30 January 2015

Northeast Students Asked To Prove They’re Indians

Representational Image. (Photo: PTI/File) Guwahati, Jan 30 : A group of students from prestigious Handique Girls’ College of Assam was prevented from entering the Taj Mahal by authorities because “their faces were looking like foreigners.”
A group of 29 history students from Guwahati-based Handique Girls’ College, were on a college excursion recently to Jaipur, Agra-Mathura, Vrindavan and Delhi to see India’s historical culture. When the group reached Agra to see the Taj Mahal, the students were denied entry and told to buy ticket for foreigners. The obvious reason was that they had Mongoloid features.
When students showed their Permanent Account Number cards, they were told those weren’t enough as a PAN card did not testify whether the person hailed from Assam or not. When the students flanked their college identity cards, the officials said though the college identity cards affirmed that they were from Assam, nowhere on the cards was written that Assam is a part of India.
A student, who was part of the group said that the horrifying incident left them dejected as authorities went on humiliating the teachers accompanying the students. The authorities frisking tickets at the gate even engaged into a verbal brawl with senior professor. 
“They asked us to name the chief minister of Assam and where in India, Assam is located, which subjected us to sheer humiliation,” narrated the students.
This incident came close on the heels of an incident during the Republic Day parade at Rajpath when a girl from Arunachal Pradesh was humiliated and harassed by the crowd by asking her nationality.

The crowd, which branded her as Chinese because of her face went to the extent of lodging complaints with the authorities asking as to how a foreigner was allowed to sit in galley meant for Indians.

Northeast Students Allege Online Racial Abuse

By Raj Shekhar

New Delhi, Jan 30 : In what appears to be a disturbing trend, a number of students from Meghalaya studying in Delhi have approached police alleging that someone has hurled racial abuses at them on a social networking site in the past few months.

According to the complainants, a particular Facebook page titled, "Save the Hindus of Himalaya", has carried objectionable messages targeting Khasi students. The Economic Offences Wing has lodged an FIR under Section 66 (A) of the IT Act and IPC 153(A) (spreading hatred between two groups).

While Facebook has blocked the page, police are yet to receive the IP address of the user. They said the accused will be arrested once they receive his coordinates. Data released by the northeast cell of Delhi Police reveal that it has registered 28 cases of cyber crime in the past eight months.

In the complaint submitted to the joint commissioner, Satish Golcha, the Meghalaya students' union has said the Facebook page has been active for more than a year, but in the past few weeks, its administrator has shown more aggression in "his" tone. "There have also been incidents of him instigating people to physically harm those from Meghalaya, especially the Khasis. As students from the state of Meghalaya, we feel that our people, especially the students are disturbed and scared with this kind of language being used in social media," said the complainant, Simon Duncan Kharsohtun. A senior police officer said a complaint from Simon and other students from Meghalaya was received. "During inquiry, a notice was sent to Facebook (USA) to provide the details of the page.

Facebook has intimated that the page has been blocked but we have asked for further information," the officer said. Between May 9 and January 29, police received 1,010 distress calls, of these 780 were crime-related. A total of 290 FIRs were registered on these calls in the past eight months.

South district, which has the maximum number of people from the northeast, has recorded 320 complaints while the southeast Delhi stands second with 66 complaints. Northwest district has received 52 complaints, southwest 51, north 48, west 41, east 22, central 18, New Delhi 16, outer 13 and northeast district, which has the least population, has received merely 7 complaints.

Among the police stations in south Delhi, Vasant Vihar received 71 complaints, Safdarjung Enclave 59, Malviya Nagar 29, Kotla 28, Mukherjee Nagar 28, Vasant Kunj 47, Timarpur 17, Mehrauli 19, and South Campus and RK Puram 17 each.

Financial Crisis Hits Mizoram’s Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Aizawl, Jan 30 : Healthcare providers working to stem the spread of HIV in a state with the second-highest prevalence rate in India have warned of a potential surge in new infections as the state government has withheld funds for five months, leading to massive cut-backs in operations such as distribution of syringes to drug addicts, handing out condoms and facilitating blood tests.

“There is definitely going to be a surge in HIV positive cases in a few months from now as more and more people get tested for the virus,” warned John Thansanga, who heads an umbrella group of healthcare providers that directly deal with Mizoram’s HIV patients and high-risk populations, including intravenous drug-users, homosexuals, sex-workers and informal migrant workers.

The umbrella grouping consists of 37 organisations which are at the frontline of the state’s AIDS control society’s fight against HIV.

A vast majority have already scaled down their operations while many have reported they are being asked to vacate their centres because
they are unable to pay their rent while workers and staff are owed up to five months’ salaries, John Thansanga said, adding most are unable to get anymore credit since they have been unable to repay earlier ones.

This means free fresh syringes are beyond the reach of a huge percentage of the more than 12,500 intravenous drug users being treated by these centres, while more than an equal number of sex-workers, informal migrant workers and homosexuals are not being sufficiently provided condoms.

This shortage of protective paraphernalia means it is not just HIV but different kinds of hepatitis, sexually-transmitted diseases and other ailments spread through exchange of blood that are at risk of being contracted by many others.

“It’s a public health issue that is not limited just to HIV,” John Thansanga said.

His colleague, Lalrinawma Chhakchhuak, explained the squeeze in operations has been set off because the cash-strapped Mizoram government is yet to release Rs 820.32 lakhs that has already been transferred to the state by NACO.

The state treasury has a daily withdrawal ceiling and funds for combating HIV are apparently not on the priority list as the government continues to struggle with a lack of finances that has hung over the state for several years now.

Officials from the Mizoram State Aids Control Society, who declined to be named, admitted the nodal agency has not received the funds from the state government for the past five months and therefore could not disburse them to the frontline organisations.

“Right now even we are in the same boat. We’re all broke,” said one senior official.

Among Indian states, Mizoram is officially believed to be second only to Nagaland when it comes to HIV prevalence rates, which is juxtaposed by accounting for the percentage of women attending antenatal clinics who are found to be infected with the virus.

2825 Criminal Cases Registered in Mizoram

Aizawl, Jan 30 : Police stations and outposts across Mizoram registered 2,825 criminal cases of which there were 45 murder cases and 125 rape cases during January to December 2014, according to the records of the state CID (Crime) branch. 

The records showed that at least one murder case was registered every month and seven murder cases in March and June.             

There were 23 attempted murder cases registered  and except in April at least one attempted murder case was registered every month during the year.      

 Police registered 125 rape cases during the same period and suspected that there were many cases which went unreported including rape of minors.       

 The highest number of case registered was theft at 889 cases followed by 484 cases of burglary while there were 234 people died and 103 others were injured in 132 vehicle accidents during last year.
29 January 2015

Mizoram Has More Ration Cards Than its Population

Aizawl, Jan 29 : Mizoram has more ration cards than its total population.

The startling revelation was made in the Statistical Handbook of Mizoram, 2014 released by state planning minister Lalsawta on Tuesday. According to it, there were more than 15 lakh ration cards in the state which has a population of not even 11 lakh (2011 Census).

The population of Mizoram, according to the 2011 census, was 10, 97,206. But as per 2, 65,473 ration cards issued by the state food, civil supplies and consumer affairs department, the figure stands at 15, 43,180 till June, 2014.

The names in the cards issued show that there were 11, 78,563 adults and 3, 64, 617 minors. Officials suspect that many retailers who were selling rice at subsidized rates to the public through PDS fraudulently made fake ration cards so that they could sell surplus rice at higher prices, especially in bulk.

"It was impossible to detect such fake ration cards as the shop owners, in connivance with the leaders of village councils or local councils, approach the food, civil supplies and consumer affairs department for issuing ration cards," said an official.

A leader of Young Mizo Association (YMA) said the YMA had tried to correct the wrong but it was an extremely difficult task.

Mizoram's First Chakma Minister Nirupam Quits Congress

Aizawl, Jan 29 : Mizoram's first Minister from the Chakma community and veteran Congress leader Nirupam Chakma today resigned from the primary membership of the party.

Chakma submitted his resignation as the senior adviser of the Chakma Autonomous District Council Congress Committee (CADCCC) and as primary member of the Congress party to the CADCCC President.

He sent the copies of his resignation letter to AICC President Sonia Gandhi and Mizoram Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) President Lal Thanhawla.

Chakma first contested the state assembly polls in 1987 from Chawngte seat and was elected.

He again won from the same constituency in 1989 and was sworn in as a Minister of State on January 25, 1989 to become the first ever Chakma Minister in the state.

He was again inducted as minister of state after winning the state assembly polls in 1993.

He again won the state assembly polls in 1998 and 2003 during which the Congress sat in the opposition and was denied a cabinet berth after the Congress party returned to power in the 2008 state assembly polls when Nihar Kanti Chakma, a younger man was inducted as minister of state.

He was denied the Congress ticket in the 2013 state assembly and even was not given the post of Chief Executive Member of the Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC).

Tripura, Mizoram Officials Summoned Over Refugee Repatriation

Agartala/Aizawl, Jan 29 : The union home ministry has summoned Tripura and Mizoram officials to New Delhi Jan 30 to discuss the repatriation of Mizoram's tribal refugees, sheltered in northern Tripura for more than 17 years, officials said Wednesday.

"The home ministry has convened a meeting of officials of Tripura and Mizoram in New Delhi Jan 30 to resume the repatriation of tribal refugees to Mizoram," Tripura's Relief and Rehabilitation Department Additional Secretary Karnamani Das said.

"The (Tripura) state government has been asking both Mizoram and the union home ministry to repatriate the tribal refugees to their villages in Mizoram. A serious socio-economic problem has cropped up due to the long stay of the refugees in Tripura," said Das, who would represent Tripura in the meeting.

Senior officials of the union home ministry would also attend the meeting.

An official in Aizawl said Mizoram Chief Secretary Lalmalsawma held a meeting with the home department officials Tuesday to finalise the strategy for the New Delhi meeting.

Friday's meeting assumes significance in view of the Supreme Court directions Jan 16 about the refugees.

The apex court directed the central and the state governments of Mizoram and Tripura to hold consultations within four months to formulate plans to continue repatriation of the refugees to Mizoram from the Tripura relief camps.

"Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla while speaking in the meeting of the North Eastern Council Jan 2 in Shillong, proposed that those refugees who refused to return to Mizoram despite concerted efforts, should be settled permanently in Tripura," the official added.

"In the last road map for the repatriation of refugees, only 6,647 tribals had returned to Mizoram from Tripura till November last year," the official quoted the chief minister as saying at the NEC meeting.

About 35,000 Reang tribals, locally called "Bru", are staying in six camps in northern Tripura since October 1997 after they fled their villages in western Mizoram following ethnic troubles after the killing of a Mizo forest official.

The refugee leaders in the relief camps said they were reluctant to return to their homes unless their genuine demands were met.

"We have submitted a memorandum to a central government team to solve our 10-point demands, including permanent solution to the ethnic problems," refugee leader and Mizoram Bru Displaced People's Forum (MBDPF) general secretary Bruno Mesha told IANS over phone from Kanchanpur, 190 km north of here.

The refugees' demands include economic rehabilitation of the repatriated refugees, adequate security, allotment of land, employment, free ration for two years and financial assistance of Rs.1.5 lakh per family.

The MBDPF leaders also requested the central government team that till the time they are repatriated to Mizoram, the amount of relief items, including rice, should be increased and their living conditions in makeshift camps should be improved.

Following an order of the Tripura High Court, the union home ministry had last year constituted a seven-member committee headed by Rajiv Gauba, the ministry's additional secretary, to oversee the condition of the refugees in the Tripura camps.

The central team visited the refugee camps last year and submitted its report to the Tripura High Court.

Tripura and Mizoram share a 109-km border.

The Tripura High Court passed its order June 24 following a petition filed by a lawyer.

The refugees also demanded that they should be given facilities and status like that of Kashmiri Pandits and Tamil refugees and should be allotted land. They also demanded creation of model villages in Reang tribals' inhabited areas, better security and sanitation and education for the tribals in Mizoram.

Delhi To Have Special Hostels For Northeast Students

New Delhi, Jan 29 : The central government Wednesday proposed to set up special hostels for students from the northeast region studying in Delhi.

Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Minister Jitendra Singh ordered a sub-committee be set up consisting of representatives from offices of resident commissioners of various states as well as representatives of the DoNER ministry to identify suitable location and land for construction of such hostels.

The minister was addressing a meeting here of resident commissioners of the northeastern states.

The accessibility, security and availability of basic amenities should be important consideration while planning such hostels, an official release said.

Singh also issued instructions for carrying forward negotiations about the venues which were shortlisted as possible locations for these hostels.

The minister called upon the resident commissioners to maintain a regular and closer interaction with his ministry in a more institutionalised manner.

Singh suggested each resident commissioner could collect general information about the profile and composition of the people from his state living in Delhi. This would enable the DoNER ministry to focus its plans on specific needs of students, youth, elderly citizens, women and other sections of society from each state residing in Delhi.

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