UP’s ‘Love Jihad’: Fear, set back & hope?
A ray of hope emerges against the controversial anti-conversion ordinance in Uttar Pradesh. The Yogi Adityanath government has had to eat crow, to put it mildly. On Thursday last, it informed the Allahabad High Court that it had dropped charges of forced conversion against a Muslim man, as the police found no proof of allegations. This retraction to others facing the wrath would be cheering as the man was among the first who was booked following the ordinance, infamous as ‘love jihad’ law. On November 29, the police had filed an FIR against Nadeem Ahmad and his brother under the Ordinance following a complaint alleging he lured his wife to convert to Islam and threatened her too. The HC had restrained the police from taking action against Nadeem and tagged his petition to others. This apart a PIL has been filed in the court again challenging the Ordinance’s constitutional validity. The issue has also reached the Supreme Court doorstep, as two petitions were filed against the anti-conversion laws of UP and Uttarakhand, saying people are being lifted from marriage functions and mob attacks are taking place. While the apex court refused to grant stay it has issued notices to the two governments. On its part the UP government has been claiming that the Ordinance is ‘aimed at preventing any form of unlawful conversion actuated by elements of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, etc and the Constitution abhors any form of forceful conversion particularly in matters of religion’. The big question is whether this will withstand the law of the land. Time will tell.
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It’s a double whammy. As the nation struggles to battle COVID-19, several States have been hit by bird flu, with the Centre advising all local authorities to boost surveillance around water bodies, live bird markets, zoos and poultry farms. On Thursday last, it sent a team to Kerala to assess the crisis in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts with the administration having to cull over 70,000 birds, including ducks and chicken to contain the H5N8 strain. Reports from Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir are a cause of worry as recently unusual deaths of poultry, crows and migratory birds have been witnessed. While six crows were found dead on the Karnataka-Kerala border, so far 64 crows were found dead in areas near Pong wetland in Kangra, Himachal and anther four crow deaths were reported from two places in Chhattisgarh. J&K has banned import of poultry until January 14. While there is obviously a red alert,poultry farming industry in these States is going to take a big hit as sale of bird meat and eggs in the affected regions is prohibited. Will governments come to their aid, is a nagging question?
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Haryana farmers Plan B is underway if Plan A doesn’t work. Indeed, the farmers’ agitation is geared to take the protest to New Delhi, if the talks with the Centre don’t yield results. The message that all-out efforts are going on to ensure there shall be a ‘Tractor Parade’ on Republic Day can be seen and heard loud and clear. Farmers atop thousands of tractors joined the tractor march on Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway and other parts of Haryana on Thursday last calling it a ‘trailer’ of their determination. One authority which has so far been impressed is the police department as despite the huge participation the farmers showed exemplary discipline, which it’s hoped should get other sections of society to come out in support of the farmers. For one, politicians are not staying behind. In a cavalcade of tractors, INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala moved to Delhi border from Sirsa district and Haryana Congress President Kumari Selja reached the border in support. No doubt 26 January is far away, can New Delhi ensure that dialogue ploughs results rather than having tractors on its doorsteps.
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Victory For Gujarat Farmers
The farmers in Gujarat have tasted victory. The Supreme Court has frowned over the State government short changing them. On Thursday last, the apex court dismissed the Gujarat government’s petition and upheld two orders of the Gujarat High Court which directed a higher compensation be paid to farmers in Bharuch and Gandhinagar for the lands acquired for expansion of the Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway and the Ahmedabad-Delhi Highway respectively. In its orders way back in September and October 2019, the High Court had ordered the State government to apply a multiplying factor of 2.00 instead of 1.00 and re-calculate the compensation payable to farmers, as two government resolutions, which did not consider areas falling under “Urban Development Area’ as urban areas, violated constitutional guarantee of equality before law. With the SC upholding the HC verdicts, affected farmers in Gandhinagar will now be eligible up to Rs 200 crore additional payment and those in Bharuch an additional payment of Rs 300 crore. Predictably, this case shall get cited often and save the farmers from being cheated by their governments.
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Kashmir Snowed Out
Utter failure. The Kashmir valley being cut off for days after heavy snowfall shows the administration’s crass incompetence. Winter is always severe and the official machinery is expected to be well prepared and strategize, more so as the Centre did promise better times since abrogation of Article 370. Lt Governor Manoj Sinha will need to do a lot more to gain confidence of the people, who see the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway being closed, passenger flights suspended, power breakdowns and for ‘first time in decades’ having rationing of automobile and cooking fuel. No stocks kept in advance and shoddy planning. For example, on one hand the administration asked people to stay indoors as many roads were blocked and on the other examination for recruitment of banking associates for J&K Bank was not postponed. Several candidates failed to make it, many villages went without electricity and even the J&K Police said it had to carry several patients to hospital on foot! While governance may improve with recent District Development Councils polls, a popular government instead of Governor’s Rule will make the administration accountable and answerable. Will the Centre’s stance change with the melting of the snow?
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Move over other sciences for the future of the country lies in cow science! Well this is what the BJP government would want us to believe. The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying has set February 25 for a countrywide voluntary online one-hour exam, Kamdhenu Gau-Vigyan Prachar-Prasar Pareeksha, on cow science and set up Kamdhenu chairs in universities. The aim: “infuse curiosity” among citizens about cows’ importance and “sensitise and educate” them about the bovine species. Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA) Chairman Vallabhbhai Kathiria is quoted in a daily saying “Cow is full of science… If we talk about the $5-trillion economy, we have 19.42 crore govansh (cattle) in our country, which can play an important role in it (growth of the economy). Even if a cow does not give milk, its urine and dung is still precious; if we use those, not only will cows be saved, the entire economy will be on track.” He claims “800 Covid-19 patients have been cured by panchgavya – cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd, ghee – and ayurvedic concoctions. Coronavirus patients from Rajkot, Varanasi, Vadodara and Kalyan (Maharashtra) were given this and they were rid of the virus between five and 14 days without experiencing any complications”! Should one say move over Vaccine, we have our own desi brand?