Monday November 20, 2017
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Uber vs Orbit: Justice is about uniformity in judgments, not hypocrisy

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By Gaurav Sharma

The body of the 13-year-old girl who died after being thrown off the bus by molesters in Punjab’s Moga district still awaits cremation.

The family of the teenage girl has refused to give the body for post-mortem or cremate her, till the government takes strict action against the molesters.

However, apart from implicating the molesters, the family wants action to be taken against the owners of the bus company.

The incident draws parallels with the Uber rape case that happened in December last year. Both the incidents bring up the issue of safety and security of women while using public/private transport.

Whereas strict dictatorial action was taken up against Uber, no substantial action has been taken yet against the bus owner in this particular case, till the time this article was written.

Does it speak well for the kind of justice handed out to the victims of such heinous crimes?

The bus, from which the teenage girl was tossed out along with her mother, belonged to Orbit Aviation, a company co-owned by Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab.

Sukhbir’s father and Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal, said, “Unfortunately, the vehicle was ours.”

The police, so far, have arrested four persons, including the bus driver, conductor and the helper. However, no action has been taken against the owners.

Punjab DGP, Sumedh Singh Saini, ruled out any questioning of the owners of Orbit Aviation Pvt. Ltd, including Sukhbir Badal.

In stark contrast to the lack of initiative shown by the government so far in the case, the government had gone all out against Uber, when a woman was raped by its cab driver last year.

Apart from questioning Uber on the process of selection of drivers, screening its staff and harassing the management through notices, the Delhi government banned almost all the app-based taxi services.

The government did not stop there; it issued an FIR against Uber under Section 188 and Section 420 in the Indian Penal Code, for failing to provide adequate safety measures and cheating customers.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called all the state governments and union territories to ban all web-based taxi services.

“Uber should be considered an accused. Uber is providing services, it has to take responsibility, it should engage drivers only after verification. It is my view,” ex-Home Secretary R. K. Singh had told ANI.

So why the hypocrisy in dealing with the Badals?

For one, they occupy the ‘privileged’ position of being the first persons of Punjab. But, it is more so because they are important allies with the presiding NDA government.

This is not to say that the Badals are guilty of the murder of the girl. Just like taking such over-the-top stringent action against Uber–to the extent of banning the service–was uncalled for, the Badals cannot be held accountable for the death of the girl.

There might have been some transgressions, such as checking the credentials of the staff, the licenses, the permit and verification of police records, for which they certainly should be pulled-up.

But politicizing the issue is uncalled for. Particularly when, opposition parties shout slogans for the resignation of Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal and Union Food Processing Minister and wife of Sukhbir Singh Badal, Harsimrat Kaur.

However, by acting like mute spectators, the Punjab government has missed a golden opportunity to bring out the menace of the corrupt business of private buses into the fore.

Is Sukhbir Badal an honest politician?

Under election fever, leaders resort to all sorts of tactics, often making tall promises, which are mostly left unfulfilled.

The gambit that runs common in the blood of politicians is the attempt to associate with the masses through an infusion of speeches, which advertises their shared and common background with the aam aadmi.

As it turns out, Sukhbir Singh Badal’s proclamation in 2012 of being a humble farmer is one blatant example of false election rhetoric.

Records from the Registrar of Companies show that Badal owns close to 2,4500,000 shares in the bus company, through direct ownership and through his media firm called G-Next media Private Limited, along with ownership through his hospitality firm Orbit Resorts.

Also, as per a Times of India report, Sukhbir’s aviation company owns three flying jets – an eight-seater Cessna 525A jet, another eight-seater Super King Air B 200 and a helicopter Bell 429.

From such disclosures, it hardly seems like the man is an ‘agriculturalist’.

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Heroin worth Rs. 100 crore seized by BSF in Punjab

22kg heroine was recovered during a combat between Pakistani smugglers and BSF troopers

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22kg heroin seized in Punjab
BSF recovers heroine worth Rs. 100 crores from Pakistani smugglers. Wikimedia Commons.

In a joint operation, Border Security Forces (BSF) troopers and the Punjab Police have recovered 22kg of heroin in Punjab’s Ferozepur sector following exchange of fire with Pakistani smugglers near the international border, a BSF officer said on Saturday.

The encounter took place late on Friday following a tip-off that smugglers were trying to send heroin consignment into India.

At least one Pakistani smuggler was injured in the exchange of fire as blood stains were found during search of the area on Saturday, BSF officer D.S. Rajpurohit said.

The BSF recovered a pistol and one Pakistani Sim card.

The BSF also arrested three Indian smugglers who were waiting close to the border fence to collect the heroin consignment.

The smugglers were trying to smuggle the heroin consignment using a plastic pipe across the border fence.

The heroin is worth nearly Rs 110 crore in the international market.

The Ferozepur border is around 275 km from here.

Punjab shares a 553-km-long barbed-wire fenced international border with Pakistan. (IANS)

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Ranaghat Nun Rape Case : Bangladeshi Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment for Raping Elderly Nun in 2015

As per the 2015 government data, 34,651 cases of rape were officially recorded. However, it is estimated that the true figure is much higher than this, given half of the cases go unreported.

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Ranaghat Nun Rape Case
Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Pixabay

Kolkata, November 8, 2017 : Cases of sexual assault are not new to the country. Sadly, the number of reported cases has witnessed a sharp rise in recent years. Countless insane reasons have been repeatedly cited to defend rapes that ranged from wearing short clothes, staying out till late hours, being over-friendly with men, among many others. But how do you justify the rape of an elderly nun? How do you justify rape at all?

Ranaghat nun rape case dates back to 2015. Two years after the incident, a court in Kolkata has now convicted and sentenced a Bangladeshi man to life imprisonment, for raping an elderly nun. The incident had taken place at a school in Ranaghat, West Bengal in 2015.

On March, 2015, five men had broken into the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat with a motive to loot the church and vandalize the idols. Consequently, they attacked the oldest nun of the school, aged 71, who had tried to stop them.

On November 7, two years after the Ranaghat nun rape case, the City Sessions Court announced 28-year-old Nazrul Islam, a Bangladeshi man guilty of rape and attempted murder of the nun.

Previously, Islam had been arrested after the nun had identified him from a list of suspects.

Ranaghat Nun Rape Case: What Exactly Happened?

As per a report by PTI, Arnab Ghosh, a police superintendent in Ranaghat revealed that the men, all aged between 20 and 30, jumped the boundary of the co-ed school around 11:40 pm in March 13.

After disconnecting the telephone lines, the five men choked the security personnel on duty and entered the nuns’ room. Upon being stopped by the oldest nun of the school, they forced her into another room where she was raped.

The men then went on to steal cash, and other expensive materials that included a camera, mobile phone and laptop.

The men also attacked Convent of Jesus and Mary and vandalized and stole holy items.

Reactions To The 2015 Ranaghat Nun Rape Case

The nun was subjected to such brutal treatment that she had to be rushed to a hospital on March 14 where she underwent an operation.

The Ranaghat nun rape case sought intense reactions from the larger public. Hundreds of angry locals, priests and schoolgirls took to the state to protest against the incident – highways were blocked, shops were closed and candlelight marches were carried out as slogans demanding justice were raised.

Soon after the incident was reported, the West Bengal government ordered the Criminal Investigation Department to carry out investigations that made use of CCTV footage to arrest the five accused.

The five accused were arrested after three months.

Delayed But Deserved Verdict

A court in West Bengal on November 8 has now sentenced Nazrul Islam to life imprisonment for raping, and allegedly attempting to murder the aged nun.

The court also convicted his other five accomplices – Gopal Sarkar , Kumar Sarkar, Mohd Selim Sheikh, Ohidul Islam and Khaledar Rahman of robbery, and sentenced them to 10 years of imprisonment.

The verdict comes two years after the incident had taken place.

The delay in the verdict raises serious concerns on the security of women in the count.

Rape Culture in India?

As per the 2015 government data, 34,651 cases of rape were officially recorded. However, it is estimated that the true figure is much higher than this, given half of the cases go unreported.

Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Consequently, laws on sexual violence were strengthened.  However, the extents to which they are enforced remain questionable.

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Indian Farmers reason behind Smog in Pakistan

Smog in Pakistan has affected the health of people but also caused road accidents.

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Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan
Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan. wikimedia commons
  • Pakistani officials have said that stubble burning by Indian farmers has caused a thick blanket of smog in Punjab province which led to smog in Pakistan as well.

The officials with Environment Protection Department of Punjab province told Xinhua news agency on Saturday night that the smog is causing various diseases and the provincial government is taking measures to control the situation.

The department’s minister Zakia Shah Nawaz Khan said that the smog engulfed the province for the last two weeks, and is feared to continue for the coming week.

She added that the smoke from the Indian farms moved at a velocity of 7 to 8 km per hour towards Punjab province.

Also Read: Restrictions on Freedom of Expression: Pakistani Journalists Struggle with Growing Threats from Government and Militants alike

Local experts said that the total Air Quality Index in the provincial capital of Lahore is 357 whereas the maximum limit should be around 100, adding that if the situation was not controlled, the level is feared to exceed 500 soon.

Syed Mubashir Hussain, an official of the environment department said that the provincial government has banned stubble burning across the province and violators were being arrested.

A total of 197 First Information Reports have been filed against violators and 65 people have been arrested due to stubble burning and solid waste burning.

Some 175 pollution-causing units have been stopped. About 15,718 smoke emitting vehicles have been confiscated, and a total of 43 lakh Pakistani rupees (about $43,000) fine has been imposed, Hussain told Xinhua.

Apart from this, brick kilns using substandard fuel and running their units without emission control devices like wet scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators and fly ash arrestors have also been closed, he added.

Smog in Pakistan has not only affected the health of people but also caused road accidents. According to local media reports, at least 18 people have been killed and 45 others injured in separate fog-related accidents across the province.

Air traffic was also affected due to smog-caused low visibility. Six domestic flights from various airports have been suspended due to smog in Pakistan, spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines said in a statement.

The Met office said that smog will disappear after rains or heavy winds, but there was no possibility of any of it in the next 48 hours.( IANS)