Over 2,000 Videos Pertaining to Vandalism Collected By Pune Police on January 3rd

PUNE: During the Maharashtra Bandh on January 3rd, the Pune Rural Police gathered over 2,000 video recordings revealing incidents of vandalism in the district. Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh President and Dalit leader, Prakash Ambedkar, called for a state-wide shut-down. The order was declared by Ambedkar two days after the violence against the Dalits, visiting the war memorial at Bhima Koregaon in Pune, commenced.

According to The New Indian Express, vandalism and arson incidents transpiring during the Bandh were not just restricted to Pune. Several areas in the state, including Mumbai, felt the brunt of the violent conditions. The Pune Rural Police confirmed that they have successfully obtained over 2,000 videos, captured by police personnel on duty on their mobile phones or CCTV cameras in areas of tension. A police officer affiliated to the headquarters of the Pune Rural Police stated, “People from various communities are helping us identify these hooligans.”

The officer also mentioned that forty-three individuals have been arrested and taken into custody so far throughout different parts of the district. As per India Today, the state government, in the meanwhile, has offered the family members of Rahul Phatangale a cheque of Rupees ten lakh in compensation. Phatangale was a victim of the violence that occurred at Bhima Koregaon on January 1.

Sources: The New Indian Express India Today

Twelve more arrested for Koregaon Bhima Violence

Twelve more people including three minors were arrested by district police in connection with the Koregaon Bhima Violence on January 1. The violence broke out due to caste clashes in which one person was killed. 

Seventeen people were earlier arrested by the police in connection with the incident.  The violence took place during the bicentennial event to memorialize the Koregaon-Bhima battle in which Peshwas lost to the British imperial army comprising of Dalits. 

On January 1, numerous vehicles, shops, houses were vandalized by mobs in areas near Koregaon Bhima. Several Dalits visit the Koregaon Ranstambh (victory pillar) every year to commemorate the Koregaon Bhima battle.

Pune district SP Suvez Haque said that those who were arrested on Monday were from the Maratha and Dalit communities. The police are trying to analyse CCTV footages and video recordings to see and identify the anti-social elements in the violence on January 1.

The police also booked six members of the Kabir Kala Manch, a radical cultural group for making provocative remarks during the Elgaar Parishad held on December 31, a day before the violence broke out.

JNU leader Umar Khalid, Dalit MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani,Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh President Prakash Ambedkar and  Late Rohit Vemula’s mother Radhika Vemula attended the Elgaar Parishad. 

Mevani and Khalid have already been charged by the police for making  provocative remarks to create rifts between the Dalits and the Marathas.

 Sources: TOI, India Today 


Mahapex returns to Pune after six years with stamps, covers and drones

Mahapex is set to return to Pune after six years, as reported by HT. It will be held from 20 to 22 January 2018 at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch. This is a state level philatelic exhibition for Maharashtra and Goa.

“This year the exhibition will see a demonstration of drone technology. In this first demo a mail will be transported from Ganesh Kala Krida Manch to Swargate post office. A Segway will be used to demonstrate the movement of mail by air and land,” Ganesh Sawaleshwarkar, post master general, informed at a press conference.

340 frames of 95 stamp collectors will be displayed. 60 frames from international award winning exhibits will also be showcased. Simultaneously, competitions like stamp designing, letter writing, elocution and a quiz will be held for school students during this event.  “This will ensure that students show keen interest philately. It is a way to promote it as a fascinating hobby,” Sawaleshwarkar said.

Special covers of various sites of Maharashtra will be released.  These include Cavansite mineral near Wagholi, Kandhar fort at Nanded, Gateway of India and Marine drive from Mumbai, Directorate of postal accounts in Nagpur, Vidarba tiger and Irwin Bridge in Sangli.

The event aims to increase the interest in philately that has been declining. Some areas in Mumbai continue to promote it through merchandising stamp t-shirts and mugs.

Sources: Hindustan Times, TOI

Bhima Koregaon: the Politics behind the Outbreak

Image Courtesy: NDTV                                                                              People carried processions on 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon, and pelted stones at vehicles on one of Mumbai’s arterial highways.

Pune, January 04: Bhima Koregaon, a village 30 kilometres north-east of Pune, witnessed celebration of the 200th anniversary of the battle between British forces, including Mahar troops, and the Peshwa army. However, clashes broke out in villages around Bhima Koregaon. The violence occurred in the wake of the death of a 30-year-old Maratha youth and injuries caused to several people. The Dalit community began protesting in cities of Mumbai, Pune and nine other districts across Maharashtra. On January 3, they demanded a statewide bandh. Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra ordered a judicial probe by “a sitting judge” into the matter.

He said, “Every year, about 15,000 people assemble at the memorial. But this year the crowd was 3.5 lakh strong. Six battalions of police force were deployed, four of them placed at strategic points. As a result, despite attempts to trigger violence and riots, it was immediately curbed and major incident averted.”

What initiated as a caste based violence, later progressed into political firestorm.

Rahul Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had envisioned the fact that Dalits “remain at the bottom” of the society.

He took to Twitter, “A central pillar of the RSS/BJP’s fascist vision for India is that Dalits should remain at the bottom of Indian society. Una, Rohith Vemula and now Bhima-Koregaon are potent symbols of the resistance.”

Denying these allegations, BJP sources said that the party was “concerned” about the Dalits. The reason being Dalit leaders such as Jignesh Mevani, who recently won the election in Gujarat, have marked their presence in Bhima Koregaon.

It is worth noting that the political aggression also echoed at the state and Centre level. Mohan Prakash, General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra, All India Congress Committee claimed, “Wherever the BJP is in power, its supporters and RSS execute such actions when events related to Dalit pride are organised”.

The Shiva Sena accused the current government of not having the knowledge about mischief mongers living in the state. “The state is bearing the brunt of the BJP having control of the Home department and politics in the police department.,” it alleged.

Meanwhile, Prakash Ambedkar, President of Bharatiya Republican Party Bahujan Mahasangh reportedly said that Hindutva outfits were behind the Bhima Koregaon attacks.

Police has booked two local Hindu right-wing leaders- Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratisthan for inciting violence. Complaints have also been filed against Jignesh Mevani, Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA and Umar Khalid, Jawaharlal Nehru University student for instigating the crowd. Both of them were invited at the celebration of Bhima Koregaon battle.

It will be interesting to see the amount of truth that these allegations hold. On one hand, it is possible that the right-wing groups were the reason behind this violence. On the other hand, it is strange to accept the fact that BJP would instigate such a division in the society. This contrasts its policy of ‘one India.” However, it will be beneficial for its rivals, as this will affect the Hindu vote bank of BJP immensely.

Continue reading Bhima Koregaon: the Politics behind the Outbreak

Fog Hits Train Services In Delhi, Air Quality Back To ‘Exceptionally Poor’

Dense fog engulfed the National Capital Region (NCR) on Friday morning, limiting the visibility to under 50 meters at a few spots, influencing the vehicle services. Over 70 trains were running behind calendar and no less than 12 were rescheduled. Eight flights from the Indira Gandhi International Airport were cancelled. 

“The whole North India has been affected by the overwhelming haze today (Friday),” a railroad official said. Prepare number 12401, Magadh Express is running 25 hours behind the timetable and Seemanchal Express is running late by 20 hours, the authority said. According to the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), more than 60 flights were deferred or occupied at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Saturday’s minimum temperature was recorded at 10.6 degrees Celsius, three notches above the season’s average while the maximum temperature settled at 25.2 degrees Celsius, four notches above the season’s average.

“The national capital encountered a thick cover of haze. At 8.30 a.m., visibility at Palam region was under 50 meters and at Safdarjung was 300 meters. “This enhanced to 600 and 800 meters by 11 a.m.,” an authority from India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

Sources: Outlook, Hindustan Times


Rajdeep Sardesai greets the 1st Dileep Padgaonkar Memorial Lecture

To commemorate the life of Dileep Padgaonkar, veteran journalist and founding member of Pune International Centre (PIC); PIC and Symbiosis International University organised the first Dileep Padgaonkar memorial lecture on “Responsibilities of the Conventional Media in the Age of Proliferating Social Media” on November 27, 2017. The lecture was delivered the renowned journalist, Rajdeep Sardesai, who shared the dais with Dr Raghunath Mashelkar, former chairman of CSIR; Prof. S.B. Majumdar, Founder and Chairman Symbiosis Society and Prof. Rajane Gupte, Vice Chancellor, SIU.

Recalling the fond memories of PIC’s inception, Prof. Mashelkar reasserted Prof. Padgaonkar’s vision to make PIC an international centre with a global outlook. Prof. Majumdar shared his gratitude towards Mr Padgaonkar’s commendable association with Symbiosis where he chaired the R.K. Laxman chair and delivered thought-provoking lectures across all institutions of SIU.

Sardesai, who had been associated with Padgaonkar since the birth of his journalism career, spoke about his earnest desire in making journalism plural and liberal by rebuilding the Chinese wall between marketing and editing. “The only people I see challenging this, are not mainstream media, but it is those who inhabit smaller websites like Alt News”, Sardesai said. Calling mainstream TV news Ravan School of Journalism with 100 heads propping up on TV screens, he agreed on the inclination of mainstream media on sensationalism and dramatics.

On the role of proliferating social media in our lives, Desai added that he has never been aware of an anti-social element being called a social media. Summing up the lecture, Desai reiterating on the power of samvad (effective communication) in making a difference in the life of people.

Pune floods as Dams fill up

The incessant heavy downpour highly  affected Pune and the Konkan region, as public transport came to a halt.

Pune has received 55% more rainfall than the average this monsoon according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). The average annual rainfall figure for the city is 497mm but Pune has received rains exceeding 630mm this year, which is significantly higher.

Trains from Pune to Mumbai along the Manmad- Daund route have been cancelled. The Deccan Express, Singhad Express and the Manmad Express too have been cancelled because of the heavy rains.

The bridge on the Mutha river which connects Deccan with the city’s Peth area, was submerged in water as Khadakwasla Dam released a huge volume of water.

No damage to life and property have been reported yet , said the Pune Municipal Corporation(PMC) officials. But a number of tress have fallen due to the rains in certain parts of the city.

The continuous rainfall since Tuesday, September 19,  has filled the major dams around the state to its capacity. 23 dams out of 37 in the state had to release the excess water.

The intensity of the rainfall is  expected to reduce after Wednesday as per the IMD.

Sources: The Hindu

Image Source: The Hindu