TN Custodial Deaths
Reprehensible! The alleged custodial death of father and son in a police station in Tamil Nadu has sent shock waves across the country. The brutality in Sathankulam and worse the cops thumbing their nose at Madras High Court-appointed magistrate makes a mockery of the rule of law in any civilised society. They had destroyed evidence, didn’t cooperate in the probe, and even tried to intimidate the judicial team, the court was informed. Earlier, witnesses had testified that “both father, P Jeyaraj and son J Bennix were beaten by lathis throughout the night, till early hours…” and initial findings showed the two were ‘stripped, tortured all of June 19-20 night and a baton inserted into their rectums’. Their crime: they had kept their mobile shop open during a curfew imposed in the lockdown! The State Crime Branch-CID on Wednesday arresting a sub-inspector after booking 6 policemen on murder charges, a CBI inquiry instituted, NHRC issuing notices to State DGP and SP to submit a report within 6 weeks and government paying compensation to the families is simply not enough. What begs urgent attention is the encompassing culture of immunity and those responsible for maintaining law and order literally getting away with murder. The probe wouldn’t have taken place but for public outcry. Justice must be done. Enough is enough.
Centre Provides, States Decline
Scandalous! A mere 13% of 8 lakh metric tonnes of free food grains allocated for returning migrant workers reached the beneficiaries in May and June; Worse 11 States and one UT didn’t distribute even 1% of quantity they lifted during June. This appalling data is of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, after it released food grains in May under Atmanirbhar Bharat for those who don’t have ration cards, following criticism over woes of migrants leaving cities. While all 36 States/UTs lifted 6.38 lakh metric tonnes, or 80% of the food grains for 2 months for 8 crore people, they distributed only 1.07 lakh metric tonnes until June 30, i.e. only 2.13 beneficiaries. UP was allocated 1,42,033 metric tonnes, it lifted 1,40,637 metric tonnes but distributed just 3,324 metric tonnes; Bihar lifted all of 86,450 metric tonnes but distributed 1.842 metric tonnes; Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Ladakh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Tripura and Telangana didn’t distribute even 1% of quantity lifted; MP, Chhattisgarh couldn’t lift their full share whereas some others wrote to Centre citing inability as workers have moved out of their States. This time round it’s Too much, too late to handle.
Bihar’s Digital Campaign
Virtual election rallies are a No-go with the Opposition in Bihar. It simply can’t match the BJP’s might At an all-party meeting of State Chief Electoral Officer, the RJD, CPI, CPM, BSP, NCP and RSLP voiced their concern arguing it would violate ‘level-playing field’ as ‘rich parties’ would have an edge. They aren’t wrong as the BJP is learnt to be preparing for the battle with l9,500 IT cell heads and 72,000 WhatsApp groups! A glimpse was available last month. The EC is keen to stick to schedule of October–November despite the pandemic. Already it’s convinced Law Ministry to allow Covid-affected patients and 65 years above to vote through postal ballots. Though it has decided to limit number of voters at each polling booth to 1,000, instead of 1,600, the Opposition demands only 500-700 and that campaigning allowed for small meetings/gatherings. Interestingly, BJP’s partners JD(U) and LJP are non-committal. Guess, they may end up being at the mercy of ‘resourceful’ big brother.
MP Guesswork Over
The guessing game is over in Madhya Pradesh. On Thursday last, after 100 days of forming the Government, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan finally expanded his Cabinet—of 28 new ministers, 20 are of Cabinet rank and 8 Ministers of state. But not before spending two days in Delhi trying to tie up loose ends with lots of contenders. It’s crystal clear that Jyotiraditya Scindia has extracted his pound of flesh after bringing down the Congress government of Kamal Nath on March 20. The new Cabinet has 12 of 22 former lawmakers, considered his loyalists, who joined his rebellion. Chouhan has also accommodated his senior leaders who were ministers in the past. There is one more hurdle that he needs to cross i.e. 12 ministers need to be elected to the Assembly in next 6 months to retain their posts. Over confidence would be a wrong strategy. A smarting Kamal Nath would try to pay back Scindia in his own coin. Whether he succeeds is another story.
An vital chapter in Kashmir’s separatist movement ends. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, heading All Parties Hurriyat Conference for 17 years and one of the most well-know hawks in the Valley has called it a day. This after an ‘intense power struggle’ within the Islamabad-backed group including its chapter in PoK. Geelani’s exit though shall not make a difference to an already beleaguered Hurriyat, as the umbrella organisation of separatist groups, set up in 90s, has over the years lost both credibility and steam, given its various factions. Typical of his style, he didn’t stop keeping the pressure, but was peeved with his grip weakening over the PoK faction— of younger lesser known leaders promoted by ISI “trying to be part of government and ministries” and the chapter embroiled in “internal bickering, fear of losing posts, financial irregularities”, etc. The ISI has its own take—of being let down by the Kashmiri separatist leaders for their inability to provoke people to hit the streets after J&K’s special status was scrapped last August. It now looks for fresh and young blood. Geelani can’t argue as his colleagues chose not to play a lead role. The leadership is now for grabs. But the big question is will it revive the Hurriyat or crumble before State power?
Fruit Power Vs COVID-19
Fruit power to fight the corona virus! Tripura is all set to launch a Rs 100-crore scheme wherein it shall distribute free pineapple and lemon to its citizens in urban to build their immune system. The two fruits, abundant in the State, are known to be rich in Vitamin C and act as anti-oxidants to prevent the virus, says Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb. The month-long scheme ‘Mukhya Mantri Corona Pratirodhak Abhiyan (CM Public Immunity Campaign against Corona)’ will begin today and the fruits’ juice is to be distributed every Saturday from 12-4 pm at 25 local urban bodies and sub-divisional offices. It turns out to be a two-in-one scheme, as other than the urban beneficiaries, local farmers will earn revenue. However, Deb will do well if he also gives a thought to intern doctors at Agartala Govt medical College, where on World Doctors’ Day, Wednesday last, they had to protest again non-payment of stipends for past two months, even after “working for 16 hours or beyond.” The government has assured it would be credited to bank accounts within a week. Hope it keeps its word, for the fruits to build immunity and lessen number of patients is a long way off. —INFA