BBC News – India school principal held for ‘covering up’ student rape

Dehra Dun – Uttarakhand – India, 20 September 2018. The principal of a boarding school and four members of staff are among nine people arrested over the rape of a 15-year-old student in northern India.

Four male students have been held for the rape, which left the girl pregnant, while the school staff are accused of covering up the assault.

Staff at the Dehradun school forced the girl to have an abortion after they found out she was pregnant, police say.

A medical examination on Wednesday confirmed she was raped, police said.

“We have registered a case of gang rape, criminal conspiracy and have charged the school’s officials for causing disappearance of evidence,” police officer Naresh Rathore told the BBC.

The assault has prompted the state government to cancel the school’s educational licence, according to the Times of India newspaper.

Police said that management at the GRD World School in Dehradun had been aware of the rape for a month and “took no action against the accused”. They added that staff also threatened to expel the victim when she approached the school.

The school and its arrested staff members have not commented on the case yet.

The state’s Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which has investigated the incident, said that school officials “pressured” and “harassed” the victim into keeping quiet.

“The school’s staff went to the extent of sending two members to pose as the victim’s parents when they took her to the private nursing home for a medical check up,” Kavita Sharma of the CWC told the BBC.

The victim’s sister, who found out about the incident, informed their parents who registered a complaint against the school.

Scrutiny of sexual violence has grown in India since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a bus in the capital Delhi.

The crime sparked days of protests and forced the government to introduce tougher anti-rape laws, including the death penalty.

However, attacks against women and children continue to be reported across the country.

India’s crime records show that reported rapes of minor children had more than doubled between 2012 and 2016. Their data also shows a 12% rise in the number of sexual assault cases against women- up from 34,651 cases in 2015 to 38,947 in 2016. – Constitution of Panthik Assembly announced to explore solution of Sikh issues

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 20 September 2018. Addressing a press conference at Amritsar Sahib on September 20, several prominent Sikh leaders announced to constitute a Panthik assembly to find out the solution of Sikh issues.

It is learnt that the number of members in the Panthik assembly would be same as the members of Punjab assembly i.e. 117 members.

Interacting with media on this occasion, S Jaswinder Singh Advocate said that the sacrilege incidents twitched the soul of entire Sikh community and the Sikh Institutions like SGPC and Takht Jathedars have severely failed in getting justice on this issue.

He added that the Congress also did nothing to punish the sacrilege culprits besides presenting a map of sacrilege incidents.

Accusing the ruling Congress of remaining confined unto playing blame game with the opposition, S Jaswinder Singh Advocate said that the Bargari agitation has kept aware the Sikh community on this issue till date.

“Panthik Assembly has been constituted to address issues like sacrilege and other countless Sikh issues which demand a sincere deliberation to find out permanent solution” he said while adding that the Panthik assembly will deliberate upon Sikh issues with anyone holding sympathy for the Panth.

S Sukhdev Singh Bhaur informed that an 11 member organizational committee has been constituted and all the 117 members will be nominated in the coming days. “The Panthik Assembly will be brought forward the reality of the sacrilege issue after a thorough discussion on the reports prepared by Justice Zora Singh, Justice Markanday Katju and Justice Ranjit Singh” he added.

S Sukhdev Singh Bhaur further informed that an initial gathering of this Panthik assembly has called at Amritsar Sahib on October 20 and 21.

Names of members elected for the organizational committee of this Panthik assembly are as follow:

Giani Kewal Singh

Simranjit Singh Mann

Harpal Singh Cheema

Advocate Navkiran Singh

Khushhal Singh Chandigarh

Bibi Kulwant Kaur

Jagmohan Singh

Sukhdev Singh Bhaur

Kanwarpal Singh Bittu

Jaswinder Singh Advocate

Satnam Singh Khanda

Brussel – Bruxelles

Brussel Museum and Rue du Trône
17 August 2018

Natural Sciences Museum

Simran and big beast

Arashdeep and big beast

Rue du Trône

Arashdeep Kaur – Harjinder Singh

Rue du Trône

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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Deccan Chronicle – Sushma Swaraj to raise Kartarpur Sahib issue with Pakistan foreign minister: MEA

Swaraj will have a meeting with Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

New Delhi – India, 20 September 2018. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will raise the issue of allowing access to Indian pilgrims to the Sikh holy shrine of Kartarpur Sahib during her meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York, officials said.

Swaraj will have a meeting with Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. At a media briefing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the issue of Kartarpur Sahib will be raised by Swaraj during the meeting.

He said India has been taking up the issue with Pakistan on inclusion of the Sikh holy shrine in the protocol between India and Pakistan on visit to religious shrines.

“The matter has been taken up with the Pakistani side several times in the past,” he said. However, Kumar said, Pakistan is yet to respond to India’s request.

“Even now, we have not received any official communication that the Pakistani Government is willing to consider this matter. The External Affairs Minister will, therefore, raise this issue in her meeting with the Pakistani Foreign Minister on the sidelines of UNGA,” he said.

After his visit to Pakistan last month, cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu had claimed that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa told him that Islamabad was working for opening Kartarpur Sahib corridor for Sikh pilgrims from Indian state of Punjab.

Sidhu, a minister in the Punjab government, on Monday met Swaraj and urged her to help initiate dialogue with Pakistan on the opening up of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor. Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is situated in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

The gurdwara is nearly four kilometers from the international border and is visible on a clear day from Dera Baba Nanak in India. Devotees who are not able to visit Pakistan converge at the international border at Dera Baba Nanak and offer their prayers.

Kumar said that during the visit of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore in 1999, the issue was raised to consider a visa-free visit to the shrine but there was no response from the Pakistani side.

The Hindu – Supreme Court reserves verdict on five activists’ arrests

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi – India, 20 September 2018. The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra government to hand over the entire case diary to learn how the investigation into riots in Bhima-Koregaon village expanded into the discovery of a “Maoist plot on the life of a sovereign head”, leading to the crackdown and arrests of rights activists across the country.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud reserved for final orders on Thursday on a petition filed by historian Romila Thapar and four others for a special investigation team probe into the circumstances leading to the raids and picking up of poet Vara Vara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj and activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha.

The Maharashtra government accused them of links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured the court of an impartial probe and asked them to be handed over from house arrest into custody.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, for the petitioners, described the arrests as a “test case”, foisted to learn the extent to which personal liberty of citizens could be shackled.

An amalgamation of ideology and lawlessness

Senior advocate Harish Salve, for Tushar Damgude whose complaint resulted in the Bhima-Koregaon FIR in January, countered that “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”. Mr Salve said the case represented an amalgamation of ideology and lawlessness.

“Unlawful activities cannot be tolerated. You can have any ideology, but it should not slide into unlawfulness. Contours where free speech ends and lawlessness begins should be marked,” he argued.

Mr Salve said the court should examine whether this probe was merely an expression of hostility to a political ideology. “If, on the other hand, your lordships feel we are on the trail of unlawful activities, then let the investigation continue,” he submitted.

The prayer for setting up a special investigation team could not be a ritual incantation. PILs now came in a “cut-paste template” to the Supreme Court, he said.

Mr Salve argued that a special investigation team was set up to ensure that an ongoing investigation was not derailed by persons in power or when there was no sanctity in an investigation. Here, the investigation was being done as per the book.

He said the question whether an individual was rightly arrested or not should be examined on a person-to-person basis. Courts below could dispassionately look into the allegations. For example, in the sensational 2G scam case, the trial judge waited for years and discharged the accused when no evidence was forthcoming.

“Our judiciary is robust. Our magistrates can deal with criminal law,” Mr. Salve said, raising the issue of petitioners directly having approached the apex court. “There are four tiers of appeal for the accused. Then your lordships are always there. Ultimately, it [this case] may land up here.”

Case if framed

Mr Singhvi alleged that the entire case was framed to create an air of prejudice.

“The FIR filed was on the Koregaon violence, but the five activists were picked up on August 28 for a Maoist plot on the life of a sovereign head. Maoist plot is not based on the FIR. This plot finds no mention in any record produced in court. You do not act like this if there is a Maoist plot against the Prime Minister,” he submitted.

Mr Salve took strong objection to Mr Singhvi’s references to a press conference held by Maharashtra Police ADGP (Law and Order) Parambir Singh. Mr Singhvi said Mr Singh had “flashed and circulated” documents allegedly to connect the arrested activists to Maoists.

Mr Salve said the senior police officer should be allowed to file an affidavit in court on whether he did distribute any documents and which ones. He cannot be accused carte blanche, he objected.

Mr Singhvi asked how a Mr Salve’s client, a mere intervenor, could forward arguments in favour of the Maharashtra police. In reply, Mr Salve said Mr Singhvi’s clients were “third parties” and not the arrested activists.

At one point, Chief Justice Misra asked Mr Singhvi to quit arguing as if in trial court on a remand application. “This is a writ petition under Article 32,” he observed.

Justice Khanwilkar said though the prayer may be for setting up of a special investigation team, the arguments made by the petitioners pressed for quashing of the charges itself.