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News Wrap

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A review in 2016, by the screening and rehabilitation  committee set up by the Chattisgarh state government, held that 97% of the left wing ‘Naxal’ surrenders reviewed in the affected districts of the state, did not adhere to the definition of ‘Naxal Cadre’. The surrendered left radicals were not eligible for benefits under the central or state government’s rehabilitation policy. Applications from district administrations of surrenders to them are reviewed by the committee, comprising senior civil service officials, police and para-military officers and headed by the Special DG Anti-Naxal Operations and State Intelligence Bureau. Each is vetted on the basis of guide lines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Surrendered numbers have shot up in Bastar over the past three years. With 1210 cases listed in 2016, the committee met twice in 2016. Eventually, only thirteen cases were cleared, as fit for compensation and rehabilitation. The Union Home Ministry guidelines are applicable to those Naxalites, who surrender with or without arms, and who may be hard-core, underground Naxalite cadre, and a member of a ‘dalam’. Benefits to surrendered Naxalites include a Rs 1.5 lac grant for rehabilitation, a monthly stipend and money for weapons as well. The surrendered naxalite is required to make a clear confession of all ‘criminal acts’, details of Naxal organisations, financiers and harbourers and arms and ammunition.

Barjora Mining
A report of August 2012 from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India had cited that the National India Exchange had suffered a loss of Rs 1.86 crore trillion, because of flawed allocation process, in the 2005 Bengal based EMTA Group and Damodar Valley Corporation joint venture Barjora (North) Bengal Coal Mining Project, after the latter was allocated the coal block. The Government of India had re-allocated the Barjora project to West Bengal Power Development Corporation (WBPDCL) in 2015. As WBPDCL did not approve Bengal EMTA to continue mining on its behalf as a handler, from 28 January 2017, EMTA has been attempting to shift its assets from the mining pit. Only 70 persons out of 120 of those who had lost their lands, were absorbed with the aborted project. Hundreds of people from villages like Hedurdanga, Loharaboni and Mahul-bona assembled at the Barjora (North) Coal Block (Bankura district). The officials were restrained from pulling out the machinery and heavy vehicles of the company, that had been operating the mine. The protesters demanded reimbursement of dues, amounting to about Rs 13 crore in the form of their land premiums, wages and services rendered at the site till 2014. The villagers had lost 1200 acres of land and farmland for the project in 2007. The coal block has a geological reserve of 84.49 million tons, and was earlier given a mining target of 5.5 million tons of annual production.

Buffalo Race
A bill in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly has allowed Kambala and bullock-cart racing, the traditional sport in the coastal region. These events are being considered as a normal traditional sport, by amending the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Kambala was being organised for nearly 6000 years. The bullock cart races are held in north Karnataka. Kambala racing is popular in the districts of Udupi and Dakshin Kannada. In recent times, not a single death has taken place in the folk sport, which is held from November to March. A pair of buffaloes are tied to the plough, and is anchored by one person. They are made to run in parallel muddy tracks in competition, in which the fastest team wins. Besides being a recreational sport for farmers, the sport is held to propitiate the Gods for a good harvest.

Banning Refugees
In order to ‘‘keep radical Islamic terrorists’’ out of USA, on 28 January 2017 President Donald Trump of America ordered ‘‘extreme vetting’’ of people entering USA from seven muslim-majority countries, viz Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The annual cap on refugees is 50,000 and Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely. Even green card holders, who are allowed to live and work in the US, from the seven countries, would have to be cleared on a case-by-case basis. Refugees who were in the air when the order was signed, were stopped and detained at airports. The move provoked international anger and was condemned by the United Nations, whose refugee agency urged the USA to continue its tradition of offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution. The order grants Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over muslims. Several muslim-majority countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Oman, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are unaffected by Trump’s order. In 2015, 64% of the 85,000 H1B visas allowed in the US, were issued to Indians, including 84% of visas issued for technology jobs. Of the seven countries targeted, Iran sends the most visitors to the US each year, which was around 35,000 in 2015. The order would harm vulnerable women, children and men, who are simply trying to find a safe place to live, after fleeing violence and loss. The executive ‘‘muslim ban’’ order was signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Frontier
Vol. 49, No.42, April 23 - 29, 2017