Cong MP moves bill to deal with lynching, vigilantism

News Network
August 6, 2017

New Delhi, Aug 6: Rejecting government argument that existing laws are enough to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism, a Rajya Sabha MP has now sought amendments to the penal code to provide stricter punishments for such crimes.

Congress MP from Maharashtra Husain Dalwai has moved a private member's bill -- The Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2017 -- last week saying there can be "no culture of state indifference or impunity" in cases where a particular community becomes the target.

Ministry of State for Home Hansraj Ahir on July 19 told Rajya Sabha that there are no plans to amend the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and IPC or bring a new law to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism. He said existing laws are sufficient to deal with murder committed by "one person or ten persons".

However, Dalwai disagrees and said there is a need to define hate crimes and vigilantism due to the “alarming rise” in attacks which are motivated by bias or prejudice due to religion, caste, choice of attire or eating. The bill envisages an imprisonment of up to five years for those involved in such crimes and life imprisonment in case there is death.

“Such attacks are either driven by an ideology in which case it takes the shape of a hate crime or it is driven by an urge to take the law into their own hands and punish the victims on mere suspicion of an offence have been committed,” the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill said.

It said hate crimes, as well as vigilantism, are treated as offences in many countries, attracting even stricter punishment than ordinary crimes because they "tend to offend public tranquillity, create a feeling of disharmony and undermine the faith of people" in law and justice machinery.

"There can be no culture of state indifference or impunity in such cases as they speak of a larger malaise rather than one-off and disconcerted incidents," it said.

The Opposition parties have raised pitch over cow vigilantism in both Houses of Parliament in the ongoing Monsoon session, accusing the BJP-led government of encouraging organisations behind the violence by cow vigilantes.

A series of incidents involving cow vigilantes had rocked the country in the past couple of years with opposition leaders saying there were at least 50 such incidents in the recent past.

On its part, the BJP said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly come out strongly against such acts.

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News Network
May 3,2021

mamatabanargee.jpg

She's the soldier, she the commander and she the army.

The distinction between Mamata Banerjee the leader and TMC the party evaporated into nothingness as she conquered West Bengal fighting the BJP's election war machine led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah almost single-handedly.

The victory for Banerjee, by far the biggest mass leader since the redoubtable Jyoti Basu who ruled West Bengal with an iron fist from 1977 to 2000, will not only help fortify her position in the state but also enhance her standing at the national level where voices from the opposition are getting feeble with time.

A masterful practitioner of modern-day politics, she has wielded considerable influence beyond her own state, in the corridors of power in New Delhi, for a long time, sewing up alliances with both the Congress and the BJP.

Since leading thousands of hungry, half-clad and angry farmers on the dusty streets of Singur and Nandigram over a decade ago, she ruled the state virtually unchallenged for eight years before the BJP vastly extended its influence and won 18 of the state's 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.

For the 66-year-old spinster, the political journey from the restive alleys of Nandigram and Singur in 2007-08, when she waged a relentless battle against the Left Front government, to 'Nabanna', the seat of power in Kolkata, was as captivating as it was punishing.

Although she cut her teeth in politics as a young Congress volunteer in her student days and rose to become a minister in UPA and NDA governments, it was in the crucible of Nandigram and Singur movements against forcible acquisition of farm land by the Communist government for industrialisation that her destiny and that of the TMC took shape.

She founded the TMC in January 1998 after parting ways with the Congress and it was through struggles, big and small, against the Communist dispensation that her party grew.

In 2001, when the state had its first assembly polls after the launch of the TMC, the party bagged an impressive 60 seats in the 294-member House, while the Left Front clinched a staggering 192.

In its second outing in the 2006 assembly elections, the TMC's strength came down by half as it could pocket only 30 seats, while the Left scored a resounding victory with 219.

The four years that followed were the most momentous in the contemporary political history of West Bengal as she put up a spirited fight against the Left Front government over alleged excesses in Singur and Nandigram.

The assembly elections of 2011 were historic, as she decimated the Left in one of its longest-standing bastions. Banerjee's party ended the Left Front's 34-year unbroken stint in power, winning a whopping 184 seats, riding a massive public outrage against the communists, who were restricted to just 60 seats. It was then the longest-serving democratically elected communist government in the world.

But power has many pitfalls and rising aspirations is one of them. A string of influential TMC leaders including Suvendu Adhikari, the MLA from Nandigram and a minister, deserted Banerjee and joined the BJP.

Born into a Bengali Brahmin family, Banerjee, as a young Congress activist, formed 'Chhatra Parishad' unions in colleges.

She rose through the Congress ranks rapidly and was called a giant slayer when she defeated CPI-M heavyweight Somnath Chatterjee in Jadavpur in the 1994 Lok Sabha elections held in the aftermath of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination.

She lost the seat to Malini Bhattacharya in 1989, when an anti-Congress wave swept the country after the Bofors scandal came to light, the only time she lost an election.

She won the Kolkata South Lok Sabha seat in 1991 which she retained in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009.

As Minister of State for Sports in the P V Narasimha Rao government, the quick tempered leader announced her resignation and held a rally in Kolkata's Brigade Parade Ground against what she believed was government's neglect of sports. She was divested of all her portfolios including Women and Child Welfare and Human Resource Development in 1993.

In 1996, she accused the Congress of behaving like a "stooge" of the Left and founded the Trinamool Congress in 1998.

She joined the NDA in 1999 and was appointed the railway minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, and launched new trains and rail projects in West Bengal.

Banerjee quit the NDA in 2001 in the aftermath of the Tehelka expose, which brought under cloud several ministers in the Vajpayee government, and aligned with the Congress again the same year.

She was back in the NDA in 2003 and was appointed the coal and mines minister in 2004.

She contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 as part of the NDA and her party lost badly. She was the lone Lok Sabha MP of the TMC from West Bengal.

In 2006, the TMC fared abysmally in the state assembly elections.

Before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, she joined the Congress-led UPA and the alliance won 26 of the state's 42 seats. She was beck as the railway minister.

As public outrage grew over the Left Front government's crackdown on protests in Nandigram that killed 14 people and injured scores more in police firing, Banerjee's popularity grew exponentially.

Singur and Nandigram became emblematic of mass resistance against the communist rulers, and in 2011 assembly elections, the TMC won a landslide. The TMC-Congress-SUCI alliance won 227 of the 294 seats.

After being sworn in as the chief minister on May 20, 2011, one of the first decisions of her government was to return 400 acres of land acquired by the governent for Tata Motors Nano project to the farmers. The Tatas had already exited Singur.

Banerjee launched a slew of welfare projects in health and education sector and for empowerment of women, and tried to strengthen the law and order machinery by setting up police commissionerates in Howrah, Bidhannagar, Barrackpore and Durgapur-Asansol.

The BJP, rapidly expanding its influence in the state at the Left's expense, accused her of minority appeasement after she instituted a stipend for thousands of imams and muezzins of mosques. The Kolkata High Court called it unconstitutional and stopped payment.

She earned the BJP's wrath when she banned the immersion of Durga idols in October 2016 till after observation of Muharram by Muslims.

Ministers in the Banerjee government and key TMC leaders got embroiled in the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scam cases. Quite a few were jailed.

Though these allegations indeed chip away at Banerjee's popularity reflected in the BJP's impressive showing in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, nothing stuck in the assembly elections.

'Didi' became the real 'Dada' as she got past the post, on a wheelchair and a foot in cast, a souvenir from the Nandigram battle against former protege-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari.  

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News Network
May 4,2021

Ayodhya, May 4: The BJP has won just eight out of the 40 zila panchayat seats in Ayodhya, a disappointment for the ruling party in the district on which the Centre and the state government have lavished much attention.

The opposition Samajwadi Party claimed to have made major gains in the panchayat elections held last month, saying candidates it backed won 22 district level seats here.

The Bahujan Samaj Party claimed its candidates won four zila panchayat seats in Ayodhya.

Lakhs of candidates contested the panchayat elections across Uttar Pradesh -- for seats at four levels including the village and the district -- on free symbols allotted by the State Election Commission (SEC).

The parties had, however, extended support to those in the fray and are now claiming that the results have gone in their favour. Counting of the ballot papers began Sunday at over 800 centres across the state.

Contrary to the BJP's claim of overall success in the state, its Ayodhya unit has conceded that it did not do as well as expected.

“The results are disappointing. Despite having sitting BJP MLAs in all constituencies in Ayodhya district, we won only eight out of 40 zila panchayat seats,”  BJP's district spokesperson Diwakar Singh told PTI.

The result has been particularly bad for the BJP in the Sohawal sub-district, where the administration handed over five acres for the construction of a mosque, as mandated by the Supreme Court in its 2019 verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute.

The Samajwadi Party claimed to have won three of the four zila panchayat seats there, leaving one for an independent candidate.

Commenting on the result, SP leader Awadhesh Prasad said people in rural areas are facing a lot of problems under the BJP government.

Among them is the issue of stray cattle destroying crops, which he claimed has driven some farmers to suicide.

The Centre and the Yogi Adityanath government had announced several development projects for Ayodhya since the Supreme Court verdict, which has paved the way for the construction of the Ram temple on the once-disputed site.

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News Network
May 1,2021

New Delhi, May 1: In a shocking incident highlighting oxygen scarcity in the national capital, eight Covid-19 patients, including a senior doctor, died at a leading hospital here due to oxygen shortage.

Batra Hospital Medical Director Dr SCL Gupta said one of the dead was the head of the gastroenterology department, Dr RK Imrani, who was under medical care for Covid-19.

Dr Gupta said that six of the eight who died were in the Intensive Care Unit on high flow oxygen.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted soon after Gupta went on record to talk about the incident, "This news is very painful. Their lives could have been saved by giving oxygen on time. Delhi should be given its quota of oxygen. Such deaths of our people should not happen. Delhi required 976 tonnes of oxygen and yesterday (Friday) only 312 tonnes of oxygen was given. How does Delhi breathe?"

"We had alerted authorities that we were running out of oxygen. Our desperate SOS did not get an immediate response. When we received oxygen, eight patients were no more. Those people could have been rescued. This is not right," he added.

"This is happening in Delhi, the national capital, and if it is happening here, you can imagine what is happening in other parts of the country," he said.

Delhi government and city hospitals have been raising the issue of oxygen scarcity in the capital for the past couple of weeks. Earlier, there were reports that 25 people died due to lack of oxygen in Ganga Ram Hospital though the officials there denied any such possibility.

The capital has been witnessing a huge demand for medical oxygen and several people have lost their lives as hospitals and families could not arrange oxygen on time. Serpentine queues were seen at oxygen refilling units while there were also complaints that some of the suppliers were over-charging consumers.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led government has projected a demand of 976 tonnes of oxygen daily while the Centre has allocated 490 tonnes of oxygen daily.

"Not for a single day has Delhi been able to receive the allocated quantity of 490 MT oxygen. Every day is an SOS situation for Delhi," Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted on Friday.

On Saturday, the Delhi High Court warned the Centre that it will initiate contempt proceedings against it if it does not provide 490 tonne of oxygen today.

"If not implemented we will have the head of DPIIT shall remain present, in case of non compliance we may consider initiating contempt proceedings," it added. 

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