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The death of a Judge or a murder most foul

It soon became obvious to Takle that the death of Loya was anything but normal as deeply disturbing questions emerged about Loya’s death

CBI Justice Loya : Image source "Scroll"

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It was 11.05 PM in Mumbai when Sharrmila Loya received a routine call on her mobile phone from his husband Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, 48 year old judge who had accompanied his colleagues to attend the marriage of fellow judge, Sapna Joshi’s daughter in Nagpur. Judge Loya was not very keen to make this trip but was persuaded by two of his fellow judges and he relented. Loya, while talking to his wife told her that he attended the marriage and also participated in the reception which followed the main function. He further told her that he was staying at Ravi Bhavan, a Govt guest house in Nagpur’s tony locality of Civil Lines. That was the last thing Sharmila heard from her husband as on the very next day on 1st December, 2014, when it was still early in the morning in Mumbai when she received a telephone call from Nagpur telling her that her husband is no more.

Judge Loya’s family was too shocked by his sudden death and did not speak to media then. It was only last year in November,2016 when Loya’s niece Nupur Biyani approached Niranjan Takle, the journalist ,when he was visiting Pune and shared her concerns about the suspicious circumstances under which his uncle died two years back in Nagpur. After talking to Nupur, Takle in the span of next one year met her mother, Anuradha Biyani, judge Loya’s sister and a medical doctor in Govt service, Loya’s other sister Sarita Mandhane and Loya’s father, Harkishan. He also tracked down and spoke to Govt servants in Nagpur who witnessed the procedures followed with regard to the judges’s body after his death.

It soon became obvious to Takle that the death of Loya was anything but normal as deeply disturbing questions emerged about Loya’s death, questions about inconsistencies in the reported account of the death; about the procedures followed after his death; and about the condition of the judge’s body when it was handed over to the family. Though the family asked for an inquiry commission to probe Loya’s death but it was never set up.

Harkishan Loya, in November 2016 shared with Takle that an earthquake has shattered his life when in Latur on the morning of 1st December, he was told that his son Brij passed away in the night and after conducting his post

mortem they are sending his body to his ancestral village of Gategaon, near Latur.

The family of Judge Loya was told that he had chest pain in the night and was taken to Dande Hospital, a private hospital by auto rickshaw where initial treatment was given and from there he was shifted to Meditrina , another private Hospital in city but was declared dead on arrival. Now this Dande Hospital can hardly be described as a Hospital as even basic equipments like ECG machine was not in working condition.

Loya’s death on 1st December found only routine mention in most of the newspapers; the Indian Express described it as a death caused by cardiac arrest which was refuted by Anuradha, Loya’s sister who is herself a doctor. She said that her family didn’t have any history of heart ailment and their father Harkrishna , who was more than 80 is still in very good shape. In fact her brother used to take her advice on even routine things like acidity and cough and so it was not possible for his brother to hide such a serious ailment from her.

The Sohrabuddin encounter case was the only one which Loya was presiding at the time of his death and this was probably the most watched case in the country that time as BJP’s national President Amit Shah was prime accused in the case. The Supreme Court in 2012 had asked to transfer the case from Gujarat to Maharashtra and made an observation that to have a fair trial it was necessary to shift it outside the state. The Supreme Court had also ordered to conduct the trial from beginning to end by a single judge but that was thoroughly violated as the first judge JT Utpat was transferred from the CBI special court and the second judge was too replaced by Loya in the middle of 2014.

Judge Utpat has reprimanded Amit Shah when he appeared in his court on 6th June, 2014 for seeking exemption from appearance in the court and on the very next date on 20th June he was absent. Utpat fixed the next hearing on the 26th June but on 25th June itself he was transferred. On 31st October, Loya asked why Shah failed to appear in the court despite being present in Mumbai on that day and set 15th December as the next date of hearing.

By going through Takle’s story a chilling description emerges of what Loya went through while presiding over Sohrabuddin’s case and of what happened following his death. Anuradha, who is based in Dhule received a call in the morning of 1st December, 2014 from a judge named Barde who told her to travel to Gategaon which is around 30 km from Latur to receive his brother’s

dead body. She was also told that a post-mortem was conducted on the body and the possible cause of death was heart attack.

Loy’a father, who was in Latur that time also received a call from a person who introduced himself as Ishwar Baheti, an RSS worker. Baheti told him to rush to his village Gategaon where his dead son’s body was being sent. Now how this man Ishwar Baheti came to know about the death of Judge Loya is a mystery. It was late evening when Biyani reached her ancestral home at Gategaon where her other sisters had already reached and were anxiously waiting for her. The body of Loya was delivered at his home around 11.30 PM and to everyone’s surprise it was only a hearse van driver who was accompanying the body.

The two judges, on whose insistence Joya had gone to attend the marriage were not there, judge Barde who informed the family about his death was also not there. It was very unusual to see the kind of treatment given to a dead CBI judge who is entitled to have a personal security and was supposed to be treated in much better way.

Anuradha, during one of the meetings with Takle remembered that when she saw the body of his dead brother, she immediately felt that something is not right. There were bloodstains on the neck and on the back of shirt, the glasses were below the neck and there were also blood stains on the collar of the shirt. His belt was twisted in the opposite direction and the pant clip was also broken. Loya’s another sister Mandhane said that she too saw blood on the neck and injury on the back side of head. His father Harkishan said that his son’s shirt had blood on it from his left shoulder to his waist.

Strangely, in the post-mortem report issued by the Govt Medical College Hospital in Nagpur, under a category describing the condition of clothes, whether wet, stained with blood or soiled with vomit or faecal matter, there was a handwritten entry which simply described “Dry”. Biyani is herself a doctor and she knows it better than anyone that in a post-mortem, bleeding cannot take place since heart and lung of a dead person doesn’t function. She even asked for a second post-mortem but was discouraged by her friends and colleagues as this would complicate the issue. The family was scared but was forced to carry out Loya’s funeral at his village.

Loya’s mobile phone was only returned on the fourth day after his death and that too, not from Police but from Baheti, the RSS worker. Almost every call detail and message was deleted but one particular message which was still in the inbox read “Sir, stay safe from these people”. The legal experts say that post mortem is only asked for when death takes place in suspicious circumstances and in that situation panchnama is mandatory. As per legal

procedure, the police is supposed to seal all the personal belongings of the deceased, list them all in a panchnama and hand them over to the family but according to Biyani the family never received any panchnama.

Now, what happened between the intervening night of 30th November, 2014 and morning of 1st December that a perfectly healthy middle aged man with no health issues whatsoever suddenly died and he was no ordinary man, he was a judge in whose court, the future of one of the most powerful man of ruling party was at stake. There were questions which were shouting to be answered like how and why Loya was taken to Hospital in an auto rickshaw when the nearest auto stand was two kilometers away from Ravi Bhavan, where he was staying. People, normally find it difficult to get an auto even during day time in this locality and how the men accompanying Loya found an auto rickshaw at midnight was perplexing.

Why his family was not informed as soon as Loya died and why their approval for post-mortem wasn’t taken and under what circumstances it was decided to do the post-mortem when judge died of heart attack. What kind of medication was given to judge at the Dande hospital and where is the record of that treatment? Ravi Bhavan was a VIP guest house which regularly hosts ministers, IAS,IPS and judges and it’s almost impossible that there would not have been any vehicle at that time in the guest house to take Loya to Hospital. Who were the VIP guests staying in Ravi Bhavan on November 30 and December 2014?

The two judges with whom Loya went to Nagpur didn’t meet his family for almost two months after his death. Much later, when they met Biyani, they told her that her brother experienced chest pain at 12.30 AM and they took him to Dande Hospital in an auto rickshaw where Loya himself climbed the stairs, where some medication was offered to him. From there he was taken to Meditrina Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

Even the post-mortem report which was conducted at the Govt medical college raises several questions as the every page of report is signed by the senior police inspector of Sadar Police station, Nagpur and also by someone who signed with the words “Maiyatacha chulabhau” or the paternal cousin brother of the deceased. This so called cousin of Loya received his body after the post-mortem was conducted but Loya’s father is not even aware of any such nephew residing in Nagpur.

The report, further states that the body was transferred from Meditrina Hospital to the Govt Medical College Hospital by the Sitabardi Police station, Nagpur. It also notes that Loya’s body was brought at the hospital around

10.50 AM on 1st December, 2014, the post-mortem began at 10.55 AM and it was over by 11.55 AM. On contrary, the Police report says that Loya died on 1.12.14 at 06.15 hours after experiencing chest pains at 4.00 AM. It also explained that he was first brought to Dande hospital and then subsequently shifted to Meditrina Hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Now there seems incongruity as the time of death is reported as 06.15 AM while according to Loya’s family members, they began receiving calls about his death from as early as 5-00AM onwards. During investigation, it was found that Govt Medical College in Nagpur and Sitabardi Police station were informed about the death by midnight and there were two sources who confirmed to have seen the dead body of judge during the night only. The same source at the medical college, who was privy to the post-mortem examination, also revealed that there were instructions from superiors to cut up the body and also stitch it up as if a post-mortem on it was carried out.

The report mentioned the cause of death as “coronary artery insufficiency” but according to a very renowned cardiologist, the causes for such coronary artery insuffiency are usually old age, family history of heart ailment, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Anuradha Biyani pointed out that her brother had none of these problems and he was a very fit man and a teetotaler too and also played his favourite sport of table tennis for two hours every day.

Biyani, who is herself a very senior doctor found it very hard to believe the official version of her brother’s death but she is not the only one with doubt and lot of unanswered questions in her mind as there are lot of people who share her pain and anguish. Will this death of a judge will go as another unresolved death mystery or the family of Brij Loya will get the divine justice?

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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Once dreaded ‘queen of outlaws’ Phoolan now a ‘veerangana’

Phoolan Devi emerged as an icon for the Nishad community (boatmen) but after her brutal death in 2001, the community was not given adequate representation by political parties.

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phoolan devi Bandit Queen

Bandit queen-turned-politician Phoolan Devi has been conferred the title of ‘veerangana’ (a brave warrior) by the Eklavya Welfare Society in Jalaun district.

Phoolan’s native village Garha Ka Purwa is located in Jalaun district and the Eklavya Welfare Society represents the Nishad community to which Phoolan belonged.

“The title of Veerangna has been conferred on Phoolan Devi because she was a true warrior — she fought for her honour and later, for the welfare of the oppressed.

“She deserves her and the young generations need to be told about her contribution. We will soon install her statue here,” said Gopalm Nishad, a member of the Eklavya Welfare Society.

Phoolan Devi, a bandit in the ravines across Uttar Pradesh and present Chhattisgarh and also Madhya Pradesh, had hit the headlines when she massacred 22 Thakurs in Behmai in Kanpur in February 1981 to avenge her sexual exploitation by a Thakur gang led by Lala Ram and Sri Ram.

In 1994, then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh withdrew the cases against Phoolan and she contested and won the Lok Sabha elections from Mirzapur in 1996 on a Samajwadi Party ticket.

Phoolan Devi emerged as an icon for the Nishad community (boatmen) but after her brutal death in 2001, the community was not given adequate representation by political parties.

The Nishad community constitutes about 4.5 per cent of the state’s population and are known to be among the Most Backward Castes (MBC).

The Nishad community has a sizeable population in about 40 assembly segments. Since the past one decade, they are trying to be included in the Scheduled Caste’s category but their demand has been caught in legal hassles.

An attempt was made to install Phoolan’s statue in Gorakhpur in 2016 but the attempt was foiled by the district administration that claimed that requisite permission for same had not been obtained.

The issue had revived an intense caste war between OBCs and MBCs in Uttar Pradesh.

Last year, Phoolan’s mother, Moola Devi, 90, who still lives in the village in abject poverty, had released the Chambal Manifesto on the eve of Lok Sabha elections to press for development of the Chambal region.

The 4-page manifesto was a compilation of the demands for the region which included the formation of the Chambal Commission for a scientific study of the issues and challenges faced by the people living in Chambal region along with solutions.

More than 40 years after she picked up the gun and turned into a bandit, following a dispute over four bighas of land with her cousin Maya Din, Phoolan Devi’s family in her native village in Jalaun district is still waiting to reclaim that elusive piece of land.

Meanwhile, the land that was initially owned by Phoolan’s father, Devi Din Mallah, and after his death, it still eludes her mother Moola Devi as the rightful owner.

Maya Din, son of late Devi Din’s elder brother allegedly grabbed the plot and did not allow Phoolan’s mother to till the land. Maya Din claimed the land was passed on to him as legacy.

Moola Devi said, “My daughter Phoolan fought with Maya Din for this land. Maya Din and his men ridiculed her and hurled abuses at her. She got together some girls from the village and staged a dharna on the land. The village elders tried to remove her from the land but failed. Then Maya Din hurled a brick at her and she fell unconscious. After this, she became a ‘baaghi’ (rebel).”

It is said that Maya Din ‘sold’ her off to Lal Ram and Shri Ram — heads of a Thakur gang of dacoits — who not only raped her but also held her captive.

A few years later, Phoolan Devi fell in love with another dacoit Vikram Mallah, who was later killed by the Lala Ram and Shri Ram gang.

To avenge the wrong done to her by the Thakur gang, Phoolan Devi gradually built up her own gang and the rest, as they say, is history.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Theme, Date and history of the day

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. It is celebrated on December 3 all around the world. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

IDPD mobilizes support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities, promotes awareness-raising about disability issues and draws attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.

UN agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector are motivated to support IDPD by collaborating with organizations for people with disabilities to arrange events and activities.

International Day of People with Disability: Theme

The theme for IDPwD 2020 is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.

Every year the UN announces a theme to observe for International Day of People with Disability. The annual theme provides an overarching focus on how society can strive for inclusivity through the removal of physical, technological and attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities.

This has been occurring since 1992 when the General Assembly announced 3 December as the International Day of Disabled Persons.

National Disability Strategy 2010–2020

In Australia, the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 commits all governments to a nationwide approach aimed at improving the lives of disabled people, their families and carers.

The Strategy’s ten-year national framework for reform concentrates on better inclusion for people with disabilities and seeks to create a society that enables people with disabilities to fulfill their potential as equal citizens.

On the 2012 International Day of People with Disability, the United Kingdom government introduced mandatory work for disabled people who received welfare benefits in order to “Improve disabled peoples chances of getting work by mandatory employment”.

A program is also launched on December 3 across India to serve the differently-able community of the country as an initiative called Accessible India Campaign under the Article 9 of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

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BJP leaders brainstorm for second day, say govt ready for talks with farmers

Union Home Minister Amit Shah met Agriculture Minister Narender Singh Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam.

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Farmers on Protest

Eager to break the deadlock with famers who are agitating for scrapping the new farm laws, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership held meetings for a second consecutive day on Monday and sent out the message that the Union government is ready for talks.

Union home minister Amit Shah met Union minister for agriculture, NS Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam. A senior party functionary said, “The message from the top is clear that the laws are not anti-farmers and that the farmers are being misled. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that laws will offer better opportunity for the farmers.”

The functionary said the government is ready to sit across the table and discuss the new laws and “address whatever concerns” the farmers have.

Speaking in Varanasi, the PM on Monday said the laws have given farmers new options and legal protection. He lashed out at the opposition for “misleading” the farmers and said earlier decisions of government were opposed now rumours have become the basis for opposition and propaganda is being served even though the laws favour the farmers.

The party has also opted for a cautious, measured response to the agitation. Even though it is pinning the blame on the opposition for provoking the protest, it is taking care not to rile the farmers. “The farmers are innocent. They are being misled by those with vested interests. The laws have barely been implemented and their impact is yet to be ascertained, so how can people rush to call these anti-farmers,” said Rajkuamr Chahar, head of the BJP’s Kisan Morcha.

He said the Punjab unit of the Morcha has been communicating with the farmers’ representatives and has relayed the government’s willingness to address their concerns.

On Monday, even as the party tried to diffuse the anger against the bills, its ally the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) joined the chorus for the rollback of the laws. Rajasthan lawmaker and RLP chief, Hanuman Beniwal, shot off a letter to Shah, seeking the reversal of the laws.

“….In view of the countrywide sentiment in support of the ongoing farmers’ movement, the recently introduced three bills related to agriculture should be immediately withdrawn. (The Centre must) implement all recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, and immediately hold dialogue with farmers in Delhi,” he said.

The BJP, however, played down the ally’s demand. Its national spokesperson on economic issues, Gopal Krishna Agarwal said, “We assure all, including our NDA partners that farmers’ well-being and welfare are in our heart. Large scale market reforms are needed and that has always been the consensus.”

He went on to add that while the BJP opposes misgivings about the APMC mandis being dismantled and MSP being withdrawn, the opposition is politicizing the issue along with the Arhtiyas (commission agents) and middleman.

“We have offered all the basic facilities to farmers, drinking water, toilets, shelters and medical facilities. They have been given permission to protest and also been invited for dialogue. We are open for all discussions on the merits or demerits of the three bills. If farmers have certain serious concerns, we are ready to listen to them,” he said.

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