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Mother of ‘untouchable’ who was drugged, gang-raped speaks out as outrage grows over girls found hanging from tree

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Mother of ‘untouchable’ who was drugged, gang-raped speaks out as outrage grows over girls found hanging from tree

DEAN NELSON- THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

As outrage grows in India over the gang rape and murder of two Dalit teenagers found hanging from a tree, the mother of a 14-year-old “untouchable” who was kidnapped and raped earlier this year has said she wishes her daughter had been killed too.

India’s new government said yesterday (Friday) that it was planning to set up a special crisis unit to ensure justice for victims of sex attacks and two police officers were sacked following the rape and murder of the teenagers that has revived anger over the frequency and brutality of assaults.

In a further shocking example of how women from India’s “untouchable” caste are easy targets for rapists – and rarely get justice – The Daily Telegraph spoke to Brimti Ram, 40, whose daughter’s case highlights the stigma surrounding the issue in her caste.

Brimti Ram, 40, had been living in a form of slavery with her Dalit family in Bagana village, about 100 miles from the capital Delhi, when her daughter and three friends were seized by five relations and neighbours of their feudal landlord.

They later revealed that they had been drugged and raped throughout the night.

She, her husband Lila Ram and their five children farm 20 acres of rice and barley fields – without pay – in a futile attempt to service a pounds 7,000 generational debt that they can never pay off. “It’s not really a loan but something to control us,” Lila Ram said yesterday. Many of their fellow villagers live under the same bonded conditions, which are illegal but common in India. Rapes and sexual assaults of Dalits are common but often unreported and violence is frequent.

Fifteen “untouchable” boys had been murdered in the village in the past 30 years, his community leader, Virender Singh Bagodia, said yesterday.

Brimti Ram said they had been so shamed by their daughter’s rape that neither she nor her 16-year-old sister would ever be able to find a husband. She had heard of the murders of the two Dalit girls in Badaun in Uttar Pradesh and said she could understand the pain of their families, but she wished her daughter had been killed too.

“Rape is loss of our reputation, livelihood, honour and the end of our future,” she said. “If my daughter doesn’t get married and suffers her entire life, wouldn’t it have been better for her that she had been killed by those beasts?”

Her family is one of more than 80 that fled their village amid death threats from the upper caste Hindus who had already banned them from sending their children to school, visiting the temple, or buying food from their shops. They are now living on a pavement in central Delhi.

“My daughter was a cheerful girl before but now she’s just silent”, she added.

She was speaking after aides to Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, demanded a report on the gang-rape and murder of two “untouchable” cousins, aged 14 and 15, who were found hanging from a mango tree in Katra village, near Badaun.

The unnamed girls were going to the lavatory in a nearby field when they were grabbed by higher caste men from the local Yadav peasant farmer community.

They were last seen by an uncle as they were being led away. When he challenged the men, they threatened him with a gun.

The father of one of the girls said the police had “refused to look for my girl” and that when he confronted one of the accused at his home, he admitted abducting the girls but refused to release them. They were found hanging from a mango tree the following morning.

The father said the girls would still have been alive if the police had acted immediately.

Police in Uttar Pradesh said three people, including a police constable, had been arrested in connection with the sex attack, while they were still searching for two further suspects. A “thorough investigation” was under way, police said,

Mukul Goel, a senior police officer, said it had still not been determined whether the victims had committed suicide or been hanged as a way of silencing them after they were raped.

Akhilesh Yadav, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, yesterday snapped at a reporter when asked about the rising number of rape cases in his state: “You are safe, why are you bothered?”

Campaigners said the two separate cases highlight the high level of sexual violence suffered by its low caste and “untouchable” women.

Members of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union shout slogans as they participate in a protest against the gang rape of two teenage girls in Katra village, outside the Uttar Pradesh state house, in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 30, 2014. AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Members of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union shout slogans as they participate in a protest against the gang rape of two teenage girls in Katra village, outside the Uttar Pradesh state house, in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 30, 2014. AP Photo/Manish Swarup

Many rapes of Dalits went unreported, campaigners said, citing official figures that showed there were supposedly 1,576 “untouchable” victims among the 24,923 women raped in India in 2012 – yet India’s 200 million Dalits comprise a sixth of its population.

The figures also highlighted how upper caste police officers and political leaders often side with the higher caste accused, campaigners said.

The higher caste Hindu Jats and Yadavs accused of the Bagana gang rapes and the mango tree murders are among northern India’s most powerful groups. Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose party controls the government in Uttar Pradesh, recently questioned whether boys who “make mistakes” should be hanged for rapes where the victims die. The Jats in Haryana were one of the most extensively courted groups in the Indian general election campaign.

Brinda Karat, the veteran women’s rights campaigner and Communist leader, said it was not uncommon today in India for Dalits to live in conditions of slavery and that rape and sexual violence were a regular feature of it.

Many rapes and sexual assaults of poor Dalit girls happened when they went to relieve themselves in fields, while many upper caste young men believed they have “first choice” rights over any Dalit girl they preferred.

As more Dalit children attended school, forbidden mixed caste friendships and romances had developed which have led to “honour killings”.

“Love has become the new battlefield where caste supremacy is being played out in India. It’s an indication of change and assertion by young Dalits”, she said.

 

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Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality

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Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?

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The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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