#DHRecaps | Insight, our best investigative stories!

An age-old news adage goes something like this: “If your mom tells you she loves you, check it out”.

The meaning of this phrase, for us journalists, is to question every assumption and to dig deeper to find the truth. And that’s exactly what DH did, as we gave our readers nearly 50 investigative stories since we started a new page called ‘Insight’ in July of this year.

In case you missed it, here is a recap of all our special ‘Insight stories’, compiled together for you weekly by Anitha Pailoor.

1. Sexual abuse allegations reported in a church in Kerala

DH kicked things off with our coverage on the sexual abuse allegations that rocked the Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala. Our reporter, R Krishnakumar delivered the goods, as he followed the issue closely and wrote three special reports after speaking to victims and survivors as well as experts such as lawyers and human right activists.

Find out more:

 Rape in the Syrian church

Call for transparency and reforms gets louder

Tracing origins to St Thomas the Apostle


2. Rape of hearing impaired minor girl by over 17 men

Three stories by our Chennai correspondent ETB Sivapriyan, provided in depth coverage of this sensational case.

In ‘Child rape in Chennai that was a horror of horrors’, Sivapriyan recounted the chain of events that revolved around the news of this event after speaking to the victim and her family. Police arrested all suspects within a day and lawyers refused to represent the accused and even attacked them in the Madras high court.

In ‘Society fails victims of CSA’, Sivapriyan interviewed Sherin Bosko, who runs Nakshatra -- an anti-trafficking and rape-crisis centre and similarly in ‘Create safe neighbourhoods for children’ he spoke to multiple child rights activists, counsellors and human right experts.


3. Use of pellet guns in Kashmir

Four special stories tackled the issue of the use of pellet guns in Kashmir in our second Insight issue released in August.

Our reporter, Shemin Joy authored an article titled ‘Hundreds blinded, but government didn’t blink’ in which he discussed the pushback to ban the use of pellet guns in the valley. It also chronicles the government’s reaction to the calls for the ban and quotes a portion of a report on Kashmir authored by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to summarize what pellet guns have done to Kashmiris.

“Darkness descended on me that very moment and I fell unconscious. When I woke up, I was on a hospital bed,” a 14-year-old girl called Ifra, an aspiring doctor said to our Kashmir reporter, Zulfikar Majid. In the article titled ‘Losing sight to pellet guns in Kashmir’, Zulfikar’s conversations with victims of pellet guns begins are a must read!

Two other articles from this issue included the following:

A never-ending problem… by Wahid Wani, a local journalist based in Pulwama, South Kashmir).

The history of pellet gun


4. Government school education in Karnataka

In a  piece titled ‘Pathetic state of government schools’, our city reporter, Reshma Ravishanker,  covered a lot of ground by visiting different schools and education experts to bring you glimpses of what life is like in government primary schools in the state.

In another article titled: ‘Are we addressing the right problems?’, which is focussed on the decline in enrolment into government schools, Reshma interviewed Nagasimha G Rao, a child rights activist from Bengaluru who has been battling for the cause of Right to Education (RTE).

The final article in this series titled “Consolidating small schools without compromising access”, by S. Gridhar, the Chief Operating Officer, Azim Premji University, looked at dropout data trends and teacher-student ratio trends over time.


5. Night traffic ban

Eight years after night traffic on the NH 766 stretch through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka was banned, Kerala’s opposition continues to be pegged to one broad argument — that it inconveniences people who travel between its northern districts and the Mysuru-Bengaluru region.

In a debate that traces wildlife conservation and serious ecological concerns, the inconvenience argument has been viewed by critics as a simplistic plank to take. Successive governments in Kerala have reiterated commitment to lift the ban and discussions with Karnataka have invariably hit roadblocks.

Our stories —  ’Bandipur night traffic ban key to saving wildlife’ by our city bureau chief, Niranjan Kaggere & ‘Why Kerala is hell-bent on revoking night traffic ban’ by R Krishnakumar —  give an in-depth analysis on the issue as it discusses it with all the relevant stakeholders.


6. Transfer racket

In a piece titled ‘Caste and money rule the roost’ by D V Guruprasad, the issues concerning the transfers of government employees are discussed with the view that apart from corruption, such transfers result in bad governance and huge expenditure to the exchequer on transfer costs.

In another article, ‘Today, there is no end to greed’, DH’s Vijesh Kamath interviewed Justice Justice N Santosh Hegde who explained how the ‘transfer business’ is turning into a lucrative industry and what can be done to curb the menace.

In the third article of this series which is titled: ‘Transfer racket: Officials pay in lakhs for plum posts’, Ragunandan P M writes about how officials are paying astronomical bribes to get lucrative postings. Political interference in transfers violate the rulebook, but the practice is rampant.

Our readers responded in a big way to our stories and their responses were collected in a piece titled ‘DH talkback: Huge response to transfer racket article’.


7. Drug menace in Punjab

Three stories by Gautam Dheer shed light on the drug menace in Punjab.

In his first story ‘After spate of deaths, society struggles to fight menace’, he illustrates how every other house in Maqboolpura village on the outskirts of Amritsar has a tragedy attributed to drugs. His second story: ‘Drug addiction is ruining families in Punjab’, similarly explores drug addiction patterns in Punjab.

In the last story ‘Collaborative efforts gather steam’, he writes about families living in constant fear of losing their kin. Getting clean meanwhile is a tedious task. Punjab has as many as 81 OOAT clinics and the majority of new patients visiting these clinics are synthetic opioid addicts.


8. Sand Mining

Illegal sand mining thrives on the banks of Netravati, Phalguni, Sita, Swarna and Panchagangavali rivers and has affected aquatic life as well as the course of the rivers. Lokayukta police have mentioned the presence of illegal sand mining in Dakshina Kannada at 39 places in Bantwal, Belthangady and Mangaluru taluks but a blanket ban on illegal sand mining has been elusive so far.

Citing scarcity as the reason, sand is sold at an exorbitant price and transported in odd hours, either early in the morning or late in the night. Since only contractors and builders are in touch with the suppliers of sand, individuals investing money in construction would never come to know about the actual availability, price and quality of sand.

In two articles by our reporters, ‘75% of sand mining in the coast is illegal’ by Naina J A and ‘No viable alternative to river sand yet’ by Ambrish B, DH exposes illegal mining in the state.


9.  Stormwater drain encroachment in Bengaluru

The SWD is the crux of the city’s water supply over centuries. The government itself breached at least 43 tanks and constructed stadiums, colleges, offices and Golf clubs in the SWD areas. This has encouraged greedy citizens in forming private lake “Layouts”.

In October 2014, the state Assembly formed an 11-member House Committee headed by former Speaker KB Koliwad. The panel was to look into encroachment of lakes in and around Bengaluru. Stormwater drain encroachments also came the committee’s purview.

Our stories — ‘Koliwad committee turns a blind eye’ by Bharath Joshi and ‘Restoration of SWDs key to city’s survival’ by V Balasubramanian — give an in-depth analysis of the issue.


10.  Mob lynchings in Rajasthan

In the past few years, Mewat region, constituting Alwar and Bharatpur districts in Rajasthan, and parts of Haryana, have been transformed into a major battleground between the cow vigilantes and cattle traders.

Following the Alwar mob lynching incident, Tabeenah Anjum visits the kin of the victims to investigate more.  

Read more:

Dairy farming drops by 30%

Guilty have protection from state government


11.  Child prostitution in Telangana

The August 2 raids and the closure of certain houses in the three major red-light areas confirm that the unholy practice is still widespread in the temple town of Yadadri. Victims were rescued but rehabilitation of these girls is a tough task, writes J B S Umanandh.

Read more:

Raids have exposed Yadadri as hub of child trafficking

Rehabilitation of the victims is a tough task

‘It’s time we talk about this unholy practice’


12.  Elevated metro

Namma Metro was envisioned to reduce the Bengaluru traffic thus making commuting in the city convenient to the people. But by going overground, the aesthetics of the city have virtually been destroyed due to towering pillars narrowing the already crowded roads.

BMRCL informed that the elevated metro line costs Rs.192 crore per km whereas the underground stretch cost goes up to Rs 500 crore per km. Many say the combination of lack of vision and fear of cost escalation due to delay guided governments and officials to make decisions.

Our recent stories —  ‘Elevated stretch result of poor vision’ by Chiranjeevi Kulkarni and ‘Elevated metro ruined city’s beauty, shrunk its roads’ by Rasheed Kappan — give a detailed account on this issue.


13. Mining and quarrying in the Western Ghats

The story 'Political pressure behind project sanctions' sheds light on the 2013's Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC ) order to ban developmental activities like mining and quarrying in the sensitive areas of Western Ghats. The sudden approval of Hubballi-Ankola Railway Line is a classic example of the government’s eagerness to give the green signal for these linear projects along the Western Ghats.

In another story, 'On a long road to recovery' by Ambrish B,  he mentions that the entire hillock of Ramghad of Sandur taluk is damaged due to illegal mining and will collapse if something is not done immediately because there is hardly any vegetation left on the hill.

Pavan Kumar H in his story 'Roads, railway tracks turn death traps for animals' mentions Uthara Kannada district has one of the densest and diverse forest covers in the entire Southern peninsula but environment enthusiasts are waging a losing battle to conserve the biodiversity.

In a second story 'Even after mining ban, better livelihoods still a dream,' Ambrish B adds that thousands of people residing in and around in Sandur, Hospet and Ballari taluks are pinning their hopes on a reclamation and rehabilitation plan, funded to the extent of Rs 13,000 crore so far.


14. Devadasi system

Three stories by Anitha Pailoor talks about the miseries encountered by Devadasi children and their dreams to overcome the challenges they face in society.

I can’t afford to dream of my future,’ is a detailed account of the challenges faced by Devadasi children with a few of them who are carving their own identity and are working with other Devadasi families in Hospet taluk.

Find out more:

 For ‘Servants of God’, no end to their misery

 Concerted efforts imp to bring them into mainstream


15.  Rising violence in Kashmir

In two different stories, Zulfikar Majid talks about the increasing violence in Kashmir.

In the story, ‘This village is ‘cursed’ he writes that though no one in the village is willing to share the exact details of what happened on a fateful day, Burhan’s killing changed Bamdoora forever as it is now labelled as the ‘hamlet of police informers’.

'Patterns of violence change in the Valley' gives a detailed account of a series of violence prevalent in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.


16. Reduction of Bannerghatta ESZ

'Multiple violations of the Supreme Court directive' and 'Reduction of Bannerghatta ESZ, for whose benefit?' by our city bureau chief, Niranjan Kaggere explains how the government’s ‘recommendation’ to the centre to reduce the extent of the eco-sensitive zone around the Bannerghatta National Park will ultimately come at an environmental and social cost.


What should DH investigate in 2019? Let us know in the comments.

(Compiled by Pranshu Rathee and Prathiksha Lakshmikanth) 

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