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Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay-For The Gain of The Many and For The Welfare of The Many-Bodhi tree branch cut three years ago: report-Biometric identification system draws flak -CBI: preliminary probe against Mulayam over
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Sarvajan Hitay Sarvajan Sukhay-For The Gain of The Many and For The Welfare of The Many

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Bodhi tree branch cut three years ago: report

From correspondents in Bihar, India, 03:34 PM IST

A scientific report has vindicated allegations by Buddhists that one of their most sacred religious symbols — the Bodhi tree at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya — had a branch cut off three years ago.

The Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute (FRI), in its detailed report submitted to the Bihar government, said a branch of the sacred Bodhi tree was cut three years ago.

‘The report has proved that a branch of the Bodhi tree was cut three years ago instead of last year as claimed,’ home secretary Afzal Amanullah said Friday.

In June, the state government had ordered an inquiry by a team of FRI scientists after a monk, Arup Brahmachari, filed a criminal complaint against officials of the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee for allegedly cutting a branch of the tree.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inspected the Bodhi tree after the controversy surfaced.

A team of scientists from FRI visited Bodh Gaya in June to make a preliminary assessment of the Bodhi tree.

It was widely reported in July last year that some miscreants had cut off a branch of the Bodhi tree but the Nitish Kumar government was quick to issue a denial.

However, after a worldwide hue and cry over the incident, the Bihar government got samples collected from the affected part of the tree and sent it to a Pune-based laboratory to ascertain the truth. Nearly 14 months have passed but the laboratory report is yet to be made public.

Buddhist monks have been demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the cutting of the tree branch.

Amanullah said a team of experts from FRI would now look after the tree. ‘The FRI was formally handed over the responsibility of proper conservation of the Bodhi tree,’ he said.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed Thursday between the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee and the FRI for upkeep and maintenance of the tree. The state government has also given Rs.700,000 to FRI for maintaining the sacred tree, Amanullah said.

The government has also decided to install surveillance cameras at strategic points to keep round-the-clock vigil on the Bodhi tree and the Mahabodhi temple.

Millions of Buddhists around the world consider the Bodhi tree to be sacred because it has grown from the original Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment about 2,550 years ago.

An official of the Mahabodhi temple, which the Unesco has declared a World Heritage Site, said the Bodhi tree is the sixth regeneration of the original banyan tree.

Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Saturday, Oct 27, 2007

Biometric identification system draws flak

Swathi Shivanand

‘Plan proposed only for slum-dwellers is discriminatory’

System recommended by Centre as part of BSUP

‘It has been suggested to ensure that only the beneficiaries gain from housing projects’

BANGALORE: Would you be comfortable if your fingerprints were recorded or your retina scanned for identification?

Would you consider it an important identifier even if there were other non-intrusive options such as a ration card or voter identity card?

Many mandatory “reforms” that the States have to implement as part of e-governance to be eligible for funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) have raised alarm among civil society groups, but the proposed biometric identification system for slum-dwellers has generated the most heat.

For reference

Under this system, a person’s fingerprints and some other physiological characteristic, usually the retina of the eye is recorded, stored in a database and put away for future reference.

This identification system has been recommended by the Centre as part of Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP), which envisions housing rights and basic amenities to the urban poor. In this, certain physiological characteristics of entire families of economically weaker sections are being recorded so as to “create a database.”

Process started

Activists brand this identification system proposed only for slum-dwellers as “discriminatory” and “intrusive”. The process has been started in five slums in the city, including Jasma Bhavan slum in Austin town Sampangiramanagar slum and Kalyani slum.

“When there are other identification mechanisms such as voter identity card and ration card, why are people living in slums being subjected to this? Why is it important to create a database of only slum-dwellers?” asks Isaac Arul Selva of Slum Jagatthu.

He likens it to the practice of the British identifying and branding certain tribes as “criminal” during the Raj.

Kshithij Urs of Action Aid says: “We do not yet have a law that protects the information created in such a database. It could be dangerous if misused.”

Misuse of information has been one of the most important sociological concerns raised worldwide about the use of biometric strategies.

“Biometric identification was recommended as a fool-proof measure to ensure that only beneficiaries gain from the housing projects,” Jawaid Akthar, managing director, Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC), the nodal agency for JNNURM projects in Karnataka told The Hindu.

This was also to ensure that the urban poor did not sell their houses before the lock-in period of 20 years ended, he added.

Activists place this form of identification in the larger context of the “anti-poor” aspect of the JNNURM.

‘Why the restraint?’

At a seminar on the various aspects of the mission held on Friday, R. Padmini of Civic Bangalore said: “Why should the urban poor not sell their houses? If they get a better job in some other city, why should they hold onto this property? When other sections of the society can sell their property when they want to, why should the urban poor be restrained?”

CBI: preliminary probe against Mulayam over

Legal Correspondent

Files affidavit in apex court

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday filed in the Supreme Court an affidavit saying it had completed a preliminary enquiry (PE) against the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav; his sons Akhilesh Yadav, MP, and Prateek Yadav; and Dimple Yadav, wife of Mr. Akhilesh Yadav, into the allegations of their amassing assets disproportionate to the known sources of their income.

Acting on a public interest litigation petition from Vishwanath Chaturvedi, the court in March this year directed the CBI to conduct the PE into their assets and after scrutinising the material, if a case was made out, take further action.

On completion of the PE, the CBI should submit a report to the Union government.

In its affidavit, the CBI said, “After a PE is registered, verifications/enquires are undertaken and if they indicate commission of offence(s) by the persons concerned, a regular case is registered and further investigation and action are taken in the matter in accordance with the law. In the matter of registration of a case, the CBI does not make a reference to either the Central government or the State government.”

The affidavit said the Supreme Court Registry had made available all documents to the CBI and the enquiry was conducted as per directions.

The CBI was willing to place a status report in the court, if necessary.

It sought a direction to proceed in the matter in accordance with the law without any further reference to the Union or State government.

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