‘Aarakshan’ ban evokes mixed reactions in Uttar Pradesh

The Uttar Pradesh government’s move to ban the screening of Prakash Jha-directed film “Aarakshan”, based on caste-based reservations in the education system, has evoked a mixed response from people in the state.

While a section of the people term the ban “illogical”, others supported the government’s decision, saying the movie could create law and order problems.

“Considering the fact that the movie was cleared by the Censor Board, that is governed by the central government, the state government’s decision seems quite surprising. I would say it appears illogical,” Rohit Prakash, a research scholar in Chemistry at Lucknow University, told .

“Several of us in the department had planned to watch the movie, but it’s quite disappointing that we would not be able to do so now,” he added.

In a late night decision, the Mayawati government Wednesday banned the release of “Aarakshan” in the state till further orders on the grounds that the film could create law and order problems.

The decision to ban the film, which was due to release Friday, was taken by a high-level committee set up by the state government.

Noted human rights activists and retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer S.R. Darapuri told “I just fail to understand why the government has banned the release of the movie… I am in support of reservation… it has been a part of the system for decades now.””There have always been both voices — supporting reservation and opposing it. Now, if the government feels that the ban on the movie would change that situation, it’s totally irrational. I feel that the decision to ban the screening of the movie is more of a political stunt,” added Darapuri, a former inspector general of police.

However, Dalit leader Udit Raj supported the ban.”I totally agree that the ban is in public interest, taking into account certain objectionable dialogues and scenes that are against Dalits,” Raj told.

Echoing similar views, Sanjay Sonkar, a freelance photojournalist, told”As youths tend to get influenced by movies easily, I believe ‘Aarakshan’ could incite them, which in turn could create law and order problems.”

Supreme Court lifts ban on Karnataka iron ore exports

The Supreme Court Tuesday said that the ban on the export and transportation of iron ore in Karnataka will be revoked from April 20.

The apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik passed the interim order after it was told that the Karnataka Prevention of illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage of Minerals Rules for regulating iron ore mining and transportation have been notified April 1, 2011.

The court gave the Karnataka government 15 days that it had sought to put in place the infrastructure to enforce the new rules to prevent the illegal mining of iron ore and its transportation.

The court said that the state government would take into consideration the report of the Lokayukta (ombudsman) Santosh Hagde on illegal mining while implementing the rules.

The court noted that senior counsel K.V. Vishwanathan had told the apex court that the state government had taken the suggestion of Lokayukta seriously and would act on it.

The Karnataka government, by its notifications July 26 and 28 last year, had banned the export and transportation of iron ore. The ban came in the wake of widespread reports of illegal mining.

The July 2010 ban on the transportation and offshore movement of ore was only for six months so that the new rules could be put in place.

The Karnataka government published the rules Feb 5 to invite objections and suggestions.

The case would be heard next in the first week of May.

NGO seeks ban on tobacco ads during World Cup

An NGO Monday sought a ban on tobacco advertisements during the cricket World Cup, saying these will have an adverse effect on the minds of the people.

New Delhi-based HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) Monday wrote to International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar on the issue, the group’s communications officer Nikunj Sharma told.

The letter was written by organisation’s senior director Monika Arora, he said.

Given the World Cup fever that has gripped the sub-continent, Indian tobacco giant ITC has commissioned the display of messages like “Beating the Best” or “Grabbing a Flier” to promote its cigarette brands at various points of sale (PoS), he said.

“This is in violation of the tobacco control rules, which say display boards should only list the type of tobacco products available, he said.

“No brand pack shot, brand name of the tobacco product or other promotional message and picture should be displayed on the board,” he added.

“In a country where 5,500 youth experiment with tobacco every day, such advertisements and promotion of cigarettes will strengthen the sport’s association with tobacco use in the minds of youth” according to Sharma.

Arora, in the letter, cited the example how Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, true to his promise and character, refused a mega offer to endorse a liquor brand.

“He has set a classic example of how he believes that cricket has the power to influence the mind and thinking of people of India” Arora wrote.

A study conducted in India has concluded that wrong perceptions about smoking promoted by tobacco sponsorship increased smoking initiation amongst both boys and girls even when they are aware of the risks involved, she said.

HRIDAY is engaged in activities aiming to promote health awareness and informed health activism among school and college students in India since 1992.

It works in collaboration with the ministry of health and family welfare and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Court refuses to lift ban on sand mining

The Maharashtra government suffered a setback Thursday when the Bombay High Court refused to lift a ban on sand mining in the state – a day after the ruling Democratic Front proposed a draft policy on the issue.

A division bench of Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice U.D. Salvi refused to lift the stay on sand mining, which the court imposed earlier.

On Sep 24, a division bench comprising Justice B.H. Marlapalle and Justice Amjad Sayyed passed an interim order banning sand mining – including by those who had licences – observing that the activity was damaging river beds and increasing threats of flood.

The court’s order came in a public interest litigation petition filed by Sagar Shramik Hatpati Walu Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit, which alleged that sand extraction was causing major environmental degradation, especially in creeks and rivers.

On Wednesday, the state cabinet approved a new sand mining policy making it mandatory for all contractors to obtain permission of village panchayats for sand mining and extraction.

On Thursday, the state’s advocate-general Ravi Kadam made a plea in the high court to lift the stay, saying the government had already finalized a policy on the issue of sand mining.

The high court ruled that it would decide on vacating the stay only after the government submitted the government resolution on the issue before it, and adjourned the hearing till Oct 25.

Ban bullock carts transporting kerosene: PETA

Animal welfare NGO PETA has demanded a ban on the use of bullock carts to transport kerosene in the city, but the government says it needs an alternative arrangement in placey.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made the demand at a meeting with Maharashtra’s food and civil supplies ministry.

The officials told PETA that labour union leaders had been asked to submit a proposal by Thursday, suggesting alternative arrangements to transport kerosene, PETA’s Manilal Valliyate told.

He said two unions — Kamgar Utkarsh Sabha and Maharashtra Shramjivi Sangha — use more than 200 bullocks to transport kerosene from oil ports in Sewri, Wadala and Mulund to various ration shops in the city.

‘Even though the ministry decided in September 2008 to phase out the use of bullock carts by March 2009, many bullocks are still being used, most of them underweight, unthrifty or ill,’ he added.

Karnataka BJP holds protest for cow slaughter ban

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Monday held rallies across Karnataka demanding early presidential nod to a bill banning cow slaughter in the state.

The bill, passed by both the houses of the state legislature, has been sent by Governor H.R. Bhardwaj to President Pratibha Patil for a decision as the Congress, Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and several organizations, particularly Dalit bodies, have opposed the move.

Former BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu, South Bangalore Lok Sabha member H.N. Ananth Kumar and state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa led the rally in Bangalore.

Naidu, a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, flayed the governor for not giving assent to the bill and forwarding it to the president.

He said the delay in the nod for the bill was because of Congress “playing vote bank politics to appease the minorities”.

Eshwarappa and Ananth Kumar also criticized the governor for not giving assent to the bill.

They said the BJP campaign for early presidential assent will continue.

The party organised rallies and public meetings in all the 30 districts of the state.

The Congress, the JD-S, several Dalit organizations and several writers, including Jananpith award winner U.R. Anantha Murthy, have opposed the bill saying it was an attack on the food habits of a section of people.

Delegations of the Congress and the JD-S have met Patil in New Delhi and urged her not to okay the bill.

Kerala’s plea against roadside meetings ban dismissed

The Kerala High Court on Friday dismissed the review petition of the state government against the ban on holding roadside public meetings. Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the government would appeal to higher courts.

A division bench of Justice C N Ramachandran Nair and Justice P S Gopinathan said they saw no reason why the court should reconsider its on the ban because meetings held on the roadside would prevent the free movement of people on the roads.

A bench of Justice Nair June 23 had directed police, civic bodies, local self-governments and revenue departments to refuse permission for roadside meetings, saying it issued the order to ensure free flow of traffic on public roads and also for the safety of the public.

Addressing reporters here shortly after the judgment came, Balakrishnan said the division bench’s dismissal of the review petition was expected.

‘See, the same bench as the one which banned the holding of meetings on roadsides looked into the review petition. So it is quite natural that this would be the outcome. We will now go to courts above that with an appeal,’ he said.

Justice Nair last month slammed the Kerala government for filing a petition seeking his replacement from the bench hearing the review petition.