Jul 142016

Indian school girl punishes a stalker

Sunayana Suresh: The recent murder of S Swathi, a young software engineer, in broad daylight by her alleged stalker has brought back the debate about the lopsided portrayal of love in cinema, in which, more often than not, stalking is masked as candyfloss romance. Online posts and tweets have already got many people debating this topic, wondering when makers will stop legitimizing stalking as love in their stories.

Filmmaker and mother of a young girl, Kavitha Lankesh, tells us that the situation that these films create can put society in a Catch-22 situation. “We want our young girls to grow up being strong and brave. But these situations and the popular stereotyping of women ensure that we end up raising them in an over-protected environment. If you take a look at young kids today, most of them are packed off with gadgets galore to ensure parents are assured of their safety. There are updates and messages sent if a child misses one day of school. This is a society that is only a direct result of the way popular media has portrayed women,” she maintains.

Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla

Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla

Filmmaker Lingadevaru also believes that films and aesthetics play a big part in the conditioning of the male psyche. “If we look at films of Puttanna Kanagal, the women were independent and the relationships were real. The way he portrayed women was something else. If you look at films like Samskara, Ghatashraddha or even my own film Naanu Avanalla… Avalu, these films all dealt with sex in their own fashion. But the makers chose to showcase them in a different way. I did suggest scenes that involved my protagonist in sexual acts, but the way we showed it got us a U certificate. The fact is that filmmakers can ensure their films are real and not hyped with unnecessary factors. But the commercial aspect has taken over the art value of cinema,” he points out.

Also Read: The Guardian, UK:  Does Bollywood normalise stalking?

A leading heroine from South Indian films, on the basis of anonymity, says, “I have played roles that required me to say no to the hero and then end up with him by the end of the film because he is relentless, and that is supposed to be romantic. Unfortunately, only a fragment of the scripts portray realistic relationships. They want to make romance aspirational. While cinema is meant to be a means of entertainment that helps one get away from reality, one must restrict the false hopes they build in young minds.

The Chennai incident can be pinned down in some way to the way most films in India dictate that a woman always says yes to a romantic proposal, irrespective of what the hero does.”
Kavitha agrees: “Almost every hero is a stalker in Indian cinema. If we are to put it into numbers, around 90% of the heroes are portrayed as stalkers. It is bad that we have to accept this as romance. These films see the hero pursue his woman long and strong until she gives in and turns around a new leaf. And this has always been the case in films from as long as we can remember.”

Courtesy: The Times of India

Jan 042013

Chapainawabganj, Jan 4, 2013 (UNB) – The bodies of two Bangladeshis, taken away by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) after killing them along Gomostapur upazila border, were not returned on Friday, three days after the killing.

Local sources said Masud, 23, resident of Gomostapur upazila, and Shahidul, 28, of Shibganj upazila, were shot dead by BSF members of Indian Tilason outpost when they were going to India through Radhanagar border of the upazila at about 3am on Tuesday.

Later, the Indian border guards took away the bodies to their camp.

The BSF assured local BGB of returning the bodies during a battalion commander-level flag meeting held at Bivison on Thursday afternoon, said BGB sources.

Major Sharif Mahmud, 43 Border Guard Battalion Deputy Commander, confirmed that the bodies were not returned on Friday.

The BSF cited non-completion of necessary formalities as reason for the delay, said Mahmud.

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Jan 022013

NEW DELHI, Jan 2, 2013: The Ministry of Home Affairs of India has formed a special task force to look into the issues of women’s safety in the capital every fortnight, reports BSS.

The 13-member body, to be headed by the home secretary, will also regularly review the functioning of the Delhi Police.

The Hindu Report said today that its members are Chief Secretary, Police Commissioner, Special Commissioner (Traffic) and Special Commissioner (Law & Order), Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, Chairperson of New Delhi Municipal Council, Commissioner of Transport and Excise, Corporation Commissioners of East Delhi, North Delhi and South Delhi and Joint Secretary (Union Territory) in the Home Ministry, an official statement said.

“The task force may co-opt any such member it may deem fit. It will also take into consideration the suggestions made by the members of parliament during the debate on the issue. The task force shall continuously review action taken by the Delhi Police and the Government,” the statement added.

The Delhi Police works under the Home Ministry.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been demanding that the State government be given control of the force for better policing of the capital.

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Dec 242012

BBC Online, 24 December 2012: Police in Swansea are investigating after a 21-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in a pub car park.

It happened between 02:00 GMT and 03:15 GMT on Saturday.

Officers said the victim was subjected to a serious sex assault at the back of the Cross Keys pub in Princess Way.

The attacker is white, with short shaved hair, about 5ft 9ins tall, and of medium build. He was wearing a blue polo shirt and jeans and has a foreign accent.

Officers want to trace the driver of a London-style black cab who picked up the victim from Princess Way at about 03:00 GMT and took her to Wind Street near Ice Bar and onto the central police station in Swansea.

South Wales Police said witnesses can contact police on 01792 614350 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 quoting incident number 62120409741.

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Dec 242012

NEW DELHI, December 24, 2012: Indian authorities throttled movement in the heart of the capital on Monday, shutting roads and railway stations in a bid to restore law and order after police fought pitched battles with protesters enraged by the gang rape of a young woman, reports Reuters.

In an unusual televised address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for calm following the weekend clashes in New Delhi and vowed to punish the rapists for their “monstrous” crime.

A tea vendor walks past a row of police standing guard on a road to stop demonstrators from moving towards the India Gate in New Delhi A tea vendor walks past a row of police standing guard on a road to stop demonstrators from moving towards the India Gate in New Delhi

Singh’s government, often accused by critics of being out of touch with the aspirations of many Indians, has been caught off-guard by the depth of the popular outrage as protests have snowballed and spread to other cities. India is seen as one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman.

Instead of channeling the outrage, the government has found itself on the defensive over the use of force against the protesters and complaints that it has done little in its eight years in power to create a safer environment for women.

The protests have been the biggest in the capital since 2011 demonstrations against corruption that rocked the government.

“People are not reacting to just one rape case. They are reacting to the general malaise, the frustration with the leadership. There is a feeling that the leadership is completely disconnected,” said political analyst Neerja Chowdhury.

Police barricaded roads leading to India Gate, an imposing Arc de Triomphe-style war memorial in the center of the city, that has become a hub of the protests by mostly college students. Many metro rail stations in fog-shrouded Delhi were also closed, crippling movement around the city of 16 million.

The protests overshadowed an official visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin and disrupted his schedule.

The 23-year-old victim of the December 16 attack, who was beaten, raped for almost an hour and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi, was still in a critical condition on respiratory support, doctors said.

In the weekend spasm of violent protests, police use batons, teargas and water cannon against demonstrators around the capital. Protests and candle-light vigils have also taken place in other Indian cities but they have been more peaceful.

“I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm. I assure you we will make all possible efforts to ensure security and safety of women in this country,” Singh said in his televised address to the nation.

Singh has been under fire for remaining largely silent since the rape. He issued a statement for the first time on Sunday, a week after the crime. Sonia Gandhi, chief of the ruling Congress Party, has met some of the protesters to hear their demands.

Comments by political commentators, sociologists and protesters suggest the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration that many Indians have over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social and economic issues.

“There is a huge amount of anger. People are deeply upset that despite so many incidents there has not been much response from the state and the government,” said social activist Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research in Delhi.


New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. A global poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place in the world to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.

Since last week’s rape, the authorities have promised better police patrolling to ensure safety for women returning from work and entertainment districts, more buses at night, and fast-track courts for swift verdicts on cases of rape and sexual assaults.

But protesters view those measures as inadequate and are looking for the government to take a firmer stand on sexual assaults countrywide, most of which go unreported.

Reported rape cases in India have increased by 9.2 percent to 24,206 cases in 2011 from 22,172 the previous year, according to the latest figures from the National Crime Record Bureau,

“This is not about that one rape,” said aspiring fashion designer Shruti Sharma, 24, at a protest in Delhi on Monday.

“This is about how crime is rampant in our cities. We are angry at the government for not ensuring the safety of its citizens. The judiciary is slow. Cases take too long.”

Opposition political parties, normally quick to exploit the government’s vulnerabilities, have largely been sidelined in the protests, which have mostly been organized through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The protesters come from all walks of life but many are young and middle class. Political commentators see their involvement as evidence of growing frustration with the government’s focus on poor and rural voters and a failure to pass on the benefits of a decade of rapid economic growth.

So far, however, the protesters’ focus has been on the rape case rather than on other grievances.

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Dec 222012

RANGPUR, Dec 22, 2012: One person was killed and at least 19 others were injured others were injured in a post poll clash between the supporters of two defeated councilor candidates in Bangladesh’s northern city ‘Rangpur’ on Saturday, police and local sources said.

Police said supporters of Belal Hossain and Shamsul Alam, two defeated councilor candidates of the just concluded Rangpur City Corporation (RCC) election, got entangled into bloody clashes at Kishamat Bishu village at around 11:30 am.

The clash ensued following exchange of hot words between the supporters of both the groups when they were blaming each other for defeat of their respective candidates in the RCC polls held on December 20.

Getting information, large contingent of police force from Kotwali Thana and members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from Rangpur camp rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control using baton-charges.

By this time, 12 persons belonging to the warring groups were injured and they were rushed to Rangpur Medical College Hospital (RMCH) where one Dalim Hossain, 23, son of Syed Ali Bagha of village Kishamat Bishu succumbed to his injuries at 4:30 pm.

”Adequate police and RAB members have been deployed in the area and we have arrested 13 persons of Belal and Shamsul groups including Shamsul Alam so far,” Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Kotwali Thana Altaf Hossain told reporters.

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Aug 232012

Abul Hossain languished in prison for 22 years for no crimes. High Court acquitted him 10 years back. But the court order lost its way to jail gate.

Dhaka, 16 Feb 2012: Now free at around fifty after having lost the prime of his life in jail, Abul Hossain recounts how corruption and over-exercise of power by a section of policemen and some employees in the judiciary pushed him into a fate almost worse than death.

The simple uneducated man had to pass his 22 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, as is proved by his ultimate acquittal after so long a time.

“I did not commit the murder. But I had to go to jail. I went to jail in my youth. Now I am nearly 50. I could not even marry. They have destroyed my life,” said the middle-aged man, one of those implicated in the case of murder of his neighbour Altaf Mia.

The High Court had acquitted him, but the authorities apparently did not care for his release. He walked to freedom at the Supreme Court’s intervention.

He says corruption and over-exercise of power by some in the police and the judiciary resulted in the miscarriage of justice.

An investigation by daily sun also found that greed of some selfish persons in society, lack of education and a psychological gap between people and the government functionaries were responsible for the injustice.

According to the case history, the body of Altaf Mia was found on 15 May 1988 near the residence of neighbour Abul Hossain in Mothurandanga village of Satkania in Chittagong.

An unnatural death case was filed in this connection. Later, then sub-inspector Rezaul Karim of Satkania Police Station filed an FIR, implicating a number of persons from Abul Hossain’s family.

Police arrested a number of persons, including siblings Abul Hossain, Abul Hashem and Abul Kalam, their father Yusuf Ali and uncles Ishak Ali and Idris Ali.

Kalam, then only 12, spent 17 days in jail. Police allegedly tortured the boy mercilessly to get a confessional statement.

Yusuf Ali, the father, had to stay in jail for three months—and he was also tortured.

“My octogenarian father still feels the pain from the beatings. He has to take painkiller regularly,” said Hashem, the eldest son.

“We had to give police Tk 50,000 for my father’s release. Second officer SI Bhupal Babu took the money. We had to sell almost all our property to arrange the amount,” he added.

“ There was no SI named Bhupal Babu in 1988 at the police station”, claimed OC Abdul Khalek.

The accused in the case were uneducated and inexperienced in the matters of offices or courts. It was because of this case that they visited Chittagong city nearly 30 kilometres away from their village. Many people in the “foreign” place took the opportunity of their naivety to deceive them.

The state had appointed advocate Dipak Chowdhury to defend Abul Hossain and Abul Hashem as the accused were not solvent enough to hire a lawyer.

But Hashem or Hossain, or anybody of their family, for that matter, never even knew the fact. They did not know Dipak because the lawyer never talked to them.

It is not clear how advocate Dipak prepared the case for defending his clients without talking to them ever.

When asked, Dipak recently told daily sun that he had not contacted the accused assigned to him by the state as he had no intention to take money from them.

In their last effort to free Abul Hossain, Hashem recently met advocate Nur Ahmed, a lawyer hailed from Satkania, who practises in the High Court.

“I gave Tk 15,000 to advocate Nur Ahmed 12 days before Eid-ul-Azha. Hossain was released 14 days after Eid. The contract with the lawyer was actually Tk 20,000, but Abul Hossain came out of jail before I gave him the rest of the money,” Hashem said.

Mohona Khatun, their mother, borrowed the money from Grameen Bank. A few people in the area also collected a sum to help them out, said family members and local people.

Advocate Nur Ahmed, however, denied having taken any money from them. “Mahmud Islam, a youth from Satkania, brought Hashem to me. Mahmud was known to me, and I knew he was not honest and dependable. I agreed to appeal in the High Court. I charged the minimum sum of Tk 15,000 as the expenses of collecting case documents and moving an appeal,” he said.

Nur Ahmed said, “I appointed my clerk to find the case documents, and he came to know that the High Court had already acquitted him [Hossain] 10 years ago. I met with the Supreme Court registrar and informed him about it. He might have taken the initiative later to release the innocent victim.

“As I did not have to process any appeal petition, I returned Tk 9,000 to Mahmud, who may have deceived Abul Hashem,” he said.

Mahmud could not be contacted for his comment.

“At first I was in Chittagong jail,” said Abul Hossain. “Later, I was shifted to Comilla Central Jail. In 2006, I was sent to Sylhet jail for treatment. I was brought back to Chittagong jail in 2007.

“I did not kill Altaf. Then why was I jailed? Sometimes, I would become angry, but to whom should I show my anger! I mourned. I would just pray to God for justice,” a disillusioned Abul told daily Sun.

“I told my tale to other prisoners. Some of them suggested that I appeal through the jail authorities. So, when I was in Sylhet jail I appealed through the jail super. I filed petitions with the High Court several times. But nobody told me that the High Court had already acquitted me,” he said.

Pointing to the tea stall this correspondent was interviewing Hossain in, he said, “I was here when the dead body of Altaf was found in a field in the evening. Everybody knows it. Along with many people I rushed to see the dead body.”

Ramjan Ali, 70, the owner of the tea stall, had the same tale to tell. “It was 28th Ramadan. At about 8:30pm, we heard that Altaf had been killed and his body was lying in a cropland. When we heard the news, Abul Hossain was here.”

Many elderly people, who gathered there, repeated the same tale.

“I want trial of those who made me suffer although I had not committed any crime,” said Abul Hossain, caring little to suppress his inner anguish.

Abul Hossain’s family have gone through undue sufferings unnecessarily. The man who was killed is also yet to get justice as the law enforcers failed to detect the real killer.

All who know now came to the conclusion that the executive failed to ensure good governance. The judiciary failed to ensure justice. Thus the state apparently failed to ensure the wellbeing of its citizens.

By Pulack Ghatack, courtesy: Daily Sun

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Aug 152012

Royal Bengal tigers have been under threat from habitat destruction, illegal trade for body parts, natural calamities and angry villagers, but their cubs are now facing a new danger — poachers, reports Reuters.

Three frail tiger cubs lying in an iron cage in a Dhaka zoo are the first live cubs to be recovered from poachers, who had planned to smuggle the animals out of the country.

“(Tigers) come out of the woods in search of food in the villages, and often get caught and killed,” said a forest ranger in the Sundarbans mangrove forest in Bangladesh, who asked not to be identified.

“Now, the poachers have expanded their illegal trade by catching and smuggling cubs that are easier to trap and safer to move away.”

There are an estimated 300 to 500 majestic Royal Bengal tigers in the 10,000 square km (6,213 miles) Sundarbans forest, which stretches across part of Bangladesh and India and has been designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

The numbers of the striped cats, which usually weigh over 200 kg (440 pounds) when fully grown, have been falling steadily.

Residents of a Dhaka high rise building found the squeaking and grunting cubs in June when the animals were trying to climb from the ground floor. Special security forces took the cubs to a private zoo, where keepers fed them with bottled milk and put them on display.

But due to health problems and stress from the throngs of visitors, the cubs were taken to a specially designed home in Dhaka’s Botanical Garden where they are being fed food imported from China.

The recovery of the live cubs was a wake-up call for conservationists who had been unaware of illegal trade in tiger cubs. Adult tigers are prized for their skins and their body parts are used in traditional Asian medicine.

“We have had reports of tigers being killed by poachers. But this was the first time we saw that they were captured alive,” said Reaj Morshed, programme officer at the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh (WTB).

Security forces arrested a man and his mother for collecting the cubs and keeping them until the animals could be smuggled out of the country. Each cub was priced at 2 million taka($24,400).

Since the rescue the government has tightened laws for smuggling tiger cubs and imposed a seven-year sentence and a fine of 500,000 taka fine.

Sundarbans forest guards will also be equipped with new guns and trained to curb poaching and smuggling.

Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad, the country representative for the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), believes the new law is a step in the right direction.

“Previously we didn’t have a stringent law to deal with this, but now I think with the law in force and increased awareness on the part of the people, protection will be easier,” he said.

But not everyone agrees.

“This country had plenty of laws to govern the forests but they were never strictly enforced,” said Mohammad Badiuzzaman, at a nearby village. “Mere talking of laws and launching of plans will do little to help save the forest and its inhabitants.”

(By Anis Ahmed and Azad Majumder/Additional reporting by Serajul Quadir; editing by Elaine Lies)