At a time when the country is witnessing politics of polarisation, a non-descript village in West Bengal’s Malda has set up an example of brotherhood between two communities. Muslim residents of minority-dominated Gargari village in Harishchandrapur police station area raised funds to bring back the body of their Hindu neighbour, Chandan Mahaldar (38), who had gone to south India in search of job after becoming jobless last year because of lockdown and died in Secunderabad (Telangana) three days ago after falling off a speeding train. They also shared shoulder to carry the body for cremation, said New Indian Express on November 3. “Chandan was a poor villager like us. He was our neighbour. His family is in distress and what we did was nothing extraordinary. We stood by one of our neighbour’s family,” said Hasan Ali.  Chandan’s wife Pratima said her husband had left home to bring back smile on the faces of his family members. “I thought I would never be able to see his face for the last time. But the way our neighbours stood beside me setting aside their religious belief, I will never forget it,” she said.


Amid its fight against the pandemic in 2020, India lost more people to suicide than Covid-19, as per the latest report by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a report said on November 1. The country reported more than 1.53 lakh suicides last year – highest in the last 10 years, according to the NCRB. The coronavirus infection, on the other hand, killed close to 1.49 lakh people in 2020, as per data from the union health ministry. While illness was the most attributed cause behind suicide, daily wage workers made up the largest share of total suicides, shows NCRB data. A total of 37,666 daily wage workers died by suicide in 2020 – accounting for one-fourth of total suicides. While nearly 45,000 women died by suicide, more than one lakh men killed themselves. Further, among total women who died by suicide, 50 per cent (or 22,372) were homemakers, the data shows. Homemakers accounted for close to 15 per cent of total suicides.


A new report by civil society organisations has highlighted how a culture of impunity is allegedly being pushed at all levels after ‘extrajudicial killings’ in Uttar Pradesh, with the police regularly being let off the hook for their ‘illegal’ actions without proper investigation, said The Wire on October 29. While extrajudicial killings are not a new phenomenon in India, and have been witnessed across the country and over decades, the current Yogi Adityanath-led government in Uttar Pradesh has been blatant in its support for the police violence against those seen to be breaking the law. In this situation, it is perhaps unsurprising that the police officers responsible for alleged extrajudicial killings are not held to account. Since March 2017, news reports suggest 8,472 instances of police firings have taken place, leading to the deaths of 146 men and bullet injuries to 3,302 more.


A Delhi Court has framed charges against 5 men for unlawful assembly, rioting and murder of one Zakir during the North East Delhi riots. It observed that they developed a common intention to kill him while riotous clashes happened between Hindu and Muslim communities, a report said on November 1. Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhatt framed charges against all accused persons under Sections 144, 147, 148 and 149 and added Section 302 (Murder) r/w 34 against four of them. Thus the material on record prima facie discloses commission of offence of rioting, murder, etc. by the accused. “It is evident that if the evidence collected during the course of investigation and annexed to the chargesheet remains unrebutted the conviction of the accused is reasonably possible. No case for their discharge has been made out,” the Judge added.


Six members of a Dalit family were allegedly attacked by around 20 men for visiting a temple in their village near Gandhidham town of Gujarat’s Kutch district. While the alleged incident took place on October 26 at Ner village that comes under the jurisdiction of the Bhachau police station, no arrests have been made so far, deputy superintendent of police Kishorsinh Zala was reported as saying on October 30. “Two FIRs were registered in this regard, one by Govind Vaghela and another by his father Jagabhai. The duo claimed that around 20 persons attacked them. We have formed eight teams to nab the culprits,” Zala said. The case has been registered against a mob of 20 persons, including Kana Ahir, Rajesh Maharaj, Kesra Rabai, Paba Rabari and Kana Koli, on the charges of attempt to murder, dacoity, robbery, assault, and under relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.


A 24-year-old woman from Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district was allegedly forced to undergo a “purification” ritual by her father and other relatives for marrying a Dalit man, India Today reported on October 31. The Kotwali Betul police said the woman’s hair was trimmed, her dress was discarded and she was forced to take a bath in the Narmada river. Sakshi was allegedly forced to take a dip in the river, half-naked in front of other people. Sakshi alleged that since her marriage, she has been getting death threats from her maternal side. She further added she was being pressurised to divorce her husband and remarry someone of her caste. After marriage, the husband had given a written application against the family members to the SP, station in-charge of Kotwali Betul, but no action has been taken on the application.


They say India’s Muslim population is increasing at such a rapid rate that ‘Muslims will outnumber Hindus very soon’. This false narrative is reinforced by the fact that a Muslim can legally have up to four wives. It stands to reason then, so the twisted logic goes, that many more Muslim babies are born than Hindu babies. “Nobody bothers to ask how many Muslims actually have more than one wife. In reality, very few. I personally don’t know of any. Do you?” wonders Rahul Singh in his article published in The Tribune on October 31. Mr. Singh adds: “Anyhow, the myth of Muslims multiplying much more than Hindus persists, fuelling communal prejudice. It is sad that Mohan Bhagwat, head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has joined the chorus…. On the question of Muslims outnumbering Hindus in the near future, former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, in his authoritative book “The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India”, exposes the Goebbelsian falsehoods promoted by the likes of Bhagwat.”


The last few days have been difficult for the farmers protesting the three farm laws at the Tikri border. In the early morning hours of October 28, a truck ran over seven women farmers and a child at Bahadurgarh near Tikri. They were on their way back to their village in Mansa district in Punjab after having spent time at the protest. Two women died on the spot, and one shortly thereafter. The rest have been admitted to hospitals nearby. The driver has been on the run. The mood at the protest site, normally feisty and energetic, has taken on a sombre hue. Hundreds of men and women are sitting on a long green carpet in front of the main stage and listening to kirtans and short eulogies by the speakers. Their faces are impassive.

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