 50 members of the forum will pass through major districts of the state and demand inclusion of the 19 lakh NRC excluded persons as citizens, scrapping of National population Register, NRC, withdrawal of Citizenship Amendment Bill, among other things.
 

Why the detention camps then?

While sources from the west Bengal government claim that the two proposed detention camps are absolutely not for the purpose of NRC but only for detaining foreign nationals hailing from sub-Saharan African regions booked for crimes, the actions are still dubious. One wonders why a state like West Bengal which has put its foot down against carrying out NRC, is now building detention camps, albeit under a guise. The real motive of the state government is hard to ascertain at this moment but this development is bound to instil more fear amongst the citizens in Bengal which has already seen suicides in anticipation of NRC in the state.

 

Related:
Bengal camps for arrested foreigners
Rally in Bengal from November 15 against NRC
Detention centres for undocumented immigrants will not be be built in West Bengal: Mamata Banerjee
Don't spend tax-payers money on detention centres: Anti-NRC Forum
‘I’m your paharadar, nobody can displace you from Bengal’: Mamata on NRC
Bengal Suicide: Panic over NRC is taking lives

In shocking move, Bengal decides to build detention camps

Remember when Mamata Banerjee had said, ‘I’m your paharadar, nobody can displace you from Bengal’? Well, her true intentions are now under the scanner as her government is in the process of building two detention camps, apparently for accommodating just 110 under trial foreign nationals.

Detention Camps

The radar spikes each time one hears that a detention camp is being set up in the rest of the country, apart from Assam. While Assam is supposed to finish the construction of a detention camp in Goalpara in accordance with the detention camp manual issued by Centre, other states like Maharashtra and Karnataka have already followed the bandwagon. There have been confirmed reports of Maharashtra government acquiring land for building a detention camp in the outskirts of Mumbai and construction of detention camp in outskirts of Bengaluru is already underway as confirmed by State government officials.

The reports of construction of detention camps in West Bengal, however, has struck like a bolt. Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minsiter of West Bengal has vehemently criticised the process of NRC all along and leaves no opportunity to disparage it. The Telegraph reported that Bengal is in the process of constructing two detention camps, for which it has identified land in New Town and Bongaon.

The State’s Correctional Services Minister has said that the proposed detention camps had nothing to do with NRC and it is only for foreign nationals who are arrested on criminal charges and who mostly hail from sub-Saharan African nations. According to state correction services department, Bengal has 110 foreign nationals who are under trials. The Ministry further said that they are only following the Supreme Court’s directives about keeping foreign nationals in separate detention camps in accordance with international norms.

Mrinal Sharma, Policy Advisor with Amnesty International India said that the government does have the power to detain foreigners and build detention centres under the Foreigners Act, it is only to be sued as a last resort. She added that rampant use of detention was not in accordance with international law, which permits detention to be used only as a last resort where it is necessary, reasonable, and proportionate to a legitimate government objective.
 

Centre preps for nation-wide NRC

In November last year, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that process for framing guidelines for keeping foreign nationals in detention centre across the country was under preparation. Reportedly, the Central Ministry of Home Affairs issued a ‘2019 Model Detention manual’ in January this year to all the States and Union Territories specifying the amenities to be provided in such camps.
 

Bengal’s stand against NRC

The State’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has clearly stated time and again that Detention centres for undocumented immigrants will not be built in West Bengal. At an administrative review meeting in Siliguri town, she reiterated, “There is no question of detention camps. They have to do it through the state government, but we are not going to do that. You can be rest assured about it. There will be no detention camp in Bengal.”

West Bengal Communist Party of India (Marxist) Secretary Surya Kanta Mishra had said at a party gathering in Howrah that the party would lead people to demolish detention centres if the Centre tried to build them.

BJP state chief, however, dismissed these statements and mocking Banerjee said, “She loves to talk big,” Ghosh said. “Could she prevent implementation of GST, abrogation of Article 370 and the Triple Talaq Bill? She will not be able to prevent it once the process of National Register of Citizens is launched by the Centre.”

It is not just the ruling government in Bengal that has been against the implementation of nation-wide NRC. There is a Joint Forum Against NRC which is set to begin a rally from November 15 onwards which is to begin from Darjeeling and conclude at Kakdwip on December 8. Kanhaiya Kumar is to flag off the yatra. In the Yatra 50 members of the forum will pass through major districts of the state and demand inclusion of the 19 lakh NRC excluded persons as citizens, scrapping of National population Register, NRC, withdrawal of Citizenship Amendment Bill, among other things.
 

Why the detention camps then?

While sources from the west Bengal government claim that the two proposed detention camps are absolutely not for the purpose of NRC but only for detaining foreign nationals hailing from sub-Saharan African regions booked for crimes, the actions are still dubious. One wonders why a state like West Bengal which has put its foot down against carrying out NRC, is now building detention camps, albeit under a guise. The real motive of the state government is hard to ascertain at this moment but this development is bound to instil more fear amongst the citizens in Bengal which has already seen suicides in anticipation of NRC in the state.

 

Related:
Bengal camps for arrested foreigners
Rally in Bengal from November 15 against NRC
Detention centres for undocumented immigrants will not be be built in West Bengal: Mamata Banerjee
Don't spend tax-payers money on detention centres: Anti-NRC Forum
‘I’m your paharadar, nobody can displace you from Bengal’: Mamata on NRC
Bengal Suicide: Panic over NRC is taking lives

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Beyond the call of duty – the Assam story

If you ever believed in angels, this would certainly renew your belief. One of the many things that keep us going is that despite of all the evil, there is still some good in the world. One such good Samaritan, Dilip Das, the headmaster of a school in Tripura travelled all the way to Assam to submit documents that ultimately led to a woman being freed from the detention centre and being declared a citizen by a Foreigners Tribunal.

Sabrangindia 16 Nov 2019
NRC
Image Courtesy: Times of India

It was reported that Dilip Das, Headmaster of Charilam HS School in Tripura used up 10 of his annual leaves to travel to Nalbari in Assam and stayed to make sure that the 61 years old Gita Rani Sarkar is freed based on the school’s documents where she had studied for a brief period.

The brief background of the case

Gita Rani’s name was excluded from the NRC even as her sons and other family members were included as being citizens by birth. She had failed to produce any authentic documents dated prior to 1971 that would establish her birth year as 1958. Documents like citizenship certificate issued by Tripura government in 1960s were rejected and even sub-divisional magistrate of Bishalgarh was unable to verify her school certificate in absence of a corroborative record.

The ultimate good deed

When she claimed that she studied in Class VI in Charilam HS School in 1970, the tribunal summoned the headmaster to verify her credentials and so Das dug out almost 50 years old school records to find Gita Rani’s association with the school. He could have simply sent the records he found, by post, to the Tribunal but being aware of the plight of many people in Assam who were suffering due to being excluded from NRC, he did not wish to take any kind of risk and wanted to ensure that the documents reach the Tribunal and are accepted by the Tribunal.

When he failed to locate Gita Rani after reaching Nalbari, he himself remained present before the Tribunal and submitted documents such as the school’s merit list and the Tribunal was convinced. Few days later Gita Rani was declared a citizen by the Tribunal and her name was removed from the detention centre’s list.

Not only that, the education department in Tripura, in recognition of Dilip Das’ humanitarian act, offered to convert his leave of absence into official duty.

The actions of both Dilip Das as well as Tripura education department have just reinforced our hope in humanity. We are sure many such individuals selflessly help people in Assam by going out of the way but only few such stories reach us. We hope more such heartening stories reach us, so we can bring them to you.

 

Related:
Towards Strengthening Women Leadership at the Grassroots
CJP works towards release of detainees in Assam
Lives shattered by NRC, CJP reaches out and intervenes
CJP helps Detention Camp victim’s son resume education

Beyond the call of duty – the Assam story

If you ever believed in angels, this would certainly renew your belief. One of the many things that keep us going is that despite of all the evil, there is still some good in the world. One such good Samaritan, Dilip Das, the headmaster of a school in Tripura travelled all the way to Assam to submit documents that ultimately led to a woman being freed from the detention centre and being declared a citizen by a Foreigners Tribunal.

NRC
Image Courtesy: Times of India

It was reported that Dilip Das, Headmaster of Charilam HS School in Tripura used up 10 of his annual leaves to travel to Nalbari in Assam and stayed to make sure that the 61 years old Gita Rani Sarkar is freed based on the school’s documents where she had studied for a brief period.

The brief background of the case

Gita Rani’s name was excluded from the NRC even as her sons and other family members were included as being citizens by birth. She had failed to produce any authentic documents dated prior to 1971 that would establish her birth year as 1958. Documents like citizenship certificate issued by Tripura government in 1960s were rejected and even sub-divisional magistrate of Bishalgarh was unable to verify her school certificate in absence of a corroborative record.

The ultimate good deed

When she claimed that she studied in Class VI in Charilam HS School in 1970, the tribunal summoned the headmaster to verify her credentials and so Das dug out almost 50 years old school records to find Gita Rani’s association with the school. He could have simply sent the records he found, by post, to the Tribunal but being aware of the plight of many people in Assam who were suffering due to being excluded from NRC, he did not wish to take any kind of risk and wanted to ensure that the documents reach the Tribunal and are accepted by the Tribunal.

When he failed to locate Gita Rani after reaching Nalbari, he himself remained present before the Tribunal and submitted documents such as the school’s merit list and the Tribunal was convinced. Few days later Gita Rani was declared a citizen by the Tribunal and her name was removed from the detention centre’s list.

Not only that, the education department in Tripura, in recognition of Dilip Das’ humanitarian act, offered to convert his leave of absence into official duty.

The actions of both Dilip Das as well as Tripura education department have just reinforced our hope in humanity. We are sure many such individuals selflessly help people in Assam by going out of the way but only few such stories reach us. We hope more such heartening stories reach us, so we can bring them to you.

 

Related:
Towards Strengthening Women Leadership at the Grassroots
CJP works towards release of detainees in Assam
Lives shattered by NRC, CJP reaches out and intervenes
CJP helps Detention Camp victim’s son resume education

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Kashmir After Abrogation of Article 370: Lies and Propaganda Galore

Ram Puniyani 16 Nov 2019
article 370
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com


It is over three months that the Article 370 has been abrogated. The procedure laid down by the law has been given a go bye and through a majority in Lok Sabha, bypassing the people of Kashmir the act has been done. While many a falsehood has been promoted, lately two such surfaced yet again. Paying tribute to Sardar Patel on 31st October, Sardar’s anniversary, Narendra Modi, dedicated the abolition of this article to him. Interestingly it was Sardar who was crucial part of the Committee which had drafted the said article. Also it was Sardar Patel who had moved the resolution of Article 370 in Constituent Assembly as Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, one dealing with the issue as External Affairs minister, was away to US at that time.

With lapse of time not only the ancient and medieval history is being doctored to suit the communal politics, even the recent history is also under mutilation by likes of Modi who are currently ruling the roost. The other point which the Prime Minster and the other top officials are harping strongly is that it was this article due to which terrorism was getting a boost! The point they want to make is that with the abrogation of this article terrorism will be controlled in the troubled state. As public memory is short it is necessary to recall that while hurling the disaster of demonetization on the country, similar claim was made that counterfeit currency is fuelling the terrorism and demonetization will wipe out the militancy in Kashmir. As the matters turned out along with other claims about merits of demonetization even this claim turned out to be totally hollow and false.

As a blockade has been put on Kashmir, normal life brought to standstill, local leaders arrested and national leaders not permitted to visit the valley, in a very clever manner a delegation of some European right wing MPs has been put together by some business person, in the name of an NGO. The invitation to the MP, Chris Davies, who said that he will like to meet the local people on his own; was withdrawn right away and the compliant MP’s did come for a the trip. Their job was to give the ‘All is well’ certificate to the Modi Governments move after the ‘conducted tour’, which they enjoyed.

During this period despite the presence of military in large numbers, despite the claims that the abolition of this article will curtail terrorism in the valley, already disturbing killings have been taking place. In one such tragic incident five migrant workers from West Bengal have been done to death, shot dead in Jammu Kashmir’s Kulgam. Prior to this there was attack on people related to fruit trade. In another shocking and painful incident one person died and fifteen injured in a grenade attack in Srinagar, in a vegetable market where vendors were targeted.

On one hand the people of J&K are feeling humiliated as their state has been demoted to a Union Territory and on the other there are boasts that this is what was the dream of Sardar Patel!

The false hood that India has eliminated one big reason behind terrorism is totally away from truth. This understanding negates the facts of history and builds the narrative to suit the politics being pursued by BJP. Why was militancy there in Kashmir? As such the story begins with Pakistan’s attack on Kashmir, in the form of Kabayalis (Tribal), who were backed by the Pakistan army. Since Kashmiri people did not want to succumb to the “Two Nation Theory” propagated by communal elements, since they were more for secular democracy, they did request Indian Government to quell the Pakistani aggression. The complex process leading the treaty of Accession and later article 370 through Indian Constituent Assembly has been dealt with extensively by serious commentators.

The efforts of likes Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to put pressure to forcibly merge Kashmir with India, the rise of communal politics in India sent the feeling of disenchantment to Sheikh Abdullah in particular, the one who as such was instrumental in accession of Kashmir to India. To cut the long story short, Sheikh’s apprehensions were answered by putting him in the prison and this is what sowed the seeds of alienation among people of Kashmir. This alienation of Kashmir people duly supported by Pakistan is what has been the root cause of terrorism in Kashmir. Article 370 was the protective cover which by giving the autonomy to the state of J&K was a big obstacle to the proliferation of terrorism as such. Of course the global situation where by America sowed the seeds of Al Qaeda to fight against Russian army added on to the problem as the Al Qaeda and its clones, after defeating the Russian army in alliance with anti Soviet Forces, made their entry into the troubled state, and communalized the militancy. Thirty years down the line now the picture is being presented in an obverse way.

What was needed was to instill more democracy in the state and involve the disgruntled elements into the process of dialogue. Of course the negative role of Pakistan, backed up thoroughly by America has been the major factor. The problems can be solved only when the correct diagnosis of the issue is made. The warped understanding of recent history by communalists, is dictating the current politics and so the blame of militancy is being put on article 370. Article 370 has also been blamed for lack of development in Kashmir.

The truth is that in social development indices Kashmir’s indices are better than many states and above the national averages. Time alone will tell how Pakistan behaves, how the cancerous Al Qaeda type elements will be tackled within the state. An all round process of dialogues on the issue is a must. Strengthening of democratic process seems to be the only way to restore peace and overcome the violence which is the tormenting the people of Kashmir!

Kashmir After Abrogation of Article 370: Lies and Propaganda Galore

article 370
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com


It is over three months that the Article 370 has been abrogated. The procedure laid down by the law has been given a go bye and through a majority in Lok Sabha, bypassing the people of Kashmir the act has been done. While many a falsehood has been promoted, lately two such surfaced yet again. Paying tribute to Sardar Patel on 31st October, Sardar’s anniversary, Narendra Modi, dedicated the abolition of this article to him. Interestingly it was Sardar who was crucial part of the Committee which had drafted the said article. Also it was Sardar Patel who had moved the resolution of Article 370 in Constituent Assembly as Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, one dealing with the issue as External Affairs minister, was away to US at that time.

With lapse of time not only the ancient and medieval history is being doctored to suit the communal politics, even the recent history is also under mutilation by likes of Modi who are currently ruling the roost. The other point which the Prime Minster and the other top officials are harping strongly is that it was this article due to which terrorism was getting a boost! The point they want to make is that with the abrogation of this article terrorism will be controlled in the troubled state. As public memory is short it is necessary to recall that while hurling the disaster of demonetization on the country, similar claim was made that counterfeit currency is fuelling the terrorism and demonetization will wipe out the militancy in Kashmir. As the matters turned out along with other claims about merits of demonetization even this claim turned out to be totally hollow and false.

As a blockade has been put on Kashmir, normal life brought to standstill, local leaders arrested and national leaders not permitted to visit the valley, in a very clever manner a delegation of some European right wing MPs has been put together by some business person, in the name of an NGO. The invitation to the MP, Chris Davies, who said that he will like to meet the local people on his own; was withdrawn right away and the compliant MP’s did come for a the trip. Their job was to give the ‘All is well’ certificate to the Modi Governments move after the ‘conducted tour’, which they enjoyed.

During this period despite the presence of military in large numbers, despite the claims that the abolition of this article will curtail terrorism in the valley, already disturbing killings have been taking place. In one such tragic incident five migrant workers from West Bengal have been done to death, shot dead in Jammu Kashmir’s Kulgam. Prior to this there was attack on people related to fruit trade. In another shocking and painful incident one person died and fifteen injured in a grenade attack in Srinagar, in a vegetable market where vendors were targeted.

On one hand the people of J&K are feeling humiliated as their state has been demoted to a Union Territory and on the other there are boasts that this is what was the dream of Sardar Patel!

The false hood that India has eliminated one big reason behind terrorism is totally away from truth. This understanding negates the facts of history and builds the narrative to suit the politics being pursued by BJP. Why was militancy there in Kashmir? As such the story begins with Pakistan’s attack on Kashmir, in the form of Kabayalis (Tribal), who were backed by the Pakistan army. Since Kashmiri people did not want to succumb to the “Two Nation Theory” propagated by communal elements, since they were more for secular democracy, they did request Indian Government to quell the Pakistani aggression. The complex process leading the treaty of Accession and later article 370 through Indian Constituent Assembly has been dealt with extensively by serious commentators.

The efforts of likes Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to put pressure to forcibly merge Kashmir with India, the rise of communal politics in India sent the feeling of disenchantment to Sheikh Abdullah in particular, the one who as such was instrumental in accession of Kashmir to India. To cut the long story short, Sheikh’s apprehensions were answered by putting him in the prison and this is what sowed the seeds of alienation among people of Kashmir. This alienation of Kashmir people duly supported by Pakistan is what has been the root cause of terrorism in Kashmir. Article 370 was the protective cover which by giving the autonomy to the state of J&K was a big obstacle to the proliferation of terrorism as such. Of course the global situation where by America sowed the seeds of Al Qaeda to fight against Russian army added on to the problem as the Al Qaeda and its clones, after defeating the Russian army in alliance with anti Soviet Forces, made their entry into the troubled state, and communalized the militancy. Thirty years down the line now the picture is being presented in an obverse way.

What was needed was to instill more democracy in the state and involve the disgruntled elements into the process of dialogue. Of course the negative role of Pakistan, backed up thoroughly by America has been the major factor. The problems can be solved only when the correct diagnosis of the issue is made. The warped understanding of recent history by communalists, is dictating the current politics and so the blame of militancy is being put on article 370. Article 370 has also been blamed for lack of development in Kashmir.

The truth is that in social development indices Kashmir’s indices are better than many states and above the national averages. Time alone will tell how Pakistan behaves, how the cancerous Al Qaeda type elements will be tackled within the state. An all round process of dialogues on the issue is a must. Strengthening of democratic process seems to be the only way to restore peace and overcome the violence which is the tormenting the people of Kashmir!

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Amnesty International targeted once again, this time by CBI

The government’s veiled efforts to completely clamp down human rights activists in India has now become quite apparent.

Sabrangindia 15 Nov 2019

Amnesty

Remember when the Union Home Minister recently made a statement on the lines of Human Rights being a foreign concept? With that as a background, the raids being conducted on human rights organizations and activists are painting a rather chilling picture. Organizations like Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and Lawyers Collective have already been whipped. Who’s next?

On the eve of November 15, the CBI conducted raids at the Bengaluru head office of Amnesty International India in connection with accusations that the non-profit had received foreign funds. The government had earlier declined permission to the Amnesty International India Foundation Trust that has been critical of security agencies in several cases including the arrest of activists such as Sudha Bharadwaj, Rona Wilson and Varavara Rao, who was accused of being a Maoist ideologue, for receiving foreign funds.  

Reportedly, connections are being drawn between these raids and the appointment of Avinash Kumar, a JNU alumnus as the India head for Amnesty International.

What Amnesty International has to say

In a statement issued by Amnesty International in response to the raids, they said, “It’s a great challenge to be leading Amnesty at a time when civil and political rights seem to be increasingly violated in the context of people asserting their socio-economic rights.” The statement further said, "Over the past year, a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India. Amnesty India stands in full compliance with Indian and international law. Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance, and dissent."

The plight of Human Rights Activists in India

A 2018 Gulf News headline read, “Threatened: Is Narendra Modi now demonetising democracy?”. This was in the light of the nation-wide raids that were carried out in the homes of human rights activists in India, terming them as urban naxals, after violence broke out after ‘Elgar Parishad’ in Pune, last year. There were even random allegations that in the large scheme of things, there was a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Modi!

This was not the only attack on human rights activism that had been carried out via enforcement agencies. In what can be termed as a calculated move, the Amnesty International offices were raided by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last year and their offices were raided again by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today in Bengaluru.

ED had conducted the searches last year in connection with alleged violation of foreign direct investment norms linked to a previous case of revocation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of the NGO by the Union Home Ministry in 2010. The ED had also frozen over a dozen bank accounts of environmental NGO Greenpeace and its linked entity after it conducted searches at premises of Amnesty International in Bengaluru on charges of alleged forex violations after taking cognisance of the FCRA action against it.

Al Jazeera had reported in 2018 that since coming to power in 2014, the Modi government had cancelled FCRA licences of over 15,000 charities. Greenpeace India, which had repeatedly pushed the government to address hazardous air quality in cities across India, said this month that it was forced to close two regional offices and sharply reduce its staff after its Bengaluru offices were raided and its bank accounts were frozen.

Prashant Bhushan, a public interest lawyer and activist had written an opinion piece in the India Express titled “Worse than Emergency” after the arrests of human activists had taken place in the ‘Elgar Parishad’ case.

In July this year, offices of Lawyers Collective, founded by celebrated and eminent lawyers, Indira Jaising and her husband Anand Grover were raided by CBI over FCRA violations. The Bombay High Court had asked CBI not to take any coercive actions against them and the same order was upheld by the Supreme Court, in appeal, recently.

Not very long ago, in 2015, Teesta Setalvad’s home and office in Mumbai were raided by the CBI and Scroll reported it as ‘a concerted effort by Gujarat and the State government to pin down charges against the human rights activist’. This raid was carried out just a few days before the Gujarat High Court was about to hear appeals by Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani, both of whom were convicted for their role in the Naroda Patiya massacre, part of the spine chilling Gujarat riots of 2002.

Following Pakistan, only different modus operandi

In 2018, a Pakistani human rights activist’s home was raided by unidentified persons after she released a brazen report on Pakistan’s human rights violations. The Pakistani government seems to be unleashing veiled threats upon its activists, what India is doing in a legal way, which is even more perilous, since the same can be justified eventually by cooking up and twisting facts and dragging the names of activists through the mud, making the masses lose faith in civil society.

Amnesty International targeted once again, this time by CBI

The government’s veiled efforts to completely clamp down human rights activists in India has now become quite apparent.

Amnesty

Remember when the Union Home Minister recently made a statement on the lines of Human Rights being a foreign concept? With that as a background, the raids being conducted on human rights organizations and activists are painting a rather chilling picture. Organizations like Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and Lawyers Collective have already been whipped. Who’s next?

On the eve of November 15, the CBI conducted raids at the Bengaluru head office of Amnesty International India in connection with accusations that the non-profit had received foreign funds. The government had earlier declined permission to the Amnesty International India Foundation Trust that has been critical of security agencies in several cases including the arrest of activists such as Sudha Bharadwaj, Rona Wilson and Varavara Rao, who was accused of being a Maoist ideologue, for receiving foreign funds.  

Reportedly, connections are being drawn between these raids and the appointment of Avinash Kumar, a JNU alumnus as the India head for Amnesty International.

What Amnesty International has to say

In a statement issued by Amnesty International in response to the raids, they said, “It’s a great challenge to be leading Amnesty at a time when civil and political rights seem to be increasingly violated in the context of people asserting their socio-economic rights.” The statement further said, "Over the past year, a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India. Amnesty India stands in full compliance with Indian and international law. Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance, and dissent."

The plight of Human Rights Activists in India

A 2018 Gulf News headline read, “Threatened: Is Narendra Modi now demonetising democracy?”. This was in the light of the nation-wide raids that were carried out in the homes of human rights activists in India, terming them as urban naxals, after violence broke out after ‘Elgar Parishad’ in Pune, last year. There were even random allegations that in the large scheme of things, there was a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Modi!

This was not the only attack on human rights activism that had been carried out via enforcement agencies. In what can be termed as a calculated move, the Amnesty International offices were raided by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last year and their offices were raided again by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today in Bengaluru.

ED had conducted the searches last year in connection with alleged violation of foreign direct investment norms linked to a previous case of revocation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of the NGO by the Union Home Ministry in 2010. The ED had also frozen over a dozen bank accounts of environmental NGO Greenpeace and its linked entity after it conducted searches at premises of Amnesty International in Bengaluru on charges of alleged forex violations after taking cognisance of the FCRA action against it.

Al Jazeera had reported in 2018 that since coming to power in 2014, the Modi government had cancelled FCRA licences of over 15,000 charities. Greenpeace India, which had repeatedly pushed the government to address hazardous air quality in cities across India, said this month that it was forced to close two regional offices and sharply reduce its staff after its Bengaluru offices were raided and its bank accounts were frozen.

Prashant Bhushan, a public interest lawyer and activist had written an opinion piece in the India Express titled “Worse than Emergency” after the arrests of human activists had taken place in the ‘Elgar Parishad’ case.

In July this year, offices of Lawyers Collective, founded by celebrated and eminent lawyers, Indira Jaising and her husband Anand Grover were raided by CBI over FCRA violations. The Bombay High Court had asked CBI not to take any coercive actions against them and the same order was upheld by the Supreme Court, in appeal, recently.

Not very long ago, in 2015, Teesta Setalvad’s home and office in Mumbai were raided by the CBI and Scroll reported it as ‘a concerted effort by Gujarat and the State government to pin down charges against the human rights activist’. This raid was carried out just a few days before the Gujarat High Court was about to hear appeals by Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani, both of whom were convicted for their role in the Naroda Patiya massacre, part of the spine chilling Gujarat riots of 2002.

Following Pakistan, only different modus operandi

In 2018, a Pakistani human rights activist’s home was raided by unidentified persons after she released a brazen report on Pakistan’s human rights violations. The Pakistani government seems to be unleashing veiled threats upon its activists, what India is doing in a legal way, which is even more perilous, since the same can be justified eventually by cooking up and twisting facts and dragging the names of activists through the mud, making the masses lose faith in civil society.

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Office of NRC State Coordinator lying vacant for a week: Assam

Deadlock over appointment of Hitesh Dev Sharma caused by his biased propaganda on social media

Zamser Ali 15 Nov 2019

NRC

Guwahati, November 15: A senior and critical post within the office of the NRC is lying vacant. At a crucial time during the ongoing NRC process in Assam there is a deadlock: the freeze is over the appointment of Hitesh Dev Sharma as the new state coordinator in Assam. This deadlock over the appointment of new NRC coordinator started a few hours after his formal appointment. Hitesh Dev Sharma, an ACS officer, was appointed to this post through a circular issued by the personnel department of the Govt. of Assam on November 9. This appointment was occasioned due to the inter-cadre transfer of Prateek Hajela from Assam to Madhya Pradesh following directions of the Supreme Court of India in October 2019.

Soon after the appointment, a huge controversy broke out on social media. Shockingly, though an ACS officer of Govt of Assam, Hitesh Dev Sharma, sworn to India's Constitutional vision, Sharma, had been found to be spreading hate through his Facebook posts, for years, since he was discontinued from the post of joint director, NRC two years ago.  Significantly, Sharma is known to enjoy the political patronage of Assam's strongman politician and BJP's finance minister in the state, Himanta Biswa Sharma.

As a 1989 batch ACS officer, Sharma was appointed as State Coordinator, NRC on November 9, 2019. The appointment was made by the Govt. of Assam despite the fact that his publicly expressed views, on social media spewed contempt at the NRC process as also spread hate against certain groups of religious and linguistic minorities.

The posts may be viewed here:

NRC

Translation

What have the Assamese people gained from the "Historic" Assam Movement that gave citizenship to more than 50 lakh East Pakistanis?  
(7 January 2019) 

 

NRC

Translation
Who had dreamt of creating a Greater Muslim Bangla with the help of America? And who are the forces that support bringing it into reality?
(10 January 2019) 
 

NRC

Translation
Political swroodness is must to resolve the political issues. Due to absence of political swroodness (may be for the vested interest) above 50 lakhs East Pakistanis were hugged by Assam in return of the sacrifice of 855 martyr. Those are the supporters of Assam Bandh called on tomorrow. Blessed Assamese!
(22nd October, 2018)

 

Hiten

In his posts, the officer displays contempt for and Opposition to the rule of law, which has been laid by the Constitution of India especially related to certain issues within the Citizenship Act, 1955 and also the rules and procedure of NRC. These views of Sharma evoked a sharp reaction from a cross section of Assamese people on social media. It is under these circumstances that, sources revealed to Sabrang India,the Govt. of Assam, has barred him from joining the office of the NRC on the scheduled date of November 11, 2011. Thus, since the departure of PrateekHajela, the office of the State Coordinator, NRC is lying vacant until today. 

Reacting to the appointment of Hitesh Dev Sharma, Congress MP Abdul Khaleque said, “Hitesh Dev Sharma is a biased officer. He is not inclined to respect the basic norms of the NRC process. The people’s aspiration for a just, genuine and error free NRC is not possible under him.” The Congress MP from Barpeta Parliamentary constituency further said, “In his facebook post he has criticised the Assam Accord, which had not only been signed by Union Govt., State Govt. and the Party involved in the Assam agitation, but was also accepted by all sections of the people of Assam. He has criticised the Immigration Expulsion Act, 1950, which was passed by the Union Government. He expresses views that are unconstitutional. This does not befit a govt. officer. The present BJP Govt. in Assam hasbeen initiating disciplinary action against many a governmentemployeefor their "derogatory" statements on social media. How then can the same BJP Govt. reward Hitesh Dev Sharma with such a high level, sensitive and crucial post? If the present BJP Govt is in favour of a just, genuine and error free NRC then it must not allow Hitesh Dev Sharma to sit in the chair of State coordinator, NRC.” The Congress MP also submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister SarbanandaSonowal in this regard.

Dibyajyoti Sharma, noted writer and former General Secretary of AISA said, “Nothing can be aspired from biased, communal official like Hitesh Dev Sharma. If he is given the responsibility of State Coordinator, NRC, then Assam, Assamese society will not survive.” AAMSU Chief Adviser, Ajijur Rahman on the other hand reacted, “NRC is a most sensitive issue. If the Govt. wants a just, genuine and error free NRC, it must rethink on the appointment of Hitesh Dev Sharma and it must be reviewed. Hitesh Dev Sharma is continuously spreading hate against religious and linguistic minorities and no progress will be made under him.”

Meanwhile, the Govt. of Assam is conspicuously silent.  Speaking to Sabrang India, HrishikeshGoswami, the Press Advisor to Chief Minister of Assam said, “I know nothing about the matter, why Hitesh Dev Sharma has not joined as State Coordinator, NRC. I have no information about the deadlock. You better talk to the Home and Political Department, Govt. of Assam.” The Home and Political Department official, remained unavailable for comment despite repeated efforts. Meanwhile ChandamitaMahanta, joint director, NRC when contacted merely said, "We have not been informed why the newly appointed State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sharma has not joined this office. Earlier, we came to know from the Government communique that he will join this office on November 11, 2019. However, either on that day or after, he has not taken charge. We have no intimation from the government on the matter. "

The NRC work, post publication of the final list on August 31, 2019, continues to remain in a limbo as ordinary citizens grapple with the trauma and dilemma of exclusion.


Related

Good bye! Prateek Hajela leaves Assam riding a wave of strong emotions
Once debarred from NRC, Hitesh Dev Sharma in charge of new NRC Coordinator
Prateek Hajela shunted out of Assam, what happens next on the NRC front?

 

 

Office of NRC State Coordinator lying vacant for a week: Assam

Deadlock over appointment of Hitesh Dev Sharma caused by his biased propaganda on social media

NRC

Guwahati, November 15: A senior and critical post within the office of the NRC is lying vacant. At a crucial time during the ongoing NRC process in Assam there is a deadlock: the freeze is over the appointment of Hitesh Dev Sharma as the new state coordinator in Assam. This deadlock over the appointment of new NRC coordinator started a few hours after his formal appointment. Hitesh Dev Sharma, an ACS officer, was appointed to this post through a circular issued by the personnel department of the Govt. of Assam on November 9. This appointment was occasioned due to the inter-cadre transfer of Prateek Hajela from Assam to Madhya Pradesh following directions of the Supreme Court of India in October 2019.

Soon after the appointment, a huge controversy broke out on social media. Shockingly, though an ACS officer of Govt of Assam, Hitesh Dev Sharma, sworn to India's Constitutional vision, Sharma, had been found to be spreading hate through his Facebook posts, for years, since he was discontinued from the post of joint director, NRC two years ago.  Significantly, Sharma is known to enjoy the political patronage of Assam's strongman politician and BJP's finance minister in the state, Himanta Biswa Sharma.

As a 1989 batch ACS officer, Sharma was appointed as State Coordinator, NRC on November 9, 2019. The appointment was made by the Govt. of Assam despite the fact that his publicly expressed views, on social media spewed contempt at the NRC process as also spread hate against certain groups of religious and linguistic minorities.

The posts may be viewed here:

NRC

Translation

What have the Assamese people gained from the "Historic" Assam Movement that gave citizenship to more than 50 lakh East Pakistanis?  
(7 January 2019) 

 

NRC

Translation
Who had dreamt of creating a Greater Muslim Bangla with the help of America? And who are the forces that support bringing it into reality?
(10 January 2019) 
 

NRC

Translation
Political swroodness is must to resolve the political issues. Due to absence of political swroodness (may be for the vested interest) above 50 lakhs East Pakistanis were hugged by Assam in return of the sacrifice of 855 martyr. Those are the supporters of Assam Bandh called on tomorrow. Blessed Assamese!
(22nd October, 2018)

 

Hiten

In his posts, the officer displays contempt for and Opposition to the rule of law, which has been laid by the Constitution of India especially related to certain issues within the Citizenship Act, 1955 and also the rules and procedure of NRC. These views of Sharma evoked a sharp reaction from a cross section of Assamese people on social media. It is under these circumstances that, sources revealed to Sabrang India,the Govt. of Assam, has barred him from joining the office of the NRC on the scheduled date of November 11, 2011. Thus, since the departure of PrateekHajela, the office of the State Coordinator, NRC is lying vacant until today. 

Reacting to the appointment of Hitesh Dev Sharma, Congress MP Abdul Khaleque said, “Hitesh Dev Sharma is a biased officer. He is not inclined to respect the basic norms of the NRC process. The people’s aspiration for a just, genuine and error free NRC is not possible under him.” The Congress MP from Barpeta Parliamentary constituency further said, “In his facebook post he has criticised the Assam Accord, which had not only been signed by Union Govt., State Govt. and the Party involved in the Assam agitation, but was also accepted by all sections of the people of Assam. He has criticised the Immigration Expulsion Act, 1950, which was passed by the Union Government. He expresses views that are unconstitutional. This does not befit a govt. officer. The present BJP Govt. in Assam hasbeen initiating disciplinary action against many a governmentemployeefor their "derogatory" statements on social media. How then can the same BJP Govt. reward Hitesh Dev Sharma with such a high level, sensitive and crucial post? If the present BJP Govt is in favour of a just, genuine and error free NRC then it must not allow Hitesh Dev Sharma to sit in the chair of State coordinator, NRC.” The Congress MP also submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister SarbanandaSonowal in this regard.

Dibyajyoti Sharma, noted writer and former General Secretary of AISA said, “Nothing can be aspired from biased, communal official like Hitesh Dev Sharma. If he is given the responsibility of State Coordinator, NRC, then Assam, Assamese society will not survive.” AAMSU Chief Adviser, Ajijur Rahman on the other hand reacted, “NRC is a most sensitive issue. If the Govt. wants a just, genuine and error free NRC, it must rethink on the appointment of Hitesh Dev Sharma and it must be reviewed. Hitesh Dev Sharma is continuously spreading hate against religious and linguistic minorities and no progress will be made under him.”

Meanwhile, the Govt. of Assam is conspicuously silent.  Speaking to Sabrang India, HrishikeshGoswami, the Press Advisor to Chief Minister of Assam said, “I know nothing about the matter, why Hitesh Dev Sharma has not joined as State Coordinator, NRC. I have no information about the deadlock. You better talk to the Home and Political Department, Govt. of Assam.” The Home and Political Department official, remained unavailable for comment despite repeated efforts. Meanwhile ChandamitaMahanta, joint director, NRC when contacted merely said, "We have not been informed why the newly appointed State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sharma has not joined this office. Earlier, we came to know from the Government communique that he will join this office on November 11, 2019. However, either on that day or after, he has not taken charge. We have no intimation from the government on the matter. "

The NRC work, post publication of the final list on August 31, 2019, continues to remain in a limbo as ordinary citizens grapple with the trauma and dilemma of exclusion.


Related

Good bye! Prateek Hajela leaves Assam riding a wave of strong emotions
Once debarred from NRC, Hitesh Dev Sharma in charge of new NRC Coordinator
Prateek Hajela shunted out of Assam, what happens next on the NRC front?

 

 

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“Help all without discrimination”: Mamata to officials distributing cyclone aid

Win hearts, Mamata tells officials

Sabrangindia 15 Nov 2019

Mamata Banerjee

On Wednesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee warned against “politics in distribution of relief material and rehabilitation programmes” for people affected by Cyclone Bulbul, The Telegraph reported.

Addressing a meeting at Basirhat in North 24-Parganas, Mamata clarified that the state government was working with its full might to restore normality in the storm-affected areas.

According to the chief minister, six lakh people have been affected and over five lakh houses damaged due to the cyclone, which made landfall late on Saturday between Sagar Islands in West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh.

Traan niye doya korey rajniti korbeyn na. Kon dol na dekhey traan bili korbeyn (Nobody should do politics over distribution of relief material. Relief material should be distributed irrespective of political identities),” the chief minister said.

Saying that the losses incurred by the state due to the cyclone might go up to Rs. 50,000 crore, she asked everyone to help the needy after conducting an aerial survey of the worst-hit places.

Hoping that a team from the Centre would come and assess the situation, she made it known that at least 15 lakh hectares of agricultural land was damaged due to the storm and assured that the farmers impacted would receive adequate compensation under the crop insurance policy. “Help them (cyclone-affected people) in the way in which you saved them. For some days, don’t look at duty time. Do as much work you can. If necessary, work for 12 hours. Don’t worry, we will compensate you in other ways later,” she told the officials at the meeting. She appointed Chief Secretary Rajiv Sinha as the head of the task force to monitor the relief work every 48 hours.

“Now is the time to conduct surveys, review and take action to restore normality as soon as possible. You have done a great job in minimising losses by taking preventive measures…. I would like other districts to follow your example as a role model in mitigating natural disasters,” Mamata told the officials in Basirhat.

A total of 323 kitchens have been opened to cater to the cyclone-hit families and 94 boats employed to aid in the restoration work, the CM said.

She handed over a cheque of Rs. 2.4 lakh to each of the family members of five people from the district who lost their lives in the calamity.

She also directed officials to distribute 5 litres of kerosene, hurricane lamps and books to children affected by the cyclone as their set to appear for board examinations.

Asking the district administration officials to take a survey of the dams in the Sunderbans, requesting them to carry out repair work she said, ““If peoples are staying near any of such vulnerable dams, first ensure their rehabilitation, and then carry out the repair and restoration work. Otherwise, there will be a big accident.”

The State and the Centre have now locked horns over the distribution relief. CM Banerjee has accused the BJP of making the disaster a political game by saying that the Centre is due to pay them Rs. 17,000 crore out of which only Rs. 640 crore has been received until now.

BJP has also earlier been accused of not providing the required relief aid for states that didn’t vote for it. The Trinamul Congress and the BJD separately accused the central government of giving preference to the BJP-ruled Gujarat and Assam in providing assistance for damage caused by floods while remaining apathetic to the case of Bengal and Odisha.

Babul Supriyo, the Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Union Minister who travelled to South 24 Parganas district to assess the extent of the damage of the cyclone, were greeted with “go back” slogans by a group of TMC activists. He was also greeted with black flags as he reached Namkhana, the worst-affected places in the state.


Related:

Is BJP refusing disaster aid to states that didn’t vote for them?
Callous Disregard of Cyclone Ockhi Survivors by Politicians, Administration: People's Inquest
Landless Dalits, Hit Hardest By Disasters, Are Last To Get Relief

“Help all without discrimination”: Mamata to officials distributing cyclone aid

Win hearts, Mamata tells officials

Mamata Banerjee

On Wednesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee warned against “politics in distribution of relief material and rehabilitation programmes” for people affected by Cyclone Bulbul, The Telegraph reported.

Addressing a meeting at Basirhat in North 24-Parganas, Mamata clarified that the state government was working with its full might to restore normality in the storm-affected areas.

According to the chief minister, six lakh people have been affected and over five lakh houses damaged due to the cyclone, which made landfall late on Saturday between Sagar Islands in West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh.

Traan niye doya korey rajniti korbeyn na. Kon dol na dekhey traan bili korbeyn (Nobody should do politics over distribution of relief material. Relief material should be distributed irrespective of political identities),” the chief minister said.

Saying that the losses incurred by the state due to the cyclone might go up to Rs. 50,000 crore, she asked everyone to help the needy after conducting an aerial survey of the worst-hit places.

Hoping that a team from the Centre would come and assess the situation, she made it known that at least 15 lakh hectares of agricultural land was damaged due to the storm and assured that the farmers impacted would receive adequate compensation under the crop insurance policy. “Help them (cyclone-affected people) in the way in which you saved them. For some days, don’t look at duty time. Do as much work you can. If necessary, work for 12 hours. Don’t worry, we will compensate you in other ways later,” she told the officials at the meeting. She appointed Chief Secretary Rajiv Sinha as the head of the task force to monitor the relief work every 48 hours.

“Now is the time to conduct surveys, review and take action to restore normality as soon as possible. You have done a great job in minimising losses by taking preventive measures…. I would like other districts to follow your example as a role model in mitigating natural disasters,” Mamata told the officials in Basirhat.

A total of 323 kitchens have been opened to cater to the cyclone-hit families and 94 boats employed to aid in the restoration work, the CM said.

She handed over a cheque of Rs. 2.4 lakh to each of the family members of five people from the district who lost their lives in the calamity.

She also directed officials to distribute 5 litres of kerosene, hurricane lamps and books to children affected by the cyclone as their set to appear for board examinations.

Asking the district administration officials to take a survey of the dams in the Sunderbans, requesting them to carry out repair work she said, ““If peoples are staying near any of such vulnerable dams, first ensure their rehabilitation, and then carry out the repair and restoration work. Otherwise, there will be a big accident.”

The State and the Centre have now locked horns over the distribution relief. CM Banerjee has accused the BJP of making the disaster a political game by saying that the Centre is due to pay them Rs. 17,000 crore out of which only Rs. 640 crore has been received until now.

BJP has also earlier been accused of not providing the required relief aid for states that didn’t vote for it. The Trinamul Congress and the BJD separately accused the central government of giving preference to the BJP-ruled Gujarat and Assam in providing assistance for damage caused by floods while remaining apathetic to the case of Bengal and Odisha.

Babul Supriyo, the Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Union Minister who travelled to South 24 Parganas district to assess the extent of the damage of the cyclone, were greeted with “go back” slogans by a group of TMC activists. He was also greeted with black flags as he reached Namkhana, the worst-affected places in the state.


Related:

Is BJP refusing disaster aid to states that didn’t vote for them?
Callous Disregard of Cyclone Ockhi Survivors by Politicians, Administration: People's Inquest
Landless Dalits, Hit Hardest By Disasters, Are Last To Get Relief

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SFI bags top four posts in Presidency University polls after 9 years

It wrested the union from the Independents’s Consolidation

Sabrangindia 15 Nov 2019

SFI

 The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) backed Students’ Federation of India (SFI) won all the top four posts in the Presidency University students’ union elections on Thursday, after a gap of nine years, The Hindu reported.

The elections were held after 34 months, the last being held in 2017. The SFI formed the panel with prime posts – President, Vice President, General Secretary, Assistant General Secretary and the Girl’s Common Room Secretary.
 

SFI

(Image Credit – The Times of India)
 

The SFI got 1,085, 999, and 840 votes for the post of the President, Vice President and General Secretary. This opposed to 163, 640 and 574 votes bagged by the Independents’ Consolidation (IC) for the same positions. It also won 58 of the 116 class representative posts.

The IC won 52 class representative posts and the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) won 16.

Apart from the SFI and IC, the All India Students’ Association, DSO, and All India Students’ Federation were also in the fray.

The posts went to: Mimosa Ghora – President, Ankita Mukherjee – Vice President, Souren Mallick – General Secretary, Deeprajit Debnath – Assistant General Secretary and Shruti Roy Muhuri – Girls’ Common Room Secretary.

The SFI said “reactionary forces” like the ABVP, TMCP and their agents have been defeated with a clear margin.

“The single handed majority in class representatives and huge victory in the central panel posts have shown that the student community is standing tall with the politics of SFI,” it said.

“Even when SFI was not in the union, we worked for the students. This made all the difference. Hence, they chose us” said Shruti Roy Muhui, who won the GSEC post.
 

Poll outcome indicates students eager for change

An analysis by The Times of India, shows the following:

This year, the total polling percentage was 82% at 1,950 and None of the Above (NOTA) had 252 votes, i.e. 12.5%. NOTA votes had dropped 10% from the last polls in 2017. Also, unlike 2017, the win of the margin has gone up considerably.

During the last polls in 2017, the IC had grabbed the president’s post only by a margin of 90 votes. This year, the SFI candidate Mimosa Ghorai bagged the same position with a margin of 472 votes.

“This shows that the win was decisive and voters have consciously chosen SFI to lead the students on campus”, said Srijan Bhattacharya, SFI State Secretary.

About the election results, Registrar Debajyoti Konar said, “This is a victory for the students of the Presidency University. The polling was held in a very competitive and democratic manner.”
 

The SFI’s immediate agenda

The SFI has a list of things it has already set out to accomplish. They have demanded the immediate start of operations in the remaining three wards (under renovation) of the Eden Hindu Hostel, where currently only two are operational. The priority is also to set up a boys’ common room and another gender neutral (even those who don’t conform to the gender binary) common room.

The students have also demanded the launch of M-Phil and post-doctorate courses in all departments, apart from setting a placement cell and a scholarship cell.

In 2013, the Presidency University was ransacked by protests in which an activist of the SFi, Sudipto Gupta lost his life. A hot-bed of left-wing politics, the university was damaged by a mob from the TMCP who were protesting against the attack on Mamata Banerjee and Finance Minister Amit Mitra that had taken place in Delhi.

The campus violence that was witnessed during this time, propelled the University to take up council elections online from 2014.

Mamata Banerjee had put student union polls in all universities and colleges in the state on hold in 2017, with an idea to bring in “apolitical student councils” in a bid to contain unrest on the campus where various incidents of assaults on teachers, professors and principals had been reported.
 

Related:

SFI condemns notices sent to Election Committee, alleges JNU admin tried to “break rules of the Game”

Delhi high court permits JNU election committee to declare 2019 poll results

Students’ Union to be replaced by Students’ Council in Allahabad University, students protest the move

SFI bags top four posts in Presidency University polls after 9 years

It wrested the union from the Independents’s Consolidation

SFI

 The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) backed Students’ Federation of India (SFI) won all the top four posts in the Presidency University students’ union elections on Thursday, after a gap of nine years, The Hindu reported.

The elections were held after 34 months, the last being held in 2017. The SFI formed the panel with prime posts – President, Vice President, General Secretary, Assistant General Secretary and the Girl’s Common Room Secretary.
 

SFI

(Image Credit – The Times of India)
 

The SFI got 1,085, 999, and 840 votes for the post of the President, Vice President and General Secretary. This opposed to 163, 640 and 574 votes bagged by the Independents’ Consolidation (IC) for the same positions. It also won 58 of the 116 class representative posts.

The IC won 52 class representative posts and the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) won 16.

Apart from the SFI and IC, the All India Students’ Association, DSO, and All India Students’ Federation were also in the fray.

The posts went to: Mimosa Ghora – President, Ankita Mukherjee – Vice President, Souren Mallick – General Secretary, Deeprajit Debnath – Assistant General Secretary and Shruti Roy Muhuri – Girls’ Common Room Secretary.

The SFI said “reactionary forces” like the ABVP, TMCP and their agents have been defeated with a clear margin.

“The single handed majority in class representatives and huge victory in the central panel posts have shown that the student community is standing tall with the politics of SFI,” it said.

“Even when SFI was not in the union, we worked for the students. This made all the difference. Hence, they chose us” said Shruti Roy Muhui, who won the GSEC post.
 

Poll outcome indicates students eager for change

An analysis by The Times of India, shows the following:

This year, the total polling percentage was 82% at 1,950 and None of the Above (NOTA) had 252 votes, i.e. 12.5%. NOTA votes had dropped 10% from the last polls in 2017. Also, unlike 2017, the win of the margin has gone up considerably.

During the last polls in 2017, the IC had grabbed the president’s post only by a margin of 90 votes. This year, the SFI candidate Mimosa Ghorai bagged the same position with a margin of 472 votes.

“This shows that the win was decisive and voters have consciously chosen SFI to lead the students on campus”, said Srijan Bhattacharya, SFI State Secretary.

About the election results, Registrar Debajyoti Konar said, “This is a victory for the students of the Presidency University. The polling was held in a very competitive and democratic manner.”
 

The SFI’s immediate agenda

The SFI has a list of things it has already set out to accomplish. They have demanded the immediate start of operations in the remaining three wards (under renovation) of the Eden Hindu Hostel, where currently only two are operational. The priority is also to set up a boys’ common room and another gender neutral (even those who don’t conform to the gender binary) common room.

The students have also demanded the launch of M-Phil and post-doctorate courses in all departments, apart from setting a placement cell and a scholarship cell.

In 2013, the Presidency University was ransacked by protests in which an activist of the SFi, Sudipto Gupta lost his life. A hot-bed of left-wing politics, the university was damaged by a mob from the TMCP who were protesting against the attack on Mamata Banerjee and Finance Minister Amit Mitra that had taken place in Delhi.

The campus violence that was witnessed during this time, propelled the University to take up council elections online from 2014.

Mamata Banerjee had put student union polls in all universities and colleges in the state on hold in 2017, with an idea to bring in “apolitical student councils” in a bid to contain unrest on the campus where various incidents of assaults on teachers, professors and principals had been reported.
 

Related:

SFI condemns notices sent to Election Committee, alleges JNU admin tried to “break rules of the Game”

Delhi high court permits JNU election committee to declare 2019 poll results

Students’ Union to be replaced by Students’ Council in Allahabad University, students protest the move

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Understanding SC Verdict while BJP promises defectors Ministership if elected: Karnataka

The Karnataka MLAs disqualification case recently adjudged by the Supreme Court reflected poorly on the political environment in our Country. Defection is an unhealthy practice and is a betrayal of the mandate of the voters. Here’s a look at why the judgment allowed the legislators to recontest and how was the disqualification upheld.

Sanchita Kadam 15 Nov 2019

karnataka

Following the judgment of the Supreme Court which upheld the disqualification of 17 MLAs of Karnataka Assembly, but did not debar them from contesting elections again, in absence of any constitutional provision for the same, the BJP issued a press release on November 14 declaring the names of candidates from their party who would be contesting the bye-elections. This included 13 MLAs from the Congress-JD(S) alliance, who were disqualified by reason of having defected. The Chief Minsiter, B S Yediyurappa declared that the rebel legislators would be given ministry portfolios. “These MLAs have sacrificed everything to ensure that the BJP comes to power in the state. Due to this, all BJP workers should join hands and ensure that they are re-elected to the Assembly,” he said.

Part of the press release:

Chart


Background

The results of Assembly elections in Karnataka were declared on May 15, 2019 in which BJP had won 104 seats and congress had 78 seats. Janata Dal (Secular) had acquired 37 seats. A coalition government of Congress and JD(S) was formed but this government only lasted for 14 months as the Chief Minister, Kumaraswamy lost the trust vote in the House on July 23, 2019. Following the trust vote which went against the coalition government, a few disqualification orders were passed by the Speaker leading to the disqualification of 17 MLAs, 15 of which belong to the Congress party, 1 belonged to JD(S) and one was an independent candidate of KPJP (Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party). Dissatisfied by these orders, the MLA’s approached the Supreme Court by filing 9 writ petitions.


The judgment

The judgment authored by Justice N.V. Ramana was unanimous from a bench including two other judges, namely, Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Krishna Murari. The judgment which is about a 100 pages delves into the details of the authority of the Speaker of a Legislative Assembly as provided for the Constitution, thescope of judicial review in a decision of the Speaker and the law of defection. The court observed with disdain that there has been a trend of Speakers of Legislative Assemblies acting against their constitutional duty of being neutral and also how horse trading and defection have denied the citizens stable governments.


The Four Main Issues

1. Whether the Writ Petition challenging the order of theSpeaker under Article 32 is maintainable?

“In Jagjit Singh v. State of Haryana[1], (this court) has   explicitly   held   that   a   challenge   to   an   order   of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule is available under the writ jurisdiction of this Court.”

The Court however noted, “that by challenging the order directly underArticle 32, the Petitioners have leapfrogged the judicial hierarchy as envisaged under the Constitution.”

The Court still proceeded with the matter since certain interim orders had already passed by a co-ordinate bench of the court in one of the writ petitions and so that the same exercise is not repeated before a High Court, to save the precious time of judiciary, the Supreme Court heard the matter on merits.

Giving rest to this issue, the bench finally noted,“Despite the fact that this Court has sufficient jurisdiction to deal with disqualification cases under the writ jurisdiction, a party challenging a disqualification order is required to first approach the   High   Court   as   it   would   be   appropriate,   effective   and expeditious remedy to deal with such issues.”

2. Whether the order of the Speaker rejecting the resignation and disqualifying the Petitioners is in accordance with the Constitution?

While examining the scope of judicial review in case of rejection of resignation of members by the Speaker, the court held thus, “Determination ofwhether the resignations were “voluntary” or “genuine” cannot be based on the ipse dixit of the Speaker, instead it has to be based on his “satisfaction.  Even though the satisfaction is subjective, it has to be based on objective material showing that resignation is not voluntary or genuine…. This satisfaction of the Speaker is subject to judicial review.” Article 190(3)(b) provides that the resignation tendered by the members should be voluntary and genuine and the Speaker should be satisfied that the resignation is voluntary and genuine. This was a proviso inserted by the 33rd Amendment Act, 1974.

The Court held that “genuine” referred to the authenticity of the resignation letter and “voluntary” meant a resignation which is not based on threat, force or coercion. The Supreme Court dismissed the contention that the Speaker can go into the motive of the member behind such resignation.

The court finally held that, “Once it is demonstrated that a member is willing to reign out of free will, the Speaker has no option but to accept the resignation. It is constitutionally impermissible for the Speaker to take into account any other extraneous factors while considering the resignation.”

The Court refused to admit that after tendering of resignation an order of disqualification is not valid. The court instead held that, “If we hold that the disqualification proceedingswould become infructuous upon tendering resignation, any member   who   is   on   the   verge   of   being   disqualified   would immediately   resign   and   would   escape   from   the   relevant sanctions in the Constitution.” The Court also held that “Courtsare obligated to take an interpretation which glorifies   the democratic sprit of the Constitution[2].” The court further held that in this case, the act which resulted in the eventual disqualification took place before the tendering of the resignation and hence the resignation tendered, even if before the disqualification order would not be upheld.

3. Even if the Speaker’s order of disqualification is valid, does the Speaker have the power to disqualify the members for the rest of the term?

The Speaker had issued the disqualification orders as the petitioners had voluntarily given up the membership of their respective political parties, which was apparent from the fact that the members did not attend meetings called by the party, despite of having been issued a whip, for one reason or the other, which were eventually held to be invalid and false, in some cases.

The Court, further, drew a distinction between two types of disqualifications of members of Legislative Assembly, as provided for in Article 191(1) and (2) of the Constitution.  While Article 191(1) disqualifies a member for being chosen as and for being a member, Article 191 (2) which deals with disqualification under the Tenth Schedule, provides for disqualification for being a member. This means that a member disqualified under the tenth schedule is only disqualified from being a member and it is inferred that such a member can contest elections again.

While upholding only the disqualification part of the orders, the Court held, “The Speaker, in our view, had concluded based on material and evidence that the members have voluntarily given up their membership of the party, thereby accruing disqualification in terms of the Tenth Schedule, which facts cannot be reviewed and evaluated by this Court in these writ petitions. So, we have to   accept the orders of the Speaker to the extent of disqualification.”

The court further held that, “ Since neither the Constitution nor any Act provides for defection to another party as a bar from contesting   further   elections,   reading   such   a   bar   into   the nebulous concept of the inherent powers of the Speaker is impermissible and invalid.”

The Court also held that sufficient opportunity was given to the petitioners of being heard and hence the disqualification order were not in violation of principles of natural justice.

4. Whether the issues raised require a reference to the larger Bench?

The Court held that question of constitutional interpretation would arise only if two or more possible constructions are sought to be placed on a provision, which was not the situation in this case. Hence, the issues did not require a reference to a Constitution Bench.


The Defection Menace

The issue of defection has preoccupied the national conscience from the 1960s. Having experienced earlier Governments falling due to such practice, the legislature introduced the bill inserting the Tenth Schedule (Provisions as to Disqualification on Ground of Defection) in the Constitution, for discouraging such practice. In Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu[3], this Court, about the Tenth Schedule, had observed, “The object is to curb the evil of political defections motivated by lure of office   or   other   similar   considerations which endanger the foundations of our democracy. The remedy proposed is to disqualify the Member of either House of Parliament or of the State Legislature who   is   found   to   have   defected   from continuing as a Member of the House.”

As a deterrent to defection, a few other Articles were added to the Constitution [75(1B), 164(1B) and 361B], which barred any person who is disqualified under the Tenth Schedule from being appointed as a Minister or from holding any remunerative political post from the date of disqualification till the date on which the term of his office would expire or if he is re­elected to the legislature, whichever is earlier.

The provisions of the Tenth Schedule however fall weak when dealing the problem of defection as a whole, since if the defecting member is allowed to contest for the by elections of the same term, it is likely that they will get elected again and their disqualification in the first place would hold no value. The Court hence mentioned that the parliament ought to reconsider the provisions of the tenth Schedule to discourage such undemocratic practices.


Key takeaways:

  • Speaker is a quasi-judicial body and his/her decision is not completely outside of judicial review
  • The Court observed that there is a dire need for amendment to the Constitution in order to include stronger deterrents in case of defection.
  • A resignation tendered by a member does not amount to him not being a member and a disqualification order still holds against such member, especially if the act of defection occurred before the resignation.
  • The right legal approach in cases of disqualification of MLAs is to approach the High Court first, for it to decide the case on its merits.
  • This case does not set a precedent on the amount of time to be provided by the Speaker to respond to a hearing of a disqualification petition. In this case, even though only 3 days’ time was granted, it was held to be valid by the court, in the light of the unique facts and circumstances of the case.
  • The Constitution does not debar a member disqualified under Tenth Schedule from re-contesting elections even within the same term.

The full judgment can be read here:

 

[1](2006) 11 SCC 1

[2]State (NCT of Delhi) v. Union of India, (2018) 8SCC 501

[3]1992 Supp (2) SCC 651

Understanding SC Verdict while BJP promises defectors Ministership if elected: Karnataka

The Karnataka MLAs disqualification case recently adjudged by the Supreme Court reflected poorly on the political environment in our Country. Defection is an unhealthy practice and is a betrayal of the mandate of the voters. Here’s a look at why the judgment allowed the legislators to recontest and how was the disqualification upheld.

karnataka

Following the judgment of the Supreme Court which upheld the disqualification of 17 MLAs of Karnataka Assembly, but did not debar them from contesting elections again, in absence of any constitutional provision for the same, the BJP issued a press release on November 14 declaring the names of candidates from their party who would be contesting the bye-elections. This included 13 MLAs from the Congress-JD(S) alliance, who were disqualified by reason of having defected. The Chief Minsiter, B S Yediyurappa declared that the rebel legislators would be given ministry portfolios. “These MLAs have sacrificed everything to ensure that the BJP comes to power in the state. Due to this, all BJP workers should join hands and ensure that they are re-elected to the Assembly,” he said.

Part of the press release:

Chart


Background

The results of Assembly elections in Karnataka were declared on May 15, 2019 in which BJP had won 104 seats and congress had 78 seats. Janata Dal (Secular) had acquired 37 seats. A coalition government of Congress and JD(S) was formed but this government only lasted for 14 months as the Chief Minister, Kumaraswamy lost the trust vote in the House on July 23, 2019. Following the trust vote which went against the coalition government, a few disqualification orders were passed by the Speaker leading to the disqualification of 17 MLAs, 15 of which belong to the Congress party, 1 belonged to JD(S) and one was an independent candidate of KPJP (Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party). Dissatisfied by these orders, the MLA’s approached the Supreme Court by filing 9 writ petitions.


The judgment

The judgment authored by Justice N.V. Ramana was unanimous from a bench including two other judges, namely, Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Krishna Murari. The judgment which is about a 100 pages delves into the details of the authority of the Speaker of a Legislative Assembly as provided for the Constitution, thescope of judicial review in a decision of the Speaker and the law of defection. The court observed with disdain that there has been a trend of Speakers of Legislative Assemblies acting against their constitutional duty of being neutral and also how horse trading and defection have denied the citizens stable governments.


The Four Main Issues

1. Whether the Writ Petition challenging the order of theSpeaker under Article 32 is maintainable?

“In Jagjit Singh v. State of Haryana[1], (this court) has   explicitly   held   that   a   challenge   to   an   order   of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule is available under the writ jurisdiction of this Court.”

The Court however noted, “that by challenging the order directly underArticle 32, the Petitioners have leapfrogged the judicial hierarchy as envisaged under the Constitution.”

The Court still proceeded with the matter since certain interim orders had already passed by a co-ordinate bench of the court in one of the writ petitions and so that the same exercise is not repeated before a High Court, to save the precious time of judiciary, the Supreme Court heard the matter on merits.

Giving rest to this issue, the bench finally noted,“Despite the fact that this Court has sufficient jurisdiction to deal with disqualification cases under the writ jurisdiction, a party challenging a disqualification order is required to first approach the   High   Court   as   it   would   be   appropriate,   effective   and expeditious remedy to deal with such issues.”

2. Whether the order of the Speaker rejecting the resignation and disqualifying the Petitioners is in accordance with the Constitution?

While examining the scope of judicial review in case of rejection of resignation of members by the Speaker, the court held thus, “Determination ofwhether the resignations were “voluntary” or “genuine” cannot be based on the ipse dixit of the Speaker, instead it has to be based on his “satisfaction.  Even though the satisfaction is subjective, it has to be based on objective material showing that resignation is not voluntary or genuine…. This satisfaction of the Speaker is subject to judicial review.” Article 190(3)(b) provides that the resignation tendered by the members should be voluntary and genuine and the Speaker should be satisfied that the resignation is voluntary and genuine. This was a proviso inserted by the 33rd Amendment Act, 1974.

The Court held that “genuine” referred to the authenticity of the resignation letter and “voluntary” meant a resignation which is not based on threat, force or coercion. The Supreme Court dismissed the contention that the Speaker can go into the motive of the member behind such resignation.

The court finally held that, “Once it is demonstrated that a member is willing to reign out of free will, the Speaker has no option but to accept the resignation. It is constitutionally impermissible for the Speaker to take into account any other extraneous factors while considering the resignation.”

The Court refused to admit that after tendering of resignation an order of disqualification is not valid. The court instead held that, “If we hold that the disqualification proceedingswould become infructuous upon tendering resignation, any member   who   is   on   the   verge   of   being   disqualified   would immediately   resign   and   would   escape   from   the   relevant sanctions in the Constitution.” The Court also held that “Courtsare obligated to take an interpretation which glorifies   the democratic sprit of the Constitution[2].” The court further held that in this case, the act which resulted in the eventual disqualification took place before the tendering of the resignation and hence the resignation tendered, even if before the disqualification order would not be upheld.

3. Even if the Speaker’s order of disqualification is valid, does the Speaker have the power to disqualify the members for the rest of the term?

The Speaker had issued the disqualification orders as the petitioners had voluntarily given up the membership of their respective political parties, which was apparent from the fact that the members did not attend meetings called by the party, despite of having been issued a whip, for one reason or the other, which were eventually held to be invalid and false, in some cases.

The Court, further, drew a distinction between two types of disqualifications of members of Legislative Assembly, as provided for in Article 191(1) and (2) of the Constitution.  While Article 191(1) disqualifies a member for being chosen as and for being a member, Article 191 (2) which deals with disqualification under the Tenth Schedule, provides for disqualification for being a member. This means that a member disqualified under the tenth schedule is only disqualified from being a member and it is inferred that such a member can contest elections again.

While upholding only the disqualification part of the orders, the Court held, “The Speaker, in our view, had concluded based on material and evidence that the members have voluntarily given up their membership of the party, thereby accruing disqualification in terms of the Tenth Schedule, which facts cannot be reviewed and evaluated by this Court in these writ petitions. So, we have to   accept the orders of the Speaker to the extent of disqualification.”

The court further held that, “ Since neither the Constitution nor any Act provides for defection to another party as a bar from contesting   further   elections,   reading   such   a   bar   into   the nebulous concept of the inherent powers of the Speaker is impermissible and invalid.”

The Court also held that sufficient opportunity was given to the petitioners of being heard and hence the disqualification order were not in violation of principles of natural justice.

4. Whether the issues raised require a reference to the larger Bench?

The Court held that question of constitutional interpretation would arise only if two or more possible constructions are sought to be placed on a provision, which was not the situation in this case. Hence, the issues did not require a reference to a Constitution Bench.


The Defection Menace

The issue of defection has preoccupied the national conscience from the 1960s. Having experienced earlier Governments falling due to such practice, the legislature introduced the bill inserting the Tenth Schedule (Provisions as to Disqualification on Ground of Defection) in the Constitution, for discouraging such practice. In Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu[3], this Court, about the Tenth Schedule, had observed, “The object is to curb the evil of political defections motivated by lure of office   or   other   similar   considerations which endanger the foundations of our democracy. The remedy proposed is to disqualify the Member of either House of Parliament or of the State Legislature who   is   found   to   have   defected   from continuing as a Member of the House.”

As a deterrent to defection, a few other Articles were added to the Constitution [75(1B), 164(1B) and 361B], which barred any person who is disqualified under the Tenth Schedule from being appointed as a Minister or from holding any remunerative political post from the date of disqualification till the date on which the term of his office would expire or if he is re­elected to the legislature, whichever is earlier.

The provisions of the Tenth Schedule however fall weak when dealing the problem of defection as a whole, since if the defecting member is allowed to contest for the by elections of the same term, it is likely that they will get elected again and their disqualification in the first place would hold no value. The Court hence mentioned that the parliament ought to reconsider the provisions of the tenth Schedule to discourage such undemocratic practices.


Key takeaways:

  • Speaker is a quasi-judicial body and his/her decision is not completely outside of judicial review
  • The Court observed that there is a dire need for amendment to the Constitution in order to include stronger deterrents in case of defection.
  • A resignation tendered by a member does not amount to him not being a member and a disqualification order still holds against such member, especially if the act of defection occurred before the resignation.
  • The right legal approach in cases of disqualification of MLAs is to approach the High Court first, for it to decide the case on its merits.
  • This case does not set a precedent on the amount of time to be provided by the Speaker to respond to a hearing of a disqualification petition. In this case, even though only 3 days’ time was granted, it was held to be valid by the court, in the light of the unique facts and circumstances of the case.
  • The Constitution does not debar a member disqualified under Tenth Schedule from re-contesting elections even within the same term.

The full judgment can be read here:

 

[1](2006) 11 SCC 1

[2]State (NCT of Delhi) v. Union of India, (2018) 8SCC 501

[3]1992 Supp (2) SCC 651

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