Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the spiritual head of Dawoodi Bohra community had recently preached to its members that toilet seats in their bathrooms be changed from Western to Indian. Following this, messages have gone viral among the members of the community that the Saifee Hospital, which is owned by Aqa Maula and Kothar, itself has not walked the talk.”They should also practice what they preach. They have asked us to implement but they are not doing the same,” said a member of the Dawoodi Bohra community requesting anonymity, fearing that they might be boycotted.”The ‘toilet brigade’ comes in groups of four to five and bullies us. They ask if we have changed or not. If people do not allow them to inspect, we get calls later in which we are told that saying “no” to them is like “saying no to Syedna,” said a community member who had four people visiting his home. They took down details of each family member and their occupation.Another video message shows Syedna’s men breaking Western toilets with a hammer. “They are religious leaders and should stick to religious values and not interfere in our personal lives,” said another community member.A spokesperson from Dawoodi Bohra community said, “Using western toilets is alien to our culture. Additionally, it is an accepted fact that using Indian toilets has certain proven medical benefits and advantages over using Western toilets. It is all part of the much wider ongoing upliftment and awareness drive. The volunteers visiting houses for the Upliftment programme are facilitating families that want to shift from western to Indian style toilets. No one is forced to change, let alone a person who needs to use a Western toilet due to any medical condition. Also, the services of Saifee Hospital reach out to all members of society, hence the question of changing to Indian style toilet does not arise.”
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A message is doing rounds in the Dawoodi Bohra community criticising the recent diktat that marriages can be held only in community halls/places that are cleared by Anjuman E Shiate Ali, the community’s religious committee. The diktat even asks members of the community to not attend marriages if not held at places cleared by it.The recent message condemning the ‘diktat’ states that it has created a “communal havoc”. It goes on to ask if the religious leaders of the community will help them.”If Christian schools” refuse admission for the Bohras and that being a business community, if tomorrow “other communities boycott business with us, where do we stand? Does it make any difference to our religious leaders and their income?””The new diktat is disturbing. Earlier, there was a diktat of limiting food items and stopping sangeet and dance because it is not Islamic. Now this. All this is happening because of revenue as most halls are controlled by the religious leaders or people close to them. They want to control our activities and form pressure groups,” said a member, who did not want to be named.Members said that community halls have limitations like dress code, space constraint and also parking issues.”This should not be labelled as a diktat. Such words are prejudicial. The current advisory asking Bohras to use community venues for weddings has many advantages… All are positive steps for an organisation charged with managing community affairs… promoting egalitarianism and maintaining cultural propriety,” said a spokesperson.
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The State information commission (SIC) has directed the Mumbai police to give details on action taken against officers who have violated a 2015 Government Resolution (GR). The GR asked for action against erring officers due to whom cases were lost in court and accused acquitted.The state government had issued the GR in order to implement a Supreme Court (SC) order. To improve prosecution and investigation, the SC in 2014 had directed state governments that a mechanism be put in place to take action against officers because of whom the prosecution fails to prove its case in the court, resulting in the acquittal of an accused. The order aimed to infuse seriousness in the performance of probes and prosecution and crystallise mistakes so that they form part of a refresher training program for senior officers and prosecutors. The SIC gave its order following a series of RTI applications filed by DNA.The order was passed by Ajit Kumar Jain, state Chief Information Commissioner (additional charge) on November 27. DNA had filed RTI applications to know the supervision by senior officers of the police force and the action taken in cases where the GR had been violated as the government’s response was tardy in implementing SC order.DNA had got to know about the SC order when the state was already in contempt of it. An NGO looking to check on its implementation wanted the details of compliance of the SC order from the state government.Only after the SIC order, did the government come out with a GR on the subject. “They did not even know of the order and asked for it,” said Bhaskar Prabhu, whose appeal with the information commissioner resulted in the government issuing the GR on October 17, 2015.WHAT THE GR SAYSAs per the GR, the Mumbai police formed 18 committees, each of which was to be headed by the zonal Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCPs). The GR stated that each zone or unit head was to take the meetings once every three months and implement the SC order rigorously. In its November 13, 2016 edition, DNA had reported that despite being in contempt, the response from the authorities continued to be tardy to the SC order.
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<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An RTI applicant was denied information about the occupation certificate and ground floor plan of a ward office by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) stating that it will be a threat to security.While denying such information, it cited an order from former chief information commissioner which was itself corrected after much hue and cry as it blocked giving away details of buildings under RTI.Girish Mittal, Borivli resident, had filed an RTI application with the R/Central (Borivli) ward office, seeking details of reason along with file notings on why only one entry gate was open to the public for entry, reason for not allowing public to park in the ward’s premises, the DC rules on the two subject, the occupation certificate and the ground floor lay out.While replying to the information, the public information officer cited an order of former chief information commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad’s order which stated that due to security reasons the building plan not be provided. Often alleged to be the most corrupt department, Gaikwad’s order attracted sharp criticism and a clarification as activists said that terrorists did not need to file an RTI application to access building details.Gaikwad then issued a clarification which categorically stated that parking, cross section of building, occupancy certificate, and other relevant details be provided under RTI except internal details of the building.”It is a classic case of officers being well aware of all the negative orders that block transparency and little that promote it. There was a clarification on this order,” said Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner.”There is no question that such information cannot be provided. What they cannot provide is internal detailing. That is what was decided in the technical advisory committee of the BMC which decides what to give under RTI,” said Bhaskar Prabhu.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Residents of Cuffe Parade will soon be shelling out money to install CCTV camera in their area, and the footage will be shared with the police. The move comes as the residents look to help police in providing better security to the area and more importantly tackle the traffic issues. The residents had a meeting with officials recently on the issue in which they conveyed the same.”We want to have three CCTV cameras in each of our buildings. For this we will be paying and giving camera footage of one of the cameras to the police chowky,” said Sulakshana Chowgule, senior vice president of Cuffe Parade Residents Association.Chowgule added, “We already have cameras in our buildings but for better security on the road, we want to have cameras that face the main road.””Some people double park and then run away. We will put three cameras: one of 360 degree angle, one night camera and one more camera. All these will be put on our buildings and will face the road. The footage of two cameras will be with us and the main camera will be with the police chowky,” said Chowgule.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Colaba residents living on Boman Behram Marg on Tuesday alleged that traffic cops had adopted a vindictive approach to complaints of traffic mismanagement and double parking in the area, as the cars of two residents were towed away from outside their homes. Residents said the cars were towed away despite the fact that they are permitted to park their cars outside their buildings in a single lane.”The traffic cop who was present when the cars were being towed away said – You guys are very fond of tweeting and putting articles in newspapers. Now, look at us doing our job,” alleged Rocky Lobo, one of the two residents whose cars were towed.DNA had earlier reported that residents of Colaba had been complaining about double parking and other traffic violations in the area which were allegedly being ignored by traffic police.”The officer said that they were towing because we were complaining and there is a No-Parking banner put up by BMC. When I told him we complain about no action on double parking, he said now see our work,” said Lobo.Residents said since their buildings do not have parking spots, they are allowed to park on the road. A BMC banner put up on a building in the lane states that only cars of local residents are allowed to be parked. However, on Tuesday, a ‘No Parking’ banner was put up by BMC.”Despite my visiting card being on the dashboard that states my address, they towed away my car” said Lobo.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A group of citizens in Mumbai have joined a movement of switching off their mobile phone for half an hour every day for 30 days to protest the linking of Aadhaar. The mobile has to be switched off from 11 am onwards for 30 days. The protestors also ask citizens to mail their protest to the chief justice of India (CJI) and seek opting out of Aadhaar. A template has been provided for the same. “The reason why I am supporting this is because these days for everything they are asking for Aadhaar. Even for the credit cards they are asking and want it to be linked. It seems that government wants to do some kind of surveillance on citizens. They are implementing Aadhaar without any thought process. Why they are not linking it with voter identity card is not known. That should have been done because it affects democracy and elections,” said Bhaskar Prabhu, resident of Dadar. “I have supported the movement. Since I am already a petitioner in Supreme Court in Aadhaar case and my case is going one, I do not have to write a letter to the chief justice,” said Vikram Krishna, a resident of Bandra who is actively supporting the movement and also sending emails in his contact list for people to support the movement. “Very simply any system that imposes arbitrary number is flawed approach. It is a very poorly designed programme. The user has no control and if the biometrics are lost, there is nothing to fall back upon. Aadhaar was designed to give identification to those who did not have one so that they can get schemes. When most people made Aadhaar, they had at least some identification. The DoPT has said that there is no last date for linking mobile but not many people know,” added Krishna. The mail sent also mentions how an 11 year old beneficiary of a scheme lost his life becuase Aadhaar was not linked to the ration card.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After every short interval comes a time when RTI applicants get replies from public authorities that further delay information that they are entitled to get from authorities in a time bound manner.There are another such set of replies that have come to the fore that range from RTI applications not being responded for lack of postal stamps, application transferred from one desk to another but fails to reach the one that has information, application returned as applicant did not provide proper address, too much time taken to transfer application from one desk to another and raising issues of taxes that are not there in the RTI Act.An application was not responded to because the Mumbai police did not have the postal stamp required to reply. This, when the first option listed for information to be sent to an applicant was email and not by speed post.”In my case they returned the RTI application saying that the postal address of the Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation is not proper. I had addressed it to the public information officer of the department it was to be sent it to. Never has this happened when RTI application was sent to other authorities,” said Sanjay Shirodkar, resident of Pune who claimed that he is not associated with political party.”There are some others that I have encountered wherein they are putting exemption clauses without giving any reasons. They put an exemption clause and leave it at that. There is no explanation why that applies. Then they have taken over a month to forward an application when the law mandates that it should be done within five days. I blame the information commissioners for this because they need to take tough stand. Most of the times they are satisfied that information was given even if after a long time when the law stipulates that it should be provided in time bound manner,” said Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner.”Such replies only go on to show that the government does not work in the spirit and intent of the RTI Act. Nowhere it is written in the Act that for the first reply applicants are supposed to give postal stamps or its charges. Applicants are paying Rs 10 in advance for that. With respect to email, they need to follow the RTI Act because it said that even for record retention, these have to be scanned before being disposed off,” said Bhaskar Prabhu, an RTI activist.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On this day last year, demonetization hit the country and different sectors suffered immensely through the months that followed. This was mostly because customers were reluctant to spend on eating out and shopping. A year on, most establishments in the city said that business had limped back to normal, but it still needed corrections.DNA spoke to a number of malls, food chains as well as small budget restaurants in the city to analyse the impact demonetization has had on the industry. While bigger restaurants and food chains said that business did not suffer as expected because they support digital payments and also with the mega move taking place during “season time”, smaller players said that shortage of cash after the move has led to a drop of about 30 per cent in revenue.”Even though demonetization hit in November last year, it had limited impact on the industry since it was season time. Its full impact was seen between January and May, following which businesses saw a steep dip. Since May, however, it has been improving, and economy and business on a whole has been getting better. The effects of demonetization are now at the end of its cycle, though it will take at least another year for the industry to fully recover and function as before, ” said Zorawar Kalra, founder and managing director of Massive Restaurants, which runs chains like Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, Pa Pa Ya, KODE, Farzi Cafe and Masala Bar.Rajeev Matta, chief executive officer of SK Restaurants, which runs the The Yellow Chilli chain and Hong Kong restaurants, said, “Since most of our business ran on cashless transactions, we survived in that sense; it did not affect us much. But we did see a 10 per cent slip in the first month after demonetization was announced. That was the only panic period. It stabilised later and is as normal as ever. We also introduced other modes of electronic payments like PayTm and online wallets”.Adarsh Shetty, president of Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR), echoed Matta. He said while business was down in the initial few months, things were back to normal now. “After demonetization, the first to two three months were very bad. Business went down by 40-50 per cent. People found themselves short of money, and since ours is a business in which cash is used more, we were affected. Not everything can be paid by card and people new to it found it difficult. If the bill comes between Rs 40 and Rs 100, you cannot use a card to pay.”Smaller restaurants said they were still struggling to make profits as most transactions remain in cash. “In the initial few months , business was pretty much down as people had no cash to pay. While it slowly picked up, it was hit yet again by GST as customers are not spending much with the additional tax on food. On an average, our restaurant has seen a 30 per cent drop in the total footfall in the past one year ,” said Monish Visaria, manager at Radha Krishna Hotel , outside Borivali station.At Andheri’s Prasadam Hotel, manager Maruti Misal said the same thing. “The restaurant business was hit in the last one year. Smaller hotels like ours suffered more as people were insisting on paying by card even for small transactions. However, over the past few months, business has gained some pace as people are getting cash with ATMs and banks dispensing money,” he said.Sales at malls seems to have gained normalcy with a large number of customers switching from cash to electronic transactions. Mr Naviin Ibhrampurkar- Head of Marketing & Corporate Communication Inorbit Malls (India) Pvt Ltd. said “demonetization did see a severe drop in footfall and consumption initially, however shopping at malls returned to normalcy within 7-10 days . In this period, we saw a shift to electronic transactions. In comparison to last year, we have seen consumption grow and few categories have shown double digit figures this festive season.”Kamlesh Mishra , store manager at an apparel brand in Growells 101, Kandivali, said that the store did well during Diwali, with a large number of brands offering discounts. “Despite the additional GST component, stores saw good footfall as a large number of customers are comfortable with electronic payments. People are attracted to brand discounts and barring the first few months post demonetization, business seems to be near normal” added Mishra.On the other hand, several retailers said that business continued to be down for them over the last one year after demonetization. Nariman Balsara, store manager of Asiatic, a well known departmental store near Churchgate said, “The situation is not the same. The sales have reduced and it is still not at the level it used be at one time. If daily sales were around Rs 4 lakh before demonetization, now it is somewhere close to Rs 3 to 3.5 lakhs.”Runish Chheda, manager of Satyam Collections, a décor store, said that business continued to be down by 20 per cent. “It has not reached status-quo yet. It has gradually improved from the 50 per cent fall we had seen back then.”Chheda’s store, which already has an electronic payment facility, did not add more electronic payments due to security issues nor did they give away extraordinary discounts to entice customers. “We have both bulk and corporate buyers and retail ones. The drop has been more in retail ones. We do not have discounts like others because it devalues our products,” said Chheda.Viren Shah of Mumbai’s Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association said that over the past year, business has been down for retailers. GST has added to the woes. “Business went down by around 80 per cent. It stabilised a bit in between but GST was yet another setback as people initially did not know how the taxation system works. Both developments coupled with the already increasing boom in the online retail sector has affected us. Even a year later, business remains down by about 25 per cent” added Shah.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than 40 occupants of Akbar House on Tullock Road in Colaba have been served an eviction notice by the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT). While the notice is dated September 27, 2017, the occupants claim they received it only on November 1.The notice, served by the board of trustees of MbPT to the original lessees — one Padamsee family — and 48 others, mentions various violations like unauthorised construction, unauthorised change, assigning of the entire premises to another party (which is the new landlord with two others), and unauthorised subletting on the ground and first floor.”We have been tenants and occupants here since the 1940s, we are not new here,” said Abdul Salam, owner of the New Appollo Restaurant which runs from the building’s ground floor.The occupants claim that it’s only when a notice was served in 2015 that they learnt the place is a property of MbPT. The 7,366.82 sq ft plot of land on which Akbar House stands was given on lease by MbPT for 37 years. The lease which began in 1949 expired in October 1986.”I think the landlord gave the property to someone else. We have been paying rent to that person since then though the name on the rent receipt is that of Akbar House,” said Ravi Sharma, owner of Sheetal Medical in the same premises. “Back then we collectively paid Rs 60 lakh to the landlord which was being collected for BMC and other taxes but not for MbPT. Since we have just received the notice, we will ask them for more time,” added Sharma.Zohar Fakhruddin Sham, the new landlord, was not available for comment. DNA could not reach the Padamsee family who are the original lessees according to MbPT’s records. There was no response from the MbPT authorities.LEASE ISSUESThe 7,366.82 sq ft plot of land on which Akbar House stands was given on lease by MbPT.
The lease which began in 1949 expired in October 1986.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A difference of opinion — with a trace of lack of trust — broke out between Parsi high priests, with one saying that a neutral person from the community should come forward to explain the Metro 3 alignment issue. The Parsi community that gets bitterly divided in in the community’s religious matters, saw another such case rise up on Wednesday, after a letter written by two high priests to the prime minister and chief minister on the Metro 3 route, surfaced.Dastur Dr Firoze M Kotwal and Dastur Dr Kaikhusroo Jamasp Asa wrote a letter on October 21, 2017 asking that Metro 3 route alignment be reconsidered. Metro 3 is from Colaba to Bandra to Seepz, which passes by two fire temples and a well.Some community members have apprehensions that the route passes beneath the sanctum sanctorum of the fire temples — H B Wadia Atash Behram on Shamaldas Gandhi Marg (Princess Street ) and Anjuman Atash Behram on Jagannath Sunjersett Road near Marine Lines station and will spoil water table of Bhikhaji Behram well. They even had signature campaigns.”Consecration of an Atash Behram Padsaha (Spiritual King) is an elaborate and complex process, which takes over a year of teams of high-skilled priests to consecrate and enthrone the sacred fire. Today, we do not possess the capability or the ritual skills to consecrate such sacred Fires…Further, during the process of consecration and enthronement, the holy fire is linked spiritually, to the earth below it, from which it draws sustenance:” reads an excerpt of the letter.However, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) in a press statement said, “Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor of Udwada, a member of the National Commission for Minorities visited the site office of MMRCL on Saturday at 3 pm along with Mr Manek Daver… was fully satisfied that tunnel alignment does not come in the way of well of sanctum sanctorum.”Khurshed while talking to DNA said, “I invited Kotwal to come along, but he refused. I explained everything to him and he is(SAID HE WAS) satisfied. In case of Wadi there is buffer of 15 feet from the Sanctum, while in the case of Anjuman, the route is just about to the steps. Some people in the community are forming pressure groups and asked him to write the letter.”Kotwal said he could not go due to frail health and added, “After discussions, we can reach an amicable solution, but it is better if the two Atash Behram are left untouched. There are a lot of groups in the community. A neutral person should take a look at the issue as I am not a specialist.””From what I have seen, the route does not pass beneath the Anjuman Atash Behram. In case of Wadia Atash Behram I am not sure, and the trust is conducting its own survey and the findings should be awaited,” said Maneck Davar, member of the community.”If the route is not beneath the sanctum sanctorum, then I don’t think there is a problem,” said Dr Viraf Kapadia, another member of the community, adding, “There should have been unity among high priests in this issue.”Some like Yazdi Desai, BPP chairperson who had approached Kotwal to write a letter said, “We are still against the route because our learned High Priests have opined that an Atash Behram includes the whole edifice in which the consecrated divine fire is housed and the Holy Fire is linked spiritually to the earth below it from which it draws sustenance. Further, the tunneling process could affect the water tables adversely resulting in the Atash Behram wells going dry in which case no high rituals of the Zoroastrian faith can be performed.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mantralaya, the Mumbai Police headquarters at Crawford Market, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel at Colaba and Vivanta by Taj-President at Cuffe Parade are among the bulk generators of wet waste in south Mumbai that are likely to be served notices by BMC on the issue of recycling wet waste at source, said sources from the civic body.Of the 209 bulk generators in A ward, only 22 have sought an extension. These are a mix of hotels, societies and government bodies. Not writing to seek an extension, say BMC officials, reflects lack of concern by the waste generators.”Among the several who have not written to seek an extension are also some government bodies like Mantralaya and police headquarters, among others. Maybe the Public Works Department will have to write to us. The Income Tax department and the GPO have sought some time in writing and are looking to put up a plant in place,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of A-ward.Dighavkar said the response from several restaurants in the area has been disappointing as well. “We were expecting a better response from them however they too have not written to us. We have been told to be stern with bodies and societies who do not seek an extension. In a day or two, we will be sending notices to all of them,” added Dighavakar.When contacted, there was no comment from Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Vivanta by Taj-President, Mumbai Police or state chief secretary.WASTE MATTERBulk generators in A ward generate over 160 tonnes of wet waste daily of the total 380 tonnes generated by the ward. Mantralaya generates 1.5 tonnes of wet waste while police headquarters generates nearly one tonne.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Boosted by a letter from MHADA saying BMC had acted against the principles of law, upset Kalina residents said they would approach the state government to complain that authorities are not fulfilling their duty in shutting down a transit accommodation that has outlived its purpose.The residents have demanded that a transit accommodation in Kalina to be demolished because it is on a plot that is reserved as open space. On May 22, DNA had reported that residents had served a legal notice on MHADA over the delay in giving them the land. MHADA had allotted the land measuring over 21,000 sq ft to a society.In a letter dated October 23, MHADA has told Voice of Kalina, an ALM which has taken up the issue, that it has sealed 28 of 30 tenements based on their complaint.MHADA added that it is now up to the BMC to move against the transit accommodation.”In the present case, it is the planning authority which itself has acted in breach of the principles of law. We hence direct the state government to consider this aspect of the matter as part of its overall control,” the letter said.”This is like one authority pushing things on the other. We have been complaining to the BMC also about it but there was no action. MHADA cannot just shirk responsibility because, at the end of the day, it is their land. They should have also marked the letter to BMC besides sending it to housing department,” said Clarence Pinto, member of Voice of Kalina.THE LETTERIn a letter, MHADA has told Voice of Kalina, an ALM which has taken up the issue, that it has sealed 28 of 30 tenements based on their complaint. MHADA added that it is now up to the BMC to move against the transit accommodation.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This is the first time Hussain Sadikot, member of the Shia community, will be taking part in the Arba’een walk. “I have booked my tickets, hopefully I will be able to make it,” said Sadikot who works as a property manager and lives in Kandivli.While going for Haj is one of the most common things known about Muslims, the Arba’een walk, which is considered similar to a Haj for Shias will be starting from October-end this year. The walk marks the end of the 40-day mourning period of Imam Hussain, who was martyred in the battle of Karbala. Devouts start the walk from the 30th day, that marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, and ends on the 40th day or so.The Arba’een walk is held between Najaf and Karbala, which is a 90 km distance. Karbala is the place where Imam Hussain, along with his 72 companions, including his six-month-old son, was martyred by the army of then Ummayad king, Yazid in 680. Arba’een marks the 40th day of the mourning of Imam Hussain.The martyrdom of Imam Hussain is considered one of the darkest chapters in the history of Islam. “There are walks held in several places, even Mumbai. But now, a lot of people have started going to Karbala for it,” said Kausar Zaidi, former president of Anjuman Imamia, a 135-year-old organisation that arranges Mohurrum juloos stalls that provide water and food during this time.”The walk is of sentimental value to us. Imam Hussain died to save our religion. So we want to undertake this walk in his memory,” said Sadikot, who is planning to go with his wife and looks to take his children from next year onwards. This year, he is also planning to reach there early, so that he can visit the grave of Imam Hussain when there is less crowd.”At Najaf, we first pay our salaam to Hazrat Ali, who is Imam Hussain’s father. We then undertake the two-day walk that ends at Karbala that has Imam Hussain’s tomb,” said Afzal Hussain Badami, resident of Dongri and an advocate who has been for several walks and will be going with his family.”It is a 90-km walk that we try to cover in two to two and a half days. During this period, we also try to help whoever is around. I have given people massages, and also served tea and water,” said Badami, who looks to serve in the memory of Imam Hussain.The walkThe Arba’een walk is held between Najaf and Karbala, where Imam Hussain, and his 72 companions, including his six-month-old son, was martyred by the army of then Ummayad king, Yazid in 680. Arba’een marks the 40th day of mourning of Imam Hussain
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two public information officers (PIO) have been slapped with a notice asking why they should not be penalised for not providing information on action taken on a motor garage that functioned outside a school premises and created problems for its students. The school, and an ex-student had complained about the illegal encroachment of the passage to the school but there was little action.Nava Samaj Mandal, which runs a school, and several other educational activities from its campus on Dixit Cross Road No. 1, Vile Parle (east) had filed a complaint of a motor garage that encroached the passage to the school.Along with it, it had also given signatures of the student. The complaint was filed with the municipal commissioner’s office after the garage owner did not stop parking vehicles and repairing despite assuring about the same.“They had filed a complaint and not enough action was taken. With spare parts, and oil on the road, access had become slippery and students had to navigate their way. When I went to the school, they informed me that road becomes slippery and dirty because of the spilled oil. I decided to file another complaint and follow up the action through an RTI application to know the action taken,” said Chetan Kothari, a former student of the school.Chetan in his application had sought details of action taken report, copy of notice issued and action taken on motor garage owner, details where the complaints were sent to take action, and officer who conducted the enquiry.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Don’t be surprised if the next time you file an application under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, GST is levied on the fees to be paid for receiving the information. A Pune-resident, who filed an RTI application with the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) recently, was told this by the Public Information Officer (PIO).Sanjay Shirodkar was asked to pay Rs 14 to receive six pages of information. As per the rules of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, an authority can charge Rs 2 per A4 sheet. For six pages, Shirodkar paid Rs 12, plus Rs 1 at 9% of SGST and Rs 1 at 9% for CGST.However, State Information Commissioner (Konkan bench) Thanksy Thekkekara says GST does not apply to RTI. “As far as I am aware, there is no GST on RTI,” he said.On September 26, Shirodkar had sought true copies of publications printed and published by the MSRTC, list of sundry debtors and creditors for last 10 years, a list of bad debts along with name of the party/ entity and reason for bad debts, copy of the list of write-offs for last 10 years, along with name of party, and CAG audit report.”I have been seeking information through RTI for 12 years and have used the Act more than 5,000 times in my career,” said Shirodkar. “This is the first time I have received such a unique and hilarious reply. Where is the copy of notification stating this provision? Where is the copy of amendment in RTI? Where is the copy mentioning RTI information in the GST list? And what is the logic of 18%? Why not 28% or 12% or 6%?.” Bhaskar Pabhu, who runs Mahiti Adhikar Manch that propagates RTI, said, “Information sought under RTI is neither goods nor service; it is entitlement. It is totally wrong to charge GST when there is no clarification from government. The government has not harmonised any rate of interest for RTI. Even food grains do not have GST. It is laughable.”Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner, said, “I feel GST should not be levied to RTI, but I concede to have not studied the GST law. To make a fare comment, one must understand GST. When you make laws, words do not necessarily convey what you had in mind. Prima facie, GST should be charged over a turnover of a certain amount.”Pay for infoAs per RTI rules, Rs 2 is to be charged per A4 sheet needed to give info. For 6 pages, Sanjay Shirodkar was charged Rs 12, plus Rs 1 at 9% SGST & Rs 1 at 9% CGST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Mackichan Hostel, that belongs to Wilson College, has repeatedly inconvenienced the residents of Babulnath and with the wedding season around the corner, the residents are bracing for the problems to resurface considering the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to their issues.The latest in their complaints is the fencing done by the hostel that residents say encroaches public property.Besides, the recent fencing, every wedding season, the hostel hosts several weddings in its community hall which residents say not only disturb them but also create noise pollution at night.”We have complained to the authorities but to no avail. They stop the music for some time but start again,” said Amita Jhaveri, a resident of Suresh Mansion in Babulnath. “They play music late into the night. With two educational institutes and the place itself being a hostel for students, this should not be happening. Due to the wedding ceremonies, numerous cars park outside their gates which makes it difficult for us,” added Jhaveri.Residents say that the fencing has only added to their traffic woes. “It takes up more space on the road. We complained to the BMC but all they say is that they will look into it. They should clarify whether it is legal or not. Even if they are allowed, they cannot cement a water hydrant and BEST station. They have put a lock there,” said Jhaveri.An official from Wilson College claimed that the fencing is done on part of the property owned by the college, but did not mention anything about the cemented water hydrant (see inset).While another official claimed that the contract for weddings stands cancelled.Wilson Education Society, which looks after the hostel, and D Kshirsagar, assistant municipal commissioner of the ward, did not comment.Resident woesThe Mackichan Hostel hosts several weddings every season.Residents claim the wedding ceremonies lead to noise pollution at night and add to the area’s traffic problems.Complaints have been made but in vain.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state information commission (SIC) in three different orders, has asked the the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to put up details of road repair and other development works online once they are complete.The three orders dated September 27, 2017 were passed by Ajit Kumar Jain, who holds additional charge as the state’s chief information commissioner, on an appeal filed by Shirkant Raut, a resident of Jacob Circle.Raut had sought details of the repair work carried out by different agencies in T- ward (Mulund) among others. He had asked about the projects carried out by M/s Relcon Infrastructures Company Limited, M/s M E Infraprojects Pvt Ltd, M/s Sunrise Stone Industries Pvt Ltd.“I had filed an RTI applications for information on work done, materials used, bills raised, amount sanctioned, the work pending and so on because every year BMC allots thousands of crores for road repairs but the road condition remains poor. They show bills worth Rs 100 crore but work done is for Rs 50 crore. We have a network of people and we wanted to check if money is spent in the different areas of city where they claim to spend it.”During the hearing, Raut said that officers weren’t provide the information. The commission then ordered that the first appellate authority make sure that the applicant gets information he wants.Observing that citizensseek information about development works which could be too lengthy to be given to the applicant, it directed that works carried out by the BMC be put up online once within a month’s time after completion, and a compliance report be sent to the commission.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the allegations of brazen flouting of state information commission orders keep coming, there now exist some evidence of the lack of its implementation. A reply to an applicant shows that only in 10 per cent of total cases was the fine recovered from the public information officers (PIOs) at the Konkan bench of the state information commission.Kailash Avhad, an RTI applicant had filed an application to know the total fines that were recovered from PIOs, and those who were exempted since the Konkan bench information commissioner, Thanksy Thekkekara took over.”Once a PIO was fined when he dealt with my RTI application. When I filed another RTI, he was still delaying. I then wanted to know if the fines were actually taken from them or not. This led me to file an RTI application to know how many times fine was recovered or exempted,” said Avhad.Of the data provided by the commission, only in 26 out of 263 cases, the PIOs were fined. This information is from 2014 onwards when Thekekkara took the charge.When contacted, Thanksy Thekkekara, information commissioner of the Konkan Bench said, “The responsibility for recovery of penalty is with the state government and its machinery. The commission does not do follow-up administratively of every order. But it gives a report to the legislature every year in which the status of penalty orders issued are indicated and the state government is advised to ensure the recovery.”Data saysOf the data provided by the commission, only in 26 out of 263 cases, the PIOs were fined. This information is from 2014 onwards when Thanksy Thekekkara took the charge
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>I was among the many who narrowly escaped the clutches of the tragedy that left 22 dead and over 20 injured on Friday. I normally reach Elphinstone Road station a little earlier than when I did on Friday. I was a bit late, and took the compartment that arrives closer to the foot-over-bridge that connects Elphinstone Road and Parel stations.In hindsight, had I not been delayed, I would have been further up on the FOB and could have met a worse fate.At around 10.15 am, when I alighted, the bridge was packed with commuters, with little forward movement. Since it was raining and many did not carry an umbrella, it seemed that people were not getting off the stairs.But as more people started alighting from incoming trains, the crowd got restless and wanted to get out of the station. Around this time, I started to climb the Kandivli-end of the FOB that connects the two stations. Rumours of a short circuit made the situation more chaotic.I do not remember where exactly on the bridge I fell and injured my hands. Another lady, who fell beside me, scratched me on her way down. After realizing that the crowd at the top of the flight of stairs was simply not moving, I got down the stairs, and instead took the foot-over-bridge that meets the road-over-bridge.It was only when I got off the road-over-bridge near the subway below the ticket counter, that I realised the gravity of the situation – I saw two men and two women being carried away. I have never seen so many dead bodies being carried away before my eyes. There was an ambulance and policemen.Since my hands and body were hurting after reaching office, my colleagues took me to hospital where my family had come to take me home. Luckily, no major injury was found after all the tests were conducted.I probably escaped the clutches of death only because I was a bit late today.(—As told to Ashutosh M Shukla)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the Jaipuriars, the nine-day Navratri festival is all about Mother goddess Durga absorbing their negativity and filling their lives with positivity. The Bihar family that has been living in Navi Mumbai since 1994 has been celebrating Navratri with fervour.”My mother has been doing it for more than 50 years,” says Nawanit Jaipuriar, a 51-year-old chartered accountant, who lives with his mother, wife and two children.”She would bring Kalash at home and continues to read Durga Saptshati, which is about Goddess Durga defeating the demon Mahisashura,” said Nawanit.The family begins the celebration from Mahalaya, which starts after the period in which departed souls are remembered. A metal pot filled with water is kept over a basket and is filled with soil, sand and barley.”Over that, we place rice in a cup. While the metal pot is symbolic of a mother, the coconut is of her husband Lord Shiva. Mother always takes away all our negativity and blesses us with positive ones,” said Rashmi, Nawanit’s wife.Each day, water is sprinkled on the mud and barley for nine days after which a havan (holy fire) concludes the prayer ritual.”We do a puja every day in the morning and evening,” says Nawanit. There is also a tradition of placing clothes, which have changed with the times. “Earlier clothes to be worn on Dashami day would to be placed before the Kalash but now only towels are kept. These are then given to family members,” says Nawanit.While primarily, Goddess Durga and her nine incarnations are worshipped, on the last day, even Lord Ram is remembered.”Vijay Dashami is also celebrated as Dusshera and marks the beginning of the homecoming of Lord Ram after he killed Ravan. Both are victories of good over evil,” says Rashmi.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Come September and for Mumbai-based Kamath family, it is that time of the year that they look forward to the most. The Navdurga (nine forms of Goddess Durga), which the family members fervently worship, has not just been a saviour for the family but has also blessed their friends and relatives abundantly.The Kamaths, who now live in Dahisar, arrived in the city in 1953. Unlike other members of the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) community, the family never observed Navratri but it was the year 1953 that changed a number of things for them.”It was during Navratri that my grandmother’s family moved to the city. Back then, it was a huge family of at least 14-16 people. Since they all managed to reach safely from Mangalore, she decided to start celebrating the festival and thank Navdurga for her guidance and blessing,” said Suparna Kamath, daughter-in-law of the household. “I, too, come from a GSB family. However, in my house, we never performed such Pujas during Navratri. I only witnessed this when I came here,” added Suparna, who is a homemaker in the family of six.Since then, the Kamaths also revel in the joy that a few wishes of their friends have also been fulfilled.”A friend of mine could not conceive for a long time. It was on a visit to our place when they prayed to Navdurga for her blessing. The couple were soon blessed with a child,” claimed Sameer Kamath, Suparna’s husband, who runs a printing business.The Kamaths switched from a photograph to an idol in the year 1973 when they decided to celebrate the festival elaborately. “My father got an idol of the goddess. Since then we have been using the same one,” said Kamath. As part of their sacrifice, the family abstains from rice during the nine days and also perform their prayers without a priest.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s ironic that every few years, in a state that prides itself on implementing the transparency act before the central Right to Information (RTI) Act came into existence, it faces imminent death due to neglect. Incidentally, a month before its 13th anniversary, the state information commission has its highest-ever pendency.At last count in August 2017, around 41,682 (39,184 second appeals and 2,498 complaints) were pending, almost double from over five years ago when 23,921 was considered to be the lowest in years as there were only four commissioners. In contrast, there are seven commissioners.However, except for the Brihanmumbai bench, all benches have pending second appeals that are more than 1,000 with the Nashik bench having a maximum pending appeals at over 10,000 as on August 2017. The Brihanmumbai bench, which has the lowest, had 626 second appeals pending in August 2017. Three benches that have new appointments since January have almost the same pending appeals as they were before they joined. These are Nashik, Nagpur and Amravati. There has been no drastic change in the number of pending second appeals, considering that it has been over six months. At the three places, the pending remains more or less the same. At Nashik, it continues to be over 10,000 while at Nagpur and Amravati it is over 1,000 and 6,500 respectively.At the headquarter bench, which fell vacant barely three months ago, the pending appeals have already reached over 1,800. Complaints, which are also filed because commission orders are not implemented, appointing of commissioners, and the quality of commissioners, has always been blamed as the prime reason for “killing of the RTI Act by government” by RTI activist.In May, the outgoing chief commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad and former central information commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi had written to the government to appoint commissioners. Gandhi went on to state that some RTI activist be appointed and even suggested some names.”Government needs to appoint commissioners. When they are appointing, there should be an advertisement and minimum clearance of appeals and complaints need to be set that should be followed by all commissioners. The government should also consider appointing legal officers and increasing staff that is often on deputation and leaves. It should be accountable for delays that happen. The working pattern is not good in the commission,” said Bhaskaar Prabhu, an RTI activist.AWAITING ATTENTIONNashik with 1,000 has the maximum number of pending second appeals. The Brihanmumbai bench has the lowest number of pending second appeals at 626.PENDING APPEALSPending second appeals as of August 2017:Headquarter: 1,872Brihanmumbai: 626Konkan: 4,026Pune: 7,766Aurangabad: 6,507Nashik: 10,141Nagpur: 1,197
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It has been six months since the State Information Commission (SIC) first slapped a showcause notice asking reasons why the pubic information officer (PIO) should not be fined. The commission asked for appropriate action to be taken but nothing has been done yet.Failing to procure information and a report on the action taken, Sunil Shiriskar, an RTI applicant, filed a complaint on August 16 and also filed an RTI application on August 28.As part of an exercise to audit the money spent by corporators, Shirishkar had filed an RTI application seeking details of the funds they get and the ways in which they are utilised by them.The PIO did not provide information on the application filed in October 2016. When information was not provided even after the first appellate authority order, Shiriskar filed a second appeal.In the February order of the second appeal hearing, the commission came down heavily stating that the PIO did not even attend the hearing. However, there was no action even on that.”I wanted to know what eventually happened. It was surprising that the PIO was not fined to begin with. It was even more surprising that there was no departmental action taken either, despite him not attending the hearings or showcause notices. I have filed complaints and also RTI applications, to know the details about the action taken now,” said Shiriskar.NO RESPONSEAs part of an exercise to audit the money spent by corporators, Sunil Shiriskar had filed an RTI application seeking details of the funds they receive and the ways in which they are utilised.
The Public Information Officer did not provide any information on the application filed in Oct 2016
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The eight-feet tall Ganpati idol at the Raipada Mitra Mandal in Malad has kept up with the eco-friendly celebrations in the city this year by creating the idol with rope. “This year too we decided to use ropes to make the Ganpati idol,” said Sandeep Birvatkar, president of Raipada Mitra Mandal. In the 30 years of the mandal’s Ganpati celebrations, it has gone the eco-friendly way in the last eight years. In the last two years the mandal has been making eco-friendly Ganpatis of bamboo and paper cups.“A 1,000-metre long rope was used along with grass, wooden frames and cotton cloth pieces to support the idol. It took nearly a month to make the idol,” said Siddhant Naik, the artist who made the idol. Naik who is an alumnus of JJ School of Arts made only one Sarvajanik (public) Ganpati this year. “Such idols take time and devotion to be made. We could not make more because of time constraints,” he said.“The idea is to ensure that the idols are biodegradable and dissolve fast,” said Naik. The mandal spent around Rs 55,000 for the idol. A similar idol in plaster of Paris would have cost up to Rs 30,000. Besides promoting eco concerns, the mandal is also creating social awareness related to pregnancy. “There have been a lot of news reports lately about pregnancy and the problems around it. We decided to make people aware about the precautions to be taken before and after delivery,” said Birvatkar.After 10 days, the idol is immersed in an artificial pond. “We would rather dissemble and give away the rope, but the older generation is against it. Hopefully in the future we will be able to convince them about it,” said Birvatkar.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thursday turned out to be a dark day for 31-year old Sagir Ahmed who he lost his two brothers and a nephew in the Hussaini building collapse.Ahmed, from Bharaich in Uttar Pradesh had come to city five years ago. He worked in a catering shop, situated on the ground floor of Hussaini Building and also used to have a business of dates and fruits.Ahmed, who was sleeping outside the building survived because when the building started trembling before it collapsed, a part of the roof covered him.”They pulled me out soon after the collapse. I suffered minor injuries but my two brothers and nephew did not make it,” said Ahmed.Ahmed, who is yet to get the body of his brothers and 18-year-old nephew Qayuum, said,”My parents and brothers’ wives are distraught. My brother Ahmed (29) has two children – the first is over a year old and second is barely six months old. Naseer (24) was just married.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the last 57 years the Shahs have been bringing home eco-friendly Ganpatis. And this year the family decided to take it a notch higher and greener by serving their Ganesha delicacies on eco-friendly thalis. Continuing their tradition, this Panvel-based family created an autumn forest theme to spread awareness about protecting the environment.The materials used for decoration were bamboo, jute and wood. “For the roof we created bamboo stick grills. To enhance the monotonous backdrop we created a wooden frame and decorated it with colourful bottles,” shared Richa, one of the family members. “The bottles on the deck are embellished with jute fabric, jute cords, cotton fabric, cotton laces and wooden beads. The walls on the side are made of tree branches. The idol was made to sit on sea sand, which has been used to give the absolute earth effect. The main idol was placed on a tree trunk. The aarti thalis were made using above mentioned materials to keep them within theme.The diya was made from wheat flour, she added.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naypadmasagar Maharajsaheb, who has often courted controversy for his views, is an influential name in the Jain community. Founder of Jain International Organisation, which aims to connect the trading community globally for easy business opportunities, he initiated popular schemes including medical insurance, mobile schemes, coaching classes for UPSC exams, and arbitration centres among others.What threw him in the political limelight is the motto “one community, one voice” before elections.He is believed to be close to the BJP. He has unabashedly sought tickets from political parties for Jains. On this, he is said to have had a fallout with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray before a BMC election.Like Mira Bhayander, he sided with BJP in the BMC elections this year. In a letter that he released to the Jains before polls in Mumbai, he asked them to align themselves with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis because Fadnavis had agreed to the seven key points that were discussed, including modernisation of around 1,500 municipal schools and all municipal hospitals.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Women’s rights activists welcomed the historic Supreme Court judgement on triple talaq, but said the onus was now on legislators to follow through with effective legislation on the issue.Reacting to the apex court order, Noorjehan Safia Niaz, convenor of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and one of the petitioners in the Triple Talaq case, said, “What we have understood from the initial reports that have come is that three out of five judges have declared triple talaq as unconstitutional. This is what we were expecting. Now the ball is in the Parliament’s court. We have always wanted codification of law. It is a wonderful judgement.”Zakia Soman, co-founder of Bharat Muslim Mahila Andolan and a petitioner said, “It is a welcome judgement. We wanted justice from the court, and they have given us that in banning triple talaq and calling for legislation. The legislation has to be based on the Quranic injunction and comply with the constitutional principles. This is perfectly possible. We are confident it will uphold gender justice. No one believed triple talaq would be banned. But today it has become history.”Director of women’s rights organisation, Majlis, Flavia Agnes said the issue was always one that would have to be ultimately dealt with by the legislature. “Everybody said pass a law, but media created a hype. Everybody seemed to be taking everybody to court, when it is the legislature’s domain. The issue cannot be one of community women against the community. It needs to be discussed with people from the Board and all people affected. This should be a community-based reform. Right now there is legislative vacuum because triple talaq is not legally valid, but women have been divorced,” Agnes said.Mumtaz Shaikh, convenor of ‘Right to Pee’ and member of Committee of Resource Organisation, which works for women empowerment and grass root leadership, said, “The Supreme Court judgement should be welcomed by all. Women have got justice. Now it has to be seen how they react to this. Law should be there in such a case but all people should be consulted before making a law and not just those who feel triple talaq is right and as per Quran. But the law should not remain limited to this subject. There are other issues too that concern women, such as education, access to basic amenities, and polygamy. They too should be looked into.”(With inputs from agencies)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court’s judgement on triple talaq drew mixed reactions in Mumbai’s Muslim-dominated areas.While some welcomed the verdict saying men should take responsibility of wives and cannot get rid of them by uttering talaq three times, others said personal law should not have been touched by the court.As people went about their business as usual in these areas, there was no palpable excitement or buzz following the order. A few shopkeepers could be heard discussing the judgement. Some residents said the actual mood would emerge only after people returned from work.“Even Allah is upset and angry with the way triple talaq is done. Both men and women should be able to reflect on their mistakes and carry out certain formalities before reaching a divorce. This order should hopefully make people more aware,” said Mohammed Usman, a senior citizen and resident of Mohammed Ali Road.Some said that law should have punishment and be formed after taking everyone on board. “The way they divorce is wrong; there should be some law to punish those who practise it that way,” said Mohammed Afzal, a resident of Masjid Bunder.The Maulana of Sunni Badi Masjid at Madanpura has decided to inform the members of the community about the verdict and ask them to respect the verdict.Maulana Tauseef Raza, said, “We respect the SC order and will preach about it during Namaz, so our community members understand that triple talaq is bad. Such acts are committed those who do not have knowledge of Islam.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A video that is being widely shared in the Dawoodi Bohra community in the city has brought to light issues that the members feel have resonated with them for a while but haven’t been raised like they were by their fellow members in UK.In the first week of August, Dawoodi Bohras in UK protested against their community leadership holding placards that read “No to social boycott” and “We want Democracy” among others.”It is something that is not possible here,” said a community member who did not wish to be named. “In India, this kind of protest is still not possible. There will be social boycott, ” he added.The members said that social boycott is one of the prominent issues of the community. “No one can say anything because they fear boycott. When the earlier Syedna was there, things were not so bad. With the present one, things have become more coercive,” said another member.He added, “Education is still encouraged but now there is a certain type of education. Women are said to do home science, they are making it mandatory to attend mosque and track attendance through e-jamaat cards, asking people to shut shop during Mohurrum, and Khafz. Why should we be forced to do anything?”The members added that there have to be “reforms”. “People in the mid-level agree but they too cannot do anything beyond a point. Since saying anything can lead to even not getting burial space, we just listen. The problem is that there are some who are blind followers,” he added.When DNA contacted Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin’s office, excerpts from a reply from the PR department quoting a “senior community member” read: “We were disheartened to see the protests in Birmingham. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin (TUS) had visited the city at the request of the local congregation and we think the picketing by dissenters was designed to raise controversy around Syedna’s visit.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The defence department has come out with a public notice warning lessees not to enter into illegal transactions that involve the use of defence land. The notice comes after a member of the Anglican Church had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a heritage property at Hazarimal Somani Marg near Sterling Cinema in south Mumbai which is on defence land.The public notice that appeared on Friday in a national daily warns against any such ventures. Signed by defence estate officer Prasad Chavan, it reads: “In Mumbai and its suburban areas, at a number of places, defence land is given on lease for different periods and purposes. As per the terms and conditions of the lease agreement, the lessee cannot create any third party interest or sublet the lease site or use it for the purpose other than mentioned in the lease agreement. This public notice is issued to advise lessee not to violate the terms and conditions of the lease and the third parties to be aware of consequences.”DNA in June had reported that member of Anglican Church had entered into an MOU claiming to represent the body that looks after church properties and put out a public notice about it.Chavan had earlier stated that some tangible action will be taken on what it had called “prima facie illegal” transaction of its land by members of the Anglican Church community.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state government has filed a writ petition challenging the order by the state information commission (SIC) which stated that a committee including citizens be formed to help the government in suo motu disclosure of details under the Right To Information (RTI).Former state chief information commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad had passed an order asking for an institutional mechanism to be put in place including citizens so that there is better implementation of disclosure of information by the government. Given on July 31, 2015, it directed the then chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya who had told DNA that the order will be complied with.The commission order had said that a technical advisory committee (TAC) be formed on the lines of BMC, which helps the latter better disclose information. The order was passed after a complaint was filed by Bhaskar Prabhu, a member of the BMC’s TAC seeking measures wherein corrective inputs for better implementation of RTI Act can be given.When the SIC order was not implemented, SK Nangia, an RTI activist filed an application to check on it. In its reply dated July 17, the government said that the SIC order has been challenged in the high court.”They have challenged that directive which is a stupid move. This does not speak well of the government because it was a positive directive. The idea of the approach was to have people’s participation in government with the spirit to improve the suo motu disclosure and compliance of RTI applications. Government officers do not give proper and full information. With the implementation of this order we were looking to have a regular dialogue with government,” said Nangia.Prabhu said, “By challenging the order, the government has shown that it is not interested in transparency. Even Department of Personnel and Training, the nodal agency for India in RTI implementation, has issued an advisory that there will be dialogue with citizens. Maharashtra was the first state to enact its own transparency law. However, this move does not aid in ensuring transparency.”Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis did not respond to SMS from DNA.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state information commission has directed the commissioner of police to set up a committee that can better look after section 4 (suo motu disclosure), form guidelines, besides asking it to have links that provide information up to the level of police station.The directives were given after an RTI application sought to know details of the suo motu disclosure, the updates, people responsible for updating information as mandated under RTI Act, officers responsible, those who did not perform their responsibility, action taken against them and the citizens charter in both English and Marathi in various police stations.The RTI application was filed by Dadar resident Mahendra Dharod. “I filed the application because the information provided on the website was not adequate. I wanted to check compliance of section 4. The existing information was old, the previous police commissioner’s name continued to be on the website. After filing RTI, the information provided was not adequate and hence I filed a second appeal,” said Dharod, who in his second appeal stated that the public information officer tried to misguide him.He stated that the State Legal Services Authority released a book that provides information in simple language on how to go about approaching the police for penal action.The order was passed by state information commissioner, Ajit Kumar Jain. During the hearing, the commission observed that while there is no doubt that section 4 of the RTI Act has been implemented, there is scope to improvise on the content. It directed the police commissioner to form a committee headed by whoever it feels fit, such that it will also have additional commissioner of police, deputy commissioner of police, assistant commissioner of police among other officers so that they can formulate a guideline on suo motu disclosure and have such details that people find easy.It also stated that links be provided from police commissioner level to police station level. It also stated that the committee can have people from the public who can help in telling police the information that they can provide suo motu.The compliance of the order is to be done by July 31 and all information about the same has to be put up on the website by August 31. “I’m hopeful that the police will also include citizen charter,” said Dharod.Datta Padsalgikar, commissioner of police, Mumbai did not respond to SMS from DNA.CHANGES SUGGESTEDThe commission directed the police commissioner to form a committee
It asked for links to be provided from police commissioner level to police station level
The committee can have people from the public
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>You may now be able to access the Advocate General’s (A-G) opinion given to the government on matters of public interest such as reservation, dance bar, metro fare hike, and dahi handi under the Right to Information Act (RTI).The Maharashtra State Information commission (SIC) has set aside a blanket ban of the state government to not provide information about the A-G’s opinion to applicants. The State had cited a Bombay High Court (HC) order to deny such information under RTI. Though not binding on other SICs or Central Information Commission (CIC), orders of any SIC are often used as case studies to argue for a judgment in one’s favour.In an order dated July 11, 2017, Ajit Kumar Jain, state information commissioner (Brihanmumbai Bench) asked the government to provide one such opinion that was given to the government. The opinion was on a minister’s office coming under RTI. State government had sought the A-G’s opinion on it after the former chief commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad, had passed an order last year that a minister’s office comes under RTI.Opinions of lawyers or A-Gs are also denied by public authorities, citing section 8 (1) (e) of the act that pertains to fiduciary relationship. “I remember a decision I had given when a university refused to give a lawyer’s opinion saying it was in fiduciary capacity,” said Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner. “I had asked for the information to be released. A lawyer is obligated to not give out information about his customer, but that cannot be the case with the customer.”DNA had sought information on the A-G’s opinion, along with other details, before the SIC order of appointing a Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) was implemented by the government. The request was refused by the government.Recently, the issue of A-GI was in news for being under the ambit of RTI. “The CIC decided in our favor that the A-GI office is a public authority as it is constituted under RTI. Even single bench of Delhi HC ruled in our favour but division bench over turned it. We have now approached SC,” said Delhi based Subhash Chandra Agarwal, the applicant in A-GI case.The 2015 Bombay HC order that the General Administration Department (GAD) cited, stated that: “We are of the considered view that unless it is required to be disclosed considering the overwhelming public interest, the legal opinion of the learned Advocate General must be kept confidential.” It went on to state that “Apart from circulating a copy of the order to all the departments, a copy thereof be forwarded to the chief secretary of the state government to enable him to issue the appropriate directions.”GAD, to which the chief minister’s office passed the RTI application, stated that HC has barred AG’s opinion to be given. GAD did not mention any section of the RTI Act while denying such information. During the hearing, it also cited an opinion of law and judiciary department which was sought to deny AG’s opinion in another matter.The commission observed: “As per section 2(f) of the RTI Act, opinions that are part of record, is part of definition of information (under RTI). The court order that the PIO has cited states that besides matters of overwhelming public interest, opinion of the A-G should be kept secret.” It further observed that appointing of PIO and FAA in ministers’ office is a matter of public interest and providing such information also does not violate section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act which states “information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders”.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first order of the Maharashtra Right to Service Commission directs the second appellate authority to hear a case, which it had not in the time limit prescribed under the Act. Right to Service (RTS) itself is enacted to provide services to citizens in time-bound manner. The order was passed after a resident of Pune district had made an application under the landmark Maharashtra Right to Public Services Act, 2015 (RTS).The order passed by Swadheen Kshatriya, chief of state service commission, on July 7 directs the second appellate authority to hear the case in 15 days.In her application of December 21, 2016, Mayatai Gaikwad had sought details of admission of dues pending of tax and water bills for house number 353 that has encroached upon government land. The house did not belong to her as per the submission made by her husband, Sharad Gaikwad, who had attended the hearing in the service commission on her behalf.The designated officer who was supposed to provide service did not take any decision within the time limit in which he was to take one on providing the certificate. Gaikwad then filed a first appeal. The first appellate authority did not hear out the applicant and was unjust to the applicant as per the submission. It was then the second appeal was filed.The second appellate authority (SAA) did not hear the side of the applicant nor gave any order, and kept the issue pending for more than 45 days. The Act mandates SAA to decide the appeal in 45 days. During the hearing, the SAA stated that such information should be sought under Right to Information (RTI) Act and that it was provided, and that order at its level could not be given because of election duty. Gaikwad said that the information was in the form of photo copy and in the court certified copies are required.It was informed that the government has notified services of no dues pending. Gaikwad said that nowhere does the Act state that admission of dues pending cannot be given under the RTS Act. The SAA said that if the court gives an order to that affect, a certified copy will be provided.The commission asked that order be passed by SAA in 15 days.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The police cover around any individual or event which is said to indicate its threat perception has dropped to over 10 per cent in recent years in case of Indian Premier League season matches that are held in city. The details of steep fall was provided under the Right to Information to the DNA newspaper.According to information provided, the most security cover was provided in the year 2015 when 28,047 personnel (not for each match) of different ranks were securing 11 matches in city. The total bill raised for giving the security cover was Rs 8 crore. It was also the year after which the security cover saw a drastic fall.From 28,087 police personnel for 11 matches, the figure was down to a mere 899 police personnel for four matches in the year 2016. Year 2016 was also the year when the bill raised for security cover provided was the least in last five years at Rs 2.40 crore. From 2013-2017, the total bill raised for providing security cover stood at Rs 26.78 crore for 60,180 police personnel that were deployed for a total of 38 matches. Police personnel deputed for security cover were from ranks deputy commissioner of police and below including women constables.After 2015, other years that saw more than 10,000 police personnel deployed for security cover were years 2013 which saw 18,099 policemen for eight matches, and 12,048 policemen in 2014 for seven matches. Years 2016 and 2017 which saw the least number of police personnel deployed for security saw 899 and 1,087 police personnel on duty respectively for four and eight matches.In all the matches, an average of 16 DCPs were posted for duty while the maximum number was of police constables which was maximum in the years 2015 at 17,565.As per the reply, in none of the years did the police have to take any prosecution action or levy any penalty due to non-payment of charges by the organisers of the IPL who had requested security cover. In March 2016, the government decided to fix a flat rate for providing security for matches for the period March 2016 to March 2017, which was revised marginally in June 2017 as per a government GR. IPL matches of 2016 were charged as per earlier rate. As per letter of former home secretary, the charges fixed for T-20 and one day matches in Mumbai was Rs 60 lakhs. It was revised to Rs 66 lakhs in government GR of 2017. For a test match, the cost of providing security was set at Rs 50 lakhs which was revised to Rs 55 lakhs.Charges for other cities like Nagpur, Pune and Navi Mumbai are different. For T-20, one day and test match, the charges that were fixed by home secretary at Rs 40 lakhs for first two and Rs 35 lakhs for test match. This was also revised to Rs 44 lakhs for the first two and Rs 38.50 lakhs. It was decided that the amount charged for security would go to Maharashtra Police Housing and Welfare Corporation Ltd. which takes up housing and other welfare activities. Expenses of food for the force on the day of security would also be given by the corporation. Decision also stated that in case of exceptional circumstances when extra security cover was required due to security threat, the charges should not exceed 25 percent of the flat rates decided after clearance from director general of police.When contacted, a senior officer from Mumbai police said, “Threat perception is not the only factor taken into consideration while providing security. There are various factors taken into consideration and we rationalise the whole process for matches. Taking requirement and ground situation into consideration, we put bandobast. We can always take a review of the number of people put on security.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra State Services Commission (MSSC) on Monday did not allow members of civil society and journalists to attend its “first” hearing. Only the complainant Shailesh Gandhi and representative officials of the departments that were served notices were allowed.Chief of MSSC, Swadheen Kshatriya, in an SMS response to DNA had confirmed the hearing was his office’s first when categorically asked about the same. Gandhi filed a complaint when public authorities did not notify services even two years after the landmark Right to Services Act was passed.When asked why journalists and others were not allowed, Kshatriya said, “I will take a call soon if future hearings will be open court hearings.”Bhaskar Prabhu, who filed a complaint for not being allowed, said, “It is a trend that all such hearings are open court hearings. It is unacceptable and there will be no confidence on RTS commissionerate level if they are not.”On the hearing, Kshatriya said, “Gandhi raised fundamental issues about the law while the government stated that services have to be notified ‘from time to time’. In the next hearing, other officers will be heard for which the date will be fixed in a day or two.”Gandhi said, “GAD said that law intends to slowly. ‘From time to time’ in law meant if new services were added they would be notified. Their interpretation of law is perverse.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Defence Estate Office (DEO) of the Defence ministry has stated that some tangible action will be taken in a month’s time on what it had called “prima facie illegal” transaction of its land by some members of the Anglican Church community. A member of the Anglican community claimed to represent the Bombay Diocesan Trust Association (BDTA), and had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and put out a public notice about it.The MoU entered was for a 38,394 sq ft plot in Fort that has its registered office of BDTA in a heritage building given by the Defence ministry on lease.”We have written letters to various government offices asking for documents so that we can take action. We need documents to take action. We will wait for some time and if we do not get any reply from them, we will seek further legal opinion and take action with respect to the notice. There are warring factions in the community who keep doing this. We want to look at a permanent solution as this has been going on for a while and we want to put an end to it,” said Prasad Chavan, Defence estate officer.DNA had reported about some members of the community taking objection to the public notice. “We are waiting so that we can get some documents. Documents are needed to check the veracity of the transactions,” said Chavan.Ashok Dayanand Sonule, community member calling himself to be managing director and authorised signatory of BDTA Ltd signed the MoU. When contacted by DNA, Sachin Bandkar, advocate for Sonule as per public notice issued by him said he would forward DNA’s questions to Sonule. However, there was no reply from both the parties.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jatin Vora bought a few kitchen items from the steel market near Kalbadevi. He was, however, not sure whether he ended up paying more or less than usual because of the introduction of GST.”I needed it now, so I had to purchase it. I did not have a choice,” said Vora among the few customers in the steel market near Kalbadevi who purchased the items without any bill.On Saturday, the steel market which has a high footfall and heavy traffic on normal days saw little or no business with little crowding. Wholesalers and retailers blamed the government for lack of clarity and said that the market situation is likely to remain the same for a week or so.”There is no format provided by the government for sale bill and we do not know how much tax is to be levied. If a buyer comes, we will sell but not sure of the tax that we will charge,” said Sachin Shah, owner of Shah Poonamchand Roopchand that does wholesale business in utensils and other steel items.”There is no challan book, bill book or any clarity on the tax that I will put. The tax has been implemented but without preparation. There is no pricing to respective commodity codes either,” said Lalit Kumar of Rajasthan Metals.While the steel market association did not comment on the issue, a shop owner who was asked why traders did not seek clarity from government earlier, he said, “People have sought clarity, but we want to wait for a few days to see how things work out.”The Steel Users Federation of India (SUFI), a body of steel manufacturers, brokers among others welcomed the move.Pointing fingersOn Saturday, the steel market which has a high footfall and heavy traffic on normal days saw little or no business They blamed the government for lack of clarity and said that the situation may remain the same for a week
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shopping at market places and retail stores in popular places was less as compared to regular weekend as markets opened to first day of GST’s implementation. Store owners said that just like they were still understanding the impact of the new tax regime, even buyers wanted to wait and watch due to which footfalls were less. But most said that they were conducting business despite not being sure of the tax rate that will be applied.”It is too early to say about the impact. After four to five days things will be clear and we will decide what rates to apply. Right now we are still understanding,” said Nariman Balsara, manager of popular supermarket Asiatic in Churchgate area.That was however, not the case with some popular places including brands like Bata. The officials at Bata store in Grant Road, were still waiting for an update in the pricing system from their head office. For the time being, they are handing out manually entered bills to customers with old prices.While these shops looked to sell goods at same rate, in some others customers managed to make most of the old stock that stores looked to clear. Rajendra Kalkar, president of West Coast in, Phoenix Mills located at Lower Parel, said that stock clearance and monsoon sales gave good options for the people and that ensured good business.That, however, did not hold true for electronic stores Chinatamani World near Parel TT. It failed to make any sales from the morning.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Nepean Sea Road Citizens Forum (NCRF) have requested a median strip to be realigned so that it solves traffic issues in the neighbourhood. At present, the residents say that it can lead to a delay of up to 25 minutes to exit the road. A median strip is a reserved area that separates opposing lanes of traffic.”One part of the Nepean Sea Road at Mukesh Chowk is narrow as compared to its south bound arm. The third lane cannot be used properly because the manner in which the median is aligned. Due to this, the north bound traffic witnesses a traffic jam at the Mukesh Chowk or where the St. Stephen’s Church stands. It leads to a delay of up to 25 minutes for a person to exit Nepean Sea Road and get to B Desai Road. If the median is realigned by three to four feet, that will help commuters use the third lane more effectively on the north bound arm of the road and ease traffic,” said Mukesh Mehra, secretary of the NSCRF.Around 50 meters, the stretch has more lanes on the south bound as compared to the north stretch. “We have had several meetings and the traffic police were in agreement when Mr Bharambhe was the joint commissioner of police (traffic),” said Mehra. While the traffic police have given a no-objection certificate the matter is now with the ward office and the BMC’s traffic department.Devidas Kshirsagar, assistant municipal commissioner of D-ward said, “We look at the issue in totality. There is a demand from residents and we have forwarded that to our traffic department for remarks. They will first look at the road line. In future, median will be the point from where the road width will be decided. We have asked for their opinion and once we receive them, we will go ahead with the realignment.”Ajay Patil, deputy chief engineer of BMC’s traffic department said, “We are studying it and as per vehicle movement a decision on the issue will be taken.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the triple talaq issue was still being heard and played out, a bizarre case came up for hearing at an NGO on Friday night where the husband divorced his wife through triple talaq because she had switched off the fan of the room where he was sleeping. The case had come up at Public Complaint Centre in Pydhonie that looks to amicably settle marital disputes through Shariat based laws.The incident happened three years ago but only came up for “hearing” on Friday night after the husband complained to the body that his wife had refused to leave his house despite a divorce given to her. The complaint was made over a month ago and “notices” were issued to his wife.Public Complaint Centre, which provides free legal aid and help to couples, works under Bombay Social Service, an NGO registered with charity commissioner. A few years ago, the complaint centre was even complimented for its work by the Bombay High Court. “There is a legal and medical cell which provide free services,” said advocate Javed Ansari.Ansari is part of legal cell along with advocate Bharat Joshi, chairperson of the legal aid center.On Friday night, a 55-year-old woman and her daughter were summoned by the centre. Her 65-year-old husband, a father of five, divorced her through triple talaq in August, 2014. “He had asked something from me. Since the fan in the room in which he was sleeping makes a lot of noise, I switched it off. I thought he was not able to hear me properly because of the fan’s noise. He got furious, called a neighbour and making one of my daughters and that neighbour the witness, divorced me,” the woman said. She is now asked by her husband to leave the house.The man is now thinking of remarrying. “He was a taxi driver but has been unemployed for several years,” one of his daughters said. “The Mufti of the Haji Ali Dargah has issued a fatwa that the divorce was valid. Now we are trying to help the couple come to a common point,” said Abdul Razzak Maniyar, chief organiser of Public Complaint Center. Maniyar thinks the divorce is valid based on the fatwa issued by the Mufti.”The two parties want to live separately but that will not be good for either of them. We want to make sure that the woman lives in the same house with her children. I had called some community members as well so that the issue can be talked about but the woman’s husband did not come today (Friday),” Maniyar said.And it doesn’t end here. The center has one more case of divorce to pacify. Not triple talaq but a case where two sisters were divorced by respective husbands, both brothers, through Talaq Bayeen (postal letters). “In that case, the women did not want to live with their husbands. One of the sister has agreed for a divorce and has accepted Rs 50,000 as one time payment on the condition of being able to meet her children once every month,” Maniyar added.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even though the “revolutionary” Right to Services Act may have been a flagship Act of the government, the lack of its awareness by government is telling. Two years to have a commission with frugal staff, one is also yet to hear if a person was even fined for not providing a service. In his first interview, Swadheen Kshatriya, the first commissioner of Right to Services Commission talks about how he looks to make RTS popular by involving civil society, sensitizing officers and pushing the government to sooner notify services that are run to 379 of over 1,000 services that need to be notified for citizens to avail them as per the Act. Excerpts of his interview with the DNA.What are the first things on your mind as RTS chief?Foremost in my mind is to create awareness about the Act. As of now there is little awareness. Meetings with officials is first part of it and two (revenue) divisions (of six) have already been covered where I am sensitizing them about it. I also intend to take meeting with civil society members. It will be a good idea to have a committee. This is a revolutionary law, through which we will providing services as duty and obligation and not as a mercy to citizens in timely manner. It is great step in democracy and empowering people.How have the first two months in office been like? Has any case come to you?There are three stage in this Act. There is designated officer who is to give service and provide reasons in writing for not giving them. Commission is the third stage. First and second appellate is within the department. Things will take time for appeals to come. I get representation every day. People write to us directly saying we did not get service. We are doing ‘margdarshan’ of who is the designated officer for them to approach first. We have put on website how to make application, acknowledgement, and proformas. Since there are stages and little awareness, it is taking time. Our request is that people make applications online, though offline is not barred. We want more and more people to use online portal through Aaple Sarkar and also use free app specially made of it. They need not even go to office and that will help us monitor easily. If people make applications online, it will be easier to monitor too. As of now 79 lakh application have been made of which 56 lakh have been disposed and rest in process of being disposed.Unlike RTI, which citizens made popular, it is not the case with RTS. They critical and disillusioned of its effectiveness. It has been two years and we are yet to hear anyone even get penalized. Citizens feel penalty is low too.The Act is powerful. It is precisely for its implementation that commission is made. The government is serious on about its implementation in letter and spirit. I am very confident that once my office is process of settling down, things will move. Once the office is settled, we will play an important role. We are asking for deputation of staff and also outsourcing it. The penalty is not less. Penalty of Rs 5,000 will be paid by officer’s salary.Recommendation of action will be taken very seriously and the report will be submitted to the legislature and can be debated. In my opinion recommendation will be taken seriously.Timely services allow citizens to live freely in developed countries and they are not weighed down by them not coming their way. They have certain ‘to do’ things they can ‘trash it out’ for them. Will happen here?We would like citizens to move in the same direction and that they should have assurance that they get services. After one or two conditions like minimum documents that have to be given to the officers, an eligible applicant, we will ensure that service will be delivered in stipulated period of time. We will create that kind of environment.Does the Act empower you enough? Who will create awareness about the Act?The Act gives tremendous powers like general superintendence, direction and management of affairs and recommend steps to public authority for effective delivery of public services that will make delivery more transparent. I will be creating awareness of the Act.Are you satisfied with the pace of notification of services considering services can only be used after they are notified? Have you given any time frame? Which ones should be prioritized?We began with 50 services and within a period of one and half year 379 were notified when I left. We still have a long way to go. Around 25 departments have notified and there are 40 departments in all. All departments must bring all services under the ambit of this law. I would say around the figure should touch 1,000. I will take it up with the government so that services are notified soon. Right now, I am focusing on what is happening in 379 services. Maximum services are coming to revenue (53 lakhs) followed by surprisingly labour (11 lakh). Services will have to be notified as per what citizens want most. If there are services that are notified and no one has applied for it, either it is not percolated down or service which is no longer relevant has been notified. We will monitor these and those that are required most, departments will have to notify them. One they are notified, compliance will be more effective. It will be a continuous ongoing exercise.A chief and commission comes into place as soon as Act is enacted. Even if an appeal stage is to be taken into consideration, it took too much time for commission to come up. Since you were part of the government, can you throw some light on it.It is a fact that it has taken time. But I think that Act and structure of the commission and commissioners has been made very effective and powerful. This will make different in ensuring that services are provided in time bound manner. From here onward it will be our effort to see that it will be a different environment in which people get services.Timely ServicesAge, Nationality and Domicile Certificate – 15 days lncome Certificate – 15 days Senior Citizen Certificate – 7 daysAgriculturist Certificate – 15 days Non Creamy Layer Certificate – 21 days Birth Certificate – 5 days Death Certificate – 5 days Certificate of Niradhar – 20 days
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Jewish community on Sunday will celebrate 131 years of existence of its popular and said to be most well-attended synagogue, The Tiphereth Israel Synagogue at Jacob Circle, Mahalakshmi, Mumbai (in pic). The celebration will have over 250 Jews participating in the festival.The synagogue was established in 1886 by the Bene Israeli community, which came to India 2,000 years ago. “Back then, there was no overbridge adjacent to Mahalakshmi station. There was Talegaonkar’s building inhabited by Jews, from where the synagogue functioned as a small prayer hall. As the number of those praying increased, we felt the need to have a bigger prayer hall,” said Aaron Benjamin Kandlekar, the honorary secretary of The Tiphereth Israel Synagogue, whose grandfather (who has the same name) played a crucial role in erecting the synagogue where it stands now.Aaron Benjamin Kandlekar, the grandfather, contributed a sizable amount of money to purchase the bungalow in a public auction. “The bungalow was known as Roshdel Bungalow. Its public auction took place on March 16, 1923. On March 23, 1924, the synagogue was shifted to this place after the bungalow was converted. As per the Hebrew Calendar that we follow, the 131st anniversary is on March 19 this year,” the grandson said.For some time, the synagogue was also known as ‘Kandlekaranchi Masjid’ for the money his father had raised and the work he put in to make the synagogue a reality. Back then, 300 Jewish families would attend the prayer service at the synagogue. At present, it has 500 members (the exact count of families could not be provided).“But it is still famous for attracting the most number of people. I am not a religious scholar, but the synagogue is known for the Halakhik way (a strict religious way) in which it conducts its prayers, besides for having the most number of people in a synagogue at any given time,” Kandlekar said.In 1931, some members of the trust had differences and another synagogue was built in the Madanpura area and given the name Magen Hassidim Synagogue, which is more commonly known as Israeli Masjid in the neighbourhood. While Tiphereth Israel Synagogue means ‘Glory to Israel’ (believers), Magen Hassidim means ‘Gate of Righteousness’, according to the trustees.“After the split, the Magen Hassidim synagogue was made in 1931. This is now the biggest and is popular among Jews for wedding functions,” said Isaac Talegaonkar, secretary, Magen Hassidim, which will observe its 86th anniversary on April 6 as per the Hebrew calender. “Ours is the most popular for marriages because it is the biggest and is spacious,” said Alex Talkar, another member of the trust that looks after Magen Hassidim.On Thursday, a family had traveled all the way from Cochin for a marriage ceremony. “A number of people come here for weddings because a lot of their parents got married here,” said Talkar, who himself was married at the synagogue, like his parents. The trustee added that there was a time when there would be three to four marriages on Sundays. “We would fine people if they delayed their wedding,” he said.The marriages are now fewer in number. From the 1950s onwards, the Bene-Isralei community has shrinked from 50,000 to 5,000 members. However, along with Jewish rituals, couples getting married can still be seen following the Indian influences that their ancestors adopted when they made India their home.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Parsi community in an online campaign has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare Jamshedi Navroze, which falls on March 21, as bank holiday. The day is celebrated as a Persian New Year and besides Iran, a number of Central Asian countries observe a holiday on this date. “We, the undersigned members of the minority Parsi Community, hereby request you to declare our very important festival – Jamshedi Navroze, which falls on 21st March each year, as a ‘Bank Holiday’. Modiji, Jamshedi Navroze happens to be the Spring Festival of Iran and marks the commencement of Spring – the Spring Equinox, 21st March, each year. This was the day when our King Jamshed was coronated and hence the name, Jamshedi Navroze.”The online petition goes on to state: “We patriotic, peace loving Parsis, hold Mother India in high esteem and have never made any demands from the government. In fact, we are known to respect all religions and cultures; and also celebrate important Indian festivals. Nevertheless, it does pain us, when our festivals go unnoticed in our own country, where we are the most in number. Pradhan Mantriji, we therefore request your goodself to consider the matter and declare 21st March, henceforth as a ‘Bank Holiday’.””Actually it is a universal festival when the day and night are same as per equinox. For Parsis in India, all minority communities have a holiday in national level. At least one holiday even we want,” said Viraf Kapadia, one of the signatories.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The picturesque Masjid-e-Iranian, commonly known as Mughal Masjid, in the by lanes of Imamwada in the Bhendi Bazaar area, is undergoing renovations that will see new handmade tiles brought in from Iran, renovation of the inner hall, new handmade tinted windowpanes, repairs of the ceiling and replacement of lights to decorative and energy-efficient ones.”The renovation will take place in two phases. Right now, we are still in the first phase. We are working on the inner part of the gate of the mosque and the hall inside the mosque premises,” said Ali Namazi, Honorary Secretary of Haji Mohammed Husain Shirazi Charity Mosque Trust, which looks after the 160-year-old mosque.Built in 1860, the mosque was made by Iranian wealthy merchant, Haji Mohammed Husain Shirazi who settled in India and continues to be managed by Iranians settled here. During Mohurrum, it is known to host prominent speakers and is a hub of activities.”This is the first time since the 1990s —when major renovations were undertaken — that we are renovating the mosque. The tiles had chipped away and there was seepage through the windows,” said Namazi.The renovation will not include the changing of outer tiles of the main mosque structure. “We did that three years ago. However, the Mehrab — wall of the mosque indicating the direction in which people look while praying — will be redone in the second phase, which will start post monsoon. Tiles are especially are called in from Iran so that they reflect the Persian design style,” said Namazi.The first phase will also see some colourful plants in the courtyard, and cleaning of a water body. It will be complete before Nowruz which falls on March 21.”Nowruz (Persian New Year) is celebrated even today. Since the second phase will only be completed in 2018, we were keen to have the first phase completed by Nowruz,” said Namazi.The second phase, which will include redoing the minarets and facade of the mosque, new flooring of the path that takes one to the mosque, will start post monsoon because it will take longer time.”The tiles will be changed to red-coloured Shadab tiles that we will get from Rajasthan. We will also change the lights to decorative lamps in the courtyard area apart from changing all the lights to energy-efficient LED lights,” said Shirazi.Husaini hall (inner hall), which is being redone in the first phase, will have the latest technology for speeches, screening of religious films, training programs and even classes for UPSC at a later date.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Almost all speakers at a peace symposium on Saturday stated that there is need for education across all religions for better understanding and peaceful relations among followers.They were speaking at the ‘World Peace — The Critical Need of the Time’ symposium held at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture, Peddar Road.Among the speakers were Dr Ram Punyani, Fr SM Micheal, Dr Homi B Dhalla, Swami Muktidayananda, Justice BG Kolshe Patil (retd), and Massarat Mundsagar, president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in Mumbai.”Ecology plays an important role in defining culture. Each place develops its own culture accordingly. No culture is completely perfect, but all need to be open themselves in order to celebrate openness in others. Religions have their own limitations. It is important that we learn truth and holiness in all,” said Fr SM Micheal.”There are countries that teach seven religions in school. Since our education system is secular, there is a spiritual vacuum due to that. We need to learn basic things about all faiths to help us respect other religions,” said Dhalla on the need of educating students on different religions.Swami Muktidayanandji said that real time knowledge of religion can give people peace. Justice Patil added that it is important to view things without religion.Commenting on the reason for the symposium, Massarat Mundsagar said, “The World is in a turbulent mode, on the brink of World War III. There is potential for brotherhood. We look forward to more symposiums for the same reason.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Archdiocese of Bombay has started a nationwide online survey that looks at understanding viewers of pornography in India. The survey aims to take forward an earlier endeavour by the Roman Catholic Church to gain an insight into the stages when youngsters and adults get exposed to pornography. However, that survey was restricted to Mumbai.Called Plague of Pornography, the present one is an online survey (http://survey.snehalayafamily.com) which seeks responses from people in the age group of 15 to 25 years, as well as those over 25 years. The identity of those who participate will be kept confidential.”At present, we hear a lot of things about pornography. While there are studies being done on porn and its effects outside India, nothing has been taken up here. We have not done any study on porn users, and hence, we wanted to do one,” said Fr Cajeton Menezes, director of Snehalaya Family Service Centre, who has started the year-long survey.Snehalaya Family Service Centre is a not-for-profit NGO that helps families in Mumbai. It is run by the Archdiocese of Bombay. It calls the survey a part of its commitment and work to build and strengthen families of not just Catholics but also of all other communities that approach the centre.It was in the counselling centres — where the Church looks to ensure that marriages last — that they realised the need to study the porn issue closer. The Church stands for saving marriages unless there was some pre-existing problem that was not known and due to which a marriage needed to be annulled. “What we saw during counselling sessions was that there were more and more cases of erectile dysfunction, partners fulfilling their need by watching porn, husbands forcing their wives to watch porn and also enact steps. All this was leading to breaking of marriages. With internet speed going up by the day and incidents like the Nirbhaya and Mahalakshmi rape cases indicating usage of porn among minors, we thought we should have a study on the porn users of India,” said Menezes.Besides looking at the male porn users, the study also aims to have an understanding of female users. In the earlier survey, the findings stated that boys and girls had seen pornography for the first time when they were in class five and eight respectively. “This study also looks at figuring out addiction among women. Women addiction patterns are different. They are not so much into graphic but more into literature,” added Menezes.The other aspects of the study will be place of access of porn, how deep the users go into it, the genre, role of porn in marriage and life, post-porn effects, methods tried to de-addict, being open about watching porn, money and time spent, inclination towards religion and the self-esteem of the person. “The aim is to understand the addicts and their practices. Some people surf porn in offices and waste work hours. Questions will also gauge how they feel about themselves and their self-esteem, whether it is high or low,” said Dr Trudy Dantis, research consultant who has put together the questions and will be structuring the report when responses are close to 5,000.”Through the study, we will also come to know if the problem is overrated or underrated. Once the study is complete, the report will be given to counsellors or psychiatrists who help people come out with answers on preventive programmes,” said Allwyn Dantis, project co-ordinator of the Plague of Pornography.”We want to complete the survey with good response. But what we see is that a number of people are not answering all the questions. Their identities will not be disclosed,” said Menezes.