16-04-2021 The Asian Independent

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Vol : 05 : #65 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

Royal Family remember

duke's lifetime of service

London : The ceremonial

royal funeral will remember

Prince Philip, the Duke of

lowered into the Royal Vault at

the end of the service.

The Order of Service,

Edinburg and husband of

released by Buckingham

Queen Elizabeth II, for his

"unwavering loyalty" to the

Palace, said the Dean of

Windsor will pay tribute to

Queen, service to the nation

Prince Philip's "kindness,

and "courage".

The duke's association

with the Royal Navy and love

of the sea will also be a focus

but no sermon will be delivered,

in line with his wishes,

the BBC reported.

More than 730 members of

the armed forces are taking

part in the event, but there is

a limit of 30 mourners at St

humour and humanity" and the

"many ways in which his long

life has been a blessing to us".

Buckingham Palace said the

funeral plans had been modified

to take into account public

health guidelines.

The funeral will take place

entirely within the grounds of

the castle and the public have

been asked not to gather there

George's Chapel, under

or at other royal residences.

Covid rules.

The congregation are wearing

Representatives from military

units with a special relationship to the Following the procession, a Royal in line with Covid lockdown rules, with the

masks and socially distancing

duke are positioned in the castle's Marines bearer party carried the coffin into Queen seated alone. But the ceremonial

Quadrangle, with music provided by the the service.

aspects of the day and the service remain in

Band of Royal Marines Commando A reduced choir of four singers will feature

but the congregation will follow Covid reflect his military affiliations and personal

line with Prince Philip's wishes and will

Training Centre, the Band of the Scots

Guards and the Combined Bands of the restrictions and not sing.

elements of his life.

Royal Air Force. Prince Philip died at A ceremonial gun fire at nine locations The music will include the 1860 hymn

Windsor Castle on Friday 9 April, aged 99. across the UK, and in Gibraltar, marked the Eternal Father, Strong to Save, by William

His coffin was carried the short distance start and end of the national minute's Whiting, which is associated with seafarers

to St George's Chapel on a modified Land silence.

and the maritime armed services. The

Rover, which the duke himself helped to Heathrow Airport said no planes would Queen and duke's four children - the Prince

design.

land or take off for six minutes to coincide of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of

The funeral procession from the castle with the silence and all major sporting York and the Earl of Wessex and - as well

to the chapel was headed by the Band of events have been rescheduled to avoid a as their eight grandchildren - are attending,

the Grenadier Guards, the Major General's clash with the funeral.

but none of their young great-grandchildren.

party, and military service chiefs.

The funeral service will be conducted

Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence and by the Dean of Windsor, with the Spouses of the children and grandchildren

joined the congregation, including

the Earl of Snowdon also walked behind Archbishop of Canterbury pronouncing the

the coffin, trailed by members of the duke's blessing.

two who have married into the family in

household staff. The Queen, 94, travelled Buglers of the Royal Marines will sound recent years - Jack Brooksbank and

with a lady-in-waiting in the state Bentley Action Stations - a signal that all hands Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, husbands of

at the end of the procession.

should be ready for battle - as the coffin is Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

UK Home Secretary nod to extradition of Nirav Modi to India

New Delhi : In a major boost to the

Central Bureau of Investigation's

(CBI) probe into the Rs 13,500 crore

Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud

case, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel

has approved the extradition of fugitive

diamantaire Nirav Modi, sources

said on Friday. "The UK Home

Secretary has approved the extradition

request of Nirav Modi," a CBI source

related to the probe told IANS.

Asked how long will it take for the

CBI will bring back the businessman,

who has been lodged in a prison in

London since his arrest in March

2019, the source said that if Nirav

Modi files an appeal, then it may take

Prince Philip interred

in the royal vault of St

George's Chapel

London : Prince Philip's coffin has been interred in the royal

vault of St George's Chapel.

It was placed on a catafalque on a marble slab and lowered into

the vault by an electric motor, dpa news agency reported.

The vault was created between 1804 and 1810 for George III,

who died in 1820 and is one of three kings buried there. The other

two are George IV and William IV.

Horns were played as his coffin was lowered down.

A blessing was given by the Archbishop of Canterbury before

the choir sang the national anthem, "God Save the Queen."

The members of the royal family looked up as the choir sang

while the queen bowed her head.

The 94-year-old monarch was then led out of the church by the

archbishop and followed by her family members.

Prince William, her grandson, was seen glancing back at the

vault as he left his pew.

some time.

On February 25 this year, a UK

court allowed extradition of Nirav

Modi in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB

scam case.

The District Judge at the

Westminster Magistrates' Court,

Samuel Goozee, accepted the prima

facie evidence against Nirav Modi for

money laundering, saying: "Many of

these are a matter for trial in India. I

am satisfied again that there is evidence

that he could be convicted,"

according to reports.

The CBI had then dubbed the UK

court judgement as a "significant"

achievement in its efforts to curb corruption.

The CBI in a statement had said

that the UK court ruling is "a reminder

that fugitives, who have eluded the

process of law after commission of

large value frauds, cannot consider

themselves above the process merely

because they have changed jurisdictions".

Nirav Modi was arrested on an

extradition warrant on March 19, 2019

on charges of money laundering, conspiring

to destroy evidence and intimidating

witnesses.

He is facing probe by the CBI for a

large-scale fraud upon PNB through

fraudulently obtaining LoUs or loan

agreements. He is also being probed

by the Enforcement Directorate (ED)

in a case relating to the laundering of

the proceeds of that fraud.

Meanwhile, he also faces two additional

charges of "causing disappearance

of evidence" and "intimidating

witnesses" or "criminal intimidation to

cause death", which were added on to

the CBI case. The ED has attached

several assets of Nirav Modi running

into crores of rupees in connection

with the case.

Nirav Modi's uncle, Mehul Choksi

of Geetanjali group, who is believed

believed to be in Antigua, is also being

probed in connection with the case.


2

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Kerala sees 10,031 new Covid cases, TPR nears 15%

Thiruvananthapuram : The number

of people testing Covid positive in

Kerala continues to spike with the test

positivity rate on Friday reaching 14.8

per cent.

State Health Minister K.K.

Shailaja, in a statement, said 10,031

people turned Covid positive from

67,775 samples tested in the past 24

hours, while 3,792 turned Covid negative,

taking the total cured to

11,32,267. There were also 21 new

deaths, taking the total toll to 4,877.

The state has 69,868 active cases.

Cases have been rising as Covid

protocols saw lax observance ahead of

the April 6 Assembly elections. Across

the state, there were 2,04,933 people

Chandigarh : A special

CBI court in Panchkula on

Friday framed charges against

former Haryana Chief Minister

Bhupinder Singh Hooda in the

Associated Journals Limited

(AJL) plot re-allotment case.

The senior Congress leader

was present in the court when

the charges were framed. The

next date for hearing has been

Team AI :

Devinder Chander

Editor-in-chief

Columnists

V.B. Rawat

Farzana Suri

Arun Kumar

Rahul Kumar

Harminder K. Bhogal

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under observation at various places

which included 9,837 people in hospitals.

There are 436 hot spots. The state,

which had planned a mass vaccination

drive on Friday and Saturday, is also

seeing doses run out.

However, the authorities are

expecting the arrival of two lakh

Covishield doses on Friday night.

"We had requested 50 lakh doses

and so far we have received around 26

lakhs doses. We are expecting the

arrival of more vaccines, so as to

speed up the efforts of the government

to give it to as many people as possible

at the earliest," said Left

Democratic Front convenor A.

Vijayaraghavan.

CBI court frames charges

against Hooda in AJL plot

re-allotment case

fixed on May 7.

A day earlier, arguments on

the discharge application of

Hooda and the framing of

charges against him were completed.

Hooda was booked by the

CBI on charges of cheating and

corruption in re-allotment of

land to AJL, which is headed by

Congress leader Moti Lal Vora,

who passed away recently.

Hooda, as the Chief Minister

(2005-14), was the Chairman of

the Haryana Urban

Development Authority at the

time of plot re-allotment in

Panchkula town. Hooda and the

office-bearers of AJL -- the promoters

of The National Herald

newspaper -- were charged with

illegal re-allotment of the plot

to AJL in 2005. AJL is linked to

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi

and Rahul Gandhi. The plot

number C-17 in Sector 6 in

Panchkula, measuring around

3,360 square metres, was reallotted

to AJL on June 29,

2005. Earlier in 1982, the plot

had been allotted to the AJL but

it was taken back in 1996 after

the company failed to construct

a building at the site.

Hooda had defended his

decision, saying that there was

no wrongdoing in the re-allotment.

After re-allotment of the

land, AJL completed the construction

on the plot.

Andhra records 6K Covid cases,

ACTIVE TALLY OVER 35K

Amaravati : Andhra Pradesh on

Friday reported 6,096 new Covid-19

cases, raising the overall tally tally

over 9.48 lakh, while the state's active

cases breached the 35,000-mark to

reach 35,592.

From logging more than

2,000 cases a day for some

days, new infections have now

breached the 6,000-mark,

mounting the state's coronavirus

tally.

On a positive note, 2,194

persons recovered from the

disease in the last 24 hours,

raising the total number of

recoveries to over 9.05 lakh.

Chittoor district reported the

highest number of cases at

1,024, followed by East

Godavari (750), Guntur (735),

Kurnool (550), Srikakulam

(534), Prakasam (491),

Visakhapatnam (489), Nellore

(354), Anantapur (313),

Vizianagaram (299), Krishna

(246), Kadapa (243) and West

Godavari (68).

East Godavari's tally has

crossed 1.28 lakh, the highest

TANVI AKHAURI

Her story is rife with adversity,

trials, subjugation, but ultimate

deserving triumph. In her

50s now, Dulari Devi is recognisable

as a recipient of the Padma

Shri honour and an artist with an

impressive body of work that

contains knowledge – about history,

mythology, culture – that

may well become endangered

and subsequently extinct if not

preserved.

At a conference organised

April 15 by the Indian Social

Responsibility Network (ISRN) to honour

the life and times of Dr BR Ambedkar,

Dulari Devi was seated against a magnificent

background of Madhubani art, in all

probability her own. She recounted her

journey, from a child bride to an accomplished

artist, focusing on the need to

retain folk art.

among all the districts of Andhra

Pradesh, while the state's positivity

rate rose to 6.08 per cent, higher than

the national average of 5.42 per cent.

Meanwhile, 14 more persons succumbed

to Covid-19 in the past 24

Dalit History Month:

“Bachhe kitaab toh padh lete hain,

painting sikhana padta hai,” she said.

[Children can read books, but you have to

teach them how to paint.] “When I teach

them Mithila art, I make sure to introduce

themes of nature and the fishing community

I belong to. Traditions should not be forgotten,

they should be preserved.”

* The Asian Independent and people associated with it are not responsible for any claims made by the advertisers and do not endorse in any products or services advertised. Please visit www.theasianindependent.com/tc for more information.

hours, pushing the state's death toll to

7,353.

With 35,962 more tests, the total

number of tests conducted in Andhra

Pradesh has crossed the 1.56 croremark.

How Artist Dulari Devi

Signifies Dr Ambedkar’s Dream

of Empowerment

Dulari Devi lives in a discrete village in Bihar where resources aren’t resplendent

and dreaming of a luxurious life seems like luxury itself. However, with her regional

tongue in Maithili and undying spirit of keeping alive the traditional culture of

her state, Dulari Devi is connecting a thousand hearts across India.

Dulari Devi, Other

Academics, Scholars, Officers

Uphold BR Ambedkar’s

Feminism

Dulari Devi, who belongs to

the oppressed Mallaah caste, was

married off at thirteen to a husband

who soon left her. A child

she had during her early years of

marriage tragically died. Today,

she says, when she is asked if she

has any children, there’s only one

answer: “I may not have kids of

my own. But all the kids of India

are my children.”

The Madhubani painter is now

renowned nation, even world, over for her

efforts of art preservation and traditional

skill – a step towards actualising the intersectional

dream of financial and social

empowerment Babasaheb Ambedkar saw

for Dalit women.

Courtesy : shethepeople


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

3

Kumbh Mela might culminate

early amid Covid-19 surge

New Delhi : The Niranjan Akhada

has announced curtailing the ongoing

Kumbh Mela on April 17, almost two

weeks ahead of schedule, after several

senior BJP leaders in Uttarakhand held

discussion with the Akhadas to convince

them to end it amid surge in

Covid-19 cases and concerns of violation

of Covid protocols, a senior party

leader said.

However, the BJP-ruled state government

has already announced that

Kumbh Mela will go on as per schedule.

The Kumbh Mela started on April

1 and was scheduled to end on April

30.

"Senior BJP leaders met 13

Akhadas with a request to

take a decision to wind up

the mela seeing the

severe situation of Covid.

After the discussion,

Akhadas have agreed to

our request.

"After the Niranjani

Akhada, most of the

Akhadas have responded

positively to our request

and in the next couple of

days, they will make the

announcement," the senior

party leader from the

hill state said. The state

government is also holding consultationw

to take a final call on the continuation

of Mela.

"Currently, the state is not in favour

of curtailing the Kumbh Mela but seeing

the sudden surge of Covid cases, a

discussion has started to review the

decision. Discussions with the religious

channels has also been initiated,"

another senior BJP leader said.

Several devotees including saints

from different Akhadas have tested

Covid positive in Haridwar. Lakh of

devotees participated in the last two

'Shahi Snans' violating Covid protocols

by not wearing masks or maintaining

social distancing.

Victory makes Dhoni's 200th

match for CSK special

Mumbai : MS Dhoni's 200th match for Chennai Super Kings

(CSK) turned out to be special as his team put in a commanding

performance to thump Punjab Kings by six wickets on Friday

night at the Wankhede Stadium.

"[It] Makes me feel very good. It has been a very long journey.

It started in 2008 -- played in South Africa, UAE, and back

home. Never thought Mumbai would be our home," said Dhoni

after leading his team to their first win of the 2021 season.

Dhoni has led CSK to three IPL title (2010, 2011 and 2018).

The game against the Punjab franchise on Friday was the former

India captain's 176th match for CSK in the Indian Premier

League (IPL). He has also played 24 matches for CSK in the

now-defunct Champions League T20 tournament.

Dhoni also played 30 IPL matches for Pune Supergiant during

2016 and 2017 when the CSK franchise was banned following

the spot-fixing scandal.

Dhoni, who has 4632 runs in IPL, has scored 4058 runs for

CSK. He is eighth in the list of run-getters in IPL and is the most

successful wicket-keeper in the league with 148 dismissals.

While his team had a disappointing outing the last time, finishing

seventh in the table, he is hoping to lead the team to the

play-offs this time. He is the most successful captain in IPL history,

captaining his teams (CSK and Rising Pune Supergiant) to

111 wins.

Football

Olympian Ahmed

Hussain no more

New Delhi : Football Olympian Ahmed Hussain, who

was a member of the India team which finished fourth at the

1956 Melbourne Olympics, died on Friday. He was 89.

Ahmed Hussain made his debut against Bulgaria on

December 7, 1956 and went on to make 11 appearances for

India. He was also part of the India team, which finished

fourth at the 1958 Asian Games in Tokyo.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) president,

Praful Patel, in his condolence message said, "It is sad to

hear that Mr. Ahmed Hussain is no more. I share the grief."

AIFF general secretary, Kushal Das said, "Mr. Ahmed

Hussain was a very talented defender who played with

repute at the international and domestic level. My condolences

to his family."

On the domestic front, Hussain represented both

Hyderabad and Bengal in the Santosh Trophy, and won it on

four occasions.

He also played for Mohammedan Sporting and created

history when his side became the first Indian team to win the

Aga Khan Gold Cup in Dhaka in 1960. Hussain also won

the Rovers Cup with Mohammedan Sporting in 1959.

DRS is not there to

take a chance : Dhoni

Mumbai : Chennai Super

Kings skipper MS Dhoni offered a

brief lesson on how to use

Decision Review System (DRS)

that might come in handy for those

struggling to use it well like the

current Indian team. Dhoni, who

has been known to be spot on with

DRS, opted to not take a review

against Punjab Kings batsman

Shahrukh Khan after he was hit on

the pads by a Deepak Chahar

delivery on the very first ball he

faced. The umpire had ruled him

not out and it seemed from the

replays that Dhoni's decision to not

take a review was right.

"I thought that [lbw call] was

high. So told him (Chahar) 'no we

are not reviewing'. I have always

felt DRS is there to take the

howlers away and not just to take a

chance. You only take a chance if

it's the last over of the game or it's

someone very important," said

Dhoni after the match while

explaining how he has approached

DRS. Dhoni, however, praised

Chahar for his effort that saw the

pace bowler take four early wickets

to peg the Punjab franchise

back. The right-arm pacer returned

with figures of four wickets for 13

runs in four overs. Despite being a

good death overs bowler, Chahar

bowled all his four overs early

without a break.

"Chahar is somebody who has

developed as a death overs bowler

too. If I'm looking to attack and

there is movement I try to bowl

him out because he gets more out

of the pitch. As a bowling unit we

have more resources. I was looking

to attack, so bowled his four

overs and it helps in becoming fit

because to bowl 4 successive overs

you need to be fit," added Dhoni.


4

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Sharmila continues her

fast in HYDERABAD

Hyderabad : The daughter

tioned the silence of Telangana

of former Andhra Pradesh

Chief Minister K.

Chief Minister Y.S.

Chandrasekhar Rao over the

Rajasekhara Reddy, Y.S.

suicides by unemployed youth.

Sharmila, continued her fast for

a second consecutive day on

She said the CM should

respond to the burning problem.

Friday demanding the

Telangana government to issue

job notifications for the unemployed

youth of the state.

She alleged that dejected

over the delay in job notifications,

unemployed youth are

Sharmila continued the

ending their lives but the Chief

hunger strike at her Lotus Pond

residence in Banjara Hills here.

Her mother Y.S. Vijayamma

was also present to show solidarity

with her.

Minister is neglecting the issue.

Recalling that the youth

were in the forefront of the

movement for the statehood to

Telangana, she demanded that

Doctors have examined

the Telangana Rashtra Samithi

Sharmila, who has vowed to

continue her fast for 72 hours

demanding the state government

to fill all the vacancies to

provide employment to the

(TRS) government must fulfil

their aspirations by providing

them jobs.

"There are 1.91 lakh vacancies.

The government should

educated youth of the state.

fill them," she said and

Sharmila, who plans to

launch a new political party in

Telangana in July this year, had

appealed to the youth not to

resort to suicides, assuring

them that she would lead the

launched the fast at the Indira

fight to pressurise the government

to issue job notifications.

Park on Thursday. As the police The police, however, stopped Sharmila at her residence. She,

had given permission only for Sharmila from doing so, leading

to pushing and jostling there, condemning the police a week after addressing a pub-

however, continued the fast Sharmila undertook the fast

one-day fast, they forced her to

end the protest on Thursday between the police personnel action and demanding release lic meeting at Khammam,

evening.

and the protesters. At one stage, of all her supporters.

where she had announced that

She then tried to take out a she collapsed and was briefly Sharmila, who is the sister of she will launch a new political

'padyatra' from the hunger unconscious.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister party on July 8, the birth

strike venue to her residence. The police later dropped Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, ques-

anniversary of her father.

Covid 2.0 may claim 2,320 lives

per day in India by June: Report

New Delhi : The lethal second

wave of Coronavirus will

likely claim nearly 1,750-2,320

lives per day in India by the

first week of June 2021, if

proper steps are not immediately

taken to curb its spread,

warned a report by the Lancet

Covid-19 Commission.

Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh,

Karnataka, Delhi, Tamil Nadu,

Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh

and Gujarat will likely remain

the most affected, according to

the report titled "Managing

India's second Covid-19 wave:

Urgent steps".

The second wave of the

Covid-19 pandemic hit India

hard with the number of new

infections rising from 11,794 in

the first week of February 2021

to 152,565 as of April 10, 2021.

Death rate also touched new

heights daily -- from 116 in the

first week of February 2021 to

838 as of April 10, 2021.

The second wave also took

less than 40 days to reach the

80,000 mark. From 10,000 new

cases per day in February to

80,000 new cases per day in

April. In September, this journey

took 83 days. Many positive

cases are asymptomatic or

mildly symptomatic, the report

said.

Fiscally, India may need to

spend more than $7.8 billion on

testing and $1.7 billion on

health care utilisation due to

Covid-19 infections leading to

death by September 2021, it

added.

"All efforts need to be made

to break the transmission chain

and reduce the rate of new

infections, with minimum disruption

to the economy and to

the livelihood of its people,"

the report said, noting that

accelerating vaccinations is

key.

"The past year has shown us,

both within India and in other

countries, that strong political

will, together with building

preparedness in the health system,

and individual and community

behaviour change can

yield powerful results. We hope

that strong, decisive actions

taken now will spare India a

long second wave and set in

place actions to prevent further

waves of Covid-19 infections,"

the report said.

To combat the spread of

Covid-19, the report suggested

measures such as ensuring vaccinations

for all adults, including

those below 45, need to

ramp up manufacturing capacity,

address vaccine hesitancy

among others.

In the last 24 hours, India

reported over 2 lakh new

Covid-19 cases, the biggest single-day

spike ever, according to

the latest Health Ministry data.

The overall number of confirmed

cases stands at

1,40,74,564.

Mehbooba backs SPO, says

even women aren't spared

in 'NAYA KASHMIR'

Srinagar : Speaking in support of a woman SPO (special

police officer), whose services

were terminated for

allegedly glorifying terrorism,

former Jammu and Kashmir

Chief Minister Mehbooba

Mufti said on Friday that the

officer has been slapped with

UAPA for raising legitimate

questions.

On Friday, the Jammu and

Kashmir Police arrested and

terminated the services of a

lady SPO for allegedly glorifying

terrorism. "Saima

Akhter from Kulgam has been

slapped with UAPA for raising

legitimate questions about searching her home repeatedly

without any reasons," Mufti tweeted.

"Saima's ailing mother understandably exacerbated her worries.

When it comes to cruelty, even women aren't spared in Naya

Kashmir," she added.

The police had earlier said that the lady SPO was arrested

from Kulgam district and her services were terminated for glorifying

terrorism and obstructing government officials in the discharge

of their duty. "On April 14, acting on a specific input

regarding the presence of terrorists at Karewa Mohallah in Frisal

village, a search operation was launched by the security forces in

the area. During the search operation, the search party was

obstructed by a lady identified as Saima Akther, the daughter of

Ghulam Nabi Rah, a resident of Frisal," the police said.

"The lady resisted the search party and turned violent, uttering

statements glorifying violent actions of terrorists. She captured a

video through her personal phone and uploaded it on social

media platforms for dissemination with the intent of disrupting

the search operation," the police added. Taking cognisance of the

matter, the police arrested the woman and subsequently terminated

her from service.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

With COVID cases surging, EC

restricts campaigning in Bengal

Kolkata : Considering the steep rise of

Covid cases in the state, the Election

Commission(EC) has restricted all parties

from conducting any kind of political rallies,

meetings and political gatherings

between 7 pm and 10 am during the days of

campaign from Friday onwards.

Invoking its powers under Article 324,

EC also extended the silence hours from 48

hours to 72 hours in the next phases of

election. In an order issued by the commission,

it has been said that ’No rallies, public

meetings, street plays, Nukkad Sabhas

shall be allowed on any day during the

days of campaigning between 7 pm and 10

am from 7 pm of 16.04.2021’.

The commission also said that silence

period for rallies, public meetings, street

plays, Nukkad Sabhas, bike rallies or any

gathering for campaigning purposes shall

be extended to 72 hours before the end of

the poll for phase 6, phase 7 and phase 8 in

the state. The commission has asked all the

candidates and political parties to adhere to

the Covid guidelines laid down by the

commission and also made it clear that it

would be the responsibility of the political

parties to provide masks and sanitisers to

all the people attending the political rallies

and meetings.

The Commission has given absolute

authority to the District Election Officers

to enforce Covid guidelines and will cancel

the meetings and rallies if the rules laid

down by the commission are not followed.

Special Observers and the General, Police

and Expenditure Observers are given the

responsibility to strictly monitor the compliance

of Covid norms during the elections.

The decisions were taken after an allparty

was convened by the chief electoral

officer Ariz Aftab on Friday in which the

Trinamool Congress urged the Election

Commission to club the last three phases of

elections into one with the

Covid-19 pandemic situation

showing an upward surge in the

country including in Bengal.

However, the other political

parties pitched against the clubbing

of the next three phases and

vowed to follow the guidelines

laid down by the commission.

"We believe that people’s

lives should be given the topmost

priority. However, the

health protocols and sanitisation

measures cannot be implemented

properly because of engagement

of a good number of government

officials in the lengthy

election process. We feel the last

three phases of elections should

be clubbed into a single one so

that we can put in the full

machinery to curb the Covid

pandemic situation," Partha

Chatterjee, Trinamool Congress

secretary general, said.

The BJP differed and said that

the level playing field for those

candidates who are contesting

the last three phases of elections

cannot be offered if election phases are integrated.

"So far 61 per cent of the candidates

would have finished their election by

tomorrow (Saturday) as five of the eight

phases will be over. So, if there are any sort

of restrictions in campaign then the 31 per

cent candidates who are in the fray in the

last three phases will be deprived. There

needs to be a balance between campaigning

and adhering to safety norms and we are

ready to follow guidelines laid down by the

Commission for campaigning," BJP leader

Swapan Dasgupta said. Rabin Deb, who

was present in the all-party meeting as a

representative from Sanjukta Morcha, said:

"We have informed the Commission that we

will strictly adhere to any guidelines laid

down by the poll panel in connection with

the election campaign amidst Covid pandemic

situation. We have decided to hold

rallies and meetings that will not involve a

large gathering of people," Deb said.

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

5

Punjab to deploy 270

ambulances for emergency care

Chandigarh, April 16 (IANS) Punjab has entered into a pact to

procure 270 ambulances from Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd (ZHL), a private

emergency medical service provider, for its residents free of

cost, it was announced on Friday. The ambulances comprise 245

basic life support and 25 advance life support vehicles. Ziqitza

operates the 108 emergency service number with GPS-enabled

ambulances. The ambulances are strategically located in the operational

district in such a way that the entire district can be covered

within minimum time.

The entire service right from a person making a call to the necessary

pre-hospital care in the ambulance and taking the victim to

the nearest hospital will be absolutely free. Speaking about the

development, Saikat Mukherjee, Project Head, Ziqitza, said,

"With the complete fleet of 270 ambulances, we would be able to

provide better access to the pre-hospital services."

Female student held for

smuggling gold worth Rs 1 cr

Lucknow : A 22-

year-old female student

from Kolkata

was arrested by customs

sleuths at

Lucknow airport for

smuggling gold

worth Rs 1.13 crore.

The student,

whose father is a

wholesale dealer in

rice, was returning

from Dubai on an Indigo flight which landed in Lucknow on April

13. According to Deputy Commissioner, Customs, Niharika

Lakha, "The female student was trying to smuggle 2,318 grams of

gold which she had concealed in white polythene inside her underwear."

"It was the biggest catch from a woman passenger," she

added. The accused gold carrier was produced before a Magistrate

and sent to jail. Customs sleuths confirmed that the woman was

caught for the first time in Lucknow.

She was supposed to hand over the gold to a person waiting

outside the airport.

3 hours waiting time in cremation grounds of Patna

Patna : Keeping in view the number

of deaths in Bihar, family members

of the deceased are waiting two to

three hours in cremation grounds to

perform the last rites of their loved

ones.

Moreover, the employees at the cremation

grounds are allegedly extorting

Rs 2000 to Rs 4000 for ambulance

service and cremation of one body.

IANS visited the cremation

grounds in Digha, Bas Ghat and

Mahendru Gulbi Ghat to check the

ground reality. A number of bodies

were found inside these cremation

grounds located on the banks of the

Ganga river.

An active worker of the ruling

political party named Rahul Kumar,

came with a body to Bas Ghat and said

that the state government and the local

administration completely failed to

provide basic facilities in Bihar.

"As per a state government order,

no charge is needed to be paid at the

cremation grounds if a patient died

due to coronavirus. Here in Bas Ghat,

the ambulance charged Rs 2000 for

carrying the body from the hospital to

the cremation ground and I have paid

Rs 2000 to cremate the body of my

uncle," said Rahul Kumar.

When asked, an employee of the

Bas Ghat cremation ground said: "We

are putting our lives at high risk of

infection, hence, we are charging

money and are not scared of the district

administration’s action against us.

The work we are doing is highly dangerous."

In the last 24 hours, the state government

said that 24 persons infected

with coronavirus and admitted in different

hospitals, have died in Bihar.

Sources however said that the number

of deaths is much higher than the official

figures.

Keeping in view the long waiting

time at the cremation grounds, Patna

District Magistrate Chandrashekhar

Singh admitted mismanagement at the

cremation grounds. He has now directed

the Patna Municipal Corporation to

repair electric cremation units in

Khajekalan, Patna city and Gulbi Ghat

in Mahendru locality. At present, only

one electric cremation unit at Bas Ghat

is operational where 43 bodies were

cremated in the last 36 hours.


6 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Worldwide Equality day & Knowledge day Celebrated on the occasion of

194th Rashtrapita Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Birth Anniversary & 130th

Bharat Ratna DR. B. R. AMBEDKAR Birth Anniversary

The year 2021 has been a difficult

time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many countries are on the 3rd or 4th

wave of a Covid-19 lockdown and due

to this lot of local gatherings of any

physical kind are strictly prohibited.

Over 500 plus, worldwide Bahujan

Indian organization celebrates an online

Cyber celebration to commemorate

Equality day & Knowledge day on the

occasion of the 194th Rashtrapita

Mahatma Jyotirao Phule’s birth anniversary

& Bharat Ratna Dr. B R

Ambedkar’s 130th birth anniversary.

These online celebrations help the

Bahujan community to come together

and pay respects to tribute the beloved

leaders like Rashtrapita Mahatma

Jyotirao Phule and Babasaheb

Ambedkar by garlanding statues, light

candles in front of their photographs,

read their favourite quotes, and even

cheer slogans such as “’JAI PHULE,

JAI BHIM’, ‘Mahatma Phule Amar

Rahe, and Dr. Ambedkar Amar Rahe’”

from their respective homes.

The Bahujan community came

together from all over the world like

The United States, Canada, United

Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy,

Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Greece,

Holland, Austria, Belgium, Lebanon,

Japan, Singapore, Australia, New

Zealand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab

Emirates, Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Dubai,

Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, and of

Mumbai : Actors and

actresses of North and South

Indian film industries joining

hands is not new. Bollywood and

South stars collaborating on

screen has been a trend in the

past with the likes of

Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan,

Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Prabhu

Deva, and many others collaborating

with Aishwarya Rai,

Deepika Padukone, Sonakshi

Sinha, Manisha Koirala,

Raveena Tandon and Kajol etc.

While the trend had slowed

down in between, the new generation

of stars seem to be reviving

the idea. Calling it the "pan-

India" film for maximum reach,

many new-generation stars from

North and South are coming

together in some of the biggest

ventures, over the coming

months. The idea, of course, is to

maximise audience base and revenues

at a time uncertainty rules

over the film business.

Over the next months, Vijay

Deverakonda stars with Ananya

Panday in Liger, while Alia

Bhatt and Ajay Devgn will seen

in RRR with Ram Charan and Jr

NTR. Prabhas, Kriti Sanon and

Saif Ali Khan co-star in

Adipurush, and Prabhas teams

up with Amitabh Bachchan and

Deepika Padukone in an untitled

film. These are just a few

course India. These online cyber celebrations

are telecasted live on Bahujan

media networks like AwaazTV,

instances.

The trend has ensured such

films are released in multiple

languages such as Hindi, Tamil

Telugu and Malayalam -- which

helps in reaching out to a bigger

audience. This, in turn, helps

stars gain fandom beyond their

own respective region.

IANS takes a look at some of

MaitriTV, KanshiTV, Samyak India TV,

BahujanTV, Bahujan Sanghtak, MNT

News Network, MN Live, Dalit Dastak,

Top names of North and South

co-star in mega projects

the biggest North-South collaborartions

coming up in mainstream

Indian cinema:

RRR

Bollywood actors Alia Bhatt

and Ajay Devgn will be seen in

this magnum opus by SS

Rajamouli. The film also features

South stars Ram Charan

and Jr. NTR. The film is set

against the backdrop of the

independence era. The period

drama centres around the life of

freedom fighters Komaram

Bheem and Alluri Sita

Ramaraju. It will be released in

Telugu, Tamil, Hindi,

Malayalam, Kannada and other

Indian languages.

ADIPURUSH

Bollywood actors Kriti

Sanon and Saif Ali Khan will be

seen sharing screen space with

Telugu star Prabhas in the film,

reportedly an adaptation of

Ramayan. Adipurush will be

released in Hindi, Telugu,

Tamil, Malayalam and

Kannada. Kriti is set to essay

Sita while Saif will be seen

essaying Ravan and Prabhas will

feature as Lord Ram in the Om

Raut directorial.

LIGER

Telugu star Vijay

Deverakonda's upcoming ambitious

action film also features

Bollywood actress Ananya

Panday. The film is set to release

in five languages -- Hindi,

Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and

Malayalam. It is scheduled to hit

the screens on September 9.

Vijay will be seen playing a

boxer in the film directed by Puri

Jagannadh directorial.

HAATHI MERE SAATHI

The film stars Rana

Daggubati along with Hindi film

actors such as Pulkit Samrat,

Shriya Pilgaonkar and Zoya

Hussain. It has three different

titles for three different versions

-- Haathi Mere Saathi is called

Aranya in Telugu version and

Kaadan in Tamil. The release of

the Hindi version has been

affected due to the spike in

Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra.

UNTITLED AMITABH

BACHCHAN-PRABHAS-

DEEPIKA PADUKONE

STARRER

Superstars Amitabh

Bachchan, Deepika Padukone

and Prabhas have joined hands

for a mega multi-lingual film,

which has not been titled yet.

This is the first time Prabhas collaborates

with Big B and

Deepika. However, it has not

been reported as to how many

languages the film will release.

The film is slated to open next

year.

Velivada , The News Beak, and

YouTube channels. They have used

multiple online meeting platforms like

skype, google hangout, Facebook,

YouTube, Zoom, WebEx, Free-conference

call, webinar jam, and

GoToMeeting.

Nowadays, these online celebrations

are getting overwhelming responses

from all levels, all ages, and backgrounds

of participants. There were

multiple cultural activities performed by

children, women, online Kahoot

quizzes, inspirational song competitions,

speeches, book launches, blood

donation camps, wheelchair donation

camps, free food community kitchen,

and paintings done to commemorate the

celebration.

“A symbol of humanistic thought and

sacrifice by these leaders is a source of

motivation and inspiration to all

Bahujan community.” These cyber celebrations

are continuing from the 1st

week of April till the end of May at multiple

locations across the globe.

Mahesh Wasnik

-Detroit, Michigan

Shaan reacts to 1,700

people testing Covid

positive at Kumbh Mela

Mumbai, April 16 (IANS) Singer Shaan on Friday reacted to a

news report on Twitter stating over 1,700 people have tested positive

for Covid-19 at Kumbh Mela, Haridwar between April 10 and

14. "Why would God save us.. ??? if we are just not interested in

saving ourselves and our families.. Please Please

#StayHomeStaySafe," tweeted Shaan.

Several Bollywood personalities have reacted to the Kumbh

Mela being conducted amid the ongoing second wave of the

Covid-19 pandemic.

"The kumbh mela and political rallies clearly prove that politicians

care only about VOTES and not about PEOPLE..In other

words they don't care about the people DYING once they cast their

votes ...SO INTELLIGENT NO? WOWWWW," filmmaker Ram

Gopal Varma tweeted on Friday.

"You know what the real bad news is? It's going to get much

worse. Election campaigns are peaking. Hundreds of thousands of

People from the Kumbh, Haridwar are returning home.

P. R. E. P. A. R. E," filmmaker Anubhav Sinha posted late on

Thursday.

"Not sure if I'm more traumatised by videos of the Kumbh and

election rallies or by COVID. I think it's the former," veteran

actress Soni Razdan tweeted earlier this week.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

7

CORONAVIRUS predominantly

spreading via air: Lancet study

New Delhi : There is consistent,

strong evidence to prove that the

SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes

Covid-19, is predominantly transmitted

through the air, according to a new

assessment published in the medical

journal The Lancet.

A multi-research team from the

UK, US and Canada warned that public

health measures that fail to treat the

virus as predominantly airborne leave

people unprotected and allow the virus

to spread.

Silent (asymptomatic or presymptomatic)

transmission of SARS-CoV-2

from people who are not coughing or

sneezing accounts for at least 40 per

cent of all transmission.

This silent transmission is a key

way Covid-19 has spread around the

world, "supporting a predominantly

airborne mode of transmission," as per

the assessment.

By contrast, the researchers found

little to no evidence that the virus

spreads easily via large droplets,

which fall quickly through the air and

contaminate surfaces.

"The evidence supporting airborne

transmission is overwhelming, and

evidence supporting large droplet

transmission is almost non-existent,"

said Jose-Luis Jimenez, chemist at the

Cooperative Institute for Research in

Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and

University of Colorado Boulder.

"It is urgent that the World Health

Organisation and other public health

agencies adapt their description of

transmission to the scientific evidence

so that the focus of mitigation is put on

reducing airborne transmission,"

Jimenez said.

Further, the researchers emphasise

that while it is necessary to wash hand

and clean surfaces, they should be

given less emphasis than airborne

measures.

If an infectious virus is primarily

airborne, someone can potentially be

infected when they inhale aerosols

produced when an infected person

exhales, speaks, shouts, sings, or

sneezes.

The airborne control measures

include ventilation, air filtration,

reducing crowding and the amount of

time people spend indoors, wearing

masks whenever indoors (even if not

within 6 feet or 2 metres of others),

attention to mask quality and fit, and

higher-grade PPE for healthcare and

other staff when working in contact

with potentially infectious people.

The team reviewed published

research and identified 10 lines of evidence

to support the predominance of

the airborne route.

At the top of their list: Superspreader

events such as the Skagit

Choir outbreak, in which 53 people

became infected from a single infected

case. Studies have confirmed these

events cannot be adequately explained

by close contact or touching shared

surfaces or objects.

Moreover, transmission rates of

SARS-CoV-2 are much higher indoors

than outdoors, and transmission is

greatly reduced by indoor ventilation.

The researchers also cited work

demonstrating long-range transmission

of the virus between people in

adjacent rooms in hotels; people who

were never in each other's presence.

Mumbai 'dons' 55-ft-long

face-mask on Charlie

Chaplin's 132nd birth anniv

COVID turns deadly for

Indians in 30-45 age group

Mumbai : In an unique gesture to mark the 132nd birth anniversary

of the legendary comedian, Sir Charles Chaplin, a Mumbai philanthropist

unveiled a 55-feet long Covid-19 face-mask, here on

Friday. An initiative of Dr. Aneel Kashi Murarka, of the NGO Ample

Mission, the face mask is billed as the world's largest and features

photos of Sir Chaplin on it.

The face-mask went on display at the Shiv Dham Cemetery in

Goregaon to highlight the dangers of moving around without a facemask

in the global Coronavirus pandemic.

"Typically, a cemetery is considered a shoddy, congested and

unhygienic place But Shiv Dham Crematorium built by us is very

different, neat and clean with all facilities for cremation and manned

by competent and caring staff," Dr. Murarka said.

He said Ample Mission selected Shiv Dham Crematorium as the

location for the face-mask on Charlie Chaplin's birthday to convey

that "if we do not use the face-mask, we shall be closer to the destination

(cemetery) that we seek to keep away from."

Present on the occasion were prominent comedian Raju Srivastava

known for his infectious humour in films, television and social

media, and actor Rajan Kumar, who is known as India's own Charlie

Chaplin. Several volunteers sported placards highlighting simple

Covid-19 protocol messages while Kumar sported a Chaplin costume

and regaled the audiences.

New Delhi : For Vijay, a 32-year-old

healthy working professional in the

national capital, testing positive for

Covid-19 was bad news.

Within no time, the symptoms became

severe with respiratory complications,

and his family rushed from one hospital

to another earlier this week to find a ventilator

bed but to no avail. Critical, he

passed away on Thursday, leaving his

near and dear ones bereaved.

As a lethal second Covid wave hits

people in all age groups, including children

below age 12 and even infants, those

between 30 and 45 years of age, who

were spared last year, are now falling victims

amid acute shortage of ventilator

beds in the national capital and beyond,

according to health experts.

The novel coronavirus that has gone

through several mutations is hitting healthy

adults with some kind of a vengeance.

The second surge swung into action in

March: From about 15,000 new cases per

day in the beginning, it reached around

55,000 fresh cases a day towards the end of

the month.

By April 1, active cases in the country

touched 610,927, from 165,000 just a month

ago.

In the last 24 hours, India reported over 2

lakh new Covid-19 cases, the biggest singleday

spike ever, according to the latest Health

Ministry data. The overall number of confirmed

cases stands at 1,40,74,564.

"In phase 2 of Covid starting March 2021,

the impact seems higher in young adults,"

Ramakanta Panda, VC and MD at Asian

Heart Institute, Mumbai, told IANS.

"This time, the virus is more infectious

and is spreading fast. The young adults are at

utmost risk primarily because they haven't

had their doses of vaccine and are being

exposed to the wave as they step out for

work," added Rajesh Chawala, Senior

Consultant, Pulmonary Medicine,

Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.

Besides lack of vaccinations for the

group, carelessness and Covid-related inappropriate

behaviour -- not wearing masks

and not adhering to social distancing measures

-- are the major reasons behind the 30-

45 age group getting affected more, the

experts noted.

The symptoms that were prevalent

last year were high-grade fever and persistent

fever, cold, cough and rapid

deterioration of oxygen levels. In the

second wave, the symptoms are more

wide ranging.

"This time, we are seeing symptoms

like stomach upset, pain in the abdomen

and eyes, which were not seen last

time," said Umar Zahoor, Head

(Emergency), Indian Spinal Injuries

Centre, New Delhi.

During the first wave, the virus was

known to attack more on the lungs.

However, the second surge seems to be

affecting other organs as well. "Joint

pain and stomach-related symptoms

have now emerged, which prove that Covid

is affecting more organs than before. There

are also gastrointestinal symptoms like loss

of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, etc," said

Panda.

"We hardly know about the disease and it

is possibly the strain that is causing more

infection this time," added Zahoor.

Beginning January 16 this year, India has

administered over 114 million coronavirus

vaccine doses across the country to date.

The jabs have been administered to

healthcare and frontline workers, and for

those between the age of 45 and 59, but the

next high-risk category -- under the age

group of 30-45 -- is yet to be notified for the

Covid jabs.


8 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Active COVID cases cross

1-lakh mark in Karnataka

Bengaluru : With a record 14,859

new Covid cases in a day, active cases

in Karnataka crossed 1-lakh mark,

while 78 deaths occurred across the

state in the last 24 hours, said the state

health bulletin on Friday.

"With 14,859 new cases registered

on Thursday, the state's Covid tally

shot up to 11,24,509, including

1,07,315 active cases, while 10,03,985

recovered, with 4,031 discharged during

the day," said the daily bulletin, As

epicentre of the pandemic, Bengaluru

reported 9,917 fresh cases, taking its

Covid tally to 5,22,438, including

79,616 active cases, while recoveries

rose to 4,37,801, with 2,071 patients

discharged in the day. With 78

patients, including 57 in Bengaluru

succumbing to the virus during the

day, the state's death toll rose to

13,190 and the city's toll to 5,020

since the pandemic

broke out in mid-

March a year ago. Of

the 577 patients in the

intensive care units

(ICUs), 189 are in

Bengaluru, 81 in

Kalaburagi, 43 in

Kolar, 31 in Mysuru,

25 in Dharwad, 23 in

Bidar and 21 in

Tumakur, with the rest

in the remaining 24

districts across the

state. Out of 1,33,737

tests conducted during

the day across the

state, 13,509 were

through rapid antigen

detection and 1,20,228

through RT-PCR

method. Positivity rate

jumped to 11.11 per

cent while case fatality

rate was 0.52 per cent

across the state on

Thursday. Meanwhile,

57,773, including 26,601 senior citizens

above 60 years of age and 30,524

in the 45-59 years age group received

the vaccination across the state during

the day.

"Cumulatively, 64,01,727 people,

including healthcare workers and

frontline warriors received the jab

since the vaccine drive was launched

on January 16 across the state," added

the bulletin.

On eve of weekend curfew, Delhi

reports near 20K fresh Covid cases

New Delhi : A day before the national capital enters the weekend curfew

mode, Delhi on Friday reported another single-day high of 19,484 fresh

Covid-19 cases, while 141 deaths in the past 24 hours mounted its Covid

death toll to 11,793, according to the health bulletin issued by the Delhi government.

Alarmingly, the test positivity rate in Delhi has now shot up to 19.69 per

cent, while the number of active cases has breached the 60K-mark, including

29,705 persons under home isolation.

On a positive note, a total of 12,649 persons recovered from the disease

in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of recoveries in the national

capital to 7,30,825 so far.

As many as 98,957 Covid-19 samples were tested in the last 24 hours,

including 64,939 RT-PCR tests and 30,018 Rapid Antigen tests.

The national capital has been reporting over 10,000 new Covid cases for

five consecutive days now. In view of the exponential surge in cases, the

Delhi government has imposed a weekend curfew till April 30 that comes

into effect from 10 pm on Friday and will continue till 5 am on Monday.

Those rendering essential services will be issued curfew passes.

Union Minister Javadekar

tests positive for Covid

New Delhi : Union Information

and Broadcasting Minister Prakash

Javadekar on Friday announced

that he has tested positive for

Covid-19. In a tweet, Javadekar,

who also holds the portfolios of

Environment, Forest and Climate

Change, and Heavy Industries and

Public Enterprises said: "I have

tested Covid positive today. All

those who have come in contact

with me in the last 2-3 days may

please get themselves tested."

Earlier in the day, Congress

national media in-charge Randeep

Singh Surjewala also tested positive

for Covid-19.

In a tweet, he said: "I have tested

positive for Covid-19 today

morning. Anyone who has come in

contact with me in the last 5 days,

please self isolate and take necessary

precautions."

India has recorded more than

two lakh cases for second consecutive

day on Friday. Expressing

concern over the surge in the

Covid-19 cases, Congress General

Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

in a tweet in Hindi said: "Dear

countrymen, this is a time of great

crisis for all of us. All our close relatives,

family members, people

around us are getting hit by the

Covid epidemic. I request to all to

wear face mask and follow all

instructions related to Covid safety.

We have to win this war together

with caution and compassion."

Priyanka Gandhi herself is in

home isolation after her husband

Robert Vadra tested positive.

Besides Javadekar, several

Ministers and Chief Ministers too

have tested positive for Covid.

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S.

Yediyurappa tested positive on

Friday - the second time in eight

months. On April 14, Uttar

Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi

Adityanath has tested positive, and

his predecessor and Samajwadi

Party chief Akhilesh Yadav tested

positive on the same day.

Delhi Transport and Law

Minister Kailash Gahlot tested

positive for Covid-19 on April 14.

On April 11, Union Minister

Sanjeev Balyan said he has tested

positive for coronavirus after

showing some symptoms while

campaigning for West Bengal

Assembly elections.

On April 7, Union Minister of

Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda said he

has tested positive for Covid-19

and appealed all the people who

came in contact with him to get

themselves tested.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi

Vijayan too has tested positive for

Covid-19 on April 8. Even former

Kerala Chief Minister and

Congress leader Oommen Chandy

also tested positive for Covid-19

on April 8. Tripura Chief Minister

Biplab Kumar Deb on April 7 said

he has tested positive for Covid-

19. Senior DMK leader and

Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi has

also tested positive for Covid-19

on April 3.

BJP Councillor found

dead in car, family

claims MURDER

Meerut (UP) : A

BJP councillor has

been found dead in his

car with a bullet

wound. Manish

Chaudhary's body was

found on the driver's

seat in Kankerkhera on

Thursday.

A country-made

pistol, a bottle of

liquor and a glass were

also lying by his side in the SUV, police

said. Manish Chaudhary a.k.a. Mintu, 38,

had hit the headlines in 2018 after a video

in which he was seen thrashing a police

officer went viral. A BJP ward member of

Meerut Municipal Corporation, Chaudhary

had served a jail term for thrashing a subinspector

in his restaurant three years ago.

The policeman had come for lunch with a

woman lawyer when an argument had broken

out over the delay in serving the food.

It was then that Chaudhary had allegedly

attacked the policeman after an argument.

The video of the incident was widely

shared on social media platforms.

Chaudhary was later booked and sent to

jail. On

Thursday,

police claimed

that Chaudhary

shot himself

dead after

speaking to a

relative over

the phone.

Chaudhary's

brother-in-law,

Kuldeep

Dhama, has filed a police complaint alleging

murder.

"My brother-in-law had left home on

Thursday evening. He had to settle some

property deal and was carrying Rs 9 lakh in

cash and some gold jewellery. He was fine

and in good health. It seems someone has

killed him," Dhama told reporters.

SP (city) Vineet Bhatnagar said, "Prima

facie, it is a case of suicide which can be

corroborated by an audio clip which he had

sent to a relative that points towards his

desire to end his life. But we are probing

the matter. Forensic teams have collected

the samples and post mortem examination

report is awaited."


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 9

’Railways has provided 20 isolation

ward coaches to Maha’s Nandurbar’

New Delhi : Keeping in view the

growing number of Covid cases across

the country, the Indian Railways,

which has prepared over 4,000 coaches

as isolation wards for patients, has

provided 20 coaches to Maharashtra’s

Nandurbar district.

India on Friday recorded over 2

lakh Covid cases in the last 24 hours.

India has recorded two lakh Covid

cases for two consecutive days.

While responding to a question

about the number of train coaches

deployed as Covid-19 care isolation

coach, Railways Board Chairman and

CEO Suneet Sharma said, "Last year

we prepared 4,000 isolation coaches

for Covid-19 patients. And till date we

have provided 20 coaches in

Nandurbar district in Maharashtra."

He said that Nandurbar has

demanded 100 isolation ward coaches

from the railways and in the coming

days more coaches will be provided.

The Indian Railways had last year

converted over 4,000 coaches as isolation

wards for Covid-19 patients with

proper facilities for the medical team

and the infected persons.

These coaches have been placed at

several stations across the country.

Sharma said that last year the railways

had provided over 800 isolation

ward coaches to the Delhi, Bihar and

Uttar Pradesh governments.

When asked about the extra rush

seen at several stations in

Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and

other parts of the country, the

Chairman assured that the national

transporter is keeping a close watch on

the situation. He said: "We are keeping

a close watch on stations, in all stations

at Mumbai, Gujarat’s Surat,

Karnataka’s Bengaluru and others, and

wherever we are finding high demand

we have authorised our general managers

to operate more trains."

He assured that there will no dearth

of services and the situation is quite

normal now particularly in Mumbai,

Surat and Bengaluru.

Sharma said that services of the

trains will continue, and wherever

there are demands they will operate

extra services.

asked about the arrangements for

Covid protocols in trains and railway

premises, Sharma said that the railways

through its e-ticketing portal of

IRCTC and through announcements at

railway stations and through displays

is spreading awareness among the

people to follow Covid-19 guidelines.

"And as a precaution we have

stopped providing bed linen, blankets

in air conditioned coaches since last

year, and we are only allowing ready

to eat food in the trains," he said.

Citing the achievement in the

freight business of the national transporter,

Sharma said, "Last year we

have loaded 1232.64 million tonne of

freight, which is highest in history of

railways."

"And by April 15 in this financial

year, railways loaded 54.4 million

tonne of freight as compared to 30.8

million tonne during the same period

last year and the revenue from freight

till April 15, 2021 is Rs 5,429 crore as

compared to Rs 2,816 crore last year

during same period," he said.

He said that the railways is also carrying

essential commodities. "We are

continuing to maintain our services

even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Railways will provide whatever

demand is there. Entire railways fraternity

is dedicated to serve the

requirement of the nation," he added.

153 rail coaches on standby

for Mumbai Covid patients

Mumbai : With the Covid-19 continuing

to march aggressively, the

Central Railway (CR) and Western

Railway (WR) is all prepared to provide

rail coaches for isolation of

asymptomatic patients, officials said

here on Friday.

While the WR has kept on standby

128 coaches, CR has reserved 25,

totalling to 153 coaches where the

patients can be shifted as Mumbai’s

’active cases’ inches close to the onelakh

mark. It may be recalled that last

year, at the height of the Covid pandemic

in 2020, the Indian Railways

had converted over 5,000 rail coaches

for Corona patients across the

country.

However, till now railway coaches

were not utilized in Mumbai or

Mumbai Metropolitan Region

(MMR) - both the worst-hit in the

country - but this year in view of the

steep increase in Covid patients, the

isolation coaches may be used, officials

said.

These coaches are parked at different

railway sidings in and around the

city, and can be quickly shunted

around for medical use after washing,

cleaning, installing oxygen cylinders

inside, etc. "We can deploy them at

short notice after we get the request

from the concerned medical authorities,

and take them to the designated

locations by adhering to all the government

protocols in this regard,"

said the official, declining to be identified.

The Mumbai tally has shot up

to 553,404 cases and 12,197 deaths,

besides 84,753 ’active cases’.

The Mumbai Circle (MMR) has

recorded a total of 11,50,776 cases

and 21,416 deaths and the state tally

is 36,39,855 cases and 59,153 fatalities

till date.

Akali Dal MP

Harsimrat tests

Covid-19 positive

Chandigarh : Akali Dal MP

and former Union Minister

Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Friday

tested Covid-19 positive. Earlier,

her husband Sukhbir Badal had

contacted the virus. "Dear all,

I’ve tested positive for Covid-19

today with mild symptoms. I

have quarantined myself at home

and am taking all the necessary

precautions," she informed in a

tweet. "I would request all those

who came in contact with me to

isolate and get themselves tested

at the earliest."

Her husband, who is also a

Member of Parliament, had tested

positive on March 16. He was

discharged from a private hospital

in Gurugram on March 24.

Students turn teachers for underprivileged

kids in Covid times

New Delhi : At a time when

an outbreak of coronavirus has

forced the school students to stay

at home and continue their studies

online, children of labourers

and daily wage workers have no

choice but to skip their studies as

they can merely afford a smartphone

or 24 hours Internet connectivity.

Keeping this in mind

some Delhi Samaritans, who

themselves are students, have

started teaching these children.

"Yamuna Khadar Pathshala"

runs under a flyover at the banks

of river Yamuna in Delhi’s

Mayur Vihar, Phase-1. Around

250 students from the nearby

slums every day come here to

continue their studies offline.

This ’under the flyover’

school is being run by six teachers

who are also students. One of

these teachers is Panna Lal, a

12th pass and has done a oneyear

computer course while

another one is Devender, a law

student.

The third teacher is Deepak

Chaudhary, who is doing M.A.

and has done a two-year computer

diploma. Fourth is Rupam, a

B.A. student, fifth is Mukesh, a

Class 12th pass and holds a oneyear

computer diploma, and the

last one is Dev Pal who manages

all the activities in this school.

These people are running the

school for those children, who

do not have much money nor

any other system to pursue studies

in these corona times. The

parents of these children are

daily wage wagers, labourers or

rickshaw pullers, etc. who toil

hard every day to meet their

basic requirements.

Panna Lal told IANS, "I have

been teaching children since a

year ago. There are some problems

here due to which children

are unable to study properly, and

their parents also cannot afford

smartphones."

Dev Pal, who manages everything

in the "Yamuna Khadar

Pathshala", told IANS: "We

were planning to start this school

in March last year but could not

implement the idea due to

enforcement of the lockdown.

Then we decided to start online

classes but this idea could also

not work in absence of electricity

and smartphones."

"After some time we began

physically teaching students

from Nursery to Class 10. We

have a total of six teachers to

teach these students," said Dev

Pal.

He further said: "We never

pressurise children for a fee.

They give us some money as per

their convenience."

"All the teachers who teach

here are students themselves. We

have requested many to help us

meet the basic requirements.

Thereafter, we also urged people

to at least send a teacher here for

our help if they cannot give

money, but no one helped," said

Dev Pal.

According to Dev Pal, the

teachers here have also faced

similar adversities in their lives.

They aim to make these children

succeed in life. However, they

also have to earn a livelihood.


10 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

UAE mediating between India,

Pak to restore 'functional relations'

Islamabad, April 15 (IANS) The

United Arab Emirates (UAE) is

facilitating and mediating backchannel

talks between India and

Pakistan with an aim to turn their

rivalry into a healthy and functional

relationship, its envoy in

Washington has confirmed.

As part of the backdoor talks

and meetings, top intelligence officials

from both Pakistan and India

have had secret meetings in Dubai

during January 2021 as the UAE

played important part in bringing

the two sides to calm military tensions

over the Kashmir region.

"UAE played a role in bringing

Kashmir escalation down and created

a ceasefire, hopefully ultimately

leading to restoring diplomats

and getting the relationship

back to a healthy level," said Ambassador

Yousef Al Otaiba, during a virtual discussion

with Stanford University's Hoover

Institution. "They might not sort of become

best friends but at least we want to get it

(relations)to a level where its functional,

where its operational, where they are speaking

to each other," he added.

The revelation made by the UAE

Ambassador to Washington has hinted

towards the US's indirect intervention in the

India-Pakistan relationship through its trusted

ally, the UAE. It has also raised questions

over statements from Pakistan's top ministers,

of not having any backdoor channel

active between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah

EU calls for negotiated

settlement in Afghanistan

Brussels, April 16 (IANS) The European Union (EU) has

called for "firm commitment and constructive engagement by

all parties" in the peace talks in Afghanistan, after the US and

the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced the

pullout of their troops from the country.

European Commission spokesperson Nabila Massrali told a

press briefing on Thursday that the EU will continue to encourage

"a politically negotiated settlement through continued

direct talks between the parties", reports Xinhua news agency.

The bloc has also called for an end to the violence in the

country, "which remains unacceptably high", the spokesperson

added. NATO allies on Wednesday agreed to pull out all of their

armed forces from Afghanistan after the US announced that all

American troops would leave the country by September 11.

Mahmood Qureshi has repeatedly maintained

that there can be no talk with India

until the Narendra Modi government reverses

its decision to abrogate Articles 370 and

35A, stripping the special status of Jammu

and Kashmir and bifuracting into two Union

Territories.

However, the intervention of the UAE to

de-escalate tensions between India and

Pakistan, especially in reference to the boiling

tensions along the Line of Control (LoC),

has certainly yielded positive results as both

sides agreed to enforce the ceasefire along

the borders.

Positive results of the backdoor secret

negotiations were also evident with

exchanges of complementing letters from

Islamabad :

Pakistan on Friday

blocked social

media platforms

amid fears that

activists of a radical

Islamist group

might use the technology

to stoke

violent protests

against last year's

depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in

France.

Followers of far-right Tehreek-e-Labaik

Pakistan (TLP), a group that supports the

country's controversial blasphemy laws,

have blocked roads and chocked streets at

deadly protests that started on Monday,

reports dpa news agency.

The protesters are demanding that the

government fulfil an earlier promise to

expel the French Ambassador by April 20

over the publication of a cartoon depicting

the prophet last year. At least five people

including two police officers have been

killed in the protests, which have prompted

Indian PM Modi

and his counterpart

PM Imran Khan,

sharing a mutual

desire for peace.

But what

remains, as the

major point of contention

between the

two sides, is

Kashmir. Pakistan

has reiterated that it

will not be taking

any forward movement

towards dialogue

with India

until New Delhi

agrees to put the

Kashmir 'dispute' on

the table.

One reason for

Pakistan's rigid position on Kashmir is

because it cannot afford to show any flexibility

on the issue as it not only plays an

important role in gaining political mileage

for all political parties in the country, but any

deviation on Kashmir and forward movement

on other matters, would trigger a massive

response from across the country, something

that no ruling party of Pakistan can

afford to see happen.

With UAE playing its role in bringing

both countries closer, it remains to be seen if

the Modi government and the Imran Khan

led government, would agree to compromise

on political backlash domestically and give

priority to rational and functional relations

with each other.

Social media blackout in Pak

amid anti-France protests

the France Embassy in Islamabad to urge

French nationals to leave Pakistan temporarily.

"Social media has been blocked for a

few hours so that troublemakers can not

use it during Friday prayers congregations,"

an official told dpa.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,

WhatsApp and TikTok are inaccessible

across the country, including the capital

Islamabad.

Political parties, Islamist groups and

militant organisations like Pakistani

Taliban heavily rely on social media platforms

to connect with their followers.

CPEC SEZ to create over 200K

job opportunities for Pak

Islamabad : A special economic zone (SEZ) being constructed in

Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province under the China-Pakistan

Economic Corridor (CPEC) will create over 200,000 job opportunities

for the locals, a top official said.

Chief Executive Officer of the state-owned Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Economic Zones Development and Management Company, Javed

Khattak told the media on Thursday that the Rashakai SEZ in the

province is prioritized as a special economic park spreading over an

area of about 1,000 acres near the provincial capital of Peshawar,

reports Xinhua news agency.

The SEZ, a milestone of the implementation of industrial cooperation

under the CPEC framework, will become an important trade

hub, Khattak said.

The official said that the SEZ will have pharmaceuticals, textile,

food and beverages, steel and various engineering related industries,

and online applications for it are open.

He said the strategic position of the province connecting the country

to Afghanistan will be fully utilised and its abundant natural

resources will find new markets thanks to the province's linkage to

CPEC routes. The CPEC is a flagship $62 billion project of Chinese

President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect

Asia, Africa and Europe through a vast network of highways, rail lines

and sea lanes. The multi-billion dollar corridor connects the Chinese

city of Kashgar with Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

715-C Parkfield Road

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www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

11

US sanctions 6 Pak nationals,

5 firms for helping Russian plot

New Delhi/Washington, April 16

(IANS) The US Treasury Department

has designated six Pakistani nationals

and their five companies based in

Karachi and Lahore who are owners and

employees of Second Eye Solution

(SES), an IT firm, for helping Russian

entities to evade from sanctions by

using fraudulent documents.

The main sanctioned entity as part of

the links with Russian networks who

interfered in the 2016 US presidential

elections is Second Eye Solution (a.k.a.

FORWARDERZ) based in Karachi,

Pakistan linked to Internet Research

Agency LLC, a Russian troll network.

secondeyesolution.su; alt. Website secondeyesolution.ch;

alt. Website secondeyesolution.ru;

alt. Website secondeyesolution.com;

alt. Website forwarderz.com;

alt. Website secondeyehost.com

The other sanctioned entities are :

*The Oxytech, Karachi, linked to

Mohsin Raza, Mujtaba Ali, who have

also been sanctioned and are the owners

of these entities. Website

theoxytech.com; Email Address support@theoxytech.com

*MK Softtech, Karachi, with its

address at 631-C, 6th Floor, Mashriq

Center, Stadium Road, Karachi, is

linked to Mohsin Raza and Mujtaba Ali.

Website mksofttech.com, Email

Address info@mksofttech.com

The other sanctioned entities include

*Like Wise, Shop No 5, Jamshed

Quarter, Karachi, Pakistan; Phone

Number 923452179668; Registration

Number 4220198261523 linked to

Mohsin Raza and Mujtaba Ali, as per

the US Treasury.

*Fresh Air Farm House, Karachi,

Pakistan; Phone Number

923453272659; alt. Phone Number

923209299030 linked to Mohsin Raza

and Mujtaba Ali.

Apart from the entities, the Pakistani

owners and employees based in Karachi

and Lahore of Second Eye Solution and

these outfits who have been added to the

sanctions list are:

*RAZA, Mohsin (a.k.a. AMIRI,

Mohsin Raza), Karachi, Pakistan; DOB

25 May 1986; nationality Pakistan;

Email

Address

alimohsin228@gmail.com; alt. Email

Address mohsinrazaamiri@gmail.com;

alt. Email Address

alimohsin228@yahoo.com; alt. Email

Address amestypezx@yahoo.com; alt.

Email

Address

mohsin@forwarderz.com; alt. Email

A d d r e s s

great_guy1102002@yahoo.com;

Gender Male; National ID No.

4220198261523

*RAZA, Mujtaba Ali (a.k.a.

LILANI, Mujtaba Ali; a.k.a. RAZA,

Mujtaba), Karachi, Pakistan; DOB 21

Oct 1987; nationality Pakistan; Email

Address threatcc@gmail.com; alt.

Email

Address

mujtaba@forwarderz.com; Gender

Male; National ID No. 4220104113771

*RAZA, Syed Ali (a.k.a. RAZA

ZAIDI, Syed Ali), Karachi, Pakistan;

DOB 15 Oct 1992; nationality Pakistan;

Email

Address

syedaliraza940@gmail.com; alt. Email

Address raza.zaidi92@yahoo.com; alt.

Email

Address

kool_boy92@hotmail.com; alt. Email

Address s.alirz92@gmail.com; Gender

Male; National ID No. 4220157603253

*HAYAT, Muhammad Khizar (a.k.a.

AL KARBALAI, Muhammad Khizar;

a.k.a. HAYAT JAFFRI, Muhammad

Khizar; a.k.a. HAYAT, Mohammad

Khizar), Karachi, Pakistan; DOB 14 Jul

1994; POB Karachi, Pakistan; nationality

Pakistan; Email Address

khizarh11@yahoo.com; alt. Email

Address khizarhayat.jaffri@yahoo.com;

alt. Email Address

muhammadkhizar.hayatjaffri@yahoo.c

om; alt. Email Address mygreentree59@yahoo.com;

alt. Email Address

khizar14hayat@gmail.com; alt. Email

Address muhammadkhizarhayatjaffri@yahoo.com;

Gender Male; Passport

EB617700 (Pakistan); National ID No.

4210191597005

*HASNAIN, Syed Johar, Karachi,

Pakistan; DOB 30 Dec 1987; nationality

Pakistan; Gender Male; National ID

No. 4220106151401

*AHMED, Shahzad (a.k.a. AMIN,

Shahzad), Lahore, Pakistan; DOB 14

Dec 1987; nationality Pakistan; Email

Address shy4angels@gmail.com; alt.

Email

Address

shahzadsmb@gmail.com; Gender

Male; National ID No. 3420204688179

The US Treasury has also targeted

Yevgeny Prigozhin's network in Africa

as part of the sanctions announced

against the Russian government and

entities. Prigozhin is the Russian financier

of the Internet Research Agency

(IRA), the Russian troll entity that the

Department's Office of Foreign Assets

Control (OFAC) designated in 2018 for

interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Treasury, SES is an

organization that specializes in creating

and selling fraudulent identities and has

assisted the IRA in concealing its identity

to evade sanctions.

Since at least 2012, SES engaged in a

scheme to provide digital photographs

of fake documents including passports,

driver's licenses, bank statements, utility

bills, and national identity documents.

SES markets these fake documents

for use to verify online accounts including

money service business accounts

and social media website accounts.

In 2017, the IRA purchased 15 fraudulent

US driver licenses images from

SES. The purchased licenses were used

as supporting documents for online

social media accounts opened by the

IRA, as per the sanctions documents.

The fraudulent documents produced

by SES are likely used at many online

services to evade sanctions and antimoney

laundering (AML) screening

protocols beyond what OFAC has been

able to identify.

SES advertises that their fraudulent

documents may be used on social

media, freelancing job postings, and

commerce platforms.

As part of Thursday's listing of SES

on OFAC's Specially Designated

Nationals and Blocked Persons List

(SDN List), OFAC is also identifying

digital currency addresses used by SES

to fulfil customer orders in order to help

assist financial institutions, and their

third-party identity verification services,

in identifying customers on their

platforms who have purchased fraudulent

identity documents.

Known SES digital currency

addresses have received over $2.5 million

in digital currencies over more than

26,900 transactions from 2013 to March

2021.

SES was designated for acting on

behalf of the IRA. Mohsin Raza,

Mujtaba Raza, Seyed Hasnain,

Muhammad Hayat, Syed Raza, and

Shahzad Ahmed were designated for

acting for or on behalf of SES. Fresh Air

Farm House, Like Wise, and MK

Softtech were designated for being

owned or controlled by Mohsin Raza

and Mujtaba Raza.

On kanshi TV

channel 772.

SATURDAY at

6 :00 pm

SUNDAY at

6 :00 pm

Ambedkarites News and Views

by

BUDDHIST INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

Mob : 07411 251 804, 07847 307 059


12 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

'Brilliant' Indian origin

cryptocurrency expert found

dead in New York river

New York : The body of a "brilliant" Indian origin cryptocurrency

expert has been found floating in the Hudson River in this

city, according to media reports.

Shuvro Biswas, 31, was a mathematician working with cryptocurrency

security and artificial intelligence, the New York Post

reported on Wednesday quoting his family.

His body was found on Monday near a tourist area where a

decommissioned aircraft carrier, USS Intrepid, that is now a museum

is moored and there are piers for sightseeing boats.

The Post reported that the medical examiner has yet to determine

the cause of death but there were no obvious signs of foul

play. The newspaper quoted his brother as saying that he been

showing signs of mental illness and the family had urged him to

seek help. "He's a really good guy. He's brilliant," his brother told

the paper. "We're still not sure where things went wrong."

Biswas went to an elite high school with a highly competitive

entrance exam and later went on to study applied mathematics,

according to his brother.

Filings with the New York State Supreme Court made in

February said that his landlord had tried to evict him from his flat

located near where his body was found alleging erratic behaviour

like setting fires in the building, scattering bullets around the

premises and installing illegal surveillance cameras.

The judge refused to order his eviction but enjoined him not to

indulge in disruptive behaviour. Biswas's brother told the Post that

the fire was only a cooking accident.

European Parliament committees

vote for EU-UK trade deal

Brussels : European lawmakers have voted in favour of EU-

UK trade deal with a recommendation that European Parliament

gives its consent to the agreement.

On Thursday, the Trade and Foreign Affairs Committees gave

their seal of approval by 108 votes in favour, one against and four

abstentions, and recommended that Parliament's plenary approves

the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, reports Xinhua news

agency. A date for a final vote to ratify the deal has not yet been

set, with Parliament saying in a statement that its Conference of

Presidents decided not to set a plenary date "in order to emphasise

that the UK side needs to fully implement the Withdrawal

Agreement before doing so".

European and British negotiators agreed on the terms of the

Trade and Cooperation Agreement on December 24, 2020.

To minimise disruption, the agreement has been provisionally

applied since January 1 this year and will lapse on April 30.

For it to enter into force permanently, it requires Parliament's

consent. "With today's decision, we welcome the provisions that

bind the UK to our current high labor and environmental standards,"

said Andreas Schieder, the Foreign Affairs Committee rapporteur.

"All progress could be lost, if the UK continues to unilaterally

breach the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on

Northern Ireland," he warned.

Kim Jong-un visits mausoleum to

mark grandfather's birth anniversary

Seoul, April 16 (IANS) North Korean

leader Kim Jong-un visited a mausoleum

of his late grandfather and the country's

founder, Kim Il-sung, on the occasion of

the latter's birth anniversary, state media

reported on Friday.

In its report Pyongyang's official

Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)

said that Kim Jong-un and his wife, Ri Solju,

visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

on Thursday to mark Kim Il-sung's 109th

birth anniversary.

The mausoleum is where the bodies of

his late grandfather and father, Kim Jong-il

lie in state, reports Yonhap News Agency.

"Kim Jong-un, together with his wife,

paid high tribute to the statues of Kim Ilsung

and Kim Jong-il and extended the

best wishes of immortality at the halls

where the President and the Chairman lie

in state," the KCNA said.

The birth anniversary, referred to in the

North as the 'Day of the Sun', is the country's

biggest national holiday marked by

large-scale cultural and sports events.

Since taking office in late 2011, Kim

N.Korea slams Japan's move on nuclear wastewater

Seoul : North Korea has slammed

Japan's decision to discharge radioactive

wastewater into the Pacific Ocean as a

"threat to human existence" and demanded

its immediate withdrawal to prevent a

"new catastrophe for the humanity", state

media reported.

In a statement on Thursday,

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News

Agency (KCNA) said: "Japan is to bring a

new catastrophe to the humanity which has

been suffering from a global malignant

infectious disease. It should withdraw the

decision immediately."

The KCNA added that the planned

release would cause a vast amount of dangerous

substances to spread to most parts

of the Pacific within a few days, reports

Yonhap News Agency.

It constitutes "an unpardonable criminal

decision posing grave threat to health and

security of mankind and ecological environment",

the news outlet said.

KCNA added the decision shows

Japan's "shamelessness and gangster-like

nature".

The radioactive wastewater, accumulated

at the Fukushima nuclear power plant

since the massive 2011 earthquake and

tsunami that triggered a triple core meltdown,

contains such materials as tritium,

cesium and strontium far beyond the tolerable

limits, Xinhua news agency quoted

the KCNA as saying.

The radioactive wastewater, if discharged

into the sea, will destroy the ecological

environment of the sea, a common

Jong-un had paid tribute to the mausoleum

every year to mark the anniversary, but he

skipped a trip last year amid concerns over

the coronavirus pandemic, prompting speculation

about his health. Accompanying

Kim Jong-un on Thursday's visit were his

wealth of mankind, and entail serious risks

to health and existence of the people in

coastal areas, it said.

For North Korea, which lies across a sea

from Japan, the decision "is a matter of

seriousness related to the life and security

of our people", it said.

"Japan should immediately withdraw its

decision on radioactive water discharge,

well aware of the anti-Japanese resentment

of our enraged people."

The Japanese government on Tuesday

announced its decision to start releasing

radioactive water accumulated at the damaged

Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea

after treatment, amid domestic and international

opposition. On Wednesday, China

top aides, including Kim Yo-jong, his

younger sister; Jo Yong-won, secretary for

Organisational Affairs of the party's

Central Committee; and Pak Jong-chon,

chief of the General Staff of the Korean

People's Army, the KCNA said.

'Troops' withdrawal need to coincide with Afghan peace'

Islamabad : The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said that it is

important that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan

coincides with progress in the peace process.

Pakistan believes there is no military solution to the conflict in

Afghanistan, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry Zahid Hafeez

Chaudhri said while responding to media queries about the US

decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan before

September 11, reports Xinhua news agency.

He said a negotiated political solution through an Afghan-led

and Afghan-owned process is important for lasting peace and stability

in Afghanistan. The spokesman said Pakistan will continue

to work together with the international community in efforts to

promote Afghan peace process.

strongly urged Japan to reconsider its decision

on the disposal of nuclear waste, while

South Korea, Russia and the European

Commission had expressed deep concerns

over the issue.

The Fukushima plant suffered meltdowns

at three of its six reactors after it

was hit by a powerful earthquake and ensuing

tsunami in March 2011.

Since then, the operator has continued to

inject water into the three reactors to keep

cooling melted atomic fuel there.

Radiation-contaminated water at the site

has been treated through an advanced liquid

processing system, but tritium, a

radioactive isotope of hydrogen, cannot be

removed.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

The second wave of Corona-virus

has stuck hard in India particularly

states such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh,

Maharashtra, Uttar-Pradesh and Delhi

have seen alarming rise in the cases and

the governments have been caught by

surprise. Was the Corona wave surprising

or we allowed this to happen.

Let us go to the latest figures. As per

reports 14.5 millions cases of Covid 19

registered in India, in which 12.7 million

recovered. 15, 69, 743 cases are

still active and total death till date is

1,76000. In the last 24 hours 2,17,353

new cases have come in and death during

this period is 1,185 as on April 16th

evening and the numbers are now

increasing exhorbitantly. In terms of

total cases, Maharashtra seems to be

still taking it big but one has to appreciate

chief Minister Uddhav Thackery for

being forthright by now allowing religious

gatherings as well as going for

testing. Situation in Gujarat particularly

in Surat and Ahmedabad seems to be

critical as hospitals are overcrowded. It

is sad that Gujarat’s incompetence and

failure has not become ‘national news’

which has obsession with Maharashtra

and Bengal.

Leadership Failure to strengthen

scientific temperament

Last year when the governmentimposed

lock down on March 24th last

year, the cases were around 550 but that

time there were not many detections so

you can't really believe the numbers but

we can safely say that a few thousands.

Indian leadership was so confident that

it converted this into a PR exercise by

asking people to bang thalis, clapping

and lighting the torch or candles to do

away with CoronaVirus. The entire

country mocked the first day Janata

Curfew as people came on the street

shouted Jai Shri Ram and clapped as if

they had won the battle against Corona.

For several months we were under

severe restrictions. The government

allowed no space for planning and

imposed harsh lock down. Those who

build our cities, do the menial work, the

informal sector workers were left to

fetch themselves. Their isolation was

complete and compelled them to return

to their villages in hope that if they died

at least the families would be there to

take care of them. This fear of death was

so powerful that people started taking

all the risk just to reach their home and

be with their near-dear ones. Factories

were closed, schools, railways and all

essential commodities as well as their

productions were almost closed. The

lock down resulted in a huge humanitarian

crisis but the government remained

in denial mode. It enjoyed the power of

‘lockdown’ and wanted people to

remain in ‘submissive’ mode. Real

intentions of the government became

visible once it started the ‘un lock

down’ process. It felt that lock down

was the best ‘opportunity’ to hand over

India’s resources to a few cronies. It

brought farm laws, labour laws. Air

India was put for sale. Railways was

being privatised without consulting the

opposition and the employees. Trains

were suspended and railways are still

running much below of its original

capacity.

No efforts were made to push the

wheel of the economy. In fact, the

attempt was to hand over all the sectors

of our economy to a few cronies from

Gujarat.

Election schedule too long and

dangerous

Elections were organised in Bihar

and now West Bengal, Assam, Kerala,

Puducherry and Tamilnadu are in poll

process. While Kerala, Puducherry and

Tamilnadu went to poll in just one day,

Assam had three phases. It is shocking

that the Election Commission decided

to hold in West Bengal in 8th phases and

the way the prime minister and home

minister along with other ministers

campaigning in Bengal look like a

municipality election. At the time when

both of them should have been in Delhi

speaking to the state and taking stock of

the situation, the BJP has written against

any attempt to club together the rest of

the schedule for Bengal. The situation is

critical but the party in power is not

bothered about it. For it, winning elections

at all cost is essential so that the

opposition is wiped out. This is new

form of Sanghi democracy where opposition

is not merely unwanted but need

to eliminated.

With opposition not speaking much

and media completely surrendering and

becoming voice of the ruling BJP, judiciary

not finding time to take action, the

republic is in a critical stage. Perhaps

the crisis is much bigger than the

Corona itself. The one man who spoke

about timely action is Rahul Gandhi but

then the ministers in this government

are asked to condemn him. Media follow

the bytes of the ministers about

Gandhi family and none of the spineless

patrakars have the courage to counter

their propaganda or question them. The

duty of a patrakar or journalist today is

to carry the government’s press releases

and question the opposition parties. This

is new definition of democracy where

the media ask questions to dissenters

and opposition and keep silent on the

ruling party or just facilitate their view

points.

No lessons learnt

The second phase of Corona wave

has exposed the government’s inefficiency

which was more worried about

its achievements. The prime minister

and his ministers continued to claim that

India has managed the Corona crisis

better than the powerful Western world.

India’s sarkari intellectuals were suggesting

that over one lakh 75 thousand

death is much less than the people who

died in the US and UK but Indian leaders

and media should observe what happened

in China which is perfectly normal

at the moment. Except for Wuhan,

Chinese actually controlled the crisis

much more efficiently than any other

country.

Similarly, Vietnam, Taiwan,

Singapore, Malaysia managed things far

better than India and any other country.

In terms of vaccination, the attitude of

the government has been highly disturbing.

The attempt was to deliberately

destabilise the public sector or government

hospitals and bring private into

action. It is said that various Pharma

companies are lobbying for the vast

NEWS

Fight against Covid-19:

Incompetence or

deliberate negligence

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

market in India. When Rahul Gandhi

spoke for more vaccines, the government’s

ministers claimed that he was

lobbying for the foreign companies but

now the government has accepted and

allowed import of Sputnik and other

vaccines.

Last one year should have been used

to promote scientific and rational thinking

among the people. The government

should have promoted ideas that respect

humanist values which does not create a

stereotype image of those suffering

from Corona. Instead, the government

continued to promote religious fundamentalism.

Every Muslim was treated

as Tablighi last year and blamed for

spread of Corona Virus. The government

did nothing to stop this nonsensical

attitude. Media was actually promoting

the idea and every savarna Hindu

was blaming the Muslims for the spread

of CoronaVirus. Each Muslim became a

Tablighi person and many of those who

were arrested for ‘spreading’ corona

virus were finally released by the courts.

But look at the

irony, the ministers,

Chief ministers

are

‘encouraging’

people to go to

Kumbh mela and take a dip. Reports are

coming that Kumbha fair in Haridwar

has become a hotspot for spreading the

CoronaVirus. One of the top Sadhus

died due to CoronaVirus. The prime

minister speaks of the ‘ Kubha’ fair to

be celebrated as symbolic but this is a

strategic ‘appeal’ which means nothing

as the die is cast and millions of people

have already gone to Haridwar. They

should have stopped it in the beginning

but then the government never wanted

to ‘hurt’ the Hindu sentiment, it ‘represents’

so proudly. Look at the difference

in their responses on Tablighi Jamaat

issue and that of the Kumbha fair.

Corona communalism

Corona was used by the ruling party

to demonise Muslims last year but it

never stopped the Hindus from getting

organised. In fact, the cheap and vulgar

comments made by the BJP leaders are

available on social media and various

TV channels. They glorified their traditions

and said that nothing would happen.

Today, Varanasi, Lucknow,

Ghaziabad are suffering and the political

leadership of the BJP is silent. It is

busy campaigning in West Bengal but

silent on the macabre of death in rest of

the country due to Corona.

Uttar Pradesh is going to have

Panchayat elections in the month of

April. Netas are coming and campaigning.

Nobody is bothered about the

restrictions. Why should the government

allow the Panchayat polls?

Shouldn't they be stopped? Why should

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

13

the election commission continue with

Bengal polls in so many phases? Does it

not understand the crisis?

Lost Opportunity

India lost a historic opportunity. Its

prime minister wanted his Gujarati

friends to capture all the public

resources. It used Corona to hand over

the profits of India to these cronies

while making their losses as national

ones. It was time for government to

strengthen the national health network

very much like the National Health

Services of Great Britain which was on

the verge of being privatised prior to

Covid-19 but became the biggest landmark

of the country. Contrary to that,

government of India never bothered

about strengthening the health infrastructure

and the cronies started crying

that the government alone can not handle

it and hence their entry was

inevitable. Nobody was denying that

but it is equally important to strengthen

the government’s own health network.

If the centre failed in doing so, our

states too showed no urgency in doing

so and the result was a complete failure

to protect the lives of the people.

Though every one cried against

Tablighi Jamat last year with BJP

leaders vilifying all the Muslims for

spreading Corona, Hindu festivals and

political rallies were rarely mentioned.

The media jumped on the bandwagon

of the illiterate Hindutva netas suggesting

that a dip in Ganges will

remove all the sins of the people.

Uttarakhand Chief minister on record

said that nobody would be denied entry

at Haridwar Kumbh because of Covid

norms. Now, we are in the Chaitra

Ramnavami season and the government

has not uttered a single sentence to the

public as not to participate in it.

The fact is that this period would

have the right time for the government

to inculcate the feeling of scientific temperament

in the people and asking them

to be rational in thinking and having

faith in modern medicine. But how can

you trust a government when its health

minister and another minister participate

in a programme which was a false

claim by Ramdev to have developed the

Corona vaccine approved by WHO.

Once WHO categorically denied even

then the government did not bother.

None is raising the issue of corruption

today. Nobody questions the business

interests of many ministers in the

cabinet who are now doing everything

to dismantle the public sector and working

towards building a Brahmanical

hegemony through private as they won’t

require to fulfil constitutional mandate

of reservation in the private sector. That

is the reason why Modi still remains

popular as ‘Savarnas’ are ready to suffer

but will always find excuses to defend

Narendra Modi and his policies. For

them, this is their golden period because

Modi and Amit Shah have ensured that

the Savarna hegemony over Indian

bureaucracy, judiciary, media and academia

remain unquestioned and unchallenged.

It is this reason why none of

them question the intents of this government

or its gross failure in dealing with

the situation.

As India prepares to face the worst

during the second wave, we hope the

political leadership will take appropriate

action so that things do not go out of

hand. The vaccination drive needs to be

upscaled and hospitals need more oxygen

and other facilities. This is a big crisis

for which we cannot blame anyone

except the senseless handling of the situation

by the political leadership which

was more interested in declaring that

India has become world’s number one

in ‘vaccine’ development and dealing

with the Coronavirus. Whether we

become world leader in vaccine development

or not, it is time for the government

to provide vaccines to all without

glorifying itself.

No country can win a war against

Coronavirus unless dealt with scientifically

and with secular laws. Any effort

to make one religious group as great

while vilifying others will only damage

our national resolve to fight against

CoronaVirus. During the crisis, we need

to come together, build fraternity and

ensure people and communities that

they would be taken care off.

Transparency is needed and state governments

should be given free hand to

develop their own responses. It is time

for the states too to build health infrastructure

as part of government responsibility

to people.

The Future

Corona is here to stay for some time.

We don’t know when it will end but the

crisis has exposed the hollowness of our

leadership. The war against Coronavirus

can not be won by jargons and empty

rhetoric but with visionary actions, one

the quick emergency response to the crisis

and other the long-term investment

in the medical infrastructure all over the

country. The third aspect can be to

build a culture of rationalism and

humanism so that people have scientific

temper and empathy towards the fellow

citizen but for that the government can

not be seen as promoting fake idols like

Ramdev who falsely claimed to have

developed the vaccine for Corona

approved by WHO. In any other country,

the Ministers who participated in the

press conference of such a notorious

businessman, would have been dismissed

but it is India where nobody is

there to question the power and seek

accountability.

Let us our friends in the media will

raise issues and force the government to

respond and seek their accountability.

Meanwhile, requesting all the friends to

take utmost care and protect yourself.

Don’t fall prey to rumours but also

important to keep your cool and do not

allow yourself to flow in the depressing

news. We have lost many people and

suddenly it is looking uncertain how the

world around us is. Social media platforms

are looking like ‘obituaries’

which is extremely distressing and

depressing. We must care for people and

friends where needed but it is also

important that we also protect yourself.

The time of crisis will show our resolve

to fight against this battle but as our

leadership dwindles, it is the communities,

the people who have to protect each

other, wear masks and maintain safe

distance till life comes to normal.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com


14 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Revived by AI, Ajanta cave painting's

'future-leap' on Svalbard Isle

Mumbai : When India was grappling

with the Covid-19 crest in mid-

2020, an ancient treasure of

Maharashtra was quietly catapulted into

the 'future world history', but the

epochal event went virtually unnoticed

in the country. Maharashtra's famed

Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad, became

the first-ever UNESCO World Heritage

Site to 'virtually enter' the Arctic World

Archives (AWA) on Norway's Svalbard

Island, in November 2020.

The iconic "Renunciation of King

Mahajanaka" - an early 'avatar' of Lord

Buddha - in Cave No 1, clicked by

renowned photographer Benoy K. Behl,

became the trend-setter art-work to

enter AWA, in a specially-designed digital

film format using Artificial

Intelligence (AI).

Incidentally, Prime Minister

Narendra Modi made a reference to the

Svalbard Isle distinction in his 'Mann Ki

Baat' (Nov 2020) but it largely skipped

public attention. The AWA honour was

possible by the efforts of two companies

- Sapio Analytics, Mumbai and

Ajantahc, London, IITs, several Indian

universities, besides the pictures clicked

by Behl using a new 'zero-light technology'.

"There are roughly 650 sq mts (or,

10,00,000 sq. in.) of paintings in 30

caves, with four caves considered

ground-breaking in terms of their artistic

value at Ajanta," Sapio Analytics's

CEO Ashwin Srivastava told IANS.

Ajantahc's Director B.V. Choolun

said that of these barely 10 sq mts (or,

16,000 sq. in.) have so far been restored

using AI-aided digital methods.

Srivastava said that continuous

efforts are on to improve the process

further to make it not only perfect but

speedier, as Ajanta Caves, 'rediscovered'

202 years ago in April 1819 by a British

officer John Smith race against time for

survival.

Various teams toiled to prepare stunning

ultra-modern 'digital images' of the

ancient but incredible colour paintings

bejeweling the walls and ceilings of the

Ajanta Caves from around 2 BC, or over

2200 years ago. Since many of the

murals have been damaged in varying

degrees, the companies have deployed a

digital restoration process using AI

developed by scientists from various

Indian universities, including IIT

Roorkee. Choolun said that the digital

restoration does not alter the original

artworks, but actually enhances the

effect when working on the damaged

paintings. "We select a mutilated area of

the mural through image processingbased

identification using YOLO

Machine Learning Model, restored it by

altering the pixels of the damaged elements

through mathematical inference

of the neighbouring undamaged portions,"

Srivastava explained.

High-end pixel-level scanning of

documented pictures of the original artwork

are deployed for the digitization

process using deep learning algorithms.

Srivastava added that the deep

knowledge was derived from painstaking

manual digital restorations done by

art historians like Behl, and with the AI

technique, the team has been able to

extract and create an 'academic catalogue

of jewelries' used thousands of

years ago! Experts have termed the outcome

of this unique combination of

manual digital restoration and AItrained

rejuvenation as "excellent", with

continuous ongoing efforts to perfect

the technique for even better results,

said Choolun.

The challenges, he said, involves diametrically

opposite dimensions like

'heritage versus digitization', 'history

versus artificial intelligence', belonging

to the era of yore vis-�-vis the future.

"Yet, AI is helping digitally preserve

these 2,200-year-old Ajanta Cave paintings

and now they could last for many

lifetimes, safe from all kinds of disasters,

for the benefit of future generations,"

Choolun said with a tinge of pride. The

two companies have also joined hands to

digitize, restore and preserve for eternity

ancient Indian heritage, besides promoting

contemporary Indian artists to the

global audience, thus positioning itself

as the 'custodian of Indian culture'. The

"Renunciation of King Mahajanaka" -

displaying the emotions of the benign

King about to renounce worldly pleasures

and allowing us to reflect on our

worldliness - is safe in the bosom of the

AWA, located deep inside a remote, icy

Arctic mountain, 970 kms from the

North Pole, and declared a demilitarized

zone by 42 countries.

Cyber-attack on UK varsity

affects Teams, Zoom learning

London : As most of the students are

dependent on online learning and video-conferencing

apps due to

the pandemic, the

University of

Hertfordshire in the

UK has suffered a

cyber-attack that has

eventually disrupted

its online learning.

According to a

ZDNet report, the

cyber-attack has

affected all of its IT

systems, including

Office 365, Teams and

Zoom, local networks,

Wi-Fi, email, data

storage and VPN.

The university

reported the hit by

attackers on Wednesday, resulting in the cancellation

of all online classes on Thursday

and Friday.

"Shortly before 22:00 on Wednesday 14

April, the University experienced a cyberattack

which has impacted all of our systems,

including those in the Cloud such as Canvas,

MS Teams and Zoom," the varsity said in an

update on its website.

The university noted that the outage may

impact students submitting assignments, but

assured them that no student, would be disadvantaged

as a result.

Students were allowed to attend the university

so long as computer access wasn't

necessary.

"You will not be able to access computer

facilities in the LRCs, Labs or the University

Wi-Fi. Remote access to specialist software

and PCs is currently unavailable," the varsity

said. The university's system status page,

last updated 17 hours ago, shows the extent

of the disruption.

Topless protester runs

through crowd of people

at Windsor Castle

London : A topless protester ran past the crowd at the Windsor

Castle and shouted "save the planet" after a minutes silence was held

for Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen

Elizabeth II, who is being laid to rest at the palace on Saturday in a

small family affair due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

The woman appeared to try and break through the security barriers,

the dpa news agency reported.

Others at the scene said she jumped onto a nearby statue of Queen

Victoria. The protester was placed in handcuffs by the police and has

been seen being removed from the site.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

15

Auto drivers in Delhi struggle to

survive amid weekend CURFEW

New Delhi : Auto-rickshaw drivers

in the national capital struggled to find

passengers during the weekend curfew,

with only a few of them being

lucky enough to find passengers at bus

and railway stations as Delhiites

adhered to the curfew.

The roads in the national capital

were mostly deserted and auto drivers

were finding it tough to get passengers,

as there was only relaxation for

people involved in essential services

and those going to railway stations or

airports.

Rajendra Soni, General Secretary

of the Delhi Auto Union said, "Since

the resurgence of Covid-19, the situation

of auto operators is not good as

there is no work, even as the Delhi

government has imposed a two-day

weekend curfew. We are cooperating

with the government."

The auto union alleged that the

Delhi government did not take auto

operators into confidence and the

police is troubling those who are plying

without passengers going to airports

or railway stations.

Malls, gyms, spas etc are closed

due to Covid restrictions. Only

exemptions for the weekend curfew

are marriages and the government has

issued a curfew pass for the same.

Auto driver Vinod said, "Due to

weekend curfew, neither is there work

nor passengers but I have to pay the

auto rent."

Another auto driver Durgesh

alleged that the police is unnecessarily

harassing them. Also, no hotels are

open so the problem of eating meals is

also there.

The auto drivers are only getting

passengers at railway stations and bus

stands. The weekend curfew came into

effect from Friday night in the national

capital, except for essential services.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind

Kejriwal on Saturday morning repeatedly

urged the people of Delhi to

strictly follow the curfew.

"Due to Covid-19, there is curfew

in Delhi on Saturday and Sunday.

Please follow it. We all have to defeat

the pandemic together," Kejriwal

tweeted.

With the exponential spike in

Covid-19 cases in the national capital,

the state government on Thursday

announced imposition of weekend

curfew from Friday 10 p.m. to

Monday 5 a.m. till April 30.

This is the first time in 2021 that

the national capital will witness curfew

on weekends and it is likely to be

extended if Covid cases continue to

surge. The Delhi Disaster

Management Authority (DDMA) has

already made it clear that only essential

services are exempted from the

Covid restrictions. Interstate transport

would continue uninterrupted.

There would be no restrictions on

movement of people for medical purposes

and home delivery food services

would be allowed.

There is a strict curb on dining out

in restaurants.

A total of 19,484 fresh Covid-19

cases were reported in Delhi on Friday

night, which was the highest daily

Covid tally in the capital.

Near empty roads as national capital

enters WEEKEND CURFEW mode

New Delhi : The streets of the

national capital wore a deserted look

on Saturday with only vehicles linked

to providing essential services plying

on the roads as the first day of the

weekend curfew set in in Delhi amid

rising Covid scare.

Unlike the hustle and bustle of the

big city usually seen on normal days,

the traffic was missing from the

National Highways passing through

the city, Ring roads, and streets connecting

markets, railways stations and

bus depots.

Besides the movement DTC buses,

taxis, autorickshaws (mostly running

without passengers), some motorcycles

and a few private vehicles linked

to essential services were seen on the

city roads.

A large posse of Delhi Police personnel

deputed at the crucial points

across the city were ensuring that only

people with valid passes were allowed

to move in their vehicles.

With the weekend curfew coming

into effect from 10 p.m. on Friday,

business establishments across the

national capital had downed their

shutters well before the appointed

hour. The curfew will be in force till 5

a.m. on Monday.

In order to break the chain of

Covid-19 infections, the Delhi government

had on Thursday ordered the

imposition of weekend curfew in the

city till April 30, with exemptions for

essential service providers. In Delhi,

which is among the top 10

states/Union Territories (UTs) recording

the highest number of new Covid

cases in the second wave of the pandemic

in the country, all shops, restaurants,

pubs and commercial establishments

across the city were shut much

before 9.30 p.m. on Friday, with all the

major markets such as Connaught

Place, Khan Market, Sarojini Nagar,

Lajpat Nagar, Khari Bawli, Chandani

Chowk and Karol Bagh wearing a

deserted look.

Traffic thinned out after 10 p.m. on

Friday and similar seen was witnessed

on Saturday with senior police officers

monitoring the situation.

Various flyovers across the city

were closed for traffic while many

localities connected to the main roads

were closed with barricades fixed by

the police to stop the movement of

people.

Home Guards and civil defence

officials along with the police and

marshals have been deployed at the

bus stops, railways stations, key markets,

and some specific public places

as well as few intersections to ensure

full compliance of the weekend curfew.

People moving on the roads had to

show valid ID cards which have been

allowed during the curfew.

Most of the hotels around the city

also shut delivery services as the staff

were asked to vacate the premises.

Very few cabs and autos were seen

plying on the roads, as many people

going to the railway stations or ISBTs

faced difficulties in getting a cab on

time. All entry and exit points to Delhi

have almost been sealed. Double roads

have been converted to single-carriageways

while barricades have been

put up at many places.

A senior police officer said that if

the police find vehicles moving

unnecessarily, they will be seized and

the police will not issue any passes for

the vehicles. The staff at the checkposts

will screen the vehicles which

are allowed for essential services.

Night curfew is in place in the city

since April 6 to curtail the spread of

Covid-19, which has so far infected

over 8,03,623 people across the

national capital, besides claiming

11,793 lives till date.


16 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Restore Democracy in Myanmar, Support

the Citizen’s Civil Disobedience Movement

Against the Military (Tatmadaw)

Myanmar’s Citizens Fleeing Persecutions and Violence must be allowed refuge

into India, Time for India to Sign 1951 Refugee Convention Now!

It’s more than two months since the

Burmese military in a coup on 1

February refused to hand over the

power to the National League for

Democracy (NLD) after their victory in

the November 2020 elections. Senior

General Min Aung Hlaing, the army’s

commander-in-chief and Myanmar’s

de-facto ruler has justified the coup on

grounds of large-scale election fraud,

though the elections commission has

denied these allegations. Following the

coup, State Counsellor Aung San Suu

Kyi and many of her party NLD’s colleagues

have been jailed under various

charges including that of violating colonial

Official Secrets Act. National

Alliance of People’s Movements

(NAPM) condemns this undermining of

the democratic transition and usurping

of power by the military Junta.

Pro-democracy protests, cutting

across ethnic lines, have erupted across

the country in major cities and in the

ethnic regions. The military, also known

as Tatmadaw, has suppressed these

protests using extreme violence, torture,

extra-judicial killings, rapes, resulting

in death of an estimated 1,000 people

and more, including a large number of

children. Given that there have been

internet shutdowns over a large region,

restrictions on domestic media, and the

country being closed to the international

media, it is difficult to have a complete

picture of the death and mayhem

being caused in the country at the

moment. Tatmadaw had earlier said that

it is imposing these emergency measures

for a year to bring the country to

normalcy and establish peace. However,

now Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun

has suggested that it could extend its

ongoing state of emergency order for as

long as two years.

On 8th November, Myanmar’s parliamentary

elections were held.

Observers had little doubt about the

ability of Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD to

see its majority renewed, but several of

them expected a record abstention,

especially because of the Covid-19 pandemic,

and a smaller majority than that

achieved in 2015. Aung San Suu Kyi’s

first term had been marked by several

stinging failures – the stalled peace

process, large-scale violence against

Rohingyas, the limitation of civil liberties,

the slow pace of pro-people

reforms, massive land acquisitions, and

the savage exploitation of natural

resources – all indications that the NLD

was not in line with the programme that

brought it to power in 2015.

However, despite severely falling

short in upholding democratic values,

Aung San Suu Kyi and her party are

seen by many as the only legitimate person

and group to lead the country and

the only bulwark against a return of the

brutal army to power. This was reflected

in the election results, where NLD surpassed

its 2015 performance and won

396 seats out of 642 (166 seats are

reserved for the army, as per 2008

Constitution). The former army party,

the Union Solidarity and Development

Party (USDP), in power before 2015,

suffered a total defeat and won only

about 30 seats nationally. Nevertheless,

it is still the main opposition bloc, joining

the 166 MPs appointed by the army.

Ethnic parties, which made great efforts

to agree and put forward joint candidacies

to increase their chances of a failed

election, are largely trying to secure a

blocking minority in the national parliament.

These elections marked the slow

process of democratic transition which

started in 2010, after five decades of

rule by the Junta.

The current political circumstances

will only further escalate the conflict,

create instability in the region and also

affect the democratic transition of

power in a country already riddled with

ethnic conflict. The 2017 military offensive

against the Rohingyas received

widespread international attention and

condemnation but overall, the

Tatmadaw’s ‘clearances operation’

against the ethnic armed organizations

in Kachin, Shan, Karen, Chin and others

continued. They caused death of more

than 10,000 people and displaced nearly

a million inside the country. An estimated

million Rohingya refugees have

taken shelter in Bangladesh and neighbouring

countries. International community

failed to stop the genocide and

hold the persons accountable for it,

despite cases in the International

Criminal Court and International Court

of Justice. The UN and other international

organizations responded with aid

but their efforts have been limited and

access hindered to many of these conflict-ridden

border areas and camps.

Post-coup, unfortunately many foreign

powers including India failed to

react immediately and demand urgent

restoration of democracy in Myanmar.

Many chose to participate in the celebration

of Armed Forces Day on March

27th organized by the Military, thereby

lending credibility to the regime. India

only recently, after criticism inside and

outside, changed its position and

demanded restoration of democracy in

Myanmar, a welcome step. The UN

security council on April 1, after two

months, responded with the strong condemnation

against military violence

against the protesters, but refrained

from using strong language and sanctions

against military, under pressure

from China and Russia. EU and US

have issued sanctioned against the 11

persons associated with the coup including

some other measures, but more is

needed. This is definitely not enough.

India’s ‘balanced approach’, keeping

in mind, its geo-political interests are

not enough. The circulars from Home

Ministry denying refuge to people running

away from violence in the border

states goes against the humanitarian

concerns. State of Mizoram has already

written saying they will allow those

feeling violence on humanitarian

grounds and Manipur has also withdrawn

its circular on refusing entry. It

needs to be remembered that many of

the communities in border states have

shared cultural heritage and ethnic ties.

In the past we have welcomed

refugees from Myanmar, Sri Lanka,

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal,

and thus the current situation demands

that we continue to do so and develop a

long-term approach to the issue of

refugees fleeing political persecution in

their homelands. The controversial and

unconstitutional Citizens Amendment

Act, 2020 cannot be seen as a response

to the crisis. Instead, India must develop

a long-term, humane approach to the

issue of refugees fleeing political persecution

from their homelands. Towards

this end, we must ratify the UN

Convention governing refugees and

have a fair domestic mechanism to deal

with the rights and needs of refugees.

The latest order of the Supreme

Court today (8th April), shows India

declining to take responsibility for the

violence Rohingya refugees currently in

detention (in holding centres in Jammu)

are likely to face, if deported. The threemember

Bench led by the Chief Justice

refused to grant the refugees interim

relief, while also stating that the

Rohingyas ‘shall not be deported unless

the procedure prescribed for such

deportation is followed.’ A ruling of

such nature is made possible also by the

fact that India is not a signatory to international

treaties propounding the principle

of non-refoulment, which would

forbid the expulsion of a refugee when

there is clear and certain danger of life

in the country of origin.

While there are still many road

blocks to the restoration of democracy

in Myanmar, it is indeed a welcome

measure that the resistance to the coup

has done away with long-standing divisions

of ethnicity, religion, domicile and

occupation in the region. Several, prodemocracy

groups, women’s organizations

(Gender Equality Network,

Burmese Women’s Union, Karen

Women’s Organization and many others),

youth groups, student’s unions, and

others are resisting the military and

nationalist groups supporting the coup.

NAPM stands with the people of

Burma demanding restoration of

democracy in their country and with

the emerging women and youth-led

civil disobedience movement defying

the military repression and curfew.

We condemn the extra-judicial

killings, violence and rape by the

Burmese military on the people and

urge government of India to stop supporting

the repressive regime and use

its influence at ASEAN and UN to

ensure urgent restoration of democracy.

A disturbed Myanmar doesn’t

bode well for peace and promotion of

democratic values in the region.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Last year, during these days, Indians

were virtually under virus siege. Prime

Minister Narinder Modi on March 25

clamped a nationwide curfew along

with lockdown to save the nation from

Covid-19 as a last resort and publicised

as a strong step of his Government

ahead of other countries. Whereas preventive

measures were required before

the visit of Mr Donald Trump on 24th

February 2020 but that would have

been politically incorrect as per his calculations.

World Health Organization

(WHO) cautioned the nations to be alert

in view of the fast spreading virus and

review their medical preparedness for

the same. It also issued few symptoms

of the infected patients and Standard

Operating guidelines for the public to

curb its speed in the absence of any

effective vaccine. Mainly three additions

to daily life were wearing Mask,

washing hands after every outing and

Physical distancing at crowded public

places. WHO also explained how this

virus would reach lungs and create

shortage of Oxygen in the body and

ultimately become final cause of death.

But it NEVER recommended lockdown.

Each Government took it in their

own way. Western World analysed the

situation medically and did not jump to

Lockdowns. They closed their Airports

to check infected tourists. They also

imposed restrictions on their Citizens

travel to other countries especially to

China, hither to declared as a Villain

of the Corona film. Medical Scientists

of UK,USA and other Advanced

Countries joined their heads to understand

the virology of the pandemic, its

nature, chemical reactions and its difference

from other prevailing viruses.

Surprisingly, Indian ruling party found

opportunity to complete their hidden

Agenda to formulate new labour and

farming laws to please those corporates

who funded Mr Modi s election campaign.

Indian electronic media created phobia

for the public minds already forcefully

packed in the houses. Social distancing

word which is normally

attached to the patients suffering from

communicable diseases was a new

normal in routine conversations. This

campaign was creation of political

minds and was propagated with predesigned

motives. This country was not

aptly equipped with the stock of

Antiviral medicines. Along with medicines,

vaccine production in India was

also under consideration. Prime

Minister Modi desperately wanted to

encash the declaration of this Vaccine,

on the Independence Day i.e. August

15, 2020. But to his dismay, he had to

bow before the ethics of medical science.

Later on he personally visited two

major laboratories chosen for the same.

During this period, farmers were

protesting against the Agro-laws at the

borders of Delhi. PM did not show any

sympathetic concern to them. Free distribution

of vaccine to Bihar state was

agenda of BJP in Assembly Election to

lure the voters. Like Pfizer and

AstraZeneca in Europe, India produced

Covashield and Covaxin within one

year. Covashield has completed the

required four trial stages whereas the

NEWS

INDIA’S CORONA VACCINE –

A POLITICAL RHETORIC

R. K. Singh

Bureau Chief

second one is yet to complete third

cycle. Even though Covaxin is allowed

for inoculation for emergency use. Its

producer Lab has given the guarantee to

indemnify the loss if caused by it. The

major question here lies why to put life

of the public at risk when medical scientists

prescribe completion of four trials

of any vaccine on human beings.

Another Drama of Dry Run was also

played to create favourable public opinion.

Online registration and waiting

period propaganda was largely done to

create rush. Pictures of Prime Minister

and state CMs getting jabs are daily

shown on TV and newspapers. Even

this practice is projected as World s

biggest Vaccination Campaign . Boring

and terrifying Phone ringtones presenting

vaccine as life saving panacea is

unwillingly digested. Conflicting views

of Doctors not recommending Covaxin

are also available on social media.

There is atmosphere of both consternation

and hesitation in public minds.

Medical Scientists and Doctors

Associations recommend longer gap

between two jabs whereas Govt controlled

media is asking second dose

after 28 days. Recently a spurt in cases

of corona infection have been reported

despite first or even second dose of vaccine.

Then next jumla came saying,

Vaccine provides better immunity and

helps in reducing emergency. It clearly

means that Governments are working

under hidden Agendas of bigger corporates

to spread confusion and indecision

in masses. If Corona vaccination is not

a safeguard against virus then why all

these frightening slogans, wastage of

taxpayer s money on false advertisements

and ringtones and all this hue and

cry.

Paradoxically Assembly elections

are normally going on in Eastern and

Southern states and Central Cabinet

Ministers including Mr Narinder Modi

and Home Minister Amit Shah are

openly addressing big rallies and road

shows throwing all corona restrictions

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

17

to winds. Whereas few states statistics

show medical emergency due to

increase in new cases of revised Strain

of Covid 19 putting various measures

like night curfew, gathering of minimum

persons at funerals and marriages.

Constant apprehension about

Lockdown in public mind is scary.

Beginning of Vaccination program even

at Distt level, increase in no. of cases

than corresponding period of last year,

closing of schools and colleges, shortening

business timings but allowing

Wine and Beer sale outlets up to midnight,

curfew from 11pm to 5am,

allowing political and farmers rallies

for thousands of people without mask

speak something fishy about the sincerity

of the governance. Reports also find

inclusion of deaths by others disease in

the Corona account. Health being a

state subject is totally controlled by

Central government for dubious reasons.

Against the target of 300 million

doses in the first phase, only little

above 30 million persons turned up.

Surprisingly 7.8 million completed the

second dose.

Finally it is explicitly clear that

Vaccination campaign is a misleading

adventure at the hands of politicians.

Public mind is confused on its efficacy,

safety, side effects and impact on heath,

economic and social life. Students are

the worst sufferers for two academic

sessions. Underlying point is as to why

medical community does not comment

on the reality about Covid. Why does

political syndicate without medical literacy

decide on such international matters

concerning the life and death of

masses. Doubts about mind, money and

men control by the world mafia seem to

turning true.

Listen to Adivasi voices and empower

them to counter INSURGENCY

The brutal Naxal attack on the security

forces in Chhattishgarh is a

reminder of how they have amassed

huge weapons to protect their zones. It

is a complete intelligence failure on part

of both the Central and state government

who allowed this massive operation.

This was the same region where

even earlier the Maoists had ambushed

the security forces earlier killing them

in large number.

Chhattishgarh s Congress leadership

was virtually wiped out by the Maoist

attack on them in Sukma. If this is a

dangerous terrain then the central intelligence

agencies must ponder as what is

the region for this continuous failure

because there are no other regions

where Naxal attack on security forces

like this region.

With this kind of violence, I don t

think any saner government will appeal

for peace. The forces are expected to

follow the rule of law and should do

the same. No one should encourage

them for violating their own code of

ethics because that is the difference

between private militias and professional

forces who are there to protect our

people and region. Of course, in this din

of avenging the deaths, many of them

make the ordinary adivasis their victims

and we sincerely hope that they wont do

that. Targeting Adivasis and assaulting

them for this would be playing in the

hands of those who wish to strengthen

their narrative against the security

forces.

As Naxals have now fast confined to

a few zones and it seems their desperate

attempt to assert their presence in the

region, the violence unleashed by them

will only harm the Adivasis and ensure

more government money being pumped

for security purposes thus ensuring entry

of the big corporations which is being

resisted by the Adivasis. It is sad that the

real issues have been confined to backburner

as government have not assured

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

adivasis anything new. Their forest

rights are under attack and not much

land has been given to them in these

regions. Will the government of

Chhattishgarh as well as that in Delhi

come out with a comprehensive package

ensuring protection of Adivasi land and

their participation in the decision making

process of region they belong to.

The irony is that Chhattishgarh has

more outsiders as landed and business

people but the Adivasis and Dalits

remain the same. The Adivasis, perhaps,

cant even think of their

chief minister in the state

as for all the practical purposes

now the outsiders

have more stake in

Chhattishgarh than the

local people. How long will

this inequality be allowed

to happen ?

Equally important for

the government to sensitise

the central forces about the

sensitivity of the local population

particularly the

Adivasis. Treating every

Adivasi as a Maoist falls in

that trap laid by those who

glamorises them as revolutionaries

. Maoist violence

actually legitimise

the central government

efforts to to militarise the

zone and hand over the

beautiful natural resources to the big

corporates.

If the government really want to

eliminate violence insurgencies in

Chhattishgarh and elsewhere, it must

address the anxieties of Dalit-Adivasis

and ensure their voice is heard in all the

decision making processes. Strengthen

PESA in all the forest zones and provide

them autonomy, build schools, and

credible public health system in those

regions. All the young leadership of

Adivasis to flourish and listen to their

concerns as without that it wont be able

to tackle the whole issue of violence.

All the Jawans in our armed forces as

well as para military forces hails from

kisan families. We know their pains too

as they go in different terrain, follow the

order and lay down their lives. They still

live in difficult circumstances and their

service terms and conditions too are far

inferior to their other counterparts. The

internal security battles are far tougher

and is a bigger mind game. Treating it to

a merely a law and order problem will

not work. It is time for our political

class to ponder and sit along with

diverse sections of people including the

people of the region and other zones,

listen to their voices and do the needful.

Adivasi zones need everlasting solutions

and such brutal violence only help

those who do not wish adivasis to live

peacefully. Let the Adivasi be given

autonomy over their regions to decide

about their future, developmental work

and we will see a big change.

Our condolences and solidarity with

the families of the martyred security

personnel and hope the government will

do enough to take care of their families

so that they don t suffer further.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com


18 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Do not let Hindutva rulers destroy heritage of

communal unity of Jallianwala Bagh martyrs

Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs fought and died together for India’s independence

Jallianwala Bagh martyrs

The RSS-BJP rulers of India declare

India to be a battle-ground between

Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have

been declared as ‘Internal Threat’ number

ONE [RSS ideologue, MS

Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thought chapter

xvi]. Many of their leading cadres

including those who hold high constitutional

posts have been conspiring overtime

to ignite a civil war between the

two communities (they believe that only

such a scenario would divert attention

from the anti-people rule by the

Hindutva gang). They refuse to treat

Muslims as part of the Indian nation,

which according to them is a Hindu

nation. They have no hesitation in identifying

themselves as ‘Hindu nationalists’.

Awfully, PM Modi who took oath

to uphold democratic-secular polity in

2014, long before had identified himself

as a Hindu nationalist with total commitments

to the Hindutva project.

However, it was not the scenario during

the freedom struggle which the

Hindutva organisations; RSS and Hindu

Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar, willfully

betrayed. Nobody should be surprised

to know that in the pre-independence

literature of RSS there is no mention

of this massacre. The unity of the

Indian masses could be witnessed when

the British rulers perpetrated one of the

worst blood-baths in modern history;

the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on April

13, 1919. However, people of India

shackled by the most powerful imperialist

power of the world, Britain, presented

a heroic united resistance. It was no

exception. It could be seen again and

again since the First War of

Independence 1857. It is no hearsay but

corroborated by the contemporary

British government documents. These

amazing eye-opening documents were

part of the British archives which

became National Archives of India after

independence.

The documents, concerning the most

volatile period of the Indian freedom

struggle, not only showed the Britishers

brazenly flouting democratic norms,

indulging in barbarism while suppressing

the mass discontent but also brought

to light hitherto hidden aspects of Indian

people’s united heroic fight-back. The

contemporary documents are both saddening

and amazing. It was hugely

shocking to watch the ‘civilized’ British

indulging in acts of unprecedented violence

against Indians and the amazing

way the people of India, collectively

and individually, belonging to different

faiths and Castes, rose in revolt.

British rulers perpetrated the massacre;

Independent India

remained/remains indifferent to the

victims

These documents make shocking

revelations about the reprehensible attitude

of the foreign rulers towards victims

of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

In June 1919 the home department came

out with the statement which described

the British causalities but kept mum on

the count of Indian deaths raising an

idiotic argument that whatever number

would be made public by the British

government would not be acceptable to

the Indians!

However, when government repression

in Punjab drew world-wide condemnation,

the British government

appointed a commission of enquiry for

investigating the violence in Punjab on

October 14, 1919, headed by a jurist

from Scotland, Hunter. This commission

came to be known as Hunter

Commission. It came to the conclusion

that at Jallianwala Bagh 381 Indians,

including males, females and even a 6-

month-old baby were killed by General

Dyer’s force. This count was highly disputable

as the unidentified bodies (of

the people who were not Punjabis but

were in Amritsar as it was a famous

business/religious centre where also

people from other states constantly

came in search of livelihood) were disposed

of.

The list of martyrs only underlines

the multi-religious and multi-Caste

character of the anti-British freedom

struggle

The Hunter Commission list of martyrs

makes it clear that the protest meeting

at Jallianwala Bagh held in protest

against Rowlatt Act and arrests of

renowned Congress leaders, Dr.

Satyapal and Saifuddin Kitchlew

(whose son Toufique Kitchlew, an

author died in penury) was attended by

men, youth, women of all religions and

Castes. According to the list 381 Indians

died due to the firing of the British army

under the command of Brigadier

General Reginald Dyer. His invading

force mainly consisted of Nepali

Gurkhas, Baluch Regiment (manned by

Punjabi Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs),

the 54th Sikhs and the 59th Sind Rifles

soldiers making it clear that the British

ruled India with the help of the Indian

stooges.

Out of 381 martyrs only 376 were

identified, 220 were Hindus, 90 Sikhs

and 66 Muslims. Another significant

aspect of this gathering, which reflected

in the list of martyrs too, was that if on

the one hand businessmen, lawyers,

journalists, literary persons, government

employees, intellectuals were present,

on the other hand large number of audience

belonged to the professions like

ironsmith, dhobi (washer men) weavers,

barbers, helpers, daily-wage earner, carpet-knitters,

masons, cobblers and

sweepers. Many women were also present.

The Caste identities were as wide

and included, chartist (traders), Pathan,

Jet, Rajput, Brahmins, Barrages,

banyan, Sheikh, Slayed, Mambo etc.

Notably, 14 Kashmiri Muslims were

also martyred who are treated as antinational

by the RSS-BJP rulers. The

women martyrs were, Harbir Kaur identified

as Jatni and Bitto sister of Sher

Singh Jat.

These realities once again underlined

the fact that before the appearance of

protagonists of Hindu and Muslim separatism,

Indian freedom struggle was a

united movement over-riding religious

and Caste divisions. It was a true anticolonial

movement for an all-inclusive

India.

The ideal of Joint Martyrdoms-

Joint Heritage of Jallianwala Bagh

carried forward by Udham Singh by

adopting the name ‘Mohammed

Singh Azad’

Udham Singh was 20-year-old

orphan (born in a Dalit family) who witnessed

the massacre. So deep was the

hatred that he vowed not to rest until he

had avenged the killing of the innocent

hundreds. In order to enter England

where one of the perpetrators was living,

he travelled to Mesopotamia,

Kenya, Uganda, USA and USSR, all in

quest of Indian revolutionaries and

ammunitions. He survived working as a

carpenter and helping to organise the

labour movements in the countries

where he took refuge. He spent almost

two decades as a refugee in different

parts of the world. Finally, he could fulfill

his vow of taking revenge on March

13, 1940 when he shot dead Michael

O’Dwyer, the Lt. Governor of Punjab

(the architect of the Jallianwala massacre

who ordered the crackdown) at

Caxton Hall, London. When taken to

court after arrest he identified himself as

Mohammad Singh Azad. By adopting

this name underscored the fact that the

overthrow of the British rule was

impossible without the unity of the

Hindu, Muslim and Sikh of India.

It was 81 years ago (July 31, 1940)

Udham Singh died on the gallows in

the Pentonville prison of London.

Before kissing the gallows

Mohammad Singh Azad said:

“I did it because… he deserved it.

He… wanted to crush the spirit of my

people, so I have crushed him. For full

21 years I have been trying to wreak

vengeance. I am happy I have done the

job. I am not scared of death. I am dying

for my country.”

After announcement of death sentence

he had told the court:

“I do not care about sentence of

death…I am dying for a purpose.. We

are suffering from the British

Empire…I am proud to die to free my

native land and I hope that when I am

gone…in my place will come thousands

of my countrymen to drive you dirty

dogs out; to free my country…you will

be cleansed out of India. And your

British imperialism will be smashed…I

have nothing against the English people

at all…I have great sympathy with the

workers of England. I am against the

imperialist government. DOWN WITH

BRITISH IMPERIALISM!”

There is a strong livelihood that

Udham Singh returns to India with this

name today he will be lynched by the

Hindutva goons.

Shockingly, even after Independence

of the country, nothing changed for the

surviving members of the martyrs and

grievously injured. They remained neglected

what to talk of honouring the

families. In India, where persons who

were behind bars during Emergency

(1975-77) for less than a month, receive

INR 10,000 and less than 2 months as

INR 20,000 as family pension, the

demand of the families of the martyrs

that at least they should be entitled for

pension and railway concession have

not been accepted. Disgusted, ‘the

Jallianwala Bagh Shaheed Parivar

Samiti’ wrote a letter to the British PM

that England should compensate their

loss! It only shows the helplessness and

hopelessness of the families of the martyrs

but surely shamelessness and spinelessness

of the Indian rulers.

Hindutva rulers resorting to far

more draconian laws than used by the

British

On this anniversary of Jallianwala

Bagh massacre the hypocrisy of the

Hindutva rulers is to be seen and

believed. This lot like every anniversary

will laud the sacrifices at Jallianwala

Bagh and condemn repression by the

British by imposing draconian laws like

Rowlatt Act. While they are using far

worse draconian laws like DIR, MISA,

TADA, POTA, UAPA, AFSPA as every

day’s governing tool discarding democratic-secular

norms enshrined in the

Constitution. It is difficult to count how

many intellectuals, lawyers, journalists,

activists, authors, poets, artists are

behind bars under these laws.

RSS-BJP rulers justify killing by

police under their command

It is sad that on the eve of 102nd

commemoration of the Jallianwala

Bagh massacre in which Hindus-

Muslims-Sikhs laid down their live

together, some RSS-BJP leaders are

allegedly hailing the brutal killing at

Sitalkuchi village of 4 young Muslim

voters by a central Para-military force

under the ministry of home headed by

Amit Shah. The Bengal BJP chief, Dilip

Ghosh declared that “there would be a

Sitalkuchi everywhere.” Another RSS-

BJP leader of the State, Rahul Sinha

went to the extent of demanding that

central forces should have killed eight

rather than four people in Sitalkuchi in

West Bengal. It is high time that in order

to save our democratic-secular India

from the clutches of the Hindutva rulers

we remember the heritage of joint martyrdoms

of Jallianwala Bagh and use it

as antidote to the criminal communal

polarizing game played by them. It

would be the fittest homage to the martyrs

of Jallianwala Bagh too.

*Views expressed are the author’s

own.

Courtesy : Sabrang


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

19

I A Rehman : The torchbearer of Human

Rights Movement in PAKISTAN

The passing away of Mr I A Rehman

who was also fondly referred as

Rehman Saheb, founder of Human

Rights Commission of Pakistan, a truly

people s Commission on Human Rights

is a big loss for the human rights movement

in South Asia in general and

Pakistan in particular. His was a voice

that stood with its head high and with

full conviction against the tyrannical

regimes who violated people s rights.

The work of the human rights

defenders will always be measured in

terms of the societies and repressive

regimes they face. Both Asma Jahangir

and I A Rehman became legend during

their life time for persistently fighting

the rights of the people in Pakistan at a

time when brutal and oppressive Zia ul-

Haq regime started Islamisation of

Pakistan giving free hand to extra state

actors rabidly seeking imposition of

blasphemy laws and intimidating the

minorities and the marginalised.

I A Rehman was originally a journalist

who headed a Marxist leaning newspaper

once upon a time and a strong

votary of India-Pakistan peace and

friendship. It was in 1970s that he persistently

spoke against the brutalities of

the Pakistani army in East Pakistan,

now known as Bangladesh. He was an

intellectual who flourished in the company

of legendary Faiz Ahmed Faiz and

other such luminaries. Rehman Saheb

mentored a large number of human

rights defenders particularly those in the

media and social action. His was the

voice of conscience and hence spoke

with great courage and conviction.

Though he was known as a fiercely

independent writer and journalist his

work became more challenging in the

1980s when the military regime of Ziaul-Haq

started rapid Islamisation campaign

in Pakistan by changing the constitution

and introducing the Sharia

laws. Human Rights Commission of

Pakistan ( a non governmental organisation)

came into existence during Zia s

regime when the government started

harassing and intimidating the opposition

leaders, human rights activists,

freethinkers, writers and journalists who

spoke truth to the power. Zia s regime

brought some of the most regressive

laws in Pakistan which were aimed at

targeting the minorities and which were

used by the Islamic fundamentalists

with the blessings of the state apparatus.

Thus, Ahmadis and Christians who are

actually Dalits

in Pakistan,

became the

biggest victim

of the tyrannical

Zia regime. The Hudood laws,

Blasphemy laws were misused by the

regime massively. It was the time when

most of the writers, activists and political

opponents were jailed by the

Marshal law regime of Zia-ul-Haq.

I A Rehman was widely respected

person in the Human Rights circles as

well as that of the civil liberties in South

Asia. Unfortunately, given the nature of

successive regimes and governments

in our countries particularly

in India and Pakistan,

it has been difficult for the

peace activists to work when

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

UK PM Johnson to shorten his

India trip due to pandemic

New Delhi/London : British Prime

Minister Boris Johnson has decided to shorten

his trip to New Delhi later this month in view

of the severity of the second wave of the coronavirus

pandemic in India.

The visit, due on April 26, is significant for

the UK as it is eyeing a new bilateral trade deal

with India, following its exit from the European

Union. India is the second-largest investor in

the UK, after the US. Post-Brexit, the UK is

focused on the Indo-Pacific region for its economy

and security. Johnson had earlier indicated

that apart from New Delhi, he wanted to visit

Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai.

Official sources on Wednesday however

said that Johnson is reducing the length of his

trip to India. A spokesperson in London told

media that the decision to shorten the visit was

taken after due consultations with the Indian

government. Incidentally, India has placed a

temporary hold on all exports of the Oxford-

AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after the rise

in Covid-19 infection cases at home. The suspension

of exports is expected to affect supplies

to around 190 countries including the

UK. The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19

vaccine is a two-dose vaccine jointly developed

by the Oxford Vaccine Group and pharmaceutical

company AstraZeneca to target the

SARS-CoV-2 virus. Serum Institute of India’s

Covid-19 vaccine, called Covishield, is the

local version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

manufactured in India. However, as the

second wave of the pandemic has hit India

badly, the domestic demand for the vaccine

has increased hugely. The coronavirus pandemic

management and vaccine distribution

will be part of Prime Minister Johnson’s visit,

ministry of external affairs sources in New

Delhi said.

the majoritarianism masquerade

as nationalism or vice

versa. Peace activists or Human Rights

Liam Byrne, Labour s candidate

for West Midlands Mayor, has

backed Erdington s bid to the

Levelling Up Fund saying it will

put the heart back into the High

Street .

The bid, which is currently being

drafted by Birmingham City

Council and Jack Dromey, MP for

Erdington, is the latest attempt to

secure investment in Erdington

High Street after a bid to the Future

High Streets Fund was rejected by

government on Boxing Day.

On a visit to Erdington High

Street, Byrne spoke to local businesses

and stakeholders about the

multi-million-pound bid which

would create exciting new retail,

social, and community spaces that

would transform the High Street and

help it to thrive in the face of the

ever-changing nature of High

Streets across the country.

Mr Byrne was joined on the visit

by Erdington MP Jack Dromey, who

has played a leading role in preparing

the ground for the new bid and

whose support is required, as the

local MP, in order for a bid to be

made to the Levelling Up Fund.

Liam Byrne, Labour s candidate

for West Midlands Mayor and MP

for Hodge Hill, said:

Erdington s bid to the Levelling

Up Fund has my full support. It is

defender become the main villain and

therefore easy target of the media and

intelligence agencies.

I had no opportunity to meet him and

many like him but I followed his writings,

read his reports, reviewed some of

the reports published by Human Rights

Commission of Pakistan.

While a personally

knowing some can be an

asset, many of the legends

we never met but

known to us through

their writings and

extraordinary work. It

was extremely difficult

circumstances that the

human rights defenders

in Pakistan worked and I

must salute to their courage and conviction.

Most of them have been mentored

by Rehman Saheb.

Pakistan s #blasphemy laws are a

tool to harass and intimidate the minorities.

A young university student Mashal

Khan was lynched several years back.

There are many other cases of blasphemy

which HRCP fought. Writing in

Dawn, he said : This is the crux of the

problem. Unless murder is treated as

murder, and terrorism as terrorism,

regardless of the holy robes sported by

the vigilante brigade, the threat of a

doomsday scenario hinted at by the

Supreme Court will persist .

India s #cowprotectionlaws or anti

conversion laws or beef campaign resonate

to Pakistan s Blasphemy laws as

all these laws intend to intimidate and

humiliate the minorities in our respective

countries. It is people like IA

Rehman who provide hopes to people

even in these difficult time when state

and extra state actors have joined hand

to suppress people s voices and deny

them human rights.

Though Rehman Saheb died at the

age of 90 yet the Human Rights and

Civil Liberty movement in Pakistan and

South Asia will not remain the same. We

hope those who are inspired by his

vision and action will continue to

devote their time and energy for the betterment

of our societies. People can

fight tyrannical regimes and dictators

but when society become brutal and celebrate

lynching and murders then we

must realise that it has become sick and

need powerful voices of sanity and

vision such as I A Rehman. That way,

we have lost a legend who could speak

truth to power.

Our salute to #IARehman

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

Byrne backs Erdington High Street plan

clear from talking to local people

that there is a real enthusiasm in

Erdington for much needed investment

in the High Street and this will

be backed up by an ambitious and

detailed plan. I am determined to

do whatever I can to ensure

Birmingham City Council and Jack

Dromey are successful with this

bid that will put the heart back

into the High Street.

The people of Erdington are

proud people, and I want to help

them secure a High Street they

can be proud of.

Jack Dromey, MP for

Birmingham Erdington, said:

I m pleased that Liam has

thrown his full backing behind

our bid to the Levelling Up Fund.

Erdington may be one of the

poorest constituencies in the UK,

but we are rich in talent. This bid

will help us unlock the massive

potential we have here in

Erdington, and I know Liam s

support will be very welcome

locally.


20 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Biden should appoint special

envoy to Tibet : SANGAY

Dharamsala : Central Tibetan

Administration (CTA) President

Lobsang Sangay said that the administration

of US President Joe Biden

should appoint an envoy to Tibet, who

will not only "access the ground situation

but will also future play a pivotal

role in arriving at a solution acceptable

to all". Sangay made the remarks in an

interview with Nadir Ali, Director of the

Centre for Peace and Justice (CPJ), on

the prevailing situation in Tibet, while

also discussinf about the pragmatic and

acceptable solution for the problem.

According to the CTA President,

long-lasting peace and prosperity for

Tibet can only be achieved by seeking

the middle way policy as suggested by

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

"We want a peaceful and meaningful

settlement of Tibet in accordance to the

aspirations of Tibet, a settlement which

will be acceptable and beneficial for

Byrne launches West Midlands

CHARTER FOR NATURE

The West Midlands will develop a

“Charter for Nature” to restore the

'green heart of England' if Liam Byrne

MP, Labour candidate wins the race to

be the next West Midlands Metro

Mayor. “Our urban areas face an ecological

emergency that matches the climate

emergency’, Liam Byrne

explained. “Nature is severely depleted

and species are disappearing. We need

to make sure that no one is more than a

fifteen-minute walk away from a green

space, where they can enjoy plants,

birdsong, hopefully a body of water,

and see something of nature.”

Byrne believes the Charter should

be written from the “bottom up”

involving residents, especially children

and young people, alongside experts

from the conservation organisations

such as the like Friends of the Earth,

the Woodlands Trust, the RSPB, the

Wildlife Trusts and WWF.

“The scope for the Charter must be

ambitious,” say Byrne, we should listen

carefully to the experts at Birmingham

City University who believe parts of

the West Midlands, could become a

National Park and even be reforested.

“Every neighbourhood should have

both China and Tibet," he said.

In response to a question regarding

the US' role in towards resolving Tibet

issue, Sangay said: "Tibet has been for

60 years now struggling for securing

rights, in the past we have seen very little

being done.

"The US in response to the gross

human rights violations and cultural

assimilation have recently passed the

the opportunity of assessing the green

space that it needs to improve biodiversity

with rewilding, planting for birds,

insects and bees and making better use of

the “blue spaces” we have with our

waterways and canals. “The backbone of

our plan will be our aim to plant at least

one tree for every person in the West

Midlands backed up by a series of local

nurseries to encourage sustainable management

of our woodlands big and small.

“How will we pay for all of this? We propose

a variety of funding mechanisms for

this, a multi-faceted programme co-ordinated

through our new Green Energy

Transport and Housing Agency

(GrETHA) and the Culture & Sports

team. “We will explore the introduction

of a carbon offset scheme for new developments

just like Milton Keynes and

London boroughs have introduced.

“We’ll ask big players – like Severn

Trent, HS2, Commonwealth Games -

to bring forward planting schemes. Our

own development programme such as

new developments, town centre renewal,

and streetscape, and transport

improvements will include plans for

planting, in agreement with local councils

and residents.

Tibetan Support and Policy Act of 2020,

which has been a source of hope for

Tibetans across the globe. However, the

job is not done yet.

"In my humble opinion, the US being

the world leader should appoint an

envoy to Tibet. This would not only be

helpful in accessing the ground situation

but will in future play a pivotal role in

arriving at a solution acceptable to all.

"The US under President Biden

should be the torch bearer for the cause

of Tibet, and urge the world leaders for

working towards the amicable solution.

"The US can play an active role in

taking confidence building measures for

acceptance of middle way solution as

suggested by the Dalai Lama.

"If the US was to succeed in building

the confidence it would mean a world of

difference for Tibet.

Tibetans will get to play the part in

shaping their destiny. The freedom of

following their religion, preserving the

language and culture and preventing

and conserving their ecology which is

closely associated with religion."

Sangay also urged the international

community to come forward for the

Tibet cause and build towards arriving

at an amicable solution.

"It is the responsibility of all the

peace-loving nations across the globe to

help the people of Tibet." He also said

that China should act with responsibility

and if it has to declare its position on

the world stage, "it should in the least

settle the long pending issues within its

own borders first".

The CTA President further noted that

appointing and sending the envoy will

not only boost the Tibetans and give

them a new hope but it will also send a

clear message to China that the peaceful

solution is an implicit condition for the

prosperity of all.

"I am very optimistic about the

future and I am sure that with the blessings

of the Dalai lama, we will be successful

in our pursuit towards building a

peaceful and prosperous Tibet as envisioned

by Him.

"I am hopeful that the world community

will continue to support Tibet and

Tibetans for their legitimate struggle for

prosperous and safe future," he added.

UP Panchayat polls: BKU asks farmers

to choose candidates ’other than BJP’

Agra : The Bhartiya Kisan Union

(BKU) has issued a statement asking

people to choose any candidate, other

than those from the BJP in the

Panchayat elections that begin on

Thursday.

A statement issued by the BKU general

secretary read, "Samyukt Kisan

Morcha (united farmers front) is fighting

against the anti-farmer policies of

the Central government. We are going

to the states where Assembly polls are

being held and asking people not to

vote for the BJP. Regarding the

Panchayat elections in UP, we would

like to state that BKU is a non-political

organisation. We do not indulge in politics

and do not appeal to people to vote

for any party. We want people to vote

for anyone except BJP-supported candidates."

BKU's national spokesperson

Rakesh Tikait said, "I also never asked

people to vote for BJP. It is a local election

and people are free to choose anyone

they want." Gurnam Singh

Chaduni, a senior leader of Samyukt

Kisan Morcha, said, "So far, no agenda

for discussion over the Panchayat election

in UP has been received by the

Morcha. Our stand is clear. BJP will be

opposed in elections." He said,

"Farmer leaders from UP have been

actively campaigning against the BJP

in West Bengal.

They should do that in UP as well."

This comes a day after BKU general

secretary Yudhveer Singh had told

reporters that the farmers' outfit has not

taken any stand against the ruling party

in the upcoming Panchayat polls in UP.

Meanwhile, several farmer leaders

have themselves joined the poll fray.

Somveer Yadav, Pradeep Sharma and

Mukesh Pathak are contesting for the

post of block development council

members. Former army man Ramnath

Singh Sikarwar, who was the 'Republic

Day parade commander' of the farmers

during the tractor rally' at the Chilla

border, is contesting for the post of district

council member. Savitri Chahar,

Agra district head of the BKU women's

wing, who had joined the protest at

Ghazipur border with 18 other women

supporters, is also a candidate.

With this, farmers' issues have, perhaps,

for the first time, upstaged caste

dynamics in Uttar Pradesh. The farmer

has become the central figure in this

Panchayat election and farmer leaders

have become star campaigners.

Continue Page 24

A festival against indecency and

vulgarity in folk art and music

Strange, a man growing in a country

where people were fighting against

apartheid could feel differentiated there.

Of course, for him British were better

than the current rulers who discriminate

and don’t provide any opportunity.

The massive crowds that thronged

the ground where Lok Rang was being

organised showed that people will

always appreciate those initiatives that

reflect their feelings and where a person

is seen as working for them and not lecturing

them. Lok Rang gave voice to

hundreds of cultural organisations who

come here and display their art.

It is not merely song and dance but

theatre is also a part of Lok Rang. Live

performances by the theatre artists are

hailed by the people. This year

Azamgarh’s Sutradhar performed

Boodhi kaki, the drama based on

Munshi Premchand’s writing. We have

seen the performances last year on ‘

Bade Bhaai Saheb’ by Prem Chand.

Lok Rang’s team and its main

founder Shri Subhash Chandra

Kushwaha need to be complimented for

the extraordinary efforts that he has

been making to preserve the folk art and

culture as well as provide an alternative

culture to those which are converting

the folk dance and music into cheap and

vulgar events.

It is time our artists and cultural

activists should join hands to protect the

folk culture from these indecent forces

who just chose the medium to capture

the vast folk market. It is time to speak

up and challenge those narratives being

clandestinely placed by the hierarchical

forces to strengthen their divisive

casteist agenda.

Folk has the power to demolish all

the forces of parochialism and

Brahmanical elitism but for that our

artists, literary and cultural activists

need to understand the work of Jyoti Ba

Phule, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Periyar,

Bhagat Singh, Rahul Sankrityayan and

other revolutionaries such as Kabir,

Nanak, Raidas, Tukaram and many others

like them.

One hopes that as Lok Rang grows,

people will understand the importance

of challenging those parochial narratives

which celebrate the humiliation of

the Bahujan masses. It is time to question

these narratives and provide revolutionary

cultural alternatives. Kudos to

Lok Rang and its team for this wonderful

initiative in hope that it will inspire

the younger generation to look at the

things from the Bahujan perspective so

that folk really represent the socio-political

as well as cultural concerns of the

Bahujan masses which have been

denied to them by India’s dishonest

‘intellectual’ class serving and protecting

the interests of their own ‘jaatis’ and

‘class’

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Dr Mama Deshmukh is a veteran

Bahujan historian. In a conversation

with me he informed me that only

Ambedkarite Buddhists are capable to

lead the Bahujan movement and asked

them to get united. An interesting part of

his discussion was the advise to

Ambedkarites to be sensitive towards

the 'egos' of the Marathas, Kunbis and

other Bahujan communities. This is a

wonderful idea but there is a fact that no

leadership can be imposed on people

without the attempt by the leadership to

reach the communities and people. Egos

are part of political culture these days

and many time but some time they are

created and some time we over react to

a situation. It is essential for us to get

into political realism and not to judge

people just because their tweets or statement

have offended us. The said

'offense' may not be against the people

but may be it shows the ignorance of the

person or his advisers.

I am writing this with a tweet by

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh

Yadav that called April 14th to be celebrated

as #dalitdiwali. Akhilesh Yadav's

tweet does not have the negative intents

against Dalits but definitely show lack

of understanding of the entire Bahujan

perspective. If this was his father's

tweet, I would have some how felt the

mischief but I personally feel that

Akhilesh Yadav has been making efforts

to reach to all the communities but as

happened with a majority of the #bahujanleaders

depending on the 'professional'

advisers, public relation officers who

have very little understanding of the

Bahujan movement and icons who

shaped our destiny.

Calling for April 14th as #dalit

Diwali is insulting to

the memory of Dr

Ambedkar as it mischievously

limit Dr

Ambedkar, his struggles

and achievements to Dalit community.

As a political leader, Akhilesh

Yadav should have been careful with the

words and utterings. World over,

#AmbedkarJayanti is being celebrated

as #knowledge day or Social Justice

Day but our Bahujan leader want him to

confine to #dalits alone. That is where I

say, important for us to the point being

raised by Dr Mama Deshmukh that

unless Bahujan leaders and social

movement embrace Ambedkar-Phule-

Periyar's basic principles about debrahminsation

of society, they will not succeed.

There are examples in front of us

why the Mahars in Maharastra and

Jatavs and Chamars in Uttar Pradesh

have shown the world that change has

to come from with in and the success

NEWS

stories are unprecedented whether in

business or education or self employment.

Dr Deshmukh himself says that

most of his books are actually read by

the Mahars and not by his own community.

Dr Ambedkar Phule and

Periyar's vision is inclusive for all

and it will strengthen the ideological

frame work of the Bahujan

communities and make them

understand the culture of dominance

and appropriation.

Why dont our leaders understand

how the RSS and Narendra Modi use Dr

Ambedkar. They are working regularly

on the issues and have team which provide

them inputs. It is not merely professional

but also community leaders. It

is essential for Akhilesh and other leaders

hailing from Bahujan communities

to give spaces to Bahujan intellectuals

and activists, atleast listen to them.

Keep some professionals in your team

who have understanding of these issues

and shape the proper tweets so that people

dont get offended.

I have issues with those who started

campaign against Akhilesh Yadav. I

dont think he has bad intention. His

intentions were right. At the time when

Modi is speaking about Ambedkar and

vaccination festival, he wanted a big

celebration like Diwali but yes he must

be careful about the usage of symbolism

but to start a campaign

against him is deeply

distressing. It is the

same kind of people

who were lauding him

when Samajwadi Party

had alliance with

Bahujan Samaj Party.

We all know that the

role of SP-BSP important

in the coming elections in Uttar

Pradesh. Both the parties represent fairly

large number of Bahujan Samaj and

that is why they need to come together.

Even if they are not, they should not do

things where the future alliance is

impossible.

The Bahujan intellectuals have bigger

responsibility at the moment. Please

dont demonise leaders who can be your

ally in future. Keep the option open for

negotiations. Whether Tejasvi Yadav or

Akhilesh Yadav, both of them can not be

ignored in the Bihar-Uttar Pradesh politics

in the coming days. Both of them

need to have more and more Bahujan

orientation and understanding of social

justice which does not mean antagonising

the other groups. Important to keep

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

Bahujan leaders need to understand the sentiment of the

people but demonising them wont help at the moment

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

21

everyone with you still the basic preamble

of Bahujan Politics should be social

justice and fair representation. Bahujan

politics in the north India need to go

beyond Lohiaism and need to embrace

Ambedkar-Phule-Periyar as cultural ideology

and only then they will be able to

counter the brahmanical hegemony of

the Sangh Parivar and BJP. Fighting

against Sangh forces will need strong

intellectual strength of the great Bahujan

movement and our liberators. It is time

for introspection from all so that we do

not damage the existing political leadership.

The RSS-Savarna narrative is

clearly against established political leadership

such as Ms Mayawati, Akhilesh

Yadav and Tejasvi Yadav so that they

can create an impression that these leaders

are non existence and hence they can

promote their own people as Bahujan

leaders. Speak to the leaders, ask

uncomfortable questions but be careful

and dont demonise them unless they

have categorical intent to hurt the movement.

This is not the right time to deepen

the 'contradictions' but to look for

meeting points with a futuristic vision.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

NY based non-profit

names Indian-American

Executive Director

ISRO spy case :

SC orders CBI

probe in framing

of Narayanan

New York : Akanksha

Education Fund, a New Yorkbased

non-profit that supports initiatives

to improve access to high

quality education for the disadvantaged

children in India, has

named an Indian-American as its

new Executive Director. "The

Akanksha Education Fund is

thrilled to announce that Sejal

Desai, of Dallas, Texas, will be

the new Executive Director of the

Akanksha Education Fund," The

American Bazaar quted the

organisation's Board of Directors

as saying in a statement on

Wednesday. According to the

organisation, Desai's 30-year

career includes work in sectors

like venture capital, M&A,

accounting, entrepreneurship,

non-profit and corporate social

responsibility. Most recently, she

worked at Communities

Foundation of Texas, where she

led a strategic initiative focused

on engaging businesses in the

community. She also started a

social venture, SevaYatra, focused

on engaging US-based universities

and multinational corporations

with India-based NGOs.

Desai had lived in Mumbai for

almost 20 years. Ramesh

Srinivasan, the Fund's Board

Chair noted that Desai's combined

roots in Dallas and Mumbai are

perfect for this moment in the

non-profit's growth. "This is an

exciting venture for all of us, as

our future outreach depends in

part on growing our presence well

beyond the New York, New

Jersey and Connecticut area. We

have some terrific seeds planted

already and Sejal is poised to

make them grow."

In response to the announcement,

Desai said: "I am excited

to embark on this new chapter in

my life and work together with

individuals, corporates and foundations

across the US to advance

educational outcomes for underserved

children in India."

Established over 23 years ago,

the Fund has raised and granted

millions to the Akanksha

Foundation (a registered Indian

charity), which currently operates

21 best-in-class schools for

under-resourced children in

Mumbai and Pune.

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday

ordered a CBI probe into the role of Kerala police

officers in framing ISRO scientist Nambi

Narayanan in the 1994 ISRO espionage case.

A bench headed by Justice

A.M. Khanwilkar accepted

the report of a panel headed

by former top court judge

D.K. Jain, and asked the CBI

to carry out further investigation.

The top court said the

matter is very serious and it

requires a CBI probe.

The bench asked acting

CBI Director to take charge

of the case and treat the

report by Justice Jain panel as

a preliminary inquiry report

to conduct further investigations

into the matter.

The bench also comprising

Justices Dinesh

Maheshwari and Krishna Murari also asked the

CBI to file status report on its investigations in

three months. The top court has ordered that

panel's report should be kept confidential in a

sealed cover. The 79-year-old Narayanan waged a

legal battle against the Kerala police officers who

accused him of being a Pakistan's spy in 1994.

Besides appointing the panel, the top court had

directed the Kerala government to pay Rs 50 lakh

compensation to Narayanan for causing him

immense humiliation.

In 2018, a bench of the then Chief Justice

Dipak Misra decided to appoint a committee

under Jain and asked the

Centre and the Kerala government

to name one person

each to the committee. While

the Centre appointed a top

official -- D.K. Prasad, the

Pinarayi Vijayan government

appointed former Additional

Chief Secretary V.S. Senthil.

The ISRO spy case surfaced

in 1994 when

Narayanan was arrested on

charges of espionage along

with another senior official

of ISRO, two Maldivian

women and a businessman.

The CBI had held that the

then top police officials in

Kerala were responsible for Narayanan's illegal

arrest. The panel examined the circumstances

leading to Narayanan's arrest. It was alleged that

confidential documents on India's space program

was allegedly transferred to foreign countries.

Narayanan had maintained that Kerala police

fabricated the case and the technology he was

accused to have stolen and sold in 1994 case did

not even exist at that time.


22 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Is SIDHU in hunt of new

political space in Punjab?

Rajasthan registered -

71.50% YoY dip in

tourist numbers in 2020

Jaipur : Rajasthan, known as a tourist destination, has registered

a -71.50 YoY dip in tourist numbers in the year 2020 as compared

to the year 2019.

After registering this negative record, the Rajasthan travel trade

is busy searching for solutions for the ongoing year at a time when

the state fights the highest ever COVID surge with the second wave

hitting harder and stronger.

As per Rajasthan tourism officials, "The state registered a total

of 16,05,560 tourists in 2019 which were reduced to 4,46,457 numbers

in 2020, a steep fall of -72.19%. Similarly, in terms of domestic

tourists, 522,20,431 visited the desert state which were reduced

to 151,17,239 recording -71.05% dip in 2020 as compared to last

year figures. Overall, the Rajasthan tourism industry witnessed a

steep fall of -71.50% in tourist numbers in 2020 compared to the

corresponding year."

Now, while the industry was planning to make up last year's

blues with Rs 500 crore announced by the state government in the

budget, there came the second wave of Covid forcing the industry

to think anew and afresh.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a major setback to the

tourism sector. All the stakeholders of the tourism industry should

work in tandem to overcome these challenging times," said minister

of state for tourism Govind Singh Dotasra.

He opined that the recently announced Rs 500 crore budget

under the Tourism Development Fund will indeed go a long way in

reviving tourism in the state by building infrastructure and development

of new tourism spots. Rs 200 crore of this budget has been

set aside for marketing and promotion, he added.

Highlighting the urgent need for the vaccination of the workers

in the hospitality industry, Dr Jyotsna Suri, CMD, The Lalit Suri

Hospitality Group and chairperson, FICCI Travel, Tourism and

Hospitality Committee, said that the recent surge in Covid-19 has

again weakened the tourism sector and domestic tourism will be the

area of focus for the next two years. She appealed to the Minister

that the hotel and restaurant staff should be treated as frontline

workers and their vaccination should be an immediate concern.

Randhir Vikram Singh, President, IHHA and co-chairman,

FICCI Rajasthan State Council, said that domestic tourism holds

the key and Rajasthan has all the required ingredients to unleash the

vast potential of the sector. For the next two years, few foreign travellers

will be coming to India. UK has already barred foreign travel.

In such a scenario, we have big hopes from experiential tourism

which can be best experienced in rural Rajasthan, he told IANS.

Nishant Jain, Director - Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, in

his address shared that Rural Tourism is a priority segment in

tourism policy and hence has been given due importance.

President, HRAR & RATO, Kuldeep Singh Chandela demanded

that industry status should be given to the tourism sector.

New Delhi/Chandigarh : Congress

leader Navjot Singh Sidhu is now trying to

carve his own political space after being kept

waiting for his return to the state Cabinet.

His meeting with Chief Minister

Amarinder Singh has not yielded any result

so far, while the Congress high command,

which was aggressive on Sidhu's issue, has

also turned complacent, sources said.

Sidhu has suddenly become active in

Punjab politics over the desecration of the

Guru Granth Sahib, an incident which

occurred way back in 2015. On Tuesday,

Sidhu went to the Burj Jawahar Singh gurdwara,

the epicentre of the sacrilege incidents

in Faridkot district in 2015, and said that the

report prepared in connection with the case

by the Special Investigation Team should be

made public.

Without mincing words, he had said:

"More law, less justice... Justice delayed is

justice denied."

In his tweets, Sidhu has hinted that things

are not smooth, saying: "When you keep

your conscious mortgage, then no power

matters."

The activeness of the cricketer-turnedpolitician

is being closely watched by the

Congress, while the Aam Aadmi Party

(AAP) is also trying to fish in troubled water

About HALF of UK adults

estimated to have antibodies

given that Punjab will go to the polls next

year. Sidhu's return to the Punjab Cabinet too

hangs in balance as there is no indication

from the Chief Minister of this happening

London : About half of the

UK's adult population were estimated

to have tested positive for

coronavirus antibodies by the end

of March, the latest data from the

Office for National Statistics

(ONS) revealed.

An estimated 54.9 per cent of

people in private households in

England had Covid-19 antibodies

in the week to March 28, Xinhua

news agency quoted the ONS as

saying on Wednesday. Meanwhile,

people in older age groups showed

a slight decrease in antibody positivity

for the week ending March

28, according to the ONS. The

ONS said that this is likely because the data

does not yet show the impact of second doses

of Covid-19 vaccinations.

It is understood that it takes between two

and three weeks after an infection or vaccination

for the body to make enough antibodies.

But studies haven't yet shown that having

detectable antibodies affects the chance

of contracting the virus. The ONS survey

included people aged 16 years and over in

private residential households, and it

excludes people in hospitals and care homes.

New Delhi : Paying tributes to

Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar on his 130th

birth anniversary, President Ram Nath

Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi

on Wednesday stressed on the need to

imbibe his ideals in the conduct of each

Indian.

"Tribute to Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao

Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian

Constitution, on his birth anniversary. He

waged a lifelong struggle to create an equitable

society. Today, by taking a lesson from

his life and thoughts, we take a resolution to

adopt his principles in our conduct,"

President tweeted in Hindi.

The Prime Minister said that Babasaheb's

struggle to bring the deprived section into

from, despite the efforts of the Congress

leadership and the party's General Secretary

in-charge of Punjab, Harish Rawat.

Amarinder Singh and Sidhu have met

twice recently, but there has been no breakthrough

from either side. Sources said that

Sidhu wants his old portfolio, something

which Amarinder Singh isn't willing to concede.

Sidhu last met Amarinder Singh on March

17. A day after the meeting, when the Punjab

CM was asked about Sidhu's rehabilitation,

he had said: "Everyone wants him to be part

of our team."

The party's central leadership is keen in

accommodating the ex-cricketer, who has

been a star campaigner for the party.

Since Harish Rawat is recuperating from

Covid after being discharged from the hospital,

more time may be taken to decide organisational

issues. Sidhu had resigned from the

Punjab Cabinet in July 2019 after being

stripped of a key portfolio. He was in-charge

of local bodies, but was then shifted to the

power department.

The simmering tension between the two

leaders had reached a boiling point when

Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur was denied a party

ticket for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019,

sources said.

All shops reopened from Monday

along with hairdressers, beauty

salons and other close-contact

services.

Restaurants and pubs were

allowed to serve food and alcohol

to customers sitting outdoors.

Meanwhile, gyms, spas, zoos,

theme parks, libraries and community

centres can all open. On May

17, restaurants and pubs are

expected be allowed to resume

indoor service and see most rules

on gathering outdoors lifted.

More than 32.2 million people

have been given the first jab of the

coronavirus vaccine, according to

the latest official figures. Experts have

warned that despite progress in vaccine rollout,

Britain is "still not out of the woods"

amid concerns over new variants and the

third wave of pandemic on the European

continent.

President, PM stress to imbibe Babasaheb's ideals

the mainstream will remain an example for

generations to come.

Bowing to the great Dr. Babasaheb

Ambedkar on Ambedkar Jayanti, the Prime

Minister tweeted, "His struggle to bring the

deprived section into the mainstream will

remain an example for generations to

come".

Born on April 14, 1891, Babasaheb

Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, economist,

politician and social reformer who campaigned

against social discrimination

towards the untouchables (Dalits) and supported

the rights of women and workers. He

died on December 6, 1956. In 1990,

Ambedkar was conferred with the Bharat

Ratna, India's highest civilian award.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Social isolation may

reduce face recognition

ability: Study

New York : A solitary

lifestyle can have profound

effects on the

brains' abilities to recognise

faces, finds a study

on wasps with implications

on humans facing

social isolation due to the

coronavirus pandemic.

Paper wasps -- a

social insect -- recognises

the brightly coloured

faces of other paper

wasps. But, when reared

in isolation, they tend to

lose the ability, according

to researchers from

Cornell University in

New York, US. The

wasps' ability to remember

faces is similar to primates

and humans, but unlike

other social insects, they noted.

The findings, published in the

journal Biology Letters, revealed

that when adult wasps are

housed in solitude, visual areas

of their brains -- especially those

involved with identifying

nuanced colour patterns and

shapes -- are smaller and less

developed than their peers who

lived with other wasps.

"The wasps provide us with a

simple insect brain that offers a

Japan PM Suga to leave for

US for talks with Biden

Tokyo : Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to depart

for the US on Thursday for

talks with President Joe

Biden amid the Covid-19

pandemic and tension with

China. Suga is scheduled

to hold a summit meeting

with Biden at the White

House on Friday, becoming

the first foreign leader

to meet in person with the

new president, who was

inaugurated in January,

DPA news agency reported. Suga wants the talks to be "productive",

he told reporters on Wednesday. The two leaders want to show the

strong ties of the Japan-US alliance and their commitment to the

Indo-Pacific region, Tokyo said. Suga and Biden are expected to discuss

climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, issues related to China

and North Korea and cooperation toward a free and open Indo-

Pacific region, the Japanese government said. Tokyo has expressed

concerns about a new Chinese law which allows Beijing's coastguard

to use weapons on foreign ships. Chinese coastguard vessels were

spotted near a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea every

day in the past two months. The Japanese-administered Senkaku

Islands are also claimed by China and Taiwan, where they are known

as Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

system for understanding

the basic constructs of

how neural circuits work

and how social interactions

shaped the brain,"

said Michael Sheehan,

Assistant professor at the

varsity's College of

Agriculture and Life

Sciences.

"To my knowledge,

this is the first empirical

study to propose a candidate

brain region in an

insect that is involved

with individual identity

processing," said

Christopher Jernigan, a

postdoctoral researcher in

Sheehan's lab.

The study has implications

on human patients forced

to isolate themselves from family

and friends due to the coronavirus

pandemic, which has so

far infected 138 million people

and claimed 2.97 million lives

globally.

Total Covid cases cross 11-lakh mark in Karnataka

Bengaluru : With a record

14,738 new cases in a day, total

Covid cases in Karnataka

crossed the 11-lakh mark, while

nearly 10-lakh recovered so far,

said the state health bulletin on

Thursday. "The state's Covid

tally shot up to 11,09,650, with

96,561 active cases after 14,738

patients tested positive on

Wednesday, while 9,99,958

recovered, with 3,591 discharged

in the last 24 hours,"

said the daily bulletin. As epicentre

of the pandemic in the

state, Bengaluru reported 10,497

new cases on Wednesday, taking

its Covid tally to 5,12,521,

including 71,827 active cases,

while 4,35,730 recovered, with

1,807 discharged during the day.

Of 66 lives lost to the infection

during the day, 30 were in

Bengaluru, taking the state's

death toll to 13,112 and the city's

toll to 4,963 since the pandemic

broke out in mid-March a year

ago.

Of 555 patients in the intensive

care units (ICUs), 174 are in

Bengaluru hospitals, 81 in

Kalaburagi, 43 in Kolar, 31 in

Mysuru, 25 in Dharwad, 23 in

Bidar and 21 in Tumakur, with

the rest in the remaining 24 districts

in the state.

Out of 1,29,400 tests conducted

in the day across the state,

11,192 were through rapid antigen

detection and 1,18,208

through RT-PCR method.

Positivity rate shot up to

11.38 per cent while case fatality

rate declined to 0.44 per cent

across the state on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 73,687 people,

including 28,365 senior citizens

above 60 years of age and

43,904 in the 45-59 years age

group were vaccinated during

the day across the state.

NEWS

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 23

Wheat procurement in full swing,

farmers getting MSP in their

BANK accounts: FOOD SECY

New Delhi : Food Secretary

Shudhanshu Pandey said on

Thursday that wheat procurement

has gained pace in the

ongoing Rabi Marting Season

(RMS) 2021-22 with the government

agencies procuring 64.7

LMT of wheat worth Rs 12,800

crore at MSP (Minimum Support

Price) of Rs 1,975 per quintal,

against an estimated target of

427 LMT this year.

Speaking to mediapersons

virtually, Pandey said that the

government of India is committed

to purchase wheat at MSP

and ensure that payments are

made directly into the accounts

of the farmers.

He said that from the current

RMS 2021-22 onwards, transfer

of MSP will take place through

the DBT mode across India.

Briefing about the wheat procurement

in Punjab, he informed

that 10.6 LMT has been procured

as on April 14. In Punjab,

wheat procurement started from

April 10, and the agencies have

bought 10.56 lakh tonnes of

wheat in only five days.

Shillong : Meghalaya's opposition

Congress on Thursday has

emerged as the single-largest

party in the 29-member Garo

Hills Autonomous District

Council (GHADC), winning 12

seats while the ruling National

People's Party (NPP) won 11

seats, officials said.

The election to the GHADC

was held on April 12 and the

results were declared on

Thursday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, a

junior partner of the NPP-led

Meghalaya Democratic Alliance

(MDA), has bagged two seats

while the Garo National Council

secured one and three seats went

in favour of the independent candidates.

The United Democratic Party,

a local party, could not even

open its account. BJP's Bernard

Marak won the key Tura seat,

under the South Tura Assembly

Procurement in Punjab is in

full swing and on April 14, there

was an arrival of 5.57 LMT

wheat in the mandis, which is

likely to speed up in the coming

days.

Pandey said that there is no

stakeholder interest clash or

encroachment in Punjab.

Arhtiyas are receiving their commission

separately through the e-

mode of payment. Earlier, the

MSP was going to the farmers

via the Arhtiyas, but now it is

being directly transferred to the

farmers online.

As per the data available with

the Food Corporation of India

(FCI), the government agencies

in Haryana have procured over

30 lakh tonnes of wheat as on

April 14, while 20.63 lakh

tonnes of wheat has been bought

directly from the farmers in

Madhya Pradesh.

Over 1.83 lakh tonnes of

wheat was procured in Uttar

Pradsh till April 14.

Responding to a question

about storage conditions of

godowns, he said it is an incorrect

perception that due to the

poor condition of godowns,

foodgrain stocks get ruined.

In 2019 and 2020, the damage

was 0.006 per cent and 0.004 per

cent of the total storage, he

added.

"To improve the storage infrastructure

in India and increase

storage capacity by 100 LMT,

we are launching a storage modernisation

plan. By 2024-25, we

will store our stocks in modern

silos and phase out the conventional

godowns, Pandey said.

On proposals for maize procurement

in Bihar, the secretary

said that the existing policy of

the government of India is to ask

for quotes from the states and

accordingly the MSP is

announced. So, the state governments

can procure the required

quantity of maize according to

their needs, he said.

Additionally, as a result of the

government permitting ethanol

production, Bihar has announced

a policy on this which will

increase the demand for maize

crop in the state.

Some complaints against judges

are 'shockingly false', says SC

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on

Thursday said some allegations levelled

against judges are shockingly false, as it

heard a plea seeking appointment of adhoc

or additional judges to High Courts

as per Article 224A of the Constitution.

A special bench headed by Chief

Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising

Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Surya

Kant emphasised that the position of a

judge has to be made secure.

"We have seen allegations against judges

which are shockingly false..You can easily

knock out a judge if there is no security.

There has to be security of tenure for ad hoc

judges," it noted.

In a measure to reduce the pendency of

cases, the top court has voiced its support for

tenure of two or more years for ad hoc judges

if they are appointed in High Courts. The

bench said that frivolous complaints are

often made when a judge is appointed, as it

emphasised that it cannot put the entire system

of appointment of ad hoc judges in question.

Article 224-A says that "the Chief

Justice of a High Court for any State may at

any time, with the previous consent of the

President, request any person who has held

the office of a Judge of that Court or of any

other High Court to sit and act as a Judge of

the High Court for that State". During the

hearing, the bench noted that ad hoc judges

cannot be made vulnerable. The bench also

did not agree with the contention of senior

advocate Vikas Singh and other counsel that

many former judges may not show interest,

rather they would be more interested in other

lucrative fields like arbitration.

"We think this decision should be left to

the former judges. We cannot decide for

them," the bench noted.

It added that if retired judge thinks he has

something better to take up, then the judge

could simply decline the appointment. "If an

ad hoc judge is appointed, then regular cases

can be dealt by him and the Chief Justice can

focus on important constitutional issues."

The observations were made by the bench

while hearing arguments on the modalities of

appointments of ad hoc judges raised in a

plea filed by NGO Lok Prahari. The petitioner

sought appointment of additional judges in

the high courts under Article 224A in order

to reduce the pendency of cases. After a

detailed hearing in the matter, the top court

has reserved the verdict.

Congress emerges single largest

party in Meghalaya tribal body

constituency represented by

Chief Minister Conrad K.

Sangma.

Marak was a former member

of the Achik National Volunteer

Council, a militant outfit that

signed an agreement earlier with

the government.

NPP sources said that the BJP

is most likely to support the NPP

and the party is also trying to get

the support of the three independents

to govern the GHADC.


24 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

A festival against indecency and

vulgarity in folk art and music

Lok Rang has created

an alternative space

for Folk artists

against indecency and

vulgarity

Fourteen years ago, when noted

author and historian in the world of

Hindi language Mr Subhash Chandra

Kushwaha took an initiative to create an

space for folk artists against the culture

of indecency and vulgarity in the name

of folk culture particularly in the

Bhojpuri heartland, nobody ever

assumed that the event would become

hugely popular with the masses and ultimately

turned into an International one,

perhaps the most sought after in this

rural hinterland in Eastern Uttar

Pradesh. A nondescript village Jogiya,

about five kilometres from Fazil Nagar

town is now a place where lovers of folk

art, music and dance wait to visit every

year during the Lok Rang festivities.

Over the years, Bhojpuri expatriates

particularly those who belong to the

families of indentured labour or what

used to be called ‘Girmitiyas’, have

found this event extremely important to

perform which gives them a feeling of

‘speaking to the people of their motherland’.

Covid restrictions actually could not

allow the Lok Rang event in 2020 and

this year too with the second wave of

the Covid it became difficult for many

people to visit. In 2019, there were huge

contingents of Bhojpuri diaspora artists

who came from Surinam, Mauritius,

Guyana, Trinidad and other countries.

This year, Kem Chan Lall came from

Durban, South Africa whose great

grandparents had migrated to South

Africa in 1861 as indentured labourers

to work in the big agricultural farms of

the white colonisers. Kem Chan Lall is

a Bhojpuri singer and extremely proud

of it though he cannot read or write

either Bhojpuri or Hindi language. The

person who promoted Lok Rang among

the Bhojpuri diaspora is Mr Raj Mohan

whose parents were taken as indentured

labourers to Suriname but this year due

to restrictions he could not participate.

Raj Mohan’s ‘Dui Mutti Anaz’ reflected

the pain and anguish of the ‘girmitya’

majdoors which remained missing from

the writings of most of the historians

who were writing in favour of or against

the colonisation process. Raj Mohan’s

presence was missed heavily as people

loved his music and performances.

This year’s Lok Rang was therefore

organised under unprecedented circumstances

on April 10th and 11th at village

Jogia. Father of Shri Subhash Chandra

Kushwaha is in a critical condition and

is admitted in hospital in Gorakhpur but

he remained committed to organising

the event, keeping the pain and anguish

in his heart. It was difficult as many of

the guests could not make it due to

restrictions. Many authors and writers

were supposed to visit but they had to

cancel their trip at the eleventh hour.

The atmosphere

as such

that we all felt

that the people

might not

join due to fear of Covid. Each one of

the organisers who had worked hard

tremendously felt so.

It is difficult to organise an event of

this kind in a village where no infrastructure

is available and for every

small thing you have to depend on people

from either Gorakhpur or Lucknow

which are quite far. The Lok Rang team

involving local people do everything to

make the event successful. Every year,

the artists of Sambhavana Kala Manch,

led by Dr Raj Kumar Singh from

Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh reach village

Jogiya, a few days ago, in advance and

paint the entire village with their beautiful

creations. It is the Sambhavna Team

that paints the walls of the ground

where Lok Rang is organised, they

design the stage and display their wonderful

sense of people’s paintings.

Lok Rang is nothing without the

presence of Prof Dinesh Kushwaha,

Head of the Department, Hindi

Literature at Reeva University. He has

been anchoring the show since the

beginning and keeps people enthralled

with his humorous comments and ‘sero-shayari’

and ‘poetry’. He too suffered

from CoronaVirus last year and won the

battle against it. Despite all the issues of

restrictions, he made it to Jogiya, travelling

by Car from Reeva, about 12-14

hours from here.

One of the highlights of Lok Rang’s

events is the gathering of

authors, activists, artists, social

workers on the second day during

the day time to discuss the

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

‘Crisis of ‘folk’ and folk literature’.

Majority views emerged

that Lok Sahitya or Folk Literature and

Folk Culture must be ‘Bahujanised’. It

is ironic that while folk represent the

voices of the working masses of India

denied dignity by the Varna system,

today, it is the Brahmanical elite very

cleverly defining what is ‘folk’. So in

the name of ‘Lok’ we have ‘parlok’ and

the glorification of mysticism and rituals

injected by the Brahmanical class.

Hence it is essential for those dedicated

to folk culture and literature that they

look at the monumental work of Jyotiba

Phule, Baba Saheb Ambedkar and EVR

Periyar. Perhaps, a beginning can be

made by dramatizing ‘Gulamgiri’ and

‘Kisan ka Koda’ written by Jyoti Ba

Phule in different local dialects and

staged in front of the people to enlighten

the communities and make think

about the issues that they face and have

been victimised in the name of culture.

Live performances from artists from

Rajasthan are a big hit at the Lok Rang

events. Ustad Arba Music and Dance

Group led by Imamuddin Saheb gave

superb performances. Most of the artists

including dancers had performed live in

India as well as abroad but in their own

admission live performance at a rural

crowd dedicated to folk art and culture

has been their ‘best’ moment.

The Rai dance performance from

Bundelkhand was ‘entertaining’.

Frankly speaking, it is important to trace

these kinds of art forms mostly performed

by the Bahujan communities in

India. Rai is the lifeline of Bediya community

in Bundelkhand region of Uttar

Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The

Bediya community was looked down

upon and was thoroughly marginalised

because of this. The old feudal values of

Bundelkhand where women are still in

veils, Rai performers were meant to

entertain the old monarchs and feudal

lords because they were ‘adivasis’ or

‘Dalits’ and socially degraded. This is

the supreme irony where people want to

dance over these performances yet look

down upon the communities who perform

this. Bedia community

was forced into

prostitution and continuously

faced discrimination

not merely from the

administration but also

from society.

There is a similar

reality to ‘Bahurupiyas’

who hail from Rajasthan

and try to make us laugh

by mocking at themselves or picking up

some dialogue of a historical film or

character. They are popular here at Lok

Rang when they roam around the village

during the day doing live performances

of specific characters reminding

us of their ‘beautiful’ traditions. They

belong to Dalit community because they

don’t get a certificate of being

Scheduled Caste because they follow

Islam. The conditions of the families

belonging to Bahurupiya community is

absolutely dismal and need special

attention. How can the art flourish if the

communities who carried it forward

remain isolated, untouchables and vulnerable.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=

VrADBRPC_wo)

Most of the folk art is preserved and

inherited by the Bahujan communities.

The ’Farwahi’ dance performance under

the guidance of Shri Ram Vriksha

Kushwaha of Kushinagar was simply

superb. The ‘Biraha’ song performance

by Shri Mangal Yadav and his team was

brilliant. The performance of Bihu

dance by Assam’s Natrang Cultural

Association gave us a glimpse of

nature’s relationship with the Assamese

people.

Folks cannot and should not be merely

glorification and celebration of the

past as this has been used by the

parochial right-wing forces. It needs

reorientation and retracing of the history

from Bahujan perspective so that the

mischief produced in the name of folk

to enslave us mentally can be exposed.

Bihar’s ‘ Jan-Geet Parivartan Rang

Mandali’ from Jeeradei, the birth place

of India’s first president Babu Rajendra

Prasad, really won the heart of all. They

sang not only Kabir and Amir Khusrau

but also portrayed the power of farmers

and their movement. Folk cannot be just

mysticism but it has to be the representative

voices of India’s Bahujan masses.

Many friends’ questions as why the

families of those belonging to India’s

indentured labourers are deeply

drenched into patriarchy and godliness.

I have heard ‘revolutionary’ writers and

speakers feeling uncomfortable when

listening to the Bhajans or celebrations

of the culture by the Girmitiya communities.

We never understood their pain

and agony.

Those who felt British and other

colonisers were their best friend

because they were enemy’s enemy,

should understand the history of indentured

labourers which was not better

than slavery even when the latter was

abolished by the Western power. The

Girmitiya community had a sense of

‘loss of inheritance’ and that is why they

kept their culture and history alive in the

form of folk songs. We can’t mock them

because they sing bhajans but it is

important that any community will fight

back to preserve its culture even in the

hardest form of adverse circumstances.

Kemchan Lal belonged to the

Chamar community and he said this to

me that Bhojpuri is looked down upon

by the Indian diaspora in South Africa.

His parents memorised Ramcharit

Manas but told him that they were not

allowed to do so and that they were

‘lower’ caste.

See page 20


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Lalu to remain in AIIMS

Delhi for treatment

Patna : Despite the Jharkhand High Court granting bail to former

Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad, he will remain in AIIMS

Delhi until he recovers fully.

Tejashwi Yadav, RJD leader and younger son of Lalu Prasad,

said that he is suffering from multiple diseases and severe infection

in both the kidneys. "The Jharkhand High Court has given bail

to Lalu Ji but we are extremely concerned about his health. He will

undergo treatment in AIIMS Delhi. We have contacted doctors and

they said that Lalu Ji has to stay in hospital. He has severe infection

in both the kidneys and is also having breathing problems. He

is under close monitoring of expert doctors of AIIMS," Tejashwi

said after a virtual all party meeting on the corona crisis in Patna.

"We highly appreciate the Jharkhand High Court for granting

him bail. We have complete faith in the judiciary of our country.

There is happiness among the people of Bihar that their idol and

messiah of the poor has been released from jail," Tejashwi said.

Anand Vij, the lawyer of Lalu Prasad, said that he was given

bail on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh. Besides, he has to pay Rs 10

lakh penalty and also surrender his passport in court.

Delhi likely to face water

shortage for a week: DJB

New Delhi : Water supply in several parts of the national capital,

including

areas under

the New Delhi

Municipal

Council

(NDMC) and

South Delhi

are likely to

face water

shortage from

Saturday

evening, the

Delhi Jal Board said. The DJB claimed that the water crisis in

Delhi has emerged due to reduction in supply of raw water from

Upper Ganga canal to Yamuna in Delhi. The board informed that

the supply of raw water from Haryana has reduced by 25- to 30 per

cent which resulted in shortage at two Water Treatment Plants

(WTPs) - Sonia Vihar and Bhagirathi. "Water supply in areas of

East Delhi, Northeast Delhi, South Delhi and NDMC will remain

affected on Saturday evening. The situation may remain so for a

week until the water supply restores," the DJB said in an official

statement.

Delhi gets 250 million gallons of raw water a day through the

Upper Ganga Canal. At present, around 200 million gallons a day

(MGD) is being received. On Wednesday, high ammonia concentration

in the Yamuna and less water in the river had affected the

production capacity at Chandrawal and Wazirabad water treatment

plants, which supply around 228 MGD drinking water to people of

Delhi. DJB vice chairman Raghav Chadha on Wednesday had

written to Haryana Chief Minister requesting him to address the

issue of short supply of raw water and discharge of pollutants in

the river from Haryana.

NEWS

Mumbai : Warning of a possible "third

wave of Covid-19", Maharashtra Chief

Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday

appealed to India Inc. to make all-out

preparations to counter it right now and

ensure it doesn't hit the state's industry and

economy. Urging the corporate houses and

industrialists to collaborate with the state

government to combat the current and

upcoming crises. Thackeray said India Inc.

could contribute immediately by setting up

Covid care facilities on their plants and

premises and plans 'Covid-compatible

workplaces' for the future.

"Presently, the state is in dire need of

oxygen, and currently the entire production

is being utilised for medical purposes.

Given the number of new patients coming

up daily (around 60K daily), we need a lot

more oxygen for which the industries can

help out," Thackeray said, in an interaction

with some of the leading business houses

and corporate groups.

Health Secretary Dr. Pradeep Vyas said

that the state is conducting 3-lakh tests per

million population and though the death

rate is low, the infections are very high. He

requested the industries to start setting up

small oxygen plants in their premises to

absorb natural oxygen based on new technologies

and provide the entire production

(oxygen) for medical purposes.

The meeting with Thackeray was

attended by leading India Inc. players like

Niranjan Hiranandani, Uday Kotak,

Deepak Mukhi, Harsh Goenka, Naushad

Forbes, Sulajja Firodia, Sameer Somaiya,

S. N. Subramanian, Salil Parekh, Neel

Raheja, Sanjeev Bajaj, Anant Goenka,

Baba Kalyani, Anant Singhania, B.

Thagarajan, Banamali Agarwal, Ashwin

Yardi, Sunil Mathur, Sanjeev Singh, Ashish

Agarwal, representatives of FICCI, CII and

others industry bodies.

Representing top corporate houses or

groups like Tata, Reliance, L&T, Infosys,

JSW, Mahindra & Mahindra, Godrej, Blue

16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021

25

Prepare now for a third Covid-wave:

THACKERAY to India Inc

Star, Kinetic Engineering and many more,

the representatives unanimously assured that

they were with the state government in this

critical hour while interacting with the CM,

Industry Minister Subhash Desai, Health

Minister Rajesh Tope and top officials.

Responding favourably to Thackeray's

suggestion, the corporate honchos committed

to make available oxygen, provide testing

and vaccination centres, isolation areas,

creating special systems for the health of

all their workers and employees, developing

systems to encourage Work From

Home and other Covid-appropriate measures.

Thackeray called upon the corporate

world to ensure that in view of the 'Covid

waves', all steps must be taken to prevent

their adverse impact on the industry and

the economy due to unavoidable pandemic

lockdowns or stringent norms.

The CM directed Chief Secretary Sitaram

Kunte to set up an 'Industry Task Force'

which would work in tandem in future with

the state government on all aspects of Covid

type of health emergencies.

Thackeray asked the industrialists to

take up welfare activities like Shiv Bhojan

Thali for the poor in cities or local villages

through the CSR route to minimise the

impact of the Covid waves on the most vulnerable

sections of society.


26 16-04-2021 to 30-04-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

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