Dairy farmer Pehlu Khan, who was beaten up by a mob of cow vigilantes at Behror in Alwar district last week, died of serious injuries on his chest and lower abdomen, the autopsy report has revealed in its preliminary findings.The 55-year-old farmer from Nuh in Haryana sustained internal injuries on his lungs, while his ribs were broken and blood clots were found near his heart, stated the post-mortem report prepared by a four-member team of doctors and medical jurists. “It appears prima facie that Pehlu Khan died of internal injuries and heavy bleeding. The medical team has asked for viscera analysis for submitting its final report,” Alwar superintendent of police Rahul Prakash told The Hindu on Friday.The three accused — Vipin Yadav, Ravindra Yadav and Kalu Ram Yadav — who were arrested on Wednesday on the basis of video footage of the incident, were produced before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in Behror on the expiry of their one-day police remand. The court sent them to judicial custody for 14 days.Hunt on for 10 moreMr. Prakash said the police had identified 10 more accused persons in the case after establishing their presence on the spot from the video footage circulated on social media. Their names have been added to the FIR registered initially against six suspects on charge of murder and other offences. Three special teams of police officers were searching for the accused, who had fled their homes, and were conducting raids at their suspected hideouts, said the Superintendent of Police.Civil rights groups have sought immediate intervention of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to stop the “lawlessness and free run” given to cow vigilantes allegedly with the support of many people in high places.Asking whether the law and order machinery had been handed over by the police to the cow protection vigilante groups, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties said if this was not stopped, lawlessness would prevail on the streets and the State’s economic foundation would be attacked.Demands of activistsIn a memorandum submitted to Ms. Raje, PUCL State president Kavita Srivastava and other activists demanded immediate arrest of all attackers, suspension of Behror Station House Officer and resignation of Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria for “openly glorifying and lauding the criminals”.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has sought a ‘progress report’ from the Tripura police on the investigation into rape, molestation and murder of women in the State. It expressed serious concern over the ‘spate of outrageous incidents against women’. “I have told the DGP to send a detailed report within a reasonable time, failing which we would summon them before the Commission,” NCW member Sushma Sahu told newsmen in Agartala on Tuesday.
PMO role?Some reports from New Delhi said the Prime Minister’s Office had informed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar prior to the raids, apprehending law-and-order problems and seeking adequate security measures.“Information regarding raids was given by the CBI to the Director-General of Police around 7.30 a.m., some time after the raids began following which the police made necessary security arrangements in view of law and order,” the official statement said.Also Read CM awayChief Minister Nitish Kumar has been away at Rajgir in his home district of Nalanda since Thursday afternoon reportedly because of health issues.Mr. Kumar and his party, Janata Dal(U), have remained tight-lipped about the raids, while the Congress, another RJD ally, has backed Mr. Prasad’s claim that those were part of “vendetta politics” by the BJP and the Modi government.Security reinforcementsAdditional security personnel were deployed at the offices of the BJP, the RJD and the JD(U) in Patna while the raids were on.Additional Director-General of Police (Headquarters) S.K. Singhal said a general alert was sounded across the State in view of the political ramification of the raids. The Bihar government on Saturday rejected news reports that senior civil and police officials were tipped off about the CBI raids on locations linked to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and his family on Friday.“It is a totally baseless news,” an official release said.Quoting sources, reports said Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh and State Police Chief P.K. Thakur were alerted by the CBI on Thursday night to the impending raids on the premises of Mr. Prasad, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and other members of the family.Also Read Won’t be cowed by such raids, says Lalu ED raids premises of Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti in Delhi
Incessant rains due and the subsequent deluge claimed five lives in Kolkata and adjoining districts on Tuesday. While two persons died when parts of an old dilapidated two storied building collapsed in the Taltala area in central Kolkata three others died in the districts of south Bengal.According to Kolkata Police at around 12.25 pm the old building collapsed. Three fire engines along with personnel of disaster management group were pressed into rescue operation, which went for several hours.“At around 4.25 pm the bodies of two persons-Himadri Pahar (38) and Hansa Shaw (20) were extricated from the debris and sent to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital for legal procedure,” a statement by Kolkata police said.Meanwhile, the situation remained grim in Birbhum, Purulia, Bankura, and Hooghly district of south Bengal. While two persons died in Purulia when a wall collapsed on them, one person died in Birbhum when he was washed away during the day.In Purulia two persons-Sikandar Mirza (30) and Siaz Khan (12)- died and five got injured in the Nanduara village in the district’s Raghunathpur sub-division when an earthen boundary wall of a house collapsed on them, District Magistrate of Purulia Alokesh Prasad Roy told The Hindu.He also said that so far waterlogging has not turned out to be severe in the district with only some areas of Jhalda I and Barabazr block witnessing some waterlogging.In Birbhum one person has died due to drowning in the afternoon in the Hatiea village of Labhpur block. While locals said that the situation in Labhpur has become “grim” with about 17 villages facing heavy waterlogging, the District Magistrate P.Mohangandhi claimed otherwise. “Labhpur being a low lying area, there is waterlogging in some areas. But so far it is not a cause of concern,” said Mr.Gandhi.As for Hooghly a senior district police official said that was a breach in an embankment on the Rupnarayan river at the Dhannobadi village under the Khanakul Assembly seat. “As a result nearly 16 villages in the area are facing severe waterlogging. The district administration is keeping an eye on the situation,” he said. One person Shyamal Sengupta (38) got washed away on Monday. However, Superintendent of Police Sukesh Jain said that “Mr.Sengupta’s body has not been found yet.” Areas such as Khanakul, Goghal, Arambagh in the district are facing severe waterlogging.In Bankura 1,000 people had to be to be shifted to relief camps due to severe waterlogging. “ There is severe waterlogging in Bankura II, Joypur, Kotalpur, Patrasayer, Mejhia and Onda blocks. We have set up six relief camps,” District Magistrate of Bankura Moumita Godara said.Meanwhile State’s Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee accused the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) for releasing waters from dams “without consulting” the State government. “The situation has become a cause of concern for us. Despite our repeated letters the DV is releasing water without consulting us,” he said. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Bengal is likely to receive heavy rain at isolated places on Wednesday.
A man has been arrested on charge of spreading a false rumour on social media about braid cutting incidents, police said on Monday.The development comes amid a string of complaints of braid chopping, which has led to panic and fear in some areas of Uttar Pradesh and other neighbouring states.The message allegedly sent by a person identified as Jahir Khan, husband of Gardaha village head, claimed that a braid cutting gang was reported to be targeting a few villages of the area, Gola kotwali inspector Deepak Shukla said, adding it was “a baseless rumour”. The officer said that the message was forwarded to him on his Whatsapp number.“I called up the sender of the message and after ascertaining his location, the man (Khan) was arrested. He could not explain the authenticity of the message. A case under IT Act has been lodged against Jahir (Khan), and he has been sent to jail.,” Mr. Shukla said.
At least nine migrant labourers were killed after an elevator box being used for an under-construction tunnel plunged into the ground near Bhigwan in Pune district, 100 km from here.The incident occurred on Monday evening. The tragedy struck as the deceased were emerging from the underground tunnel aimed at linking the Nira and Bhima Rivers near Indapur Taluk. The deceased have been identified as Mukesh Maurya, Mukesh Kumar, Sushant Pandi, Sabinga Naidu, Avinash Reddy, Chhotu Gole, Surendra Yadav, Rahul Narute and Balram Suan.“The elevator carrying the workers and construction equipment plunged down at least 100 feet after the cable broke. We will be conducting a thorough probe into the tragedy,” said Inspector Neelkanth Rathod of the Bigwan police station.The State government has announced an ex gratia of ₹2 lakh to the kin of the deceased, informed State Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan.The labourers were working on the project which involves the construction of a 24.8 km-long ‘Nira-Bhima Link -5’ underground tunnel which is to enable the waters of the Nira River to be linked to the Bima River Bhima in a bid to bring relief to parched districts in the State.
Voting for the third and final phase of the 2017 civic polls in Uttar Pradesh concluded on Wednesday with yet another round of malfunctioning EVMs and discrepancies in voter lists, leading to angry protests in several districts.The third phase, which covered 233 local bodies across 26 districts, however, registered an increase of 1.5% voting and touched 53%. The overall voting over the three phases was 52.5%, around six per cent increase from 2012.Complaints over EVM malfunctions and discrepancies in voter lists were received from several districts, including Bareilly, Bulandshahr, Auraiya, Jaunpur and Barabanki.Vijay Mishra, a resident of Bareilly, was frustrated after he found the wrong name listed on his address in the booth. “The address was correct but they listed the wrong name, some Radhelal Maurya instead of me,” said Mr. Maurya, adding that due to missing names only three out of his 30-member family were able to vote.Voters lathichargedIn Barabanki, voters faced similar issues and in ward 26 in Peer Batawan, police lathicharged people allegedly without provocation, breaking chairs and tables of polling agents, to disperse the crowd which had assembled to inquire about the lists.State Election Commissioner S.K. Agarwal said polling was conducted peacefully, even as he downplayed the incidents of malfunctioning EVMs, 27 on Wednesday, as normal. A total of 503 EVMs had to be replaced over the three phases, out of which 250 were in Lucknow itself.Mr. Agarwal said the figure of 503 was negligible compared to the total number of EVMs deployed by the SEC, 32,374.Counting will be held on December 1.
It’s chilly around the Dal lake on Saturday afternoon, but a cruise-houseboat with an open-air theatre sets off to generate warmth with live music and enthusiastic youngsters.In a bid to reclaim lost social spaces and nose-diving tourism, the Jammu & Kashmir tourism department has started ‘Valley Weekends’, an initiative to infuse new life into the otherwise dull weekends in the conflict-ridden Valley.“The open-air houseboat will be like an open-air theatre. People will perform every weekend. The idea is to revitalise social spaces and defeat the notions that winters are dull in the Valley. And the fact is youngsters want to come out and experience things,” said Sarmad Hafeez, secretary, tourism. The initiative involves heritage walks, ethnic food festivals and music shows across the Valley. “Tourists can now relish hareesa, a local winter meat dish served in breakfast, at a new joint started at Boulevard on Saturday. The idea is to expose tourists to local flavours and also the flavours of the different seasons. Autumn and winter seasons are equally enjoyable in Kashmir as summers,” said Mr. Hafeez.Protests dent tourism Street protests and militant violence in the past two years dented the tourism sector in Kashmir, with the peak season in 2017 witnessing “an 80% slump”. The weekend festivals, offering experiences and a host of entertainment activities, are aimed at reviving tourist footfalls. Mountain biking, canoeing and rowing will now be a weekend fixture.“‘Valley Weekends’ will help keep youth engaged with the activities and make Kashmir a lively place for tourists,” said director, tourism, Mahmood A. Shah.He said “it will send a positive message across the globe that Kashmir is a safe and a tourist-friendly place”.
Security forces killed three militants, including Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen Srinagar district commander Muhammad Ehsan Fazili alias Eesa, in Anantnag on Sunday night.Amid violent protests, the authorities placed parts of Srinagar and south Kashmir under security restrictions. Educational institutions were closed and exams cancelled. Train services were suspended.Police said, Fazili and two others were killed during a search operation.The police identified the second slain militant as Syed Owais, an affiliate of the Hizbul Mujahideen, and a resident of Kokernag. “The identify of the third is being ascertained,” the police said adding that arms and ammunition, including AK-47 rifles, pistols, hand grenades were recovered from the encounter site.Fazili, a student of Bachelor of Technology of Baba Ghulam Shah University, had joined the militants in September last year and “was involved in a recent attack on a police guard post at Soura, in which one police constable was killed”, said the spokesman.The policeman’s killing was also claimed by the Islamic State-affiliated news magazine ‘Amaq’, fuelling speculation about local militants’ links with the group.Violent protestsViolent protests broke out as hundreds of locals participated in the funeral prayers of Fazili and Owais in Srinagar and Kokernag.The protesters raised green and black flags. A few protesters unfurled the IS flags in the procession held for Fazili. They chanted pro-azadi and pro-militant slogans. Security forces used smoke shells to control the situation.Clashes spread in large parts of Srinagar. Several vehicles were damaged by the stone-throwing protesters. Most offices and business centres also remained closed.Top separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, were placed under house arrest.
The Calcutta High Court has directed the West Bengal government to set up an anti-human trafficking unit headed by a specially trained officer, preferably a woman, in every district of the State.Any FIR registered under the sections of Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956, and sections 370, 372, 373 of the Indian Penal Code or under the provisions of the POCSO Act, involving commercial sexual exploitation of women, should be investigated by the anti-human trafficking unit, the High Court said in its order. The police station where the FIR is registered will hand over such cases to the unit in 24 hours, stated the order delivered last week by a Division Bench of Justices Ravi Krishan Kapur and Joymalya Bagchi.Alarming numbers The direction assumes significance as Bengal has recorded the maximum cases of trafficking in the country. According to the latest NCRB data, Bengal in 2016 recorded 3,579 cases of human trafficking (44%) among 8,132 cases recorded in the country. The Bench gave the order while cancelling the anticipatory bail granted to Sangita Sahu, owner of a hotel in Joka area, by a lower court.She is accused under ITPA, POSCO Act and sections of IPC dealing with human trafficking. The Bench noted that “the menace of trafficking of women and minors have assumed alarming proportions”, and expressed concern over the “lackadaisical manner in which offences involving commercial sexual exploitation of women and children like the present one are investigated, prosecuted and/or pursued”. The High Court’s direction has been welcomed by a number of non-government organisations working against commercial sexual exploitation of children and women.Saji Philip, director of operations, International Justice Mission, Kolkata, the organisation which aided the investigative agencies in the raid at Ms. Sahu’s hotel in September 2017 where 30 people were arrested, called the order a “fresh lease of life in dealing with cases relating to trafficking of children and women”. “This order will strengthen existential directives and aim at fixing the lacunae in each step of trafficking cases, including rescue, rehabilitation and prosecution,” Mr. Philip said.
As that of his political mentor Jyoti Basu, the body of veteran parliamentarian Somnath Chatterjee was donated to the State-run SSKM Hospital for medical research on Monday evening, hours after he passed away in a private health facility in the city. Ganadarpan, an NGO, facilitated the donation. The eyes were donated to the Priyamvada Birla Aravinda Eye Hospital’s eye bank. The body was kept at three locations — Calcutta High Court, the West Bengal Legislative Assembly and Raja Basanta Roy Road — before reaching its final destination in the super-speciality health facility.“We have received the organs in good condition and will be happy if we can match them with recipients,” a hospital representative said.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed to agree with the Centre’s proposal to let 40 lakh people, excluded from the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, to produce additional documents to prove their legacy.Justice Ranjan Gogoi orally observed that the court agreed with the suggestion made by Assam NRC Co-ordinator Prateek Hajela in his report that those left out of the draft NRC could submit any one of the 10, of a total 15 documents in List-A of the Centre’s draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for claims and objections.He said claimants could submit any of the 10 documents, provided they were authenticated by the relevant authority which issued them. “We are allowing only 10 because the other five can be cooked up,” Justice Gogoi told Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal. The Bench gave the government two weeks to respond to Mr. Hajela’s suggestion. The court deferred the process of receipt of claims and objections, and posted the next hearing for September 19.The court further refused to provide a copy of the full report of Mr. Hajela to the Centre.“We are extremely interested in having a copy,” Mr. Venugopal submitted.To this, Justice Gogoi replied that “you may be interested, but we have to balance it. The court has called for the report, now it is the discretion of the court to give it to you or not. First you respond to this suggestion (of Mr. Hajela), then we will see about it”.Later, in the court’s order, Justice Gogoi recorded that “the Attorney General has sought a copy of the co-ordinator’s report. We are of the view that what has been set out in the order (of the court) would be sufficient for the Union of India, stakeholders to indicate their views on it”.
Goa-based Museum of Goa (MoG) Foundation will hold a “colourful flying exhibition” to celebrate the recent Supreme Court decision of scrapping section 377 of the India Penal Code , from November 10 to 30.Celebrated Goan artist and sculptor Subodh Kerakar, Director of MoG, told presspersons here that the exhibition, based on the theme “Freedom is in the air”, will be held in collaboration with Hamsafar Trust and Goa Livelihood Forum(GLF), at MoG museum in Pilerna in North coastal Goa.The Foundation has invited entries from artists from across the country to present works of art on LGBTQ issues.
A BJP councillor was arrested for allegedly thrashing a police sub-inspector in the Kankar Khera area of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, the police said on Saturday.The incident occurred on Friday evening when Mohiuddinpur police outpost in-charge Sukhpal Singh and his female friend, an advocate, visited a restaurant owned by councillor Manish Chaudhary.Circle Officer at Daurala Pankaj Kumar Singh said the trigger for the incident was the woman expressing displeasure over not getting their order on time. She allegedly threw away the food when it was finally served. Mr. Chaudhary protested against her action, which led to an altercation among the three. Mr. Chaudhary allegedly thrashed Mr. Singh and pushed the woman advocate, the Circle Officer said.The woman alleged that she was harassed and beaten up by the BJP councillor, following which he was booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, the police said.Ruckus outside stationIn another complaint, the sub-inspector alleged that Mr. Chaudhary attacked him while he was on duty. Superintendent of Police (city) Ranvijay Singh said that after the arrest, Mr. Chaudhary’s supporters tried to free him and gherao the van carrying him. They created a ruckus outside the police station and raised slogans, hindering traffic, Mr. Singh said.A medical test on the sub-inspector and his friend showed alcohol in their blood.
Cracks in the NDA in Bihar are out in open, with Union Minister and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) leader Upendra Kushwaha accusing Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of targeting him, following reports of the JD(U) wooing two of his legislators.Mr. Kushwaha’s comments came minutes after his meeting with the opposition leader and former JD(U) president Sharad Yadav. Mr. Yadav had walked out of the party last year after Mr. Kumar joined hands again with the BJP. Since then he has been rallying opposition parties to form an anti-BJP front.“Nitish Kumar has a habit of breaking parties. I do not know why he has come down to destroy me and my party. But no matter what he does, he cannot harm me,” Mr. Kushwaha told reporters with Mr. Yadav standing by him.His meeting with Mr. Yadav has given rise to speculations that he may finally be switching sides. Calling Mr. Yadav, his marg darshak or guide, he said the meeting was merely to discuss issues related to social justice. Apart from his differences with Mr. Kumar, Mr. Kushwaha has been unhappy with seat sharing formula evolved by the BJP. In 2014, RLSP contested and won three seats. But in 2019, he may get only two seats.He had earlier met with Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav.The latest outburst against JD(U) chief is because of reports that RLSP MLA Sudhanshu Shekhar met newly appointed JD(U) vice-president Prashant Kishor. He along with another legislator Lalan Paswan are rumoured to switch loyalities to the JD(U).Mr. Kushwaha said the BJP must intercede in the ongoing tussle between him and Bihar Chief Minister. “We are both in NDA and we are supposed to work together. I do not think Nitishji should do all of this,” he said. He has also sought a meeting with BJP President Amit Shah to raise the issue of his “humiliations”. He has alleged that Mr Kumar referred to him as neech (low born) in one of his interactions with reporters.The BJP however, is in no mood to back him against the JD(U). In a direct snub, Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi tweeted, “Nitish Kumar never used the word NEECH in his interaction with media .I was present in the programme . Still some leaders trying to become martyr but will not succeed.”
The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday approved 10% reservation for economically backward among upper castes in jobs and educational institutions. The nod was given at a meeting here of the State Cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, senior Cabinet Minister and U.P. government spokesperson Shrikant Sharma told mediapersons. Third State to do soUttar Pradesh became the third State after Gujarat and Jharkhand to approve the legislation which has to be ratified by at least half the State Assemblies in the country. The Constitution (124 Amendment) Bill, 2019, providing for 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions to the economically weaker sections in the general category was passed by Parliament in its recently concluded winter session. President Ram Nath Kovind has since given his assent to the Bill. “The Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath approved the notification granting 10% reservation to the poor among the upper castes which has come into effect on January 14,” Mr. Sharma said. “The U.P. government will implement the quota for the upper castes fully without touching the reservation for other sections of society,” he said.Meanwhile, a meeting between Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, who holds the Higher Education portfolio, and State and private universities, approved a proposal for implementing the 10% reservation for upper caste poor in higher education institutions after the Cabinet approval.
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday said by tying up with former Leader of the Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Taksali leaders have proved themselves to be the Congress ‘B-team’.Taksali (old guard) leaders MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Rattan Singh Ajnala had formed SAD (Taksali) party after raising a banner of revolt against the SAD leadership. SAD (Taksali) is now part of the Punjab Democratic Alliance which comprises Khaira’s Punjabi Ekta Party, Bains brothers and suspended AAP MP Dharmvira Gandhi. “The so called Taksali leaders have proved that they are the B-team of the Congress by tying up with another closeted Congressman Sukhpal Singh Khaira,” Mr. Badal alleged. Interacting with party workers at Attari and Baba Bakala, the SAD president said however much Mr. Brahmpura may deny his Congress links, the tie-up with former AAP leader Khaira has proved that he as well as Mr. Sekhwan and Mr. Ajnala were working as per the “Congress party’s agenda”.‘Conspiracy hatched’ “Mr. Brahmpura hatched a conspiracy during a meeting with the Chief Mnister. However he denies this… but the people will never forgive him for betraying his ‘panthic’ past to become a Congress agent,” he alleged.
Refuting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on the gangrape last month of a Dalit woman in Alwar, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday accused him of targeting the Congress on the issue for political mileage in the sixth and seventh phases of Lok Sabha election.Mr. Gehlot said Mr. Modi had twisted facts as a “ploy to get electoral benefit”.The Chief Minister told reporters here that contrary to Mr. Modi’s claims and despite his attempts to provoke Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, there was no likelihood of the party withdrawing support to the Congress government in Rajasthan.“We will continue to get the BSP’s support. Ms. Mayawati’s concern is natural and justified, as she leads the Dalit community,” he said.Addressing the election rallies in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Modi had launched an attack on Mr. Gehlot and Ms. Mayawati and dared the latter to withdraw support to the Rajasthan government over the incident. Mr. Gehlot said the State government had already taken prompt action in the matter and the police had arrested all the accused. “The Thanagazi SHO was suspended and Alwar Superintendent of Police was removed. But Mr. Modi is using this incident in his election campaign to personally target me,” he said.The Chief Minister said the State government had decided to appoint Deputy Superintendents of Police (Women’s Security) in each district as nodal officers to supervise investigation into the crimes against women and children. If a police station refused to accept a complaint in such a case, the SP could directly register the FIR, he said.Mr. Gehlot said several cases of rape took place during the previous BJP regime in Rajasthan and a BJP MLA was involved in a rape case in Uttar Pradesh. “Mr. Modi never talked about them,” he said, adding that reports had emerged about BJP leader Hem Singh Bhadana going to the victim’s family with an offer to settle the matter.“Mr. Modi has been personally targeting me on various occasions. This is the latest instance. When I was in-charge [of Congress] during Assembly election in Gujarat, he misled and provoked farmers against me. He has no right to take a high moral ground and generate controversy in a rape case,” Mr. Gehlot said.Mr. Gehlot also accused the Prime Minister of bringing all democratic institutions under the control of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sevak (RSS) and threatening their very existence. “Democracy and the Constitution are under threat in the BJP’s rule. Mr. Modi wants to win the Lok Sabha election by hook or by crook… He can go to any extent. The Election Commission has become a silent spectator,” Mr. Gehlot said.After Mr. Modi accused Ms. Mayawati of shedding “crocodile tears” on the gangrape, the BSP chief rejected the charge as “dirty politics”. BSP State president Sitaram Meghwal told The Hindu that Ms. Mayawati was closely monitoring the progress of investigation in the case and his party would ensure that the criminals were brought to justice.
Schizophrenia and related mental illnesses can have a devastating effect on people who suffer from them, often making it impossible for them to work or maintain normal social relationships. Antipsychotic drugs are usually the first line of defense, but they can have serious side effects. A new study concludes that psychological approaches could be an alternative for patients who either can’t or won’t take medication, although some critics continue to question the effectiveness of these interventions.Schizophrenia, which can involve hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, emotional problems, and severe difficulty focusing on daily tasks, affects about 1% of populations worldwide. More than 20 antipsychotic medications, such as risperidone, haloperidol, and clozapine, are now on the market, and they are often effective in temporarily relieving the worse symptoms. But when taken for extended periods, such drugs can cause uncontrollable muscle movements, serious weight gain, and higher risk of heart attacks. In recent years, a number of psychiatrists and psychologists have begun to advocate psychological approaches, including an approach called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), as an adjunct to antipsychotic drugs.With CBT, which has long been shown to be effective for depression and anxiety disorders, a therapist takes the subject through a series of guided steps designed to explore alternative interpretations and explanations of what he or she is experiencing, with the goal of changing both outlook and behavior. A schizophrenic patient who is having hallucinations might be encouraged to stop trying to fight them off or suppress them, for example, or to stop engaging with voices in his or her head, to test how strong such symptoms really are and how much control they exert over the subject’s life. The technique also involves what practitioners call “normalization”: The patient might be reassured that hearing voices and seeing things that are not there is an experience that many normal people have from time to time, thus reducing some of the anxiety that makes sufferers feel distressed and isolated.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)In recent years, researchers have conducted several dozen clinical trials for treating schizophrenia with CBT. Most of them, including a number of so-called meta-analyses that look at many trials at a time, have claimed modest success in reducing psychotic symptoms. As a result, health authorities in the United Kingdom, where the use of CBT for psychosis has been most studied, have been recommending for a number of years that it be offered to all people suffering from schizophrenia. Nevertheless, some skeptics question these recommendations: In the January 2014 issue of The British Journal of Psychiatry, for example, a research team published a new meta-analysis, concluding that past trials showing CBT’s effectiveness for schizophrenia were seriously flawed.In the latest study, published online today in The Lancet, a team led by Anthony Morrison, a clinical psychologist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, conducted a randomized controlled trial of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and related disorders who had chosen not to take antipsychotic drugs. The team started with 74 such individuals, who were randomly assigned by a computer to receive either “treatment as usual” (TAU)—meaning regular monitoring by mental health services, sympathetic face-to-face contact with doctors and nurses, crisis management as needed, and other such interventions that are standard in the United Kingdom—or TAU plus 26 weekly sessions of CBT over 9 months, plus as many as four additional CBT sessions over the next 9 months, for a total of 18 months.The study began with 37 patients in each group, although over the course of the trial a number of subjects dropped out of both groups for various reasons—including two deaths in the TAU-only cohort that appeared to be unrelated to their mental illness. The researchers ended up with final tallies of 25 subjects in the TAU-only group and 26 in the TAU-plus-CBT group. Every 3 months during the trial, the subjects were given a standard battery of tests to measure their psychotic symptoms, along with tests designed to measure their levels of emotional distress and social functioning.The team found that at the end of the 18-month trial, the group given CBT had lower overall levels of psychotic symptoms than the TAU-only group, although the differences were modest: The overall “effect size,” a statistical measure of the differences between two groups in a clinical trial, was 0.46 (on a scale where 0.2 is considered low, 0.5 is considered moderate, and anything over 0.8 is considered to be high). Nevertheless, the researchers argued, the effect size they found was equivalent to that typical of most antipsychotic drugs when compared with placebos (dummy pills that contain no medication).The authors caution that despite what they see as encouraging results, the findings should not be interpreted to mean that all patients suffering from schizophrenia can or should go off their meds; the two groups they studied were comparatively high-functioning patients who were not hospitalized and posed no danger to themselves or their communities. Nevertheless, Morrison says, other studies have shown that up to 50% of schizophrenia sufferers fail to take drugs over the long term, and that this figure can rise to more than 70% over any particular 18-month period. “It seems that offering people choices” about whether to take drugs or not “is a sensible thing to do,” he says.The results are “utterly convincing,” especially in light of recent studies suggesting that some antipsychotic drugs are actually less effective than placebos in children and young adults, says Max Birchwood, a psychologist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K. But he adds that the sample studied by the Morrison team is small and needs to be expanded to a larger population, something the authors themselves advocate.Kate Hardy, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who treats schizophrenia patients with CBT—one of only a small number of practitioners in the United States using the technique in treating psychosis—says that the results may give more choices to patients about their own treatment. Up to now, Hardy says, the only choice psychosis patients have had is whether “to take medications or not.”But Keith Laws, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, U.K. and a co-author of The British Journal of Psychiatry meta-analysis critical of CBT for schizophrenia, questions the team’s analysis of its own data. He argues that there was no real difference between the CBT and control groups at the end of the 9 months of intense CBT treatment and that the differences at the end of 18 months were only marginal. “They are not in a position to make grand claims,” Laws says. He also says that the number of “adverse events” during the trial—several patients in both groups got worse and a few had to be hospitalized—were much greater than in other CBT trials in which patients were also given medications, making such drug-free approaches “very risky.”
Shrinking sea ice is wreaking havoc on Arctic ringed seals (Phoca hispida hispida), which live throughout the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas. The seals live in and beneath the ice and even birth and nurse atop it. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed designating a vast area—more than 906,000 square kilometers—off Alaska as protected habitat for the seals. The pinnipeds, which are named for the lacy, white circles on their fur, were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in December 2012.At the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Arizona, which had petitioned NOAA to address the seals’ plight, conservationists reacted with joy to the proposal. The organization’s climate science director, Shaye Wolf, said in a statement: “We’re thrilled that the ringed seals are getting the habitat protections they so desperately need as their sea-ice home melts beneath them.” But Senator Lisa Murkowski (R–AK) criticized the proposal. “This is an unprecedented attempt to place restrictions on a larger than Texas-sized area of water surrounding our state,” she said in a statement.NOAA’s proposal stems from a yearlong study of the critical habitat needs of the seals and the economic effects that protecting them may have on the region, which harbors extensive oil and gas reserves and commercially valuable fish.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)NOAA’s scientists identified climate change as “the principal threat” to the animals. The seals rarely come ashore, but live instead beneath the ice, using their claws to open and maintain breathing holes. They also construct caves on top of the ice and under the snow, where they birth and nurse their young. They build several of these caves so that they always have a place to escape their chief predator, polar bears.Climate change models predict that the Arctic sea ice will continue to shrink in a warming world (as much as 40% of the ice is expected to be gone by midcentury), and the resulting changes—including later formation of ice in the autumn, rain falling on the snow, and decreasing snow depths—will make it increasingly difficult for the seals to construct their snow caves, NOAA says. And that, in turn, will likely lead to a significant decline in the seals’ population, which was thought to number about 2.5 million in 2002. Since then, researchers have recorded a decreased number of pups in some areas, probably because of climate change. A pup often dies when its cave collapses on top of it. If a species is likely to become endangered in the future throughout a major portion of its range, it is considered threatened.If the proposed critical habitat designation is approved, other federal agencies will be required to consult with NOAA Fisheries on actions such as oil exploration and drilling that could destroy or adversely affect the area. The designation is also likely to impact commercial fishing in the region. Because the dwindling ice is lengthening the open-water commercial fishing season, certain target species (such as Arctic cod and saffron cod, which are the seals’ preferred prey) may also require “special management considerations,” NOAA says. The proposed designation would not, however, stop the subsistence hunt of the seals by Alaska natives.Although most oil and gas activities are now occurring only in the Beaufort Sea, primarily near Prudhoe Bay, there has been a recent lease sale in the Chukchi Sea, NOAA notes, and the agency expects oil exploration and drilling to increase there. Murkowski worries about the economic effects of the proposal and charges in her statement that NOAA’s decision was motivated by “several non-scientific” reasons, such as “enhanced public awareness.” She also expresses concern that the designation “may help focus and contribute to conservation efforts.” “I remain skeptical,” her statement says, “that the listing of ringed seals based on a 100 year weather projection was justified, and I am concerned that this designation would severely impact any economic development from Northwest all the way to our border with Canada.”NOAA will be accepting public comments on the proposed critical habitat designation for the ringed seals for 90 days, until 3 March 2015.