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Kathua, Unnao rape cases: Mr Modi action is needed

The ruling BJP did not take note of the crime against women until the Opposition, Civil society, media and the celebrities raised the inaction by the government against the powerful men accused of rape.

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Kathua Rape Case

Unprecedented  and shocking incidents are happening in Independent India where BJP ministers and lawyers are defending the rapists of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath didn’t allow the police to arrest BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar on the allegations of rape made by a 17-year-old girl on the grounds that case is being probed.

Compelled by the Congress to speak up on the ongoing incidents of rape cases that have jolted India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured the country that no culprit would be spared and complete justice would be done. “Our daughters will definitely get justice,” said the Prime Minister.

Union Minister Smriti Irani termed Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s candle march as an “attempt to politicise” the incidents and said: “As a woman, I request victim-shaming to be stopped.”

Smriti must understand that shaming is being done by the ruling party at the Centre, who allow respective BJP governments in the states to embolden the accused and are encouraging the rape culture with no justice for the victim in sight.

“Hindu Ekta Manch” held a rally holding Indian tricolor flag in Jammu with full police protection against the arrest of a ‘rapist and murderer’ shows a glaring example of how ruling regime has crossed every limit of humanity and ethics.

The girl’s father Mohd Yousuf lodged a complaint on January 12 at the Hiranagar station that his daughter who “had gone for grazing horses in the nearby forest on January 10” and had not returned.

On 17th January dead body of Asifa was recovered. On January 22, the case was transferred to the Crime Branch.

The most alarming situation was witnessed when lawyers from one community on April 9 prevented the crime branch of Jammu and Kashmir police from presenting a chargesheet against the seven accused in the brutal gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old Bakarwal girl in the court and instead were able to file the chargesheet on April 11.

The Modi government at the Centre and the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state of Jammu and Kashmir are defending the BJP leaders Lal Singh Chaudhary and Chander Prakash Ganga who supported the protests that were led by a group called “Hindu Ekta Manch” supporting the Rapists. Now, there are reports that the two BJP ministers in Jammu and Kashmir who joined rallies in support of the Kathua accused on Friday resigned.

The accused included 60-year-old Sanji Ram, a former revenue official, Special Police Officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, Head Constable Tilak Raj, civilian Parvesh Kumar and Sanji’s minor son Vishala.

Image result for The protesting lawyers alleged that the Muslim nomads were trying to alter the demographics of Jammu

Lawyers protest on behalf of the accused

The protesting lawyers alleged that the Muslim nomads were trying to alter the demographics of Jammu. The entire incident was given a communal or religious angle that triggered communal tension and protests in the state so as to divert the attention of the country from the brutal gang-rape and murder of a minor girl from a Bakarwal community.

The ruling BJP did not take note of the crime against women until the Opposition, Civil society, media and the celebrities raised the inaction by the government against the powerful men accused of rape.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi led a candlelight vigil at midnight  against the ruling BJP government for shielding the culprits in the Kathua and Unnao rape cases and to protest the growing crimes against women in the country.

Hours after his midnight candlelight march at India Gate, Congress chief said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence” over the rape incidents in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao was “unacceptable”.

The Modi ministers have started issuing statements one by one after the civil society, Bollywood personalities and the Opposition have questioned the type of nationalism being displayed by the ruling dispensation.

Taking Suo-Moto Cognisance of the conduct of lawyers in Kathua rape case, the Supreme Court on Friday said access to justice can’t be impeded by lawyers. The top court issued a notice to Bar Council of India and also to Jammu HC Bar Association and Kathua Bar Association.

On the contrary, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi accused the Opposition of communalising the Kathua and Unnao rape incidents and said they should not have protested until an investigation was conducted. Modi government should realize that in Kathua rape case, it took three months for the crime branch to file the charge sheet and in Unnao rape case it took 10 months to file an FIR. It was after sharp criticism from opponents and public outcry that an FIR was lodged against  BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar under Sections 363, 366, 376, 506 and POCSO Act.

Giving a childish argument to the media, Bharatiya Janata Party MP and spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said: “The two BJP ministers were misled by a few people.”

It is pertinent to mention that in 2013,  controversy broke out when two news portals released CDs of purported telephonic conversations between then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi aide Amit Shah, who was then state Home Minister, and two top state police officials relating to snooping on a woman in 2009.

Maneka Gandhi said that she intends to ask for the death penalty for those who rape children below 12 years of age. “Am deeply, deeply disturbed by the rape case in Kathua, and all the recent rape cases. I and the ministry intend to bring an amendment to the POCSO Act asking for the death penalty for the rape of children below 12 years of age,” said Maneka. POCSO is the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The most important point is that the victim’s families continue to live under threats especially when the accused enjoy political power or patronage.

In a democracy, when government fails to perform its duties, the Judiciary, independent and important pillar, is bound to restore the faith of the people.

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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Xi-Modi summit:China regional power, India to remain cautious

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There should not be high expectations from the informal summit between PM Modi and President Xi in the Wuhan on the banks of Yangtze as India has already bowed to please regional power China by cancelling the events of Dalai lama in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi jinping are likely to discuss US President Donald Trump’s “protectionist” trade policy, changes in the world order,bilateral issues including China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

India and China have been competing for political ,economic and strategic influence in the region.

Moreover,Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is desperately searching for a new slogan to win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,is eager to enter into elite club of 48-member NSG Nuclear Suppliers Group and China remains biggest obstacle as it has been opposing India’s bid primarily on the grounds that Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

China has knitted close ties with countries in India’s neighbourhood and invested billions of dollars in the economies of Pakistan, Bangladesh,Nepal,Sri Lanka and the Maldives.In Addition,Beijing has been pursuing territorial and maritime claims .

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who invited the leaders of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional cooperation) countries and Mauritius to attend his swearing-in ceremony to convey the message that he is the leader of this region and foreign policy remains his top priority.But ,alas,his foreign policy has failed so miserably that China,not only influences this region but also through One Belt,One Road project, China has inarguably increased its global influence, social and cultural cooperation.

Xi Jinping’s ambitious Silk Road Economic Belt has three routes connecting China to Europe (via Central Asia), the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean (through West Asia), and South Asia.

Beijing and New Delhi are rivals and are already engaged in territorial disputes and the India-China border covering the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) is disputed between the two sides and notably, Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh to be the part of its southern Tibet. The territory, a key focus of a 1962 war fought between the Asian giants.

Another hotly contested territory by both countries is Aksai Chin, which New Delhi considers part of its Jammu and Kashmir state while China believes the zone belongs to its Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Talks to resolve the boundary dispute have been stalled but standoffs between the Indian forces and the Chinese PLA
has emerged as a common phenomena.China has taken the 72-day military confrontation in 2017 on the Doklam plateau at the trijunction of Bhutan, India and China seriously and President  Xi Jinping vowed to protect “every inch” of his country’s territory in a nationalistic speech at the annual National People’s Congress in which he claims that his nation was ready to “fight bloody battles” against its enemies.

On the contrary, the official Chinese media commented, “The Modi-Xi Jinping Wuhan summit could be as significant as the one between former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and then leader of China Deng Xiaoping in 1988,the meeting can be as significant as the one in 1988… and will set the course for bilateral ties.”

Modi government had criticised President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative but how Xi is going to convince Modi for a India-Nepal-China economic corridor .China has proposed a India-Nepal-China economic corridor with multi-dimensional connectivity through the Himalayas after Nepalese Foreign Minister held talks with his Chinese counterpart.

Ahead of Xi-Modi summit on April 27-28, Chinese officials have made enough positive signals : promised to resume the Kailash Mansarovar yatra through the Nathu La route for pilgrims and data sharing on rivers such as Brahmaputra and Sutlej which originate in China and flow into India and to consider India’s major concerns seriously.

Meanwhile,External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, during her address at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting also attended by Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif,
raised the issue of global terrorism and protectionism.

Terrorism is an enemy of the basic human rights: of life, peace and prosperity,the criminal terrorist militias are not impeded by borders as they seek to destroy the architecture of international stability and build walls of fear in societies that believe in pluralism,Sushma said.

“We strongly believe that our fight against terrorism should not only seek to eliminate terrorists but should also
identify and take strong measures against States that encourage, support and finance terrorism and provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups without mentioning any country”,Sushma said.

It is pertinent to mention that Delhi has also embraced the Trump Administration’s concept of Indo-Pacific and revived the quadrilateral security dialogue with Washington, Tokyo and Canberra.

While North Korean leader Kim Jong un’s friendly meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing has brought China into a central position by reinserting into the diplomatic negotiations.

India is trying to reset relations with Beijing but China’srise as Asian great power status  and influence in the region has diminished India’s geographical advantage.

While rolling out its “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy at the US- India-Japan trilateral dialogue,US official Alex Wong said “it is in the US’ interest that India plays a more weighty role in the region.”

US President Donald Trump initiated US-China trade war which has wider implications as  US Department of Commerce banned American companies from selling components to state-owned Chinese phone maker ZTE for a period of seven years.

India, which is an ally of US and after it signed an agreement on sharing military logistics (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement), it will be interesting to watch the outcome of Modi-Xi summit but Prime Minister should be cautious to safeguard national interests as it should not give ammunition to the Opposition that may attack the BJP led NDA government for any wrong decision..

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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86% NCR residents cite lack of severe punishment for sexual harassment: Study

For the survey, 5,221 responses were collected from Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida to understand the factors and possible remedies of sexual harassment against women and girls in public places.

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sexual harassment

New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Lack of severe punishment is considered as the most rampant cause of sexual harassment by 86 per cent respondents in the NCR region, as per as study.

The study, done by Indian Institute for Integrated Women and Child Development (ISI-WCD) and released by the Women and Child Development Ministry, was one of 18 projects the ministry had sponsored, between 2015-17, in areas like economic empowerment of women, skill development, child trafficking, nutrition management and others.

For the survey, 5,221 responses were collected from Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida to understand the factors and possible remedies of sexual harassment against women and girls in public places.

According to the survey, 84 per cent of the responsdents think that availability of pornographic materials on mobile phone is also a cause of sexual harassment in NCR region while 83 per cent believes it is because of easy access to social media site Facebook or the internet.

“Revealing dresses of women has been seen as the reason for sexual assault by 53 per cent, 35 per cent and 37 per cent by residents of Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida respectively while informal behaviour of women has also been seen as the reason by 49 per cent, 30 per cent and 70 per cent from the three locations respectively,” the study notes.

The study also revealed that 35 per cent of men and 50 per cent women have perceived sexual aggression in men as responsible for sexual harassment of women.

It is also found that 70 per cent of the respondents have said to face sexual abuse from work partners or colleagues, 63 per cent from office seniors, 48 per cent from friends and 38 per cent from teachers.

According to the study, 87 per cent respondents agreed that women suffer from verbal abuse, 88 per cent have suffered from physical abuse and 94 per cent stated that they are being stared at.

On enhancing safety for women in public places, 96 per cent respondents suggested that crowded buses or stations should be under constant camera surveillance, 93 per cent wanted public places well lit, 90 per cent prefers frequent police patrolling, 94 per cent said legal punishments should be made harsher while 92 per cent said judicial disposals should be made quicker.

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Kim’s message: North Korea will not abandon its nuclear weapons

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North Korean Kim Jong un

As North Korea announced that it will cease nuclear weapons and missile testing is considered as a major boost to the upcoming meeting between Supreme leader Kim Jong un and US President Donald Trump.

But Kim’s statement has also made it clear that North Korea is only freezing the testing of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles but shows it clear intentions of not giving up the production of warheads or nuclear program or eliminate its existing arsenal .

while Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera of Japan at the Pentagon and discussed ways to further strengthen the U.S.- Japan Alliance, positively noting the increasing role the Japan Self-Defense Force is playing in regional security, including UNSCR enforcement and mutual asset protection operations.

Recognizing the threat posed by North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and missile programs, Secretary Mattis and Defense Minister Onodera has affirmed the importance of close cooperation among the United States, Japan, Korea and other like-minded nations in providing credible military backing to the maximum pressure campaign.

Additionally, the ministers finally agreed to continue enhancing the alliance capability to deter and respond to any North Korean aggression.

Mattis also discussed the recently released U.S. National Defense Strategy, and welcomed Japan’s determination to similarly review its National Defense Program Guidelines by the end of this year, the statement said.

Both leaders reaffirmed the importance of continued progress on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including recent efforts to realize the permanent location for a field carrier landing facility, the statement said.

Trump will find it difficult to persuade Kim to dismantle the entire nuclear arsenal of North Korea in exchange
for sanctions relief and compensation as Supreme leader takes the nuclear weapons program as a matter of pride.

Main aim of International community is to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear missile programmes since the early 1990s but in 2017 it tested an H-bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).

North Korea is seeking to replace 1953 Korean War armistice with a peace treaty and the most significant issue for Kim is to lift the sanctions which is hurting DPRK’s economy.

Blog : By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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