Archives  >  2019  >  December  >  18th

India, In Distress

1. What’s the story?

As 6 Things has covered here earlier, India has been witnessing widespread protests against the newly passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Multiple people have been killed across the nation, buses have been set on fire, properties vandalized, and universities attacked. On Tuesday, a fresh wave of violence broke out in Delhi, while protest marches were held all over the country.

Tell me more.

“Violent clashes broke out in the Delhi on Tuesday as students, Opposition leaders and activists across the country stepped up their protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, even as the government asserted it is “firm” on the implementation of the contentious law, and the Supreme Court refused a plea to set up an inquiry panel to probe the violence.

According to police, at least 29 people have been arrested for violent clashes over the last couple of days in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and in parts of Uttar Pradesh, while two FIRs were registered in connection with Tuesday’s violence during a protest in Delhi’s Seelampur and Jafrabad areas that left 21 people, including 12 policemen, injured.

Reportedly, protesters in Seelampur torched motorbikes, pelted stones at police personnel and damaged buses and a police booth, while police resorted to baton charge and fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters. The situation was brought under control after a stand-off that continued for about one-and-a-half hour, police officials said, while blaming the clashes on a “hidden mob” that swelled to 4,000 to 5,000 people.

Braving the winter temperatures, thousands of people poured into the streets near Jamia Millia Islamia for a peaceful protest. Holding the Tricolour and placards, they raised slogans like “Azaadi (freedom) from atrocities” and formed human chains, while some women-led groups took out marches in the narrow lanes of nearby residential areas.

Schoolchildren held out placards saying “we want justice” as their buses drove through the area.” 

So, what now?

The protests against this controversial bill, which was passed last week, do not seem to be dying down. According to certain experts, the Modi Government might have gone “too far this time.” 

“For the first time since Modi became Prime Minister, in 2014, Indians, en masse, aren’t buying it. They are taking to the streets in many major cities, prompting, in some cases, crackdowns by the Indian Army and police. Modi himself, stunned by the public rebuke, has so far offered only platitudes. “We cannot allow vested interest groups to divide us and create disturbance,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday.”

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Who else should I be keeping my eyes on?

Minister of State for Indian Railways, Suresh Angadi, that’s who. In an extremely controversial announcement in the backdrop of the nationwide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Angadi has directed railway officials to “ “shoot at sight” anybody who causes damage to railway property.

“As nationwide protests continue over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Union Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi Tuesday said he has directed railway officials to “shoot at sight” anybody who causes damage to Railway property.

Further reasoning his oral directive to “shoot at sight,” the Railways MoS said he had asked so as it would lead to the wastage of taxpayers’ money. “It takes years together to develop a train or another facility. Like Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the government should take stringent action against those trying to damage public property,” he said.”

3. What more?

In an alarming development, it has recently been revealed that Jammu & Kashmir has given up “243 hectares of forest land for army and paramilitary use” since it came under President’s Rule in August

“The former Forest Advisory Committee, commonly known as FAC, of the erstwhile Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was very busy in September and October. Authorised to take decisions on approval of infrastructure and other projects passing through forested land, the FAC approved diversion of over 727 hectares of designated forest land between September 18 and October 21. It also approved the felling of at least 1,847 trees, which includes 1,471 trees inside designated forest areas and 376 trees in areas earmarked for social forestry.

When Kashmiris talk about the significance of forests, they refer to one of the most popular sayings of 15th century saint and poet Sheikh ul Alam: “Ann poshi teli yeli wan poshi”, meaning “food will last as long as forests last.” Kashmir’s evergreen coniferous forests and snow covered peaks have a direct bearing on the region’s agriculture, energy and tourism sectors. Its beautiful lakes, rivers, agricultural plains and meadows owe their existence and economic production to the forests.

The effects of degradation of forests is already visible in drying up of perennial water sources at many places, accelerated soil erosion, flash floods, silting up of reservoirs, loss of biodiversity and reduced forest productivity. The armed conflict has made things even more difficult. Official records at J&K’s forest department reveal that as many as 79 forest officials, including one conservator, have lost their lives while trying to protect forests. Forest department officials say they have been attacked by both militants and security forces.”

4. Anything else?

It seems bizarre, but it’s true. It seems that in the city of Gwalior, “you can get a gun license by donating a few blankets to cows” — raising serious concerns about India’s gun control laws.

“If you thought the unmitigated appreciation for cows that seems to course through the veins of many Indian ministers couldn’t get any more ridiculous, it just did. Anurag Chaudhary, the district collector of Gwalior, a city in Madhya Pradesh that is infamous for having a history of dacoits and bandits, has now announced that anyone who wants to get a gun license must donate at least ten blankets to cows in any of the state-provided shelters.

After it was brought to Chaudhary’s notice that six cows had died due to the “excessive cold” when he attended a meeting of cow vigilantes (gaurakshaks) on Saturday, December 14, he came to the conclusion that the best way to protect the animal considered sacred in Hinduism is to make compassion mandatory. So, he decided that anyone who wants to own a firearm must first show that they care. About cows at least.”

5. Is that all?

Rural Nepal still sends its women to sleep in a hut behind their home while they are menstruating — even though this practice has been outlawed by the country’s highest court. However, even if illegal, women are still dying in them

“This month saw the first arrest in Nepal connected to the practice of exiling women to sleep in a hut behind their home during menstruation.

On Dec. 6, police in the western district of Achham took Chhatra Raut into custody for questioning after his sister-in-law, Parbati Buda Rawat, 21, was found dead in a menstruation hut, apparently because of smoke inhalation — after her blanket caught fire while she slept. According to press reports, he is being held while investigators determine if he forced her into the hut.

Several women are killed every year in Nepal because of chhaupadi, the practice of exiling women from their homes to bare-bones huts or sheds during menstruation because they are believed to be “unclean.” Exact numbers are difficult to obtain, as many fatalities and injuries go unreported, but while sleeping in the huts, women are at risk of snake bites, physical assault, freezing temperatures and suffocation because of lack of ventilation.

Forcing women to use the huts was criminalized last year. Chhatra’s arrest sent a signal that the tide may be slowly turning against chhaupadi, which has been widely condemned by human rights activists.”

6. Before you leave…

Read about the non-profit trying to match newly released prisoners with hosts who can support them. It’s essentially an AirBnB for the formerly incarcerated, but funding for unconventional ideas is still hard. 

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.
Copyright © 2019, Tramline Media