Give MPF funds to states for post mortem houses: CBI

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(representative pix)

With lack of facilities for post mortem affecting quality of autopsies, the CBI has asked the Centre to fund states for modernisation and technical upgradation of such facilities under the Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF) scheme.

However, the Ministry feels that the recommendation could not be implemented now as the guidelines approved by the Union Cabinet earlier, it is not part of the approved component of MPF scheme.

The agency’s recommendation was passed on to the Home Ministry on March 5, a senior official said.

The CBI suggested that modernisation and technical upgradation of post mortem houses in states should be made a part of the scheme after consulting Union Health Ministry, the official said.

The suggestion came against the backdrop of investigators facing trouble in courts as it takes exception to the poor quality of autopsy reports. The lack of facilities has negatively impacted the quality of autopsy reports.

According to the ‘Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS): Guidelines for District Hospitals’ prepared by Union Health Ministry, post-mortem rooms should have stainless steel autopsy table with sink, a sink with running water for specimen washing and cleaning and cup-board for keeping instruments.

“Proper illumination and air conditioning shall be provided in the post mortem room. A separate room for body storage shall be provided with at least two deep freezers for preserving the body. There shall be a waiting area for relatives and a space for religious rites,” it said.

However, the official said, most of the hospitals do not have facility to ensure seamless power supply to such facilities or properly functioning high-capacity refrigerators and even basic equipment like proper knives.

“It is not just about funds. Even if they have funds, hospital administration does not give priority to modernisation of mortuaries and post mortem rooms,” he said. Most of the mortuaries and post mortem rooms are dirty.

Though the CBI is looking at a scenario where the Centre can be of help, the components of MPF scheme, the funds can be earmarked for procuring vehicles for operational purposes, weapons, communication equipment, training aids, infrastructure development and construction of hi-tech forensic laboratories and police training institutions.

The Home Ministry has specifically told states that it cannot use MPF funds to buy computers, fax, UPS, generator, printers, pen drives, memory cards, mobile phones, still and video cameras and solar panels among other things.

For a period between 2000-01 and 2014-15, the Centre has released Rs 15,090 crore to states under the MPF scheme.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 31, 2015)

Terrorist pigeon in custody !!!

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A pigeon with a suspicious chip on its leg, which was probably looking for some drinking water, near Gujarat coast has send the security establishment on a tizzy.

However, they can now have a sigh of relief as initial investigations suggest that the bird was not on a “terror reccee” and could be one that was being used for pigeon race in foreign countries.

All started with a security guard noticing a pigeon on March 20 at 4:00 pm around 5 nautical miles from the shore of Salaya at Essar Jetty “drinking water from the bowl under the syntac tank”.

The guard “found that the pigeon was not afraid of him and not going away”, Superintendent of Police of Devbhumi Dwarka district said in his two page note send to Union Home Ministry.

He caught the bird and noticed that a chip on one of its leg and a number ‘28733’ on a ring was tied to the second leg. There were also some inscriptions on its wings in Urdu or Arabic, which raised suspicion.

He informed his senior colleague about it and kept it for one day but decided to handed over it to coast guard for “further investigation”. Coast Guard also could not do much and on March 23, they handed over the ‘suspect’ to local police.

As usual, a diary entry eas made and police “took charge” of the pigeon and called forensic officer for further probe. The chip and ring were removed and sent to Forensic Laboratory in Gandhinagar.

The experts then found that the chip had ‘Benjing Dual’ written on it and “by searching on Google, we found out that it is used for pigeon race”, the report said adding the information and photographs are available on internet about this race. The inscription on its wing was ‘Rasul-ul-Allah’.

Then the forest officials were summoned for their opinion. They said such pigeons are found mostly in northern part of India and used for race in foreign countries.

“As per their opinion, this pigeon might have missed out of the ship somewhere in the deep sea and in search of drinking water might have reached to the shore of Salaya Essar jetty. This is the primary information we have and further investigation is going on,” the report said.

Pigeon does not know its final fate but Home Ministry officials are having a hearty laugh at the report now.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar, 28, 2015)

Many MPs not impressed by Modi’s pet village adoption scheme

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Adoption of a village by MPs may be a programme so dear to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s heart but three of his ministerial colleagues, including Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, are yet to choose one for making it a model village.

The scheme has already invited criticism from a section of MPs, including those from BJP who express their reservation privately, for not earmarking separate funds for the scheme and asking them to use the MPLAD fund.

Parrikar, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan and singer-turned Minister of State for Urban Development Babul Supriyo are among 119 MPs from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha who are yet to choose villages under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) launched with much fanfare long back in October 11, 2014.

Besides these three ministers, nine other BJP MPs have also not chosen villages for development. None of the seven MPs from Delhi, which includes Vardhan, have selected a village though one of them Ramesh Bidhuri claimed that he had chosen a village near Bhatti Mines under the scheme.

However, Bidhuri’s claim is not reflected in the SAGY website that is updated almost on a daily basis.

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It is not these ministers alone who have not chosen villages under the scheme, prominent MPs like Digvijay Singh, Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh (all Congress), Sitaram Yechury (CPIM), D Raja (CPI), K C Tyagi (JD-U), Derek O’Brien (Trinamool Congress) and Kirron Kher (BJP) have also not selected their choices.

From Karnataka, Congress’ K Rahman Khan and B K Hariprasad and industrialist Vijay Mallya have not chosen any village. MPs from West Bengal seem to be the least interested about the scheme as 55 out of the 59 MPs from the state have not chosen a village.

While SP MP Naresh Agarwal has announced his decision to give up the village he adopted under the scheme, some MPs like Tapan Sen (CPI-M MP from West Bengal) have decided not to adopt a village at all as the scheme itself is “flawed”.

“I don’t have any plan to adopt a village. It is a flawed concept. The money should be given for projects and not village,” Sen told Deccan Herald.

A Kerala MP, who wished not to be named, said some voters of a particular village even told him that they would not vote for him next time as he chose another village under the scheme.

During the Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha last week, Agarwal said he was “misled” to adopt a village and demanded the government to outline the guidelines for the scheme under which an MP has to identify and develop one village as a model village by 2016, and two more by 2019, covering over 2,500 villages of the 6 lakh villages country-wide.

NUMBER OF MPs who have NOT ADOPTED Villages

Trinamool Congress – 41

Congress – 21

BJP – 12

SP – 11

BJD – 5

JD(U) – 4

CPI(M) – 3

TDP – 3

Prominent MPs who have NOT ADOPTED Villages

Manohar Parrikar, Harsh Vardhan,  Babul Supriyo,  Digvijay Singh, Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, K C Tyagi, Derek O’Brien, Kirron Kher,  K Rahman Khan, B K Hariprasad, Vijay Mallya, Renuka Chaudhary, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Rekha, Javed Akthar, H K Dua, Mrinal Miri, Saugata Roy, Mukul Roy, Dinesh Trivedi, Mithun Chakrabarty, Asasuddin Owaissi, Dileep Tirkey.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 28, 2015)

Also Read 

SP MP gives up adopted village in protest https://sheminjoy.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/sp-mp-gives-up-adopted-village-in-protest/

Sec66A and the victims

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The opposition to the Section 66A gathered momentum with every case that was slapped on people for criticising or making fun of politicians, with the recent being one against a teenaged boy for posting comments against UP Minister Azam Khan.

There were at least ten such cases that grabbed national headlines and evoked outrage in the past three years.

The arrests of Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Srinivasan in Maharashtra’s Palghar for a Facebook post questioning the shutdown in Mumbai following Bal Thackeray’s death became the trigger for the case in Supreme Court. The charges against the girls were dropped in December 2012.

Another case that brought to fore the opposition against the provision was the arrest of Jadavpur University Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra in West Bengal in 2012 for posting a caricature of Chief Mamata Banerjee on Facebook.

Then came the case of activist-cartoonist Aseem Trivedi’s case for his drawings of Parliament and the Constitution to depict their ineffectiveness. He was arrested on charges of sedition but was acquitted by Bombay High Court recently. Another instance also came in 2012 when Mayank Sharma and K V Rao from Mumbai were arrested for posting “offensive” comments against politicians.

The case filed by Karti Chidambaram, son of Congress leader P Chidambaram, against businessman Ravi Srinivasan for tweeting that he was corrupt also made it to the headlines.

The latest among them was the arrest of a Class XI student for making a Facebook post about Khan. The family of the boy apologised and Khan agreed to withdraw the case.

This was not the first time that Khan was involved in such a case. A government officer was arrested for uploading “objectionable” pictures of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Khan on Facebook earlier.

In August 2013, poet Kanwal Bharti was arrested for a post that criticised UP government for suspending IAS officer Durga Nagpal for ordering the demolition of a wall of a mosque. He said a similar incident happened in Rampur but no action was taken against officials because Khan controlled the town.

A young professional Devu Chodankar was charged last year for a post on Modi, saying if elected to power, he would unleash a ‘holocaust’. He deleted his post and later apologised for his choice of words but stood by his argument. Police also arrested a CPI(M) worker Rajesh Kumar for posting “abusive” comments on Modi.

Victory for common man, democratic and human rights of people has been protected – Ambikesh Mahapatra(Professor, Jadavpur University)

Huge victory for social media, this law was only being misused –Aseem Trivedi (Cartoonist)

I am feeling very happy, we have got justice after 2 years. My post did not have any abusive content, people must feel free to express their opinion – Rinu Srinivasan (who was arrested on post on Bal Thackeray)

I am very happy and grateful to Supreme Court – Student (who was arrested for making comment on Azam Khan)

 (An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 25, 2015)

Parl panel wants White Paper on JK militancy

A Parliamentary panel has rejected Jammu and Kashmir government’s arguments against a White Paper on militancy in the state, saying such “orthodox views” should not be encouraged.

The 31-member Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP P Bhattacharya, made this observation in a report on the action taken by the government on its recommendations on rehabilitation of Kashmiri pandits who had migrated from the Valley during insurgency.

The Union Home Ministry had responded to the panel’s recommendation, saying it has taken note of the suggestion. “However, as informed by the state government, it is felt that it is not advisable at this stage to issue any White Paper on the militancy in Jammu and Kashmir,” the Ministry informed the panel.

However, the panel that also have members from BJP, Trinamool Congress, BJD, AIADMK, CPI(M), CPI and others, was not impressed by the response.

In strong words, the panel said it was “not in agreement” with the view put forward by the state government.

The panel felt that “such orthodox views should not find a place in democracy” at a time when the movement for transparency is gaining momentum and the country has witnessed a “quantum leap” in that direction.

“When the whole world has now begun to appreciate India’s views on terrorism and regard the country as one of the most suffered victim of terrorism, bringing a white paper should not be a cause of concern,” the panel said.

The panel had earlier felt that though all information on militancy in Jammu and Kashmir may be well documented, “all facts should be brought out in the form of a White Paper covering all the developments in the matter in a single document for public information”.

In its latest report, the panel asked the Union Home Ministry to persuade the state government to look into the issue of giving Kashmiri Pandits minority status, keeping in mind their “pitiable conditions”.

The Ministry said the state government had informed it that in view of the special constitutional status of the state and present situation in the state, no action could be taken.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 20, 2015)

The Dravidian fight in Parliament

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Listening to Parliament proceedings could give a non-Tamil some idea about how polarised is politics in Tamil Nadu.

For the second time in a week, DMK MP Kanimozhi ran into a curious protest by rivals from AIADMK in Rajya Sabha though she did not “criticise” the state government.

As soon as she was on her feet in Zero Hour to demand a ban on exploration of coal-bed methane, as it was “causing” environment problems, AIADMK MPs led by its floor leader A Navneethkrishnan were all ears.

But even before she could reach one minute of her speech, the rival MPs were on feet protesting against her speech to amusement of Deputy Chairman P J Kurien and other members.

Kanimozhi was talking about the protest against the exploration in Thanjavur when Navneethkrishnan, joined by his party colleagues, vociferously opposed her speech, saying it was during UPA government’s time the permission for exploration was given. Another AIADMK member Vijila Sathyananth said her party had opposed it earlier.

As the AIADMK members continued to protest, Kanimozhi said, “What is this? Did I say anything against them?” while Kurien was heard saying amid the din, “I am not able to understand why all of you are shouting. What do I do?  Has she said anything against you?”

“Why do you obstruct her? You have majority, so you don’t try to interrupt. Don’t do this. I don’t agree,” Kurien added.

Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal then came to the support of Kanimozhi saying no one can obstruct a MP from speaking. Senior MPs like Sharad Pawar and Derek O’Brien were also seen supporting Kanimozhi.

Kurien then asked the AIADMK members to allow Kanimozhi to speak and if she makes any reference to the AIADMK government in the state, he would allow Navneethkrishnan to reply.

The DMK MP then continued her speech but trouble again began when Kurien went ahead calling another MP for Zero Hour intervention. Navneethkrishnan then stood up to speak but Kurien disallowed saying Kanimozhi has not “said a word against your government”. AIADMK MPs then walked out.

Last week also, Kanimozhi faced trouble from AIADMK MPs when she tried to raise the attack on ‘Puthu Thalamurai’ TV channel without any reference to the state government. Jayalalithaa leads AIADMK while DMK is led by archrival M Karunanidhi.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 18, 2015)

SP MP gives up adopted village in protest

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Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal on Tuesday announced that he was giving up the village he adopted under Prime Minister’s Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) in protest against government not framing guidelines or providing funds.

Agarwal, the Rajya Sabha MP, had adopted Behta Sadhai village in Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh.

Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha during Zero Hour, he said villagers are now asking questions as to from where will their children get milk and clothes, as they believe that these things will be taken care of since the scheme has been implemented with the initiative of the Prime Minister.

Also, he said, the MPs are facing the ire of people of other villages which are not adopted. Since only one village can be adopted under the scheme, the voters in constituencies are now telling their representatives to depend on votes from that particular village alone.

Demanding that the scheme be scrapped, he said adoption of one village will not help the development of the constituency and even for that one village, there is no guideline or funding, he said.

“I was also misled to adopt a village. I want to announce that neither I am going to adopt a child or a village. I am giving up the village,” Agarwal said.

Demanding a reply from Leader of House Arun Jaitley, who was present in the House, he said, “the Leader of House should tell the MPs what policy they should follow. I want the government reconsider this scheme.”

Agarwal  got support from the entire opposition on the scheme, which was launched in October last year under which the MPs from both Houses have to identify and develop one village as a model village by 2016, and two more by 2019, covering over 2,500 villages of the 6 lakh villages country-wide.

The MPs had criticised the scheme earlier also with a large number of them expressing reservation on the use of MPLADS funds for it. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had also remarked about lack of funding for the scheme last year.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 18, 2015)

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