Saturday November 25, 2017
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No connection between Pansare, Dabhodhar, Kalburgi murders, says govt

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New Delhi: While political pundits in India attributed the poor performance of the BJP in the Bihar polls to the ‘growing intolerance’ and the killing of rationalists Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi, the government in the Centre on Wednesday said, the gruesome incidents were not connected.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told Rajya Sabha that as per available information, there is no report to suggest any linkage/connection between the murders of Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and MM Kalburgi.

Speaking during the Question Hour, he further clarified that there was no proposal to outlaw the right-wing group Santhan Sanstha.

Santhan Sanstha came into the fore for all the wrong reasons when one of its activists was arrested for his alleged involvement with the murder of Pansare.

However, Sanathan Sanstha admitted that the accused was its member, but it rubbished any party’s role in the killing.

Rijiju further said that law enforcing agencies are constantly monitoring the activities of the organisation which are said to spread tension. The government is committed to ensuring maintenance of peace and communal harmony in the country, he added.

A left-wing politician and author, Pansare, was shot on February 16, 2015, in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.  While Dabholkar was murdered on August 2013, Kalburgi was shot on August this year.

Several Sahitya Academy award winner denounced their prize for the government’s inaction to take speedy action against the culprit.

The government’s alleged failure to contain the situation drew flak from several quarters of the civil society. Besides, the ‘award wapsi‘ programme, there were other rallies and marches to protest the deaths.

The Lalu-Nitish coalition in Bihar made good use of the situation to stop the BJP juggernaut and leapfrogged the NDA to assume power in Bihar.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Indian Navy is ‘totally secular’, says Navy Chief

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New Delhi: When the term ‘growing intolerance’ had become a household name in India, Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan stated on Thursday that the Indian Navy was “totally secular” and every vessel of the force was a microcosm of the country.

Claiming that the India Navy upholds and maintains the true spirit of secularism, Dhowan further said that the ideals of secularism initiates from an individual.

“I would like to talk about how it is in the Navy. Every ship of the Indian Navy is a microcosm of India, where we have personnel from every single state representing, including every religion as well,” Dhowan noted.

“Therefore Navy is totally secular in nature and it starts from our individual and smallest unit. That trend and that feeling, and that spirit is maintained,” he added.

Dhowan’s comment are important in the backdrop of an open letter by former Naval chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdass to the Prime Minister and the President on the issues of ‘growing intolerance’.

Dhowan further assured that religious fundamentalism cannot influence the unity of the Navy personnel.

Earlier, a defence think-tank had proposed for holding a talk on the threats to security arising due to religious intolerance.

At the annual press conference of the Navy Day which is on Friday, Admiral Dhowan was asked if he felt the “growing intolerance and radicalisation” posed national and global threat to security.

However, the arrests of ISI moles recently have underscored the need for more vigilance. It is evident that the Pakistan-based intelligence agency had been fuelling unrest using the ‘religious intolerance’ factor.

Amid reports that the ISI agents nabbed from the Kolkata port area had sent pictures of warships, the Navy played down the incident citing that the security of the ships was never compromised.

However, the police have recovered a few rough drawn maps of the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) from thye arrested agents. Police also apprehends that one of the agents had sent picture of the battleships that were being built by the shipyard. These ships were generally commissioned to the Navy.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Social boycott to be abolished in Maharashtra

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Mumbai: Maharashtra would soon be India’s first state to come up with a law condemning the act of social boycott by caste panchayats on families or individuals.

Any action pertaining to social boycott has been ruled as a crime according to the draft of the act –‘Maharashtra Prohibition of Social Boycott Act, 2015’, which was published on the state government website on Wednesday.

The heinous practices of the caste panchayats had been protested against by rationalist Narendra Dabholkar before he was murdered in Pune. Several activists and academics have also raised their voices for a law against the practice going on for years.

Maharashtra, in recent times saw an increased number of social boycott incidents and violence pushed by the caste panchayats when their rules weren’t followed.

This is not Maharashtra’s first time in enacting such laws as it was also the first state in the country to pass the anti-superstition law.

The accused, according to the act, would complete trial within six months of the charge sheet being filed. If proven guilty, the accused will face seven years of jail time or Rs 5 lakh fine, or both.

The new act defines ‘Caste Panchayat’ as a registered or unregistered body formed by a group of any community, which functions inside that community to control different practices carried out there. It controls personal and societal behaviours of the community members and works out disputes collectively and ‘resolves’ them by issuing oral or written dictums

Either a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class, whichever the case needed, would have the authority to deem the offence under this act as bailable or triable.

Provision has also been made for the appointment of a Social Boycott Prohibition Officer who would detect crimes in violation of this act. The officer would also provide support to the police officers and the magistrate in their duties.

“It is a positive step from the government and we will be sending our suggestions to the draft. One of the major suggestions would be to make these crimes non-bailable. Hopefully we will succeed in it,” prominent anti-caste panchayat activist in Maharashtra, Krushna Chandgude, told The Hindu.

Advocate Asim Sarode also commended this move by the government, saying that it would encourage more activists to work in this field. Sarode had submitted his own draft to formulate an act.

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Four more Punjabi littérateurs to return Akademi awards

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Chandigarh: Noted Punjab-based poet Surjit Patar was among the four littérateurs who announced on Monday that they will return their Sahitya Akademi awards to protest against the growing atmosphere of intolerance in the country.

Besides Patar, the other three poets and writers who announced that they would return their awards were Jaswinder Singh, Baldev Singh Sadaknama and Darshan Bhuttar.

In a joint statement, Jaswinder Singh, Sadaknama and Bhuttar said that they were giving up their awards “to protest against the atmosphere of terror which was being created” by certain elements.

Patar told media that he was giving up the award, “which is close to my heart with a heavy heart” due to recent happenings in the country.

On Sunday, well-known Punjabi writers who announced giving up their literary awards included Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Atamjit Singh, Gurbachan Bhullar and Canada-based writer Waryam Sandhu.

All the Punjabi writers have said that they were raising their voice against rising “intolerance” and “suppressing freedom of expression”.

The litterateurs said that they were giving up their awards to protest against the killings of writers MM Kalburgi in Karnataka (in August) and Narendra Dabholkar (in 2013), stressing that they were shocked at the level of intolerance on freedom of speech and expression. They pointed out that free speech and writing was being suppressed.

They also said that the recent lynching of a Muslim man on suspicion of eating beef showed that a communal atmosphere was being built up.

(IANS)