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Five-phase Bihar battle ends; 56 percent vote in final round
Curtains came down on Thursday on the staggered five-phase assembly elections in Bihar that pitted Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP-led combine against the Grand Alliance of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, with more than half of the 1.55 crore electorate turning out to vote in the final round.
 
Polling in the last 57 of the 243 constituencies across seven districts: Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria and Katihar in Seemanchal region, and Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul in Kosi region, saw a 56 percent turnout.
 
The 57 constituencies cover some of Bihar's most backward pockets notorious for poverty, illiteracy and mass migration.
 
Balloting was by and large peaceful, even as stray clashes took place between rival groups.
 
Eight voters were injured when central paramilitary forces resorted to baton charge at polling booths in Araria and Katihar districts.
 
Four voters were injured at a polling booth in Jokihat assembly constituency in Araria, as security forces baton-charged villagers after someone attacked a security personnel on duty.
 
Similarly, security personnel had to use force at a polling booth in Katihar district to disperse anti-social elements trying to indulge in bogus voting, in which four people were injured, officials said.
 
Thousands of people -- women outnumbering men -- stood in long queues at polling stations from early in the morning, officials as well as witnesses said.
 
A total of 827 candidates contested on Thursday. Voting began at 7 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m., but those standing in queue at the close of polling were allowed to cast their ballot.
 
Janata Dal-United (JD-U) president Sharad Yadav voted in Madhepura and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain in Supaul.
 
Bihar Police chief P.K. Thakur said polling was mainly peaceful.
 
In some places, the electronic voting machines malfunctioned. Apart from that, it was a smooth exercise.
 
Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi's Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) is also contesting from six seats in Seemanchal region, and the Jan Adhikar Party of expelled RJD MP Pappu Yadav is also in the fray.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking heavily on Modi's appeal and the support of the upper castes -- Brahmins, Bhumihar, Rajputs -- and also hopes to gain the backing of other communities.
 
Allied with the BJP are the Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Upendra Kushwaha -- both union ministers -- and the Hindustani Awam Morcha of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi.
 
The Grand Alliance includes the JD-U, the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad and the Congress.
 
The millions of votes polled in the staggered elections that began on October 12 will be counted on November 8.
 
A large section of the 66.8 million electorate voted in the staggered elections. 
 
The BJP contested 160 of the 243 assembly seats, the LJP 40, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party 23 and HAM 20 seats.
 
In the Grand Alliance, the JD-U and the RJD fielded 101 candidates each while the Congress contested in 41 seats. 
 
The Bihar election is a big test for the BJP, whose winning streak since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls was halted by the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi in February.
 
The jitters over the outcome of the Bihar assembly polls dented investors' sentiments in the Indian equity markets and led a barometer index to provisionally close 287 points down on Thursday.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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SC shifts Himachal CM's assets case to Delhi High Court
The Supreme Court on Thursday transferred the disproportionate assets case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife to the Delhi High Court "to protect the institution from embarrassment" and "to avoid further controversy".
 
A bench of Justice F.M.I. Kalifulla and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case but simply transferring the case to the Delhi High Court "in the interest of justice and to save the institution (judiciary) from any embarrassment".
 
It clarified that the transfer was made in view of the peculiar circumstances of the case.
 
The transfer should not be misconstrued to cast any aspersions on the Himachal Pradesh High Court or as an act that undermined the country's federal structure, it observed.
 
The decision comes as a temporary reprieve to the octogenarian Congress leader as he would not be arrested until the petition was disposed of.
 
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Virbhadra Singh, opposed the transfer on the ground that it would send a wrong message that the Himachal Pradesh High Court was not fit enough to hear this case.
 
Last month, the CBI challenged a Himachal Pradesh High Court order restraining it from investigating the chief minister and his wife or taking them into custody in a Rs.6 crore disproportionate assets case.
 
The apex court, however, did not grant an interim suspension of the state high court order of October 1 that restrained the CBI from arresting Virbhadra Singh and his wife.
 
The CBI's plea to allow custodial interrogation of the chief minister and his wife would now be heard by the Delhi High Court.
 
The Supreme Court on October 26 through notice asked the couple to explain why their plea against a CBI investigation should not be transferred from the state high court to one outside the state.
 
Virbhadra Singh moved the Himachal Pradesh High Court following CBI searches at his residences in Delhi and Shimla on September 26 which he contended were mala fide and out of political vendetta.
 
The case was registered on September 23 under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the chief minister, his wife Pratibha Singh, LIC agent Anand Chauhan and an associate, Chunni Lal.
 
The case was the outcome of a preliminary inquiry which said that Virbhadra Singh, while serving as a union minister during 2009-2012, allegedly accumulated assets worth Rs.6.03 crore in his name and in the name of his family members, which were found to be disproportionate to his known sources of income. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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RTI activist Mallikarjun Bhaikatti still in hospital without police protection
Despite RTI activists across Maharashtra taking up the cause of last week’s shameful attack on this Latur-based activist, appealing to the Chief Minister to take action against culprits, nothing has moved. 
 
What does one get in return of filing 78 complaints with the Zilla Parishad and the Latur Municipal Corporation regarding usurping of 10,80,000 sq ft of government land (27.5 acres) and several other cases of financial misappropriations? Especially, when due to these complaints, action was taken by authorities in 72 cases leading to disciplinary action against seven officers and four officials, facing suspension?
 
In return, last week, Latur based Right to Information (RTI) activist Mallikarjun Bhaikatti, who has been procuring vital information using the Act, was brutally assaulted leading to hospitalisation. Members, allegedly from Shiv Sena attacked him with fistful blows and kicks, lashing him with chains and even allegedly poured black oil used in bullock cart wheels (vangan in local lingo). He is recuperating in a hospital and needs a couple of weeks more to be discharged. 
 
Mallikarjun says, “It (the attack) was triggered because I held a press conference after the Latur Industrial Estate Cooperative Society Ltd was dissolved and departmental inquiry was ordered against Zilla Parishad officials as sequel to my complaint. The next day someone called me up to say they want to felicitate me. I declined but mentioned that I would be going to the Collector’s office.’’ 
 
They kept a watch on and when he got down from his house put him in their vehicle, switched off his mobile, took him to a local college and attacked him in front of 4,000 odd students. 
 
This was expected, going by the threats that Malikarjun used to receive and had therefore asked for police protection, about six months back. However, he has yet to get police protection, even now after the assault. “The District Collector also had recommended to the police that I be given protection but it has fallen on deaf ears. Even now, they have kept a lady constable in my house but I have not been given any protection in the hospital,” Mallikarjun says. 
 
 
RTI activists across Maharashtra, led by Vijay Kumbhar who promptly took up the issue, formally wrote a letter to the Chief Minister (see box) demanding action against the culprits, as they were allegedly members of his political alliance party. 
Kumbhar says, “I received a reply, stating that I should file this complaint in the grievance redressal cell of the state government.’’  
While mum is the word from CM Devendra Fadnavis, despite vocal protests on streets against this incident in Latur, neither have the culprits been caught nor has the state government officially condemned this incident. 
 
 
“Generally such kinds of assaults, if they happen beyond Mumbai and Pune, do not get attention from the main stream media. However, despite this brutal attack having caught national attention, nothing has moved regarding either Malikarjun’s security or stern action in finding and booking the culprits. That’s how casually the lives of whistle blowers are taken, in Maharashtra, which is known as progressive, but with record of maximum assaults on them,” Kumbhar says.
 
States RTI activist and former CIC, Shailesh Gandhi, said, “I spoke to Latur Superintendent of Police Dnyaneshwar Chavan, who has assured me that he would ensure protection to victim and his family. FIR has been registered and the sections applied are attempt to murder (307), abduction and others. He said they have arrested one person and according to their information the main accused have absconded out of the state. The SP told me that they have good leads and will pursue to see that the assailants spend at least some time in prison. I suggest we try and write to CM through Aaple Sarkar portal.’’
 
Gandhi has also sent a disturbing video to CM Fadnavis, stating, “I am enclosing a disturbing video of an attack on a RTI user by some goondas in Latur. I request you to immediately order the arrest of these attackers and the most stringent sections of the law should be applied to them. The pain in the eyes of the victim is a pain that all right thinking citizens feel. I am sure you will also feel the same pain. The safety of the victim must be ensured by the state, failing which this will be jungle raj. ‘’
 
Will the culprits will really be caught or will it be a game of cat and mouse between the police and the culprits?
 
 
 
Letter written to CM by RTI activists across Maharashtra
 
From: vijay kumbhar <[email protected]> Date: 2015-10-31 12:22 GMT+05:30 Subject: लातुर येथे मल्लिकार्जुन भाईकट्टी यांना मारहाण करणा-या गुंडांवर कारवाई करण्याबाबत To: [email protected], "Hon'ble. Mr.Devendra Fadnavis" <[email protected]>, Devendra Fadanvis <[email protected]>, [email protected], Amitabh Ranjan <[email protected]>
 

प्रती
मा.श्री देवेंद्र फ़डणवीस्,

मुख्यमंत्री , महाराष्ट्र राज्य ,
मंत्रालय, मुंबई

 
विषय -  लातुर येथे मल्लिकार्जुन भाईकट्टी यांना मारहाण करणा-या गुंडांवर कारवाई करण्याबाबत
 
महोदय,
 
काल लातूरच्या शाहू महाविद्यालयाच्या मल्लिकार्जुन भाईकट्टी यांना बेदम मारहाण करण्यात आली. कोणालाही अशा प्रकारे मारहाण करणे वाईटच परंतु एखादा गैरव्यवहार उघडकीस आणला म्हणून त्याला धडा शिकवण्यासाठी  अशी मारहाण करणे लोकशाहीसाठी अत्यंत घातक आहे .मल्लिकार्जुन भाईकट्टी यांना माहिती अधिकारातून बेकायदा बांधकाम उघडकीस आणल्याबद्दल मारहाण करण्यात आली. विशेष म्हणजे ही मारहाण ज्या महाविद्यालयाच्या बेकायदा बांधकामाचे प्रकरण भाईकट्टी यांनी उघडकीस आणले होते त्याच महाविद्यालयाच्या प्रांगणात, अनेक विद्यार्थ्यांच्या समोर करून विद्यार्थ्यामध्येही दहशत माजवण्यात आली. ही बाब अत्यंत गंभीर आणि चिंताजनक आहे .सोबत जोडलेल्या व्हिडिओमधील भाईकट्टी यांच्या भेदरलेल्या चेह-यावरील भावनांवरून या गुंडांच्या  दहशतीची कल्पना येते.
 
माहिती अधिकार कार्यकर्त्यांवरील हल्ले आणि हत्यांचा बाबतीत महाराष्ट्राचा लौकीक चांगला नाही. पुरोगामी म्हणवल्या जाणा-या आपल्या राज्यातमाहिती अधिकार कार्यकर्त्यांच्या देशात सर्वाधिक हत्या झाल्या आहेत , हल्ले आणि धमक्यांचे प्रकार तर अगणीत आहेत.आपले सरकार आल्यानंतर परिस्थिती बदलेल असे वाटले होते परंतु दुर्दैवाने तसे घडल्याचे दिसत नाही. काल घडलेला प्रकार अत्यंत घृणास्पद व महाराष्ट्राच्या पुरोगामीत्वाला काळीमा फासणारा आहे  
 
‘तुम्ही काम चांगले करीत आहात. तुमचा सत्कार करायचा आहे,’ असे सांगून  मल्लिकार्जुन भाईकट्टी यांना बळजबरीने गाडीत बसवून त्यांचा मोबाइल बंद करण्यात आला.त्यानंतर त्यांना राजर्षी शाहू महाविद्यालयाच्या प्रांगणात नेऊन बेदम मारहाण करून लोटांगण घालून माफी मागण्यास भाग पाडण्यात आले. तसेच  पोलिसात तक्रार दिल्यास जीवे मारण्याची धमकीही देण्यात आली. मारहाणीत भाईकट्टी यांच्या पाठीवर, छातीवर, खांद्यावर आणि मांडय़ांवर बराच मुका मार लागला असून, त्यांना पूर्ण बरे होण्यास किमान तीन आठवडे लागतील, असे त्यांच्यावर उपचार करणा-या डॉक्टरांनी सांगितले आहे.
 
वर्तमान पत्रांमधील बातम्यांवरून मारहाण करणारे हे शिवसेनेचे कार्यकर्ते होते  असे दिसते. भारतीय जनता पक्षाबरोबरच शिवसेनाही राज्यामध्ये सत्तेत सहभागी आहे. सत्ताधारीच जर कायद्याच्या माध्यमातून प्रश्नाचा सामना करण्याऐवजी कायदाच हातात घेत असतील त्याचा अर्थ त्यांचा स्वत:च्या शासनावर विश्वास उरलेला नाही असाच होतो.आपण कितीही गुंडगीरी केली तरी आपले कोणीही आणि काहीही वाकडे करू शकत नाही असाच संदेश देण्याचा प्रकार या घटनेतून  झाला आहे.महाराष्ट्रात कायद्याचे राज्य आहे हे दाखवून द्यायचे असेल तर अशा गुंडावर गंभीर कारवाई झाली पाहिजे.
 
वरील बाबींचा विचार करून आपण मल्लिकार्जुन भाईकट्टी यांना मारहाण करणा-यां विरुद्ध तातडीने आणि गंभीर कारवाई करावी तसेच भाईकट्टी यांना पुरेसे संरक्षण द्यावे हि विनंती
 
कळावे,
आपले
 
१) ज्युलिओ रिबेरो
अध्यक्ष , पब्लिक कन्सर्न फॉर गवर्नन्स ट्रस्ट, मुंबई
 
२) शैलेश गांधी
माजी, केंद्रीय माहिती आयुक्त
 
३) मेजर जनरल (रिटा) एससीएन जटार
अध्यक्ष, नागरिक चेतना मंच , पुणे
 
४) व्यंकटेश नायक
समन्वयक, कॉमनवेल्थ ह्युमन राइटस इनिशिएटीव, दिल्ली
 
५) मोहम्मद अफजल, मुंबई
 
६) भास्कर प्रभु
माहिती अधिकार मंच , मुंबई
 
७) दिनेश कॅस्टलिनो माहिती अधिकार मंच , मुंबई
 
८) डॉल्फी डिसूझा
पोलिस रिफॉर्म वॉच , मुंबई
 
९)विनिता देशमुख,
आरटीआय फोरम फॉर इन्स्टंट इन्फर्मेशन
 
१०) विजय कुंभार
अध्यक्ष , सुराज्य संघर्ष समिती
 
www.surajya.org
vijaykumbhar.blogspot.in
09923299199
 

 

 

(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, and also convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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