Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bhojpuri Workers Under Attack in Ludhiana Bomb Blast

The bomb blast in a Ludhiana cinema hall 14th October night caused the death of seven people and injury to some 40 people. The blast occurred inside the Shringar complex, housing three cinema halls, in the heart of city, where Bhojpuri film 'Janam Janam Ka Saath' was being screened. Six peole, including one child, were killed on the spot and 33 others injured in the blast. A majority of the victims were migrant labourers.

A representative of the Bihar government is likely to visit the families of the dead and injured. The multiplex has a capacity for 1,050 persons and being a festive Sunday evening, it was full.

Bhojpuri films were earlier shown only in a couple of Ludhiana movie halls, Swarn and Nirmal. Now they are also screened in theatres like Arora Palace, Basant, Society, Shingar, Deepak and many others. The Naulakha theatre strategically shifted to Bhojpuri films earlier this year.

Bihar and eastern UP’s migrant labour population is the primary audience for these films. Shingar, where the blast took place, is in the centre of the town’s famous hosiery industry where thousands of migrants work.

The audience was watching ‘‘Janam Janam Ke Saath’’ when the blast took place. The film has four of the hottest stars of Bhojpuri films: Manoj Tiwari, Ravi Kissen, Naghma and Bhagyashree. Industry sources say the film has done business worth Rs 2 lakh in the first three days since its Friday release.

These migrant labourers constitute the backbone of Punjab's farms and factories, have often been targeted by terrorists in the past too.

The first attacks were made against labourers working for the Satluj Yamuna Link canal project in the 80s, during the heydays of terrorism. But that was mostly to scare them away and destabilise the ambitious venture. Later, it got bloodier and more vengeful. In one of the biggest strikes against those Punjabis have learnt to call 'Purbiyas', 30 farmhands from Bihar were massacred in Majat village, Ropar district, in May 1988. Twelve others were injured in the strike.

Soon, this was followed with the killings of 19 Bihari migrants in Lakhowal, Ludhiana.
A clear attempt had begun to instill terror in the minds of the hungry hordes coming in from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the search of livelihood and dignity.

This blast once again shows that labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh continue to be soft targets sometimes to underscore misplaced regional nationalism.

Punjab Police has said that the Ludhiana multiplex blast could be the result of collaboration between jihadi groups and local Khalistani outfits like Babbar Khalsa International.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal denounced the bomb blast in a cinema hall here, and visited injured in the hospital. He also announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs two lakh each for the next of kin of those killed in the blast.

The Punjab Governor and Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, Gen. (Retd.) S.F. Rodrigues, PVSM VSM, have also expressed profound grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in a blast incident in Ludhiana

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Who Killed Rizwanur Rahaman?

It was first in the Arena Multimedia Animation Academy where Rizwanur, a teacher, met his student Priyanka Todi in 2006. She was 23 and he 30. Riz wanur would stand at the blackboard in this very classroom teaching his students and Priyanka. But he never showed any sign of affection towards her. Every effort was made to ensure that their love remained a private affair.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee on 17 October has been compelled to remove five police officers, including the Kolkata police commissioner, a day after the Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI investigation into the mysterious death of Rizwanur Rehman. The officers removed were Police chief Prasun Mukherjee, two deputy commissioners Gyanwant Singh and Ajay Kumar, Assistant Commissioner of the Anti-Rowdy section Sukanti Chakraborty and sub-inspector Krishnendu Ghosh. They were allegedly involved in the death of the computer graphics teacher Rehman who was pressurised to part with his wife, Priyanka, the daughter of industrialist Ashok Todi.

The Calcutta High Court has ordered a CBI probe into the unexplained death of graphic designer Rizwanur Rehman whose body was found by the rail tracks last month. In a stinging rebuke to the ruling government Tuesday, Justice Soumitra Pal said the investigation conducted by the CID was "illegal".
The court has asked for a report in two months. The case has provoked immense public outrage with Rizwan's family alleging the state police were involved in the death.
The family said the police had been harassing Rizwan for marrying the daughter of prominent industrialist Ashok Todi.

Rizwanur Rehman was found dead besides railway tracks at Dum Dum far from his home in Park Circus in Kolkata on September 21. Two days later, Commissioner of Kolkata Police Prasun Mukherjee admitted that the couple were threatened by police officers after their marriage and Rizwanur was told to part with his wife. He had also admitted that Rizwanur and Priyanka were summoned to Lalbazar, the police headquarters, thrice on September one, four and eight.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had ordered a judicial inquiry on September 27.

On the same day, Rizwanur's mother Keshwar Jahan and brother Ruqbanur filed a writ petition in the Calcutta High Court seeking a CBI probe.

On Tuesday, Sadiq, a witness to the civil marriage of Rizwanur and Priyanka, and who had gone into hiding, told a TV channel that he had been threatened by a senior police officer who said he could damage his education and career.

In his letter to various human rights groups before his death, Rizwanur Rehman wrote: "On Tuesday, 11 September, she (Priyanka) spoke to me for the last time. She told me that her father wanted details of my collegemate Pompy Roy. Our friendship broke off in 2004 due to personal differences. May be my wife's parents wanted to influence her to say that I do not have a good character... I gave her details of Pompy's address on phone... That was the last I heard from my wife.”

Chairperson of West Bengal women’s commission Yasodhara Bagchi and its team met the mother of Rizwanur Rehman, whose mysterious death has led to a public outcry, and faced protests by local people who accused the Commission of helping those responsible for his death.Commission members had met Rizwanur's wife Priyanka at her father Ashok Todi, the owner of Rs 200-crore-plus Lux Hosiery Industries. She married 30-year-old Rizwanur on August 18.

The Todis allegedly pressured Rizwanur to sever connections with Priyanka, but he did not yield. Police said they are clueless about the family’s whereabouts. “We have been trying to get in touch with Ashok Todi,” said Gyanwant Singh, the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters).The Todis have been in the hosiery business for 35-40 years. The company, based in Calcutta, is giving national brands like Rupa Frontline a run for their money. Lux products have been endorsed by stars like Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol and Prosenjit.

He has braved the protests of Singur and weathered the uprising and police atrocities in Nandigram, but Bhattacharya is finding it hard to cope with the controversy and public fury generated in the Rizwanur Rehman case.

The residence of the Rehmans at Tiljala in east Kolkata was visited on 13th October by Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, followed by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on 14th October besides state Congress leaders.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Energy situation in Bihar

Bihar has the per capita energy consumption of 75 KW as against a national average of 600 KW.

Energy Minister Bijeyndra Yadav said the crisis was due to a sharp drop in the availability of power from Central agencies like the NTPC. Against an average supply of 1100 MW per day, the state at present was getting a meager 660 MW, Yadav said.

The minister pointed out that in view of the festive season—Ramzan and Duss-ehra—the state had demanded an additional 200 MW per day and it was not being fulfilled despite repeated pleas. “I will raise the matter during the upcoming September 24 meeting of power ministers in New Delhi,” he said.

Since early this month large parts of the state, including capital Patna, have been witnessing severe power cuts. At many places angry residents have even resorted to violent protests. In a bid to derive political mileage out of the situation, the Congress and RJD have staged demonstrations and burnt effigies of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Recently, Congress workers in Bhagalpur smeared the face of a top Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) officer with black ink to protest the power cuts. The district administration immediately identified and lodged an FIR against the Congress workers. To protest the action, the Congress and RJD jointly called Bhagalpur bandh and burnt effigies of the Chief Minister.

The NTPC on its part has pointed out that due to annual maintenance work being undertaken at its generating units at Talcher, Farakka and Khalagaon, it was unable to meet the demand of the state.

Efforts of the state Government to revive its own defunct thermal units at Kanti and Barauni have not yielded results so far and for this too the state blames NTPC and BHEL, which have been entrusted with the responsibility of renovating the two units. Claiming that Bihar had the best track record as far as the payment of power dues to the NTPC was concerned, the minister pointed out that the present Government had cleared dues of Rs 400 crore accrued during the tenure of the previous RJD Government.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bihar has 2,60,612 local representatives

Bihar has approved a proposal to introduce e-governance in all its 8,479 panchayats at a cost of Rs.252 million. If implemented, this effort would surely build the capacity of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) to ensure transparency and accountability.

The plan entails linking eight government departments, including the chief minister secretariat to the State-wide Area Network.

Top administrative officials and ministers have been provided with laptops as part of the e-governance drive. Video-conferencing facility has also been set up in the state's 38 district headquarters.

In the aftermath of independence, the first Act of Panchayt Raj, under the provisions of Bihar Panchayat Raj Adhiniyam 1947 was introduced, elections were held, and Panchayats were constituted. In 1961 Bihar Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parisad Act was enacted and in 1978,.

In the light of 73rd Amendment, Bihar Panchayat Raj Act 1993 was made but elections
couldn’t take place before 2001.

The present Bihar Panchayat Raj Act 2006, is unique in many ways. It has ensured 50% reservation for women in all the categories. 20% reservation has been given to Annexure- I category of Backward Community. The provision of Gram Kachahri has also been made a part of the Act.

Statistics of PRI
No. of Gram Panchayats in Bihar : 8463
No. of Panchayat Samiti (Block) : 531
No. of Zila Parishad : 38

Number of PRI Representatives

Member Gram Panchayat 115479
Mukhiya 8463
Panch 115479
Sarpanch 8463
Member Panchayat Samiti 11566
Member Zila Parishad 1162
Total 2,60,612

Monday, October 8, 2007

Will Nitish Government change Ara's plight

Arrah is a city and municipality in Bhojpur district in the state of Bihar, India. It is the district headquarters of Bhojpur district and is located 36 miles from Patna. It was constituted a municipality in 1865. Sulabh started in 1973 in this very municipality. Desite this insanitary conditions prevail in Arrah that can cause epidemic outbreak at any point time. So far Bihar Urban Development Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey has not been able do do much.

Now the state has received a sum of Rs 38 crore from the centre for solid waste management. Choubey has initiated steps for setting up a plant to generate 9.5 MW of power from 33 metric tonnes of waste. If this plant is based on highly polluting incineration technology than it is fraught with serious environmental consequences. This technology creates public health hazards which would be worse than the current mess.

Bihar is the first state in the country Bihar has abolished the Urban Land Ceiling Act and Agriculture Product Marketing Act. It has adopted the Model Municipal Act.

Will the new municipal act of Bihar and quick fix technologies for municipal waste change the state of affairs with respect to sanitation?

P.S: As per 2001 India census Arrah had a population of 203,395. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Arrah has an average literacy rate of 67%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with 60% of the males and 40% of females literate.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Mughalsarai stampede exposes Railway Ministry

Country's biggest railway junction. On October 5, a three-member inquiry team began investigations into October 3rd stampede at Mughalsarai station, where 15 women were killed and 48 people injured.

The team has been constituted by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. The team is led by Chief Commercial Manager Rajendra Prasad Bharadwaj, has CMO R P Singh and Deputy Chief Security Officer Tariq Ahamed as its other members.

The incident occurred when there was a sudden surge of people who came out of two trains, arriving almost simultaneously, on the staircase of an over bridge.

Fasting women had alighted from trains to go to Varanasi, 20 km away from Mughalsarai, for a bath in the Ganges on the occasion of 'jivit putrika vrat', a local festival.
A large number of women observe fast for their husbands’ long life. They had arrived from various places in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh to visit Varanasi.The mishap occurred when Gaya Passenger and Varanasi Ghazipur DMU arrived almost together at around 1.45 p.m. on platforms five and six, leading to a stampede on the overbridge.

They were on their way to take a holy dip in the Ganga at Varanasi The mishap was reportedly caused due to the railways authorities changing the platform of a train at the last moment.

Lalu Prasad Yadav reached the Divisional Railway Hospital at Mughalsarai and met those injured in the stampede and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the family of those killed in the stampede, besides giving railway jobs to at least one of their dependents.

Railway Ministry should pay more attention to expanding and upgrading it infrastructure. Asbestos roofs, congested and rickety staircases, waste mismanagement dot this public transport system, it is high time it is brought on track by taking administrative decisions beyond announcing ex-gratia.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Death Sentence in Krishnaiah Murder Case

More than 30 percent of lawmakers aged between 36 and 45 years faced criminal charges..

A former MP and JD-U leader Anand Mohan was sentenced to death by a local court in Patna which also awarded life imprisonment to his wife, also an ex-MP, on Wednesday in a murder case where the then Gopalganj District Magistrate was lynched by a mob 13 years back.

In a landmark verdict that is bound to have political ramifications, Additional Sessions Judge, Ram Krishna Rai also awarded Capital punishment to two others - Akhlaq Ahmed, a former MLA from Bikramganj and RJD leader and Arun Kumar in connection with the brutal killing of G Krishnaiah on December 5, 1994.

Besides Anand's wife - Lovely Anand, a former MP from Vaishali - those who got life term are Vijay Kumar Shukla alias Munna Shukla, a sitting JD(U) MLA from Lalganj, Shashi Shekhar and Harendra Kumar.

Anand Mohan, a former MP from Sheohar who was leader of the then Bihar People's Party (BPP) at the time of the murder, and his wife were accused of inciting a mob to lynch Krishnaiah.

It is for the first time that a former MP was being sent to gallows.

The Court on Monday held all the seven accused guilty under IPC sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (rioting) and 427 (mischief causing damage).

''I am not very happy, because the conviction in an IAS officer's death case takes 13 years. Then you can imagine what the plight of an ordinary man would be like,'' said Uma Krishnaiah, wife of Krishnaiah.

Krishnaiah was lynched by a mob accompanying the cortege of a BPP leader Chotan Shukla on December 5, 1994.

The officer was pulled out of a car, beaten up mercilessly and then shot dead. The BPP is now defunct.

Underworld don

All the seven convicted were also fined Rs 25,000. The judge acquitted 29 of the 36 accused in the case giving them benefit of doubt.

Krishnaiah was done to death near Khabra, on the outskirts of Muzaffarpur town by the mob that was enraged over the gunning down of Chotan Shukla, an underworld don with political ambitions, and three others on December 4, 1994 when they were returning from election campaign for the 1995 assembly polls.

The seven convicts, all present in the court, soon after being sentenced complained about shabby treatment being meted out to them at the Beur Central Jail where they are lodged.

Anand Mohan said he, Akhlaq Ahmed and Arun Kumar were locked up in a cell without even a fan, while his wife Lovely Anand was kept in a ward along with mentally deranged women.

''As long as we are alive the court should ensure that we exist like humans'', Mohan told the judge, who said he would write to the jail superintendent and Patna district magistrate to see to it that they got amenties in accordance with the law.

Later speaking to the media, Mohan said if the 15 inspectors and two sub-divisional officers accompanying the funeral procession of Chotan Shukla could not save the life of the district magistrate ''what could I have done.''

Munna Shukla said he was with the body of his slain brother in the front of the funeral procession while the district magistrate was lynched by the mob in the rear.

''I simply do no not know who killed Krishnaiah,'' he said. (With PTI inputs)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Gopalganj District Magistrate Murder Case

On 1st October, a Patna court found Janata Dal(U) leader Anand Mohan and six others guilty of murdering the then Gopalganj district magistrate, G. Krishnaiyah, 13 years ago.

The court will pronounce the quantum of sentence on 3rd October.

Besides Mohan, the others convicted are his wife and former Vaishali MP, Lovely Anand, JD(U) legislator Vijay Shukla alias Munna Shukla, former MLA Akhlaq Ahmad, former MP and JD(U) leader Arun Kumar and JD(U) leaders S.S. Thakur and Harendra Kumar.

Additional district and session’s judge (ADJ-1), Ramsreshtha Rai, ruled the accused persons guilty under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 147 (rioting). All of have been remanded to judicial custody and sent to Beur central jail.

“We will challenge the verdict in the higher court. We are not guilty. The truth will come out in higher courts,” said Mohan.

No one from the JD (U), which is now in power in the state, was willing to comment on the convictions.

On December 5, 1994, Krishnaiyah was lynched and shot in the head by a mob carrying the body of Chhotan Shukla, a dreaded don and Bihar Peoples’ Party leader, who had been gunned down in a gang war the previous night near Muzaffarpur.

Krishnaiyah, a native of Andhra Pradesh who was in the IAS’s Bihar cadre, was on way to Gopalganj from Hajipur via Muzaffarpur after attending a meeting.

The frenzied followers of the don, led by Anand Mohan and Lovely Anand, then the Vaishali MP, stopped the IAS officer’s car near Khabra on the outskirts of Muzaffarpur, 60km north of Patna, on National Highway 28.

They dragged out Krishnaiyah, hurled stones at him and thrashed him with batons, farm tools and whatever else they had with them.

As the DM lay on the streets, Chhotan’s younger brother Bhutkun Shukla (another criminal who was later killed in a gangwar) shot him thrice in the head.

The trial of the case was going on in a Muzaffarpur court. But on the instructions of Patna High Court the case was recently transferred to the sessions court in the state capital for speedy trial.