Freedom Under Fire: RTI History Removed From Rajasthan Textbooks; Punjab SC/ST Panel Calls For Common Crematoriums

A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.

File photo of Aruna Roy addressing a rally. Credit: Hemanshu Kumar/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

File photo of Aruna Roy addressing a rally. Credit: Hemanshu Kumar/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

History of RTI removed from Rajasthan textbook

According to a Dainik Navajyoti report, the history of the Right to Information Act, including its emergence from a social movement that began in the village of Devdungri, has been removed from the state’s class VII social science textbook. A cartoon of activist Aruna Roy leading the campaign that accompanied the text has also been removed.

Several other changes have also been made in middle school social science textbooks, including to information on the political history of the state.

In an open letter to Chief Secretary C.S. Rajan, activists Roy and Nikhil Dey expressed their disbelief over the removal of the RTI chapter, saying, “In the hurry to rewrite history and manipulate textbooks for political reasons, the government is hurting the sentiments of ordinary people, burying the truth, and actually attempting to obliterate acknowledgement of a contribution that should be of pride to the whole state. … The process of writing and re-writing textbooks cannot be the arbitrary prerogative of the ruling political party, but must be left to an independent process dependent on a dialogue between academics. We are also aware that serious questions have been raised about the cost of reprinting textbooks and the concurrent difficulty for children to access them.”

Set up common cremation grounds for all castes, says Punjab SC/ST panel

Common cremation grounds for members of all castes will be set up in Punjab as part of efforts to eradicate caste based discrimination, India Today quoted state Scheduled Castes Commission Chairman Rajesh Bagha as saying on Sunday.

Bagha added that in most villages in Punjab, there are separate cremation grounds for each community and these receive monetary grants from governments at regular intervals. Calling for an end to the trend, he said that only one common cremation ground should be set up in villages and cities if it can suffice the needs of the population. He also said that cremation grounds should have facilities for electric cremation as it would reduce environmental pollution and the need for fuel, and save trees.

Seven workers killed in landslip at construction site in Andhra Pradesh

Seven workers were killed after a landslip occurred at the construction site of a multiplex at Lakshmipuram in Guntur on Saturday night, The Indian Express reported. Another worker was rescued in a critical condition and rushed to the Government General Hospital for treatment. 

Journalists attacks: Press Club seeks action on culprits 

Expressing serious concern over the murder of two journalists in Bihar and Jharkhand, the Press Club of India on Saturday demanded action against the culprits, and sought a conducive atmosphere for the free and fair functioning of the media in the country, a report in The Indian Express says. The “targeted killings” of senior journalist Rajdev Ranjan in Bihar and TV reporter Akhilesh Pratap Singh in Jharkhand were part of the attempts to “muzzle” the independent voice of the press, the journalists’ body said. 

Bihar students spoiling atmosphere of Kota, says Rajasthan BJP MLA

BJP MLA Bhawani Singh Rajawat on Friday accused students from Bihar of “spoiling” the atmosphere of Kota after a student was allegedly murdered by a group of students belonging to the state, CNN-News18 reported.

“Students from Bihar are spoiling the atmosphere of the city and they must be driven out of the city,” he said. He further alleged that many of them are indulging in unlawful activities.

Satyarth (19), a resident of the Nabada district in Bihar, was allegedly killed by a group of students yesterday while Sandeep Kumar, also from Bihar, sustained injuries in the attack. A case against 25 people has been filed but no arrests has been made, police said. 

Government seeks report as call to ban ‘Shaktimans’ grows

Amid demands to ban police horses following Shaktiman’s death, the Centre has sought a report on their condition from central paramilitary forces and Delhi Police, The Times of India reported.

Shaktiman, deployed by the Uttarakhand police to control crowds during a BJP rally, died last month due to injuries after BJP legislator Ganesh Joshi allegedly hit him.

An activist said Shaktiman’s death should not go in vain. “It must lead to a ban on horses in the police force.”

Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].

If you want to receive regular email updates from this column, subscribe to the Freedom Under Fire newsletter.