New Free Grain Scheme Will Force Poor to Buy From Market, Increasing Poverty; Police Officer Admits In Court That Elgar Parishad Did Not Trigger Violence
India was second chair of G20: Yashwant, 690 internet shutdowns in 10 years, Kashmir cleric gets bail in NIA case, BSF jawan bludgeoned to death in Gujarat, Pakistan’s 'Maula Jatt' may show in India
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Snapshot of the day
December 27, 2022
Sub-Divisional Police Officer Ganesh More, a senior police official investigating caste violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018, has, under oath, admitted that the Elgar Parishad event, organised 30 km away in Pune city, had no role in the violence. This admission before the two-member judicial commission set up to investigate the violence tears through the Pune police and subsequently the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) claims against the 16 human rights defenders arrested in a separate case. The NIA claims that these 16 people played an active role in “provoking” the gathered crowd at Bhima Koregaon with their speeches, triggering violence on the 200th anniversary celebration of the battle of Bhima Koregaon. Three of the 16 have been released on bail, and one person, Stan Swamy, died in custody, while the remaining 12 remain in prison waiting for the trial to start.
Twitter is likely facing its biggest leak, as per a report by Israeli cyber-intelligence company Hudson Rock, which says that a hacker has claimed to have stolen the data of 40 crore users and put it up for sale on the Dark Web. People whose data has been stolen includes high-profile handles such as Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Bollywood actor Salman Khan. Hudson Rock states that the personal data on sale includes email, username, followers and even the phone number of 40 crore Twitter users.
“What is new and somewhat disturbing is not just the continued elevated unemployment rate, but also an accompanying fall in the labour participation rate and employment rate. It is likely that the high unemployment rate of recent weeks has discouraged some potential workers to quit the labour markets at least temporarily,” writes Mahesh Vyas of CMIE. “The average unemployment rate during the four weeks that ended in December 2022 works out to 8.8% compared to 8% in November. The unemployment stress continues to be urban-centric. The urban unemployment rate in the week ended December 25 was 9.6% while the rural unemployment rate was 7.8%. Consumer sentiments show a trend that is quite similar to the one seen in the labour markets. Sentiments have sobered in November and December 2022.”
The desperation of the unemployed is now visible. Delhi Police is investigating a job fraud in which 28 men from Tamil Nadu were tricked into counting trains for days, to be ‘trained’ for a job as ticket checkers with the Indian Railways. A former Army official, who unknowingly put the men in contact with the alleged scammers, alerted the police. The victims paid over Rs 2 lakh each to get the job. Jyoti Yadav reports on two Agniveer suicides. Ever since the Army started the Agnipath recruitment process, “instances of aspirants ending their lives have been cropping up with depressing regularity.” Watch Aunindyo Chakravarty break down the rising numbers of unemployed youth. Of new jobseekers in the past five years, 86% couldn’t get a job and 45% of jobseekers aged 20-24 are unemployed.
All MGNREGA workers must digitally record attendance from January 1, 2023. Speaking of transparency and accountability, the Union government in May 2021 had started a pilot project to capture attendance via a mobile app. The results were disconcerting but on May 16, the government made the app compulsory for all worksites with 20 or more workers. The responsibility of uploading two time-stamped and geotagged photographs of the workers every day fell on the mates/supervisors, who are paid only marginally better than the unskilled workers. They complained of the lack of technical support and poor connectivity, and having to own a smartphone and pay for an Internet connection.
Firms controlled by Gautam Adani have accounted for a third of the 33% jump in the BSE500 index since 2021, and if rival Mukesh Ambani’s empire is included, “half of the gains are spoken for by the two wealthiest tycoons,” writes Andy Mukherjee.
Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan and his co-accused are still in jail, despite getting bail in both the UAPA and PMLA cases, because the bail conditions require the furnishing of sureties, which must be verified by local authorities. The verification of sureties in the UAPA case is incomplete and Kappan’s lawyers must now find people willing to stand surety in the PMLA case. Geeta Seshu, co-founder of the Free Speech Collective, which documents attacks on press freedom in India, called the formalities for verifying sureties “a nightmare.” She said that the cumbersome verification in Kappan’s UAPA case would “put off people” who offer to stand surety. “This is the hidden part of the punishing process to secure justice,” she said. “It is a shame.”
Bhopal’s BJP MP, Pragya Thakur, accused of terror acts, has issued an open call to kill Muslims in a speech in Karnataka: “Keep weapons at home. Keep them sharp. If veggies can be cut well, so can the enemy’s head”. No word from anyone in authority in the state or the Union. On Saturday night, shopkeeper Abdul Jaleel, 43, was hacked to death by unidentified people outside his store in Mangaluru. The Karnataka Police have detained five.
BSF jawan Melaji Vaghela was beaten to death in Gujarat's Nadiad after he protested the circulation of his daughter’s video clip. On Saturday night, Vaghela, his wife, their son, and nephew had gone to Kheda to confront one Sunil Jadav for circulating the clip of the minor. They were attacked by Jadav’s family with a stick and a sickle.
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