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Round The States
Same old story of “an encounter”! Gangster Vikas Dubey, history-sheeter, prime accused in killing of 8 cops in Kanpur and carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakhs on his head, was shot dead on early Friday morning, after he is said to have tried to “escape from police custody”. A familiar script: Arrested in Ujjain, MP on Thursday last, Dubey was being brought back by UP’s Special Task Force (STF) and Kanpur police when around 7.00 am the vehicle he was travelling overturned, he took advantage, attempted to flee with a cop’s service pistol, police asked him to surrender, he refused and fired at police party, the police opened retaliatory firing, he got injured, was taken to a hospital, where he died. Khalaas (finished), as a Bollywood hero would say. But it’s not ‘The End’. Nagging suspense lingers. Media cars following the police convoy were restricted just before the ‘encounter’; a day before a lawyer filed a petition in Supreme Court seeking security for Dubey saying he may be killed in an ‘encounter’, like his four other accomplices were! It is said, in the past two decades Dubey had backing of various political parties. Questions that beg answers are: Is this Yogi Adiyanath’s easy way of cracking down on gangsters or is it response to brutal killing of men in khakhi or does it confirm a ‘cover up’ to shield ‘politicians’ with whom he had collaborated or those who protected him or is it simply UP’s encounter raj? There’s a clamour for a probe—but to what end. Extra judicial killings or custodial deaths make only headlines.
Kerala’s Smuggling Network
The gold smuggling scandal in God’s own country has put the LDF government on the wrong foot. The Opposition in Kerala is demanding Chief Minister Vijayan resigns as his office ‘has links to the racket’– 30 kg of smuggled gold seized from a diplomatic cargo addressed to UAE Consulate-General Office, Thiruvananthapuram. The removal of Vijayan’s Principal Secretary Sivasankar, found in close network of key suspect Swapna Suresh in the racket is not enough to ‘exonerate the CMO,’ is Congress’ clamour. The BJP warns Centre has taken ‘serious note’ and ‘initiated steps to identify the culprits’. But Vijayan has upstaged them. He promptly wrote to PM Modi demanding an ‘effective, coordinated’ probe by all ‘Central agencies’ and should cover ‘all aspects from source to end of utilisation. Every link of this crime should be unravelled so that such incidents do not occur.” On Thursday last, the Union Home Ministry transferred the case to National Investigation Agency (NIA), citing “serious implications for national security”. Stretching it a bit too far, as smuggling of yellow metal from the Middle East is no secret?
Bihar’s Forgotten Children
Bihar’s Nitish Kumar government should be embarrassed pink. A report in a national daily on children of Musahari tola in Badbilla village being starved and pushed to rag-picking following closing of the school, serving these meals, reveals the administration’s insensitivity. It has been forced to act and issued a state-wide order instructing ration and money through Direct Benefit Transfer be provided to school children for 80 working days, May-July. With over 115 lakh children availing the mid-day meal scheme, the task is gigantic. The big question is can it deliver? More so as Patna High Court has directed no child is “pushed into or indulges in any activity of rag picking or beggary, more so on the account of lack of food”, and appointed amicus curiae in the case. Stating it’s a “serious issue of human rights’ violation”, the NHRC has issued notices to Union HRD Ministry and State Chief Secretary to respond within 4 weeks. For starters, parents are to be called to the schools, handed over 8 kg of rice and money sent directly to kids’ accounts. Government realises its implementation is not going to be easy so instead it is considering “opening anganwadi centres, or the schools for limited purpose of providing food to the children”. How soon?
Maharashtra’s Ray of Hope?
Is Maharashtra, the country’s financial capital, raising hope of steady recovery? Its revenue is said to have got a leg-up in June with Rs 19,200 crore as against Rs 10,000 crore in May and Rs 11,500 crore in April. The easing of lockdown, say officials indicates “green shoots” have started to emerge in the economy. With GST collection being Rs 10,400 crore or 54%, businesses are picking up. Tax payments have helped too. And with re-opening of the hospitality sector, i.e. hotels and guest houses with 33% occupancy since Wednesday last, GST collections are expected to go up this month. At same time, it’s putting SOPs in place for eateries/restaurants, bed and breakfast outlets and tourism facilities, to resume operations soon. Additionally, the rise in excise duty collections, are expected to cross Rs 1,000 crore this month, following its systematic opening of wine and beer shops since May. However, in the worst-hit State with COVID-19 cases going up to 2.24 lakh-odd, the glimmer of hope gets blurred with its burden of debt – so far it has had to borrow Rs 26,000 crore as its expenditure is double i.e. Rs 52000 crore! Perhaps adding prudence to the list would additionally help?
Gujarat Caught On Wrong Foot
Gujarat government’s action against migrant workers boomerangs. Its shoddy handling of assisting them to return home invited a hard rap from its High Court. On Tuesday last, the court granted bail to 15 migrant workers, who were arrested on charges of attempt to murder and dacoity on May 17, as they had clashed with the Shapar-Veraval police following delay in their returning to their native place. The administration contested the bail application on grounds that ‘private vehicles were damaged, police personnel were threatened and some had instigated others to kill personnel at the spot…’ But the court put the onus on the administration saying the chaotic situation could have been avoided had there been proper management. Instead it said there was “utter lack of coordination between police and Nodal Officers, who were selected by the Government to provide support in movement facilitation…” The judge also chose to draw the government’s attention to Supreme Court’s observation asking States to consider withdrawal of prosecution or complaints under section 51 of the DMA and other related offences lodged against labourers and to be ‘humane’. Other States would do well to take a cue and avoid going the Gujarat way. INFA