New Delhi: Attacking the Modi government over the “suffering” of farmers, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said it has given them no relief and wondered if it considered them “inferior” to businessmen who have been given concessions and loan waivers running into lakhs of crores. Union minister Rajnath Singh countered Gandhi’s charge in Lok Sabha, as he blamed the long rule of the Congress for the plight of farmers and asserted that no prime minister has done as much for peasants as has Narendra Modi. Also Read – Squadrons which participated in Balakot air strike awarded citations on IAF Day Taking up the issue in the Zero Hour, Gandhi in his brief speech mostly focused on Kerala and made specific mention of problems facing farmers in Wayanad, from where he has been elected to Lok Sabha. No relief has been given to farmers by the government, he said, claiming that businessmen have been granted concessions of Rs 4.3 lakh crores and loan waivers of Rs 5.5 lakh crore. He asked why the government thinks farmers are “inferior” to rich businessmen. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documents on Reliance penalty This is the first time that Gandhi has raised an issue in the 17th Lok Sabha In his reply, Singh said the government’s move to give Rs 6000 to farmers will lead to a rise in their income by 20-25 per cent and claimed that more farmers committed suicide before the BJP-led dispensation came to power. “It is not that the condition of farmers deteriorated in the last one, two or four years. Those who ruled the country for a long time are responsible for their state. The amount of increase in MSP (minimum support price) that our prime minister has effected has not been done by anybody in independent India’s history,” he claimed. Gandhi said farmers are suffering throughout the country and are in terrible condition in Kerala, he said, adding that one farmer ended his life in Wayanad. Farmers have been facing threats of immediate eviction from their properties, he said, as banks from which they had taken loans have begun recover process. 18 farmers in Kerala have committed suicide due to this, he added. Modi had made a lot of promises to farmers and the government should fulfil them, Gandhi said. As soon as Gandhi finished his speech, other Congress leaders wanted to raise the issue of desertions of MLAs from their party’s ranks in Karnataka and Goa, for which they have blamed the BJP. With the Speaker not permitting them to speak on the matter, they staged a walkout and were joined by other opposition parties like the TMC and BSP.
thepriority Theme Blog Text Area
Use this area to highlight something important you want to draw your visitors attention to, or just remove it in the Customize area in the backend.
Blog Title Goes Here
Ghaziabad: A 3rd-year Dalit student of Law at Ghaziabad-based Inmantec Institute committed suicide after being harassed by his upper caste classmates — a girl and three boys, police said on Saturday. According to the police, Vipin Verma (20) hanged himself at his home in Shastri Nagar area of Ghaziabad on Thursday, but the FIR was lodged by his father Police Constable Virendra Kumar at the Kavi Nagar police station late on Friday night. Police said, Neha Chaudhary and his friends Anu, Ankur and Arun had been harassing Vipin since June 14 over his Dalit identity. Vipin shared his plight with his mother Bhagwati Devi, who consoled him and asked him to focus on his studies. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic items According to the FIR, Bhagwati Devi then shared the problem with her husband, who contacted the group over phone on Thursday to resolve the issue. The group assured Virendra Kumar not to harass his son again. But that very evening between 5 and 6 p.m., Vipin hanged himself at his home. Virendra Kumar in his complaint said: “I am a Dalit and the accused are influential persons of higher caste, so my complaint was delayed and the accused are still at large.” However, Superintendent of Police – City Shlok Kumar said: “We have registered the complaint, investigation is underway. We will arrest the accused soon.”
New Delhi: Vedanta Group firm Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) Friday posted a 7.9 per cent fall in net profit to Rs 1,765 crore for the quarter ended June 30. The company had posted a net profit of Rs 1,918 crore in the year-ago period, HZL said in a filing to the BSE. “The resultant net profit for the quarter was Rs 1,765 crore, down eight per cent year-on-year and down 12 per cent sequentially primarily due to lower Ebitda, partly offset by lower tax rate,” the statement said. HZL CEO Sunil Duggal said that the drop in net profit is mainly due to fall in the metal prices on the London Metal Exchange. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsThe company’s revenue from operations dropped to Rs 4,924 crore in the April-June quarter, compared with Rs 5,258 crore in the year-ago period, the filing said. The total expenses during the quarter increased to Rs 3,073 crore, against Rs 2,995 crore in the year-ago period, the filing said. HZL Chairman Kiran Agarwal said, “Our expansion projects are on track and as they near completion, our position as an industry leader with large sustainable operations gets strengthened. We are one of the lowest-cost producers with world-class assets which can deliver high returns to all our stakeholders in any market environment.” Also Read – Coking coal shipments rise 15 pc to 29 MT at 12 state-run ports in Apr-SepDuggal said production volume is expected to trend up in the coming quarters and along with internal efficiencies, technology and digitisation initiatives, costs to progressively reduce. “As we approach the conclusion of 1.2 MTPA (million tonne per annum) expansion, the journey towards 1.35 MTPA has been initiated. For this, we have ramped up our exploration to leverage the potential of existing deposits and new ore bodies to secure our future.” The company, he said, was doing a lot of activities on metal and mineral recovery and added that HZL was “engaging with global consultants for taking next phase of growth”. The firm’s mined metal production was 2,13,000 tonne, up one per cent from a year ago, on the back of higher ore production offset by lower grades. HZL said its integrated metal output was 2,19,000 tonne, a rise of three per cent from the year-ago period. Integrated zinc production was 1,72,000 tonne, flat year-on-year in line with mined metal production. Shares of the company closed at Rs 219.75 apiece on the BSE, down 2.33 per cent from the previous close.
Ingredients All-purpose Flour2 cup Butterscotch Pudding Mix100 g Baking Soda2 tsp Salt1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon1 tbsp Ground Ginger1/2 tsp Ground Cloves¼ tsp Crystallized Ginger1/3 cup Butter1 cup White Sugar1 cup Brown Sugar 1 cup Eggs4 Vanilla Extract1 tsp Pumpkin Puree450 gPreparation Preheat an oven to 175°C. Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, and crystallized ginger in a bowl; set aside. Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin puree with the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. (Courtesy: www.allrecipes.com)
No matter the ulterior motives behind Pakistan PM’s unanticipated statement admitting the presence of 30,000 to 40,000 active militants on his soil, it was pleasant news for India, who has forever been arguing the same, majorly due to being hurt by the activities of the same militants. No one expected Imran Khan to state what he did during his visit. To put facts in line, Imran Khan cited the presence of militants, whose numbers draw a sharp contrast to those mentioned by Pakistan Army in April 2019. Following a crackdown on religious extremist institutions through FATF strictures, the Pakistan Army spokesperson had outrightly denied any presence of terror organisations in the country. However, Imran Khan notified the international community of at least “40 militant groups” active in the period following 9/11. Numbers provided by Khan also failed to match those submitted to FATF by his country and for this, Pakistan certainly has drawn up swords against it in the run-up to the next meeting of FATF in October where it faces the threat of being blacklisted. It can be examined that in Schedule-4 of Pakistan’s Anti-terrorism Act, the government was found to have only listed 8,000 active militants. Imran asserted the presence of as many as 40,000, if not more, which is about five times the mentioned number. Five times the number–no matter the expedited recruitment by terror outfits in Afghanistan and Kashmir–cannot be materialised in such a short span. Pakistan lied or its PM lied. Chances of former are higher since intelligence might as well corroborate the fact presented by Imran Khan. This reality, however, does not seem to aid Pakistan much in its deal with FATF. It is implied that Khan’s statement regarding the number of militants will draw abject criticism from the international community firstly for concealing the truth, followed by more cause to blacklist Pakistan at FATF meeting in October. But, the pertinent question which pops out of the box is whether PM’s statement in front of the international community was to atone to his country’s earlier lies and succumb to the FATF pressure or insert a wild card-type move for Pakistan to relay back up, this time with none other than US’s support. While the US-visit gave the much-needed boost to bilateral ties between the US and Pakistan, it is yet to be seen what impact would it have over Pakistan’s future. Through Imran Khan’s visit, Pakistan has surely brought back US attention to its shores; more so with the Afghanistan policy. The convergence of interests of both the US and Pakistan as far as Afghanistan is concerned is important in the wake of ongoing negotiations between the Taliban and the United States; Pakistan can hope to play a central figure in these negotiations. Afghanistan issue indeed has the capacity to bring back Pakistan and the United States on regular terms with the latter resuming military exercises that it had curbed last year along with security assistance. It is to be acknowledged that US’s interests will be better served through outright cooperation from Pakistan than through a rough patch–as was on display since last year. But, what Pakistan hopes to take away from Khan’s visit is the acknowledgement for honesty and support thereafter. It must not be forgotten that Pakistan remains under tremendous financial stress and Imran Khan has been doing whatever he can to rescue Pakistan from the shambolic economic status it was in when he assumed office. Under the vigilance of anti-terror financing watchdog FATF, Pakistan’s compliance with FATF’s Action Plan is the only way for the country to avoid getting blacklisted. Last time around, its all-weather friend China, as well as two more allies, came to its rescue when India and the others had assumed the adamant stance of blacklisting Pakistan and thereby isolating it from the global economy. Since then, Pakistan has been wary of the dangers that lie ahead if it does not live up to its commitments–curbing terror financing on its soil. Also Read – A compounding difficultyIrrespective of the honesty on display by Khan over the presence of militants, India would not shy from offering a mention of this fact that seems to have violated FATF’s confidence. For long, India has suffered the brunt of these terror outfits operating from Pakistani soil. Even in Khan’s term, the Pulwama carnage is a testament to this. Khan’s acceptance of a fact India has been always assured of is definitely a step in the right direction. But acceptance alone will not yield the desired results of global peace and anti-terror environment. Pakistan has to do more. Hafiz Saeed’s arrest was also a positive sign but his constant bails only signify lapse of commitment upon which Pakistan must dedicatedly build in order to avoid embarrassment at the FATF meeting. It would be interesting to see how Khan’s US card plays for an embattled Pakistan in the FATF gathering, given how US’s support and endorsement for Pakistan’s stance on anti-terrorism can turn the tables!
Kolkata: Health services at outpatient departments (OPDs) of various state-run hospitals and medical colleges in the state were partially affected on Wednesday, as the doctors stayed off-duty in response to the Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) call for a 24-hour nationwide strike to protest against the passage of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill in Lok Sabha.There was a long queue in many of the medical colleges in the city in the morning, as many doctors were not in the departments. As a result, the patients coming to the city’s medical colleges from various parts were serious inconvenienced. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe doctors in the hospitals observed the strike showing solidarity with the country’s apex body representing the medical fraternity, with around three lakh members across the country. The nationwide strike started from 6 am on Wednesday and would continue till Thursday morning. The IMA announced the withdrawal of non-essential services throughout the country, but they assured that all the emergency services would remain unaffected. It also urged the medical students to boycott classes. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe emergency wards at the city’s medical colleges performed normally. The health services in trauma care units, ICUs and ITUs of various government hospitals remained unaffected as well. Doctors from various hospitals took a part in a rally from NRS Medical College and Hospital to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, to protest against the NMC Bill. Doctors and the junior doctors alike cried anti-NMC Bill slogans and also carried posters and banners in their hands during the rally. The IMA argued that the NMC Bill seeks to replace the controversial Indian Medical Council (IMC). It also termed the NMC Bill as “draconian” as well as anti-people, anti-poor and anti-students. IMA also alleged that section 32 of the NMC Bill provides for licensing of 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practice modern medicine.
Bhadohi (UP): A statue of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar was desecrated by some unidentified people in Aurai area here, police said on Thursday. The statue, installed in a government primary school, was desecrated on Wednesday night, triggering tension in the area, they said. An FIR was registered in the matter, police said.
New Delhi: A civil engineer died on Independence Day after kite string (Manjha) slit his throat in Paschim Vihar area of Outer Delhi. Police said that they received as many as 15 calls related to injuries on humans and animals by the string. Police identified the deceased as Manav Sharma who lived in Budh Vihar area. At the time of incident, deceased was with his two sisters who lost their brother on Raksha Bandhan. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer) Rajender Singh Sagar told Millennium Post said, “They came to know that Manav was a civil engineer by profession. He was working with a private contractor. We have not seen his degree yet.” Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderAccording to police, Manav was driving his scooty when sharp strings slit his throats. “He was with his two younger sisters. They were at the elevated road in Paschim Vihar area when suddenly a kite string struck his throat and cut his windpipe and food pipe,” said Addl DCP Sagar. Adding further, the DCP said that the victim was rushed to a hospital where he was declared brought dead. The deceased with his sisters was going towards Harinagar area. Addl DCP Sagar further added that they also launched drive to arrest those persons who were selling banned Chinese Manjha (sharp kite-flying string made of cotton thread coated with glass, metal, or other sharp materials). Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsThese strings are used to cut competitors kites but in the past several years, they end up in killing or injuring people. In 2016, a three-and-a-half-year-old girl, a four-year-old boy and a 22-year-old man died after their throats were accidentally slit by manjha (kite thread) of stray kites in different parts of Delhi. On August 15, Delhi Police registered 17 cases against the illegal selling of kite string. The data accessed by Millennium Post revealed that in South West Delhi-3 cases, Dwarka-1 case, Outer-3 cases, North West-1, Rohini-1, South Delhi-3 and Central-5 cases were registered under section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of IPC against the illegal selling of banned kite threads. The city police also received as many as 15 PCR calls related to injuries by the kite strings. “Eight PCR calls were related to the injured people and rest were of birds injuries by the sharp thread,” data said.
Thane: An activist of the MNS allegedly committed suicide in Maharashtra’s Thane district, with some party leaders on Wednesday claiming he was “depressed and worried” over the Enforcement Directorate’s notice to MNS chief Raj Thackeray. However, the police said no suicide was found and a probe was underway to ascertain why he took the extreme step. A state spokesperson of the MNS said the deceased, Pravin Chowgule (27), was a loyal worker and fond of Thackeray, and his death was a “major loss for the party”. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ However, police sub-inspector Mahesh Kawde said Chowgule was an alcoholic and used to be frequently depressed. He allegedly doused himself with kerosene and set himself afire at his residence in Kalwa township around 10 pm on Tuesday, Kawde said. When some of Chowgule’s neighbours saw smoke emanating from his house, they rushed there and took him to a local hospital where doctors declared him brought dead, he said. “No suicide note was found at the spot,” Kawde said, adding that the police registered a case of accidental death and a probe was underway. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K He said Chowgule lived alone and used to work as a tourist car operator. “He used to be frequently depressed and was a liquor addict. He had earlier also attempted suicide on two-three occasions,” the official said. However, MNS Thane unit spokesman Nainesh Patankar said Chowgule took the extreme step as he was “depressed and angry” over the ED’s notice to Raj Thackeray. Prior to committing suicide, Chowgule expressed concern over this in posts on his Facebook page, he said. Another party worker said Chowgule was “worried” and constantly talking about Thackeray getting the ED notice. “We told him to calm down and take rest, but it did not work. We came to know of his extreme step on Tuesday evening and took him to a local hospital. Doctors told us he had 85 per cent burns and died before reaching to hospital,” he said. Meanwhile, a state spokesperson of the MNS said Chowgule was a loyal party worker and fond of Thackeray. “The party men knew him for his enthusiasm and he would paint his body in the party colour during every political event organised by the MNS…it is a major loss for the party,” he said. After getting information of his death, several MNS leaders and activists rushed to the hospital around midnight. Thackeray has been summoned by the ED in connection with a money laundering probe. He will appear before the ED on Thursday, the MNS earlier said. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Thackeray said he would “honour” the summons, and appealed to his party workers to maintain “peace and harmony” and not to indulge in violent protests. The ED is probing alleged irregularities related to loans and equity investment worth over Rs 450 crore by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) in Kohinoor CTNL Infrastructure Company, which is developing Kohinoor Square tower in Mumbai’s Dadar area.
New Delhi: In wake of the Karol Bagh hotel tragedy earlier this year, the Delhi Fire Department has decided to conduct an extensive programme for staff of hotels, restaurants and banquet halls in dealing with such emergencies. The three-day programme at the Fire Safety Academy at Rohini in north Delhi would also include on-field training. A certificate will also be given – and will have to be renewed every year, officials said. “It will be a three-day training programme at the Fire Safety Academy. The training would take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We shall be teaching them (the participants) basic fire-fighting techniques, how to handle equipment, deal with leakage from cylinders… precautions and equipment testing and handling. A batch would consist of 40 persons,” said Delhi Fire Service Chief Atul Garg. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder The programme is scheduled to begin sometime next month and advertisements for it will be out soon. It will costing Rs 3,000 per participant. The fire in February this year at the Arpit hotel in Karol Bagh claimed the life of 17 people. “When the fire occurred, the hotel staff did not inform the Fire Department for half and hour and tried dousing it on their own… this why the fire claimed the lives of the people,” a senior fire officer said. After the fire at the hotel, the Delhi Fire Services were prompted to start an programme for staff at restaurants, banquet halls, hotels and guest houses to ensure that they know how to operate fire-fighting equipment.
Jakarta: In his first bilateral visit to an ASEAN country, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar on Thursday met his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi and they agreed to step up cooperation in connecting Aceh and Andaman and Nicobar islands to promote trade, tourism and people-to-people contacts. Jaishankar is on a September 4-6 visit to Indonesia. “FM Jaishankar and I agreed to step up cooperation in Aceh – Andaman/Nicobar connectivity. Indonesia stands ready to participate in its infrastructure and connectivity development,” Marsudi said in a tweet. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’India and Indonesia last year agreed to set up a special task force to enhance connectivity between the strategic Andaman and Nicobar Islands and provinces in Sumatra Island. Aceh province is located on the northern end of Sumatra. During the parleys that included global and regional issues of mutual interest, the two sides also agreed to strengthen Indo-Pacific cooperation. The two countries also committed to reach a target of USD 50 billion bilateral trade by 2025, including through broader market access. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KDuring the talks, Indonesia also requested India for reduction of tariff for its palm oil. “FM Jaishankar and I agreed that the long and strong bond between the two countries should be reflected in the current bilateral relations,” Marsudi said in her tweet. Highlighting the historical linkages between the two countries, Jaishankar expressed hope of a modern partnership between India and Indonesia through fashion. “Pleasure to meet my Indonesian counterpart @Menlu_RI. My 1st bilat’l visit as EAM to ASEAN. Drawing on historical linkages to fashion a modern partnership. Agreed to address common challenges & explore shared opportunities. Our talks highlighted mutual support for territorial integrity,” Jaishankar tweeted. Jaishankar also met Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Gen(Retd) Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan and discussed closer cooperation between Andaman and Nicobar and Aceh. “Glad to meet with Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Gen(Retd) Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. Discussed closer cooperation between Andaman & Nicobar and Aceh. Look forward to early meeting of the Joint Task Force,” Jaishankar said in his tweet. During his meeting with Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Jaishankar discussed cooperation in counter terrorism and defence.
Much water has flown down the Brahmaputra since the last National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam was prepared in as early as 1951, immediately after Independence. The present NRC, which has been prepared after almost seven decades, was initiated in 2014 on the orders of a Special Bench of the Supreme Court after a batch of petitions were filed seeking updation of the Register. The modalities and standard operating procedure for preparation and updation of the NRC in Assam were prepared after a series of discussions with the state government and several other stakeholders under the leadership of a state coordinator who acted as the eyes and ears of the Supreme Court throughout this long and arduous exercise. Also Read – A race against timeApplications for registration in NRC were started in May 2015, and the same were last received by August 31, 2015. Thereafter, the state coordinator began the process of scrutinising and verifying applications under constant supervision and monitoring of the Supreme Court. During this process, persistent objections and suggestions were placed before the Court by all stakeholders and surprisingly, also by the State of Assam and Union of India. A series of reports were regularly presented by the state coordinator to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover that even the Union and state were not allowed to see. Also Read – A Golden LootThe exercise was conducted on a stringent process of scrutiny which was primarily based on a list of prescribed “Legacy Data” and its subsequent “Family Tree Verification” in order to erase any doubt arising on the descent of an applicant. It is pertinent to understand here that this process of NRC is peculiar to Assam and is based on the grounds of descent under special provisions of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act. Before the final publication, concerns regarding re-verification of included names were raised by both the state and Union who believed that in the bordering districts, which witnessed the concentration of one community, included persons in NRC should be rechecked for abundant precaution. These prayers were considered by the Supreme Court and found untenable in light of the submission by the state coordinator that a substantial number of persons have already been re-verified in the course of hearings that unfolded during the disposal of claims and objections. Eventually, on August 31, 2019, when the National Register of Citizens for Assam was published by the Office of the State Coordinator, two major aspects drowned in the hue and cry that arose due to the exclusion of 19,06,657 persons. First, that the present NRC saw the light of the day after seven decades due to the singular effort of the Supreme Court of India which insisted that this process should be concluded once and for all. Second, that more than 31 million took a sigh of relief as they were found eligible for inclusion in NRC pursuant to thorough and tough scrutiny. With clouds of doubt having receded from over 95 per cent of the state’s population, restoring dignity, a new fact also emerged – that only 1.9 million people, out of a total 33 million applicants, were actually found ineligible for inclusion in NRC. On the contrary, this figure of 1.9 million people is not final. These people are still citizens of India till such time that a designated Foreigners’ Tribunal adjudicates their claim by way of due process and declares them definite foreigners. There is an entire road map for availing all legal remedies with even the government now providing legal aid. It is important to examine that this final figure of 1.9 million consists largely of people who are already Declared Foreigners, Doubtful-Voters (commonly called D-Voters), descendants of such category of persons and persons who have not filed their claims, etc. Thus, after deleting such categories and assuming that a good number of people will emerge victorious in their legal battle before the Foreigners’ Tribunals, the final figure of people who may eventually be left out will be much lower than the figure we have today. Although there are many who may make an informed guess, this exercise in speculation is left to them. The present exercise of updating NRC in Assam, having been conducted under the constant watch of a special bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice, adds further credibility to the exercise. The past hysteria, built by overstated figures and apprehensions of illegal migration in Assam, which has been constantly propagated by major political factions, both from Guwahati and New Delhi, stands shattered. The magnitude of this false narrative thus propagated ensured that the entire body politic of the country began believing this perception that there are a very large number of so-called foreigners in the state of Assam. Further crystallisation of this ill found perception in the year 2005, when the Supreme Court itself made an observation that there is “external aggression and internal disturbance” in Assam due to a “huge influx” of illegal migrants from Bangladesh. These observations were made while striking down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 in Sarbananda Sonowal vs. Union of India. The judgment not only lent credibility to unassessed apprehensions but also formed the basis of subsequent judgments that hinged upon the fate of millions in Assam. It is very important to know that while arriving at this conclusion, the Court relied heavily upon a report sent by the Governor of Assam to the President of India. This was a report sent in 1998 by then Governor of Assam Lt Gen S K Sinha (retd) stating unabashedly that there is an unabated influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam which threatens to reduce the native Assamese people to a minority in their own home state. The report further stated that the Muslim population in Assam has shown a rise of 77.42 per cent between 1971 and 1991. Based on population records and not accounting for a number of reasons such as migrations between districts due to floods, the report assumed that the rise of Muslim population must mean that there is a large scale migration from Bangladesh. In Para 22 of the report, it stated that no misconceived and mistaken notions of secularism should be allowed to come in the way of addressing the dangerous consequences of large-scale migration. The Supreme Court, in its judgment, did not only stop at striking down the legislation, but it also went further in stating that there can be no manner of doubt that the state of Assam is facing “external aggression and internal disturbance” on account of large-scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals. Along with striking down the IMDT Act, the judgment called for all references being sent to Foreigners Tribunals to be decided as per Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964 – thus, taking away the cover provided to a suspect foreigner. The 2005 verdict became the bedrock for all future references in the judicial as well as political realm with regard to the perceived infiltration into Assam. The same threats of influx of illegal immigrants, relying heavily on the Sonowal verdict, are also found in the 2014 judgment of the Supreme Court, in a batch of petitions concerning constitutional validity of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955. Most recently, in the 2019 judgment in Abdul Kuddus vs. Union of India, relying upon the same 2005 verdict, Supreme Court denied any statutory right of appeal from the decisions of the Foreigners Tribunals (FT), albeit one may challenge the order of FT by way of a writ before the concerned High Court and from there to the Apex Court. With the outcome of the final NRC indicating a mere 5 per cent of population in Assam being not eligible (at present) for inclusion in the National Register, the observations in the 2005 judgment and in subsequent judgments that relied upon the verdict in Sarbananda Sonowal are now bound to come under a cloud, apart from all the political rhetoric that was used to ridicule an entire community for political gains. Since the 2005 judgment was based on facts and figures and relied upon by the Supreme Court, the present NRC which is again conducted under the constant watch of Supreme Court after 2014, seems to be an order of acquittal for an entire community. (The author is an Advocate-on-Record practicing in the Supreme Court of India)
Five stories in the news for Thursday, April 26———POLICE PROBE TORONTO ATTACK AS DETAILS EMERGEDetails are still emerging about the victims of this week’s deadly van attack in north Toronto, as authorities continue a painstaking investigation. Police continue to comb the one-kilometre stretch of Yonge Street where the attack took place on Monday. The area was mostly re-opened to the public yesterday, and mourners continue to visit a makeshift memorial to the 10 people killed. Investigators are pleading for witnesses to come forward, saying they need every piece of information they can get. One potential clue is a Facebook post, allegedly made by the suspect, that praises a previous killing and references involuntary celibacy or “incel.” Twenty-five-year-old Alek Minassian faces 10 charges of first-degree murder and 13 of attempted murder, with investigators expecting to lay another attempted murder charge soon.———DETAILS ON B.C. PIPELINE COURT CASE TO BE UNVEILEDDetails are expected to be released today about British Columbia’s court case that questions if the province has the power to regulate the flow of oil from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Premier John Horgan has said a reference case will be filed in B.C.’s Court of Appeal by April 30, seeking to clarify the province’s rights to protect its environment and economy from an oil spill. A B.C. government official says the scheduled announcement today on environmental protection is about the legal reference case.———COMPANIES NEED SUBSTANCE-USE POLICIES: REPORTA report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction says companies need comprehensive substance-use policies to help struggling employees, especially as marijuana legalization nears. The centre says organizations that appeared to have well-developed policies were typically larger and involved safety-sensitive industries including aviation, marine, rail, construction and law enforcement. Of the 50 policies analyzed for the report, most included disciplinary measures such as being fired, but support for educating employees and training managers was absent.———VIDEO POKES FUN AT TRUDEAU FOR LACKING GENDER PLANJustin Trudeau is being lampooned in a new video by the anti-poverty organization led by his friend and U2 frontman Bono for not having a concrete plan to advance his feminist agenda at the G7. The one-minute video by the One Campaign, which is to be released today, pokes fun at the prime minister, citing his many photo-ops, his “cool socks” and even his Superman Halloween costume. The video says Trudeau’s time is running out, with the Charlevoix G7 leaders’ summit on the horizon on June 8.———WINNIPEG FANS HIT STREETS IN PLAYOFF-HUNGRY CITYNHL Playoff fever has fully erupted in Winnipeg, which has been starved of an NHL playoff victory for two decades. Organizers of the Winnipeg Jets street party say that by Game 5 of the first round — which the Jets won against the Minnesota Wild — almost 20,000 people had gathered in the street outside Bell MTS Place to cheer, watch the game on big screens and be entertained by DJs. “The patience as a fan base … has created this enormous sense of pent-up excitement to explode and let it all out,” says Darren Ford, who led a grassroots campaign to bring the NHL back to Winnipeg after the first Jets franchise left for Phoenix in 1996.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— Statistics Canada releases payroll employment, earnings and hours for February.— The Transportation Safety Board releases its report into the 2016 plane crash near Kelowna, B.C., that killed former Alberta premier Jim Prentice and three others.— A public campaign called Wild First, promoting wild salmon over open-net fish farms, is launched in Vancouver.— The NFL Draft gets underway in Arlington, Texas, with the Cleveland Browns holding the first pick.
VANCOUVER – Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore says the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is destructive and should be stopped.The environmentalist posted a tweet Thursday saying the pipeline carrying “dirty tar sands oil” would be a step backward in efforts to solve the climate crisis.Tar sands is considered a derogatory term by some for the oilsands in Alberta.Gore says he stands with B.C. Premier John Horgan, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and all of the other Canadians, including First Nations, who are fighting to stop the pipeline owned by Kinder Morgan.The pipeline expansion would triple the flow of heavy oil products from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Thursday she’s confident talks aimed at getting construction of the pipeline expansion back on track will be successful before a May 31 deadline.Notley says she can’t divulge details of talks with Kinder Morgan, but they are focused on the financial viability of the $7.4-billion project and on getting construction restarted this summer.Alberta and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government are in discussions with the company to strike a joint financial arrangement to ensure the project gets built. Trudeau’s government approved expansion of the Trans Mountain line in 2016, but the B.C. government has been fighting it.Last month, Kinder Morgan stopped all non-essential spending on the project and said it wants assurances by the end of this month that the expansion can proceed.(Companies in this story: TSX:KML)
NEW YORK, N.Y. – The UN Human Rights Council is set to discuss a report on issues affecting African-Canadians that makes recommendations to the federal government, including that it apologize for slavery and consider providing reparations for historical injustices.A UN working group will submit its final report on the human rights situation of people of African descent in Canada to the council Monday based on its consultations with government officials and interest groups during an October 2016 mission to Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal.Some report findings released in August raised deep concerns about Canada’s legacy of anti-black racism, which traces its origins to slavery in the 16th century and reverberates into the present day.“History informs anti-black racism and racial stereotypes that are so deeply entrenched in institutions, policies and practices, that its institutional and systemic forms are either functionally normalized or rendered invisible, especially to the dominant group,” the UN officials wrote.“This contemporary form of racism replicates the historical … conditions and effects of spatial segregation, economic disadvantage and social exclusion.”Slavery was abolished in the British colonies in the 1830s.The working group laid out dozens of recommendations to redress past and present wrongs affecting African-Canadians, the first among which calls on the Canadian government to apologize for slavery and consider issuing reparations.“It is important to underline that the experience of African Canadians is unique because of the particular history of anti-black racism in Canada,” the report said. “(The government of Canada should) take concrete steps to preserve the history of enslavement and the political, social and economic contributions of African Canadians by establishing monuments in their honour.”The report draws a through-line between Canada’s history of racial segregation to the structural racism that “lies at the core” of many Canadian institutions today, manifesting itself in the form of poverty, health problems, low educational attainment, higher rates of unemployment and overrepresentation if African-Canadians in the criminal justice system.This history is particularly poignant in Nova Scotia, where over the course of generations, African-Nova Scotian have demonstrated “resistance and resilience” to develop a distinct culture, the report said.In Halifax, the community of Africville thrived despite “the harshest opposition,” the report said, and most of its residents were landowners.The working group said city officials employed “deplorable tactics” to displace Africville’s black residents when the neighbourhood was razed in the late 1960s, marking a “dark period” in Nova Scotian history.The city offered a formal apology in 2010 and allocated $3 million to build a museum on the site, which members of the working group welcomed as a recognition of its significance to the African-Nova Scotian community.Socioeconomic conditions in African-Nova Scotian communities remain “deplorable,” they said, and the provincial government is falling short in its efforts to establish land titles for the descendants of the black loyalists.The authors appealed to the federal government to provide financial support to help claimants cover the costs involved in resolving land disputes, centuries after their ancestors were denied title to the rocky plots where they settled.The report also suggested that Ottawa work with provincial and municipal authorities to develop legislation regarding what it called “environmental racism” — the risks created by environmental hazards like landfills, waste dumps and pollutants that are disproportionately situated near black communities.The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission is expect to address the UN report on Monday.At the national level, the working group said the Canadian government should develop a strategy to address anti-black racism in the criminal justice system.Between 2005 and 2015, the number of black inmates in federal prisons rose by more than 71 per cent, the report said.The authors were troubled by statistics suggesting that black people are “extraordinarily overrepresented” when it comes police use of lethal force, and noted that the lack of race-based data about these incidents makes its difficult to assess the scope of the problem.Racial profiling is “endemic” in strategies used by Canadian law enforcement, the working group said, and called for practices they said disproportionately affect black Canadians — such as street checks and solitary confinement — to be abolished.The report recommended the creation of a federal department of African-Canadian affairs and create special measures to compensate for the impacts of discrimination, such as targeted hiring policies similar to those for Indigenous Peoples.It said existing federal anti-discrimination legislation relies on terms such as “visible minority” that obscure the degrees of disparity faced by different ethnic groups and fails to fully account for the specific human rights concerns of African-Canadians.The working group encouraged federal lawmakers to legally recognize African-Canadians as a distinct group “who have made and continue to make profound economic, political, social, cultural and spiritual contributions to Canadian society.”
TORONTO – Class-action lawyers who secured a landmark $750-million compensation deal for Indigenous victims of the ’60s Scoop have been left in fee limbo amid conflicting views as to how much they deserve.Under the settlement, which required separate approvals from both Federal Court and an Ontario court, Ottawa agreed to pay $75 million to the law firms involved.The lawyers further agreed to split the fees 50-50 between the two groups — one group comprising the Toronto lawyers who began the case in Superior Court in 2009, the other comprising three firms who pursued their action through Federal Court.In June, Federal Court Judge Michel Shore approved the $37.5 million earmarked for the lawyers in his court. The amount was “fair and reasonable” and amounted to less than 10 per cent of the overall global payment, said Shore, who had helped mediate settlement discussions.Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba, however, took a much dimmer view of the fee deal.He delivered a blistering indictment of the agreement, calling $75 million in fees rich beyond reasonable and the system for compensating class-action lawyers broken. He also railed at the split, saying the Federal Court lawyers simply didn’t deserve anywhere near half the total, or $37.5 million.“This decision was a bolt of lightning on this topic,” said Kirk Baert, who represents one of the three groups of Federal Court lawyers.Belobaba did sign off on the class-action settlement, but only after the lawyers on the Ontario end agreed the fee issue would be resolved separately. The Federal Court lawyers, however, balked at re-opening the arrangement.“Why would class counsel, after the bargain has been struck and after we’ve lost all our leverage by going for a settlement approval, agree to take less?” Baert said. “The answer is: We’re not going to.”Still, in light of the change to the Ontario deal, the national lawyers headed back to Federal Court to again secure approval for their end of the class action.As Shore had done previously, Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan signed an order on Aug. 2, with the agreement of the parties involved, approving both the settlement and $37.5 million in fees for the lawyers in his court.According to one source who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the matter, Belobaba had expected a full hearing in Federal Court on the lawyer fees. After receiving Phelan’s order on Aug. 3, the source said Belobaba began asking for details about what Phelan’s decision had been based on.Days later, Phelan wrote the Federal Court parties to ask for “submissions on the current motion for approval of fees.” Two days later, he further wrote that nothing in his order “should be taken as either explicitly or implied approval of counsel’s fees.”“His directions have left a little bit of confusion,” Baert said. “(But) these fees have now been approved twice. It’s done.”A telephone conference with Phelan and the lawyers involved aimed at clarifying the situation is set for Thursday.Belobaba appears to be awaiting the outcome of those discussions before deciding how much the Ontario lawyers deserve.Morris Cooper, who along with Toronto lawyer Jeffery Wilson was instrumental in reaching a settlement in the Ontario case, said Belobaba should accept that the national lawyers have been awarded $37.5 million and approve the same amount for the Ontario group.“I’m hopeful he will conclude that we shouldn’t be penalized if he’s dissatisfied with how the Federal Court has dealt with it,” Cooper said. “That would be grossly unfair in our view based on his own findings that we were the ones who did everything and deserve at least twice as much as them.”Baert, who called Belobaba’s views “mystifying,” said it would be up to the legislature or appeal courts to make any changes to how class-action lawyers are compensated. The judge’s view that fees should be calculated differently for settlements over $100 million makes no sense, Baert said.“Class actions don’t happen in a vacuum,” Baert said. “Law firms bring them and they pay for them. So when they do their jobs, they should get paid and they should get paid what the defendant agreed to pay.”The fee issue has no bearing on how much will be paid to victims of the ’60s Scoop — Indigenous children who lost their cultural heritage after being taken from their homes and placed with non-Indigenous families. Each will receive between $25,000 and $50,000, depending on how many file claims.
TORONTO – Former Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna’s assault case returns to court today in Toronto.The 23-year-old Osuna was charged in May with assault in an alleged domestic incident.Osuna’s lawyer has said his client is remorseful over the incident but plans to plead not guilty if it goes to trial.The lawyer has also said he is hoping for a peace bond that could lead to withdrawal of the assault charge.Major League Baseball suspended Osuna without pay for 75 games for violating its domestic violence policy and he was later dealt to the Houston Astros.The Blue Jays and Astros are scheduled to play the second game of a three-game series tonight in Toronto.
WINNIPEG – A top Manitoba cabinet minister is hinting that the public may soon learn some details of a harassment complaint against a Tory government backbencher.Justice Minister Cliff Cullen says he has no personal knowledge of an inappropriate comment reportedly made by MLA Cliff Graydon to a woman who works for the party caucus.Cullen says elected officials should be held to a higher standard and he expects there will be some information in the coming days.The Winnipeg Free Press and CBC both quote unnamed sources as saying Graydon told the woman she should sit on his lap during a luncheon where there was a shortage of chairs.The Free Press reports that the issue was resolved within a matter of hours to the woman’s satisfaction and that the Tory caucus may vote later this month on whether to sanction or kick Graydon out.Graydon told The Canadian Press on the weekend that the matter has been dealt with satisfactorily and he has no reason to contemplate resigning his seat.Cullen said Monday he was not in the room when the comment was reportedly made, and the government has a policy in place for dealing with harassment complaints.“My understanding is it’s been dealt with internally,” said Cullen, the only cabinet minister made available to the media on Monday. “Our focus is making sure we have a respectful workplace and we’re doing everything we can to have that respectful workplace.”Cullen said he is not aware of any other complaints against Graydon from staff.Tory caucus chair Wayne Ewasko said there is a reason the government has not released details.“Our primary goal is to protect the impacted individual who has requested that details of the matter remain confidential. Therefore we have no further comment at this time,” Ewasko said in a written statement.Graydon was in hot water last winter for social media posts criticizing asylum-seekers and the prime minister.Graydon, who represents the Emerson, Man. area, where asylum-seekers have been walking across the border from the United States, called immigrants a “drain on society” and retweeted other people’s posts that called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a traitor, a scumbag and a disgrace.Graydon apologized, deleted the tweets and agreed to step back from social media and undergo sensitivity training.Graydon, in his early 70s, has not ruled out running for re-election in 2020. He has had health challenges in recent years but said Saturday he has yet to make up his mind about running again.Graydon also sits as a government representative on the board of Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro.
OTTAWA — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has tested more than 2,000 samples of fresh lettuce and packaged salads looking for the source of an E. coli outbreak but hasn’t found any produce that contains the bacteria.Aline Dimitri, the deputy chief food-safety officer for the agency, says the results don’t mean E. coli is gone from Canada’s food supply but it does suggest if it’s present it is there in very low levels.Three more cases of E. coli were confirmed in Ontario and Quebec Friday, bringing the total number since mid-October to 22: one in New Brunswick, four in Ontario and 17 in Quebec.Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public-health officer, says experts tracing the patients’ food histories found most of them had eaten romaine lettuce in the days before they got sick.The agency is recommending people in those provinces not eat romaine lettuce and throw out any they still have in their fridges.Njoo says the most recent illness began Nov. 1 but a delay in reporting means the agency didn’t find out about it until this week.The Canadian Press
QUEBEC — Crown prosecutors and defence lawyers have less than a week left to decide whether to appeal the sentence handed down to the gunman who killed six men in a Quebec City mosque.Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, was sentenced on Feb. 8 to life in prison without possibility of parole for 40 years. On Jan. 29, 2017, Bissonnette stormed into the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre and opened fire, killing six worshippers.He received the harshest prison sentence ever in Quebec and one of the longest in Canada, which since a 2011 Criminal Code reform has allowed consecutive life sentences for multiple murders.But it was well under the six consecutive life sentences — 150 years before being eligible for parole — sought by the Crown.In a letter issued after the sentencing, Bissonnette’s parents called their son’s sentence “very severe” and said the Crown’s proposed sentence encouraged a desire for revenge.The six life sentences were automatic after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, but the defence had asked that they be served concurrently, meaning he would have been eligible for parole in 25 years.Quebec Superior Court Justice Francois Huot rejected the Crown’s call to sentence Bissonnette to 150 years with no chance of parole, arguing a sentence of 50 years or more would constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.But instead of sentencing Bissonnette to serve the six sentences concurrently, Huot rewrote the 2011 consecutive sentencing law so he could deliver consecutive life sentences that are not in blocks of 25 years, as had been the case. That was how he arrived at the 40-year total.Lawyers for Bissonnette did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The office of Quebec Attorney General Sonia LeBel said that a decision will be made no later than March 11, the date when the 30-day period to file an appeal ends.The Canadian Press