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Murdered boy’s father opposes pre-arrest bail pleas of Ryan Group trustees

Posted on 13 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday 13th September 2017

Mumbai, Sep 13 (PTI) The father of the seven-year-old boy murdered at the Ryan International School in Gurgaon today approached the Bombay High Court seeking to oppose the pre-arrest bail pleas of the trustees of Ryan International Group.

The group’s CEO, Ryan Pinto, and his parents — Augustine Pinto, the founding chairman of the group, and Grace Pinto, its managing director — had earlier approached the high court seeking transit anticipatory bail apprehending arrest in the case.

The Pintos sought protection from arrest till they approach the court concerned in Haryana.

When the pleas came up for hearing before Justice Ajey Gadkari today, lawyer Sushil Tekriwal informed the court that Barun Thakur, the father of the Class 2 student Pradyuman who was killed in the school in Gurgaon, was filing an application seeking to intervene and oppose the bail pleas.

Tekriwal said the application will be filed in the high court registry, following which Justice Gadkari posted the hearing of the anticipatory bail pleas of the Pintos later this afternoon.

In the application, Thakur said he is the complainant in the case and the petition of the trustees is “opposed in strongest possible terms and words as the instant case being a rarest of the rare case where a brutal, diabolical, cold blooded, barbarous, demonic, unpardonable, unprovoked, hellish, cruel homicide has taken place on the campus of Ryan International School.”

Pradyuman was found with his throat slit on the morning of September 8 in the toilet of Ryan International School in Gurgaon.

Police allege that 42-year-old bus conductor Ashok Kumar killed him with a knife after the boy resisted an attempt to sodomise him.

Thakur alleged in his application that the school’s trustees were “vicariously responsible, liable, accountable, answerable for the culpability and guilt for which the bail application should be dismissed in limine.”

“The remorseless, spineless and senseless approach and attitude of the school management, its directors/CEO and other top notch executives in this rarest case is absolutely inexcusable and hence, the present bail application deserves to be dismissed in toto,” said the application.

Thakur said he was shocked by the trustees’ statement that they are not part of the crime as they do not look after the day-to-day working of each school.

“If the top management of the school can share in the plunder and prosperity, why should they be sceptical in subjecting themselves to the clutches of law and the rule of law and to the vicarious liability when because of their negligence and ignorance, the incidents like of Pradyuman take place within the walls of a school,” he said in the application.

He alleged in his petition that it appeared “Pradyuman was meticulously murdered with foolproof planning and conspiracy, otherwise how a conductor sneaked inside with a brand new knife slitting the throat in a surgically expert manner with a criminal intent to murder someone instantly within seconds.

“The conductor took the child to the hospital and thereafter the cops found him immediately to be suspicious and thereafter he immediately confessed, which raises an iota of doubt, and various missing links surface in this case for which custodial interrogation of the management is required,” the application said.

Thakur also said that the evidence related to blood stains and clothes have been allegedly wiped out to compromise with the scene of crime.

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Indian Institutions Can Meet Human Rights Challenges: US

Posted on 12 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 12th September 2017

“And we have respect for Indian institutions and ability to raise and meet these challenges. And we certainly, in all of our engagements, at senior levels, encourage the Indian government to do so,” Wells said.

WASHINGTON:  The US believes that Indian institutions have the ability to meet challenges posed by cases of infringement of human rights like the killing of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh, a top American diplomat has said.

Ms Lankesh, 55, known for her left-leaning outlook and forthright views on Hindutva politics, was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Addressing a Congressional subcommittee during a hearing on South Asia, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said India provides the “highest constitutional protections” for religious minorities, and the goal of the US is to work with India to encourage it to meet the goals set in its constitution and laws.
“You know, there are cases, obviously, of religious — as we detail in both the Human Rights Report and the International Religious Freedom Report — of infringements, and there was a tragic murder of a journalist just this week who was often the subject of nationalist criticism,” she said, in an apparent reference to the brutal killing of Ms Lankesh. She said these are the challenges for any democracy, but India is a democracy, and it is a “vibrant democracy”.

“And we have respect for Indian institutions and ability to raise and meet these challenges. And we certainly, in all of our engagements, at senior levels, encourage the Indian government to do so,” Wells said in response to a question from Congressman Ted Yoho, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
In a statement, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it “is deeply shocked” by leading Indian journalist and media freedom defender Ms Lankesh’s murder in Bengaluru. It called on the authorities to do everything possible to quickly find and punish her killers.
“We firmly condemn this terrible murder, which has deprived the media of a tough and determined champion and has deprived India of a voice that was fundamental for the country’s democratic life,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

The Indian National Overseas Congress in the US said Ms Lankesh’s death appears to be a “meticulously planned” and executed to silence a powerful voice.

“The opposing forces could not match her rationale pointing up the dangers of right-wing politics and its possibly disastrous effect on the secular fabric of the nation. Her harsh criticism of prevailing casteism in the society was often directed at institutions that still harbour those sentiments and made her more of a passionate activist who had little patience for the status-quo,” George Abraham of INOC-USA said in a statement.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Director General Irina Bokova also urged Indian authorities to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

“Any attack on the media is an attack on the fundamental right to freedom of expression of each member of society. I urge the Indian authorities to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and this crime is punished,” Ms Bokova said.

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SC to hear on Sept 15 plea over safety of school children

Posted on 12 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 12th September 2017

New Delhi, Sep 12 (PTI) The Supreme Court today agreed to hear on September 15 a plea filed by two women lawyers seeking implementation of existing guidelines to ensure safety and well-being of children in schools across the country.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A M Khanwilkar said that it has already issued notice on a similar plea filed by the father of the child, who was brutally murdered at Gurgaon’s Ryan International School.

“We will tag it (writ petition) with the earlier one,” the bench said and fixed the PIL, filed by two practising apex court lawyers Abha Sharma and Sangeeta Bharti, for hearing on Friday.

The lawyers, in their petition has sought implementation of various existing guidelines on safety of school-going children.

They have also suggested some additional guidelines to ensure that the responsibility is fastened on the schools with regard to safety of children from the moment they get into the school bus/vehicle.

Yesterday, the court had issued notice to the Centre, the Haryana police, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the CBI on a plea filed by the father of the child seeking a CBI probe into the matter.

A Class 2 student of the high-profile Ryan International School in Gurgaon was found dead on the morning of September 8 after his throat was slit with a sharp-edged weapon allegedly by 42-year-old bus conductor Ashok Kumar inside the toilet as the boy resisted a bid to sodomise him.

His plea has sought setting up of a committee headed by a former apex court judge for suggesting guidelines to be framed and implemented under the observance of the top court.

It has also sought a “free, fair, independent and fearless investigation including an enquiry and investigation by the CBI” under the supervision of the court.

The plea also sought a direction for ensuring safety and security of family members of the deceased boy.

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Bruce Pardy: Meet the new ‘human rights’ — where you are forced by law to use ‘reasonable’ pronouns

Posted on 11 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Monday 11th September 2017

Bruce Pardy: Human rights were conceived to liberate. They protected people from an oppressive state

When University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson posted his now notorious YouTube video spelling out his refusal to use non-gendered pronouns, activists expressed their outrage. Non-gendered people have the right to be accommodated and respected, the protests went, and Peterson must use language consistent with those rights. These objections illustrate what few activists or politicians will openly acknowledge: “Human rights” are now a zero-sum game. Giving rights to some means taking them from others.

On Thursday, the Senate passed Bill C-16, the Liberal government’s legislation that adds “gender identity or expression” to grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. Bill C-16 was in part the motivation for Peterson’s video. The act applies to federal subjects (including airports, banks, the military and federally regulated industries), while equivalent provincial codes apply to remaining areas of personal and commercial activities (including most workplaces, schools, universities, hospitals and so on). Most provinces recently added the same or similar terms to their discrimination provisions.

Few Canadians realize how seriously these statutes infringe upon freedom of speech. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has stated, in the context of equivalent provisions in the Ontario Human Rights Code, that “refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity … will likely be discrimination when it takes place in a social area covered by the Code, including employment, housing and services like education.”

Human rights were conceived to liberate. They protected people from an oppressive state. But freedom from interference is so 20th century. Modern human rights entitle

In other words, failure to use a person’s pronoun of choice — “ze,” “zir,” “they” or any one of a multitude of other potential non-words — will land you in hot water with the commission. That, in turn, can lead to orders for correction, apology, Soviet-like “re-education,” fines and, in cases of continued non-compliance, incarceration for contempt of court. This peril is exactly what Peterson warned of in his video, for which he was mocked for scaremongering.

Human rights were conceived to liberate. They protected people from an oppressive state. Their purpose was to prevent arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and censorship, by placing restraints on government. The state’s capacity to accommodate these “negative rights” was unlimited, since they required only that people be left alone.

But freedom from interference is so 20th century. Modern human rights entitle. We are in the middle of a culture war, and human rights have become a weapon to normalize social justice values and to delegitimize competing beliefs. These rights are applied against other people to limit their liberties.

When speech is merely restricted, you can at least keep your thoughts to yourself. Compelled speech makes people say things with which they disagree

Freedom of expression is a traditional, negative human right. When the state manages expression, it threatens to control what we think. Forced speech is the most extreme infringement of free speech. It puts words in the mouths of citizens and threatens to punish them if they do not comply. When speech is merely restricted, you can at least keep your thoughts to yourself. Compelled speech makes people say things with which they disagree.

Bill C-16, like provincial human rights codes, does not make specific reference to speech. In the Senate, supporters of C-16 fell over each other denying that the legislation would compel language. When Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould testified before the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, she specifically denied that the bill would force the use of gender-neutral pronouns. There are reasons to doubt her sincerity. First, human rights commissions say otherwise. Along with human rights tribunals, they have primary control over the meaning and application of code provisions, something the justice minister must know. Human rights commissions are not neutral investigative bodies but advocacy agencies with expansive agendas. In comparison, courts and governments play only a minor role in interpreting these statutes.

Traditional negative human rights give people the freedom to portray themselves as they wish without fear of retribution. Not so the new human rights

Second, Senator Donald Plett proposed an amendment to the bill that would have clarified that it was not the bill’s intention to require the use of particular pronouns. The minister flatly rejected it, as did Liberal and most “independent” senators. In fact, like its provincial counterparts, Bill C-16 will give transgendered and non-gendered people the ability to dictate other people’s speech.

Some senators expressed the view that forcing the use of non-gendered pronouns was reasonable because calling someone by their preferred pronoun is a reasonable thing to do. That position reflects a profound misunderstanding of the role of expression in a free society. The question is not whether required speech is “reasonable” speech. If a statute required people to say “hello,” “please” and “thank you,” that statute would be tyrannical, not because “hello,” “please” and “thank you” aren’t reasonable things to say, but because the state has dictated the content of private conversation.

Traditional negative human rights give people the freedom to portray themselves as they wish without fearing violence or retribution from others. Everyone can exercise such rights without limiting the rights of others. Not so the new human rights. Did you expect to decide your own words and attitudes? If so, human rights are not your friend.

Bruce Pardy is professor of law at Queen’s University. He testified against Bill C-16 before the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee.

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School boy’s murder: Parents stage protest, Govt says willing to have CBI probe

Posted on 11 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Monday 11th September 2017

Gurgaon, Sep 10 (PTI) Hundreds of angry parents today staged a protest outside the Ryan International School here for a CBI probe into the murder of a seven-year-old school boy, a demand which the Haryana government expressed willingness to accept.

A liquor shop, situated just 50 metres from the school, was set ablaze and some of the demonstrators threw liquor bottles inside school premises to vent their ire against the school management, police said.

The protestors alleged that school drivers and conductors often consume alcohol from the liquor shop in their free time.

The protestors were demanding that the school be shut until a CBI probe is ordered into the horrifying incident in which the Class 2 boy Praduman Thakur was found with his throat slit in a school washroom on Friday last.

The murder, in connection with which a bus conductor has been arrested, has triggered a major outrage.

Police used batons to quell the protest and detained 20 protestors. Cameras of some photojournalists were also damaged during the protest.

“The Gurgaon Police had to use mild lathicharge to disperse the agitators. The police detained over 20 protestors found agitating outside the school,” said Ravinder Kumar, PRO of Gurgaon Police.

Gurgaon Police Commissioner Sandeep Khirwar denied the charges of mediapersons being targeted by the cops.

“As per my knowledge, a fair warning was given to clear the place and nobody was targeted. However, if any mediaperson has been injured, then I express my regret and we will analyse the entire episode. But there was no intention to target anyone,” Khirwar said.

“On behalf of police authorities, I want to request the district administration that the mediapersons should be given best medical treatment,” he said.

Gurgaon Police has arrested school bus conductor Ashok Kumar in connection with the murder.

According to police, Kumar was inside the toilet, waiting for any student to come inside with the motive of alleged sexual assault. The deceased was the first student who entered the toilet, the police said.

Education minister Ram Bilas Sharma today said the charge sheet in the case will be ready within a week as he police were speedily conducting the probe.

He, however, added that if the parents of the child insist on a probe by the CBI or any other agency, the government will accede to their demand.

Sharma said the government has fixed a seven-day deadline in the case where the accused is booked under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (for murder).

“We have directed the Gurgaon Police to book the owner of Ryan International School, Albert Pinto, under section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Punishment) Act, 2015, for cruelty to a child meted out by the custodian in the charge sheet to be submitted in the court within 7 days,” he told reporters here.

“This is the minimum time in such cases,” he said.

“However, if the child’s parents still feel they are not satisfied, then as per their wish, we can get the case investigated by any agency including the CBI,” he added.

The minister said “some loopholes in the security” were visible in the case and the toilet window was also found broken from inside.

“We accept negligence on part of the Ryan International School but the school cannot be derecognised as the future of 1,200 students is at stake,” he said.

Sharma also made it clear that the school management has to take responsibility for the safety and security of the children.

“We are issuing directives in this regard to all schools including private ones,” he said.

“We held a meeting today in which the demand to derecognise the school came up, but we also had to take into account the fact that 1,200 students are studying there. The parents of the students studying in this school were against this step and, therefore, we felt taking such a step will not be right,” he said.

“However, for any kind of lapse, by the management or the owner, we have initiated action,” he said.

The accused was arrested within hours of the murder after which a court in Gurgaon sent him to police custody for three days.

“The murder accused has already been arrested. Now, within a week, the police after collecting all necessary evidence will submit a charge sheet in court. However, still if the parents are not satisfied, then the Haryana government is ready to get the matter probed by any agency.

“I am hopeful that when we will produce the accused before court within a week with all evidence collected by the police, the parents of the child will be satisfied with the action being taken,” he said.

“We have full sympathy with the parents of the child. If there is any issue of providing financial help, the Haryana government will be willing to help,” he said.

The minister made it clear that the Haryana government will not show any leniency in the matter

“Whatever strict action needs to be taken as per the law will be taken in this case,” he asserted.

He also said a liquor vend near the school has been ordered to be shut down permanently.

Meanwhile, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said a CBI probe should be ordered.

Upping the ante against the BJP government in Haryana, Hooda said, “This government has lost the trust and confidence of the public. By assaulting mediapersons, the government is trying to suppress voice of the people.

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At high-level forum, UN stresses importance of education in building ‘culture of peace’

Posted on 09 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Sunday 10th September 2017

7 September 2017 – Education can promote ideals of non-violence, equality and mutual respect, United Nations officials said today at a high-level event on how to achieve a culture of peace amid current global challenges and threats to stability, prosperity and the planet.

“We have to teach our children the values of peace, tolerance, equality and respect. They should be under no illusions as to the self-destructiveness of the alternative,” said the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson, who convened the all-day event in New York with a focus on early childhood development.

“We must equip them with the skills and education they need to peacefully resolve disputes; to confront injustice and intolerance; and to reject all forms of discrimination and hate,” he added.

Mr. Thomson noted that creating peaceful and just societies is dependent on eradicating poverty, increasing inclusive prosperity, promoting human rights, strengthening the rule of law, and building effective and accountable institutions – the goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda which has guided the international community’s anti-poverty efforts since 2015.

“Fostering a culture of peace requires all of us – individuals, nations and international organisations – to work together to promote understanding of our common humanity,” the senior official said. “We must promote intercultural respect, strengthen interreligious understanding, and inspire people’s hopes for the future. Above all we must unite for peace.”

The event brought together representatives from UN Member States, UN system entities, civil society, media, the private sector and others with an interest in exchanging ideas and suggestions on ways to build and promote a Culture of Peace, and to highlight emerging trends that impact its implementation.

In addition to early childhood education and investment in children, Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the need to invest in youth to promote world peace.

He called young men and women “the barometer of social discontent, economic marginalization and political exclusion,” and said they must be recognized as active agents of change and custodians of peace.

In a speech delivered by his Senior Advisor on Policy, Ana María Menéndez, the Secretary-General also recognized women’s contributions and participation in long-term peace efforts. He said that women’s meaningful participation generates a different perspective in solving problems, and needs to be supported in all aspects of life.

Mr. Guterres also highlighted the importance of investing in inclusion and cohesion, so that diversity is seen as a benefit and not a threat.

“To prevent intolerance, violent extremism and radicalization, we need to promote the inclusion, solidarity and cohesion of multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious societies. It is the best antidote to racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism,” he noted.

The first such forum on the Culture of Peace was held in September 2012, and recognized the need for continual support to further strengthening the global movement for peace.

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Burundi: UN independent panel calls for ICC probe into possible crimes against humanity

Posted on 09 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Saturday 09th September 2017

5 September 2017 – Having concluded that serious human rights violations, including executions and sexual violence, are continuing in Burundi with impunity, a United Nations-appointed expert panel will ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into possible crimes against humanity.

“We were struck by the scale and the brutality of the violations,” said Fatsah Ouguergouz, President of the Commission of Inquiry, in a press report published Monday.

According to the Commission’s report, crimes such as extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, sexual violence, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and enforced disappearances have been committed – and continue unabated.

“We also noted a lack of will on the part of the Burundian authorities to fight against impunity and guarantee the independence of the judiciary,” continued Mr. Ouguergouz. “As a result, there is a strong likelihood that the perpetrators of these crimes will remain unpunished.”

In view of the impunity protecting the perpetrators, the Commission said that it is asking the ICC to open an investigation into the crimes as soon as possible. It is also asking the African Union to retake the initiative to find a lasting solution, based on respect for human rights, to the crisis in Burundi and to remain actively involved.

Among the alleged perpetrators, the Commission mentions members, including high-level officials, of the National Intelligence Services and the national police force, military officials, and Imbonerakure – the youth league of the ruling party.

Victims have been threatened, even in exile. This meant that the Commission had to be extremely careful to ensure that their testimonies could not be used to endanger them.

The conclusions presented by the three Commissioners are the result of several months of investigations and interviews with more than 500 witnesses, including many Burundians living abroad as refugees and others who remain in in the country, often risking their lives.

“There is a climate of pervasive fear in Burundi. Victims have been threatened, even in exile. This meant that the Commission had to be extremely careful to ensure that their testimonies could not be used to endanger them,” said Françoise Hampson, one of the three members of the Commission.

These accounts, whether from victims, their families or witnesses, were rigorously checked and corroborated. They show that serious human rights violations are ongoing.

“We continue to receive reliable, credible and consistent information confirming that these violations are still taking place in Burundi today. Some of these violations are occurring in a more clandestine manner, but they are still just as brutal,” underscored Mr. Ouguergouz.

The Burundian authorities rejected the Commission’s repeated attempts to establish a dialogue and to request information from the government, and did not allow its members to go to Burundi.

“We deeply regret the Burundian Government’s lack of cooperation, which, among other things, made it difficult for us to document human rights abuses committed by armed opposition groups. This is all the more regrettable given that Burundi, as a member of the Human Rights Council, has an obligation to cooperate with mechanisms set up by the Council,” said Reine Alapini Gansou, a member of the Commission.

The Commission is asking the Burundian authorities to immediately put a stop to serious human rights violations by state agents and Imbonerakure, over whom the State exercises control

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World needs to move beyond ‘conceptual debate’ and improve protection from atrocities, urges Guterres

Posted on 09 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Saturday 09th September 2017

6 September 2017 – Highlighting increased atrocity crimes – genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity – in many parts of the world, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today called for concrete action to protect the vulnerable and to reverse such negative trends.

“All of us are well aware of the grim human reality that lies behind the words, ‘war crimes’, ‘crimes against humanity’, ‘ethnic cleansing’, and ‘genocide’,” Mr. Guterres said at a dialogue held at UN Headquarters on the responsibility to protect, commonly referred to as ‘R2P’.

“It is time to move beyond the conceptual debate towards improved protection of people from atrocity crimes.”

Referring to his report on responsibility to protect, the UN chief also stressed that the Organization must give far greater attention to address the challenges before they spiral out of control.

In particular, he underscored the need for practical steps, noting that his report includes options that can be taken in a relatively short time, without major operational or institutional requirements.

He also urged the Human Rights Council (the highest UN intergovernmental forum on human rights) as well as the Security Council to further strengthen their capacity to address the risks of atrocity crimes and other violations of the responsibility to protect, and called for improving the use of all three UN pillars – peace and security, development, and human rights – for better early warning and prevention, as envisaged in the Human Rights Up Front action plan.

Noting that the responsibly to protect agenda generates some discomfort for a number of UN Member States, with the primary concern that it will be used to “impose” international approaches that may harm national sovereignty, Mr. Guterres said that the success of the UN implementing its mandates depended on national actors being able to deliver on their sovereign responsibilities.

“Our shared challenge is to use the principle of the responsibility to protect to achieve the goals that were originally envisaged. I am convinced that open and constructive discussion among concerned States can overcome any remaining differences,” he added.

Further, the Secretary-General recalled the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit, which was adopted unanimously and which reinforced that States have the primary responsibility to protect their populations from atrocity crimes as well as assist States if they do not possess the necessary capacity to prevent crimes in their territory.

“But should national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, then we must be prepared to take collective action, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis,” he stated.

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Special TADA court disallows marriage application of Salem

Posted on 08 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Friday 08th September 2017

Mumbai, Sep 7 (PTI) The special Tada court today disallowed the marriage application of gangster Abu Salem, terming it infructuous and disposed off the issue.

“The application is disposed off as its infructuous,” the special court said.

In 2015, a photograph of Salem with a girl had surfaced after which the Tada court had asked Thane police to conduct an inquiry when a tabloid reported that Salem married the woman “over the phone” during a train journey when he was being taken by the police to Lucknow for a court hearing.

In June 2015, the girl had moved the court saying that the police showed her photograph with Salem and asked many people about the marriage.

The police probe sullied her character and she could not marry anybody else, so she decided to marry Salem, the girl had said.

Later, Salem too moved the court giving his consent to the marring the woman.

The special TADA court today sentenced Salem to life imprisonment for his role in 1993 blasts.

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Sanitisation process of Dera headquarters at Sirsa underway

Posted on 08 September 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Friday 08th September 2017

Sirsa (Har), Sep 8 (PTI) A mammoth exercise to carry out “sanitisation” of the sprawling Dera Sacha Sauda sect headquarters was underway here today with security forces and various government departments coordinating closely amid tight security.

The entire sanitisation process will be videographed and is being overseen by retired District and Sessions Judge, A K S Pawar, who was appointed as Court Commissioner by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday.

Curfew remains enforced on the road leading to the Dera headquarters. No unauthorised person was being allowed to go inside Dera premises.

A large number of vehicles including police buses and paramilitary vehicles, Quick Reaction Team vehicles, bomb disposal squad and anti-sabotage team vehicles, carrying cops and paramilitary personnel and vehicles of the district administration carrying officials drawn from various government departments made their way inside the Dera premises in the morning, officials said.

Besides, some fire tenders, heavy earth moving machines and tractors have also been pressed into service for the sanitisation exercise.

“We have formed a strategy and are hopeful that the sanitisation process will be conducted in a smooth manner.

The Dera management too has expressed willingness to cooperate with the local administration and police during investigation,” Haryana Police DGP B S Sandhu said in Chandigarh yesterday.

The Dera management today said it will cooperate in the sanitisation process.

“Today the sanitisation process has begun. We have always followed law. We will extend all cooperation in carrying out this (sanitisation) exercise by the government and appeal to all to maintain peace and calm,” Dera chairperson Vipassana Insan said here.

Court Commissioner Pawar arrived in Sirsa yesterday and held a meeting with top officials of the civil and police administration including the paramilitary to take stock of things before the process was to be undertaken.

The premises of the Dera, whose chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was jailed in rape case, is spread over nearly 800 acres, and houses educational institutions, markets, hospital, stadium, recreational areas and houses.

DGP Sandhu had said earlier that the sanitisation process will be out of bounds for the media.

Duty magistrates, executive magistrates and revenue officials are also part of the exercise.

As many as 16 ‘nakas’ have been set up near the Dera. A total of 41 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in Sirsa district.

Policemen of the anti-bomb disposal squad and 40 commandos of Special Weapons and Tactics team and dog squad would also be deployed for the sanitisation process.

Among the central forces, CRPF, Sashastra Seema Bal, Rapid Action Force and BSF are deployed in Sirsa.

Inspector general of police, Hisar, Amitabh Dhillon, Sirsa SP Ashwin Shenvi and Deputy Commissioner Prabhjot Singh had earlier checked all check-posts installed by the security forces.

The police and the Dera management have maintained that licensed weapons have been deposited by most Dera followers at Sirsa with the police authorities.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had earlier taken up a PIL filed by Ravinder Dhull, a Panchkula resident, who had raised concerns over the law and order situation and stated that over 1.5 lakh people had reportedly entered the district earlier despite prohibitory orders.

Large-scale violence broke out in Panchkula after the Dera chief’s conviction in rape cases, leaving 35 people dead.

Six others died in incidents of violence in Sirsa.

Ram Rahim was later sentenced to 20 years in prison in the rape case.

The Haryana government had filed a plea on Friday seeking “permission to hold sanitisation process of the Dera headquarter here under “judicial supervision”, following the incarceration of the sect chief.

The HC earlier this week appointed a court commissioner for the purpose.

A report of the whole sanitisation process will be submitted to the high court by the court commissioner, with a copy to be given to the state government.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had earlier said that some “objectionable” items were found during the sanitisation of ‘namcharcha ghars’ (congregation centres of Dera Sacha Sauda) in the state.

Over 100 namcharcha ghars, associated with the Dera, have already been sanitised in the state, he had said.

The Haryana government had come under attack for allowing a huge build up of Dera Sacha Sauda followers in Panchkula.

Khattar had said the violence could have turned much worse had the government not been alert.

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