Freedom Under Fire: Even Africa Not Safe, Says Mahesh Sharma; Beef Eating Part of Culture, Says Kerala CM

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

Protests in Bengaluru after the mob attack on a Tanzanian girl. Credit: PTI/Files

Protests in Bengaluru after the mob attack on a Tanzanian girl. Credit: PTI/Files

‘Even Africa is not safe’, says culture minister while condemning death of Congolese man in Delhi

Terming the killing of a Congolese national in the capital as unfortunate, Mahesh Sharma, tourism and culture minister, said that even African countries were not safe, reports say.

“India is a large country and such incidents will give a bad name to India. It is an unfortunate incident. However, even Africa is not safe,” Sharma said in an interview. “When I went to South Africa, I was stopped from going for a morning walk at 6 am by the hotel people citing security reasons. My post dinner walk was also dropped for the same reasons. It’s not fair to say that India is unsafe,” said the minister.

Masonda Ketada Oliver, 29, was beaten to death by three youths late at night on May 20 after a verbal altercation over the hiring of an auto-rickshaw near Kishangarh village in the Vasant Kunj area of south Delhi.

This was not the first of such attack. Last year, a Tanzanian woman was beaten up by a mob in Bengaluru and her car was set on fire. She was an innocent passer-by at a road accident in which another African had been involved.

African envoys have expressed their concerns over such repeated incidents, even threatening to stop sending African students to Indian institutions. Sharma’s remarks are unlikely to make them more confident on the country’s handling of the issue.

Kerala CM says beef eating part of state’s culture, ban in police academy to go

Putting an end to the controversial beef ban at the police academy in Thrissur, Kerala’s newly sworn-in Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that eating beef was a part of Kerala’s culture, a report in The News Minute says.

According to reports, Vijayan’s response comes after the inspector general of the academy, S. Suresh Rajpurohit, reportedly began a probe into a recent case of beef being served in a canteen. This took place in violation of “unofficial orders” banning beef that had been in place for over a year.

The chief minister made it clear that Kerala had a tradition of people eating the food of their choice and that no changes would be allowed in the same.

Two workers dead, another critical after entering drainage pipe in Cuddalore

Two manual scavengers, who were clearing blockages in the drainage system at CISF quarters in Block 15 of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC), died after being suffocated by toxic gases, The New Indian Express reported. Another scavenger is undergoing treatment at PIMS in Puducherry. The deceased were identified as Thangarasu (45) and Chinnadurai (37). David (35) is undergoing medical treatment.

The police said, “Following repeated complaints from the CISF quarters, the Office of Water Supply and Drainage Maintenance (OWSDM) sent three workers to clear the drainage system. They opened two manholes in the drainage system and cleaned them. When they opened the third manhole, Thangarasu was knocked unconscious by toxic gases. Chinnadurai, who tried to rescue him, also fell unconscious. The third worker, David, who was witness to this, called the Fire department and NLC officials for help.”

Draft of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill sent to PMO

The draft of a bill which seeks to increase the categories of disabilities from seven to 19, to enable more people to avail facilities under various schemes, has been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for consultation, a PTI report quoted union minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot as saying today.

“It is the right of every individual to lead a dignified life and the present government in the past two years has strived hard to make this possible for persons with disabilities (PwDs),” he said. “As per the draft of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, the categories of disabilities for which benefits of government schemes are given have been raised from 7 to 19 to enable more such people to avail facilities under various schemes.”

IAS officer transferred after praising Nehru on Facebook

A senior bureaucrat in Madhya Pradesh has been transferred after he praised former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on Facebook, in what can be seen as a jab at the BJP’s ideology, NDTV reported. Ajay Singh Gangwar later deleted his post, which he posted last week, after it went viral on the internet.

Screenshot of Gangwar's Facebook post praising Nehru

Screenshot of Gangwar’s Facebook post praising Nehru

The ruling BJP says he has been penalised because he violated a basic rule – bureaucrats are not meant to share political affiliations. “He has violated the code of conduct. If in the name of freedom of speech, we will insult the system, that is wrong,” said Vishwas Sarang of the BJP.

But the opposition Congress says that the BJP has proven its intolerance for any praise of the freedom fighter. “It is condemnable that a statesman like Nehru is spoken of and the person is demoted. This creates fear,” said the party’s Meem Afzal.

Rajasthan BJP MLA says rapes happen everyday in JNU 

BJP MLA from Rajasthan Gyandev Ahuja, who had earlier said that thousands of condoms and beer bottles are found everyday in Jawaharlal Nehru University, made further controversial remarks about the varsity and its students on Wednesday, according to a report in The Indian Express. Ahuja said that he stood by his earlier comments. “I stand by what I said. Rapes happen daily in JNU. It is hub of criminal activities,” he said. He also said that statues of the Nehru and Gandhi families should be brought down, so that people can spit on them.

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

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