300 communal incidents this year till May

Close to 300 communal incidents took place in the country in the first five months of this year with Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka topping the list.

Across the country, 44 people were killed and another 892 suffered injuries in communal incidents.

Among the 296 incidents reported this year till May, UP accounted for 60 of them while Karnataka registered 36. In UP, 16 people were killed and another 151 injured in such incidents while in Karnataka three people lost their lives and another 93 were wounded.

Other states were higher number of communal incidents reported this year were Madhya Pradesh (29), Rajasthan (27), West Bengal (26), Bihar (23) and Gujarat and Maharashtra (20 each), according to a written reply in Lok Sabha on Monday.

Last year saw 703 communal incidents, a decrease from 751 reported in the previous year. In 2014, there were 644 incidents.

Altogether, there were 2,394 communal incidents between 2014 and May 2017 in which 322 were killed and 15,498 injured.

Almost all these years, UP and Karnataka had topped the list. Last year too UP (162) and Karnataka (101) were on the top while in 2015, these states had 155 and 105 incidents respectively. In 2015, Maharashtra also recorded the same number of incidents as that of Karnataka.

The year 2014 also saw UP, Gujarat and Maharashtra on top followed by Karnataka. While UP had then reported 133 incidents, Maharashtra had registered 97 and Gujarat 74 incidents. Karnataka accounted for 73 such incidents then.

The statistics also showed that the highest number of loss of life was in 2015 when 97 were killed. Last year, 86 lost their lives while in 2014, the number was 95. Among the injured, 2014 accounted for 1,921 while it was 2,264 in 2015 and 2,321 last year.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 9, 2017)

RS MP moves bill to deal with lynching, vigilantism

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”.

husain-dalwai

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 in 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.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 7, 2017)

2016: Rape, abduction cases on rise, dowry deaths show decline

After a fall in 2015, the crimes against women has witnessed a rise last year in the country with rape cases registering almost 11% increase.

According to provisional figures, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said that there were 3.51 lakh crimes reported against women in 2016 as against 3.31 lakh in the previous year.

Though the final figures for last year is yet to come, what may be a matter of concern for law enforcement agencies is the rise in numbers in 2016.

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Crime Against Women
2014 – 3,40,826
2015 – 3,31,649
2016 – 3,51,948

Rape
2014 – 36,735
2015 – 34,651
2016 – 38,891

Kidnapping/Abduction
2014 – 57,311
2015 – 59,277
2016 – 64,618

The year 2015 saw a dip from 3.40 lakh cases in 2014 and 3.37 lakh in 2013. Last year’s figures has surpassed the that of the past three years.

One of the worrying signs would be the increase in cases of rapes, attempt to rapes and abductions.

Among the states, Uttar Pradesh reported the highest cases at 48,757 followed by West Bengal (34,205) and Maharashtra (31,308). Karnataka reported 14,250 crimes against women last year as against 13,993 in 2014 and 12,786 in 2015.

The figures the MHA placed in Parliament last week showed that there were 38,891 cases of rape reported last year compared to 34,651 in 2015, registering a rise of 10.90%. There were 36,735 rape cases in the country in 2014.

Similarly, the attempt to rape cases also rose from 4,234 in 2014 to 5,719 last year. Kidnapping and abduction of women rose by 12.74% to 64,618 compared to 2014’s 57,311. In 2015, there were 59,277 cases.

Acid attacks also saw an increase from 134 reported in 2014 and 140 in 2015 to 167 last year.

Bulk of the cases relating to crime against women was registered under the head cruelty by husband or his relatives. Last year saw 1.10 lakh such cases, a decrease from 1.13 lakh cases in 2015 and 1.22 lakh in 2014.

Also, there was a slight decrease in dowry deaths — from 8,455 in 2014 and 7,634 in 2015 to 7,623 in 2016.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Aug 7, 2017)

Sharad Yadav to invite Oppn leaders for conference

Senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav appears to be engaged in a war of attrition with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as the former is now planning an anti-communalism conference where top Opposition leaders will be invited.

Yadav, who has expressed his displeasure over Kumar’s decision to form a government with BJP in Bihar after snapping ties with Congress and RJD, is thinking of organising the conference ahead of the August 19 National Executive of JD(U) in Patna.

He is planning to invite leaders like Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury among others for the conference that would highlight the country’s “syncretic culture”, JD(U) sources said.

The conference is “not meant to be an anti-Nitish or anti-JD(U) exercise” but highlight his opposition to the move, they said. Through such a platform, Yadav is planning to send a signal to Kumar by giving Opposition parties a chance to corner him on secularism plank.

The Yadav camp plans to organise it just before the National Executive, probably on August 17, so that the message goes to Kumar. Interestingly on Monday, JD(U) MPs present in Rajya Sabha had voted in favour of Opposition amendments on a Constitution Amendment Bill to give Backward Commission constitutional status that left the government red-faced.

Asked about Yadav’s proposed plans, a senior leader told DH that the presence of top Opposition leaders in such a convention could be read as an endorsement of the respect he commands among leaders and it would enhance his standing within his party.

Yadav, the founder President of JD(U), had expressed his public disapproval about Kumar’s decision on Monday, days after the Chief Minister made a surprise announcement last Wednesday to go with BJP. His close aides have said that Yadav would attend the August 19 meeting and put his views.

While Kumar has told BJP leadership not to further placate Yadav, sources said the disgruntled leader is trying to get endorsement for his stand from the state units. Efforts are on to get letters against Kumar’s decision from as many as 20 state units.

Though Kerala unit has already made it clear that is not with Kumar on this issue while units like Maharashtra is also thinking on the same line, sources said the units outside Bihar does not carry much weight.

The leaders of Opposition parties from Congress to the CPI(M) have been keeping in touch with Yadav following Kumar’s decision. Leaders like Sonia, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Yechury, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI’s D Raja and Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav have already spoken to him. RJD chief Lalu Prasad has also spoken to him.

(An eidted version appeared in Deccan Herald website on Aug 2, 2017)

Joining NDA not discussed in party: JD(U) MP

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kunar’s decision to walk out of Grand Alliance and form government with BJP has surprised JD(U) leaders. Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar Ansari says the decision will do more harm to the party. I spoke to Ansari in Parliament House.

How do you see this development?

It is unfortunate. It was not discussed in party forum. A meeting was scheduled to be held on July 23 but it did not happen. If it was held and the issue had come, I would have said that it is a wrong move. In the next meeting, I would tell my views.

Do you think Nitish Kumar took the decision as he is an opportunist?

I respect Nitish Kumar. I will not make such comments. That is not right. But I will say this move will do more harm to the party that any gains. He listened to his inner voice (to go to NDA) and I will listen to mine.

Ali Ansari

Why do you have objections because you became an MP when JD(U) was in NDA?

The issue on which we parted ways with BJP still stands and those reasons have become more stronger. When we joined NDA, Nitish Kumar told us that BJP is changing. He said BJP is becoming soft. But when Modi came he said, BJP is getting aggressive. Now what has changed. The aggression by BJP has increased, there is mob lynching, farmers suicide and Dalit atrocities. There is a difference.

What affect this move will have?

People of India had high hopes on Nitish Kumar. That has been dashed. He had managed to dent Narendra Modi’s popularity.

What will be your next move?

I will express my view in party forum.

(The interview appeared in Deccan Herald on July 28, 2017)

‘JD(U) wanted Cong to play refree’s role but it sided with RJD’

JD(U) wanted Congress to play refree’s role in its tussle with RJD over corruption but the latter “sided” with Lalu Prasad and this miffed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar leading to the breaking of Grand Alliance, sources said on Thursday.

While the episode brought down the alliance experiment within two years, Congress-led Opposition may also have to face the prospects of JD(U) voting against its Vice Presidential candidate Gopalkrishna Gandhi following its support to NDA at the Centre. JD(U) had taken part in the meeting that chose Gandhi as the Vice Presidential candidate.

Nitish-Kumar-swearing-in-6

JD(U) was keen that Gandhi was chosen as joint Presidential candidate but after NDA chose Ram Nath Kovind, Nitish offered support. JD(U) had then alleged that Congress delayed the decision on Presidential candidate to choose a Congress person and this had forced them to take a stand on Kovind.

However, one of the party spokespersons had then refused to endorse the view that JD(U) would vote for Gandhi, saying it is for Kumar to announce the decision though senior leader Sharad Yadav attended the meeting.

The scenario has now changed with JD(U) deciding to support NDA at the Centre and they may vote for NDA candidate M Venkaiah Naidu, sources said. However, they also pointed out that JD(U) had voted in favour of Pranab Mukherjee in Presidential candidate when they were in NDA and the possibility of voting for Gandhi cannot be fully ruled out.

Sources said JD(U) and Kumar expected that Congress would remain neutral in the issue between JD(U) and RJD over the demand for resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav after CBI filed a case against him in a corruption case.

They took sides with RJD. That was not expected. Rahul Gandhi was not with Nitish Kumar as media projects. Kumar wanted Congress to intervene but as a referee. During the meeting with Rahul Gandhi, the JD(U) chief did not get any positive response,” a senior party leader said.

Kumar had also given “vague hints” about his plans two days ago when he told a close aide that “there is no point in working like this”. In 2014 when he resigned following poor results in Lok Sabha polls, he remembered Kumar saying that there is no point in continuing after “this infamy”.

He does not say much. It is difficult to decipher but it seems resignation was in his mind,” he said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on July 28, 2017)

CPI(M) stand on Bengal RS polls exposes contradictions

The CPI(M) decision to look for an “acceptable independent” Rajya Sabha candidate from Opposition parties in West Bengal after rejecting demand for renominating General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has exposed the contradictions in the party.

A section in the party also believes that the Central Committee (CC) decision would also weaken the party’s plan to check Trinamool Congress’ growth with the help of Congress.

sita

Sources said the party has decided not to take the support from Congress but at the same time it has allowed the West Bengal unit to engage with the Sonia Gandhi-led party to find an independent candidate. The rationale is difficult to explain as this engagement could also be seen as going against the Party Congress line, they said.

There is also view that Congress may not be agreeable to an independent candidate when Trinamool Congress is ready with the support for names like Meira Kumar, who was joint Opposition candidate also supported by CPI(M). Names like that of former Prasar Bharti Chairman Jawahar Sircar are also doing the rounds.

In such a scenario, sources said, the one of the junior partners in the Left Front may field a candidate to ensure their presence in the battle field.

The discussions in the Polit Bureau (PB), which twice rejected the Bengal unit’s demand on Yechury, and the CC witnessed heated discussions with a section led by Bengal unit and another by Prakash Karat with the support of Kerala unit opposing each other. The CC meeting also saw unprecedented interventions by PB members as usually they put their views in the PB.

Yechury, who expressed his desire to quit soon after taking over as General Secretary in 2015, is understood to have said in the PB that how can the Bengal unit engage Congress when a decision is there to not have any electoral understanding with Congress. To this, one of woman Polit Bureau members said that some names have been floated and they could discuss it.

Later, he told the CC meeting that they cannot take Congress support and cited norms like General Secretary not taking up Parliamentary role and the two-term norm for Rajya Sabha MPs.

West Bengal Secretary and PB member Surya Kantha Mishra also explained in the CC the Bengal unit position. He said Yechury was the most acceptable face and it is their understanding that even Trinamool Congress would not put an extra candidate. He also suggested that an unopposed contest would mean there is no question of Congress support.

This was countered by Karat, who said that not voting against is also part of an electoral understanding that tantamount to violation of party line. Even if they do not vote, they will not vote is also part of an understanding, Karat is learnt to have told the CC.

(July 26, 2017)

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