Freedom Under Fire: Teesta Setalvad’s NGO Loses FCRA Registration; Hyderabad University Faculty Back Suspended Teachers

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

Suspended University of Hyderabad faculty on relay hunger strike outside university premises. Credit: Special Arrangement

Suspended University of Hyderabad faculty on relay hunger strike outside university premises. Credit: Special Arrangement

Teesta Setalvad’s NGO loses FCRA registration

The home ministry on Thursday cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration of Sabrang Trust, an NGO run by social activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, The Hindu reported. The ministry issued an order saying it had cancelled the permanent registration of the NGO with immediate effect.

Setalvad has said the ministry’s order “is simply a mechanical reiteration of the very same allegations made earlier, in total disregard to the detailed and reasoned explanations and arguments put forward by the trust”.

In their earlier communications with the home ministry, the trustees had responded to the alleged FCRA violations point-by-point, para-by-para, pointing out that the allegations showed a “complete non-application of mind”.

“Sabrang Trust will actively explore all legal options to challenge the Home Ministry’s order cancelling its FCRA registration,” a statement issued by Setalvad said.

University of Hyderabad faculty backs suspended teachers

Coming out in support of suspended faculty members K.Y. Ratnam and Tathagatha Sengupta, the University of Hyderabad Teachers’ Association (UHTA) and the SC/ST Teachers’ Forum on Thursday demanded that the administration immediately and unconditionally revoke their suspension, The Hindu reported.

“Faculty members on the campus are distressed because of the suspension of Tathagata Sengupta and K.Y. Ratnam. After their arrest in March, this is a double punishment they are being made to go through,” said P. Thirumal, general secretary of UHTA.

Ratnam and Sengupta had been arrested in March when police entered campus and arrested students who were protesting vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile’s return to campus, seeing him as responsible for Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide. They were later let out on bail.

Twelve-year-old Dalit boy electrocuted by upper caste men for plucking corn

Three upper caste men allegedly electrocuted a 12-year-old Dalit boy for plucking a few ears of corn from their field in Ishapur village near Agra on Wednesday morning, a report in The Times of India says.

Anuj Kumar’s body was found in a cornfield, with burn marks all over it. The accused, identified as Narendra Sharma, Rakesh and Dewana, have been booked under sections 302 (murder) and 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) of the IPC.

“When my son didn’t return home by 9 pm, I asked his friends about his whereabouts. They told me about what had happened earlier in the day [them getting caught eating corn], so I went to look for him in the cornfield. I found his body with burn marks all over,” said the boy’s father, Raj Kumar.

ABVP wants dhoti-kurta, saree as dress code during convocations

Graduating students at Ranchi University are in the midst of a struggle between authorities and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) over what students should be asked to wear at the convocation ceremony on July 5.

The administration planned for all students to wear graduation gowns. The ABVP, however, has demanded that the varsity make dhoti-kurta for boys and saree for girls as the mandatory dress code for the ceremony, saying the traditional gowns are a British cultural import and should be discontinued.

“We will stage a mass protest against the use of gowns on the day of convocation and halt the proceedings. India has been free for over 60 years now, but the varsity wants us to follow British culture, which is unacceptable,” said Atal Pandey, ABVP’s Ranchi convener.

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

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