Politicians, lawyers, journalists question Hyderabad ‘encounter’

Amid the euphoria of people at large, thought leaders of society have begun questioning the killing of the four rape and murder accused in the police ‘encounter’ near Hyderabad. Many politicians, lawyers, senior journalists and other eminent citizens have condemned the encounter. If in the morning it was CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury, by afternoon it was BJP MP Maneka Gandhi. If #JusticeForDisha was trending on top in the morning, now it is #FakeEncounter.

Maneka Gandhi says the encounter was dangerous as a precedent or norm. “There is law in our country; there is a court, so why are you already firing a gun? Will you kill people with a gun? If a case is delayed, will you use the gun? They were unarmed, were brought from jail; you killed them with a gun,” she said.

Earlier, when journalist Rukmini S tweeted, “A brazen extra-judicial killing if there ever was one – spare us the tired script. This isn’t instant justice – this is the absence of justice. We’re not going to make women safer by abandoning the rule of law – is that so hard to understand?” Yechury and Sharmistha Mukherjee were among politicians who endorsed this view.

CPM leader Yechury quoted the tweet to say, “Extra-judicial killings cannot be the answer to serious concerns over the safety of women.”

Yechury added, “How we must secure the lives and dignity of each of our citizens, must be what civilised societies are about. Justice can never be retribution. Why is the tough law put in place on the safety of women after the 2012 Delhi crime not being implemented properly?”

As some politicians despaired, others were careful in their choice of words so as not to antagonise the people. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal saying, “People were angry, whether the matter was of Unnao or Hyderabad. So they are expressing happiness over the encounter. It is also a matter of concern as to why people have lost faith in the criminal justice system. All governments will have to work on strengthening it.”

But Baba Ramdev is with the team of Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar. The yoga guru and mascot of Patanjali healthcare products said that rapists, terrorists, police and Army should all take such action. “The decision should be on the spot. Such should be the case with these dreaded criminals,” Baba said.

“What the police have done is very courageous and I must say that justice has been delivered. Legal questions over it are a different matter, but I am sure people of the country are at peace now,” Baba Ramdev said.

Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta opposed this by tweeting, “Anybody cheering mafia-style Hyderabad ‘justice’ should never complain about ISIS beheadings, Taliban lynchings & Maoist kangaroo court executions. Modern, civilised state evolved over millennia, but we still have no patience for due process—as long as victims are ‘others’.”

INC politician and daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, Sharmistha Mukherjee quoted Gupta’s tweet and said, “This encounter did not happen due to public pressure. Police and government should not abuse their rights.”

Mukherjee added, “(The) Problem is (that) the people are losing faith in institutions due to inordinate delay in delivering justice. Timebound investigation, speedy trial and quick implementation of verdict required to restore faith in the system. To counter public outrage, huge police and judicial reforms required, not ‘encounters’.”

She also quoted journalist Bhupendra Chaudhary who had written, “Difficult to think rationally in #hyderabadpolice encounter case. The brutality of crime so huge, some strong message needed to go to anyone who doesn’t believe in women’s safety.” Mukherjee added:

Senior advocate Vikas Singh said, “The rule of law should run in the country. This should be investigated immediately.”

Shubham Verma tweeted, “Eliminating the dreaded criminals in this way indicates a weak system.”

National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma did not tilt either way. She was more cautious than politicians when she said, “Only the police can tell the truth or its investigation will reveal the truth.”

Former home minister P Chidambaram said, “The encounter should be investigated, if criminals were running away, did they have weapons?”

“We cannot allow an excess of emotion to override common sense & rationality. This is a threat to the Indian societal fabric. If those men were guilty, the cops are also guilty. We can’t allow Extra-Judicial killings, lest soon by extension we will normalise honour killings too,” tweeted author Katherine Abraham.

INC leader Shashi Tharoor quoted the author’s tweet to say, “Agree in principle. We need to know more, for instance, if the criminals were armed, the police may have been justified in opening fire preemptively. Until details emerge, we should not rush to condemn. But extra-judicial killings are otherwise unacceptable in a society of laws.”


10 high-profile fights in Lok Sabha election today

New Delhi: The sixth phase of the Lok Sabha election is going on in the country. Voting has started for 59 Lok Sabha seats in seven States. These include 14 of UP, 10 of Haryana, eight each of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, four of Jharkhand and all the seven seats in Delhi.

There are several prominent faces in these elections, including those of Radha Mohan Singh, Maneka Gandhi, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia. On Sunday, the fate of many veterans will be at stake. Here are some of the high-stakes battles.

1. Bhopal

The Bhopal seat in Madhya Pradesh is up for a fight of ideologies. Here, the senior Congress leader seen to take odd positions on the question of national security, Digvijaya Singh is in the fray. On the other side is the BJP’s Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur ― who is a Malegaon blast case accused to her detractors but a woman who has been framed for the votaries of Hindutva. Digvijaya Singh was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in the period 1993-2003 who lost the State due to strong anti-incumbency caused by crumbling infrastructure. Ever since he has stayed out of administration even in New Delhi politics despite the 10-year UPA rule, and yet he managed to grab the news headlines with his defence of the terror suspects in the Batla House encounter and for his conspiracy theory that the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai was conceived by the RSS.

2. Sultanpur

Union minister Maneka Gandhi is in the electoral fray from the BJP for this seat. The Congress has given the ticket to former Union minister Sanjay Singh from Sultanpur. In this seat, Maneka’s son Varun Gandhi won the last election. This time the seats of the mother and the son were swapped. While Maneka is contesting from Sultanpur instead of Varun, Varun is trying his luck in mother Maneka’s seat Pilibhit.

3. Azamgarh

This seat was held earlier by Mulayam Singh Yadav. His son and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is contesting from here this time, fighting the BJP candidate and Bhojpuri actor Dinesh Lal Nirhua. BJP had won 13 out of 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh in this phase of the Lok Sabha election in 2014; the only exception was Azamgarh where SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav had won.

4. East Delhi

Arguably the most popular of Delhi’s seven seats is the East Delhi Lok Sabha seat. In this seat, former Gandhi Nagar MLA and Congress leader Arvinder Singh Lovely is in the fray occupying an unenviable position in the media that is hardly talking about him. This despite the fact that Lovely won four times from the Gandhi Nagar Assembly seat of East Delhi. He was the youngest legislator to win in 1998.
The BJP has given the ticket to former cricketer Gautam Gambhir. The Aam Aadmi Party has made Atishi its candidate. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, this seat went to the BJP’s Maheish Girri who was, until then, a popular face of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living. It has been a bitterly fought battle, with the AAP trying to get the competition disqualified with allegations including one that Gambhir had two voter identity cards and secondly that he was behind an objectionable pamphlet circulated in parts of the constituency. Gambhir denied both the charges while slapping the opponent with a defamation suit for the second allegation.

5. North-East Delhi

In this seat, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Dilip Pandey of Aam Aadmi Party are contesting against the BJP’s State unit head Manoj Tiwari. Manoj Tiwari won this seat in 2014. For this seat, the Congress recalled the work done by former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in Delhi. Just before the election of 2019, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had handed over the command of the Delhi Pradesh Congress to the octogenarian politician. The AAP’s Dilip Pandey was a former employee of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s NGO PCRF. His claim to fame is that he has been a trusted aide and part of the coterie of the chief minister who has seen many desertions since the party was formed.

6. North-West Delhi

Singer Hans Raj Hans is contesting on a BJP ticket from North-West Delhi. Hans Raj Hans started his political career with the Shiromani Akali Dal in 2009. Five years later, he joined the Congress in 2014. Then he joined the BJP on 10 December 2016. He replaced the incumbent Udit Raj who, as a disgruntled element, has quit the party and joined the Congress.
Hans is fighting Gugan Singh of the AAP and Rajesh Lelothia of the Congress.

7. South Delhi

Ramesh Bidhuri is the incumbent and repeat candidate of the BJP from this seat. Congress has given the ticket to boxer Vijender Singh. Chartered accountant Raghav Chadha is contesting from the Aam Aadmi Party ticket. In 2014, Bidhuri defeated Devender Sahrawat by a margin of 1,07,000 votes. The sitting MP enjoys a massive advantage of caste support in this constituency whereas Chadha may be deemed more appealing to the small, urbane section of the electorate.

8. East Champaran

The BJP has given the ticket to Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh from this seat. Radha Mohan Singh started politics as a student leader in 1967. The result of his public relations and public life is seen in his election as MP five times since 1989. Singh faces the RLSP’s Akash Singh in this seat.

9. Guna

47-year-old Jyotiraditya Scindia is a Lok Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh’s Guna constituency. This time again, he is in the field from this seat. On 30 September 2001, Madhavrao Scindia, father of Jyotiraditya, had died in a plane crash following which Jyotiraditya entered politics. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2002. He was re-elected in the 14th Lok Sabha in 2004.

10. Dhanbad

Recently, Kirti Azad, who had joined the Congress, was made the candidate from the Dhanbad seat. Kirti Azad started his political career in 1993 as a BJP legislator, winning the election from the round market assembly seat of Delhi. In 1999, he was elected to the Lok Sabha election. In 2009 he won again in the Lok Sabha elections. He was made a member of the Human Resource Development Committee on 31 August 2009 and on 9 June 2013. He quit the BJP due to his differences with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, which prompted him to motivate some AAP leaders to hold a press conference accusing the central minister of mishandling the Delhi cricket body, a charge for which the AAP leaders had to apologise to Jaitley before the court while facing defamation charges.
Azad would have had a better chance in north Bihar, but as a former cricketer, he is quite popular in Jharkhand as well.
For more election-related news, please visit this page.

Yogi does a Mask: Somebody, stop me

Lucknow: Reminiscent of the line mouthed by the title character in Hollywood blockbuster Mask that says “Somebody, stop me!” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has found a way to circumvent the restriction imposed on his campaigning by the Election Commission (EC). He is reaching out to the people via Hanuman puja, rubbing the fact in that he has been debarred from campaigning due to his invocation of “Bajrangbali” in an election speech following BSP chief Mayawati’s separate appeal to Muslims to vote for the mahagathbandhan.

The second round of voting for the Lok Sabha election will be held on Thursday. Just before that, the EC crippled Yogi Adityanath, Mayawati, Maneka Gandhi and Azam Khan by disallowing them to campaign and for a few days.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court finds the EC helpless despite several examples of strict action it has set in this election season.

On Tuesday, Yogi worshipped at the temple of Bajrangbali at Hanuman Setu in Lucknow. Yogi stayed in the temple for about 20 minutes and read the Hanuman Chalisa.

During this time, Yogi did not talk to the media personnel present there. He emerged from the temple with a smile. BJP nominee and Home Minister Rajnath Singh is to be nominated from Lucknow today but the chief minister cannot participate in the nomination process due to the EC ban. Yogi will visit several other Hanuman temples instead for as long as the ban is on.

This star campaigner of the BJP has been banned for 72 hours, beginning 6 o’clock this morning. That is, till the day of voting for the second phase, Yogi will not be able to campaign for the BJP. The EC action followed a complaint against the chief minister of violation of the model code of conduct.

According to the EC order, in these 72 hours, Yogi Adityanath cannot participate in any public meeting, padyatra or roadshow. Not only that, he will not even be able to appear in interviews in print or electronic media. But Yogi has found a way out, to which one doubts the EC has an answer.

The EC has imposed 48-hour restrictions on BSP chief Mayawati and Union minister and BJP candidate from Sultanpur Maneka Gandhi’s campaign. Samajwadi Party candidate Azam Khan faces a 72-hour ban. All these politicians have been accused of violating the model code of conduct with their rhetoric.

In the wake of polling on 18 April for the second phase, the campaign will stop at 5 o’clock this evening. The ban on these leaders could have proven a big setback but not for Yogi whom the people can see worshipping Lord Hanuman. This, one may contend, is a way to influence voters.

In the second phase, 97 seats will be subjected to vote. This includes eight seats of Uttar Pradesh Nagina (reserved), Amroha, Bulandshahr (reserved), Aligarh, Hathras (reserved), Mathura, Agra (reserved) and Fatehpur Sikri.

For all reports related to the Lok Sabha election 2019, please visit this page.


Maneka Gandhi, Azam Khan debarred from election campaign

New Delhi: The Election Commission has banned Union Minister and BJP leader Maneka Gandhi and Samajwadi Party candidate Azam Khan from campaigning for the Lok Sabha election.

The commission has banned Maneka Gandhi for 48 hours while Ajam Khan has been banned for 72 hours. This order will be effective from 10 AM on Tuesday.

The commission accepted the complaints against the election speeches of Union Minister and BJP candidate from Sultanpur Maneka Gandhi and former Uttar Pradesh minister and Rampur’s Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Mohammed Azam Khan.

Gandhi had made an “objectionable” comment on 11 April, demanding votes from Muslims in the election rally as BJP candidate of the Sultanpur Lok Sabha seat.

Chief election officer Lakku Venkateshwarlu had sought a detailed report from the DM of Sultanpur, which was sent to the commission on 12 April.

On 13 April, the commission issued a show-cause notice to Maneka.

The National Women’s Commission had complained about Khan to the Election Commission after the SP candidate from Rampur LS seat made crass comments about BJP candidate and film actress Jaya Prada. The commission took cognisance of this transgression too after a detailed report from the chief election officer on the campaign on Sunday, 14 April, was received from the DM of Rampur.

Additional chief election officer of the State Brahmadev Tiwari said, the report, along with a video recording of Azam Khan’s speech, was sent to the Election Commission, after which the commission took this decision.

On Thursday, 4 April, an FIR had been lodged against Samajwadi Party’s district president Firoz Khan for allegedly making objectionable statements against Rampur BJP candidate Jaya Prada.

So far, 3,135 cases of violation of the model code of conduct have been filed. These include cases of unauthorised use of vehicles in the campaign, unauthorised public meetings, use of loudspeakers, provocative speeches, temptations etc. As many as 900 FIRs have been registered.


Maneka Gandhi does it again: ‘If I get less than 50% votes…’

Pilibhit: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Sultanpur Maneka Gandhi has once again made a controversial statement. During a rally in Sultanpur, Maneka Gandhi said she would work more in such areas from where she gets more votes.

She said that the village that gets her 80% of the votes would be in A category. The village which gets her 60% of the votes would be in the B category and the village which gets her 50% of the votes would be in the category!

Gandhi said further that the villagers could well imagine what would happen in places that give her less than 50% of the votes.

Earlier, Gandhi had warned Muslims against not voting for her, for which the Election Commission served her a notice. She has to respond to the show-cause notice in three days.

Gandhi had told Muslim voters that they should vote in her favour in the Lok Sabha election because they would need her for jobs after the election. She said in an election meeting held in the Muslim-dominated area of ​​Lochakhani, “I am winning with the love and support of people. But if I win this victory without the Muslims, then I would not like it very much.”

Union minister and BJP leader Gandhi is contesting from Sultanpur this time while her son Varun Gandhi is contesting from Pilibhit.

For all reports related to the Lok Sabha election 2019, please visit this page.


‘Vote me for jobs’ isn’t exactly what Maneka Gandhi told Muslims in Sultanpur

Sultanpur: A video allegedly of Maneka Gandhi has surfaced in which she has heard making a statement addressing Muslim voters, which has infuriated many or, at least, given them a political opportunity.

Gandhi is the BJP candidate from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha election of 2019. On Friday, She was addressing an election rally in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

Maneka Gandhi translated

Maneka said, “I am winning. I am winning with the help and love of the people. But if I win without Muslims, I would not like it very much. Because I tell you that would leave me with some bitterness. Then, when a Muslim comes to seek work, I might think, what difference does it make?”

“After all, the job is a kind of bargain, rightly or wrongly. It is not that we all carry the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi that we would go on giving, but in the elections, we only get a beating (from Muslims). Isn’t that how it happens? You have to recognise this. I can win both with you and without you.”

“This is the message you ought to spread. I have come with an offer of friendship. You may ask the people of Pilibhit how I was. If ever you feel I have transgressed, do not vote for me again,” Maneka asserted.

“But if you feel I have come here with an open mind to embrace you all, if you feel you may need me in the future… I have ensured my win in this election. Now you will need me indeed. But for that need of tomorrow, you must lay the foundation stone today. This is the time. When the result of your polling booth arrives, whether I get 50 or 100 votes from here would determine how much I would stand by you,” the Union minister said.

Hindi original

To make sure Sirf News has translated the original speech, which was in Hindi, maintaining its spirit, the exact words of the minister follow.

“मैं जीत रही हूं। लोगों की मदद और प्यार से मैं जीत रही हूं। लेकिन अगर मेरी जीत मुसलमानों के बिना होगी, तो मुझे बहुत अच्छा नहीं लगेगा क्योंकि इतना मैं बता देती हूं कि दिल खट्टा हो जाता है। फिर जब मुसलमान आता है काम के लिए तो मैं सोचती हूं कि रहने दो, क्या फ़र्क पड़ता है।

आख़िर नौकरी एक सौदेबाज़ी भी तो होती है, बात सही है कि नहीं। ये नहीं कि हम सब महात्मा गांधी की छठी औलाद हैं कि हम लोग देते ही जाएंगे, देते ही जाएंगे। और फिर चुनावों में मार खाते जाएंगे। सही है बात कि नहीं? आपको ये पहचानना होगा। ये जीत आपके बिना भी होगी, आपके साथ भी होगी।

और ये चीज़ आपको सभी जगह फैलानी होगी। जब मैं दोस्ती का हाथ लेकर आई हूं। पीलीभीत में पूछ लें, एक भी बंदे से फ़ोन से पूछ लें कि मेनका गांधी वहां कैसे थीं। अगर आपको कहीं भी लगे कि हमसे गुस्ताख़ी हुई है, तो हमें वोट मत देना।

लेकिन अगर आपको लगे कि हम खुले हाथ, खुले दिल के साथ आए हैं। आपको लगे कि कल आपको मेरी ज़रूरत पड़ेगी। ये इलेक्शन तो मैं पार कर चुकी हूं। अब आपको मेरी ज़रूरत पड़ेगी। अब आपको ज़रूरत के लिए नींव डालनी है तो यही वक़्त है। जब आपके पॉलिंग बूथ का नतीजा आएगा और उस नतीजे में सौ वोट निकलेंगे या 50 वोट निकलेंगे और उसके बाद जब आप काम के लिए आएंगे तो वही होगा मेरा साथ।”

Congress spokesperson latched onto the opportunity to draw the attention of the Election Commission immediately. He wrote on Twitter:

How could the AAP hold its horses? Abhijeet Dipke of the party tweeted soon:

But Bollywood actor Payal Rohatgi wouldn’t let the complaints go unchallenged. She tweeted:

Sultanpur has been the domain of Maneka Gandhi’s husband Sanjay Gandhi who used to represent the Amethi parliamentary constituency in his era.

Maneka Gandhi has won six elections from Pilibhit but this time she has swapped seats with her son Varun Gandhi’s Sultanpur.

In the last Lok Sabha election, Varun Gandhi was elected MP from Sultanpur.

For all reports related to the Lok Sabha election 2019, please visit this page.


BJP denies ticket to Murli Manohar Joshi, Maneka-Varun seats swapped; Jaya Prada to fight Azam Khan

[pullquote]1. 85-year-old Joshi has been a Lok Sabha six times and a Rajya Sabha member twice

2. Jaya Prada will fight against Rampur, they will fight against Azam Khan of SP

3. Maneka Sultanpur and Varun fight against Pilibhit

4. BJP releases list of 39 candidates, pays 22 existing MPs[/pullquote]

New Delhi: The BJP, after finding LK Advani too old to continue in electoral politics, has denied re-nomination to Murli Manohar Joshi. Satyadev Pachauri has been nominated from Kanpur in the list of 39 candidates released on Tuesday.

In 2014, Joshi had vacated the Varanasi seat for Narendra Modi and won from Kanpur. Joshi, 85, is one of the founding members of BJP. He has been a Lok Sabha member six times — from 1977 to 2014.

While LK Advani had reportedly told the BJP leadership not to consider him for elections any more, a slip of paper went viral on social media this afternoon that claimed the party had asked MM Joshi to not ask for the ticket for Kanpur or any other seat. The slip, on which the message was type-written, was not a letterhead and it bore no signature or stamp.

In the new list of BJP, there are 29 more candidates from Uttar Pradesh. There are 10 candidates for Bengal.

Twenty-two current MPs have been given the tickets.

Of the 10 seats for which the party has declared candidates in Bengal, nine are new faces and is a repeat candidate.

In UP, Jaya Prada will fight Azam Khan in Rampur. She was nominated from Rampur within 5 hours of joining the BJP. She had joined the party at 1 PM on Tuesday.

Jaya Prada had won from Rampur on a Samajwadi Party ticket in 2004 and 2009. Her victory margin was very low in 2009, which she attributed to Azam Khan. Later, Jaya Prada left the Samajwadi Party with Amar Singh.

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BJP kicks out 5

The party has cut the ticket of five sitting MPs. These include Murli Manohar Joshi from Kanpur, Dr Nampal Singh from Rampur, Priyanka Singh Rawat from Barabanki, Ashok Dwai from Etawah and Bharat Singh from Ballia.

Seats of 3 changed

The seats of Varun Gandhi, Maneka Gandhi and Ram Shankar Katheria have been changed. Varun had won the last time from Sultanpur; he has been given ticket from Pilibhit. His mother Maneka had won last time from Pilibhit, she has been nominated from Sultanpur this time.

Ram Shankar, MP from Agra, has been given the ticket from Etawah. SP Singh Baghel is the candidate from Agra.

Uttar Pradesh seat allocation by BJP

Constituency BJP’s candidate in 2019 Party that won in 2014
Rampur Jaya Prada BJP
Pilibhit Varun Gandhi BJP
Dhauraha Rekha Verma BJP
Sultanpur Maneka Gandhi BJP
Farrukhabad Mukesh Rajput BJP
Etawah Ramsankar Katheria BJP
Kannauj Subrata Pathak SP
Kanpur Satyadev Pachauri BJP
Akbarpur Devendra Singh Bhole BJP
Jalaun Bhanupratap Verma BJP
Hamirpur Pushpendra Singh Chandel BJP
Fatehpur Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti BJP
Kaushambi Vinod Sonkar BJP
Allahabad/Prayagraj Rita Bahuguna Joshi BJP
Barabanki Upendra Rawat BJP
Faizabad Lallu Singh BJP
Bahraich Akshayvar Red Gaur BJP
Kaisarganj Brijbhushan Sharan Singh BJP
Shravasti Dayan Mishra BJP
Gonda Kirtivardhan Singh BJP
Dummyaganj Jagdambika Pal BJP
Basti Harish Dwivedi BJP
Maharajganj Pankaj Chaudhary BJP
Kushinagar Vijay Dubey BJP
Bansgaon Kamlesh Paswan BJP
Salempur Ravindra Kushwaha BJP
Ballia Virendra Singh BJP
Gajipur Manoj Sinha BJP
Chandauli Mahendra Nath Pandey BJP


Bengal seat allocation by BJP

Constituency BJP’s candidate in 2019 Party that won in 2014
Baharampur Krishna Junaid Arya Congress
Murshidabad Humayun Kabir CPM
Ranaghat Mukutmani Adhikari Trinamool
Bengaon Shantanu Thakur Trinamool
Diamond Harbour Nilanjhan Roy Trinamool
Howrah Rantideb Sengupta Trinamool
Uluberia Joy Bannerjee Trinamool
Kanti Devshish Samant Trinamool
Bankura Subhash Sarkar Trinamool
Bolpur Ramprasad Das Trinamool



#MeToo: Journalists protest in Delhi, demand MJ Akbar’s resignation

New Delhi: As the number of women coming out and speaking up against Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar, alleging him of sexual harassment is increasing with each passing day, several women journalists on Saturday gathered at the Parliament Street in New Delhi to protest against the accused journalist.

They also demanded the removal of Union Minister MJ Akbar, who has been accused of sexual harassment by a number of women journalists, when he was an editor of several publications, a few years ago.

The protesting journalists also sought immediate action against those facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

The scribes also held placards bearing messages that sexual harassment at the workplace was not acceptable and said: “accountability begins from the top” with protesting journalists raising slogans seeking removal of Akbar.

The group of journalists also passed a joint resolution seeking justice for the victims.

“Sexual harassment at the workplace is non-negotiable. We salute those women who have come out and shared their trauma. It is not easy to speak out and takes a lot of courage to speak up about such incidents,” senior journalist and IWPC president TK Rajalakshmi said.

Besides members of the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC), journalists from some print and electronic media assembled in front of the Free School Church on Parliament Street and raised slogans, demanding proper implementation of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act.

“We, the assembled journalists today express our complete solidarity with all those who have come out and spoken courageously against the harassment they have faced by colleagues and superiors,” the resolution said.

The IWPC president said such incidents need to be checked also through proper monitoring of the internal complaints committee (ICC).

“Such cases also show that ICCs are either not there or not effective in media organisations,” she said.

Union Minister Maneka Gandhi Friday had strongly backed women who narrated their experiences of sexual misconduct and more as the #MeToo floodgates opened wider with high-profile directors Sajid Khan, Subhash Ghai and Luv Ranjan the latest to be ‘outed’.


Maneka to Law Ministry: Scrap three-year time limit for reporting child sexual abuse

New Delhi: Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi Monday said she has asked the Law Ministry to not keep any age limit to report child sexual abuse, allowing people to complain about what has happened to them even “10-15 years later”.

Noting that anger at molestation and sexual abuse never goes away, Gandhi also said she is “very happy” that the #MeToo campaign has started in India and encouraged women to come forward to complain against sexual harassment.

“One always remembers the person who molested you and we have written to the Law Ministry that one should be allowed to complain without any time limit,” Gandhi told reporters.

Under Section 468 of the CrPC, any offence, including child abuse, which can lead to a prison term of three years has to be reported within three years of the incident.

According to Section 473 of the CrPC, a court may take cognisance of an older case if it is in the “interest of justice” or if the “delay has been properly explained”. However, victims of child sexual abuse often face problems in registering an FIR once they are 18 or more.

Gandhi said she has proposed that people can complain even “10-15 years later”. “It doesn’t matter how much later. If you’re going to complain the avenue is open,” she added.

Gandhi had earlier proposed that child sexual abuse victims be allowed to register complaints until they are 30.

Discussing the #MeToo movement, the minister warned that it should not be used to “target people who have offended us in some way”.

“I hope it does not go out of control in a way that we target people who have offended us in some way but I think women are angry at sexual molestation,” she said.

Gandhi had earlier expressed her support for actor Tanushree Dutta, who has levelled allegations of sexual misconduct against Nana Patekar during the shooting of a film 10 years ago.

She had said harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.

Citing Harvey Weinstein, she had said last Tuesday that when the first victim came out and reported against the Hollywood film producer, people asked her all kinds of questions, including why she took so long to speak out.

“But I know when your body is abused, you remember it always. I don’t care when the complaint is filed but action should be taken,” Gandhi said last week.


Hema Malini, Maneka Gandhi advocate death sentence for rapists of children below 12 years

New Delhi: Veteran actor and BJP MP Hema Malini today echoed the views expressed by Union Minister Maneka Gandhi and demanded that rapists of children below 12 years must be “hanged to death”.

Yesterday, Maneka said that she had asked her department to work on a proposal to amend the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to bring in the provision of death penalty for the rape of a minor below the age of 12 years.

Taking to Twitter, Hema Malini called for a national movement against “animals who don’t spare even babies” and said media should also support the cause.

Malini, who is the BJP MP from Mathura, tweeted.

she added.

In the present POCSO law, there is no provision for capital punishment, with the maximum sentence being life imprisonment for penetrative sexual assault as well aggravated penetrative sexual assault.

In Kathua, an eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Bakerwal community had gone missing from near her house on January 10 and a week later, her body was found in the same area.

In the Unnao case, a 17-year-old girl has alleged that she was raped by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar at his residence on June 4 last year.

Maneka Gandhi’s reaction was probably the second case of a minister from the ruling party coming forward with a comment on the spate of rapes in the country, in particular the cases of Kathua and Unnao.

On 12 April, Minister of State External Affairs Gen VK Singh had tweeted: “We have failed Ashifa as humans. But she will not be denied justice.”

Then the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had told reporters: “Kathua rape victim’s family should get justice.”

On 14 April, United Nations Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres expressed hope that the authorities will bring perpetrators of the brutal crime to justice Terming as “horrific” the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district.