Assam's BJP govt tables Bill to prohibit sale of beef in Hindu, Sikh, Jain areas

News Network
July 12, 2021

Guwahati, July 12: The BJP-led government in Assam on Monday tabled The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill 2021 in the state Assembly that seeks to prohibit the sale of beef in areas predominantly inhabited by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and other non-beef eating communities.

It also seeks to disallow the sale of beef or beef products within a 5 km radius of temples, satras (Vaishnavite monasteries) and other Hindu religious institutions.

In what could irk neighbouring states like Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya, the bill proposes a prohibition on transportation of cattle from other states or to other states through Assam without permission.

The bill, tabled by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma seeks to replace existing The Assam Cattle Preservation Act 1950 saying that the latter lacked stringent legal provisions to deal with the issues arising out of slaughter, consumption or transport of cattle. The bill was tabled on the first day of the first budget session of the Sarma government.

The 1950 Act allows the slaughter of cattle above 14 years of age with proper approval by a local veterinary officer. The new bill also retains the provision but allows the slaughter of cattle only in licenced or recognised slaughterhouses.

The new bill also seeks to enhance the quantum of punishment for violators of the new provisions to a jail term ranging between three and five years and a fine of Rs. 3 to 5 lakh or both. The 1950 Act has the penal provision of only six months jail and a fine of Rs. 1,000 only for the violators.

The new bill was approved by the state Cabinet on Thursday. Parliamentary affairs minister Piyush Hazarika on Thursday said the bill was prepared as per a promise of BJP ahead of Assembly elections held in March-April this year.

BJP and its allies formed their government in Assam for the second consecutive term. The saffron party replaced Sarbananda Sonowal with Himanta Biswa Sarma as the new Chief Minister, who has been waving the Hindutva flag more vigorously than Sonowal.

BJP ruled states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh at present has similar cattle preservation act.

The new bill, however, says permission for transportation of cattle would be issued for bonafide agricultural or animal husbandry purposes only. No permission is also required for carrying cattle to and from registered agricultural markets for sale or purchase of the same within the district.

Although beef-eating Nagaland or Mizoram has not yet reacted to the proposed restriction for transportation of cattle through Assam, Meghalaya (also beef-eating) CM Conrad Sangma on Friday said the state would be compelled to seek the Centre's intervention in this regard. 

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News Network
September 23,2021

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has told Delhi High Court that Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief In Emergency Fund, or the PM-CARES Fund, which was created in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, does not come under the Government of India and it cannot be brought under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act. Also, the amount collected by it does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India, the Delhi High Court has been informed.

The Centre, in an affidavit, said that the Fund can neither be listed as "State" nor "public authority" under the Right to Information as it received funds from private sources.

An affidavit filed by an Under Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who is discharging his functions in the PM Cares Trust on honorary basis, has said the trust functions with transparency and its funds are audited by an auditor -- a chartered accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition seeking a direction to declare the PM-CARES Fund a 'State' under the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Amit Bansal has fixed the matter for further hearing on September 27.

"To ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the trust along with the details of utilisation of funds received by the trust,” says the affidavit filed by Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, Under Secretary at the PMO.

“I state that when the petitioner is claiming to be a public-spirited person and seeking to pray for various reliefs only for transparency, it does not matter whether PM-CARES is a ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India,” the officer said in the affidavit.

Irrespective of whether the trust is a ‘State’ or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution or whether it is a ‘public authority’ within the meaning of provisions of the Right to Information Act (RTI), it is not permissible to disclose third party information.It said that all donations received by the trust are received via online payments, cheques or Demand Drafts and the amount received is audited with the audited report and the expenditure of trust fund displayed on the website.

“The trust functions on the principles of transparency and public good in larger public interest like any other charitable trust and, therefore, cannot have any objection in uploading all its resolutions on its website to ensure transparency,” it said, while reiterating that “the trust’s fund is not a fund of Government of India and the amount does not go in the Consolidated Fund of India.”

The officer said he is discharging his functions in the PM-CARES Trust on honorary basis, which is a charitable trust not created by or under the Constitution or by any law made by the Parliament or by any State legislature. “Despite being an officer of the Central government, I am permitted to discharge my functions in PM-CARES Trust on an honorary basis,” he said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Samyak Gangwal who has said that the PM-CARES Fund is a 'State' as it was formed by the Prime Minister on March 27, 2020 to extend assistance to the citizens of India in the wake of the public health emergency -- the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic. His counsel had told the court that if it is found that the PM-CARES Fund is not 'State' under the Constitution, usage of the domain name '.gov.in', the Prime Minister's photograph, state emblem etc has to be stopped.

The petition said that the Trustees of the fund are the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Home Minister and the Finance Minister and immediately after the formation of the fund, the Centre through its high government functionaries represented that the fund was set up and operated by the Government of India.

To ensure transparency and accountability, the plea has sought a direction for periodic auditing of PM-CARES website and disclosure of the details of donations received by it.

In his alterative prayers, Gangwal has sought to direct the Centre to publicise that the PM-CARES Fund is not a fund of the Government of India and to restrain PM-CARES from using 'Prime Minister of India' or 'Prime Minister', including its abbreviations its name, on its website, Trust Deed and other official or unofficial communications and advertisements.

On March 9, the court had said it was not inclined to issue notice on the plea as the Centre was already represented through counsel who may file their written submissions.

The petitioner has also filed another petition to declare PM-CARES as a 'public authority' under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which is being heard together with the first plea.

This petition challenges a June 2, 2020 order of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), PMO, refusing to provide documents sought by him on the ground that PM-CARES Fund is not a public authority under the RTI Act.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented PMO, had opposed the petition, stating that it was not maintainable and that he would file a response explaining why it should not be entertained. 

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News Network
September 17,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 17: In a shocking incident, a 17-year-old boy was found dead with a gunshot wound in the early hours on Friday at a BMTC bus stop near Indian Air Force Headquarters Training Command in RMV Second Stage in Bengaluru.

The police suspect that the deceased boy allegedly shot himself with his father's licensed pistol.  

The deceased has been identified as Rahul Bandari, a resident of Ganganagar of RT Nagar. According to a preliminary investigation, Sadashivanagar police said that Rahul was found dead on the pavement of the BMTC bus stop around 5.30 am. 

A passerby who noticed him lying in the pool of blood alerted the police. On reaching the spot police found that Rahul had a gunshot wound on his head. A pistol, pistol bag, a belt and a mobile phone were lying next to his body. 

Rahul was studying in class XI in the Army Public School. He was the son of retired Army Havaldar Bhagath Singh. Rahul was staying along with his parents and elder sister in a rented house in Ganganagar. 

MN Anucheth, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) after visiting the spot, told media persons that prima facie it appears that Rahul had shot himself. There is a bullet entry injury on the right side of his head and an exit wound on the left side.

Rahul left his house around 3.30 am for a walk. While leaving, he carried his father's pistol kept in almirah without anybody noticing it. When he came to the bus stop, he allegedly shot himself. The reason for his extreme step is yet to be ascertained, Anucheth said. 

Rahul used to go for a walk in the morning and at night whenever he felt stressed after studying. He was preparing for his class exams. He was studying from Thursday night till the wee hours on Friday. 

His parents tried to reach him on his mobile phone to check if he had gone for a morning walk, but the calls went answered, a senior investigating officer said. 

According to Rahul's parents, they had trained him on using the pistol. Bhagat brought the pistol in 2017. The family hails from Uttarakhand and has been residing in Bengaluru for almost two decades. The parents are shocked by the extreme step of Rahul. He didn't have any issues at home, he was also good at studies and had scored around 90 percent in his class X, the officer added. A case of unnatural death has been registered by Sadashivanagar and further investigation is on.

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Agencies
September 17,2021

modigir.jpg

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is having a difficult year. The economy is struggling after a brutal second wave of Covid-19, his popularity has dipped and a crucial state election looms. Now his ruling party has planned a mega birthday bash for him in “service of the nation.”

Starting Friday, when the prime minister turns 71, some 5 crore postcards will be mailed to him from citizens saying “thank you” for his concern for India’s poor, Om Prakash Dhurve, a secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said. There will be film screenings and exhibitions on his life, blood donation camps, cleanliness and vaccination drives, as part of the celebration billed as the “Service and Dedication Campaign” by the party’s youth wing. 

Environmental campaigns will clean 71 spots in various states. Local units of the BJP will organise prayer ceremonies and fairs in their areas with stalls set up to encourage people to download the NaMoApp, “which will help them communicate with the Hon’ble Prime Minister directly,” the party’s youth wing said.

“BJP is observing this as service and dedication campaign,” said Dhurve. “We want Modi to be become glorious and continuously serve the nation.” While Modi’s birthday is celebrated by the party every year, the scale of the extravaganza this time is a first. A spokesman of the prime minister office refused to comment.

The grand events come as Modi’s popularity has dipped to 24 per cent from 66 per cent a year ago, the lowest point since he came to power seven years ago, according to a Mood of the Nation survey published by the India Today media group in August. A sweeping second wave of coronavirus infections in April and May overwhelmed burial grounds and crematoriums and shuttered the economy.

His party lost a key state election in May and is looking to retain power in the politically significant state of Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls early next year. His home state of Gujarat will also have elections in late 2022.

“This is chiefly a strategy to mollify people’s anger on mismanagement of the Covid pandemic and winning assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh -- and restore Modi as a charismatic, dynamic leader,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a political analyst who has written a Modi biography. “The whole campaign is a blatant copy of the individualized-authoritarian model and also a great PR exercise.”

The celebrations are in stark contrast to the everyday reality of millions of Indians left jobless by the pandemic. 

More than a year after the first Covid-19 lockdown, the unemployment rate is still above pre-pandemic levels, with the manufacturing sector seen to have shed about 10 million jobs permanently and most new opportunities in services turning out to be low-paying gigs. That’s hardly a reason for cheer in an economy where private consumption makes up some 60% of gross domestic product.

Many economists see this as a recipe for a bumpy recovery. Although the latest quarterly headline growth numbers look good, GDP when adjusted for base effect, is much weaker than it was before the pandemic.

Congress panned the birthday events, with plans to mark September 17 as #NationalUnemploymentDay, the president of the party’s youth wing Srinivas B V said on Twitter. 

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