New Delhi, November 11, 2016: The sudden demonetization in India has left many perplexed. While there are many who are struggling to get their currency notes exchanged, others are trying to salvage every last rupee from their illegal hoards.
In a masterstroke move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the ban on the current 500 and 1000 rupees notes on November 8. This action was undertaken with the focus on to curb the unaccounted riches.
PM Modi tweeted, “I assure you the government is unwavering in its effort to create an India that is corruption free and fruits of development touch every citizen”.
I assure you the Govt is unwavering in its effort to create an India that is corruption free & fruits of development touch every citizen.
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This has led to people flocking to banks to exchange their redundant notes for the new currency notes but many have resorted to illegal means due to the fear of investigation as a bank deposit worth more than 2.5 lakhs will undergo heavy scrutiny.
Raids were conducted in Delhi, Mumbai and some other cities based on reports of tax evasion by converting the older notes into other forms by illicit methods. Many traders have shut down their stores in fear of tax raid.
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The Income Tax department has asked the investigation units in the country to keep an eye out for suspicious transactions in cash. The department claims, the actions they took were a part of a normal regular survey performed to curb such illegal practices. Items are bought at a much higher price and the hawala dealers (money launderers) exchange the cash for international currencies at unbelievably high rates.
Raids were conducted in Delhi, Mumbai and in some cities of Punjab after receiving reports saying that traders were accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, which were no longer useful, to sell Gold at Rs 50000 per 10 grams and apart form that the dollar is soaring up to a 100 dollars in the hawala market.
These radical steps taken to eliminate the biggest issue in India is a bold step. Centre has a clear intent to minimise corruption and black money.
However, Corruption on a larger level may not have anything to do with cash. This makes it possible for corruption to still be prevalent in spite of all the steps taken. The ban is also implemented to reduce counterfeits as they are printed in abundance and fund the destruction of a country.
When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.
The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.
“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”
“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.
Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women
and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.
Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.
Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.
“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”
But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.
“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.
Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.
Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.
“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.
“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”
The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.
“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.
India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.
“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.
“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”
Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.
“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”
The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.
Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.
“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)