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BUJ condemns HT Media's decision to shut down 6 editions

The Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists (BUJ) strongly condemns the illegal decision of HT Media Ltd to shut down six editions of Hindustan Times (HT) at Bhopal, Indore, Ranchi, Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi with effect from 09 January 2017.

The closing down of six editions at one go is an unprecedented event in the history of Indian print media and has clearly been done to circumvent the implementation of the Majithia Wage Board Award which was upheld by the Supreme Court by its judgment dated 07 February 2014.

Apart from closing down six editions, HT Media Ltd is also illegally "pruning" staff in various departments as well as in The Mint, a sister publication from the Group and has shut down the business bureaus in Mumbai and Delhi, besides the bureau in Kolkata. Hundreds of journalists are likely to lose their jobs as a consequence of these malicious and illegal decisions.

HT Media Ltd, a BSE listed entity, with a yearly turnover of over Rs 2000 crore has not implemented the Award in any of its units and has forced employees to submit undertakings under Clause 20(j) of the Award to renounce the benefits under it.

The Company has also failed to implement Clause 9(b) of the Award which entitles even those working on contract basis to receive Variable Pay at the rate of 30 per cent of basic scale.

Section 16-A of The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 (45 of 1955) expressly prohibits a newspaper establishment from dismissing, discharging or retrenching any newspaper employee by reason of its liability for payment of wages under the Award.

Further, the Hon'ble Supreme Court is currently hearing a bunch of Contempt petitions filed against various newspaper establish managements and was all set to hear arguments on several legal issues including an interpretation of Clause 20 (j) of the Award.

It is astonishing that a hugely profitable company like HT Media Ltd (whose third quarter of Calendar 2016 earnings stood at Rs 602.23 crore) has chosen to illegally close down six editions of Hindustan Times and sack several other journalists working in various bureaus rather than implement the Majithia Wage Board Award.

Furthermore, the Company's official website has projected a total revenue of Rs 662.40 crore, in Q1FY2017, which constitutes an increase of 7.5 per cent over the corresponding quarter of the previous year. It also maintains a strong balance sheet position with a net cash of Rs 823.40 crore.

The BUJ demands that the management of HT Media Ltd should immediately revoke its decisions to shut down six editions and sack journalists in various bureaus, failing which it will draw the attention of the Honorable Supreme Court to these developments in the hearing slated for 10 January 2017.

BRIHANMUMBAI UNION OF JOURNALISTS

23-24-25, Prospect Chambers Annexe, D.N.Road, MUMBAI - 400 001

Phone: 022-22816671

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It is alarming when you have an article from an organization that claims to be a collective of news media peddling a political slant, and it gets replicated word for word across various sites syndicating news from them. After National Broadcasters Association issuing a veiled threat to Kejriwal in the wake of their outrage over hearing punishment recommended for paid media for the first time, now it seems Press Trust India is reporting selective news, presented in a manner as to distort the sense of proportionality of reported statistics. Here is a sampling of titles it was published under:

AAP candidates from MP are billionaires; have criminal records

AAP feilds billionaires, criminals in MP

There are a dozen others including Times of India, Outlook and more. This is the article:

Strange as it may seem, 30 per cent of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates for the second phase of Lok Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh are billionaires, while 40 per cent have criminal records against them.

This was revealed in an analysis of candidates for the second phase by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and MP Election Watch (MPEW).

The ten constituencies which are set to go to polls in Madhya Pradesh during the second phase of polls on April 17 are Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Guna, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Bhopal and Rajgarh.
Four out of ten of Congress and BSP nominees have criminal records against them, while only three out of 10 BJP candidates have criminal cases filed against them.

All the 10 Congress candidates are billionaires, while eight out of 10 BJP nominees, four out of 10 BSP nominees and three out of six Samajwadi Party nominees are billionaires.

Giriraj Yadav, an independent candiate from the Guna constituency has a murder case against him, while Brindawan Singh Sikarwar, the BSP candidate from Morena has an attempt to murder case pending against him.

Here are the problems with the article:

The titles

While it is unclear what the title in the original PRI feed is, it is clearly about AAP, since the altered titles in the various news websites all talk of AAP's criminal and billionaire candidates. Yet the article is not solely about AAP, but is a comparison of all Madhya Pradesh second phase candidates.

Presents AAP as the party with the most criminal candidates through "creative writing".

40% of candidates and four out of ten candidates is the exact same proportion. Yet the article is about AAP's "40% candidates" - out of 10, while for Congress and BSP it is four out of ten. And for BJP, it is *just* three out of ten, which is a massive difference of.... one candidate.

Criminal record or criminal case?

All candidates with criminal cases against them except BJP are referred to as having a criminal record, while BJP candidates merely have cases filed. Who would think these are different rows of the same table being spopken about? Human perception is such that a record implies a confirmed criminal history, while a case is "not yet proved".

Selective reporting and lack of handy source to verify.

This is the source of the data reported in this article on the ADRIndia website. The data used in these tables is on page 8 out of 34 pages.

  • candidates with criminal cases in 2nd phase of polls in Madhya Pradesh
  • Fascinatingly, there are no reports of other data mentioned in the report. [later]

Fake data out of context

For example, the part where PTI gets the data for "30% of AAP candidates being billionaires" is tricky. The closest I can come to locating it is the table where 29% of AAP candidates are said to be crorepatis. One billion is 1,000,000,000. One crore is 1,00,00,000. That is a difference of two zeroes or one hundred times the crore mark. ADDITIONALLY, this beautiful factoid omits to mention that not only is it 29% and not 30%, but in the same table, Congress has 89% candidates who are crorepatis and BJP has 84%.

Update 2: The document further below analyzes the 2nd phase candidates alone and finds 30% (3/10) AAP candidates crorepatis (NOT billionaires) and the same table says 100% (10/10) of Congress candidates are crorepatis and 80% (8/10) of BJP candidates are crorepatis.

 

My judgment: HATCHET JOB

Here's the Bonus. The 4 AAP candidates with criminal cases mentioned by ADRIndia? I was unable to locate the fourth. The constituencies going to the polls in the second phase according to the article are Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Guna, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Bhopal and Rajgarh. Out of these, I was able to identify the candidates with criminal cases for Atul Mishra - Sagar, Rachna Dhingra - Bhopal, and Santosh Bharti - Damoh. If you look at the nature of cases, they are what you hear activists being slapped with all the time.

As Atishi Marlena has just pointed out, Atul Mishra is the one who exposed major procurement scam in Sagar University, and took case to CBI. Santosh Bharati is well-known anti-corruption and forest rights' activist! Rachna Dhingra is a well-known Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims' activist.

I have no idea who the fourth candidate is that ADRIndia has listed if I compare these constituencies with this list of candidates with criminal cases in the Lok Sabha Elections, sorted by party provided helpfully by multiple BJP supporters (for some reason). Either ADRIndia got its data wrong, or the PTI report got the constituencies wrong, or one of the candidates withdrawn by the Aam Aadmi Party for not meeting standards was on the list, but didn't get updated in ADRIndia records. Or I made a mistake.

Update: The fourth candidate is Dr. Prashant Tripathi - Rajgarh - again similar. One case that looks like a typical activist thing. Apparently the list is for candidates with serious criminal cases, and this one was not on them, so it took going through each constituency to find.

How can officials exploit rag picker children to pick dead bodies from railway tracks? When I first read the news of a 12 year old rag picker boy forced to pick up a severed limb of a dead body on the railway tracks at Indore, I thought the newspaper had reprinted an old story of abuse. Near identical stories. But the devil is in the detail, this one is a repeat incident. Which makes me wonder if Indore Railway station has made a habit out of exploiting street kids for dirty work that the bloated government employees don't like. Like picking dead bodies.

Reproducing both stories here. You tell me, should Indore station be investigated for child torture?

This is the news in NDTV from today:

Indore: 12-year-old boy forced to pick up mutilated body from railway track

Indore:  A-12-year old boy was allegedly made to pick up a mutilated body part of a suicide victim from the railway track in Indore by the railway police officials.  A top level police investigation has been ordered into the case.

The men in uniform reached the tracks a little later after a labourer named Dhanraj reportedly threw himself in front of the train and committed suicide. One of the railway police officials reached the spot and waited for other team members. The  body lay on the track while other trains continued to pass over it.

Finally, the officials shifted the body from the track. However, a mutilated limb was left behind on the track. The officials then allegedly made a minor rag-picker do the job.

"The police asked me to pick up the mutilated body part. I refused but they pressured me," the boy said.

After this shocking incident was raised by the media, senior railway police officials sprung into action and a DSP level probe was ordered in the case.

Deputy Superintendent of Police GRP Mankamna Prasad told NDTV,"We have recorded statement of our officials but we are not able to trace the boy. Our team is looking for him. As soon as we record his statement I will submit the investigation report. If  officials are guilty we will make sure they face departmental exchange."

The State Commission for Protection of Child rights is closely monitoring the developments in this case, and will be seeking a report from the railway police on the issue and also the action they propose to take. The commission is worried about the minor who they fear may be psychologically affected by the incident.

Chairman of State Commission for Protection of Child rights told, NDTV,"This incident may instil a sense of fear in the mind of the boy which can affect him life long. So the child will need counselling. We will also order the SP to trace that boy and do the needful for him."

This is not the first time that such incident has been reported in Indore. Two years ago, a minor was asked to pick up body parts from the track. In that case, railways police officials were found guilty and also had to face punishment.

And this is the human rights abuse report from 2011:

Police force a child to gather severed human parts in Indore

ragpicker child forced to pick up dead body parts
A ragpicker child forced to pick up parts of dead body from the track at Indore railway station

Despicable it might be, yet it is a relatively irrelevant incident in India. The latest is the case of Firoz, a 12-year-old boy who is now reportedly suffering from serious psychological trauma after being forced by a Head Constable of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to gather the severed remains of a human body run over by a train in Indore, Madhya Pradesh state. The incident happened on 26 September 2011 in full public view. According to the psychiatrist, Dr Ramghulam Razdan, Head of Department, Department of Psychiatry, at the MGM Medical College, who examined Firoz, the boy could be suffering from a "permanent phobic reaction" or that he has developed a "psychotic behaviour" as the direct result of his horrific experience. Firoz is reported to be a rag-picker boy, living in Indore, who initially refused to do the illegal job, but was forced to by the police constable, who also paid him Rs 100. DNA, an independent media group reported the incident on 1 October 2011.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is aware that this is not an isolated incident or an exception in any form in India, Madhya Pradesh in particular. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, Madhya Pradesh is on top in the list of states concerning crimes committed against children in the country.

The AHRC is also aware that the RPF and the state police regularly resort to similar illegal methods when they have to deal with dead bodies of persons run over by a train or in cases where the state police have to deal with persons found dead in unnatural circumstances. For instance, the state police in Tamilnadu often pay Rs 100 and offer a bottle of illegal liquor to children who are ordered to 'pack-up' unidentified and unclaimed dead bodies, often found in different stages of putrefaction.

Mr Louise, living in Pavitram village of Thiruvannamali district, who is now aged 20 years used to do this 'job' for the RPF. Louise was first forced to do the 'job' when he was 12-years-old. He continues to do so and today he is the person 'who handles the dead' in the village and has now made it his profession. The AHRC and its partner organisation in West Bengal state, MASUM have been reporting about how inhumanly dead bodies are handled in state-run mortuaries in that state. MASUM has documented dozens of cases in West Bengal, where it is a Dom - name of a particular Dalit community in India, who undertakes the 'autopsy examination' using crude tools, whereas the medical doctor would observe it from a distance. MASUM and the AHRC has also reported cases of dead bodies left unattended, putrefied and body parts eaten away by dogs and rats in government morgues in West Bengal. Despite the reportage, the state government has done nothing so far to improve the situation. Illegal it might be for the authorities to engage a boy or a private person to deal with a dead body in what is in essence a crime scene or a scientific examination. But in India, this is how things are.

Lack of discipline and dereliction to duty that is often condoned by the superiors in the law enforcement agencies; relative absence of accountability; lack of skills and equipments; and the overall belief of impurity associated with dealing with dead bodies often based on caste beliefs along with the practical convenience for the police of having not to physically deal with the dead are the reasons why such practices exist in India today. In essence, Firoz is one more victim of the systemic culture of neglect, lack of accountability and the resultant culture of impunity omnipresent within the law enforcement agencies in the country. In that the Head Constable who forced Firoz to do this despicable job and paid him for it had been acting quite naturally and normally as far as India is concerned.

Shocking the incident might be, yet it must not be a surprise to anyone in India. Take for instance the Indian Railway itself. Despite the country having developed nuclear weapons and scheduled to declare itself as 'developed' by 2020, the Indian Railways is the single largest network of open toilet on wheels in the world.

Human faeces, sprayed on rails and rail sleepers (cross-tie), is a common sight in every railway station and on every inch of the rail network in the country, which is the largest in the world. In that, the Indian Railway still is to realise that there is something called a 'closed closet' technology invented and used widely in the world today, that toilets inside transport vehicles do not cause a hygiene hazard to the public. The concern for the Indian Railways for the ordinary people including its own employees is most visible once again at railway stations where manual scavengers, clean with a broom, human faeces from the rails. In that, the Indian Railway is the single largest employer of manual scavengers in the world - often recruited from the Dalit community and railway stations are the largest open toilets in the country. One of worst predicaments of the Dalits in India is indeed the practice of manual scavenging, repeatedly documented by rights groups, but equally denied by the Government of India.

It is reported that when several people who witnessed the brutal and inhuman predicament of Firoz, complained about it to the RPF, the RPF suspend the Head Constable from service pending inquiry and transferred five other officers. From experience, about the manner in which dereliction of duty is dealt within the law enforcement agencies in India, it has to be assumed that the only reaction by the authorities concerning this incident would be just this transfer and the temporary suspension of the Head Constable.

The reaction by Firoz when he learned that complaints have been made regarding the incident is to flee from home. Understandably this is the best a poor person in India could do, if the person becomes the cause for 'trouble' to a police officer - run, as far as possible, beyond the reach of the officer! It is reported that Firoz fled to a place called Omkareshwar, about 85 kilometres away from Indore fearing that the Head Constable would come for his blood.

Given the manner in which complaints are dealt with in India, it is possible that the Head Constable produces - and if there is an inquiry, it concludes - that Firoz did the job, on his own volition. The RPF might also produce Firoz's signed statement in support for such a defence and statements of similar rag-picker boys, or probably of a shopkeeper and a few other 'chance witnesses'.

Madhya Pradesh state has a Child Welfare Committee. It needs to be seen whether the Committee would take any sensible action upon this case. At the very least, will the Child Welfare Officer, having jurisdiction upon the police station where the incident happened, would take any action on this case?

There would not be an inquiry how and why the Head Constable picked a rag-picker boy to do his job. None would bother to ask how a rag-picker boy becomes so vulnerable to brute exploitation by the very same officer who is also paid to prevent it. It will be nobody's worry why there are so many children in Indore and other cities in India, who make a living picking rags and climbing over piles of trash when they should be at school? None would try to contact the Madhya Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights having its office in Bhopal and dare speak to its Chairperson and former Judge of Madhya Pradesh High Court, about what could the Commission do in the present case, and further for the poor and destitute children of the state.

While this statement is being read, there would be several other ill-fated children like Firoz, who are either forced to do similar jobs for a living or for fear of torture; or trafficked along the length and breadth of the country or trying to curl down with empty stomachs since their parents are unable to find them a meal at least once a week. Yet, India repeatedly hear the hollow rhetoric that the country's children are its asset and the country's investment for the future.

The question is, would children like Firoz count in that account?

***
Those who wish to react to this statement kindly contact:

1. Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh
Telephone: + 91 755 2443500
Fax + 91 755 2443501
Email: dgp@mppolice.gov.in

2. District Collector, Indore
Telephone + 91 755 2449111
Fax + 91 755 2449114
Email: dmindore@nic.in

3. District Superintendent of Police, Indore
Telephone + 91 755 2525600 / 2711000

3. Chairperson
Madhya Pradesh State Human Rights Commission
Telephone + 91 755 2571935 / 2424311
Fax: 91 755 2551429

4. Chairperson
Madhya Pradesh State commission for the Protection of Child Rights
Telephone + 91 755 2559903
Fax: 0755-2559900
Email: mpcpcr@gmail.com

# # #

About Vikas Samvad: Vikas Samvad is a human rights/media group and AHRC's partner working in Madhya Pradesh. The office of Vikas Samvad is at Bhopal and their work could be accessed at www.mediaforrights.org

Picture courtesy: Daily News and Analysis www.dnaindia.com

Document Type :
Statement
Document ID :
AHRC-STM-135-2011
Countries :

Vijay Panjwani has sent in a report on Supreme Court proceedings in the Union Carbide case with regard to disposal of contaminated waste from the Bhopal Gas Tragedy:

Union Carbide Bhopal H-Waste Safe Disposal

New Delhi, Friday 6th Sept 2013

The Supreme Court today considered the joint inspection report of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)and MP State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) in the matter of safe disposal of 350 tons of Hazardous Waste lying in the premises of Union Carbide plant Bhopal. A trial-run to treat 10 tons of H-Waste is necessary before the entire quantity of 350 tons is treated.

map of India showing cities <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>Bhopal</strong> Indore Jodhpur Ranchi Jamshedpur LucknowThe joint report has found the operation of plant and machinery of the Treatment Storage Disposal Facility (TSDF) near Indore at Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh to be sufficiently satisfactory and compliant. Mr Vijay Panjwani counsel for CPCB told the court that the scientists treated H-Waste from Hindustan Insecticide Ltd, Cochin, Kerala on the directions of the supreme court which is similar to the Carbide H-Waste lying untreated since the night of December 2, 1984. Mr Vijay Panjwani submitted that the entire process from transportation from Cochin,packaging,storage to treatment was compliant. He said all precautions would be taken to monitor gas emissions and if anything goes wrong the plant would be shut off immediately. He said the scientists would be present 24 hours during treatment within the facility. Mr Panjwani said there is no chance of any harmful gas leaking since the plant is working efficiently.
When asked whether the NGO ‘Bhopal Group’ would hold protests against incineration counsel soght time to seek instructions. This was a master stroke from the Bench anticipating trouble and quelling in court itself. The case of trial-run of 10 tons of H-Waste would be heard again on next Friday.

Asaram Bapu stands accused of raping a minor girl, daughter of his followers, in the name of treating her. This is not the first time his name has come up with warped sexual rites and even dead bodies. His supporters on the other and are determined to see no wrong.

BJP politicians have embarrassed the party with their bizarre endorsements of his character, leading Modi to call for sanity, which got promptly ignored.

asaram bapu against a blue background and flowers
Melodramatic picturizations of Asaram Bapu abound and flowers are a recurring theme.

Staunch belief in the godman appears to have rotted the brains of many people. The latest is accusations that he isn't missing, but media is pretending he is, to foul his name.

Let us see. The man goes missing in Bhopal after asking Jodhpur police for an extension on his deadline to present himself in the police station. He had apparently booked tickets on various flights to Delhi and Ahmedabad, all of which he missed when he arrived too late for the last one. His supporters attack media in two cities. He went missing and police had no idea where he was.

Now he is found in Indore, with his son pretending that he hadn't gone missing at all. One really has to wonder why he isn't in a police station in Jodhpur if he wasn't evading arrest.

closeup of asaram wearing a wreath of roses and gesturing at camera
Asaram Bapu is a self styled godman with high profile devotees and a string of disturbing rumors ranging from land grabs to dead kids.

 

Time to wake up folks, even in respect, in blind worship, in stubborn support of a fanatic whose vision you like, in political loyalty, or in plain belief that the accused is innocent, there has to be a line of logic below which you will not fall.

Simple logic of matter is that if he was supposed to turn himself in to police, missed all flights to arrive there, went out of sight while followers distracted attention from him and surfaced in another city, it is called evading arrest.

Now he is found. Hope he gets arrested.