The Bihar government on Thursday issued show-cause notices to over a dozen IAS officers and District Magistrates, asking them under whose permission they left the headquarters to participate in a meeting on February 26 and form a human chain outside Raj Bhavan. The officers have been asked to respond within three days.Protesting against the arrest of Bihar Staff Selection Commission (BSSC) chairman and senior IAS officer Sudhir Kumar in connection with the question paper leak scam, the State IAS association members had held an emergency meeting on February 26 at IAS Bhawan and also formed a human chain outside Raj Bhavan while a delegation had gone inside to meet Governor Ram Nath Kovind. In denialOver 50 IAS officers, including secretaries of several departments and District Magistrates, had participated in the meeting and the human chain. The protesting IAS officers had also met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and State Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhury to apprise them of the issue. They said that “Sudhir Kumar was one among the upright and honest IAS officers of the State”. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, the ruling alliance partner, too had called Sudhir Kumar an “honest IAS officer”.The IAS officers later passed a resolution that they would not take any calls, even from the Chief Minister, “unless it came in writing”. They even wore black ribbons to register their protest. However, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had said that he was yet to receive any formal representation from the protesting IAS officers. “Let it come and I’ll take a decision on it which will prove a milestone,” Mr. Kumar had told journalists.Slapping the show-cause notice on Thursday, the State government asked them whether they “had participated in the meeting? If yes, under whose permission they left the headquarter and how could they form a human chain in the prohibited zone outside the Raj Bhavan on February 26?”.Fresh round of conflict “The show-cause notice served on IAS officers is bound to trigger a fresh round of confrontation between the State and the bureaucracy,” a senior IAS officers and member of the IAS association of the State told The Hindu.Meanwhile, Sudhir Kumar was produced in a local court on Thursday which fixed the next date of hearing for March 26. He along with four members of his family were arrested from his home at Hazaribagh in JharkhandEarlier, BSSC secretary Parmeshwar Ram too was arrested.
Mumbai: Kanamo in the Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, is no stroll in the park. At 5,970 m, it is a tough climb even for an experienced trekker. To scale this peak in just two days is exceptional. Last year, in July, Ishani Sawant, 25, did just that. What’s more she did it solo, carrying all her food, climbing gear, tent and high altitude clothing.“It was intimidating,” she admits. “I hadn’t been there before. The trail to the summit was not visible, as it had snowed heavily for previous two days. But it was an amazing experience. I had to find my way, navigate in the fresh snowfall. But it was an out-of-this-world feeling, to be alone, on the top, to talk to no one for two days, just you.”Love at first sightThe Pune resident fell in love with the mountains on a trip to the Himalayas when she was 13. She remembers being awestruck by their grandeur. “I kept clicking pictures of the mountains.” She knew then that she wanted to make the mountains her life. While it wasn’t easy to convince her parents to let her pursue her passion — “I hail from a middle class family where mountaineering as a profession is unheard of” — her mother quickly became very supportive. “She always believed in me and this kept me going.”Ms. Sawant is a qualified lawyer, with an LLB from ILS Law College, Pune, which she followed with a Diploma in Forensic Science. But she knew that adventure was her real calling. “While studying law and going to court, I used to go for adventure events on weekends. That made me so happy and it was so contrasting to the court atmosphere. I decided to become a professional alpinist.”So, while she was getting her more conventional qualifications, she also worked on her mountaineering. When she was 18, she enrolled in the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. She graduated with A grades in both the basic and advanced mountaineering courses from two of India’s top mountaineering schools, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (in 2009) and the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (in 2013). She has also taken courses in rock climbing and water kayaking in 2015, completed a Trip Leader India Course in 2016 from the National Outdoor Leadership School, and is a certified Wilderness First Responder from the Hanifl Center in Mussoorie.First climbHer first professional climb was in June 2013, when she, part of a team of four mountaineers, crossed the Parang La pass (5570m) in Ladakh and trekked to Tso Moriri, climbing Alpine style, which means climbing in a self-sufficient manner, carrying everything one needs, rather than setting up fully stocked camps on the mountain.Looking back, she says it was difficult at first to find acceptance from the mostly male mountaineering community. “Initially guys didn’t want to climb on my belay,” she says. (A belay is where one mountaineer holds a climbing rope secure, giving a climbing partner an additional element of safety.) “I had to keep proving myself again and again. I used to train with them and then wait after every one was gone to train more, do more pull ups and abs. It has been a very tough journey but I love the entire process. Now as I go climbing, my mates are confident about me, which has in turn upped my own courage.”Invisible slopesLearning the skills and acquiring the expertise was tough, but things got tougher after that.Climbing as a profession is not an easy one to follow in India. There is a huge difference in infrastructure, she says, which she only realised when she went to the U.K. in 2016 — as one of only 20 women from all over the world selected — for the International Trad Climbing Meet organised by British Mountaineering Council. “It was there I realised that there is no dearth of talent in our country. However, the reason why upcoming athletes switch to regular professions is lack of facilities. All good equipment and shoes we have to import from abroad, which makes mountaineering super expensive. We do not have sports physiotherapists to handle rock climbing injuries on the field or in the gym. There are not many trained coaches to teach us the latest methods and workouts. Most importantly, we do not have the mindset that rock climbing and mountaineering is also a profession. It is only a handful who rise above this all and still have that madness to pursue it.”Money crunchThe expense, and the fact that mountaineering is just not a viable profession in India means that getting funds is all uphill. “Mountaineering is an expensive sport, so I am finding it difficult to fund my adventures. I hardly go to Himalayas considering the huge costs involved in travel and equipment rent.”Ms. Sawant has not managed to find sponsors yet, so she spends her weekends teaching at adventure events to fund her own training. She uses her web site to share her adventure experiences and all the things she does to earn money for her adventures.This is in addition to her day job. In 2017, she added to her qualifications by completing a Distance Masters in Sports Management from the Institute of Sports Science and Technology, Pune, to help her learn about business. She is an entrepreneur, and her firm ProEdge conducts customised adventure events, including trekking, bike rides, rappelling, rafting, paragliding and camping. “I am internationally certified, not only in mountaineering and rock climbing, but also as a First Responder. So I am well equipped to handle wilderness emergencies and skilled to run these extreme sports events smoothly.” She also works with people with disabilities, running adventure programs for Adventures Beyond Barriers, and conducting rappelling and tandem cycling events for visually challenged people to take part in, along with sighted people, to promote inclusivity. She also trains cadets at the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla, Pune, and has constructed a climbing wall for the academy.Conquering oneselfHow does she fit all this in? “I have realised that when you push your limit, your limits push back. So we should constantly endeavour to keep pushing towards our dream. No matter in which field you are, learning happens when you step out of your comfort zone and so something that you felt you couldn’t.”Her relative youth is also a handicap when it comes to being taken seriously as a mountaineer, and she is determined to change perceptions on that front too. “It really does not matter whether you are young or old, a man or a woman, an able-bodied or handicapped: the mountains are there for all. They do not become smaller if you are a kid or a woman or a handicapped. Mountains do not differentiate, then why should we? I live by this philosophy and hence been able to come this far.”For Ishani Sawant, life is all uphill; and that’s the way she likes it
As the Army killed three infiltrators on the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday in north Kashmir, over 10 youth were injured in violent clashes triggered by the killing of a student during a search operation in Shopian on Tuesday evening. The slain militants were part of a group of infiltrators. “The troops guarding the Line of Control (LoC) noticed the militants trying to infiltrate into the Valley from across the border in Machil sector under the cover of darkness on Tuesday night,” said the spokesman.The troops, according to the spokesman, engaged the heavily-armed militants in a combat. “Three militants are believed to have been killed in the gunfight. Three weapons were recovered. The operation is continuing in the area.”Violent protestsIn Shopian, hundreds of locals participated in the last rites of 19-year-old college student Adil Farooq Magray. People raised provocative slogans like ‘There is only one solution, it’s gun solution’ as the body was lowered into the grave around 11 a.m. Magray was a resident of Ganawpora. He died after being hit by bullets as locals clashed with a search team looking for trapped militants. His death sparked a string of violent protests in parts of Kashmir Valley.A police spokesman said students of the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora, and Higher Secondary School, Pampore, resorted to stone pelting on the security forces. Security forces used smoke shells and pellet shotguns to clear the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. At least 10 students, including women protesters, suffered injuries. Several police personnel too were injured. The IUST authorities have decided to suspend classes on Thursday and Friday.‘Situation volatile’J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president G.A. Mir condemned the student’s killing. “The situation is extremely volatile, as both the State and Central governments have miserably failed to restore peace and normalcy. The situation continues to deteriorate,” he said.CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami asked the security forces to exercise restraint. “The law enforcing agencies are refusing to draw lessons from previous experiences. Such incidents are bound to inflame the situation. Unfortunately, no distinction is being made between civilians and militants,” he said. Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik have called for a shutdown on Friday.
Patna’s writers, poets, experts, historians, social activists and students of arts are up in arms over the closure of the century-old Patna Museum and the decision to shift precious artefacts and sculptures from there to the newly constructed Bihar Museum, registered under Societies Act.On Monday, poets Sri Ram Tiwari, Arun Shadwal, Srikant Vyas and Santosh Sahar and social activists including Mithilesh Yadav, Chandrika Mallik, former MLA Somprakash and activist-journalist Pushpraj gathered outside the gates of the Museum for a poetry reading programme protesting the closure.Students of the Patna Art College also have protesting the closure of Patna museum, saying, “The Patna Art College was set up just behind the Patna museum so that students could come and learn from the traditional paintings and sculptures…but, the government has snatched all this from us.” New homeSet to be formally thrown open to the public on Gandhi Jayanti on October 2, the newly constructed Bihar museum is spread in over 17 acres of prime land on Bailey Road in the capital — built at a cost of ₹498 crore under a foreign consultant.Ahead of the inauguration, the State government currently has closed the historical Patna museum which celebrated its centenary in April this year, for two weeks from September 9 to 25 to shift its most precious artefacts, sculptures, paintings and manuscripts to the newly constructed museum.“The Patna museum is one of the richest in the country, with several invaluable sculptures like Mauryan age female figurine Yakshini [the Didargunj Yakshi], Buddhist and other Mughal era stone and bronze statues, paintings… But now under a systematic plan all these priceless artefacts are being shifted to the Bihar Museum which is registered under the Societies [Registration] Act (1860) …we demand the government to stop all this and let the old glory of Patna museum remain intact,” Mr. Pushpraj told The Hindu. He has been spearheading the “Save Yakshini, Save Patna museum” campaign in the State along with several intellectuals, experts, archaeologists, social activists and students of the Patna Art College.Donor’s distressJaya Sankrityayana Parhawk, daughter of eminent Buddhist scholar Rahul Sankrityayana whose several invaluable Thangka paintings, Buddhist manuscripts and books brought from Tibet in 1930s were donated to the Patna museum, too has not only expressed her shock over the government’s move to shift all these artefacts to a new museum “without her knowledge” but also condemned it.“How can a government deprive a century-old museum of its invaluable artefacts for a private NGO registered under Societies Act…I’m pained and shocked,” she said while adding that she has also written an open letter to the chief minister Nitish Kumar requesting him to look at her pain and anguish and would stop transfer of the “rare and priceless artefacts which are the assets of the people of Bihar from being perished”. “My father’s paintings and Buddhist manuscripts, books were not sold to Patna museum but given as a provisional grant…our family should have been informed before shifting all these heritage stuffs from Patna museum”, she told The Hindu.Earlier, eminent sociologist Hetukar Jha who died recently, historian Imtiaz Ahmed, Prof Arun Kumar Sinha , Hari Kishore Prasad, former director Museum, Prof Rajendra Ram, Padma Shri Usha Kiran Khan, Prof Shatrughan Sharan Singh and Jaidev Singh too had to the Chief Minister appealing to him to save the Patna Museum.Danger of damageFormer Additional Director of the Patna Museum and former director of K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Chitranjan Prasad Singh said, “The government should have constituted an expert committee before taking decision to shift priceless artefacts… There is always a danger of damage to these sculptures and statures…who will take responsible for this?” Agreed the former director of Bihar museums, U C Dwivedi, “it’s a wrong decision of the government.” The lone curator of the Patna museum, Dr Shankar Suman informed The Hindu that altogether 101 artefacts have already been shifted from the Patna Museum. “They have planed to shift altogether 3,000 artefacts, sculptures, paintings, stone and bronze statures in two weeks time…but what will be left here in Patna museum after all these priceless heritage stuffs will be gone?” he asked. He also expressed apprehension that the Patna Museum will be closed forever after September 25, saying “who would come here and for what?”Earlier, in June 2015 the Patna High Court while hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a research scholar Ashok Kumar against construction of Bihar museum had observed that it was not in the “public interest”. “The facts of the case were sufficient to stall the project at the initial stage but the question of stalling does not arise since the construction is said to be nearing completion”, observed the division bench of the then Chief Justice L. Narasimha Reddy and justice Sudhir Singh of the Patna HC.‘Global practice’But, the state chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said, “the [Bihar] museum will be world class…and the museum has been registered as a society because such institutions cannot flourish under bureaucracy…The global practice is to grant autonomy to such institutions… In any case, the development commissioner will be the chairman of the management committee and the finance secretary, art and culture secretary will be part of the team…so the museum will not become a private one”.
One police officer was killed and another injured as militants attacked a police party on the outskirts of Srinagar near Zakura area on Friday afternoon.A police official said the policemen came under fire from the militants when a search operation was launched after a tip-off about the presence of armed men.Two policemen sustained grievous injuries in the first exchange of fire with the hiding militants. Injured sub-Inspector Imran Ahmad succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. “Another policeman has been hospitalised too,” said the police official.The area was cordoned off to nab the militants. One person has been detained from the spot. It could not be immediately confirmed if the detained man is a militant or a civilian.
A man from Khadkoli village in the neighbouring Palghar district was on Saturday arrested for allegedly repeatedly raping his 14-year-old daughter, police said.In a complaint lodged with Palghar police, the victim, a student of Class VII, said that her 42-year-old father has been raping her since 2014. She told the police that the latest such incident took place on December 7 in the forest area in Khadkoli.According to police, her parents had got separated and the victim had been living with her father. “As per her complaint, her father used to threaten her with a sickle or an axe before committing the crime,” a police officer said.Based on her complaint, Palghar police registered a case against the accused and arrested him early on Saturday.The accused has been booked under different IPC sections, including 376 (rape), and also the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.
Less than a fortnight after students of the North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology in Arunachal Pradesh agitated for appointment of a regular Director, their counterparts at Assam Women’s University (AWU) are on strike, demanding the appointment of a Vice-Chancellor and adequate teachers to run the university.The students are also against the State government’s reported move to downgrade the university to a technical institute. The only-for-women university is at Jorhat, 305 km east of Guwahati, and was started in September 2014. On Thursday, students’ unions, adhering to divergent political ideologies, joined the agitation launched by the AWU students more than a week ago. These unions include the All Assam Students’ Union, the Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the All India Democratic Women’s Association. “We want Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to sit down with the students to sort out the issues,” SFI secretary Nirankush Nath said. AWU, whose goal is to “produce 21st century think tanks to effectively carry forward women-centric opportunities,” has 700 students in 15 departments, including health science, business management and tourism.
Around 70,000 State police personnel along with 80,000 civic volunteers and 1,500 police personnel from Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh will be deployed for the rural polls. According to a senior official of the State Election Commission (SEC), there will be one armed police personnel in each polling booth.About 1.15 lakh candidates are in the fray in the three-tire Panchayat polls.“Barring the uncontested seats at the gram panchayat level, there are 31,789 seats and 92,204 candidates; for the 6119 panchayat samity seats there 20,535 candidates are in the fray; 2872 candidates will compete for 621 zilla parishad seats,” the SEC official said. About 35% of the 58,792 seats in the rural polls are uncontested.The filing of nominations for the Panchayat polls from April 2 to April 9 and then on the extended date on April 23, were marred by violent clashes between cadre of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and workers of Opposition parties resulting in the death of several people.A legal battle was also fought over the rural body polls with Opposition parties approaching both the Calcutta High Court and Supreme Court against the alleged terror tactics of the TMC and the SEC’s inaction.Meanwhile Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the “State administration will leave no stones unturned (to ensure peaceful polls.” She also said the State administration will be “pro-active” to prevent any untoward incidents during the rural polls.Mamata assures peace“State administration is always with the people to ensure peaceful polls and will be pro-active,” said Ms. Banerjee.On the arrest of former Trinamool MLA Arabul Islam for the alleged murder of a villager in South 24 Paraganas, Ms Banerjee said, “Arabul is also one of our zilla parishad candidates. Even then we arrested him regardless of his political affiliation.” SC stays Calcutta High Court order on West Bengal panchayat polls Panchayat elections in West Bengal will be held on Monday across 20 districts amid tight security. About 5.08 crore voters —74% of total electors in the State — will cast their votes.Also Read
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje approved on Wednesday a proposal to set up 55 courts under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the state. Each district would have at least one such court to deal with cases of crime against children, especially rape and to ensure that accused are convicted at the earliest, Ms. Raje said in a statement. One such court is already operational in the state capital, the statement said. Total 660 new posts would be created and filled in these courts. The POCSO courts would be set up in Bikaner, Balotara, Banswara, Chittorgarh, Churu, Dausa, Dholpur, Dungarpur, Sriganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jaipur, Jalore, Jaisalmer, Jhunjhunu, Karauli, Merta, Pratapgarh, Rajsamand, Swai Madhopur, Sikar, Sirohi, Jodhpur and Tonk, the statement said.
An assistant professor of mathematics at the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) was arrested on Saturday for allegedly attempting to rape a woman, who visited him from Kolkata.The police said K.V. Srikanth was picked up on Friday after the woman, an insurance agent, filed a complaint at the Gauripur outpost near the institute. “We registered a case under Sections 354A (related to sexual harassment) and 354B (assault or use of criminal force on woman with intent to disrobe) of the Indian Penal Code. The victim said in the FIR that the teacher had attempted to rape her,” a Kamrup district police officer said.The IIT-G authorities said the woman, who had come to the campus before going out with Mr. Srikanth in a car on Friday, did not lodge any complaint with them. “We received information about the arrest of the assistant professor today [on Saturday]. We are waiting for the legal proceedings,” Labanu Konwar, the institute’s spokesperson, said.