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first_img September 7, 2020 Find out more Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the increasingly systematic attacks on media personnel covering the tension in eastern Ukraine. The abduction of journalists is becoming more and more frequent in and around Sloviansk, the city controlled by the pro-Russian “People’s Republic of Donetsk,” while constant attacks on media and journalists throughout the region is exacerbating an intense information war. Reporters Without Borders appeals to all parties to immediately stop treating news providers as targets to be neutralized or controlled.Sloviansk, no-go zoneAccording to IMI, a Ukrainian NGO that is a Reporters Without Borders partner, pro-Russian militiamen have arrested 19 news providers in Sloviansk since 1 April and were still holding at least two of them this morning: the netizen Artem Deynega and Yuri Leliavski, a reporter for the Ukrainian TV station ZIK (Western Information Union). Leliavski, who is from the western city of Lviv, has been a hostage since 25 April. Deynega was abducted on 13 April after installing a camera on the balcony of his Sloviansk apartment.Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about Serhiy Shapoval, a journalist with the Volin’Post news website, who has been unreachable since 26 April. According to his sister, he said in his last phone call that he was in Sloviansk and “could not leave for the time being.”Novomedia journalist Ruslan Kukharchuk reported that he was arrested while photographing a column of militiamen on 27 April and was held overnight in one of the city’s police stations, while being interrogated with a bag over his head and a revolver against his temple.Meanwhile, there has been no news since 16 April of Sergei Lefter, a journalist who was arrested near Sloviansk while acting as member of an observation mission sent by the NGO Open Dialogue Foundation.“Designed to create a reserve of hostages and intimidate other journalists, these abductions are intolerable,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.“Before our eyes, Sloviansk is turning into an increasingly unpredictable Bermuda Triangle where the safety of news providers is no longer guaranteed. Those capable of wielding any influence over the city’s self-proclaimed authorities must do everything in their power to get them to end these criminal actions at once.”Sloviansk’s self-proclaimed city administration has been insisting that journalists request accreditation since 26 April. After their passports and press ID have been checked, their previous reporting is researched. According to RIA-Novosti, the official Russian news agency, applicants must also produce a letter of recommendation from another journalist, preferably a Russian one, who is already accredited.Cases of European and US journalists being refused accreditation have already been reported, and several journalists have reported that this accreditation is now being demanded at the entrance to the city.Self-proclaimed mayor Viacheslav Ponomarev is quite open about the aim of the new accreditation procedure.“We are forced to resort to such measures because many journalists have been transmitting deliberately false and unverified information,” he told RIA Novosti. “We have all the data of the journalists and we can immediately follow what they write. If someone lies, we ask them to leave the city at once.”Russian media journalists arrested, deportedReporters Without Borders takes note that Stepan Chirich, a Belarusian journalist employed by Russia’s NTV, was placed under house arrest in a rented apartment on 26 April, two days after being arrested in the Dnepropetrovsk region while using glasses with an in-built video camera. Chirich, who says he went to Ukraine to do a report on exorcism, has been charged under article 359 of the penal code with “using special technical devices that allow information to be gathered secretly.” Reporters Without Borders calls on the judicial authorities to conduct an impartial investigation and to not punish Chirich’s use of a hidden camera disproportionately if it is established that he was not involved in any spying.Reporters Without Borders again condemns the expulsion of many Russian journalists. The latest victims include Julia Shustraya and Mikhail Pudovkin, two journalists with the Russian TV station LifeNews, who were arrested in Donetsk on 25 April and were escorted to the Russian border by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) the same day.In mid-April, Ukraine imposed drastic restrictions on the entry of Russian males aged between 16 and 60.Airwaves war continuesA group of “People’s Republic of Donetsk” supporters stormed the headquarters of the regional public television service in Donetsk on 27 April and replaced its signal with that of the Russian TV station Rossya 24.Gunmen seized control of another television transmission centre in Donetsk yesterday and disconnected the digital retransmission of the Ukrainian national TV stations and the analogue signals of two national TV stations, UT-1 and 5 Kanal. In Kiev, activists attacked the headquarters of the Inter TV station yesterday, breaking doors and windows and releasing teargas inside the building. They initially went there to demand an end to the broadcasting of Russian TV series. They subsequently demonstrated outside ICTV headquarters with the same demand.Reporters Without Borders deplores the fact that the parties to the conflict in Ukraine are again fighting over TV stations and TV signal retransmission installations.Pro-Russian activists stormed the TV retransmission centre in Kramatorsk, near Sloviansk, on 18 April, terminating the transmission of Ukrainian channels and replacing them with Russian ones. This is a repetition of what took place in Crimea in March.(Photo : AFP / Genya Savilov) News to go further Organisation Ukraine escalates “information war” by banning three pro-Kremlin media UkraineEurope – Central Asia News UkraineEurope – Central Asia RSF_en Receive email alertscenter_img Crimean journalist “confesses” to spying for Ukraine on Russian TV News Help by sharing this information Follow the news on Ukraine February 26, 2021 Find out more April 29, 2014 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Reporters and media at centre of storm in eastern Ukraine March 26, 2021 Find out more News Ukrainian media group harassed by broadcasting authoritylast_img read more

first_imgAn OUSU slate focusing primarily on mental health has been announced. The slate will be standing for election in 6th Week.‘BackJack’ is standing for election later this term on a shared belief that OUSU must engage and mobilise students across the University in order to implement wider change regarding students’ mental health. Its three executive members are Jack Hampton for President, Sandy Downs for Welfare & Equal Opportunities Officer, and Duncan Shepherd for Academic Affairs Officer.Hampton told Cherwell that mental health is “the most pressing issue among the student  body”. He and Shepherd both agree that in their time as JCR Presidents (at St Catherine’s and Balliol respectively), “A lot of time in those positions was spent on issues involving students’ mental health”.Hampton said, “There were 13 different cases where mental health was an issue last year in meetings with college”, adding that during processes of rustication, “you’re often seeing people at the point of breaking and asking yourself: how is more not being done for these students?”The slate will argue that University policy works directly to the detriment of students’ mental health. Hampton told Cherwell, “I’ve seen instances where students have performed disappointingly in collections because of problems at home, for example, and have been met with increased workloads, increased stress, and a kind of punitive hit-them-while-they’re-down approach from the senior tutor.” Despite the University often justifying this approach because it “maintains academic standards”, the members of ‘BackJack’ it cannot, when it comes at the cost of students’ mental well-being.Shepherd told Cherwell that while “there is a lot of focus on getting people into Oxford, there needs to be more on keeping people here”. He added that although “the counselling service is great”, the allocation of central University resources is often inadequate, with “some colleges having lots of policy on mental health and others with barely any at all”. According to Hampton,“The problem is we don’t give parity to physical and mental health – why aren’t there counsellors on site in colleges, like there are doctors?”Hampton asserts that if he were elected he would “take these things to the University for change”, seeking an end to “punitive” in-term collections, “proper” discussion on reading weeks and term lengths and enforced standardised caps on workloads. BackJack will seek to mitigate the “negative elements of Oxford“ such as ‘5th Week blues’ and the problem of unfair workloads, which Shepherd emphasises “can be a huge issue for Joint Honours students, where departments often don’t talk to each other, leaving some students with four essays in the first week, and none in the two weeks following”.The slate also holds the view that OUSU is “disconnected from the large majority of students because of the collegiate system” and needs to reconnect with the network of JCRs, which “are already great bodies for student mobilisation. We aim to] bring an approach that would be looking at why things have happened – policies that demand structural change – and push that change through bottom-up pressure and JCR mobilisation.”Hampton, Shepherd and Downs all added, “Every student knows that Oxford has serious problems, but they’re only going to improve if we’re united and determined – we think we know how to do it. Please give us the chance.”last_img read more

first_img26 June 2009On Saturday, 20 June 2009, the town of Rhodes, located in the southern Drakensberg in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, welcomed a group of tired but exhilarated Freedom Challenge cyclists after a 500-kilometre ride that started in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal a week before.The Ride to Rhodes is an annual six-day race that takes adrenalin-seekers on a rugged but awesomely beautiful mountain biking trail from Pietermaritzburg to Rhodes.The day the cyclists arrived in Rhodes was wintry, with snow on the mountain; the local pub’s roaring fire was a happy welcome to the battered and bruised but happy group of men and women. All dressed in their bright red Freedom Challenge jerseys, they laughed together as they shared stories of their recent adventure.Experience of a lifetimeTwo of the older adventurers, Gavin Greig and Rodney Milford, had an experience of a lifetime.At one point, on the ride from Centocow to Ntsikeni Nature Reserve, they fell far behind and by midnight, after 19 hours of cycling, with the temperature having dropped to minus-three, they just couldn’t go on.A tiny mud hut presented itself, and they knocked on the door. It was opened warily by a nervous lady, but when she saw their plight she welcomed them into her tiny home.Two children were sleeping in the kitchen and she in her bedroom. She immediately made them tea and went to sleep with her children in the kitchen, giving up her bed for the tired and weary men. They were overcome by her generosity, and collapsed into bed and slept until morning.They woke to the smell of mealiepap (maize porridge) that she had made for their breakfast. It was an act of incredible kindness, and one has to wonder how many would, without question, allow two complete strangers into their home at midnight and give up their bed for them!Chatting in the pub after finishing the ride, Milford said: “The fast pace of today’s city life means we don’t take enough time to be truly human. That old woman’s act of kindness really affected me, because I know how rarely such generosity occurs in our ‘normal’ lives.”Stunning sceneryThe Freedom Challenge trail takes the cyclists off-road through some of the most stunning scenery one can see anywhere, never mind in South Africa. The route includes a quick stop at the Centocow Mission Station.Founded in 1892 by the Trappist monk Abbot Francis Pfanner, Centocow treated the famed watercolour artist Gerard Bhengu for tuberculosis when he was a young boy. Dr Max Kohler, who practiced at Centocow from 1925 to 1935, was responsible for discovering Bhengu and encouraging him to paint.While the Ride to Rhodes route is 500 kilometres in distance, it is a particularly testing 500 kilometres, with many tortuous climbs that seem never-ending, winding up and up on slippery tracks and stony dirt roads. However, the fantastic views at the top of each mountain are more than reward for the huge effort and determination needed to ascend each challenging peak.The highest pass in South AfricaNaude’s Nek, the final climb before Rhodes, is without doubt the ultimate mountain climb for cyclists. As the highest pass in South Africa, the ride up is precarious, as is speeding down the dirt road on the other side that winds its way into Rhodes.The vast views are indescribably beautiful, but the riders must keep their eyes on the trail or face potentially disastrous consequences.The challenge is, at times, enough to make cause many a gut check, but afterwards those who have conquered it speak about the “soul” of the ride. It’s more than just a race – it’s a journey into South Africa, its far-flung places and people, as well a unique personal challenge.Carine Reyneke, a business analyst and first-time rider in the Ride to Rhodes, commented afterwards: “It’s the people, the craziness of us all, and coming together for a short period of time to experience something few cyclists ever have the opportunity to share. I will definitely be back again.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

first_img21 January 2014 Tennis South Africa on Monday announced the South African team to take on Monaco in a Euro/Africa Zone Group 2 Davis Cup tie. The teams will meet at the Irene Country Club in Pretoria from 31 January to 2 February. With John-Laffnie de de Jager serving as captain, the South African team is Izak van der Merwe, Rik de Voest, Raven Klaasen, Ruan Roelofse and Nikala Scholtz. De Jager will be forced to trim the squad down to four players by the start of the tie, but he does at least have options, unlike when South Africa had to face Russia in Moscow in October with a team decimated by withdrawals. The highest ranked South African for that tie was Dean O’Brien, at number 529. He’s not among the five players from which De Jager will select his team.‘I am happy’ Despite South Africa’s top player Kevin Anderson not making himself available for the tie, De Jager will be able to welcome Izak van der Merwe back into the team. “I am happy that Izak has recovered from his injury and this can be a good start for him,” De Jager said of the injury that had sidelined the 2011 Soweto Open winner for many months. Ruan Roelofse has proved, according to De Jager, to be “a great all-round player that can play singles and doubles”, thus allowing the captain a number of good choices when naming his final four.Playing the best tennis of his career A key member of the team is the evergreen Raven Klaasen, the team’s doubles specialist. At the age of 31, he is currently playing the best tennis of his career. Ranked 45th in the world doubles ranking, Klaasen has reached the quarterfinals of the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, with his American partner Eric Butorac. The pair, who bagged three titles on the ATP World Tour in 2013, shocked top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan of the USA, the winners of 15 Grand Slam titles, in straight sets in the third round.‘A very experienced team’ “I am very happy with the team to face Monaco. It is a very experienced team I selected,” commented De Jager. “Rik, Raven and Izak have more than 20 years of Davis Cup experience between them. It is crucial for us to win this match because we want to be back in Group 1 in 2015.” “Irene Country Club is a great venue and we hope to get lots of support from the local tennis supporters.” Monaco will name their team on Wednesday. South Africa is 34th in the Davis Cup rankings, while Monaco occupies 59th place. SAinfo reporter In April of 2013 Van der Merwe suffered a chronic injury due to playing an excessive amount of tennis. ‘Preparing hard’ “I have not played any events since surgery [a small part of the heel bone was removed] on the 18th of April last year,” Van der Merwe said in a statement. “Davis Cup will be my first event back. I have been training for the last few months, preparing hard for this tie. “The recovery from my heel injury has been a slow process, but it has gone very well. Over the last few weeks I made great progress on the practice court. It has taken a lot of patience, but I look forward to getting back on the Davis cup team and competing on the ATP Tour,” he added. The tie will be a special one for Rik de Voest who will be playing international tennis for the first time at his home courts in Irene where he started the game at the age of five.‘It is going to be amazing’ “It is going to be amazing to play a Davis Cup tie at Irene Country Club,” he said. “I believe the exposure to international players and the national team will further benefit the development and interest in tennis at Irene. “Now nearing the end phase of my tennis career, and with my long history with the club, it’s going to be extra special to play a Davis Cup tie at the club where it all began for me.” Assessing his players, De Jager said De Voest and Van der Merwe were very good high altitude players and said Nikala Scholtz has also enjoyed success at altitude.last_img read more

first_imgSouth Africa is a subtropical region, moderated by ocean on two sides of the triangle-shaped country and the altitude of the interior plateau. These account for the warm, temperate conditions so typical of South Africa – and so popular with its foreign visitors.Swimmers enjoying the waves at Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal province: Beach scene. (Image: Brand South Africa)Brand South Africa reporterThe country is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the Indian Ocean; their waters meet at Cape Agulhas, at the southernmost tip of the continent.The coastline stretches 2 798 kilometres from a desert border with Namibia in the northwest, down the icy Skeleton Coast to Cape Agulhas, then up along the wide beaches and green hills on the coast of the Indian Ocean, to the border with subtropical Mozambique in the northeast.Sea surface temperature influences the climate of South Africa’s coastal regions: the warm subtropical east and the cooler regions of the west coast. (Animation adapted from NOAA Oceans Visualizations by Mary Alexander)South Africa is famous for its sunshine. It’s a relatively dry country, with an average annual rainfall of about 464mm; the world average is about 860mm. While Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter, the rest of the country is generally a summer-rainfall region.Temperatures in South Africa tend to be lower than in other countries at similar latitudes – such as Australia – mainly because of its greater elevation above sea level.On the interior plateau, the altitude – Johannesburg lies at 1 694 metres – keeps the average summer temperatures below 30°C. In winter, for the same reason, night- time temperatures can drop to freezing point, and lower in some places.South Africa’s coastal regions have the warmest winter temperatures in the country. There is, however, a striking contrast between temperatures on two different coasts, a result of the warm eastern Agulhas current and cold western Benguela current that sweep the coastlines.In the southern hemisphere our seasons are opposite to those of Europe and North America, so, yes – we spend Christmas on the beach! Summer Boulders Beach in Simonstown south of Cape Town is famous for its African penguin colony. Summertime on the Cape peninsula has glorious months of rain-free sunshine. (Image: South African Tourism)Over much of South Africa, summer, which lasts from mid-October to mid- February, is characterised by hot, sunny weather – often with afternoon thunderstorms that clear quickly, leaving a warm, earthy, uniquely African smell in the air.Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, is the exception, getting its rain in winter. Autumn Vineyards in the Hex River Valley winemaking region of the Western Cape. (Image: South African Tourism)Autumn in South Africa is from mid-February to April. It offers the best weather in some respects. Very little rain falls over the whole country, and it is warm but not too hot, getting colder as the season progresses.In Cape Town, autumn is fantastic, with hot sunny days and warm, balmy nights which many people spend outdoors. Winter Wild waves break against the rocky shore of the Wild Coast in the Transkei region of the Eastern Cape. (Image: South African Tourism)Winter in South Africa – from May to July – is characterised in the higher-lying areas of the interior plateau by dry, sunny, crisp days and cold nights, sometimes with heavy frosts. It’s a good idea to bring warm clothes.Western Cape gets most of its rain in winter, with quite a few days of cloudy, rainy weather that can be quite stormy with high winds. On 1 June 2013, for example, a cold front accompanied by an intense upper-air trough led to heavy rains and flooding in places over Cape Town, mainly in the informal settlements.Heavy snow falls occurred over the high-lying areas in the south-western parts of Western Cape and Northern Cape, while it was extremely cold over the interior of the two provinces.However, wonderful days are spread throughout winter that rival the best of a British summer.The hot, humid KwaZulu-Natal coast, as well as the Lowveld (lower-lying areas) of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, offer fantastic winter weather with sunny, warmish days and virtually no wind or rain.The high mountains of the Cape and the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal usually get snow in winter. Spring Springtime daisies carpet the Namaqualand region of the Northern Cape. (Image: South African Tourism)Nowhere in South Africa is spring, which lasts from August to mid-October, more spectacular than in Northern Cape and Western Cape. Here the grey winter is forgotten as thousands of small, otherwise insignificant plants cover the semi-arid plains in an iridescent carpet of flowers.The journey to see the flowers of the Namaqualand is an annual pilgrimage for many South Africans. Best time of the year to travel? An old car holds a garden of succulent plants outside a roadside stall in the Northern Cape. (Image: Media Club South Africa)That depends on what you want to do. The Namaqualand flowers are obviously best in August and September. Winter is a good time for game watching, as the veld is not as lush as it is in summer and the lack of rain means animals are more likely to congregate around water holes and rivers.Southern right whales hang around off our coasts from about mid-June to the end of October, making for spectacular whale watching.Diving is best in most of the country outside summer (ie, from April through September), and so is surfing – but that certainly doesn’t limit either activity to those times.River rafting is better in Western Cape at the end of winter, and in KwaZulu-Natal in the height of summer (late November to mid-February). In Mpumalanga and Limpopo, it’s less time dependent.The “shoulder” seasons – spring and autumn – are best for hiking, as summer can be hot over most of the country. In the Drakensberg, summer thunderstorms are dangerous, while there is a good chance of snow in winter. In Western Cape, the winters are wet, so it’s not necessarily the best time for hikes.If you’re a birder, the palaeoarctic migrants arrive around November and the intra- African migrants usually by mid-October.Of course, if you want to lounge around on the beaches, mid-summer is the best time – though everyone else will be there too. And – big bonus – the beaches of northern KwaZulu-Natal are warm and sunny even in midwinter.Gallery: South Africa’s plant lifeRead more:Sout h Africa’s wildlife wondersWhale watching in South AfricaAdventure experiencesSouth Africa: coastal playgroundSouth Africa’s year-round beachesScuba diving in South Africa SouthAfrica.info reporter and South African TourismUpdated: 8 November 2015Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SouthAfrica.info materiallast_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: The judiciary is an institution founded on honesty and integrity, the Supreme Court has said, reasserting that it is necessary judicial officers possess the “sterling quality of integrity” to be able to serve the public.It made the observation while refusing to show any leniency to a Maharashtra-based judicial magistrate, who had challenged his 2004 dismissal from service following allegation he passed orders in favour of the clients of a woman lawyer he had a “proximate relationship”. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghImpeccable integrity should be reflected both in the public and personal life of a judge, the top court said, and added judicial officers must always remember they hold high office and serve the public. A bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said the petitioner did not live up to the “expectations of integrity, behaviour and probity” and no leniency can be shown to him. “Hence, we find no merit in the appeal, which is accordingly dismissed,” it said. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadThe petitioner was appointed as a judicial magistrate in March 1985. In February 2001, he was put under suspension and dismissed in January 2004. He challenged his dismissal in the Bombay High Court but his plea was rejected. He then moved the apex court, which issued a notice on his plea limited to the question of the quantum of punishment. “In this case, the officer decided the cases because of his proximate relationship with a lady lawyer and not because the law required him to do so. This is also gratification of a different kind,” the bench said, explaining that gratification can be of various types. “It can be gratification of money, gratification of power, gratification of lust etc,” it said. The bench said the first and foremost quality required in a judge is integrity. Being a public servant, judicial officers should always remember they are there to serve the public. “The need for integrity in the judiciary is much higher than in other institutions. The judiciary is an institution whose foundations are based on honesty and integrity. “It is, therefore, necessary that judicial officers should possess the sterling quality of integrity,” it said. A judge is judged not only by his quality of judgments but also by the quality and purity of his character,” the apex court said. “One who stands in judgments over others should be incorruptible. That is the high standard which is expected of judges,” it said in its verdict. If a judicial officer decides a matter for any “extraneous reasons”, he is not performing his duty in accordance with law, the bench added.last_img read more

first_imgBhubaneswar: The BJP on Sunday announced the name of Sanat Gartia as its candidate for Bijepur Assembly by-election scheduled to be held on October 21. The bypoll in Bijepur assembly seat in Bargarh district was necessitated after BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik resigned from the seat and retained the Hinjili assembly segment in Ganjam district. Patnaik had won two seats in the last assembly elections. Gartia’s name has been finalised by the central election committee of the BJP, a party statement here said. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra Singh Gartia had unsuccessfully contested the Assembly polls held earlier this year as a BJP nominee from Bijepur but lost to BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He lost to Patnaik by a margin of 57,122 votes in the assembly polls held along with the Lok Sabha elections. With BJP naming its candidate, battle lines are now drawn for Bijepur located in Bargarh district in West Odisha as both the ruling BJD and opposition Congress have already announced their nominees for the bypoll. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroad While BJD has named Rita Sahu as its candidate for the by-election, Congress has announced the name of Dillip Kumar Panda. With the three major political parties announcing the names of the candidates, Bijepur is all set to witness a triangular contest. While Patnaik has said the assembly segment would be in the “focus for welfare and development”, BJP and Congress leaders are of the view that local issues and farmers’ problems will play a major role in the by-election Rita Sahu had contested a by-election in 2018 as the ruling BJD candidate and won the Bijepur seat after the death of her husband and then Congress MLA Subal Sahu. The last date for filing nomination papers is Monday while the scrutiny will be held on October 1. The counting of votes will be held on October 24. There are 2,32,005 eligible voters in 285 polling booths in the assembly constituency.last_img read more

first_imgThe period from June 1975 to March 1977 was undoubtedly the darkest in independent India’s history. Till the midnight of June 26, 1975, Indians could take pride in being the citizens of a free country in spite of the prevailing poverty. However, when they woke up the next morning, they found themselves in chains. The metaphor was real because from then on, for the next 21 months, they realised that they could not read or hear as before the observations and voices of any of the opposition leaders in the newspapers or on the radio (television was a rarity), for they were all behind bars. Also Read – Hijacking Bapu’s legacyAmong them was the tallest of the opposition leaders of the time, Jayaprakash Narayan, who wrote to Indira Gandhi (for her eyes only as the country was under censorship): “Please do not destroy the foundations that the Father of the Nation, and your noble father, had laid down …You inherited a great tradition and noble values of a working democracy. Do not leave behind a miserable wreck of that. It would take a long time to put all that together again. For it would be put together again, I have no doubt.” Also Read – The future is here!Indeed, it was put together, but the credit for that achievement did not go to the judiciary, but to the noble people of India who showed the wannabe dictators that India did not attain freedom from colonial rule to become a banana republic. The 1975-77 period, therefore, was a dark one not only for the ruling politicians of the time, all of whom succumbed to the dictates of their self-serving instincts with no compunctions about trampling over civil liberties, but also the bureaucracy and the judiciary. The Supreme Court subsequently acknowledged as “erroneous” the 1976 verdict upholding the suspension of basic rights. A former chief justice of the court, MN Venkatachalliah, also said that the Emergency-era judgment, which The New York Times described as an “utter surrender” to an absolutist government, should be “confined to the dustbin of history”. If the judiciary’s role in 1975-77 left much to be desired, it didn’t redeem itself subsequently either, for instance, after the 2002 Gujarat riots, when the “closure” of as many as 2,000 cases against rapists and arsonists were allowed by the high court for lack of evidence, which is a euphemism for the police’s “failure” under political pressure to nail the guilty. Some of the cases had to be transferred out of Gujarat so that justice could prevail. After the “surrender” of 1975-77 and the failures of 2002, Kashmir is now on the Supreme Court’s anvil. Here, too, civil liberties are under stress with politicians and activists in detention. The government’s charge that they pose a threat to national security because of their covert links with Pakistan recalls Indira Gandhi’s references to the ubiquitous “foreign hand” and the perils posed to the government by Jayaprakash Narayan’s advice to the police not to obey illegal orders. If the emergency saw censorship of the media, Kashmir is seeing a shutdown of the Internet and mobile telephones on the grounds that these may be used by the terrorists to organise themselves. However, the argument is not unlike the Nazi-era burning of books since they might contain subversive material. If the emergency had followed an adverse court verdict on Indira Gandhi, which the London Times likened to a parking offence, the crackdown on Kashmir has been in the making since the death in 1953 of Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of Jan Sangh, the BJP’s earlier avatar. While the emergency for Indira Gandhi was a matter of holding on to power by hook or crook, the abrogation of the constitutional provision for Kashmir’s special status has been an article of faith for the Hindutva brotherhood ever since Mookerjee gave the call for one nation, one Vidhan (Constitution), one pradhan (chief), which is not dissimilar to the Third Reich’s motto of einvolk, einreich, ein fuehrer. Mookerjee’s grouse was against Kashmir’s pre-1953 autonomy which entitled it to a separate flag, separate constitution and separate prime minister. But, irrespective of whether the ambition of a beleaguered politician or the ideological objective of a party with a large parliamentary majority is behind a government’s pre-emptive move which restricts movement and creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation with the posting of troops at every street corner, it is the curtailment of personal freedoms which is the moot point. Since the government depends on propaganda which tends to depict its opponents as anti-nationals, it is up to the judiciary to test the veracity of the claim of ruling politicians that they acted solely in the national interest. In 1977, the falseness of such an assertion was rejected by the electorate. Will Kashmir also have to wait for elections to know whether the deletion of Article 370 was “erroneous” or not, or will the apex court set their doubts at rest much sooner? (The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img read more

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