#NewsSoup: Women in Bihar branded as witches; Migrant crisis deepens; African Swine Flu in Assam and more!

News Soup is a weekly roundup by TA highlighting news that matters the most. It brings selective updates from India and abroad which broke the internet, trended the twitter and the ones which didn’t find a place in mainstream media!

Women in Bihar branded as witches, thrashed and forced them to drink urine

The incident was reported On 5 May from the Muzaffarpur district. Three women in Dakrama village were publicly thrashed and made to parade half-naked. They were ill-treated by the villagers on the suspicion of being dayans (witches). Police authorities have arrested nine people in relation to the case.

The incident comes at a time when the global community is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not the first time that the state is witnessing such a horrendous act against women. Earlier on 22 October 2018, 70 year old Rajkali Devi’s tongue was also chopped off on the suspicion of her being a witch. The incident was reported from the Rohtas district of the state.

The practice of Witch hunting has been a serious issue for several states like Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand. These states have also framed specific legislation dealing with the practice of witch hunting. Bihar Human Rights Commission has made repeated reminders to the state government for speeding up the various probes pending under the Prevention of Witch Hunting Act, 1999.

Migrant crisis deepens in India; activists and civil society raises questions on government’s arrangements and plans

It has been more than 40 days since the migrant workers started walking back to their villages from the cities they built. Lakhs of workers are making their journey on foot in order to reach their homes. The nation woke up to the horrible news of death of 16 migrant workers on railway track in Aurangabad in Maharashtra on 8 May. The dead workers were from Madhya Pradesh and were working in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) zone in Jalna district. After walking for more than 35 Km, along the railway tracks, they got exhausted and decided to sleep on track. The reason to decide to sleep on track was because they were under the impression that trains are not operational. However, at around 5:15 a goods train ran over the workers.

In another disappointing incident, a migrant couple started off from Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow to reach Chhattisgarh on a bicycle to cover a distance of almost 750 Kms. However, the couple met a tragic end and died on the spot when a speeding vehicle hit them on the highway. The both left their two children, both less than 5 years of age. In a similar accident, five migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh died in a road accident in Madhya Pradesh. They died due to the overturning of the truck in which they were traveling.

The state of migrant workers has caused social activists, civil society organizations and opposition leaders to criticize the approach of the government. “Do the upper classes feel any sympathy with working men as has nothing before them, till they drop. Do they sympathise?” asks Mark Tully while recalling his read to DH Lawrence’s once-controversial novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover during the lockdown. India’s migrant workers deserve better than this, wrote Mark Tully in HT. “I am shocked by the news of the killing of my laborers and brothers,” said Rahul Gandhi in a tweet. “From Surat, I waved a Namaste & bye to a train ferrying Migrant Workers back to Bihar. This felt deeply personal. Amid those I met, a 14 year old boy. What is your dream, I asked him. ‘Just to get home.’ We have diminished dreams,” tweeted Barkha Dutt, who is reporting the migrant crisis from the ground for the last 15 days now.

As per a survey by Jan Sahas, a not for profit, around 62% of the migrant workers were not aware or had any information regarding the lockdown and 37% were not aware of how to access the existing schemes. The organization interviewed around 3100 migrant workers.

African Swine Flu kills more than 2500 pigs in Assam

As Assam battles the COVID-19 pandemic, with 26 active cases in the state, more than 2500 pigs have died due to African Swine Flu. The flu is spreading at a rapid rate and the state government has directed the veterinary and forest department to be on the alert mode and prepare a road map for managing the crisis. Moreover, as per a report by The Print, the central government has advised the state government to consider the culling of pigs affected by the flu. The forest department reported 28 carcasses of pigs floating on the river Brahmaputra flowing through Kaziranga National Park. The experts have raised alarms regarding the pollution of river water. Assam’s pork market is estimated to be at Rs. 8000 core in the Northeast region.

Manipur’s black rice – known as ‘chakhao’ gets a GI tag

Have you ever heard that rice is also black? Well, Manipur’s black rice, known as ‘chakhao’ got a Geographical Indication (GI) tag. Chakhao is an aromatic black rice of Manipur, being cultivated for centuries with traditional practices. A GI status is an indication that identifies products which originate or are produced from a particular area and have the special quality that is attributable to its geographical origin (for example Darjeeling tea of Darjeeling, Rosogolla from Bengal). The average cost of black rice is Rs. 100-120 Kg in Imphal.

Although traditionally the rice is served plain, one of the popular dishes now prepared from it is kheer, the popular Indian dessert made from rice and boiled milk.  

That’s it for this week. See you next Sunday with other updates!

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