News Wrap


The plight of the villagers of Rajarbari under Sitalkuchi Block and Police Station of Cooch-Behar district defies description. The village has a population of 2500 Hindus, out of which 1300 are men and 1200 women. The village is located near the Indo-Bangladesh border and has 150 acres of cultivable land on the other side of the border fence. Out of the village population, 50 families, i.e. 450 people are gravely affected by the restrictions placed by the Border Security Force (BSF) of 47 Battalion under Palkar Hat BOP.

These people use Gate no 19 to cross to the other side of the fence which opens three times a day—from 7-9 am, 12-1 pm and 4-5 pm. Crops more than 3 feet in height, such as corn and jute are not allowed to be grown. The villagers are not allowed to carry adequate fertilisers inside and their fertilisers are often mixed with soil at the gate in disproportionate quantities. More than two cows are not allowed to enter the farms and tractors and other agricultural equipments to seek permission from various authorities and in spite of written permission, these facilities are not allowed inside. The lands on the other side do not have irrigation facilities, drinking water, electricity or shades to protect themselves from any natural calamity that may befall them. When any incident of illegal smuggling happens in the area, the Border Security Force (BSF) keeps the gate closed for 7-10 days at a stretch, as a result of which their crops are ruined. Sometimes, Bangladeshi interlopers steal their agricultural produce and the BSF platoons do not take any action even when the villagers seek their intervention.

The BSF uses the farmers' labour and materials to construct bamboo seats and shades for their own use and never pay them for their service.

Adding to the resident's troubles is the lack of basic amenities in the village. The roads are not in good shape, there are no irrigation facilities or clean drinking water. The villagers have invested their own resources to dig up a tube well to meet their needs for drinking water. The schemes for MNREGA, widow pensions, unemployment pensions or old age pensions don't work in the village. The nearest primary and sub-divisional health centre is 6 kilometres away and Secondary and Higher Secondary schools are 3 kilometres away.

Ruining Republic
No doubt the Citizenship Law is a clear case of discrimination against the Muslims and also a great threat to the dissenting voices and the political opponents of present regime of hindutva. It completely violates Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution which guarantee equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of religion, region, caste and creed. Thus, The CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) breaches the very basic fundamental ethos and philosophy of the preamble of Indian Constitution.

The new Law is not just anti-constitutional but also anti-Muslim, anti-indigenous and anti-tribal. It talks of admitting persecuted people from all communities except Muslims which means that if Muslims are persecuted they will be refused shelter by India whereas others will be granted citizenship.

The nation has already seen the hardships and the death toll of the people in Assam during the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process that went on for 10 years and incurred expenses of a whooping amount of Rs 1220 crore employing 52000 personnel. Despite this tedious process the present Government led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not satisfied with the outcome of the NRC. And the reason is for everyone to see.

The CAA is an attempt to not just to tear the Republic and secular fabric of the nation and polarise one particular community but also to plummet the entire nation into an era of darkness and poverty with its failing economy. It should be noted it violates basic principle of human rights as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was adopted by the United Nations General assembly on 10th December, 1948.

Nrc And Informal Labour
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) have brought the nation to agitate against the Bharatiya Janata Party's divisive policies. In Assam, where the NRC had already been implemented 19 lakh people were rendered to be 'stateless', with the burden of proof being on them to prove themselves to be the citizens of India.

Now, with an all-India NRC on the cards; it will be repeated in Assam again, trade unions and social activists say that the worst hit of the entire lot will be the unorganised sector of the country.

There have been no conclusive numbers on the strength of the unoraganised or informal workforce in India.
The Economic Survey of 2018-19 released in July last year says that in India, "almost 93%" of the workforce is "informal". In a report—Strategy for New India at 75 by Niti Aayog, the informal sector "by some estimates" is supposed to be employing 85% of all workers. Another report by the National Statistical Commission, 2012 place it at "more than 90%" of the total workforce. However, going by the numbers, more than 400 millions of the people in India work in the unorganised sector.

According to the Ministry of Labour, Government of India, the unorganised labour force is categorised under four groups—occupation, nature of employment, specially distressed categories and service categories.

With no awareness of the NRC process and emotional and financial dependency on the patriarch, coupled with practices like early marriage and the dwindling girl-child education robs them of their valid identity proofs. Most of the women in rural areas or conservative households do not register for voter identity cards.

Without educational degrees and land documents, women don't possess independent identity documents which makes them particularly vulnerable to the NRC process.

The rampant illiteracy and lack of awareness of maintaining documents is going to affect the Dalits and the tribal communities of India. A Delhi-based rights lawyer had claimed that in the Assam NRC exercise over 100,000 Scheduled tribes who were original inhabitants of Assam were left out of the list due to the inability to prove their legacy from 1971.

Overall, the NRC is set to hit the poor the most especially with them running from pillar to post, gathering documents and facing undue harassment from authorities. The NRC process to the exchequer itself may cost over Rs 50,000 crore in administration expenses, Rs 2-3 lakh crore to construct detention camps and Rs 36,000 to take care of the citizens who will face a future in detention camps (National Herald).

According to the Times of India, the cost of reclaiming citizenship will go up to Rs 50,000 per person. In Assam, people left out of the NRC spend Rs 7,836 crore for hearings.

Will the economically crippled labour of India be able to bear the cost of the NRC if and when it does hit the country especially when over 22 percent of the country's population is below the poverty line?

Uyghur Muslims
Sahid Afridi, former Pakistan Cricket Captain urged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to open up on Uyghur Muslims in China. Atrocities committed against Uyghur Muslims are heart-breaking. So said Afridi in his 'tweeter'. He also urged Imram Khan to speak on the issue both domestically and internationally. It is next to impossible for Imran to criticise China and that too on Uyghur Muslims who are in detention camps in large numbers. After all lackeys have no choice.

The Chinese government has reportedly detained a million muslims in what the Chinese call 'education' centres. They are actually a Turkish ethnic group originating from the general region of Central and Eat Asia. Uyghurs are recognised as natives in China's north western region of Xinjiang.

43 Students Disappeared
Lies, evasion, cover-up and assemblies around the events of Ayotzinapa were the only response during the entire time of Mexican President Enrique Pert a Nieto's corrupt government. Ten months after Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) took office, he had only held meetings with the relatives of the 43 Ayotzinapa disappeared students, giving a "beautiful speech" and taking pictures with them. But what is the result?

For five painful years, with determination and dignity the mothers and fathers of Ayotzinapa have sought their children, the 43 students of the Isidro Burgos normal school. The students were kidnapped from the streets of Ayotzinapa. Their parents demanded justice, including the imprisonment of all involved in this horrendous crime and its cover-up.

The students' relatives and the normalists—young men and women from several normal schools who have often accompanied them—have touched all in Mexico with their demand: "Live they took them, we want them back alive!" Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in solidarity. They know that the disappearance of the 43 youth was not only an horrific act by drug traffickers, but it was carried out with the full support of the government.

The rejection in the last election of the Institutional Revolutionary / National Action parties shows that a good part of Mexico is paying "Enough is enough!" And yet, only weeks before this fifth anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students, a judge released 24 police officers from prison who were implicated in their kidnappings! This occurred after EI Gil, a narco leader suspected of being involved in the crime, was also released.

During these five years, local, state and the federal government, have poorly investigated, with dozens of arrests often accompanied by torture to obtain "confessions." Earlier, Pena Nieto's administration blocked the work of a group of experts from Argentina, who had made valuable contributions to an authentic investigation.

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Vol. 52, No. 33, Feb 16 - 22, 2020