BBC News – India’s next government will have a growth problem

Soutik Biswas, India correspondent

New Delhi – India, 17 May 2019. As India lumbers towards the final phase of an exhausting general election and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP seeks a second term in power, there’s some worrying news. The world’s fastest growing major economy appears to be headed for a slowdown.

The signs are everywhere. Economic growth slowed to 6.6% in the three months to December, the slowest in six quarters. Sales of cars and SUVs have slumped to a seven-year-low. Tractors and two-wheelers sales are down. Net profits for 334 companies (excluding banks and financials) are down 18% year-on-year, according to the Financial Express newspaper.

That’s not all. In March, passenger growth in the world’s fastest growing aviation market expanded at the slowest pace in nearly six years. Demand for bank credit has spluttered.

Hindustan Unilever, India’s leading maker of fast moving consumer goods, has reported March quarter revenue growth of just 7%, its weakest in 18 months.

One newspaper wondered whether India was “losing the consumption plot”. Taken together, all this points to a fall in both urban and rural incomes, leading to demand contraction. A crop glut has seen farm incomes drop.

And credit stagnation, partly triggered by the collapse of a major non-banking financial institution, or a shadow bank, has led to a fall in lending and worsened matters.

Kaushik Basu, former chief economist of the World Bank and professor of economics at Cornell University, believes the slowdown is “much more serious” than he initially believed. “The evidence is now mounting to the point where it can no longer be ignored,” he told me.

One reason, he believes, is the controversial currency ban in 2016, also called demonetisation, which adversely hit farmers. More than 80% of the currency circulating in India’s sprawling cash-driven economy was taken out of circulation in what, in the words of one of Prime Minister Modi’s own advisers, was a “massive, draconian, monetary shock”.

“This was evident to all by early 2017. What many observers did not realise then, I did not, is that the shock made the farmers take on debts which ended up causing sustained hardship to them that is continuing and slowing down the agriculture sector.”

The other major disappointment, according to Professor Basu, has been exports. “Export growth has been close to zero for the last five years. For a low-wage economy like India, a little policy professionalism, a combination of monetary policy and micro incentives, is all that is needed to grow this sector.

It is regrettable that the rhetoric was not backed up with policy design.”

Others like economist Rathin Roy, a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, believe that India’s consumption story could actually be levelling out.

Dr Roy believes India’s rapid growth has been essentially powered by its top 100 million citizens. The leading indicators of economic prosperity, he says, are things that these Indians consume, cars, two-wheelers, air conditioners and so on. Having had their fill of home-made goods, they have now moved to imported luxuries, foreign holidays and Italian kitchens, for example.

A majority of Indians want nutritious food, affordable clothing and housing, health and education, which really should be the leading indicators of economic growth. “Subsidies and income support cannot pay for such consumption on a massive scale.

At least half the population should earn incomes that enable them to buy these at affordable prices so that a maximum of 500 million people can be subsidised to improve their welfare,” Dr Roy says.

Unless India is able to do this in the next decade or so, Dr Roy believes, it is headed for what economists call a “middle income trap”, when a country stops being able to achieve rapid growth easily and compete with advanced economies.

Economist Ardo Hannson defines it as a situation when countries “seem to get stuck in a trap where your costs are escalating and you lose competitiveness”.

One problem is that once you are stuck in a middle income trap, it is difficult to get out. A World Bank study found that out of the 101 middle-income countries in 1960, some 13 had become high-income by 2008 based on per capita income relative to the US.

Only three of the 13 countries have a population of more than 25 million. India is a lower-middle income economy and to get caught in a trap at this stage will be tragic.

Dr Roy says the classic middle income trap means that the rich are taxed to provide minimum services to the poor, who will kept from extreme poverty and vulnerability by using such taxes to subsidise their existence, including an universal basic income in perpetuity.

“We will be Brazil. On the other hand If India produces what all Indians want to consume efficiently, and at affordable prices, then inclusive growth will stave off the middle income trap. We will be Japan,” says Dr Roy.

The next government has its work cut out.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-48268801

The Indian Express – Amid reports of shortage, Pakistan government offers to supply Rooh-Afza to India

Rooh Afza, a popular beverage in Pakistan as well as India, has been reportedly in short supply in the Indian market.

New Delhi – India, 09 May 2019. The Pakistan government on Thursday offered to send Rooh-Afza, the staple Iftar drink, to India, following reports of short supply of the popular rose-flavoured beverage in the Indian market.

“If the supply of Rooh-Afza from Pakistan quenches their (Indians) thirst, then we will certainly want to do so,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal told reporters during his weekly media briefing here.

Earlier in the day, Rooh-Afza-maker Hamdard Laboratories India said in New Delhi that its popular drink is now available in the market after a temporary shortage due to short supply of certain herbal ingredients.

On Tuesday, Hamdard Laboratories Pakistan also offered to supply Rooh-Afza to India via Wagah border in Amritsar in view of its shortage for the ongoing Ramzan period.

“We can supply RoohAfza and RoohAfzaGO to India during this Ramzan. We can easily send trucks through Wahga border if permitted by the Indian Government,” Usama Qureshi, MD and CEO of Pakistani Hamdard, tweeted.

The Hamdards in India and Pakistan have common ancestry. In 1906, Hakeem Hafiz Abdul Majeed had laid the foundation of Hamdard Dawakhana in one of the by lanes of Old Delhi and in 1907 launched RoohAfza.

Following partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, his elder son stayed in India, while the younger one migrated to Pakistan and started Hamdard in Karachi and launched RoohAfza there.

Meanwhile, Hamdard Laboratories India in a statement said, “RoohAfza is now available in the market and can be bought from major retail stores and grocery outlets across the country.”

“The organisation urges discerning consumers and the trade not to be misled by incorrect information being circulated online and in print about non-availability of RoohAfza,” it added.

Rooh Afza, a popular beverage in Pakistan as well as India, has been reportedly in short supply in the Indian market. According to reports published in Indian publication, The Print, the staple Iftar drink Rooh Afza is not available for purchase in India for over four months now. And this has prompted the beverage producer in Pakistan to offer help.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/pakistan-govt-offers-to-supply-rooh-afza-to-india-5719936/

The Statesman – Sam Pitroda’s ‘anti-Sikh riots’ remark out of line, should apologise: Rahul Gandhi

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Minorities on Friday sent notice to Sam Pitroda over his remarks on anti-Sikh riots and directed him to tender an unconditional apology to the Sikh community.

New Delhi – India, 11 May 2019. Under fire over its leader Sam Pitroda’s comment on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that what Pitroda has said “is completely out of line” and asked him to apologise.

“I think 1984 was a needless tragedy that caused tremendous pain,” Gandhi said in a Facebook post.

Pitroda, the in-charge of the Congress’s overseas units, on Thursday, rubbished BJP’s allegation that the 1984 anti-Sikh riots took place on the orders of former PM Rajiv Gandhi.

“Ab kya hai ’84 ka? Aapne kya kiya 5 saal mein, uski baat kariye. ’84 mein hua to hua. Aapne kya kiya? (What about 1984 now? What have you done in the last five years, talk about that? What happened in 1984, happened. What have you done?),” Pitroda was quoted as saying by ANI.

Rahul Gandhi in his post, further stressed that people responsible for the riots should be punished.

“The Former PM, Manmohan Singh Ji has apologised. My mother, Sonia Gandhi Ji has apologised. We all have made our position very clear, that 1984 was a terrible tragedy and should never have happened,” he said.

“What Mr Sam Pitroda has said is absolutely and completely out of line and is not appreciated. I will be communicating this to him directly. He must apologise for his comment,” Gandhi concluded.

PM said on Friday that the three words uttered by Pitroda – ‘hua to hua’ – sum up the arrogance of the grand old party and proves that “they have no regard for life”.

Following mass outrage over Pitroda’s remark, the Congress on Friday issued a statement distancing itself while asserting that the party continues to strive for justice for victims of any riot.

“Any opinion remark made by any individual to the contrary including Sam Pitroda is not the opinion of Congress party,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on Friday sent notice to Sam Pitroda over his “hua to hua” remarks on 1984 anti-Sikh riots and directed him to tender an unconditional apology to the Sikh community.

The notice, issued on a complaint filed by Delhi BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, said that the remarks had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community.

The 1984 riots followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. At least 3000 innocent Sikhs were killed, mainly in Delhi and Punjab.

Several Congress leaders have been accused of instigating the mob during the riots.

Sam Pitroda’s ‘anti-Sikh riots’ remark out of line, should apologise: Rahul Gandhi

BBC News – India election 2019: How sugar influences the world’s biggest vote

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a recent election meeting in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, he was compelled to make a promise relating to sugar, a diet staple.

Soutik Biswas – India correspondent

New Delhi – India, 08 May 2019. Farmers who grow cane in the politically crucial state ruled by Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were angry because sugar mills had not paid their dues in time. They held protests and blocked railway tracks. “I know there are cane dues. I will make sure every penny of yours will be paid,” Mr Modi told the audience.

India’s sugar mills are bleeding money and collectively owe billions of dollars to 50 million cane farmers, many of whom haven’t been paid for nearly a year.

Niti Ayog, a government think tank, says the arrears have reached “alarming” levels. More than 12 million tonnes of unsold sugar have piled up in factories. There is little incentive to export more as India’s sugar price is higher than the international price.

Sugar is serious business in India. Around 525 mills produced more than 30 million tonnes of sugar in the last crushing season, which lasted from October to April. This makes it the world’s largest producer, unseating Brazil. A large number of mills are run by cooperatives where farmers own shares proportional to the land they own and pledge their produce to the mill.

That’s not all. Some 50 million farmers, tightly concentrated geographically, are engaged in cane farming. Millions more work in the mills and farms and are engaged in transportation of cane.

As with much of India’s politics, cane growers appear to be a reliable “vote bank”. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, which together produce 60% of the country’s sugar, send 128 MPs to the parliament.

The price of cane can swing votes in more than 150 of the 545 seats in the ongoing general election, according to one estimate. Sugar is possibly the “most politicised crop in the world”, says Shekhar Gaikwad, the sugar commissioner of Maharashtra.

Indians are also voracious consumers of sugar. The bulk of the supply goes into making sweets, confectionary and fizzy drinks that are beginning to contribute to a rising obesity problem, like elsewhere in the world.

“The world’s sweet tooth continues to rely on cane sugar, much as it did four centuries ago,” says James Walvin, author of How Sugar Corrupted the World.

On the face of it, cane growers and owners of sugar mills should be happy.

The government sets cane and sugar prices, allocates production and export quotas, and hands out ample subsidies. State-run banks give crop loans to farmers and production loans to mills. When mills run out of cash, public funds are used to bail them out. “I earn around 7,000 rupees ($100; £76) from growing sugar every month.

It’s not a lot of money, but it’s an assured income,” says Sanjay Anna Kole, a fourth-generation, 10-acre cane farm owner in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district.

But protectionism may be yielding diminishing returns. Generous price support for the crop means the price at which mills buy cane has outstripped the price at which they sell sugar. Among large producers, Thailand, Brazil and Australia, India pays the highest cane price to farmers. It also spends more than Brazil, for example, in producing sugar.

The involvement of politicians may not be helping matters. Since the inception of the first mills in the 1950s, politicians have owned or gained control of them by winning mill co-operative elections. Almost half a dozen ministers in Maharashtra, India’s second-biggest cane growing state, own sugar mills.

A study on the links between politicians and sugar mills by Sandip Sukhtankar, associate professor of economics at University of Virginia, found that 101 of the 183 mills, for which data was available, in Maharashtra had chairmen who competed for state or national elections between 1993 and 2005.

He also found that cane prices paid by “politically controlled” mills fell during election years, and that this was not entirely due to loss of productivity.

These mills have also been blamed for holding on to arrears and releasing them before elections to win over voters; and political parties have been accused of using money from the mills to finance campaigns.

“One would think that perhaps political parties that don’t benefit from links to sugar might have incentives to reform the sector, but we have seen parties everywhere want a piece of the action,” says Dr Sukhtankar. “There are resources in the sugar industry to be extracted for political purposes.”

Whatever the case, India’s world-beating crop is mired in crisis. The farmers and the mills grumble that they aren’t getting a fair price for their crop and sugar respectively. “It looks like a sunset industry for me. There’s no future in cane until the government completely overhauls farm policies,” Suresh Mahadev Gatage, an organic cane-grower in Kolhapur, told me.

The unrest among the farmers is worrying. In January, several thousand angry cane farmers descended on Shekhar Gaikwad’s office in the city of Pune, demanding the mills pay their dues in time. The negotiations lasted 13 hours.

One of the farmers’ demands was to arrest a state minister, who was heading three mills in the state, and had defaulted on his cane dues. When negotiations ended way past midnight, authorities issued orders to seize sugar from the offending mills and sell it in retail.

In India’s lumbering bureaucracy, that took another eight hours because 500 copies of the orders had to be printed. “My office is pelted by stones every other day by irate farmers,” says Mr Gaikwad.

Meanwhile, what is completely forgotten is how much sugar has hurt India’s ecology. More than 60% of the water available for farming in India is consumed by rice and sugar, two crops that occupy 24% of the cultivable area. Experts say crop prices should begin to reflect the scarcity and economic value of water.

But before that, as Raju Shetti, MP and a prominent leader of sugarcane farmers, says, price controls should be eased and bulk corporate buyers like soft drink companies and pharmaceuticals should pay more for sugar.

“We need differential pricing for sugar. Cheap sugar should be only provided to people who can’t afford it. The rest should pay a higher price,” he told me.

“Otherwise, the industry will collapse, and farmers will die. Even politicians will not be able to save it.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-48173677

India Today – BJP’s latest on Rajiv Gandhi: Instruction to kill came from his office in 1984 riots

The BJP claimed that it’s on record of Nanavati Commission that probed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that instructions to kill came directly from the then PM Rajiv Gandhi’s office.

New Delhi – India, 09 May 2109. The BJP continues to target former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the campaign for the ongoing Lok Sabha election. In the latest attack on Rajiv Gandhi, the BJP alleged that the “instructions to kill” came from the then Prime Minister’s Office in 1984 riots.

“It’s on record of Nanavati Commission that probed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the biggest genocide of India in which the government killed its own citizens, that instructions to kill came directly from the then PM Rajiv Gandhi’s office,” the BJP posted on Twitter today, adding, “The country awaits justice for this karma.”

This is in reference to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s Sunday jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had accused the former prime minister of corruption last week.

Responding to PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter: “Modi Ji, The battle is over. Your Karma awaits you. Projecting your inner beliefs about yourself onto my father won’t protect you. All my love and a huge hug. Rahul”

PM Modi had called Rajiv Gandhi the “bhrashtachari number one” (corrupt number one) at an election rally. “Your father was termed Mr Clean by his courtiers, but his life ended as bhrashtachari no 1,” Modi had said in Uttar Pradesh.

PM Modi has continued to attack the Congress with barbs on Rajiv Gandhi. On Wednesday, he told an election rally in New Delhi that Rajiv Gandhi used naval warship INS Viraat as his “personal taxi” when he went for a holiday with his family and relatives from sasural in 1987.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/rajiv-gandhi-bjp-1984-riots-modi-rahul-prime-minister-office-1520739-2019-05-09

The Hindustan Times – ‘Worst fears have come true’, says complainant in CJI case

In a statement issued after the panel’s notification was made public, the complainant said “gross injustice” has been done to her “as a woman citizen of India”.

Our Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 07 May 2019. The former Supreme Court employee who levelled charges of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said on Monday she was “highly disappointed and dejected” by the clean chit given to him by the three-member in-house panel of the Supreme Court, and would decide on the next step after consulting her lawyer.

In a statement issued after the panel’s notification was made public, the complainant said “gross injustice” has been done to her “as a woman citizen of India”. The court’s notification said that the full report did not need to be made public, citing a previous Supreme Court judgment dating back to 2003.

The woman said she was terrified “because the in-house committee, despite having all material placed before them, appears to have given me no justice or protection and said nothing about the absolutely mala fide dismissals and suspensions, indignities and humiliations suffered by me and my family. I and my family remain vulnerable to the ongoing reprisals and attack.”

The complainant had detailed the alleged wrongful dismissals and indignities in a sworn affidavit sent to 22 judges of the apex court on April 19. She said that not only were the services terminated, her husband and brotherin-law were suspended from the Delhi Police.

Her third brotherin-law, who has a disability and whose job she had secured with Gogoi’s help, was given a termination letter. “Today, my worst fears have come true, and all hope of justice and redress from the committee have been shattered,” she said in her statement.

The woman participated in the proceedings of the panel but walked out after her third deposition on April 30, saying she had lost faith in it because she was not allowed to be accompanied by her lawyer, and because the proceedings were not being recorded.

The complainant also said that she was not aware if the committee had called other persons, such as the police officer who, she alleged, had taken her to the CJI’s residence to make her apologise. The complainant said she also asked the panel to secure the call record details of the CJI and had submitted two mobile numbers, asking that the committee corroborate her charge that he regularly called and sent her WhatsApp messages.

“I will consult my lawyer and decide on the next steps. Today, I am at the verge of losing faith in the capacity of our system to deliver justice to the weak and vulnerable who are pitted against the powerful within the system itself,” she said.

Gogoi has refuted the allegations, saying a ‘bigger force’ wants to deactivate CJI’s office.

In an interview, last week, her lawyer Prashant Bhushan said that the complainant can invoke various remedies under the law. “She can file an FIR with a police station but that will require the permission of the President of India. She can also go to court challenging her dismissal from service,” Bhushan said.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/worst-fears-have-come-true-says-cji-case-complainant/story-vQ3kp2eW0QZ6UFsQxWwOrM.html

Sikh24.com – Fifteen genocide culprits acquitted by Supreme Court

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 01 May 2019. On 30 April, the Supreme Court of India quashed the Delhi High Court’s verdict that convicted 15 genocide culprits for five years and acquitted all of them.

Acquitting 15 out of total 70 genocide culprits, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that there was no direct evidence against these men and they were not identified by witnesses.

This case pertains to Trilokpuri area of India’s national capital Delhi, which was one of the worst affected areas of Delhi in the 1984 Sikh genocide that was committed by the Hindu mobs after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31 in 1984.

As per India’s official records, Police had recovered 95 dead bodies from Trilokpuri. More than 100 houses of Sikhs were also burnt.

Although, all the genocide culprits were sentenced to five years by the trial court for rioting, burning houses and violation of curfew on August 27, 1996 but charges of murder could not be brought against any of them.

In November last year, the Delhi High Court had upheld the conviction of 70 out of the 89 people who were sentenced to five years of jail by the trial court for rioting, burning houses and violation of curfew during the 1984 Sikh genocide.

“The fact that these cases have continued to linger on in courts at the stage of trial or appeals is itself an indicator of the reality that the response of the law has been tardy, ineffective and highly unsatisfactory,” Justice R K Gauba had remarked in his 79-page verdict.

15 Genocide Culprits Acquitted by Supreme Court

The Hindu – Sri Lanka Easter blasts: Suspected mastermind Zahran Hashim spent time in south India, says top military source

Investigators identified Zahran Hashim as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts.

Meera Srinivasan & Suhasini Haidar

Colombo – Sri Lanka / New Delhi – India, 27 April 2019. Zahran Hashim, believed to have masterminded the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, spent “substantial” time in “South India,” a top Sri Lankan military source said on Friday.

Investigators identified Hashim as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts on Sunday. Over 250 people, including 45 children and 40 foreign nationals, were killed in the deadly explosions.

Two days later, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks and subsequently released an image of eight suspected bombers. The man seen standing at the centre is believed to be Hashim. The other jihadists had covered their faces with a scarf.

Sri Lankan investigators, however, have identified nine suicide bombers, including a woman. “We are looking into the IS angle. We also suspect that some of those radical youth were indoctrinated and trained in India, possibly Tamil Nadu,” the senior official said, on condition of anonymity.

Indian officials would not comment that Hashim travelled to India but pointed to evidence of virtual links he maintained with youth believed to be of Indian origin. More than 100 followers of Hashim’s Facebook page are being investigated, said an official, who asked not to be named.

The first hints of Hashim’s doctrinal videos, to likely radicalise youth, emerged when Indian authorities interrogated seven members of a group whose leader, officials found, was a follower of Hashim.

The men were IS sympathisers and arrested in September 2018 in Coimbatore, on suspicion that they were plotting the assassination of certain political and religious leaders in India, the official said.

‘Hashim, a Shangri-La bomber’

Sri Lankan authorities, who have so far not named any of the nine suicide bombers or suspects officially, on Friday confirmed Hashim was one of the two suicide bombers who carried out the explosions at hotel Shangri-La, on Colombo’s sea-facing Galle Road.

He led the radical Islamist group in Kattankudy, in Batticaloa district of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, and was known for espousing extremist religious ideas, often to the discomfort of many within the community.

Earlier this week, locals told The Hindu that Zahran had left the town two years ago after a fierce disagreement with the Moulavi (religious scholar) on the practice of Islam. He was absconding since then, community leaders said.

Heightened searches

Following Sunday’s brutal attacks, inarguably the biggest atrocity the island has seen in its post-civil war decade, police and the armed forces have arrested at least 75 persons for their alleged role in the bombings.

A list of 139 youth has been drawn up and security forces are desperate to eliminate any persistent threat, official sources said. Police on Thursday released photographs of a few suspects, including one wrong photograph for which they later regretted, and sought the help of the public to nab them.

President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday vowed to “meet the challenge and defeat terrorism” in the country. Investigations into war-time rights abuse allegations had weakened the country’s security apparatus and made it vulnerable to terror attacks, he said, apparently referring to military officials facing trial for alleged abduction and murder.

Speaking to local editors and Colombo-based foreign journalists, Mr. Sirisena said a major search operation, including a door-to-door check, was underway. Acknowledging a “serious lapse” in intelligence sharing, despite “a friendly country” providing a “highly descriptive warning” on April 4.

He squarely blamed the Defence Secretary and the Inspector General of Police for it. Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned on Thursday, although he told Reuters “there had been no failure on his part”.

President Sirisena further said that the planned attack could have been a response to his campaign against illicit drugs. “There is a nexus between international terrorism and international drug trade,” he said.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/sri-lanka-easter-blasts-suspected-mastermind-zahran-hashim-spent-time-in-south-india-says-top-military-source/article26959549.ece

The Hindu – Justice, not revenge, was my aim, says Bilkis Bano

The Gujarat riot victim terms the SC ruling a clear message

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

New Delhi – India, 25 April 2019. A day after the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat government to give Bilkis Bano ₹50 lakh as compensation, a government job and a house, the 2002 communal riots victim on Friday said revenge was not her aim while fighting the case.

“Justice and not revenge was my aim. Throughout I kept my faith in the Constitution, my rights as a citizen, and the Supreme Court has stood by me,” said Ms. Bano at a press conference here.

Asked about what kept her going for the past 17 years she said: “On March 3 during the riots I saw the devastation of my family, I lost my daughter. I had nothing more to lose and that gave me the courage to struggle on.”

She added that she is happy with the order and the exemplary compensation. “Now I hope I can give my child a stable home and life. I also hope that my daughter will grow up and become a lawyer who can defend others.”

“I also want to use part of the money to help other women survivors of hate and communal violence to seek justice. We hope to help educate their children, in whose lives the spirit of my daughter Saleha (who she lost during the riots) will live on,” said an emotional Bilkis, who had her husband Yakub by her side during the press conference.

Besides the media, the conference saw the presence of citizens from all walks of life, including women’s rights and human rights activists who said they were there to salute Bilkis’ courage, and at this dark time in India, when hate crimes and hate speech were on the rise, to celebrate this historic moment of hope for equal justice for all citizens of India, and for the victory of constitutional values.

Bilkis Bano speaking about the most difficult part of her ‘journey’ said: “The fact that I was forced to live in a hostile state was the most difficult part of the struggle. Today, everyone is asking me what I will do with the money. Well I would just want my life back. The fact that the courts acknowledge my pain itself is big for me.”

Not about money

“The Supreme Court’s order to me is not about the money. It is about the signal it has sent to the State and to each citizen of this country. The order’s clear message is that we have rights and that no State can be allowed to violate,” she said.

Bilkis Bano’s advocate Shobna, who represented her in Supreme Court, was also present.

“This case gives hope to women and the common man,” she said,. adding, “the order of the Supreme Court provides for the damages to Bilkis’s Constitutional right to life; right to bodily integrity; right to be protected by the State; and right to seek justice for wrongs suffered by her among others.”

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/justice-not-revenge-was-my-aim-says-bilkis-bano/article26935283.ece

The Asian Age – HC seeks SIT’s reply on 1984 riot convict’s sentence suspension plea

The SIT is investigating nearly 60 cases related to the riots, while it has filed “untraced report” in 52 cases.

New Delhi – India, 25 April 2019. The Delhi High Court has sought Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) response on a plea by a convict, who was awarded life term in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, who has interim suspension of his sentence on medical ground.

It asked the jail superintendent to give a report on the convict Naresh Sehrawat’s medical condition. It asked the (SIT) and the state to respond to the convict’s plea in which he claimed that his liver was 90 per cent damaged and sought interim suspension of the sentence.

The SIT has been asked to verify the documents given by Sehrawat in support of his medical condition.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on May 1. A trial court had awarded life term to Sherawat in a case related to the killing of two men in New Delhi during the 1984 riots, the first convictions in the cases reopened by the SIT. It had also awarded capital punishment to co-convict Yashpal Singh in the case.

The appeals of both the convicts, against their conviction and sentence by the trial court as well as the death reference of Yashpal, are pending in the high court.

The court had earlier issued notice to Yashpal on the reference to confirm his death sentence. The Delhi Police had closed the case in 1994 for want of evidence, but it was reopened by the SIT.

The SIT is investigating nearly 60 cases related to the riots, while it has filed “untraced report” in 52 cases.

While this was the first death penalty after the SIT was formed, one Kishori was earlier given the death penalty by a trial court in as many as seven anti-Sikh riots cases. However, the Delhi High Court confirmed death penalty only in three cases, which were later commuted to life term by the apex court.

As per the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the death penalty cannot be executed unless confirmed by the high court. The trial court had awarded varying jail terms to the convicts and imposed fines for offences including attempt to murder, dacoity and attacking victims by dangerous weapons.

It had spared convict Sherawat the gallows on medical grounds. The trial court had convicted Yashpal and Sherawat for killing Hardev Singh and Avtar Singh in Mahipalpur area of South Delhi on November 1, 1984 during the riots that had taken place after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The case was lodged on a complaint by victim Hardev’s brother Santokh Singh. The trial court had held both the accused guilty for the offences of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means under the IPC.

A mob of about 500 persons, led by the two convicts, had encircled the house of the victims and had killed them. It was just one of the incidents out of several others Delhi alone witnessed during the riots that saw around 3,000 people being killed.

Of the 650 cases registered in connection with the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, 267 were closed as untraced by the Delhi Police. Of these 267 cases, five were later taken up by the CBI. The SIT also scrutinised records of 18 cancelled cases.

https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/250419/hc-seeks-sits-reply-on-1984-riot-convicts-sentence-suspension-plea.html