Students become ambassadors to curb cyber crime in Nashik

first_imgThe Nashik police has started a cyber crime awareness programme to tackle the increasing number of such incidents. Students and common citizens are being involved as ambassadors to spread awareness of the issue. A cyber lab was opened in August last year and since then the Nashik Police is on a mission to bring such crime to zero. Till now, 20,000 students from nearly 40 schools and colleges have been given lessons on cyber crime.“Our only motto is to control such crimes in the city and safeguard the people, especially students. Nowadays people are so much on internet and social networking sites that they can’t even think when they have become the victim of cyber crime,” said Dr. Ravindra Kumar Singal, Commissioner of Nashik. Out of the 20000 students, 250 have become ambassadors who go at different places and create awareness about the cyber crimes. “Not only schools and colleges but we are also targeting the corporates. I try to attend all the awareness programmes,” adds Singal. The cyber ambassadors are trained by the staff of police commission. After the students and corporate, the Nashik police is planning to involve the families also.A police official said earlier tracking of such cases was tough but now through our cyber cell departments, we can retrieve the details of the accused. “Though parents should not spyon their children, they should aware of their activities and surfing habits on the computer or mobile. If this is not done then their children are at risk of falling victim to cyber crime,” added the official.last_img read more

Mumbai to have Shiv Sena Mayor after BJP withdraws

first_imgDecks were cleared for the election of Shiv Sena candidate as the Mayor of Mumbai after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday announced that the BJP will not contest the March 8 Mayoral polls.He also made it clear that the decision of the BJP should not be read as a “surrender” to ensure stability of his government.“The people of Mumbai voted overwhelmingly for the BJP as they believed in our agenda of transparency in the civic administration. Shiv Sena emerged as the single largest party while we were two seats behind them. We did not get the numbers to have a Mayor of our own,” Mr. Fadnavis told reporters at his official bungalow here.The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena has 84 corporators in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation while the BJP falls two short of the formers count in the cash-rich civic body.“BJP will also not contest elections for the post of Deputy Mayor and for the standing, improvement, education committees as well as for posts of chairpersons in the BEST committee,” the Chief Minister said.“We would have needed the support of other parties to have our Mayor,” he said.The BJP had two options, either to have a Mayor by taking outside support, which meant compromising on the issue of transparency, or justify the faith and trust given to us by the people, Mr. Fadnavis said.“We chose the second option,” he said.“The issue of Mumbai Mayor has nothing to do with the stability of my government. It is stable. Yesterday, Shiv Sena Ministers attended the cabinet meeting and we agreed on various issues,” he said.last_img read more

Assam govt to make Sanskrit compulsory

first_imgThe Assam government on Wednesday said it will implement the Cabinet decision to make Sanskrit compulsory till Class VIII only after having “general consensus” and removing “practical difficulties”. Making a statement on the recent decision which has evoked sharp reactions from all sections of society, Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The decision was taken in-principle but implementation will happen after general consensus and removing practical difficulties”. He informed the Assembly that the government will try to build a consensus after taking opinion from all important organisations of the State. Mr Sarma also said there are other issues in implementation of the decision like lack of Sanskrit teachers and the government will not appoint anyone from outside the State.last_img read more

Arunachal teen develops goggles to help the blind

first_imgA high school student in Arunachal Pradesh has invented a unique pair of goggles that uses ultrasound and infrared sensors to help the visually impaired detect obstacles on their path. On Friday, the State government pledged financial support for him to develop the gadget.Anang Tadar, a Class XI student of New Galaxy Academy, Nirjuli, was recently awarded the Dinanath Pandey Smart Idea Innovation Award for inventing a gadget called Goggle for Blind (G4B). Impressed by his innovation and keen to launch it in the market, the National Innovation Foundation, set up by the Department of Science and Technology, has asked Anang to create a few prototypes for the visually impaired to test.Anang, who comes from a poor family, approached Chief Minister Pema Khandu for assistance. The Chief Minister offered full financial support to him to develop the prototype.The teenager said the googles could be used to detect any obstacles on all sides within a distance of two metres. He says he used the principle of echolocation as used by bats at night. There are two ultrasound sensors on the left and right of the goggles to detect obstacles. “There is also an infrared sensor in the middle of the gadget to detect obstacles in case both the ultrasound sensors fail,” he said. When an obstacle is detected, a beep sound is heard through the audio output along with vibration to alert the person.last_img read more

Surge in BJP vote share in Bengal bypoll

first_imgA 22 % surge in the vote share of the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] in the Assembly by-poll in Purba Medinipur district and a 24 % drop in the share of the Left has perturbed the chief of the Trinamool Congress [TMC], Mamata Banerjee. She has acknowledged that a “transfer [of] votes” is taking place from the Left to the BJP. While the TMC has won the by-election in Kanthi Dakshin [South] by a margin of over 42,000 votes, BJP’s share has gone up from a little over 15,000 votes in the 2016 Assembly elections to nearly 53,000. “I do not think about all these – when ‘Ram’ (BJP) will become ‘Baam’ (Left) and ‘Baam’ will be ‘Ram’. I have said earlier that the BJP and the CPI(M) have an understanding. They transfer votes among each other. The Congress, CPI(M) and BJP – they all do that…We do not indulge in such politics,” Ms. Banerjee said on Thursday. She appealed to her cadres to “be polite” and to work closely with the people. In the 2016 Assembly polls the Congress and the Left were in an alliance and bagged the second spot with about 60,000 votes [34.21 %] in Kanthi. It has come down to 10.21 % in 2017.The TMC’s share has gone up marginally from 53.71% to 55.89%, which also is “formidable” in a four-cornered fight, analysts said.Even senior Left Front leaders have admitted that those who were with the Left have switched allegiance to the BJP in this election.“A section of those who were with the Left movement have now joined the BJP,” Left Front chairperson Biman Bose said on Friday commenting on the bypoll results.last_img read more

‘Stalking’ case: Chandigarh police summon Vikas Barala, friend Ashish

first_imgThe Chandigarh police have summoned Vikas Barala, son of the Haryana State BJP president Subhash Barala, and his friend Ashish, for questioning for their alleged act of stalking and harassing a young woman on a road in the city last week.The police have pasted the summons notice outside Vikas Barala’s house, directing the two to appear at the Sector-26 police station on Wednesday. This was done after the non-acceptance of the summons, sources said.Vikas and Ashish were arrested on the charge of stalking the woman but they were released soon on Friday night.The police have been facing flak for not invoking Sections 365 (kidnapping) and 511 (attempt to commit offences punishable with imprisonment) of the IPC against them.last_img

Nitish Kumar’s response on Jay Shah’s company’s growth

first_imgWhen asked about the huge growth of the company of Jay Shah, BJP president Amit Shah’s son, in last three years, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday quipped, “I haven’t read the newspaper today.”“I haven’t read the newspaper today so it is improper to comment on this,” said Mr. Kumar on the 16,000-times reported growth of Mr. Jay Shah’s company. While addressing media on the sidelines of his weekly Jan Samvad programme, Mr. Kumar also added that, he “doesn’t understand the complexities of investment through companies.”In the last week of July, Mr. Kumar had cut ties with RJD claiming he took the decision based on the call of his “conscience” of not to compromise with corruption, after Lalu Prasad and his family members were named in IRCTC hotel scam. He later had joined hands with BJP to form the NDA government in Bihar.However, Mr. Kumar said that he had got to know about RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s assets through media.Meanwhile, taking pot-shots over the huge growth of the company owned by Mr. Jay Shah in the last three years, RJD leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav tweeted, “what would Nitish Kumar’s conscience do over the son of Amit Shah?”last_img read more

Assam MLA asked to prove citizenship

first_imgAn MLA of the ruling BJP in Assam has been served notice to prove his citizenship amid the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens nearing completion.BJP legislator Kishore Nath and six members of his family were served the notice on Friday morning by Foreigners’ Tribunal No. 1 on suspicion of being ‘doubtful’ voters. Mr. Nath, 53, represents the Barkhola Assembly seat in southern Assam’s Cachar district.Other members of his family who have been served notice include his wife Nilima and four brothers.Officials’ whims “We have been living here for three generations. I believe some mischief was done during a verification process during 2008-2012 when the Congress ruled. No one ever came to our house for verification then,” Mr. Nath said.The MLA said his family members will appear before the foreigners’ tribunal judge with documents to prove their citizenship. “But the notice to me, an elected representative, has vindicated my belief that the methods applied to identify foreigners are designed to harass certain people,” he said. Assam has 100 foreigners’ tribunals which work on reports provided by the police. Mr. Nath said officials entrusted with the verification process often go by their whims.last_img read more

Malkangiri’s former Maoists switch from guns to pens

first_imgMalkangiri district police in Odisha has taken up the mantle to educate former Maoists, who were once trained to raise guns against the security forces.Owing to the efforts and coaching of police officials, 107 surrendered former Maoists of Malkangiri district were now appearing in the examinations for Bachelors Preparatory Course (BPP) of IGNOU this month. Most of them were appearing for the commerce course, which could be a catalyst for their decent livelihood in future.It was an achievement of the ‘Mission Education’ initiated by Malkangiri police in 2017 with an aim to provide free education to surrendered Maoists and their supporters living in remote pockets of this Maoist infested district. Police officials, including Superintendent of Police Jagmohan Meena, had taken active role in the training.“We had managed to identify and motivate around 120 tribals mostly surrendered Maoists and school drop outs to get enrolled in the six month BPP coaching. All of them had started to realise importance of education in life,” said Malkangiri SP Mr Meena. As all these youths lived in remote pockets of the district, police department made arrangements so that they could come over to Malkangiri town on weekends for regular direct coaching and counselling for the purpose.Police officials including Mr. Meena, took classes for these surrendered Maoists at district police headquarters every weekend during past six months to get them prepared for BPP examination. A private tutor was assigned to help out these students and authorities of IGNOU study centre of Malkangiri also extended support. Out of the 120 students 107 decided to take up the BPP examination of IGNOU in June this year. They included a former hardcore Maoist leader Sukdev, who was involved in Maoist ambush on a motor-launch in Chitrakonda reservoir in June 2008 in which 36 greyhound commandos of Andhra Pradesh were killed.last_img read more

Jammu and Kashmir to get two new border battalions

first_imgDescribing the border residents of Jammu and Kashmir as “a strategic asset”, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday announced the raising of two exclusive border battalions of the State police.The Minister also said five battalions of the Indian Reserve Police and two women’s battalions of the State police would be raised with 60% reservation for border residents.“Pakistan has been shelling the International Border (IB) heavily [in recent times]. I have assessed the situation and directed border-specific measures to improve the preparedness. The border residents are our strategic assets. I was happy to see their confidence,” said Mr. Singh.The Minister also announced an enhanced compensation package for the border residents.The Minister concluded his two-day visit to the State, by visiting Kupwara in the Kashmir Valley and the border areas in Jammu.He was accompanied by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh to Kupwara, officials said.Besides the exclusive Border and IR battalions Mr. Singh said, “Two women’s battalions — one for Jammu and one for Kashmir — will also be raised with the same reservation.”During his survey of the border hamlet of Pakistan shelling-impacted R.S. Pura which has borne the brunt of Pakistani shelling, the Home Minister said five bullet-proof mobile ambulances will be made available and 14,460 bunkers, including 1431 community bunkers and 13,029 individual bunkers, will be constructed at a cost of ₹ 415 crore in border areas and along the Line of Control (LoC).Announcing a new compensation policy for border residents, Mr Singh said any civilian casualty will get ₹5 lakh up from the present ₹1 lakh and “the fixed deposit caveat has been removed”. Similarly, farmers will get ₹50,000 per head of cattle killed in Pakistan shelling, up from ₹30,000. The new package will cover the death of all cattle killed in shelling and not be restricted to only three animals as at present. , and will cover entire cattle strength falling victim to Pakistan’s shelling unlike the past where only three cattle were covered for compensation.The Minister also announced a hike of 30% in the monthly compensation for Kashmiri Pandits and ₹5.5 lakh financial assistance to refugees of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, West Pakistan and Chamb. “We have decided to set up an advisory board of migrants. It will have representatives of all the displaced communities,” said Mr. Singh.Amarnath securityReiterating that any decision on the extension of cease-ops beyond Ramzan will be taken “after a high level security review meeting and a discussion with public representatives”, the Home Minister said the necessary directions to safeguard the annual Amarnath yatra have been issued. He again underlined that Pakistan “must stop terrorism from its soil”.Threat to PMReplying to a question on the alleged Maoist plan to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Singh said the Maoists are “fighting a lost battle”.“We always take the PM’s security seriously. I assure that Maoist extremism has come down and will end like extremism ended in the northeast. Today, only 90 tehsil are impacted by Maoism,” the Minister said.last_img read more

Suicides wipe the shine off Surat’s diamond trade

first_imgAfter polishing diamonds destined for luxury stores from New York to Hong Kong for nearly 10 hours in a cramped workshop in western India, Vikram Raujibhai went home, waited for his family to leave, and locked the front door.Raujibhai doused himself in kerosene and lit a match.His family returned to find the 29-year-old’s charred body, his case the latest in a series among workers with low wages and poor work conditions in India’s booming diamond industry, as uncovered by a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation.Investigations spread over a year in Gujarat found a pattern of suicides — many shrouded in silence — in the industry that cuts and polishes 90 per cent of gems sold globally, with many workers paid per stone.A few workers in the industry earn fixed wages — some even up to ₹1,00,000 or more a month – but over 80 per cent of the total workforce earn a piece rate of ₹1 to ₹25 for each stone they polish and have no social benefits.Interviews with diamond unit owners, brokers, labour groups, families and the police revealed nine suicides since last November in the city of Surat, a hub for the trade, and the Saurashtra region where the workers are from.But experts said this was likely to be just the tip of the iceberg in India, where industry figures show diamond exports surged 70 per cent in the past decade, with no mandatory certification to ensure diamond processing is labour abuse free.Families are reluctant to blame the diamond business, which employs over 1.5 million men — mainly from drought-prone parts of Saurashtra for fear of losing work, with few other options.Raujibhai’s mother Wasanben is still coming to terms with the death of her son, the sole breadwinner after her husband, also a diamond polisher, died a decade ago of a heart attack.“Vikram started polishing diamonds when he was 16. He had been struggling to get more work,” Wasanben said as she pulled open the curtains of the room where her son died in January.Sitting outside the soot-layered room in a slum in Bhavnagar town in Saurashtra, Wasanben said her son was worried about mounting expenses and being unable to find love and marry.“He earned ₹6,000 a month, but we were a family of seven and the money was never enough,” she said.“I assured him things will be fine and we were managing to eat. That day he waited for us to leave for a wedding (to kill himself).”Suicide filesThe skills of polishers, after generations in the industry, and low labour costs ensure major mining firms from De Beers — the world’s largest diamond producer by value — to Russia’s Alrosa get raw diamonds processed in India.When asked about worker suicides, De Beers — of the Anglo American Plc Group — the world’s second biggest mining company Rio Tinto, and Russia’s Alrosa said they had not encountered any cases in firms to which they sell rough diamonds.Government officials said workers were paid well and the industry is “positive”, setting up schools, hospitals and giving jobs to relatives of workers who died or committed suicide.But campaigners said while most big firms have air-conditioned workshops and fixed wages, many smaller outfits have no toilets or ventilation and workers live, eat and sleep in the workshops in slave-like conditions.Rough diamonds imported to India must be certified ‘conflict-free’ by the Kimberley Process scheme to ensure they have not been used to fund civil wars and are free of human rights abuse, not so called “blood diamonds”. KP members account for about 99.8 per cent of global production of rough diamonds.But certification of cut and polished diamonds given by the global non-profit Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) is optional.Only about 90 firms from about 15,000 big and small diamond companies in Gujarat are certified RJC members. About 30 are authorised buyers of rough diamonds from De Beers that binds them to follow a set of labour rules.But no one is pushing companies for certification of processed diamonds.The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council — set up by the Union government to boost the country’s exports of gems — said it was up to unit owners to seek certification.Gujarat labour officials said they had no role to play except ensuring the country’s labour laws were enforced.But campaigners are concerned about the welfare of workers paid by stone and with no social benefits, who often take on debt to feed and educate their families.“The business has grown, there is better technology … but only about 25 per cent of workers earn enough to sustain themselves,” said Gautam Kanani, commerce professor at Surat’s J.D. Gabani Commerce College who studied the industry in 2007.For some diamond workers the consequences can be fatal.Stories of suicides gleaned from police files show a pattern — a seemingly untroubled worker suddenly killing himself.The highest number of more than 5,000 suicides reported in Surat city since 2010 were in areas where diamond workers live, police data the Surat police shared with the Thomson Reuters Foundation shows.In Surat, the Thomson Reuters Foundation analysed the suicides of 23 men between January and April and found six cases of diamond workers who had hanged themselves or drank poison. It found three similar cases in the Saurashtra region.Police investigationsPolice officer Ashish Dodiya this year investigated the suicides of two diamond workers in their early twenties who drank poison.Bharatbhai Jatharbhai Bhammar (22) moved to Surat three years ago and lived in the workshop where he polished diamonds. He was at work when he drank poison in April this year.“His job was to give the final polish to the diamond. He worked 10 hours every day like we all do,” said his cousin, Lakshmanbhai Khodubhai Bhammar, who also polishes gems in Surat.“I got a call from his workshop that day. He asked me to save him when I was rushing him to the hospital.”The other suicide victim, Rajeshbhai Makwana, had been polishing diamonds in Surat for six years and made about ₹13,000 a month. He ended his life after an argument with his wife in February this year.“He had no problems,” Makwana’s brother Santosh told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Dodiya dismissed a link between the deaths and work in the cases he investigated.“They didn’t die because of the diamond business. There are more cases of diamond worker suicides because of their high numbers in this area,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.“No diamond worker will die of starvation. They are paid on time, every month.”Other police officers stationed in the area where diamond workers live in Surat did see a link between the suicide cases they investigated and diamond work.“(The workers) take loans and are never able to repay them. We get such cases (suicides) when the (global) demand for diamonds drops and employers do not pay them,” said Rameshbhai Gulabrao, who investigated two worker suicides this year.Some workers said they go without wages for at least two months every year when business is slow and they have to borrow money to make ends meet.In one case, a few kilometres from Bhammar’s home in a crammed settlement in Surat, Miteshbhai Hiteshbhai Kansara (22), hanged himself in March this year from a kitchen fan in the one-room flat he shared with his parents and younger brother.“He worked with big diamonds and earned a fixed monthly salary of around ₹10,000. This is good money in Surat,” said Kansara’s younger brother Vatsal.“He was good at studies. He studied up to 12th grade and was planning to go to college. He didn’t want to polish diamonds.”’Slavery and suppression’Ramesh Ziliriya, who set up a diamond labour association in Rajkot in 2013 to protect workers rights, said while debt bondage and child labour may be a thing of the past in the diamond industry, “slavery and suppression continues”.“Workers do not protest their low wages as they fear losing their jobs,” the former gem polisher said.The Ratna Kalakar Vikas Sangh — a welfare body of diamond workers in Surat — recorded nearly 2,000 labour disputes between 2016 and 2017, mainly involving workers being laid off.Two years ago, the group tried investigating the suicide of a worker who jumped from the fifth floor of a diamond workshop.But his family didn’t complain and the probe was abandoned, said Jaisukhbhai Nanjibhai Gajera, who heads the welfare body.He said the precarious nature of the industry can be difficult for workers, with diamonds competing in the luxury goods market with designer bags, cars and cruises, and any drop in demand having a knock-on effect on workers’ wages.About a decade ago, economist Indira Hirway found 50 suicides of diamond workers in Surat during the 2008 global recession as workshops shut down and workers were laid off.Labour unions said up to 300 workers killed themselves then and the suicides continue today, but families are reluctant to link the deaths to their relatives’ working lives.They said most suicides were linked to unpaid loans and low wages which stopped workers feeding or educating their families.“Diamond workers don’t complain as they get these jobs often from someone within the family or the community. Most of them are school dropouts,” said Indira Hirway, who led a UNDP study on the 2008 recession’s impact on diamond workers.“That is the way globalisation is working in India where traders and exporters make huge money, but people at the bottom get low wages and are exploited badly,” said Hirway, director at Centre for Development Alternatives in Ahmedabad.Daily wagesAt the Sri Diamond Worker Union in Surat, Mukeshbhai Waljibhai Kanjaria sifts through the letters he has written to state authorities about the problems diamond workers face.“Earlier, a worker would polish 50 diamonds for, say, eight rupees a piece,” said Kanjaria, the union president. “Now there are machines and he can polish 500 diamonds in one day, but his earnings have remained the same.”Kanjaria said workers lack social benefits that other factory workers get, like pensions and subsidised medical care.But labour officials in Gujarat said diamond industry workers earn more than the minimum wage of 8,300 rupees a month.“They are not interested in social security as it involves paperwork and both workers and their employers are in most cases illiterate,” said Ashish Gandhi, assistant labour commissioner.“Whenever there is fluctuation (in demand) and downsizing, they face problems, but (their welfare) depends on the philosophy of the employer.”Some workers do break away from polishing to start their own businesses, but few manage to advance up the ladder, with many adding to mounting debt by going to local money lenders.Bharatbhai Rathod worked as a diamond polisher in Bhavnagar for almost 15 years before deciding to start his own unit.His business was short-lived.“He drank the pesticide we use in the farmland one day,” said Shobhaben, Rathod’s wife, who works at a cotton farm in Damrala village in Bhavnagar, about 500 km from Surat.“We didn’t know of anything that was bothering him – he didn’t say anything. We found later he had taken a loan for raw material (rough diamonds) and was being threatened,” Shobhaben said, smarting tears as she plucked cotton.Red herringOn a sweltering afternoon in Surat, scores of men sat on the footpath of a bustling street, cradling on their laps blue trays spattered with diamonds like grains of sand that they picked and checked through tiny magnifying glasses.Mahidharpura is Surat’s gem trading hub, where businessmen sell rough diamonds bought from mining companies in Africa, Israel and Belgium to owners of the factories where they are cut and polished before being sold on to jewellery manufacturers.Diamonds processed in Surat are sold to jewellery makers in a bazaar, but nearly 90 percent are couriered to one of the world’s largest diamond bourses in Mumbai, and then exported.Behind the seemingly transparent trade in diamonds are layers of complex transactions that mean workers are often clueless about the real worth and destination of diamonds.Ashish Dansangh Bawalwa, 35, had been polishing diamonds for 12 years when he noticed a currency symbol on the little paper pouch containing the diamonds he was polishing.“It was a dollar sign. That day I realised we were being paid in rupees to polish diamonds sold in dollars,” said Bawalwa, who left Surat as he was unable to sustain his family.“It is as if the companies are getting these diamonds cut and polished for free,” said Bawalwa, who is taking up odd jobs to repay the loans he took in Surat amounting to 150,000 rupees.Dinesh Navadia of the Gems and Jewellery Export Council said most firms took care of the education of their employees’ children and offered subsidised medical care.Asked about the spate of worker suicides, he acknowledged there was a problem, linking it to poor productivity cutting wages and workers struggling in an expensive city like Surat.“But diamond companies give jobs to wives of workers or their children (after their death),” he said. “This is a positive industry.”Jean-Marc Lieberherr, head of the Belgium-based Diamond Producers Association which aims to encourage best practice in the industry, said major mining companies were making a real effort to ensure workers were not exploited.But he said it was an uphill task to directly monitor the thousands of workers across Gujarat with many workshops in remote, isolated areas.A De Beers spokesman said the company had a comprehensive worker protection plan that its clients and their contractors must comply with, and stopped trading with those who breached its labour standards.Similarly, Rio Tinto – the founding member of RJC – has standards for best practices in business that include labour safety norms, while Alrosa has alliance guidelines to protect labour rights for companies who buy raw diamonds from them, their respective spokesmen said.Canada-based mining company Lucara is RJC certified and sells rough diamonds through tenders and performs checks on all its clients, a spokesman said.Jewellery manufacturing major Chow Tai Fook — that most Indian diamond polishing units supply diamonds to — said it buys gems only from those companies that comply with norms set by De Beers and the RJC.But labour groups said steps have not been taken to protect workers from the highs and lows of the diamond trade and the business has remained unorganised, casting a long shadow on their lives and the future of diamond polishing in India.Most workers the Thomson Reuters Foundation met, even the handful on fixed wages, were determined that their children would not join the diamond industry.After her son killed himself, Wasanben decided none of her three other sons would ever polish diamonds.“There is no growth in diamonds. A man will never be able to do anything in life,” she said.last_img read more

Monitoring reports of formalin in fish: Parrikar

first_imgGoa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said he had to make an intervention in the ongoing controversy surrounding the use of formalin in fish, because people had stopped eating fish in Goa.“I was keeping quiet initially, but since fish is a staple food, finally I had to say yesterday (Saturday) ‘Don’t worry, I am monitoring [it] myself’, said Mr. Parrikar.“I think that was required because people stopped eating fish. How can Goans live without fish?,” Mr. Parrikar said at a function here on Sunday. ‘Within limits’Goa Food and Drugs Administration officials had claimed that formaldehyde was used to preserve fish, after a raid on fish consignments coming from other States last week.The controversy took a major turn after Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai tweeted that the fish was fit for consumption, following which the FDA in a statement said that Formalin was “within permissible limits”.Fish markets in the coastal tourist State have been in crisis over the last few days, with consumers staying away from them unsure of the quality of fish.last_img read more

Dalit man’s body exhumed for autopsy

first_imgA day after an FIR was lodged in connection with the death and burial of a 22-year-old Dalit man in the Sirka area of the district, the police on Friday exhumed the body in the presence of a magistrate and sent it for autopsy, official sources said. Mukesh Ram was allegedly beaten up by three men around 12 days ago. He succumbed to his injuries a week later. In a complaint filed on Thursday, Mukesh’s elder sister Champa Kumari said the three men not only assaulted his brother, but also forced her family members to bury the body, Sub-Divisional Police Officer Radha Prem Kishore said. “Mukesh, who was allegedly beaten up on July 23, underwent primary treatment at a local hospital and returned home. A week later, however, his condition deteriorated and he died on the way to hospital,” Mr. Kishore said quoting the FIR.Ms. Kumari also alleged that her family was not allowed to perform the last rites of her brother. Minutes after Ms. Kumari filed the police complaint on Thursday, representatives of various socio-religious organisations, along with local people, gheraoed the Ramgarh police station, demanding immediate arrest of the accused, the officer said. Two of the three accused have been identified as Samir Ansari and Ashique Ansari, the SDPO said. “All three are at large and a team of officers is looking for them. The police are also trying to ascertain the reason behind the assault.”last_img read more

12-hour West Bengal BJP bandh: sporadic violence, shops and offices temporarily shut

first_imgShops, business establishments and offices were partly closed in Kolkata and parts of West Bengal in the early hours on Wednesday following a 12-hour bandh call given by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).At least two buses were set on fire by the supporters of the bandh in Islampur in north Bengal where two students were killed during the alleged police firing last week. However, it is not clear yet if the police or unknown gunmen fired at the students.In many places the BJP supporters were seen in fierce fist fights with the supporters of Trinamool Congress (TMC), opposing the day-long bandh. TMC’s Secretary General and Minister Partha Chatterjee called it’s a “flop show”.“BJP is a flop party and so is the bandh. People have not participated in the bandh and schools, colleges or business establishments are open. Both public and private offices are functioning despite BJP’s hooliganism,” Mr. Chatterjee said.BJP’s State President Dilip Ghosh said that the bandh was “spontaneous”.“We appealed to people and they have responded observing the bandh. It is successful. We have not stopped anyone or forced anyone to observe the bandh. We have resisted TMC cadres where they attacked our cadres,” Mr. Ghosh said.Clashes between TMC and BJP’s supporters broke out in South Dinajpur and North Dinajpur, parts of West Burdwan and West Midnapore districts when rallies taken out by the BJP in support of the bandh came face to face with processions taken out by the TMC denouncing it, the police said.Bandh supporters pelted stones at buses and tyres were set afire to stop the traffic in Midnapore district, said a district police official.Stone pelting incidents were reported in Shyambazar and Sealdah areas in the metropolis as well.Rallies were taken out by BJP leaders in Kolkata in support of the bandh, while TMC leaders were seen on the streets trying to ensure that the life remained normal.However, by the middle of the day majority of the shops were open in Kolkata and traffic movement increased. The number of commuters in the city’s streets remained less compared to other days.Party workers staged blockades at Chengail, Andul and Ramrajatala stations in the Howrah-Kharagpur section of South Eastern Railway, affecting suburban train services in the section.But services were normal by mid-day, said South Eastern Railway spokesperson Sanjoy Ghosh.(with agency inputs)last_img read more

Slipper thrown at Bihar CM Nitish Kumar

first_imgA young man named Chandan Kumar Tiwari threw a slipper at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during a programme in Patna on Thursday.The slipper missed the CM and the programme continued. Chandan Kumar Tiwari from Aurangabad district of Bihar also shouted slogans against Mr. Kumar. He was protesting against amendment in reservation. The youth was thrashed by JD(U) workers before being taken into custody by Patna police. The incident happened at a programme organised by the student wing of the JD(U).last_img

On October 20, counting of votes in J&K urban local body polls

first_imgCounting of the votes polled in the urban local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir was done on Saturday. The four-phase election between October 8 and 16 was held amid tight security. While there was moderate to heavy polling in Jammu and Ladakh, the Kashmir Valley saw an abysmally low voter turnout. The polls were a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress, with the National Conference and the PDP boycotting the process. Nearly 17 lakh voters were eligible to vote for 79 urban local bodies, but polling was held only for 52. No voting was held in 27 civic bodies in the Valley because there was no candidate or only one candidate had filed nomination. In the Valley, there were no signs of any electioneering as militant outfits had threatened to target the elections. Pictures show paramilitary troops guarding a polling station in Srinagar and an armoured vehicle at a deserted booth.last_img read more

BJP wins big in Dhule, Sena emerges ‘kingmaker’ in Ahmednagar

first_imgThe ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Dhule Municipal Corporation (DMC) polls winning 51 of the 74 seats. However, ally Shiv Sena, sprung a surprise to emerge as the largest party in Ahmednagar winning 22 of the 68 seats.The BJP trounced all opposition in Dhule to seize the civic body in a win reminiscent of its victories in Jalgaon and Sangli civic elections in August this year. The party contested only 62 seats in Dhule and won 51, a massive improvement from its three seats in 2013.In Dhule, the BJP’s biggest threat, rebel legislator Anil Gote came a cropper with his faction, contesting under the banner of Lok Sangram party won only one seat.The Congress-NCP combine won 14 seats while the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which fielded candidates from 13 seats, bagged three seats in a creditable debut in Dhule civic elections. Sena got two seats.“The people of Dhule have placed their trust in the BJP. There was no factionalism within our party during our campaign,” said Girish Mahajan, poll in-charge for the Dhule civic body.“The public has voted for the BJP to bring about development and change, and clearly rejected the corrupt NCP-Congress,” said Subhash Bhamre, Dhule’s BJP MP who is also the Union Minister of State (MoS) for Defence.The BJP threw everything into the fight to win the Dhule and Ahmednagar cvic bodies including public rallies by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in both districts.Larger issues like the impact of the Maratha reservation to pressing developmental problems were relegated to oblivion in a campaign marked by money and muscle power.Reacting to his party’s poor performance, Mr. Gote alleged that the BJP had won Dhule by inducting criminals, distributing money on a large scale and tampering with EVMs.“This [win] is not any achievement of the BJP…It marks a black day for Dhule’s public which has been hoodwinked by the ruling party. Of the 62 BJP candidates 57 have been imported from other parties. Of these 28 are history-sheeters, while 14 are hardcore criminals. What kind of governance is the BJP planning to give?” Mr. Gote said. Sympathy wave?However, the BJP floundered in Ahmednagar where the Sena with its 22 seats has emerged as the single largest party and power broker. The Congress and the NCP, contesting jointly, has won 25 seats while the BJP has been pushed to third place, winning only 14 seats – an improvement from nine in 2013.The BJP will now have to ally itself with the Sena if it wants to secure power in Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation (AMC).Commenting on a possible alliance with the BJP, senior Sena leader and former MLA Anil Rathod said his party may consider “forging a coalition with BJP old-timers”.The double murder of two Shiv Sena leaders in April this year also cast a shadow in Ahmednagar civic poll dictated largely by clan antagonisms.In contrast to the BJP, no top leader campaigned for Sena in Ahmednagar which saw the latter party riding on a minor sympathy wave as a result of the double murder.The BJP top gun in Ahmednagar, Dilip Gandhi, MP, received a major setback with his son and daughter-in-law both losing heavily. A surprise however, was sprung by former BJP leader and AMC’s ex-deputy mayor Shripad Chhindam, who won by 2,000 votes. Mr. Chhindam was in the eye of a storm in February for alleged derogatory remarks against Chhatrapati Shivaji.While the counting was largely peaceful, there were stray instances of scuffle between party activists and the police in both districts, resulting in mild lathi charge by security personnel at the counting centres.last_img read more

Gehlot an accomplished statesman

first_imgVeteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, who will take over as the Rajasthan Chief Minister for the third time, is considered an astute politician and a hard core organisation man, who has played an instrumental role in bringing his party back to power in the thick of challenges posed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. In his new stint, he faces the task of strengthening the Congress before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.Along with the Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot, who was named the Deputy Chief Minister on Friday, Mr. Gehlot is credited for taking the Congress tally from 21 in 2013 to 100, with its allies, in the recently concluded Assembly election. The Congress won 15 out of 19 seats in western Rajasthan’s Jodhpur, Barmer and Jaisalmer, where Mr. Gehlot was given a free hand to select candidates.Mr. Gehlot, 67, elected to the Assembly from Jodhpur’s Sardarpura again, has served as a Member of Parliament, Union Minister, Chief Minister, National Students’ Union of India president, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president and All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in his four-decade-long political career. He was elected an MP from Jodhpur for the first time in 1980 at the young age of 29 years.Known for his simple lifestyle, belief in Gandhian philosophy and mass contact, Mr. Gehlot successfully tackled several crisis situations during his two previous tenures as the CM. In 2010, he brought back agitating Gujjars from the railway tracks with sympathetic remarks on not letting them shiver in the cold. In 2011, he astutely controlled the situation after the infamous Gopalgarh mosque firing incident.Coming from a family of professional magicians, Mr. Gehlot is often described as a politician who has outsmarted his opponents in a manner that the latter did not even get a hint of it. He became the Chief Minister for the first time in 1998, when he was an MP, and Jat stalwart Parasram Maderna was a strong claimant. In 2008, he successfully met the challenge from the then Union Minister Sis Ram Ola and went on to become the CM again.A year after the 2002 Gujarat violence, Mr. Gehlot shocked the Sangh Parivar by ordering the arrest of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia for his campaign of distributing tridents in Ajmer. As Mr. Togadia remained behind bars for several days, Mr. Gehlot made it clear that he would not allow Rajasthan to become another Hindutva laboratory, after Gujarat.Mr. Gehlot is also remembered for his efficient drought management during his first tenure, as its job component was later adopted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre to formulate the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme. He also took the initiative in the Right To Information legislation. His second tenure is known for the introduction of the free medicine and diagnostic tests scheme that cut down out-of-pocket expenditure of poor patients.Interestingly, it was the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had selected Mr. Gehlot for active politics when she saw him working in one of the refugee camps in West Bengal during the 1971 East Bengali refugee crisis. Ms. Gandhi had identified his organisational skills during her visit to the camps.last_img read more

Pansare case: irked over probe, HC says State a laughing stock

first_imgThe Bombay High Court on Thursday said the State has been reduced to a laughing stock by adopting elementary methods in probing rationalist Govind Pansare’s killing.A Bench of Justices S.C. Dharamadhikari and B.P. Colabawalla summoned Maharashtra home department’s additional chief secretary on March 28 to explain the cause of the slow progress made in the case.“Let the State feel some pressure. It must face consequences some day. For most often, the police get away. No memos are issued, no explanations sought,” the Bench said.“If crimes will be probed only after the court’s intervention…If in matter after matter, judiciary is the only saviour, then it is a tragedy. What message are we sending to society?” the judges asked.They were irked after reading a progress report, submitted in a sealed cover by Maharashtra CID’s Special Investigation Team (SIT), in the Pansare case.As per the judges’ observations made in an open court, the SIT submitted, among other things, that in order to trace two absconding accused, it questioned their relatives.It also submitted that one of the absconding accused owned an immoveable property in the State and, therefore, the SIT visited the place to trace his whereabouts.The HC, however, said the SIT must realise that after four years since the crime was committed, it was unlikely the accused would stay somewhere within the State, or close to the crime spot.“What stops them from going and hiding anywhere across the country? Merely because someone owns a property doesn’t mean he will stick around in that area. The accused can seek shelter anywhere in the country. The elementary steps you are taking to nab the accused have reduced you to a laughing stock,” the Bench said.“Because of you, the public has a perception that some people can get away, remain uninvestigated only because they enjoy a certain patronage,” it said.It said a progressive state such as Maharashtra must feel proud of its thinkers and rationalists. “The State can’t be a silent spectator. This is not a movie that you (police, probe agencies) come after everything is over. And if you (politicians) can’t protect your people, then do not contest elections,” the HC said.The Bench also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing the 2013 killing of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, to tie up all lose ends in its investigation without further delay.The CBI submitted before the HC on Thursday that while the shooters in the Dabholkar case were traced, arrested, and the charge sheet was filed, it required some time to probe some additional issues, like arms and weapons used by the accused.Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur and succumbed to injuries on February 20.Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013, in Pune, while on his morning walk.The CBI and the State CID are probing the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare, respectively.The HC has been hearing a plea filed by the family members of Dabholkar and Pansare seeking a court-monitored probe in both the cases.last_img read more

In a first, east Asian birds make Andaman stopover

first_imgDistinguished by the green and brown plumage on its back, the dimunitve Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo (Chalcites basalis) is a native of Australia and New Guinea.However, researcher G. Gokulkrishnan had an unexpected encounter with the tiny bird — roughly about 15 cm and weighing 22 g and known for its repeated, loud and piercing whistle — early on July 7, 2017 in a tsunami ravaged coastal forest in the Great Nicobar Island of the Andaman and Nicobar island chain. The sighting was the first recorded instance of the bird in India.Two other first time visitors were also recorded on the islands over 2017-18. The Zappey’s Flycatcher (Cyanoptila cumatilis) a song bird that breeds in China and spends the winters in the Malay peninsula, Sumatra and Java, was spotted six times in different areas of Andaman and Nicobar Islands between December 2017 and March 2017 — at least thrice in pairs.Thai visitorLater that year researchers recorded the presence of the Javan Pond Heron (Ardeola speciosa), usually found in Thailand and Cambodia. Larger than Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo and Zappey’s Flycatcher, it was spotted on August 26, 2018. “During their migration from north to south, these birds make a stop over at the Andaman and Nicobar islands. We have been able to make these new records because of increased fieldwork and interest in avifauna,” said Dr. C. Sivaperuman, Officer-in-Charge, Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre of the Zoological Survey of India.The three new records from India from the Andaman and Nicobar Island have been discussed in detail in a recent publication of journal Birding ASIA. The other contributors to the research paper are P.C. Rasmussen, Minakshi Dash and D. Sekar. East Asian FlywayIn the past few years a few other birds of southeast Asian origin have been recorded in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands during migration. Researchers are intrigued by the fact that number of new sightings has increased post the tsunami. The new records include the Mugimaki Flycatcher (Ficedula mugimaki), Blue-winged Pitta (Pitta moluccensis), Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes) and the Chinese Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone incei).These birds also use Andaman and Nicobar Islands for a few week rest before they can fly along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). The EAAF extends from Arctic Russia and North America to the south Australian boundaries and includes the most of the east Asian regions including Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A birding publication, A Checklist of the birds of India by Praveen J, Rajah Jayapal and Aasheesh Pittie, and published by the journal Indian BIRDS in June 2016 had listed 1,263 birds. The list in the publication has since been revised with the number of birds found in the country now being pegged at 300 approximately. Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with just about 0.25 % the country’s landmass, is home to about 350 species of exotic birds, according to an official estimate.last_img read more