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Bihar government denotes transgenders as separate caste, triggers row

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The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government has courted controversy after an ongoing headcount survey of social groups in the state denoted transgenders as a separate caste.

According to Bihar government’s survey, each caste in the state will now be identified on the basis of a unique numerical code during the month-long second phase of caste-based headcount from April 15 to May 15.

The survey has merged all Brahmin sub-castes like Maithil, Kanyakubj and others into a single entity which is now denoted by its caste code 126. Sub-categories of castes will not have a separate number.

The headcount has allotted a total of 215 caste codes to different castes and ‘third gender’ or transgender has been denoted as separate caste with its own unique numerical code like the other castes such as Rajput (169), Bhumihar (142), and Kayastha (21), among others.

The 2011 census lists the total population of transgender persons in Bihar as 40,827.

The move of denoting the third gender as a separate caste has sparked a row with social justice organizations dubbing it as a “criminal act.”

Bihar-based NGO Dostanasafar founder secretary Reshma Prasad asked how a person’s gender be considered their caste?… “If male or female isn’t considered a caste then how can transgender be a separate caste…?

Prasad noted that transgenders can be of any caste and segregating them into a separate caste violates the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules that lays downs rules to prevent discrimination against members of the third gender.

She urged the social welfare department to intervene into the matter and said that she will write to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and seek his immediate intervention.

Trans activist Grace Banu from Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi in a statement to news agency PTI termed the move as discriminatory and a “’a social injustice” as she offered “help in counting” transgenders to the Bihar government.

Banu pointed out that the transgender community, like any other social group, consists of different castes while also observing that according to a 2014 Supreme Court judgment, transgenders must be treated as ‘third gender’ to safeguard their rights under Part III of the Constitution, as well as under the laws made by Parliament and state legislatures.

Responding to the controversy, Bihar Social Welfare Minister, Madan Sahni, urged transgender people to approach the concerned department with their grievances if they have any issues with the ongoing exercise of caste-based headcount, including codes allotted to different castes.

Sahni said the Bihar government has taken several welfare measures for improving the socio-economic condition of transgender persons.

India News

AAP leader Sanjay Singh accuses BJP of planning an attack on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

The AAP leader accused PM Modi and the BJP of being immersed in hatred so much that they are conspiring to kill the Delhi Chief Minister. He added that the Prime Minister Office, BJP and PM Modi will be responsible if anything happens to Kejriwal.

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Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh on Monday accused BJP of planning an attack on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Singh was addressing a press conference in New Delhi where he said the BJP has been in a state of panic ever since Arvind Kejriwal came out of jail.

He said BJP is now plotting to launch a deadly attack on Arvind Kejriwal. This conspiracy is being conducted directly from the Prime Minister’s Office. A threat of attack on Kejriwal ji has been written at Rajiv Chowk and Patel Nagar Metro stations.

The AAP leader accused PM Modi and the BJP of being immersed in hatred so much that they are conspiring to kill the Delhi Chief Minister. He added that the Prime Minister Office, BJP and PM Modi will be responsible if anything happens to Kejriwal. He pointed out that Kejriwal had not been given insulin for 23 days when he was in judicial custody in Tihar jail.

Singh said a 3 time elected chief minister is being openly threatened with attacks and murder, and nobody is saying anything. He said AAP leaders are writing letters to the Election Commission and if Kejiriwal gets a scratch, the PMO, BJP and PM Modi will be held responsible.

The Supreme Court has given interim bail to the Aam Aadmi Party supremo till June 1 ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in New Delhi. But according to the terms of his bail, the Delhi chief minister cannot make any comments about his role in the Delhi liquor scam case.

 Kejriwal has spent over 50 days in Tihar Jail the Enforcement Directorate arrested him in an excise policy case on March 21, days after the election schedule for the general elections was announced. The bail is applicable until June 1 and Kejriwal has to surrender to authorities on June 2.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

36.73% voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in 5th phase of the Lok Sabha elections

36.73% voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in 8 states and UTs; Maharashtra continues to put up a poor show

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Voter turnout at 1 pm was recorded at 36.73% for the 5th phase of the Lok Sabha elections. As this unfolds, significant political showdowns are set to take place across eight states and union territories. Bihar: 34.62%, Jharkhand: 41.89%, Jammu and Kashmir: 34.79%, Maharashtra 27.78%, Ladakh: 52.01%, Uttar Pradesh 39.55%, Odisha 35.31%, West Bengal: 48.41%

Voters in 49 Lok Sabha seats will decide the fate of 695 candidates, with many high-stakes contests featuring political dynasties and senior leaders striving to retain their influence. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Raebareli, a seat held by his mother, Sonia Gandhi, since 2004. He is also contesting the election from Wayanad in Kerala. After losing Amethi to Union Minister Smriti Irani in 2019, the Congress has fielded dedicated worker KL Sharma to challenge Irani this time.

Rohini Acharya, daughter of former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, makes her political debut from Saran Lok Sabha seat. Chirag Paswan of the LJP (Ram Vilas) aims to retain the legacy of his late father, Ram Vilas Paswan from Hajipur Lok Sabha seat.

13 out of 48 parliamentary seats in Maharashtra are undergoing elections including high-profile candidates: Dindori: Union Minister Bharati Pravin Pawar (BJP) vs. Bhaskar Bhagare (NCP). Dhule: BJP’s Subhash Ramrao Bhamre vs. Congress’s Shobha Dinesh Bachhav.

Palghar: Hemant Vishnu Savara (BJP) vs. Bharti Kamadi (Shiv Sena UBT). Nashik: Rajabhau Waje (Shiv Sena UBT) vs. Godse Hemant Tukaram (Shiv Sena). This election phase will also serve as a crucial battleground for the factions of Shiv Sena to measure their support among voters.

In Ladakh, an independent candidate is posing a significant challenge to both BJP and Congress contenders. Simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha polls are taking place in Odisha with the fifth phase, covering 5 Lok Sabha seats and 35 assembly constituencies. Voters in 3 parliamentary Lok Sabha seats — Chatra, Koderma, and Hazaribagh—will cast their votes in this phase.

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India News

IMD issues red alert for heavy rainfall in Kerala

The IMD issued a red alert for the districts of Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, and Alappuzha, warning residents and authorities about the potential for further heavy rains.

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for four districts in Kerala till May 21, after heavy pre-monsoon rainfall swept across the southern state on Sunday. The intense downpours affected numerous regions, including the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. 

Considering the severe weather conditions, the IMD issued a red alert for the districts of Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, and Alappuzha, warning residents and authorities about the potential for further heavy rains.

The weather department has also issued an orange alert in the districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, and Malappuram until May 22, forecasting isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall .

A bulletin issued by the IMD on Sunday stated that strong westerly and south-westerly winds are expected to dominate the lower levels of the state from May 19 to 23. This weather pattern is likely to result in widespread rainfall across isolated areas of Kerala from May 19 to 22. Additionally, heavy to very heavy rainfall is anticipated in isolated regions on May 23.

Given the potential hazards posed by heavy rains, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has urged residents to remain vigilant. The forecasted heavy rainfall over a short period raises concerns about flash floods and urban waterlogging, especially in low-lying areas. It is reported that prolonged rainfall may also lead to landslides. Consequently, authorities advised residents, particularly those in hilly and coastal regions, to exercise caution and stay alert.

Reportedly, stringent directives have been issued to the District Superintendent of Police, Sub Divisional Magistrates, Regional Transport Officers, and Tehsildars to enforce a ban on tourist movements.

Meanwhile, after the Sunday rains visuals across social media showed houses and shops in some areas were inundated. Additionally, canals traversing the capital city and its suburbs have overflowed. Affected residents claimed that the waterlogging in the capital and surrounding areas resulted from the failure to conduct pre-monsoon cleaning of canals and drainage systems.

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