Death of 22 Migrant Workers in Mizoram
In India, the government has no proper register for the inter-state migrant workers. The migrants leave for other States in search for work at their own peril. Article 19(1)(e) of the Constitution, guarantees all Indian citizens the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India, subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of the general public or protection of any scheduled tribe. However, people migrating for work face many challenges including lack of social security and health benefits and poor implementation of minimum safety standards law.

The ISMW Act provides certain protections for inter-state migrant workers. Labour contractors recruiting migrants are required to: (i) be licensed, (ii) register migrant workers with the government authorities and (iii) arrange for the worker to be issued a passbook recording their identity.

But the Central government had not made any concrete and fruitful efforts to ensure that contractors and employers mandatorily register the workers employed with them enabling access to benefits under the Act.

According to a report published by RBI in 2020, there is huge disparity in average daily wage of the workers in different parts of India. Per se, the average daily wage of a non-agricultural worker in the State of West Bengal was

INR 291.0, while the same was INR 670, almost double, in Kerala. This disparity forces a huge number of people to pursue an uncertain journey to find livelihood from one part of the country to the other.

Many among the deceased workers are from Indo-Bangladesh border region of Malda and Murshidabad. As an organisation working in the border region for the past 25 years, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha has seen that the rate of unsafe migration is much higher in the border region due to illegal restrictions put in place on the livelihood of the people by the Border Security Force (BSF).
Kirity Roy, Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha

Air Pollution in South Asia
Rising air pollution can cut life expectancy by more than five years per person in South Asia, one of the world's most polluted regions, according to a report published on Tuesday which flagged the growing burden of hazardous air on health.

The region, which includes the world's most polluted countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, accounts for more than half of the total life years lost globally to pollution, the University of Chicago's Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) said in its latest Air Quality Life Index.

Rapid industrialisation and population growth have contributed to declining air quality in South Asia, where particulate pollution levels are currently more than 50% higher than at the start of the century and now overshadow dangers posed by larger health threats.

People in Bangladesh, the world's most polluted country, stands to lose 6.8 years of life on average per person, compared to 3.6 months in the United States, according to the study, which uses satellite data to calculate the impact of an increase in airborne fine particles on life expectancy.

India is responsible for about 59% of the world's increase in pollution since 2013, the report said, as hazardous air threatens to shorten lives further in some of the country's more polluted regions. In the densely populated New Delhi, the world's most polluted mega-city, the average life span is down by more than 10 years.
Sharon Kimathi, Reuters

Article 370 Case
In a significant development during the twelfth day of the Constitution Bench hearing in the Article 370 case, the Supreme Court asked the Union Government to provide a time-frame or roadmap for the restoration of statehood of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The bench, comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices SK Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, and Surya Kant, was actively deliberating upon the issue of conversion of J&K from a state to a Union Territory (UT) in 2019 when its special status under Article 370 was repealed.

Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, representing the Union Government, referred to a statement made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the Parliament while tabling the J&K Re-organisation Bill in 2019 that the statehood of J&K would be reinstated in due course of time. When the SG asserted that the UT status is not permanent, Chief Justice inquired about the timing and asked, "How impermanent is this? When are you going to have elections?"

The Solicitor General responded that he would seek instructions on the matter, reiterating that the process of restoring statehood was already in progress.

In the course of the arguments, the CJI also pondered upon whether it was possible for the Union to convert a state into a UT for a temporary period in lieu of national security.

However, the CJI also emphasised that in such a scenario, the Government also had to make a statement before the Supreme Court that that progression of a UT back to a state had to take place. "It can't be a UT permanently," said the CJI.
Sukla Sen

Attacking JADS
In the continuing assault on Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, on 28.08.23, Nitin, an activist of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan [JADS] has been arrested after being implicated in a false case. This is the latest in a series of attacks by the Madhya Pradesh government against Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan over the past few months. The Sangathan, in addition to campaigning for Forest Rights has been protesting against state connivance in the massive deforestation in Burhanpur district.

On 2nd March, 35 Adivasis of Guarkheda (Baladi) village had been arrested following a fracas with forest department personnel, and Nitin’s name was added later even though he was not present during the incident. 4 Adivasis, including two women of Guarkheda (Baladi Panchayat), were forcefully taken away from their homes by forest personnel. People of the village attempted to find them and also informed Sangathan activists, including Nitin, of the incident. Nitin immediately contacted the DFO and District Collector, Burhanpur, seeking their intervention in the matter to ensure that due process of law was followed and no violence was committed against those picked up.

According to the villagers, when people reached the Burhanpur range office in search of the four picked up by the forest personnel, they heard screams from a locked room where it seemed like people were being beaten up. It is alleged that, following this, a clash between the villagers and the forest officials ensued, after which 35 Adivasis including 15 women were arrested by the police.

Since graduating from the reputed “Tata Institute of Social Sciences” (TISS), Nitin has been with Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Organisation for the past 5 years and has played an active role in the organisation's awareness campaign for legal forest rights.

Adivasis members of JADS reached Burhanpur in large numbers and protested Nitin’s arrest which they said was an attack on their non-violent struggle for legal and constitutional rights.
Antaram Awase, Ashabai Solanki, Nasribai Ningwal, Valsing Sastia

Save Mohammad
Mohammad is only 27 and a judge decided that’s how he should die for protesting the brutal regime in Iran.
Mohammad could be executed any day, and he had already been tortured in prison.

But there might still be hope: Global pressure stopped executions in Iran before. Now people around the world are joining the call to save his life, and prominent lawyers are asking the UN rights chief and key governments to help stop his execution and hold Iran accountable.

Mohammad’s passion is boxing, and he’s one of the champions of his club in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city. When he was 23, he traded punches for principles–he became a political prisoner when he was arrested for joining the 2019 anti-government protests. Now his biggest fight begins: not in a ring, but for his own life.

When historic protests followed Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody last year, Iran’s ruthless regime unleashed a violent crackdown to crush the uprising. Torture and executions of prisoners soon became its most vicious tool of repression – some were sentenced to death within two months and executed within weeks. Now it’s Mohammad’s turn.

Avaaz’s movement has helped save lives before: last year over a million people helped stop Amal’s death by stoning in Sudan. And hundreds of thousands around the world have stood in solidarity with Iran’s protesters as they face brutal and often deadly crackdowns. Solidarity can become the lifeline Mohammad needs right now.
John, Abdelrahman, Mo,
Chris, Antonia, Nate and the whole Avaaz team

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Vol 56, No. 12, Sep 17 - 23, 2023