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Report Dated March 30, 2017 7:51 PM
She loved him enough to share him.
When Sukhmati went to her boyfriend Rajesh Devgam’s father, her proposal stunned the old man as well as her parents — she wanted Devgam to marry her as well as Rita.
Rita was the woman Devgam, a young man from Jharkhand’s tribal-dominated West Singhbhum district, had fallen in love with though he was in a relationship with Sukhmati.
Devgam met Sukhmati at her handia (rice beer) shop couple of years ago and instantly fell in love. He met Rita while visiting his sister’s village and was hopelessly in love, again.
But when it came to taking the vows, the 23-year-old resident of Chaibasa town chose Sukhmati.
Rita was heartbroken and angry. She started pressuring Devgam to marry her instead.
Sensing trouble, Sukhmati spoke to Devgam and told him as polygamy was accepted in their community, he could marry both of them.
She couldn’t think of a life without Devgam but also felt that taking him away from Rita would be cruel, she said.
So, Sukhmati met Devgam’s father, Ghanshyam, a retired police constable, and Rita’s father, Lal Singh Biruli, with the proposal.
Biruli’s argument was more practical. “Girls outnumber boys in our society. It would be apt to marry more than one girl to a man if they are in love,” he said.
There are 1,004 females per 1,000 males in West Singhbhum, way better than the national average of 940 women per 1,000 males. For Jharkhand, the figure is 948 women per 1,000 men.
“The husband has to submit an affidavit confirming both women are his wives and hence eligible for all government benefits, schemes and citizenship documents for married men and women.”
For the villagers, it was a unique but a pleasant experience watching two girls marrying the man they loved without any rancour or bitterness.
Hundreds of villagers watched as the groom sat in the middle with his brides on his sides, taking their wedding vows.
The special arrangement called for an added vow – the two brides promised a peaceful household and not to let personal differences affect their relationship with Devgam.
A happy bride, Rita said it was Sukhmati who made the wedding possible.
Report Dated March 23, 2017 7:37 PM
The UP DGP issued a set of guidelines to his officers on the functioning of the force’s ‘Anti-Romeo’ squad — a BJP poll manifesto promise — Lucknow police rounded up a couple at a busy intersection, detained the man briefly at the local station and imparted “moral teaching” to the woman. A team led by the heads of the Hazaratganj and Mahila police stations allowed the woman to leave the spot from where the two were detained, while the man was detained at the station. Uddeshy Pandey, a 20-year-old from Sitapur, said that he was on his way to see a movie at a mall with his friend on a rickshaw when they were stopped by police at the busy Moti Mahal Lawns intersection.
“The policemen did not harass me, but it’s ridiculous to stop someone on a busy road and question them without any valid reason,” adding that he was an aspiring actor based in Mumbai and had come home for Holi. “My lady friend and I took a rickshaw to reach a multiplex in Hazratganj where two other friends were waiting. When the rickshaw reached a crossing, policemen stopped us and started questioning me,” he said. “The male SHO asked about my whereabouts while a policewoman questioned my lady friend. I told him that we were going to watch a movie but he refused to listen. After questioning me for half-an-hour, I was taken to the police station,” he said.
At the station, other policemen questioned me about my family. After over an hour, they asked me to call someone who could take me. One of my friends arrived and I was allowed to go,” said Pandey. Officers at the Hazratganj and Mahila stations confirmed that the couple was questioned “on the ground of suspicion” and later allowed to go.
The DGP had earlier issued a directive for police to ensure that parks, major crossings, markets, malls and other public places are made safe for women and girls. The order stated that couples at public places should not be harassed and that the “Anti-Romeo” squad would take action only against those who harass women. The DGP also instructed officers to ensure that people are not to be humiliated in public by blackening their faces or other such punishments. Minister Siddharth Nath Singh said, “The Chief Minister has instructed the DGP and Home Secretary that people should not be harassed by the Anti-Romeo squad and that action should only be taken against eve-teasers.”
Report Dated March 11, 2017 1:51 PM
The armed forces continue to lose around 100 personnel to suicides every year despite successive governments holding that several measures have been taken to reduce the stress among soldiers. As many as 125 military personnel took the extreme step to end their lives in 2016.
Replying to question in Lok Sabha on Friday, minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre said 101 soldiers, 19 airmen and five sailors committed suicide last year, with another three cases of fratricide (to kill a fellow soldier or superior) being reported from the three Services.
This year, 13 Army jawans have already committed suicide, while two such cases have been reported from the IAF. Soldiers posted in far-flung areas often undergo tremendous mental stress for not being able to take care of the problems being faced by their families back home, which could range from property disputes and harassment by anti-social elements to financial and marital problems, as was earlier reported by TOI.
Prolonged deployment in counter-insurgency operations in J&K and Northeastalso takes a toll on the physical endurance and mental health of soldiers. All this is also compounded by poor salaries, lack of basic amenities, denial of leave and ineffectual officer leadership.
But a major problem that continues is that civil and police district administrations around the country are now largely unresponsive to the grievances of soldiers and their families unlike before. “One of the biggest worries for jawans is the hardships their families face back home. With mobile phones, our jawans keep on getting constant updates from their families, which adds to their mental stress and strain,” said an officer.
Report Dated March 6, 2017 7:47 PM
Bengaluru may boast of being the `IT Capital’ or `Science Capital’ of the country, but the city has a thriving market for black magicians and sorcerers who claim powers and `skills’ to inflict an evil eye on the prosperity of people, or even inflict mortal injury. And the clientele include, not just the lovelorn youths, but even corporate employees, race car drivers and those reeling under family and financial crises – all apparently a well-educated lot.
The demand for black magic is evident from numerous people operating online who are contacted by clients through their individual portals and even social media platforms. They order black magic rituals to be performed on target individuals groups as per specific requirements, and they don’t mind paying anywhere from a mere Rs.500 to even upwards of a lakh.
There are also a couple of Kerala-based tantriks operating through their `agents’ who facilitate initial pujas and then direct people to meet black magic experts in Kerala to perform more complex rituals – a sort of a package. The arrest of a 33-year-old woman from Gowripalaya in the city for allegedly instructing her clients to murder a little girl, aged just 10, to allow the black magic woman to perform black magic rituals with her body, has come as a shocker over the dark extremes that these self-proclaimed conduits of so-called supernatural powers indulge in.
The woman, hailing from a seemingly normal lower-middleclass family, has five children, and is married to a man engaged in grillwork.
“She used to operate from her (Gowripalya) residence in Bengaluru and was brought to Magadi where the murder and rituals took place. We are now probing whether she is involved in any other similar incidents in the past,” said HL Nandish, circle inspector, Magadi, Ramanagar district.
A majority of the clients request performing Vashikaran kriya – enticing someone into doing things as required by the client.
A car racer, who participates in Bengaluru drag fest, claimed he has been a victim of black magic as he believes someone has cast a spell on him to jinx his racing prospects.
He claimed that in recent years he was constantly encountering bad luck on the tracks as his vehicle used to conk off 700 metres from the finishing line or develop some last-minute technical glitch. He said his friends have suggested him to meet a tantrik in Shivaji Nagar and he performed some rituals as instructed recently.
“I paid Rs 10,000 and everything was fine about that. He did some rituals and prayer recitation and then I felt better after that.Now I am fine and looking forward to participating in the upcoming car races,” he said.
Report Dated February 28, 2017 7:15 PM
If data is the new oil, then there is a gigantic oil spill all around you. Your personal data — be it your residential address, your phone number, email id, details of what you bought online, age, marital status, income and profession — is all up for sale. Most of this personal data is sold for less than a rupee per person — the cost of a chewing gum.
‘Data Brokers’ hawk their services on online listings and sell personal information. For anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000,data of up to 1 lakh people.
The lists up for sale are creative and granular. One data broker said he could get lists of high net worth individuals, salaried people, credit card holders, car owners and retired women in any given vicinity.
Some brokers sent free samples: excel sheets with personal data of people in Bengaluru, split by address and income profiles.
eBay said it takes data security and privacy of buyers and sellers on its platform very seriously. An Amazon spokesperson said the company was not aware of any data leak or any data being sold from their end, adding that any such case brought to their notice will be dealt with strictly to ensure customer data protection.
HDFC Bank and Axis Bank both said they work on educating customers about the importance of protecting private or personal details, as well as safe banking practices. “We can’t confirm the authenticity of the data shared with you by the data brokers and would urge people to highlight to us if they come across instances like this for us to take it up with the relevant authorities,” an Axis Bank spokesperson said.
The obvious question to ask is: where are these brokers getting the data from? “Most of the data is sold to us by mobile service providers, agents from hospitals and banks, loan agents, car dealers,” an executive from an NCR-based data broker said.
To be sure, data broking isn’t illegal but it does work in a grey zone. A 2014 US Federal Trade Commission report identified data brokers as companies that “obtain and share vast amount of consumer information, typically behind the scenes, without consumer knowledge.”
“Globally, data broking is an approximately $200-billion industry. Marketing products generate over 50% revenue, followed by risk mitigation, which constitutes approximately 45% of the revenue, and, finally, people search constitutes the remainder.”
The FTC report cited earlier said “data brokers operate with a fundamental lack of transparency,” and asked US lawmakers to consider enacting legislation to give consumers greater control over the immense amount of personal information about them collected and shared by data brokers. India’s IT Act does not specifically address the issue of data brokerage and privacy.
“When you sign up for free discounts, fill out questionnaires, or your clickstream in general, you are giving up all the data voluntarily and agreeing to privacy policies that allow you to do so,” said Mishi Choudhary, executive director of non-profit legal services organisation Software Freedom Law Centre.
The most obvious kind of misuse is of financial data. The Reserve Bank of India registered 8,689 cases of frauds involving credit cards, ATM/debit cards and internet banking up till December 2016. This number was 16,468 in 2015-16. Many of these frauds are perpetrated by scamsters by using freely available personal data to win the confidence of customers to get them to share critical data like CVVs or one-time passwords (OTPs).
However, data brokerage is still at a very nascent stage in India. The market is dominated by larger international players such as Epsilon, Equifax and Experian that offer more sophisticated data sets.
“Increasingly, data from social media sites – much of it unstructured data, such as tweets – is collected for analytics that can help deepen the understanding of consumers.”
Data collected by agencies such US-based Equifax Credit Information Company, who carry out consumer credit reporting, is an example of data contributed by banks and other financial institutions.