Mumbai: Bhumata Brigade president Trupti Desai, who is spearheading the agitation against the Shani Shingnapur temple authorities seeking the end of 400-year-old tradition of not allowing women into the sanctum sanctorum, has received an anonymous threat letter on Friday warning her of dire consequences like thinker Narendra Dabholkar.
Dabholkar was found murdered on 20 August 2013. His fault — he steadfastly vouched for the passing of the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance in the Maharashtra Assembly.The two-page letter written in Marathi, a copy of which is with Firstpost, questioned her selection of Shani Shingnapur temple as her agenda at a time when her state Maharashtra is grappling with a plethora of other problems.
The letter warned her either to stay away from the issue or face fatal consequences like Dabholkar.
Desai has filed a complaint against unknown person at the Sahkar Nagar Police Station in Pune. A police officer confirmed about the threatening contents of the letter. “We will investigate the letter,” the police officer said.
However, the Bhumata Brigade chief is not scared by the threat to her life.
“No, I am not frightened by the threat. If anyone is threatening to kill me, the person should come on record. He is afraid of me. That’s why he has not dared to mention his name. This kind of threats are common in social service,” Desai told Firstpost from Pune.
The letter asked Desai if she is aware that about farmers or school children committing suicide for want of money. It levelled charges against the Bhumata Brigade saying that the organisation is not doing enough when girls are repeatedly becoming victims of honour killing. The letter even had a suggestion for Desai advising her to focus on improving the quality of girl education.
She made it clear that although she has filed a police complaint she does not want a security detail accompanying her.
“I don’t want police protection and I have not asked for it. The home portfolio is with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis but look at the law and order situation in the state. In the last two and half years thinker Dabholkar and Pansare were killed but the main culprits are still not in police net. It’s really a shame on us,” Desai said.
CPI leader Govind Pansare was fatally shot at on 20 February in Kolhapur last year.
Despite the threat perception, the Bhumata Brigade head said the agitation would go on.
“Last week we had asked for a meeting with the chief minister but he is too busy. Let’s see or else we will hold a big agitation once again at Shani Shingnapur,” she said.Refuting allegations that she was being used by the Congress against the BJP, Desai said, “I was a Congress worker earlier. After we formed the Bhumata Brigade in 2007 in the Pune district, I have been associated only with that.”
Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam also backed the demand made by Bhumata Brigade on allowing women to pray at the sacred-most area of the temple.
“I am of the belief that women should be allowed equal rights at all temples,” Nirupam said, adding, “Respecting women is our core value. They must be allowed in Shani Shingnapur temple.”
The Maharashtra chief minister had voiced a similar opinion last week.
“Indian culture and Hindu religion give women the right to pray. A change in yesterday’s traditions is our culture. Discrimination in praying is not in our culture. The temple authorities should resolve the issue through a dialogue,” Fadnavis, who also holds home portfolio, had said.
Desai said that the Bhumata Brigade, which is the parent organisation of its women wing Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, has both men and women as its members tries to help women in distress regularly particularly from western Maharashtra — be it about eve teasing, dowry, exploitation, physical or sexual assault and corruption.
On being asked if she the support from her family in her protest against the Shani Shingnapur temple authorities, Desai said, “Yes, the whole family is behind me specially my husband Prashant. I have a six-year-old boy as well.”
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in his budget today promised to provide 25 kilograms of free rice from the next fiscal to all families below the poverty line.
His budget proposals revolved around his pet slogan — development and care. He set aside Rs. 100 crore for a new project named ‘kanivu’ (concern) for the poorest of the poor and those who suffer from various ailments.
The monthly pension for all those who are aged 75 and above has been raised to Rs. 1,500.
Some three million people will benefit from the insurance scheme launched by the prime minister after Mr Chandy said their insurance premium would be borne by the state government.
He also set aside Rs. 764 crore for reviving the beleaguered agriculture sector and announced raising the farmers monthly pension to Rs. 750.
“A sum of Rs. 500 crore is being earmarked to ensure that the benchmark price of one kg of rubber is kept at Rs. 150. In the present fiscal this amount was Rs. 300 crores,” said Mr Chandy.
Three new agriculture colleges and a new agri-polytechnic will be set up in the new fiscal.
Another Rs. 100 crore was set aside for building a new dam in place of the leaking Mullaperiyar dam.
A total of Rs. 2,536.07 crore was set aside for major infrastructure projects like the Vizhinjam port, Kannur airport, Kochi metro, suburban rail corridor and the proposed light metro projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.
The budget also saw the earmarking of Rs. 5,000 crore to the local bodies in the state as part of the plan fund allocation.
After KM Mani, the state finance minister, quit following an adverse court remark last year, the finance portfolio was handled by Mr Chandy.
Mr Chandy presented the budget today amid slogan shouting by the Left opposition, demanding that he has no moral right to present the budget as he and a few of his ministers are under a cloud for accepting bribes in the bar and solar scams.
The opposition walked out of the house and boycotted the session.
Mr Chandy said the IT exports that stand at Rs. 11,000 crore are expected to touch Rs. 15,000 crore. He added that he is setting aside Rs. 483 crore for the IT sector.
“Sam Pitroda had recommended the setting up of a knowledge city and for this 150 acres of land has been identified and a token sum has been kept aside for this project,” said Mr Chandy.
He said Rs. 25 crore will be given to set up 1,000 start-ups.
Mr Chandy presented a revenue deficit budget of Rs. 9,897.45 crore.
By the time he finished reading it, Speaker N. Sakthan told the house that the two hour 54 minutes long speech is by far the longest budget speech in the history of the state assembly.
Before dictating the order, the bench told Kapil Sibal that he will have ample opportunity to raise all these issues before the trial court.
The Supreme Court on Friday provided relief to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul, giving them exemption from personal appearance in the trial court in the National Herald case and expunging certain observations of the High Court but refused to interfere with criminal proceedings before the lower court.
Allowing their plea for exemption from personal appearance before the trial court, which is scheduled to take up the matter on February 20, the apex court added a rider that it would be open to the magistrate at any stage to seek their personal appearance as and when required.Though BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who is the complainant in the case, contested the plea for exemption from appearance, a bench comprising justices J S Khehar and C Nagappan said that “in the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case and the position occupied by the petitioners, we are of the view that the presence of the petitioners before the trial court would cause more inconvenience than convenience.”
“Petitioners shall be exempted from personal appearance and it is needless to say that it will be open for the trial court to seek their presence at any stage if and when their presence is required,” the court said.
The bench, which passed the order after hearing senior advocates Kapil Sibal, A M Singhvi and R S Cheema, who were appearing for Gandhis and others, and Swamy, said, “So far as determination by the Delhi high court in rejecting the prayer for quashing the proceedings against the petitioner, we do not find justification for interfering with it.”
Before dictating the order, the bench told Sibal that he will have ample opportunity to raise all these issues before the trial court. Sibal had sought urgent hearing of the matter on Thursday before a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur which had assigned the matter for hearing before the present bench.
(The High Court had on December 7, 2015 not only refused to quash the summons issued to the Congress leaders, but had also made observations on their “questionable conduct” on how they took control of the publication.)
Subsequently, the Gandhis and others had appeared before a Patiala House court on December 19 last year when they were granted bail.
The High Court, while refusing the plea of Gandhis and others, had said, “Questionable conduct of petitioners needs to be properly examined at the charge stage to find out the truth and so these criminal proceedings cannot be thwarted at this initial stage.”
Along with the Gandhis, five other accused — Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd–had challenged the summonses issued to them by a trial court on a complaint by Swamy against them for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in taking control of the now-defunct daily.
Swamy had accused Sonia, Rahul and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which Young India obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which the AJL had owed to the Congress party.
Sonia, Rahul, Vora (AICC Treasurer), Fernandes (AICC General Secretary), Dubey and Pitroda were summoned under sections 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) read with section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
The trial court had on June 26, 2014 asked them to appear before it on August 7, 2014 but the order was stayed on August 6 by the Delhi High Court which on December 7, 2015 vacated the stay by rejecting the plea to quash the complaint and summons.According to Swamy’s complaint, all of them were directors of Young India Ltd (YI), a company that was incorporated in 2010 and which took over the “debt” of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publisher of National Herald