16-05-2021 The Asian Independent

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Vol : 05 : #67 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

India remains hugely concerning : WHO

Geneva/New Delhi : India remains

hugely concerning, with several states

continuing to see a worrying number

of cases, hospitalizations and deaths,

the World Health Organisation

(WHO) has said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,

WHO Director General said in a briefing

that WHO is responding and has

shipped thousands of oxygen concentrators,

tents for mobile field hospitals,

masks and other medical supplies.

"And we thank all the stakeholders

who are supporting India," he

said. "COVID-19 has already cost

more than 3.3 million lives and we're

on track for the second year of this

pandemic to be far more deadly than

the first," Tedros said.

However, it's not only India that

has emergency needs, he added.

Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam,

Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt are

just some of the countries that are

dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations.

He added that the fact

that so many are still not protected is

a sad reflection on the gross distortion

in access to vaccines across the globe.

"In January, I spoke about the

potential unfolding of a moral catastrophe.

Unfortunately, we are now

witnessing this play out. In a handful

of rich countries, which bought up the

majority of the vaccine supply, lower

risk groups are now being vaccinated,"

he said.

"I understand why some countries

want to vaccinate their children and

adolescents, but right now I urge them

to reconsider and to instead donate

vaccines to COVAX," WHO said.

"Because in low and lower-middle

income countries, vaccine supply has

not been enough to even immunize

health and care workers, and hospitals

are being inundated with people that

need lifesaving care urgently. At present,

only 0.3 per cent of vaccine supply

is going to low-income countries,"

he added.

Man carries Covid positive

daughter's body on

shoulders for cremation

Chandigarh : In a heart-wrenching incident, a poor man carried

his 11-year-old daughter's body on his shoulders to reach

the burial ground in Jalandhar town. She died owing to Covid-

19. The video of the man carrying the body has gone viral on

social media. The man, Dilip, told the media that his daughter

died on last Sunday.

He said the video was of Monday when he went to the burial

ground with his son for her last rites.

"I am a poor man. Since no one came forward to financially

help me in her cremation, I decided to take her body for the cremation

on my shoulder," he said.

"Since my daughter was undergoing treatment in Amritsar,

after her death the body was handed over to me by wrapping in

a bed sheet. I brought the body here (Jalandhar) for cremation.

With the help of someone who gave me Rs 1,000, I performed

her last rites." A day earlier, a video grab of a man carrying the

body of his mother, who too died due to Covid-19, for cremation

on his shoulder in Himachal Pradesh was widely shared on

social media. The man belonged to Bhangwar village near

Ranital town, some 30 km from Dharamshala in Kangra district.

Pro-Palestinian protests

held in major US cities

Washington : Demonstrators took to

streets across a number of major US cities,

demanding an end to the escalating violence

between Israel and Hamas militants in the

Gaza Strip.

In the capital Washington, D.C., hundreds

took part in pro-Palestinian protests on

Saturday, marching from the Washington

Monument to the US Capitol, reports Xinhua

news agency.

Also on Saturday, thousands of people rallied

in Los Angeles in support of

Palestinians. Local media said a handful of

pro-Israel counter-protesters also gathered,

and police officers kept the groups separated.

A demonstration that started in a neighbourhood

in the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which

has a large Arabic-speaking community, continued

through the streets for several hours on

Saturday afternoon, said an ABC News

report. In San Francisco, a raucous crowd

banged drums and yelled "Palestine will be

free" as they marched across the Mission district

to Dolores Park, the report said, adding

that pro-Palestinian demonstrations were also

held in Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and

some other US cities. The protests were

planned for Nakba Day, which Palestinians

observe every May 15 to commemorate the

1948 displacement of hundreds of thousands

of Palestinians amid Israel's war of independence,

local media reported.

Since the tensions flared up on May, Israel

has pounded Gaza with hundreds of air

strikes and shells, killing at least 145 people,

including 41 children and 23 women.

Meanwhile, rockets fired by militant

groups in Gaza have killed 10 people, including

a five-year-old boy, a soldier and two

women.

B'desh educational

institutions to stay

shut till May 29

Dhaka : Bangladesh has again

extended the closure of all secondary

and higher secondary educational

institutions until May 29 following

an ongoing Covid-19 resurgence

across the country.

The Ministry of Education said in

a statement on Saturday night that

the government extended the closure

of the institutions till May 29,

reports Xinhua news agency.

Previously the closure was

extended in phases till May 22.

According to the statement, the

latest decision was taken considering

the safety of students, teachers,

institution employees and guardians.

It, however, said all online academic

activities of all schools and

colleges will continue.

Bangladesh on March 16, 2020,

had first announced to close all educational

institutions in the country in

an effort to halt the spread of the disease.

Since March 2020, the virus

has spread to nearly every

Bangladeshi district, and the total

number of cases has risen to 779,796

with 12,124 deaths so far.


2

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

New York City to aid India's Covid battle

New York : New York City Mayor

Bill de Blasio has announced that the

city will tap into its stockpile to send

Covid-19 test kits, swabs, ventilators,

BiPap machines, pulse oximeters, and

other medical supplies to India, which

is currently battling a devastative second

wave of the pandemic.

However, de Blasio didn't disclose

the quantity and schedule about the

transnational aid, reports Xinhua news

agency. "Now, it is our turn to step up

and help India in its moment of crisis.

We are sending vital medical equipment

to India to send a clear message:

nobody is in the fight against COVID-

19 alone. "Together, we can save lives

and beat back the pandemic," the

Mayor said in a statement issued on

Friday. New York City Health

Commissioner Dave A. Chokshi, an

Indian-American, said: "Our city,

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Editor-in-chief

Columnists

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home to thousands of Indian-born

New Yorkers, and our country have a

moral imperative to demonstrate global

solidarity in order to overcome this

devastating pandemic."

Chokshi appealed to the White

House to take further action to waive

Covid-19 vaccine patents and said that

all research, technology and techniques

for producing the jabs should

be publicly shared. "New York's thousands

of Indian-Americans are filled

with anger and helplessness as they

witness the unnecessary tragedy back

in the country that shaped each of us

as a child," said Harpreet Singh Toor,

co-founder and president of South

Asians for Global Empowerment.

Toor said it is the right time to call

for a full-scale effort to donate vaccines,

Covid-19 test kits, swabs, ventilators,

pulse oximeters, and every

Mamata Banerjee's

brother dies of Covid

Kolkata : on a day when the

tocols. Not only Ashim Banerjee

state announced a nearly-lockdown

condition to fight the

ic took the lives of five doctors

but on the same day the pandem-

spike in covid cases in the state

across the state. The doctors who

for the next 15 days, Chief

lost their lives are well-known

Minister Mamata Banerjee lost

pathologist Dr Subir Kumar

her younger brother who was

Dutta (90), renowned physician

battling for life in a private hospital

for the last one month.

(in his 70s), surgeon Dr Satish

from Barasat, Dr Utpal Sengupta

Ashim Banerjee, the chief

Ghata (late 70s), Dr Sandipan

minister's younger brother, died

Mandal (37) of Murshidabad

on Saturday morning after being

Medical College and Hospital,

detected with Covid-19 last

and gynaecologist Dr Dilip

month, the hospital said in a

Chakraborty. West Bengal registered

its highest single-day spike

statement.

Banerjee, 62, was undergoing

of 20,846 fresh Covid-19 cases,

treatment at the hospital for the

taking the tally to 10,94,802, the

past one month, sources in the hospital said. "He health department said in its bulletin on Friday.

was detected with Covid-19 last month and was The toll rose to 12,993 after 136 more people,

undergoing treatment for almost a month now. including five eminent doctors, succumbed to the

He had certain co-morbidities such as hypertension.

He died at 9.20 am in the morning," a doc-

Of the 136 deaths, 67 were due to co-morbidi-

infection, the bulletin said.

tor in the hospital said.

ties where Covid-19 was incidental. The North

His last rites will be performed at Nimtala cremation

ground on Sunday following Covid pro-

and Kolkata

24 Parganas district accounted for 42 fatalities

34.

other type of relief possible to India.

The US has delivered six planeloads

of emergency medical supplies

to India in fighting against a Covid-19

wave, according to a release by the US

Agency for International

Development on May 6.

As a devastating wave of infections

caught India off guard, more than 10

countries have offered to help India

with aid. The Red Cross Society of

China recently donated oxygen concentrators

and ventilators to India with

delivery on Monday.

Amid the critical situation, India's

overall coronavirus caseload and

death toll as of Saturday stood at

2,43,72,907 and 2,66,207, respectively.

In the past 23 days, India's daily

Covid tally has plateaued over the

three-lakh-mark, with more than 3,000

casualties for 17 days.

'Europe has right conditions for

safe reopening of tourism'

Lisbon : The European

Union (EU) has already had the

right conditions for a "safe

reopening" of tourism in summer,

European Commissioner

for Internal Market Thierry

Breton said.

"The situation remains difficult.

However, I am sure that

we finally see light at the end of

the tunnel and now we have the

tools," he said at the High-

Level Forum for Sustainable

Tourism held in the Portuguese

city of Porto on Friday.

Breton said the considerable

increase in the production

capacity of vaccines suggested

that there will be enough doses

to vaccinate 70 per cent of the

EU population by mid-July.

As for the "vaccine passport"

in Europe, the

Commissioner said: "The

European Parliament and the

Council are now ready to finalize

negotiations by the end of

May". Breton added that he is

"confident of having it ready

for the summer". Portuguese

Economy Minister Pedro Siza

Vieira said at the forum that the

EU countries need to adopt a

common approach for the

Beijing : China has

approved one more inactivated

Covid-19 vaccine for emergency

use, according to an

announcement by the developer

of the jab.

Shenzhen Kangtai

Biological Products Co., Ltd.,

the developer, said on Friday

that the vaccine it developed

has started related work for

Phase III clinical trial, reports

Xinhua news agency.

The vaccine reported no

adverse events with an intensity

of grade 3 or above in the

first two phases of its clinical

trials, according to the company's

research submitted to

MedRxiv, a web portal distributing

preprints about health sciences.

A grade 3 adverse event

refers to side effects that are

severe or medically significant

but not immediately life-threat- ening, according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events. Research,

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reopening of tourism with a

focus on the immediate recovery

of the sector. The Minister

stressed that the tourism sector

is fundamental for the recovery

of European economies in the

face of the Covid-19 crisis.

China approves another inactivated Covid vax for emergency use

development and industrialization

of the vaccine are going

smoothly, said the company,

adding that a vaccine manufacturing

plant built in the

Nanshan district of Shenzhen

in Guangdong province, has

kicked off production.

Earlier this month, the

World Health Organization

(WHO) granted emergency

approval for the Covid vaccine

made by Chinese state-owned

company Sinopharm.

It is the first jab developed

by a non-Western country to

get WHO backing. Prior to the

WHO approval, the Sinopharm

vaccine was already being

widely used, with an estimated

65 million doses administered,

according to reports. Another

jab being administered in

China against the disease is the

Sinovac vaccine.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

11 dead after

van plunges into

canal in Pak

Lahore : At least 11 people were killed after a passenger van

plunged into a canal in Pakistan's Punjab province, according to

media reports. The accident took place on Friday evening in

Khanqah Dogran area of Sheikhupura district, reports Xinhua

news agency. Police and rescue teams rushed to the site and took

out bodies from the capsized vehicle in the Mianwali Canal.

The victims comprise seven children, three women and a man,

who belong to the same family. The family was going to Khanqah

Dogran from Gujranwala district. A witness told the media that the

driver failed to control the overspeeding vehicle at the bank of the

canal, causing the accident.

Russian girls making

TikTok video set fire

to tonnes of straw

ASIA

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

GOVT SUPPRESSING ACTUAL

numbers of Covid-related

deaths, alleges Chidambaram

New Delhi : Senior

Congress leader and former

Union Finance Minister P.

Chidambaram on Saturday

slammed the central government

over the issuance of 1.23

lakh death certificates between

March 1 to May 10 this year in

Gujarat and said that government,

in conjunction with some

state governments, is suppressing

the actual numbers of new

infections and Covid-related

deaths.

Addressing a press conference

here virtually,

Chidambaram said, "On May

14, Divya Bhaskar, a Gujarati

language newspaper, published

a news story that sent shock

waves throughout Gujarat and

the country." He said that the

thrust of the story was that during

the period March 1 to May

10 of this year (2021), Gujarat

issued about 1,23,000 death

certificates as against about

58,000 death certificates issued

during the same period last year

(2020). "The increase was an

alarming number of about

65,000 death certificates. This

increase cannot be explained as

a natural annual increase in the

number of deaths. It can only

be attributed to a pandemic or

any other natural disaster," the

Congress leader said. He said

that the Congress had independently

verified the two

numbers referred to for the

period of 71 days.

"We have collected the numbers

from 33 districts (including

the cities), the sum of the

number of the death certificates

nearly tallies with the numbers

published by Divya Bhaskar --

1,23,873 in 2021 versus 58,068

in 2020. "During the period

March 1, 2021 to May 10,

2021, the government of

Gujarat has officially admitted

to only 4,218 Covid-related

deaths," he said.

"The difference between the

increase in the number of death

certificates (65,805) and the

official Covid-related deaths

(4,218) must be explained. It

cannot be explained as 'natural

annual increase' or 'due to other

causes'. We have a strong suspicion

that the bulk of the

increased number of deaths is

due to Covid and the state government

is suppressing the true

number of 18 Covid-related

deaths," Chidambaram said.

3

Hitting out at the government,

Chidambaram said that

the party's suspicions were confirmed

by the fact that hundreds

of unidentified bodies have

been found floating on the river

Ganga and nearly 2,000

unidentified bodies have been

found buried on the sands along

the river Ganga.

"We have a strong suspicion

that the Government of India,

in conjunction with some state

governments, is suppressing

the true numbers of new infections

and 18 Covid-related

deaths," he alleged.

He said, "If our suspicions

are true, this is a grave misdeed

apart from being a national

shame and a national tragedy."

Chidambaram said that

Central government and the

Gujarat government owe an

explanation to the people of

India. "We demand answers

and an explanation," he added.

Chidambaram also said that

the National Human Rights

Commission should collect the

true numbers from every state

about the death certificate

issued last year and this year.

Commonwealth nations target

inclusive shift to clean energy

Moscow : Two girls in Russia set fire to a nearly 200 tonnes of

straw, causing extensive damage, while trying to make a TikTok

video. Police said that the fire grew out of control after individual

pieces of straw were set ablaze, reports dpa news agency.

Some 195 tonnes of straw were said to have burned in the rural

area not far from the city of Perm, about 1,200 km east of Moscow.

The two schoolgirls had run away after their attempts to stop

the flame failed. They admitted to police a short time later that

they had been making a TikTok video when the incident occurred.

Authorities told the girls that in addition to causing extensive

damage, they had put their lives at risk in trying to make the video.

Rahul takes potshot at Modi

over dead bodies in Ganga

New Delhi : After several decomposed bodies were found

floating in the river Ganga

in several cities of Uttar

Pradesh, former Congress

president Rahul Gandhi on

Saturday indirectly took a

potshot at Prime Minister

Narendra Modi, saying the

one who said that Mother

Ganga has called him, has

made it cry. In a tweet in

Hindi, Rahul Gandhi said,

"The one who said Ganga has called him, has made the Mother

Ganga cry." He also attached a news report which claimed that on

the 1,140 km long banks of river Ganga about 2,000 dead bodies

have been found. In the last few days several dead bodies have

been found floating in the river or buried near its banks in several

districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

New Delhi : The Second

Commonwealth Sustainable

Energy Forum concluded with

strong recommendations for member

countries to work together to

fast-track an inclusive, just and

equitable transition to low-carbon

energy systems across the

Commonwealth.

The biennial gathering, held virtually

over May 12-14, explored

practical solutions to help meet

global commitments on energy

made under the 2030 Agenda for

Sustainable Development and the

Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Participants discussed new low-carbon

technologies, addressing the high cost of

technology and need for better access to

finance, as well as policy recommendations

that promote sustainability in the

electricity, transport, cooling and cooking

sectors.

Opening at the event, Commonwealth

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

"We must urgently step up our action to

implement the Paris Agreement and

achieve our commitments on sustainable

energy. While the transition pathways may

differ across Commonwealth countries, the

move to clean energy systems is a common

goal. "The pace of the energy transition

needs urgent acceleration for which strong

political will and ambition by

Commonwealth member countries is

required. Governments need to establish

the enabling frameworks to attract finance,

scale up technology and lower costs for

energy transitions."

She encouraged a "people-centred"

approach that is inclusive and leaves no

one behind.

Countries were invited to lead ‘action

groups' focused on three key pillars, which

make up the Commonwealth Sustainable

Energy Transition agenda: Inclusive

Energy Transitions; Technology and

Innovation; and Enabling Frameworks.

Countries also called for more collaboration

on sharing knowledge, technologies

and innovative solutions, including best

practices on research, development and

deployment of clean energy technologies

in critical sectors, such as clean cooking

and cooling. The event featured presentations

by experts in the field as well as indepth

country presentations from Australia,

Barbados, Botswana, Canada, Ghana,

Kenya, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago,

and the United Kingdom.

While discussions showed various

countries are at different stages of the transitioning

to using sustainable forms of

energy, there was a consensus about its

critical importance and learning from the

experiences of other members.

Delegates further acknowledged the

challenges linked to energy transition,

especially for economies that depend heavily

on fossil fuels as a key source of

income. Outcomes of the forum meeting

will feed into Commonwealth contributions

to the United Nations High Level

Dialogue on Energy scheduled for

September, the United Nations Climate

Change Conference (COP26) in November

and the forthcoming Commonwealth

Heads of Government Meeting.


4

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Near complete lockdown

in Bengal from Sunday

Kolkata : Considering the

stiff rise in Covid cases, the

Mamata Banerjee government

imposed near-complete-lockdown

norms in the state starting

from Sunday 6 a.m. for the next

15 days, allowing movement of

people and vehicles only for

emergency.

The state government

stopped short of announcing a

total lockdown giving slight

relief allowing market places,

and retail shops to operate three

hours a day between 7 a.m. and

10 a.m. "We are taking some

strict containment measures to

contain the pandemic. Starting

Sunday 6 a.m., West Bengal

will go into lockdown till 6

p.m. on May 30.

"During this period all government,

private offices other

than those involved in emergency

services shall remain

closed.

"All educational institutions

shall remain closed," Chief

Secretary

Alapan

Bandyopadhyay said.

In an earlier order, the state

government had announced 50

per cent attendance in government

and private offices.

"The Metro train services,

local trains and intra-state bus

services and ferry services

would remain suspended," he

said, adding that all forms of

commercial and private vehicles

would also come under its

purview. Trucks and goods

vehicles will also not be

allowed to operate," he added.

The state earlier had suspended

the movement of train

and metro but allowed bus and

ferry services with limited

occupancy.

The state government

though has given relaxation to

taxi and auto services but they

will only be allowed to operate

to and from emergency departments

like hospitals, nursing

homes, diagnostic centres, clinics,

vaccination centres, airports,

media houses and terminals.

All shopping complexes,

malls, bars, sports complexes,

pubs, beauty parlours will

remain closed during this period,

he said adding that any

form of congregation would

not be allowed.

"Marriage ceremony will be

allowed with 50 people and in

funeral procession only 20 will

be allowed. "The emergency

services will be allowed to

operate under the condition,"

the chief secretary said. "The

shops and the market-places

will remain open for three

hours a day and the sweet shops

will be allowed to remain open

from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The auto

repair shops will be allowed to

stay open," he said. Stressing

that people should follow the

safety protocols and wear

masks, he said that anyone

found flouting the lockdown

norms will be strictly dealt with

under the Disaster

Management Act and as per relevant

sections of the Indian

Penal Code.

FIR filed against actress Munmun Dutta for

using casteist slur in controversial video

Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’s actress Munmun Dutta recently landed

herself in a big controversy after using a casteist slur in a video.

Soon

after,

#ArrestMunmumDutta started

trending on social media platforms

against the actress. After

realising her mistake, Munmun

Dutta deleted the video and

also rendered a public apology

on social media. In the apology,

she mentioned that, ‘she has

utmost respect for everyone

regardless of their caste, creed

or gender and that, because of

the language barrier, she was

misinformed about the meaning

of the word’’.

The latest update on the case

is that, a FIR has been lodged

against Munmun Dutta, as per a

news report in India Today. The

FIR was filed by the Dalit

rights activist Rajat Kalsan,

who has registered a complaint

against her at Hansi Police

Station in Hissar, Haryana. The

FIR was filed against the

actress under section 3(1) (u) of

SC/ST (Prevention of

Atrocities) Act. Rajat Kalsan

took to twitter and posted the

copy of FIR and stated,

“Munmun Dutta has committed

an offense under the SC ST Act

which is non-compoundable

i.e. that it cannot be compromised

if she has apologized, it

will not affect the case, but her

forgiveness is kind of admission.

Which shows that she has

confessed that she has committed

a crime. Some people are

saying that Munmun Dutta has

already apologized for her

statement in video If a person

kills someone and apologizes,

will the law and the public forgive

him?” For all the latest

entertainment news, follow us

on Twitter & Instagram, like us

on Facebook and subscribe to

our channel on YouTube.

Courtesy : Masala

Many older adults

adapted technology during

lockdown: Study

London : The

Covid-19 lockdown

led several older

adults to adapt and

engage with technology

-- such as Zoom,

WhatsApp or

FaceTime -- to stay in

touch with loved ones

or participate in exercise

classes or religious

groups, finds a

new study.

The participants

reported that lockdown

had led them to

engage with neighbours

and other members

of their communities for

the first time, while several said

social distancing had brought

an additional meaning to life,

by highlighting what was

important to them.

"Those who engaged in such

activity were able to prevent

high levels of loneliness, therefore,

helping older adults to

increase their digital literacy

and use of remote social interactions

could be a really important

tool for addressing loneliness,"

said researcher Anna

Whittaker from the University

of Stirling.

According to the research,

understanding the coping

mechanisms adopted by some

over the 60s during the pandemic

will play a key role in

developing interventions to

help tackle loneliness, isolation

and well-being in the future.

For the study, published in

the International Journal of

Environmental Research and

Public Health, the team surveyed

1,429 participants -- 84

per cent (1,198) of whom were

over 60. The researchers examined

the impact of social distancing

during the pandemic on

loneliness, wellbeing and social

activity, including social support.

More than 150 participants

reported that their religious

gatherings had moved online --

replacing face-to-face gatherings

-- while 91 said that social

gatherings with family and

friends had changed in favour

of online 'games nights'.

The role of community --

particularly neighbours -- was

mentioned by more than 300

participants.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

Right Wing Pushes False Narrative

to Defend Hindu Sect Accused of

LABOUR VIOLATIONS in US

5

Stalin orders to book

hoarders, black marketers

under Goondas Act

Chennai : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Saturday

ordered to book those who

hoard and sell Remdesivir

injection in black market

under the Goondas Act. He

also ordered to book those

who sell oxygen cylinders at

premium rates under this Act.

In a statement issued here,

Stalin said the police have

been ordered to book hoarders

and black marketers of

Remdesivir injection and

those who sell oxygen cylinders

at a high price, under the Goondas Act.

He said even poor people despite their livelihood being affected

are cooperating with the state government’s lockdown restrictions.

But some anti-social elements are hoarding the Remdesivir

injection and sell it in the black market at high rates.

One held in Delhi for black

marketing of oxygen cylinders

New Delhi : The Delhi Police said on Saturday that they have

arrested one person for selling oxygen cylinders in black and

seized four cylinders and a car used for transportation purposes

from his possession.

Santosh Kumar Meena, Deputy Commissioner of Police

(DCP), Dwarka, said, "On Friday, an information was received

regarding hoarding of oxygen cylinders by one Mohit, who would

arrive near the CNG pump in Sector 23, Dwarka, in an i10 car at

about 8:30 pm to sell oxygen cylinders at high rates."

The DCP said the information was shared with senior officers

who were directed to take immediate action.

Thereafter, a raiding team was formed under the supervision of

Inspector Pawan Tomar, in- charge STF, and Anil Dureja, ACP,

Dabri. "A trap was laid at the CNG pump in Sector 23. At about

8:55 pm, a white i-10 car bearing the registration number DL-

8CAP-5486 came from Sector 9 side and stopped near the

informer. The driver of the vehicle showed him three cylinders

that were kept on the rear seat of the car," Meena said.

"Once it was ascertained that the motive of the accused was to

sell these cylinders for illicit profit, the police team apprehended

him along with the three oxygen-filled cylinders kept in his car,"

the DCP said. Meena also said that Mohit’s interrogation led to the

recovery of one more large oxygen-filled cylinder. It was also

revealed that he illegally procured the said cylinders from one

Rajesh from Naraina.

New Delhi: The right-wing ecosystem

has rushed to the defence of Bochasanwasi

Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan

Sanstha (BAPS), the Hindu trust accused

of labour and immigration violations in the

US, by pushing a false narrative that a construction

contractor is responsible for the

exploitation of workers, not the trust itself.

BAPS, whose ventures include the

Akshardham temples in Delhi and Gujarat,

is facing a class-action suit filed in the district

court of New Jersey, where expansion

and renovation work for a massive temple

is underway in rural Robbinsville.

Several Dalit workers allege in the suit

that they were taken from India to the US

for stonecutting and construction work but

were falsely classified as religious workers

and volunteers in their visa applications.

They arrived in the US on R-1 or religious

visas, which are available to those who

minister or who work in a religious vocation

or occupation. But the workers solely

performed manual labour, the suit says.

The allegations against BAPS also

include gross underpayment of wages,

working in gruelling conditions and being

forcefully confined to the temple s premises.

The workers passports were confiscated

and they were under constant monitoring

and faced threats of being fined for

infractions, the suit adds. BAPS is accused

of violating several US federal and state

laws, including the Trafficking Victims

Protection Act, the Fair Labor Standards

Act and wage and hour laws.

As media organisations across the world

began reporting the allegations against the

trust, the Hindu right wing such as the

RSS-affiliated publication Organiser and

several popular Twitter accounts began

claiming that the temple was not responsible

for the exploitation of the workers.

They cited a press release issued by the

New Jersey Department of Labour on April

30 nearly two weeks before the suit was

filed to claim that the guilty party was a

contractor, Cunha Constructions Inc.

The press release says that the

The Wire has learnt that the action

taken by the New Jersey

Department of Labour against the

contractor is unrelated to the suit

brought against the trust. The

two actions are not connected.

NJDOL issued a stop-work order

for the violations cited in the press

release in April. The lawsuit

against the temple, reported by the

NY Times is an unrelated, more

recent action, Angela Delli Santi,

spokesperson of the New Jersey

Department of Labor and

Workforce Development, confirmed

to The Wire in an email.

Department of Labour issued a stop-work

order against the construction company

after it inspected two of its worksites, the

BAPS temple in Robbinsville and another

BAPS temple in the state s Edison township.

A stop-work order, when issued,

requires an employer to cease business

operations when significant pay, benefits,

or other workers rights violations are documented.

The press release adds, These inspections

found the contractor was paying

workers in cash off the books and did not

have workers compensation insurance.

Other violations involve the misclassification

of construction workers by paying

them in cash off the books, failure to pay

overtime, failure to keep records, hindrance

of the investigation, and unpaid or

late paid wages.

The Wire has learnt that the action taken

by the New Jersey Department of Labour

against the contractor is unrelated to the

suit brought against the trust. The two

actions are not connected. NJDOL issued a

stop-work order for the violations cited in

the press release in April. The lawsuit

against the temple, reported by the NY

Times is an unrelated, more recent action,

Angela Delli Santi, spokesperson of the

New Jersey Department of Labor and

Workforce Development, confirmed to The

Wire in an email.

Indeed, instead of absolving the trust of

the accusations made in the suit, the press

release casts a bigger shadow on its attitude

towards labour rights for its use of Cunha

Construction, which has a history of violating

labour laws. The Department of Labour

said that the stop-work order was issued

based on the company s repeated and

ongoing violations of state wage and hour

laws .

The company has eight unpaid judgments

for back wages and penalties dating

back to 2007 that have not been resolved

by way of compliance or restitution to

workers. In addition, NJDOL concluded

the company was not paying its workers on

numerous job sites and was not maintaining

proper payroll for any projects across

the state, the press release adds.

The news reports published on May 11,

after the suit was filed, also indicated that

the two developments were not connected,

as Federal Bureau of Investigation agents

had visited the temple on court-authorised

law enforcement activity . The following

day, the FBI called for tips or information.

In any case, the suit filed by the Indian

workers does not list Cunha Constructions

among the eight defendants. Besides

BAPS, among the defendants are two limited

liability companies and four individuals

associated with BAPS. In its allegations,

the suit makes it explicitly clear that

the Indian workers from Dalit and other

marginalised communities were recruited

either by the defendants or their agents

who were connected with the network of

BAPS temples in India , particularly individuals

associated with the central BAPS

organisation located in Ahmedabad.

Courtesy : The Wire


6 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Desperate villagers

clash at Bihar health

centre over getting vax

Patna : In a bid to get the anti-corona jab, villagers fought with

each other, sparking a massive clash at a primary health centre of

Aurangabad's Dev block in Bihar on Saturday.

Eyewitnesses said more than 850 people turned out at a single

health centre in the hope of getting the vaccination.

"The villagers of Dev and adjoining areas came to the health centre

and formed a long queue outside. Soon, they became out of control

in absence of police personnel and began pushing one another.

Moreover, a group of people tried to jump into the queue which eventually

turned into a massive fight between them," said Sunil Kumar,

a villager of Dev.

He said that 12 village panchayats fall under the Dev block and a

majority of the villlagers come to the centre to get the vaccine.

"The scare of corona has made people scared and desperate. The

villagers kicked and punched each other in a bid to enter the centre

in a gross violation of Covid protocols. It was complete chaos at the

centre," said Rajeshwar Singh, the village head of Dev.

"The doctors of the hospital informed us about the incident. We

immediately sent a police team to the centre and calmed the villagers

down. Some of the villagers have been injured in this incident," said

a sub-inspector rank officer requesting anonymity.

Johnson, Irish leader agree to maintain

'SMOOTH TRADE' after Brexit

London : UK Prime

Minister Boris Johnson and his

Irish counterpart Micheal

Martin have agreed to work

together to "maintain smooth

trade" between Great Britain,

Northern Ireland and the

Republic of Ireland after Brexit.

The agreement came during a

meeting between the two leaders

on Friday at Chequers, the

country house of Johnson,

reports Xinhua news agency.

"They agreed on the importance

of working together to uphold

the Belfast/Good Friday

Agreement and to maintain

smooth trade between Great

Britain, Northern Ireland and

the Republic of Ireland," a statement

from 10 Downing Street

said. Taking to Twitter, Johnson

said: "We are both committed to

the Belfast/Good Friday

Agreement and to addressing

the legacy of the troubles to

deliver a brighter future for

everyone in Northern Ireland."

Due to the post-Brexit trade

deal, food products from Britain to the

European Union (EU) will have to enter

through new border control posts at Northern

Ireland's ports, as stated in the Northern

Ireland protocol signed by London and

Brussels in 2019. Northern Ireland will continue

to apply EU customs rules at its ports,

to allow goods to flow into the Republic of

Ireland and the rest of the EU. This is known

as the Irish sea border, which is a new trade

border between Northern Ireland and other

parts of Britain.

Also on Friday, Northern Ireland

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots was elected

leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, a

pro-British political party in the region.

Poots is reportedly seen by some commentators

as more aggressive in his opposition

to Northern Ireland's post-Brexit trade

barriers and more conservative on social

issues than his opponent, Jeffrey Donaldson.

20 civil servants appointed

to joint secretary-level posts

UK to speed up Covid vaccination

amid concerns over India variant

London : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that

the country is planning to accelerate its coronavirus vaccination program

for priority groups amid concerns over the spread of the Indian

variant. Speaking at a press conference at Downing Street on Friday,

Johnson said those aged over 50 and those considered clinically vulnerable

will be able to get a second vaccine dose after eight weeks,

reports Xinhua news agency.

He said the spread of the new variant, known as B1617.2, would

not affect the scheduled easing of lockdown in England from May

17. But the Prime Minister said the variant could cause "serious disruption"

to the next stage of lockdown easing on June 21.

Johnson said "at this stage" there are some important unknowns

but he believes the variant is "more transmissible" than previous

ones, and therefore the race between the vaccination programme and

the virus could get tighter.

He said there was "no evidence" to suggest the current vaccines

would be less effective against the strain.

Joining Johnson for the press briefing, England's Chief Medical

Officer Chris Whitty said the country is going "in a very steady but

rapid progression in terms of vaccination", starting with the most vulnerable

people, including some people in their 30s.

Whitty said he hopes everybody in Britain has their first vaccine

by end of July. "That is the aim," he said.

The latest development came after four people in Britain have

died due to the variant first detected in India,

Public Health England (PHE) said cases of the variant known as

B1617.2 in Britain have more than doubled to 1,313, up from 520

infections recorded by PHE last week. According to the latest official

figures, more than 36.1 million people in Britain have been given the

first jab of the coronavirus vaccine.

New Delhi : In a major bureaucratic

reshuffle, 20 civil servants were on Friday

appointed to joint secretary-level posts.

A 2002 batch Indian Administrative

Service (IAS) officer, D. Senthil Pandiyan,

was appointed as Joint Secretary in the

Ministry of AYUSH for a tenure of five

years, replacing Indian Forest Service (IFS)

officer Roshan Jaggi, a 1988-batch J&K

cadre officer.

Nirupama Kotru, a 1992 batch Indian

Revenue Service (IRS) officer, was appointed

as Joint Secretary and Financial Advisor

in the Ministry of Coal for an overall tenure

of five years in place of Reena Sinha Puri, a

1987-batch IRS officer.

Bhaskar Verma, a 1995-batch Indian Civil

Accounts Service (ICAS) officer, has been

appointed as the Member Secretary, National

Monuments Authority (NMA), Ministry of

Culture, for five years replacing Navneet

Soni. The Appointments Committee of the

Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra

Modi, approved the appointments that

include the names of Lily Pandeya for the

Joint Secretary's post in the Ministry of

Culture; Mayank Tewari for the same post in

the Department of Defence; Nazli Jafri

Shayin in the Ministry of Defence (Finance);

Indira Murthy in the Ministry of Earth

Sciences; Bhuvnesh Kumar in the Ministry

of Electronics and Information Technology;

and Patibandla Ashok Babu in the

Department of Health and Family Welfare.

Manisha Sinha, Ashish Vachhan and

Sandhya Bhullar were appointed as Joint

Secretaries in the Department of Economic

Affairs. Jeetendra Singh has been appointed

as Joint Secretary in the Department of

Heavy Industry; Sumant Singh in the

Department of Home Affairs; Sanjiv Shankar

in the Ministry of Information and

Broadcasting; Manoj Kumar in the

Department of Investment and Public Asset

Management; and Sonmoni Borah in the

Department of Land Resources.

Indian Ordnance Factories Service

(IOFS) officer Veena Tamta Bhatia has been

appointed as the Additional Central

Provident Fund Commissioner (HQ), EPFO,

under the Ministry of Labour and

Employment, while Central Secretariat

Service (CCS) officer Som Dutt Sharma has

been appointed as the Director in the

Institute of Secretariat Training and

Management under the Department of

Personnel and Training.

IAS officer Sanjeeb Kumar Mishra has

been appointed as Secretary-cum-Controller

of Examination, National Recruitment

Agency (NRA), under the Department of

Personnel and Training for a tenure of five

years.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

7

Calls to tackle caste-based

discrimination in US gather steam

Dalit rights groups call for legal protections as high-profile cases at a Hindu temple in

New Jersey and a major tech firm in California spur a reckoning.

By Brian Osgood

San Francisco, California, the

United States — Civil rights organisations

and Dalit rights groups are

adding urgency to their calls to end

caste-based discrimination in the US

after incidents in California and New

Jersey have thrust the issue into the

spotlight.

Dalits, who were formally referred

to as “untouchables”, occupy the lowest

position in the complex Hindu

caste system and have historically

faced discrimination and violence at

the hands of members of other castes

in India and other parts of South Asia.

In New Jersey, a complaint was

filed on behalf of more than 200

Indian workers in federal court on

Tuesday, alleging Dalit workers were

forced to work long hours for onetenth

of the state’s minimum wage

after being recruited to build a Hindu

temple for Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar

Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha,

also known as BAPS.

A lawsuit filed in federal court in

New Jersey accuses the leaders of the

Hindu organisation known as

Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar

Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha,

or BAPS, of human trafficking and

wage law violations [File: Seth

Wenig/AP Photo]In California, a firstof-its-kind

lawsuit is making its way

through the courts after a Dalit

employee accused his employer, technology

giant Cisco, and two of its former

engineering managers of allowing

caste-based discrimination in the

workplace.

The issue is being discussed at the

federal level, too. On Monday, the

International Commission for Dalit

Rights (ICDR), six scholars and a

dozen other rights groups submitted a

memo to the US Equal Employment

Opportunity Commission asking that

caste-based discrimination be added to

US federal nondiscriminatory guidelines.

The memo is the latest push from

activists for US academic, business

and government institutions to take

caste-based discrimination seriously.

Understanding casteism

Among the ICDR and other memo

signatories’ demands is to include

caste as a protected class and enshrine

zero tolerance for caste-based discrimination

and prejudice in US workplace

codes of conduct — something

activists say hasn’t happened yet in

part because of Americans’ unfamiliarity

with the caste system.

“Because casteism takes place in a

social context not all Americans are

familiar with, it can be very coded and

subtle,” Anil Wagde, an activist and

committee member with the US

branch of Dalit rights organisation the

Ambedkar International Center, told

Al Jazeera. “It’s important for companies

to educate their employees about

caste-based discrimination, and to

explicitly protect against it.”

Advocacy groups are now working

to thrust caste-based discrimination

into the spotlight, particularly in

industries where it has already

allegedly reared its ugly head, such as

the technology sector.

The Cisco case was a big deal

because it really took away the plausible

deniability around the presence of

caste-based discrimination in the tech

sector.

RAKSHA MUTHUKUMAR,

ALPHABET WORKERS UNION

“Caste is a brutal form of supremacy,”

Wagde said. “If steps aren’t taken

now, we run the risk of this system

spreading and calcifying in the United

States.”

Several technology companies have

faced allegations of caste-based discrimination

in the workplace in recent

years, and in October, 30 Dalit women

engineers at Google, Apple, Microsoft

and Cisco issued a statement shared

with The Washington Post detailing

their experiences with anti-Dalit bigotry

in the tech sector.

“We also have had to weather

demeaning insults to our background

and that we have achieved our jobs

solely due to affirmative action. It is

exhausting,” the women, who asked

for anonymity out of fear of retaliation,

wrote in the statement.

“We are good at our jobs and we are

good engineers. We are role models

for our community and we want to

continue to work in our jobs. But it is

unfair for us to continue in hostile

workplaces, without protections from

caste discrimination.”

Cisco lawsuit

The women spoke out months after

the high-profile lawsuit against Cisco

was filed by a Dalit engineer in June

2020.

In the suit (PDF), the California

Department of Fair Employment and

Housing (DFEH) alleges the engineer,

referred to as John Doe to protect his

identity, was subjected to a hostile

work environment and was “expected

to accept a caste hierarchy within the

workplace”, which translated into “the

lowest status within the team” and less

pay, fewer opportunities and other

inferior conditions.

But Cisco denies those claims and

said its own internal investigation

“found no evidence that [the plaintiff]

was discriminated or retaliated against

on the basis of caste”, the company’s

general counsel, Mark Chandler,

wrote in a blog post.

While Chandler acknowledged the

company “had never encountered a

claim of casteism” before this one, he

noted that “Nevertheless, Employee

Relations management instructed that

it be investigated as would be any

complaint of discrimination, even

though there is no law, federal or state,

defining caste as a protected classification.”

Caste is a brutal form of supremacy.

If steps aren’t taken now, we run the

risk of this system spreading and calcifying

in the United States.

ANIL WAGDE, AMBEDKAR

INTERNATIONAL CENTER

While Cisco said that it treats

casteism as an unacceptable form of

discrimination, it did not respond to Al

Jazeera’s question about whether the

company plans to explicitly add caste

to the list of protected identities in its

employee code of conduct.

Chandler added that the company

would fully support legislation

“adding caste to the list of categories

having protection against discrimination”,

but “will continue to treat caste

as an unacceptable form of discrimination

for purposes of our internal

reviews – as we did in [this plaintiff’s]

case”.

John Rushing, an attorney assisting

the Ambedkar International Center,

which filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit,

said that while caste is not

expressly protected, it falls into categories

that are, such as ancestry.

“If your parents are ‘untouchables’,

you inherit that status from them,”

Rushing told Al Jazeera. “There’s no

doubt that caste-based discrimination

falls under discrimination based on

ancestry.” Many Dalits come to the

United States in the hope of escaping

the bigotry and violence that they live

with back home, only to watch with

horror as these systems reorient themselves

in the United States.

THENMOZHI SOUNDARARA-

JAN, EQUALITY LABS

Workers at other Silicon Valley tech

companies are also speaking out. In

mid-April, the Alphabet Workers

Union released a statement in favour

of the lawsuit against Cisco and stated

that “caste should be recognized as a

protected class by the federal government

and be included in anti-harassment

policies within our industry”,

including Google, which is owned by

Alphabet Inc.

“The Cisco case was a big deal,

because it really took away the plausible

deniability around the presence of

caste-based discrimination in the tech

sector,” Raksha Muthukumar, a

spokesperson for the Alphabet

Workers Union, told Al Jazeera.

“I think a lot of companies are paying

attention now, and it’s time for

them to recognise caste as a protected

identity,” Muthukumar added.

Google did not respond to Al

Jazeera’s request for comment about

the company’s intention to take steps

to protect against casteism.

The Cisco case is set to resume in

September following attempts by

Cisco to move the dispute to arbitration

and an appeal by California’s

DFEH to allow the plaintiff to retain

anonymity.

Speaking out

As Dalit activists await an outcome

in the Cisco case, calls have been

growing for government, academic

and business organisations to be more

proactive in combatting and educating

employees about casteism.

“Many Dalits come to the United

States in the hope of escaping the bigotry

and violence that they live with

back home, only to watch with horror

as these systems reorient themselves

in the United States,” Thenmozhi

Soundararajan, founder of the Dalit

rights group Equality Labs, told Al

Jazeera.

A 2016 Equality Labs survey of

Dalit workers living in the US found

that two out of three reported experiencing

harassment due to their lowercaste

status in the workplace. But

while Soundararajan says that such

discrimination is common, hearing

from Dalits about it is less so.

“Many Dalits try to keep their caste

identity hidden,” she said.

Dalit rights groups say the problem

is also prevalent in the education system.

In the Equality Labs survey, one

in three Dalit students reported being

discriminated against during their education.

A victory in this (Cisco) case

would be a victory for the promise that

America offers an opportunity for a

new life with equal rights. If this case

goes through, Dalits will start speaking

out, and there will be many more.

If we don’t address this now, it will

continue to get worse.

SURAJ YENGDE, HARVARD

KENNEDY SCHOOL

The plaintiff in the Cisco lawsuit

claims he tried to keep his identity as a

Dalit hidden but was outed by uppercaste

coworkers who knew him at university

back in India.

The Cal State Student Association

(CSSA), an organisation representing

more than half a million students in

California’s state university system,

unanimously passed a resolution in

April supporting the addition of caste

as a protected category, another example

of how the issue has become front

and centre since the Cisco suit was

filed.

But as more Dalits speak up about

and use the courts to address castebased

discrimination, Soundararajan

said more Dalits are willing to share

their own experiences.

“Dalits have been coming forward

and sharing their stories of harassment

and discrimination with us in a way

we haven’t seen before,” said

Soundararajan. “One individual told

us that they made a mistake on a project

and a supervisor from an upper

caste told them ‘We know how brainless

your people are’.”

Dalits are also viewing the outcome

of the lawsuit as a bellwether for their

fight for rights and recognition.

“A victory in this [Cisco] case

would be a victory for the promise that

America offers an opportunity for a

new life with equal rights,” Suraj

Yengde, a senior fellow at the Harvard

Kennedy School who studies caste,

told Al Jazeera.

“If this case goes through, Dalits

will start speaking out, and there will

be many more. If we don’t address this

now, it will continue to get worse.”

Courtesy : Aljazeera


8 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Restrict people's movement into villages, says Punjab CM

Chandigarh : With the rural areas

of the state, which were largely unaffected

by the first wave of the Covid-

19 pandemic, now showing a spike in

the number of cases, Punjab Chief

Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday

urged the villagers to restrict movement

into their villages to only those

who are free of the virus.

Addressing the people of the state

in a Facebook Live telecast, the Chief

Minister called for strict measures in

the rural areas over the next two

months, which he described as

extremely crucial.

"Now the rural areas are seeing a

surge in cases, so we need to be very

careful," he said, urging the villagers

to conduct ‘thikri pehras' (community

policing) to keep outsiders away and

allow only Covid-free people into the

villages.

Exhorting people to "save your

mohallas and villages to save yourself,

your families and Punjab", the Chief

Minister asked them not to delay

going to the hospitals.

"We have teams of doctors everywhere,

approach them if you feel

unwell," he urged them, stressing that

delay in going for treatment is leading

to people ending up in L3 level.

While occupancy of L2 beds is 50

per cent, at the L3 level, around 90 per

cent of the beds are currently occupied,

and the state government is in

the process of adding another 2,000

beds, he pointed out, attributing this to

people not going for treatment in time.

Noting that there are three stages of

the disease, of which the first can be

managed at home, Amarinder Singh

reiterated his plea to the people to go

to a doctor at the first sign of showing

symptoms.

"Let the doctor decide the course of

treatment, don't get into diagnosis and

medication yourself," he appealed to

them.

"I fail to understand why we are

harming the interests of the state and

your families in this manner," he said,

adding that "we do not want Punjab to

go the way of Delhi and Maharashtra,

which have experienced unprecedented

problems amid the second wave".

The disease is wreaking havoc the

world over, with even the most

advanced countries not immune to it,

he said, urging people to help his government

save the state.

The Chief Minister also expressed

happiness over the seamless completion

of wheat procurement amid the

Covid challenges, lauding the hard

working farmers of the state for this

achievement.

Compared to 129 lakh MT last year,

a total of 132 lakh MT wheat has been

procured this year, he said, adding that

this has resulted in earnings to the tune

of Rs 26,000 crore for the farmers, as

against Rs 24,600 crore last year.

"We have won this battle but the

pandemic threat continues," he said,

lamenting that despite 14 months having

passed since the outbreak of the

disease, some people are still not taking

the pandemic seriously.

Giving figures, he said that Punjab

has so far had 4.75 lakh plus cases,

with Thursday's 24-hour case load at

8,484.

While the total deaths stood at

11,297, the state had lost 184 lives to

Covid on Thursday, he added. As of

date, there are 9,619 patients on oxygen

and 429 on ventilator support.

Release Hany Babu from

Taloja Jail to get proper

eye treatment : CJP

CJP has started on online petition urging the CM, Maharashtra to

direct the release of Prof Babu for proper medical treatment

Citizens for Justice and

Peace (CJP) has launched an

online petition to free Hany

Babu, the 55-year-old

Professor, who has been

accused in the Bhima

Koregaon case, has been in

custody since July 2020 without

trial.

Unfortunately, since May 3,

he has developed an acute eye

infection in Taloja Jail, with little

or no vision in his left eye

due to the swelling. It has also

spread to his cheek, ear and

forehead, and he fears that it

will soon impact his brain. In

agonising pain, he has also not

been able to nurse his eye

because of water shortage and

with very little access to clean

water, he is being forced to

dress his eye with soiled towels.

Only after incessant calls

and emails from his family

members and lawyer, the jail

authorities managed to take

him to a Government Hospital

in Vashi on May 7. But due to

an alleged unavailability

of an escort

officer, he has not

been taken to the

government facility

for a follow up

treatment.

The email sent

by his lawyer to the

Jail Superintendent

emphasises the

gravity of the situation

and that even a

day’s delay may

lead to an irreversible

deterioration

leading to partial

or complete loss

of sight, as well as a

life-threatening

complication if it

affects the brain.

However, in a shocking display

of State apathy, he has not been

able to visit an ophthalmologist

after May 7.

We have humbly urged and

requested the Chief Minister

and Home Minister,

Maharashtra to immediately

direct Professor Babu’s release

in order for him to avail necessary

eye treatment that he is

entitled to.

Join CJP’s voice in demanding

his release.

Courtesy : Sabrang

Biden to raise

cybercrime issue in

talks with Putin

Washington : US President

Joe Biden said that the Kremlin

was not behind last week's

cyberattack on a key fuel

pipeline, adding he would raise

the issue of cybercrime during

talks with his Russian counterpart

Vladimir Putin.

"We do not believe,I emphasize,

we do not believe the

Russian government was

involved in this attack," Biden

said on Thursday while speaking

on the May 7 cyberattack

against Colonial Pipeline.

"But we do have strong reason

to believe that the criminals

who did the attack are living in

Russia," he noted. "We have

been in direct communications

with Moscow about the imperative

for responsible countries

to take decisive actions against

these ransomware networks.

"I am confident that I've read

the report of the FBI accurately,

and they say they were not -- he

was not, the government was

not," Biden replied when

pressed by reporters whether

Putin was behind the attack.

The FBI confirmed on Monday

that DarkSide, a criminal group

based in Eastern Europe, was

responsible for the ransomware

attack that forced Colonial

Pipeline to shut down approximately

5,500 miles of pipeline.

Asked when the US would

respond to governments allowing

such cybercrime, Biden

said international standards are

needed for governments to take

action against these criminal

activities.

"I expect that's one of the

topics I'll be talking about with

President Putin," he added.

Biden said last week that he

expected to meet Putin during

the trip to Europe in June, when

he will attend the G7 Summit in

Britain and then the NATO

Summit in Belgium.

Russian Foreign Minister

Sergei Lavrov said earlier this

week that Moscow welcomes

the initiative by the US for

holding a summit in June.

Relations between

Washington and Moscow have

been adversarial in recent

years.

The two countries have been

bitterly divided over Ukraine,

human rights, cybersecurity

issues, and they mutually

accused the other of domestic

political interference.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 9

Salute to an anti-untouchability crusader

within the Catholic CHURCH

Today I write to celebrate the full life

of a Roman Catholic Dalit priest, Rev.

Dr. P. Antonyraj SJ who passed away on

10th May. I was nineteen years old

studying in St. Joseph’s College,

Tiruchirappalli and staying in the hostel

in Room No. 101, when I had several

common mentors who moulded me in

my college days like Fr. P. Ceyrac SJ,

Fr. Claude D’Souza, Fr. Manu SJ , Fr.

George Joseph, Fr. Selvaraj and Sr.

Jeanne Devos ICM, who had equally

influenced me.

My precious and confidential long

night exchanges Tony, as many of us

affectionately called him, which I mention

it only now, utterly shocked me to

understand what caste meant in the

Roman Catholic church and recruitment

of a young Jesuit priest. All the

exchanges were after 12 midnight when

Tony, used to scale the small wicket

gate on the solidarity chapel road of the

campus to reach my room. But what

brought us together was, that he was

born into a caste that even the Church

discriminated and, I was never sure of

what my caste was, since I was adopted.

Fr. Tagore SJ was our warden! For the

sake of the dignity of the Church I

refrain herein from sharing too many

stories about persons in noviciates,

communities and in positions of power.

But what is clear was that there existed

untouchability and caste discrimination.

But what is worse is that it continues

silently even today. That is the ugly

power of caste.

Dr P. Antonyraj was born in 1945, in

a small village Meenthully in the then

integrated Tirunelveli district of Tamil

Nadu. It is from there that he has grown

through his trials and tribulations to

ensure that the dream of an equal society,

attempted by him within his religious

community, within his congregation and

within the parishes where he was

appointed within the church. Was he

successful? Was he too aggressive? Did

he contribute to polarization of castes?

These are the questions for us now to

collectively and personally ponder over.

Tony would always narrate the small

little hut that was his house in his village

and never forgot that this was

where his parents, his elder brother, his

elder sister and himself lived. He used

to recollect that when it rained his mother,

brother, and sister used to occupy the

corner of the hut while he would accompany

his father in the church veranda.

When he failed in school in class 8, it

was almost certain that there was no

other way out. But he survived and

ensured that he built the first revolting

voice of the Dalit Christian Liberation

Movement not for liberation from the

government but for liberation within the

church. This plain truth has to be spoken

because they are relevant even today.

But all this meant that he had to ‘opt

to be a fighter and a fighter who

believed that a self-made man was second

to none.’ He used to share in the

many meetings I was privileged we had

at my house in Anna Nagar with his

then ‘chaste’ american english accent

that he consciously cultivated with an

arrogance as he learnt it the hard way

and always proudly used to say ‘so what

if I am a Dalit’.

Tony was a personal force for Paul

Raj and self-engaging in the organising

of relief activities for the poorest of the

poor in Vedasandur, post-1977 floods

and the breakdown of the Alagapuri

dam in Dindigul. In 1992 he continued

to build what he called the Dalit

Integration Federation within the church

to fight within.

Tony must have been a thorn in the

flesh for his superiors, rectors and

Archbishops wherever he served. Yet,

he always fondly remembered Fr.

Casimir SJ, Fr. Rex Pai SJ who accompanied

him in spite of all the fond

‘embarrassments’ that he caused,

because he had a mission and cause

within him.

After his ordination he was asked by

his Provincial to serve in Rayappanpatti

in the old Madurai district. The first

question that came from the youngsters

of this parish after his first mass was,

“What is the ‘varna’ that you belong

to?” Shocked by this question and never

expecting it on the first day after mass,

Tony tried to handle it lightly by

responding that it was the ‘orange

varna’. The caste conscious Roman

Catholic youngsters were not satisfied.

They knew that church was casteist and

then directly asked him what his caste

was? Tony responded saying he was

from the Pallar community (since the

word Dalit was not known those days).

Tony knew it was going to be tough

working there and immediately requested

a transfer and was posted immediately

to Malligapuram, a place where I also

voluntarily served under Fr. Selvaraj as

an AICUF student.

It was the exposure and training provided

by Rev. Dr. François Houtard in

the Philippines during the Marcos

regime that provided Tony an exposure

to a church that could be rebellious; a

church that could stand on the side of

the poorest of the poor. He also learned

to struggle on the streets with thousands

participating with conviction and he did

so without realising that this could

cause difficulties leading eventually to

his arrest and deportation from the

Philippines. Tony came back to

Manamadurai to work with Fr.Ceyrac

and his ‘thousand-wells program’.

Ultimately, Tony landed in Chicago

to complete his Ph.D on the title, ‘The

social basis of untouchables in Tamil

Nadu’. He was attempting to break the

myth that there was no caste in the

church, and that it existed from the cradle

to the grave yard.

Tony, it was you who was instrumental

in the year 1975 for me to borrow the

crowbar in the darkness of night, dodging

the night watchman in the ‘Fathers

Lodge’, the watchman in the main gate,

to reach the church and climb the 40-

feet high gate to do one thing that I am

proud of, and it was you who inspired

me to it. That was to go to the RC cemetery

and break the discriminatory partition-wall

that separated the cemetery of

the dominant castes and those of the

Dalit communities. I was asked in 2016,

while in Berlin, in the remains of the

Berlin wall of what I had to say about

the breaking of the Berlin wall. I told

them it was easier to break the Berlin

wall then to break the wall of caste discrimination

and untouchability in the

Indian context not in parishes alone, not

in families alone but in our numerous

congregations, in the positions of powers

that are offered and in our elections

to Provincials, Generals, Mother

Generals, etc. The wall I broke was built

with cement concreet within 15 days.

My last acquaintance with you is

what I will be remembering now and for

many years to come. I will not forget the

days when you came home for a simple

dinner in my anna Nagar MIG flat and

enjoyed the warmth of my simple family.

But Tony, it is time for me to tell you

something I never told you. The Jesuits

also do not know of it. Fr. Ceyrac, a

close friend of yours and a benefactor,

also a very close friend of my mother

(Dr. Y. Tiphagne) and also my mentor,

once before his death when he could

still travel in his vehicle and stop in

Madurai, knowing my work with the

United Nations, had asked me what I

thought you had not done in your life.

Tony, I told him, and I recall it proudly

that, with your academic skills, your

understanding of racism, zenophobia,

caste-based discrimination, untouchability,

and all your political relationships

that you had by then developed, you

were the best poised person to lead the

Dalit delegation to the World

Conference Against Racism in 2001.

The Durban declaration, the Durban

conference, the United Nations and all

its efforts thereafter have lost the best

opportunity possible, to have you as

their Special Rapporteur.

I hope all religions in this country, all

religious heads in this country will learn

that there can be only one Tony who

fought with the cultivated arrogance. If

we are to put his dreams into action at

Mandela Nagar, let us realise the dream

of an exclusive Dalit women’s

University. It is time for us to on the one

hand celebrate his life, but to bow down

our heads in shame, as long as we allow

caste and untouchability, to play a role

in the Church.

I had the best opportunity of seeing

Fr. Stan Swamy who is now in Taloja

jail, along with Tony at DACA in 2019.

That was the place Fr. Stan loved the

most among all Jesuit houses I Madurai

because he loved Tony. I am so happy

Fr. Stan brought us both back together

after so many years of separation and

we took part in so many discussions.

We have missed a beloved member

of our family. But for all those who are

in power, let me recollect that it was

several AICUF chaplains who stood

with him. It is high time that the Jesuits

invest in AICUF again.

Tony you are not gone, but laid in

DACA for us to come back year after

year on the 10th of May to evaluate and

question ourselves “If the Church has

contributed to the annihilation of caste

atleast within ”. ”. Your comrades Fr.

Jesumarian and Fr. Gnanapragasam will

continue your work with Fr.Varghese

and the DACA team. .

We may not agree with all that you

have done, but your mission is something

we will miss dearly, especially

myself. Those who are destined to live

together will always come together at

some stage. Meet you soon, Tony!

Greece reopens to vaccinated int'l tourists

Athens : Greece will reopen to international

tourists who have been vaccinated

against Covid-19 starting from

Friday, Tourism Minister Harry

Theoharis said. "The biggest wager is to

open in safety," he said on Thursday

while addressing an event for the launch

of the new advertising campaign of the

Greek National Tourism Organization

under the motto "All you want is

Greece". The challenge last year was to

keep the tourism industry, a pillar of the

national economy for decades, alive,

said the official, expressing optimism

that 2021 will be a better year for for the

sector, reports Xinhua news agency.

Under the government's plan, travellers

to Greece should submit a certificate

of vaccination against Covid-19, a

certificate on recovery from the novel

coronavirus or a recent negative test.

As of June 1, the European Union

(EU)'s green pass will be operational to

facilitate travel, Theoharis noted.

Anybody living in the EU member

states will be able to have a digital

health pass to display their vaccination

status, test results and whether they

have recovered from an infection,

according to the Minister.


10 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

'Let them eat dark chocolate.' India's Covid-19 crisis is

devastating its most desperate people: The Economist

New Delhi : India's covid-19 crisis is

devastating its most desperate people,

The Economist said in a report.

The poor are losing jobs, going hungry

and falling victim to scams, it

added. "Pye dogs and circling scavengers

gave the first clue. When villagers

approached the riverbank, the

stench confirmed the horror. By the time

authorities collected and buried all the

bodies on May 11th, the count had risen

to 71. And this was at just one bend in

the sacred Ganges, by the village of

Chausa on the border between Bihar

and Uttar Pradesh, India's poorest, most

underdeveloped states. In the same

week at least three other grisly human

logjams were reported upstream," the

report said.

"These sad scenes reveal two things.

One is the scale of the tragedy now

sweeping India's vast interior. Far away

from city labs, no one gets tested, so no

cases are recorded, so no deaths are captured

in the national toll, which at

258,000 is a small fraction of the real

tally," The Economist reported.

The second thing the bodies in the

Ganges reveal is how India's second

wave is worsening the already harsh lot

of its poor.

"People borrow money to pay for

medicines, or for oxygen, or for an

ambulance driver who has charged them

extra Covid rates," Utpal Pathak, a local

journalist was quoted in the report.

"Then they can't afford the funeral." In

recent weeks, say residents of Chausa,

the cost of a cremation has tripled. It is

telling that the authorities, despite denying

that poverty has anything to do with

the scandal, have started supplying free

wood to the funeral ghats of Chausa.

Bihar has also capped the price of

ambulances.

After the first Covid-19 wave swept

India last year, numerous reports tried to

tally the cost to the poor. Pew, a research

institute, estimates that whereas just 4.3

per cent of Indians were earning less

than $2 a day in January 2020, a year

later, this had risen to 9.7 per cent, or

134m people.

An in-depth study by Azim Premji

University in Bangalore suggests that in

the wake of last year's nationwide lockdown,

some 230m Indians slipped

below a poverty threshold tied to the

national minimum wage (around $45 a

month). Its researchers found that, during

the lockdown, 90 per cent of the

poor consumed less food. Six months

later, their diets had not returned to normal.

Over the course of the year the

earnings of Indian workers, including

the lucky 10 per cent who hold salaried

jobs, declined by a third, The Economist

said.

Shocked by the pain it caused last

year, the central government has left

state and local governments to impose

their own lockdowns during this wave.

"But though the economy has not

come to a complete standstill, the sheer

scale of the outbreak means lots of families

have suffered just as much," the

report said. For many, the biggest blow

has been the loss of breadwinners.

Indian Railways, which employs 1.2m

people, says Covid has killed 1,952 of

its staff. The state of Uttar Pradesh in

April put 1.2m civil servants to work

running local elections and counting

ballots. The vote was a super-spreader

and an estimated 2,000 of these workers

subsequently died, including 800

schoolteachers, the report said. Each of

those deaths represented weeks of trauma

and expense for the families seeking

treatment and, for every person that

died, perhaps another 20 were seriously

ill, it added.

"And in an ordinary year, one in

every 20 families is pushed into poverty

by medical expenses. The past two

months have been anything but ordinary.

Millions of desperate Indian families

have been forced to sell gold, to

pawn possessions or to borrow at usurious

rates, all too often in order to pay

for unnecessary treatments prescribed

by harried doctors, or to provide basic

items lacking in government hospitals,

from oxygen tanks to syringes," the

report added.

The variety of traps they have fallen

into seems endless: medical staff

demanding bribes to secure hospital

admission, suppliers of fake medicines,

and even, in several states, conmen who

have painted over fire extinguishers to

sell as oxygen cylinders, it added.

Mostly, however, the government is

notable by its absence. Harsh Vardhan,

the health minister, who has promoted

herbal Covid "cures", last week advised

Indians to eat extra-dark chocolate with

"more than 70 per cent cocoa" in order

to beat Covid-related stress. Perhaps he

should read a recent World Bank report,

which shows that 86 per cent of Indian

families cannot afford a basic balanced

diet, let alone fancy chocolate, The

Economist said.

Covid outcomes may be more

severe in children : Study

New York : Children with Covid-

19 may not display typical symptoms

such as fever, cough and shortness of

breath, therefore more screening and

vigilance are required, researchers

warned.

The study led by researchers at

University of Alabama -

Birmingham, US, found that children

with Covid-19 may develop poor

clinical outcomes such as requiring

hospitalisation, critical care services

and mechanical ventilation.

For the study, the team identified

nearly 12,000 pediatric Covid-19

patients. The team found that the

most common symptoms included

cough and difficulty breathing, gastrointestinal

complaints such as nausea,

vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal

pain, and non-specific symptoms

such as fever, tiredness, muscle pain,

and disturbance of taste and smell.

"While the rates of poor clinical

outcomes are relatively lower in children

when compared to adults, 5-6

percent still required hospitalisation.

Among those hospitalised, 18 per

cent required critical care and 4 per

cent needed a ventilator for breathing,"

said Vibhu Parcha, a clinical

research fellow in the Division of

Cardiovascular Disease. The study

also showed racial disparities in

health care -- evident in the higher

risk of hospitalisation among children

from underserved minority populations.

The findings are published

in the Nature Scientific Reports journal.

The World Health Organisation,

in an October 2020 document, reported

that Covid-19 is much less frequent

in children than in adults.

Children and adolescents represented

about 8 per cent of reported cases

(and 29 per cent of the global population).

The study echoes the condition

of many children infected with

Covid-19 in the ongoing second and

lethal wave of Coronavirus in India.

Besides symptoms such as mild

fever, cough, cold and abdominal

issues, some even complained of

body pain, headache, diarrhoea and

vomiting. Children, even those below

1 year of age, were infected with the

virus.

Some kids are also reporting more

severe complications like multisystem

inflammatory syndrome (MIS-

C) -- a rare inflammatory condition

with persistent fever. It generally

occurs 2-4 weeks after the onset of

Covid. Health experts have urged

parents not to take their kids out and

expose them to the virus.

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www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

Indian origin man busted in US for letting

Tesla car autodrive from back seat

New York : An Indian origin man who

pulls off stunts to flaunt his wealth was

arrested in California for letting his Tesla car

illegally "autodrive", but as soon as he was

let out he bought a new one and repeated the

stunt, according to media reports.

The California Highway Patrol said it

arrested him in the Silicon Valley on Tuesday

and impounded his car after he was found

letting the electric car drive by itself while

sitting in the backseat in violation of laws

that require a driver to be in the driver's seat

in case of emergencies.

Sharma, 25, was kept overnight in jail and

let go after being charged with reckless driving,

according to the police. Officials said

that they had received several complaints

from the public who had spotted a car like

his being driven without anyone in the driver's

seat. Police had posted pictures of the

car with an empty driver's seat and asked

anyone spotting it to call them. Sharma had

himself posted on social media recordings of

him letting the car go on "autopilot" while in

the backseat.

The Telsa electric cars manufactured by

Elon Musk are equipped with computers,

cameras, sensors and GPS to enable them to

self-drive. But the law requires Teslas and

other cars running on "autopilot" to have a

driver behind the wheel for safety. Last

month a Tesla went off the road in Texas, hit

a tree and caught fire killing the two occupants,

neither of whom was in the driver's

seat. There have been at least nine fatal accidents

since the Tesla hit the road in 2015.

This was the second time Sharma had

been caught pulling the stunt and he had

been charged last month also, the Patrol said.

As soon as he was out of jail, he purchased

another Tesla and repeated the stunt

on Wednesday, KTVU Fox TV station

reported.

He came to a meeting with its reporter

with the car on autopilot and him in the backseat,

the station reported.

He told the reporter he bought a new car,

adding, "Yeah, I'm rich as (expletive). I'm

very rich."

A Telsa Model 3 car like the one that was

confiscated costs upwards of $40,000.

The digital media Vice, which described

him as a "disgustingly rich brat", said he had

posted pictures "of himself doing everything

from throwing away thousands of dollars by

tying cash to balloons, hosting cash sweepstakes..."

He told Vice in a 2013 interview

that he had given away $100,000 in these

stunts. KPIX CBS TV reported that Sharma,

who flaunts his wealth, makes social media

posts insulting people as "blue collar peasants"

who can't understand his lifestyle and

that he drives his fancy cars into "ghettos" --

a racially loaded word -- "to make you feel

small".

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

11

1,000-yr-old BUDDHIST

statues restored in China

Japanese billionaire Yusaku

Maezawa to travel to ISS

Tokyo : Japanese billionaire Yusaku

Maezawa, CEO of Start Today, Ltd., has

started preparations for a tour to the

International Space Station (ISS). Space

Adventures, a space experiences company,

said on Thursday that Maezawa and his production

assistant, Yozo Hirano, are planning

to get onboard the Russian Soyuz MS-20

from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on

December 8, reports Xinhua news agency.

The two have successfully passed the

required medical examinations for the space

trip. The spaceflight, to be commanded by

cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, will last 12

days, the company said.

Maezawa and his crew will receive about

three months of spaceflight training in June

at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training

Center in Star City, Russia.

"I'm so curious 'what's life like in space'?

So, I am planning to find out on my own and

share with the world on my YouTube channel,"

Maezawa said. In total, seven self-funded

individuals have visited the space station.

Maezawa will be the eighth and the first

from Japan to take the tour.

Beijing : Twelve Buddhist statues in China's Shandong

province dating back nearly 1,000 years have undergone their first

renovation in 39 years.

The coloured clay statues are at the Lingyan Temple in Jinan,

the provincial capital of Shandong, which was built over 1,600

years ago during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), Xinhua news

agency reported on Thursday.

At the temple, there are 40 well-preserved 'arhat' (one who has

gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved

nirvana) statues renowned at home and abroad, most of which were

built during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

The Buddhist statues in different colours, shapes and with varied

expressions have been renovated several times in history, with

the last renovation in 1982.

During the restoration in 1982, one clay statue was found to

have a human-like abdomen, with the viscera made of silk, said

Wang Tingqi, deputy director of the Shandong provincial bureau of

culture and tourism.

"The results of protection and restoration this time were beyond

expectation," said Su Bomin, deputy director of Dunhuang

Research Academy. Workers used safe techniques for the restoration,

including repairing some cracked paint and cleaning the dust

on the statues, Su said.

Much of the damage took place due to changing temperature

and humidity over a long time, Su said.

On kanshi TV

channel 772.

SATURDAY at

6 :00 pm

SUNDAY at

6 :00 pm

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12 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 BOLLYWOOD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

CHINA'S massive Tibet infra

push cause of worry for India

Kolkata : China is planning to

develop a massive defence logistics

infrastructure in Tibet that will turn the

once independent kingdom into a military

hub to dominate the Himalayas.

The plans were approved during the

plenary session of China's National

People's Congress (NPC) in March

this year and also by the Chinese

People's Political Consultative

Conference (CPPCC).

The Tibet infrastructure development

projects have been included in

the 14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025).

The Long Range Objectives-2035

additionally identifies a number of

strategic military projects for completion

by 2025 and 2035.

The G318 Sichuan-Tibet Highway

and the G219 and G331 national highways

will be upgraded and extended to

run along China's southwestern border.

The new 1,800-km Chengdu-

Lhasa high-speed railway network

will be the second strategic railway

connecting from Tibet to the

Mainland, reducing travel time from

Chengdu to Lhasa to just 10 hours.

Chengdu is now the headquarters of

the integrated Tibet-Sichuan military

command that makes it possible for

the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to

move strategic reserves swiftly from

the borders with other Southeast Asian

nations to beef up both offensives and

strategic defence on the India front.

Shigatse (Rikaze), Tibet's secondlargest

city, will emerge as a rail transportation

hub as work has begun on

railways to link Shigatse with Jilong

in Guizhou province and Hotan in

Xinjiang province.

To make up for aerial defence

weakness, China will construct at least

20 new border airports by 2025 in

Tibet, in places like Tashkurgan and

Longzi.

Tashkurgan, the last stop before the

Karakoram Pass, is under the jurisdiction

of the South Xinjiang Military

District and the PLA could easily

threaten the Daulat Beg Oldi and the

Depsang Plains from there.

The airport at Longzi in Tibet's

Shannan County will also boost the

capabilities of the People's Liberation

Army Air Force (PLAAF) in the middle

sector of the Line of Actual

Control (LAC).

Analysts like Jayadeva Ranade,

former Cabinet Secretariat's Chiba

expert, say that "in just over a decade,

China will have a much-improved

strategic border defence infrastructure".

"The considerably enhanced

Chinese military presence will be a

long-term potential threat for India,"

Ranade said. Ranade has closely studied

the 142-page, 70,000-character

"14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025) and

the Long Range Objectives through

the Year 2035 for National Economic

and Social Development of the

People's Republic of China", whose

English version is yet to be released.

"The document clarifies China's

national strategic intent and identifies

the core areas of national security and

development. It has a definite focus on

strategic science and technology programmes

in the frontier areas. The

document details the projects that

have direct implications for India,"

said Ranade.

He said that India's worst concern is

over the Chinese plan to construct a

massive dam on the Great Bend on the

Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra).

Serious discussions on diverting the

waters of the Brahmaputra had started

in the Chinese Academy of

Engineering Physics in Beijing in

1995. Details of a comprehensive plan

emerged in a book authored by former

military officer Li Ling titled ‘Tibet

water can save China', which was published

in 2005. The 14th Five Year

Plan (2021-2025) and the Long Range

Objectives-2035 confirms that a number

of hydroelectric projects will be

built along its lower reaches and a

massive dam three times the size of

the Three Gorges Dam in Sichuan

province will be constructed on the

Great Bend on the Tsangpo. "The

dams constructed on the fragile

Himalayas will pose a constant danger

to those living downstream and

adversely impact the livelihoods of

over a billion people residing in the

Indo-Gangetic plain," said Ranade. He

said the planned infrastructure projects

in Tibet and the anticipated huge

influx of labour and engineers will

raise the temperature on the Tibetan

Plateau and accelerate the retreat of

Tibet's glaciers.

These glaciers are the source of the

Indus and a number of rivers that feed

into the Ganges. This will seriously

reduce the flow of water even leading

to the rivers drying up.

UK anxious about Indian Covid variant: PM

agency quoted Johnson as saying to longer to see how the data is looking

Sky News on Thursday.

but I am cautiously optimistic about Oli reappointed as Nepal PM

"So there are meetings going on that and provided this Indian variant

today to consider exactly what we doesn't take off in the way some people

fear, I think certainly things could ment, Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has

Kathmandu : After opposition parties failed to form a coalition govern-

need to do," he said.

Johnson's remarks came in the get back much, much closer to normality,"

he said.

Minister on the basis of leading the largest party in

reappointed KP Sharma Oli as the 42nd Prime

wake of spikes of new variants in

some areas in Britain.

Johnson confirmed on Monday that Parliament.

Scientists have raised concerns that the lockdown in England will be further

lifted from next week.

planning to take the oath of office and secrecy on

Oli, who was reappointed on Monday night, is

the current vaccines may be less effective

against the new variants.

From May 17, pubs, bars and Friday afternoon, according to his office.

The consortium of scientists studying

new variants in the country, COG- ted to open indoors, while indoor sition Nepali Congress party, was the frontrunner for

restaurants in England will be permit-

Sher Bahadur Deuba, leader of the primary oppo-

UK, has identified a total of 1,723 entertainment will also resume, the post of Prime Minister but he couldn't garner a

cases of the Indian variant known as including cinemas, museums and children's

play areas.

Samajbai Party (JSP), was divided to support Oli.

majority vote as fourth largest party, Janata

B1617.2.

Although some of these will be People in England will be allowed However, the Nepali Congress and the Communist

duplicates, it is more than triple Public to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30 Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) could not cobble together the numbers to prove

Health England's confirmed figure last people, and meet indoors in groups of a majority. A faction of the JSP decided to stay neutral, making it difficult for

week of 520, according to Sky News. up to six or as two households. Deuba to stake claim. The Mahantha Thakur-Rajendra Mahato's 19-member

However, Johnson said the easing Meanwhile, all remaining accommodation

including hotels, hostels and lawmakers overall. Oli's Communist Party of NepaleUML has 121 members

faction of the JSP decided to throw its weight behind Oli. The Party has 32

London : UK Prime Minister Boris of lockdown will go ahead as planned

Johnson said that his country is "anxious"

about the coronavirus variant The Prime Minister said he "can see Johnson.

Since no party commands a majority in the House, as the parliamentary

for now.

B&Bs can also reopen, according to in the House.

detected in India and the government nothing that dissuades me from thinking

we'll be able to go ahead on is expected to see all legal limits on vision. He again has to prove his majority in the house within a month.

The British government's roadmap party leader of UML, Oli was elected Prime Minister as per constitutional pro-

is "ruling nothing out" to tackle its

spread.

Monday and indeed on June 21 everywhere"

in terms of easing coronavirus 21. However, some experts believe individual lawmaker can stake claim over the post of Prime Minister.

social contact to be removed on June If he fails to garner a majority, either he will dissolve the House or any other

"We want to make sure that we take

all the prudential, all the cautious steps restrictions in England.

more urgent action is needed to tackle But leaders close to Oli said that he preferred to dissolve the house and was

now that we could take," Xinhua news "I think we have to wait a little bit the situation.

interested in holding early elections.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

Sudha Bharadwaj’s 3 Co-Prisoners Tested

COVID Positive : Daughter Moves Bombay High

Court Seeking Release On Medical Grounds

The Bombay High Court on Thursday sought lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj’s latest medical report from the

Maharashtra Government on a plea seeking her interim release on medical bail from Byculla women’s prison. The petition

filed by her daughter Maaysha Singh, invoking Article 226 of the Constitution, states that the sixty-year-old Bharadwaj, who

has diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart disease and a history of pulmonary tuberculosis, is very unwell.

By Sharmeen Hakim

On August 28, 2018, Bharadwaj was

arrested in the Bhima Koregaon- Elgaar

Parishad Case for alleged maoist links.

She and 15 other civil rights activists

and academics face charges under the

stringent Unlawful Activities

(Prevention) Act (UAPA) on allegations

of a conspiracy to overthrow the government.

A division bench of Justices KK

Tated and Abhay Ahuja heard advocate

Yug Chaudhry’s submissions on behalf

of Bharadwaj. It is said that Sudha

Bharadwaj is kept in a barrack with 50-

60 prisoners, sharing only 3 bathrooms,

with no possibility of social distancing

and sanitary co-existence.

He argued that Bharadwaj is kept in

a barrack with about 50-60 prisoners,

sharing only three bathrooms and no

possibility of sanitary co-existence or

social distancing. He submitted that

three of her co-prisoners have recently

tested COVID positive and Byculla jail

has about 40 active cases, as per news

reports. “The ward where she is lodged

is a literal death trap,” Chaudhry added.

A Time Frame From Centre Within

Which COVID Vaccines Can Be

Supplied To State

For the past few weeks Bharadwaj

has been suffering from diarrhoea,

extreme fatigue and constant exhaustion

to the extent that she cannot wash

clothes or even bathe, the plea states.

The state’s counsel, Jayesh Yagnik,

informed the bench that Bharadwaj was

already scheduled to be taken to

Mumbai’s JJ Hospital for a checkup in

the evening. Moreover, Bharadwaj tested

negative for COVID-19 on two previous,

he said. Bail To Mother Who

‘Confessed’ To Killing Daughter Over

An Affair The HC then directed Yagnik

to produce Bharadwaj’s report from her

checkup at the JJ Hospital before May

17.

Chaudhry also made submissions

regarding the behaviour of prison officials

towards the family. He said that the

family had made 18 calls to the Byculla

prison in the past few days, but the warden

refused to come on the line. Instead,

Shimla : After trudging the high

mountains in a 17-hour-long operation

amid heavy rain with the mercury dipping

close to the freezing point,

Himachal Pradesh Police seized over 15

lakh fully grown poppy plants, valued at

Rs 10 crore, illegally spread over a vast

stretch in the interiors of Mandi district,

the police said on Friday.

A field intelligence report about the

cultivation of poppy (opium) plants in

Chauhar Valley in Mandi district had

revealed that a huge area comprising

government and private lands was being

used to cultivate opium. Following this,

a special team headed by the Padhar

police station was deployed to verify the

information. After the verification, a

special operation was planned on May

12, an official statement said.

When the police teams reached Garh

village under Tikken sub-tehsil in

Padhar, they first found a patch of land

covered by poppy plants. On further

onward movement, they were surprised

to see three hilltops looking like carpets

of white flowers. On closer examination,

they found that all the hilltops had

poppy plants in full bloom.

Heavy rains and hailstorms then

impeded further movement of the

teams, but after waiting for some time

and realising that it is of no use to wait

for the rains to stop, especially when the

news of their presence in the area has

spread, they marched ahead, said the

police.

The teams climbed the three hills one

by one and had to trek for almost three

hours to reach the first hilltop.

As the news of the police raid spread

fast in the neighbouring areas, few

locals themselves started to uproot the

poppy plants at one of the spots, but

timely action of the police foiled all

such attempts.

In total, around 66 'bighas' of government

and private lands were found to

be under the illegal cultivation of poppy

plants with the assistance of the local

patwari and the pradhan.

During the raid, approximately 15

lakh plants of illegally cultivated opium

were found and samples were seized

Chaudhry said, the officer spoke to the

press and accused Bharadwaj of making

up stories about her ill health.

He asked the court to direct the state

to respond to the allegations in the petition

about the poor conditions in prison.

However, the court said that prisons

were operating with just 15% staff;

therefore, such a reply cannot be filed

immediately. The NIA opposed the plea

and informed the court that there was no

urgency. The court will now hear the

bail application on May 21. Sudha

Bhardwaj was taken into custody on

from each spot.

The process of destruction of the

remaining plants has been completed.

The entire operation ended on May 13.

Four cases have been registered

under Section 18 of the NDPS Act and

further investigation is underway.

As per estimates, around 5-6 kg of

opium is produced in one 'bigha' of land

which is sold for approximately Rs

300,00 per kg.

Accordingly, around 330 kg of

opium could have been produced in this

area with a market price of Rs 10 crore,

said the statement. The police told

IANS that cannabis and opium are

grown illegally in vast tracts of Kullu,

Mandi, Shimla and Chamba districts,

causing a serious problem of drug cultivation,

trafficking and addiction. Over

60 per cent of poppy and cannabis produced

in the state is smuggled to countries

like Israel, Italy, The Netherlands

and some other European nations. The

remaining stock finds its way to Nepal

or to other Indian states like Goa,

Punjab and Delhi.

13

August 28, 2018.

Bhima Koregaon Case

The Bhima Koregaon battle was

fought between 25,000 mighty Peshwa

army and 500 British soldiers, including

people from the Mahar (Dalit) community.

The names of martyrs in the war

are inscribed in the memorial by the

British Army then. The hundreds of

people visiting the war memorial at

Bhima Koregaon were attacked on

January 1, 2018, after violence erupted.

They were mainly from Dalit community,

and one person died in the stone-pelting.

An FIR was registered regarding the

violence the same day. However, there

has been no substantial progress since.

Another FIR by right-wing activist

Tushar Damgude, filed on January 8,

2018 and was pursued. It was alleged

that the violence at Bhima Koregaon

resulted from inflammatory speeches

held at the Elgaar Parishad conference

on December 31, 2017.

The scope of the investigation was

eventually widened, with the Pune

police claiming retrieval of incriminating

documents in the form of electronic

records. This included an email written

by a certain ‘R’ to Comrade Prakash on

April 18, 2017 talking of a “Rajiv

Gandhi-type” operation. The NIA took

over the investigation in 2020.

However, recently Arsenal Consulting,

a digital forensics consulting company

in the USA, concluded that most of the

electronic evidence the police has relied

on was planted on co-accused Rona

Wilson’s laptop through Malware.

So far, 16 people have been arrested

in the case as accused — Jyoti Raghoba

Jagtap, Sagar Tatyaram Gorkhe,

Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor, Sudhir

Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh

Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Arun

Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara

Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand

Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany

Babu and Father Stan Swamy. Most of

the accused in the case were neither

named in the FIR over the violence nor

present during the 2017 event.

Courtesy : Live-Law

15L poppy plants seized in Himachal after 17-hr operation


14 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Nepali guide creates world record

by climbing Everest twice

Kathmandu : Mingma Tenji Sherpa, a Nepali mountain guide,

has created a world record by scaling Mt. Everest, the world's highest

peak, twice in the shortest span of time in a season, organisers

said on Thursday.

Sherpa first reached the top of the mountain in the evening of May

7 as a member of a rope-fixing team, and then performed the feat

again on the morning of May 11, while guiding an expedition team

consisting of Bahraini Prince Sheikh Mohammed Hamad

Mohammed Al Khalifa, according to the company which organised

both expeditions.

"He climbed Mt. Everest twice in the gap of just four days which

is a world record," Mingma Sherpa, chairperson of the Seven Summit

Treks, told Xinhua news agency.

"He took nearly 86 hours to do double ascents."

Previously, Indian mountaineer Anshu Jamsenpa had held the

record for fastest dual ascents on Everest, doing so in 118 hours and

15 minutes in 2017.

She however, still holds the record for fastest dual ascent on the

peak by a woman. Mingma Tenji Sherpa has been working as a

mountain guide with the Seven Summit Treks.

Other climbers have set their own records on the 8848.86-meterhigh

Mt. Everest this season from the Nepali side, including Kami

Rita Sherpa, a Nepali mountain guide who broke his own record by

climbing the mountain for the 25th time on May 8, and three Nepali

Sherpa sisters from the same family, who reached the top on May 12.

Cyclone Tauktae: TN CM reviews

preparedness with officials

Chennai : The Tamil Nadu government has directed to take necessary

precautions as Cyclone Tauktae is likely to intensify further. It

has asked the authorities to summon back fishermen who are in the

sea. Around 244 deep sea fishing vessels were in the sea and after the

state fisheries department took the initiative, 162 had returned to the

shore by Saturday night. Efforts are on to bring the rest of the fishing

boats back to the shore, the Chief minister's office said.

Chief minister M.K. Stalin who held a review meeting with officials

including district collectors and meteorology department officials

has specifically stressed on the safety of fishermen from

Kanniyakumari, the statement said.

Four teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are

already in the state -- two teams in Madurai, one team in Coimbatore

district and one in Nilgiris district. The State Disaster Response

Force (SDRF) is also ready as a fall back option.

The Chief minister in his meeting with the district collectors was

briefed by the Deputy director general of meteorology S.

Balachandran on the possibilities of the rainfall and the preparations

of the department. Stalin called upon the revenue officials to be on

their toes and to get prepared with necessary equipment in areas

prone to landslides.

The Chief minister has also directed the revenue department to

ensure Covid norms and protocol in the relief camps being set up to

accommodate people from the low lying areas. The government is

also monitoring the storage in reservoirs in the state.

Mumbai Special Court slaps notices to

'confiscate' Nirav Modi's properties

Mumbai : Fresh legal troubles are brewing

in Mumbai for fugitive diamantaire

Nirav D. Modi, currently battling for bail and

against extradition proceedings in a UK

court, officials said here on Thursday.

A Special Court under the Fugitive

Economic Offenders Act, 2018, has slapped

a series of notices to Nirav Modi and his sister

Purvi Mehta -- who turned approver five

months ago -- besides his group companies,

ordering them to appear before Special Judge

V.C. Barde on in Mumbai June 11.

Barde has also ordered them to explain

why the Special Court should not "confiscate"

the properties and assets of the two siblings

and the other group companies as per

the law, in a money-laundering case filed by

the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in early

2018.

The notices have served to their known

residences in Mumbai -- four flats in the

famed Samudra Mahal building on Dr. Annie

Besant Road, and the Grosvenor House on

Pedder Road.

The development comes exactly threeand-half-a-year

after Nirav Modi, several of

his family members, his maternal uncle

Mehul C. Choksi and others were accused of

perpetrating a stunning fraud of around Rs

14,000 crore in the Punjab National Bank

(PNB).

Even before the PNB admitted the fraud

and lodged a formal police complaint in

January 2018, it emerged that Nirav Modi,

Mehul Choksi and others had already fled

the country as the Central Bureau of

Investigation (CBI) and ED launched their

independent probes.

Besides the 'Mama-Bhanja' duo, Nirav

Modi's group companies like Stellar

Diamonds, Firestar International Ltd,

Radashir Jewelery Co. Pvt. Ltd., Firestar

Trading Pvt. Ltd., Solar Exports, Diamonds

R Us, Firestar Diamond International Ltd.,

Mac Business Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., Bentley

Properties Pvt. Ltd. and Nirav Modi Trust,

which were under the scanner of the CBI-ED

sleuths, have been named in the Special

Court's latest notices.

Shortly after the scam hit the Indian banking

sector, a Mumbai Magistrate in February

2018 had issued a non-bailable warrant

against Nirav Modi in June 2018, the

InterPol issued a Red Corner Notice, followed

by India's request in August 2018 to

the UK authorities seeking his extradition

back home.

It was in March 2019 that a massive

furore erupted in India after Nirav Modi was

found sauntering on a London street with the

Indian authorities going after him with

renewed vigour, resulting in his arrest that

same month. As he remains in jail, a UK

court in February 2021 cleared his extradition

to India to face charges of bank frauds,

money-laundering etc., even as Purvi and her

New Delhi : Amid reports of people

being arrested for putting posters against

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national

capital, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has

dared the government to arrest him.

Tweeting the poster on Sunday, Rahul

Gandhi said: "Arrest me too."

Meanwhile, Congress leaders, targetting

the government, are putting up a social

media campaign.

Congress leader Pawan Khera said:

"People have expectations from the government

which has broken... so whom the people

will question when you want all the credit.

"Why should people not ask question that

why their vaccines have been exported," he

asked. The Delhi Police has arrested over a

dozen people in connection with the cases it

registered, sources said on Saturday.

The matter relates to putting up black

colour posters criticising the Prime Minister

for exporting the Covid-19 vaccines to other

countries instead of fulfilling the requirements

of the people of the country.

The posters were found in several areas of

Delhi like Shahdara, Rohini, Rithala,

Dwarka and other places.

Budh Vihar ward councillor Gayatri Garg

told IANS: "On May 12, we got the information

that several posters have been stuck in

areas of Budh Vihar, Vijay Vihar and others.

Following the information, I along with my

husband and several other members got

those removed on May 13."

A Delhi Police source said that the police

has registered over 17 FIRs in connection

with the posters against the Prime Minister.

The source said that police has registered

two FIRs in Central Delhi and arrested four

people, two FIRS have been registered in

Rohini and two people arrested, one FIR in

East Delhi and four people have been arrested,

one FIR in Dwarka and two people have

husband Maiank Mehta turned approvers in

the case in January 2021.

Incidentally, in the past couple of years,

the ED and the CBI have managed to recover

small sums by auctioning off Nirav Modi's

assets like half-a-dozen luxury vehicles,

designer bags, high-value wristwatches, rare

paintings, artworks and other stuff, while his

deluxe bungalow in Alibaug was attached

and demolished in March 2019.

After the PNB scam broke out, over the

next couple of years, several other nationalised

banks slowly came into the open and

revealed how the Modi-Choksi duo had

duped and dumped them in various loan

accounts. Meanwhile, in early 2019, it came

to light that Choksi had acquired the citizenship

of Antigua & Barbuda Island in the West

Indies in November 2017, and is currently

embroiled in a legal tangle over his citizenship

and related issues.

Arrest me too, Rahul tweets

poster criticising Modi

been arrested, one FIR in North East Delhi

and three people have been arrested and on

the basis of an FIR in Shahdara one person

has been arrested.

The source said that the police has also

obtained CCTV footage from Shahdara area

where people were seen putting up the

posters.

The source also said that the police is

interrogating the person to identify other

people.

It further said that it has also come to

notice that for sticking three posters, the people

were paid Rs 500 in Shahdara area.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

15

Dark face of Covid; Covid warriors land

to often recover decomposed bodies

Bengaluru : With the exponential

rise in Covid-19 cases during the second

wave of the Covid-19pandemic,

Karnataka is also witnessing an

increase in the number of deaths. But

what is worrisome is dead bodies are

found in decomposed condition due to

its metropolitan culture, where interaction

with neighbours is near zero.

This culture has plunged to another

abyss, after the emergence of the

Covid pandemic, even our own ‘near

and dear ones' have either become

pariahs or treat us one like pariah,

after either of us realise that some of

us are taken ill.

Covid warrior and software engineer

with the TCS, Sathyanarana Roy

aka Ruchi Roy's friend of Odisha's

local channel reporter living in

Bengaluru received a call from his

home state Odisha on May 12 at

around 4 p.m. Distressed parents of

their only 25-year-old son, Santhosh

Jena was not picking up their call who

had fallen sick three days ago before

they heard him last on May 7 at 5 p.m.

According to Roy, after receiving

the call along with his friend working

with media, Gobind Barik reached

Koodlugate in Parappana Agrahara

police limits. What they saw was this

young man sitting on chair under the

ceiling fan had died three or four days

ago and his body had already started

decomposing that too with his limbs

started dislocating.

Roy said that the parents had tried

their best to reach out their son though

few relatives and fellow villagers who

work in Bengaluru to know about

New Delhi : The Delhi government

has extended lockdown

period for one more

week, Chief Minister Arvind

Kejriwal said on Sunday.

"We have been witnessing

good recovery following the

lockdown. Coronavirus cases

have been on a decline. We

don't want to lose the gain that

we have made in the last few

days. We are extending the

lockdown for one more week.

Instead of tomorrow, lockdown

is extended till next Monday, 5

Jena's wellbeing, but none had come

to their rescue and only then they had

Lockdown extended till

May 24 in Delhi: Kejriwal

a.m. in Delhi," he said.

On Saturday, Delhi recorded

6,430 cases with 11 per cent

positivity rate. The recovery

was 11,591 but the daily death

number was still very high at

337.

In the last few days, Delhi

has witnessed some relief as

daily positive cases and daily

Covid positivity too, however,

the city has been reporting

over 300 deaths every day

since May 4 (except two days

when less than 300 were

taken help of their village head, who

though some of his political contacts

reported). The highest daily

deaths in one day were reported

on May 3, when a total of

448 Covid patients had died in

the city.

Delhi reported 6,430 new

coronavirus cases in the last 24

hours, the lowest since April 7

and the daily Covid positivity

rate reduced to 11.32 per cent.

For the last few days, Delhi has

witnessed a sharp decline in

daily positive cases, positivity

rate and number of patients in

home isolation etc.

New Delhi : The

National Investigation

Agency (NIA) on Sunday

conducted searched at

four locations in Tamil

Nadu in connection with

an incriminating

Facebook post by accused

Mohammed Iqbal, an

extremist advocating ideology

of ISIS and Hizb-

Ut-Tahrir, a fundamentalist

organisation.

The anti-terror agency

conducted searches in

Madurai district of Tamil

Nadu in connection with

the case which was originally

registered at

Thideer police station in

the same region relating to

uploading of some incriminating

posts on Facebook.

The searches were conducted

at Kazimar Street, K. Pudur,

Pethaniyapuram and

Mehaboob Palayam in

Madurai.

During the search, sixteen

digital devices including laptop,

hard disks, mobile phones,

memory cards, SIMs, Pen drive

and many incriminating books

and pamphlets and documents

have been recovered.

NIA had re-registered the

case on April 15 this year and

taken over the investigation

which so far has revealed that

the posts on the Facebook page

"Thoonga Vizhigal Rendu is in

Kazimar Street" was uploaded

by accused Mohammed Iqbal

for denigrating a particular

community. "The posts were

came to know about Gobind Barik

working in Bengaluru.

Roy said that Jena's parents were

not even aware about his whereabouts

like where he stays or where he

worked in Bengaluru and none could

blame them as they are from a very

remote village of Bhadrak district in

Odisha, which is around 1,980 km

from this tech-hub.

"They were dependent on Jena for

their survival in their village. Even to

reach us they had taken help from their

village head's (Sarpanch) help, who

somehow knew that a reporter

(Gobind Barik) of local channel of

Odisha works here," Roy told IANS.

Roy said that the irony of this

episode is that the deceased house

owner who stays nearby and few

neighbours who lived here were not

even aware that Jena was dead and the

owner even insisted that Jena was not

in the house and left his bike here and

perhaps left Bengaluru due to imposition

of partial lockdown on April 27.

"Somehow, we both (Gobind and

me) sensed that something was a miss.

Then we sought his permission to see

his room, which was on the third floor

of the building. When we reached his

room, his room was locked from

inside, and then we saw from the window,

realised that he was no more,"

the Covid warrior explained.

Then Roy approached Parappana

Agarahara police, who immediately

came with him and broke open the

door and recovered the dead.

"The police informed the Bruhat

Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike authorities

who came with an ambulance

conducted Covid test on the deceased

and it was found that the deceased was

Covid positive. The BBMP officials

did take good care as the first ambulance

which they had dispatched did

not have experienced staff to wrap the

decomposed body. So, the BBMP

rushed another team of experts who

are specialised in handling decomposed

bodies like the Jena's, whose

limbs had started falling apart," Roy

explained.

When Roy broke the story of Jena's

death through Sarpanch's phone, the

parents had fainted and were admitted

to hospital and they were wailing

inconsolably as they felt that they

could not even take part in the last

rites of their only son and lone earning

member of their family.

Roy poignantly reminded that

nowadays, many people are less interested

in maintaining any friendly relation

with their neighbours.

"The face to face interaction and

the sense of brotherhood have been

diminishing since the emergence of

sophisticated life and hi-tech culture.

That is where we are finding such

dead bodies often in cities like

Bengaluru. For this city is not to be

blamed, we, the people must take

responsibility for reaching out to our

neighbours and keeping in touch with

them. Cities like Bengaluru provide us

an ample opportunity for employment,

but after coming to this city, we people

should also need to contribute by

keeping our neighbourhood vibrant,"

he signed off.

Facebook post case: NIA raids

4 places in Tamil Nadu

designed to incite communal

disharmony amongst different

religious groups, in a manner

prejudicial to the maintenance

of public order," said the NIA.

Iqbal alias Senthil Kumar, a

resident of Kazimar area in

Madurai was arrested on

December 2 last year and is

presently under judicial custody.

"Further investigation in the

case continues."


16 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Now the Vadla crane goes

missing in Balochistan

New Delhi : Vadla is the most

"famous" female crane among the

common cranes who have been visiting

India for the last two years. Like

last year, this year too, Vadla, tagged

with a transmitter (GPS), started her

journey from her winter home in

Nalsarovar wetland in Gujarat to her

breeding home in Kazakhstan this

year on March 29.

On April 4, Minister of

Environment, Forests and Climate

Change, Prakash Javadekar

announced on social media,

"Remember Vadla, the common crane.

After spending nearly five months

since October 10, at its wintering site

near Nal Sarovar bird sanctuary near

Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Vadla has

moved over site in the mountains,125

km northwest Karachi and in the next

few days it will travel through vast

deserts of Pakistan, Balochistan,

Turkmenistan before reaching its

breeding ground in northern

Kazakhstan."

After two days, Vadla with her

flock of common cranes started her

journey again from Karachi. Her last

contact was monitored by scientists of

Wildlife Institute of India (WII),

Dehradun, and suddenly the contact

was lost. The WII and Power Grid

Corporation of India have been conducting

research on Vadla.

"The signal stopped near Miani Hor

in the Balochistan province of

Pakistan. Miani Hor is a swampy

lagoon in Lasbela district of

Balochistan. It is a Ramsar designated

wetland site located about 100 km

from Karachi near Sonmiani Bay

close to the Arabian sea. Even though

it is remote, I was getting a good signal

from the GPS tagged with the bird

but suddenly it stopped for the last 5-6

days," Dr Suresh Kumar, a senior scientist

from the Endangered Species

Management department in WII leading

the project, told India Narrative.

When asked what could have happened

to the bird or the GPS transmitter,

Dr Suresh said: "I am keeping my

fingers crossed. Normally the flock

does not stay at one place for more

than 4-5 days. There are two possibilities.

First, the bird became prey of

some animals but it's highly unlikely

because it's difficult for animals to

catch these birds.

Second, it may be killed by some

poachers. In that area poaching of

migratory birds is rampant. See, the

solar powered transmitter can't switch

off on its own, only me or my team

can do that. I don't know... I am praying.

We have been working on this

project for the last two years."

In a first, the WII tracked the journey

of a common crane from Gujarat

to its breeding site in Northern

Kazakhstan and back to Gujarat where

it returned on World Migratory Bird

Day (October 10, 2020).

Kumar said: "This project aims to

understand the use of different landscapes

by these migratory birds. It

is important to note whether their

roosting sites are in good shape

along the flyway. Unlike some terrestrial

species, migratory birds

cannot be conserved only if one

country conserves its habitat. The

conservation of the flyway and

roosting areas has to be consistent

across the borders. Else, it will

affect their migration pattern."

Last year, on March 12, a

female common crane weighing

4.72 kg was tagged with the GPS

transmitter by the team. The bird

was named ‘Vadla' after the village

near the Nalsarovar Ramsar

site where she was tagged. The

leg-mounted solar-powered GPS

GSM tag attached to it weighed 40

grams.

The crane departed on its northward

migration, travelling through

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran,

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

before reaching its breeding

ground in northern Kazakhstan near

the border of Russia, covering about

5,000 km in 15 days. After a few

months, Vadla started its southward

journey in the last week of September

and reached the same site following

the same route on October 10 in 12

days. The WII team logged the crane's

location every 6 hours. This was transmitted

through the GSM network

every day through the tracking period.

Kumar explains: "the solar-powered

GPS-GSM tag used on Vadla, is a

smart technology. In situations where

there was no GSM network, the data

was stored in the tag and transmitted

when the crane came into an area with

the network. The tags can store

300,000 locations. That is a lot of

location data." He explains further,

"our tracking study has already documented

the nearly 10,000-km journey

of this common crane from her wintering

ground in Gujarat to her breeding

ground in northern Kazakhstan and

back and we are in the second leg of

the project. I hope the bird is not killed

by poachers," Kumar says.

According to Kumar, Pakistan and

Afghanistan are located in the Central

Asian Flyway of Migratory birds and

poaching is a lucrative business in

these countries. There is big money in

hunting birds. Poachers selling cranes

and other rare species can easily earn

thousands of dollars. Poaching can not

be ruled out.

The recent shooting of two most

endangered species, the Great Indian

Bustard in Cholistan desert of

Pakistan with the poachers led by a

major of Pakistan army brazenly getting

themselves photographed with the

dead birds in their hands and guns on

their shoulders has shocked the

wildlife authorities.

Kumar's study includes the fact that

high voltage transmission lines with

vertical alignment are the biggest

threat to the big birds like cranes.

These cranes fly across these power

lines as there are several reports of

cranes and flamingos colliding with

power lines and dying, which is a

major issue.

In India, we have historically seen

five species of cranes out of the fifteen

found worldwide. Siberian cranes,

common cranes (also called Eurasian

cranes), and Demoiselle cranes are all

winter visitors to India specially in

Gujarat and Rajasthan. While the latter

two still winter in India, their

future is uncertain as they face numerous

challenges. Siberian cranes are

locally extinct in India. The last pair

was seen at Bharatpur in 2002.

(This content is being carried

under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

17

Cyclone Tauktae wreaks havoc on

Maha coast, but no casualties

Mumbai : The much-feared Cyclone

Tauktae finally arrived to lash the

Maharashtra coast on Sunday, uprooting

scores of trees, and light-poles and causing

other minor damage, but there were

no reports of any casualties, officials

said.

After Goa, the cyclone targeted the

Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri districts as it

moved towards Raigad, Mumbai, Thane

and Palghar districts while whirling

towards the Gujarat south coast where it

is expected to make a landfall on early

Tuesday, according to the IMD.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray

held a series of meetings with top officials

to monitor the cyclone situation

and also briefed Union Home Minister

Amit Shah of the state's preparedness.

"All the districts in the entire coastal

belt have been put on a high alert,"

Thackeray informed Shah.

Early on Monday, the cyclone is likely

to pass by the Raigad-Mumbai coasts

and then move onto Thane-Palghar -

what is collectively known as Mumbai

Metropolitan Region (MMR).

"Many trees were uprooted in the

strong winds that lashed Sindhudurg-

Ratnagiri districts There are reports of

widespread damage to crops and plantations

of mango, cashewnuts, coconuts,

kokam, and other produce in the region.

We have directed the local administration

to conduct 'panchnama' immediately,"

Higher & Technical Education

Farmers protesting against

Haryana CM face batons

Chandigarh, May 16 (IANS) Farmers on Sunday held a protest

against Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in Hisar, and

were baton-charged by the police.

The farmers were heading to a venue where the Chief Minister

came to open a Covid 500-bed hospital.

Heavy police security arrangements were made to prevent the

entry of farmers towards the inauguration venue with barricades, said

officials. As farmers were adamant about heading towards the venue

and tried to force their way through police barricades, the police carried

out a baton-charge and used teargas shells to disperse them.

Many farmers got injuries.

After the incident, the farmers decided to block all highways in the

state, hold protest outside the office of the Inspector General in Hisar

and to stage statewide sit-in protest of all police stations on Monday.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Gurnam Singh Charuni

made these announcements after meeting the protesting farmers.

Ambulance and emergency vehicles will be exempted from their

highway blockades.

On the other hand, police officials said more than 20 personnel

were injured and police vehicles damaged during stone pelting by

farmers. BKU leader Rakesh Tikait is also expected to arrive in Hisar

after the incident.

Minister Uday Samant said from his

camp in Konkan.

Relief & Rehabilitation Minister

Vijay Wadettiwar said that the Konkan

coast has been prepared for the

onslaught of Cyclone Taukte and he was

also keeping tabs on the unfolding situation

there. "CM Thackeray has taken

stock of the matter and I have apprised

him about the relief works undertaken.

We are setting up large shelters for the

people in these areas where they can be

shifted if required," he said. In Mumbai,

the BrihanMumbai Municipal

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Attacking the

Modi government's handling of the Covid

pandemic, the Congress on Sunday also

faulted its vaccine policy, saying the muddle

arose because the "Prime Minister wanted to

become the vaccine guru".

Addressing a virtual press conference,

Congress spokesman Pawan Khera said:

"The Government of India did not manage

the crisis as well. When it came to negotiation

with vaccine manufacturers, when it

came to putting in place a vaccine policy,

everything was centralised. Actually, it was

not even centralised, it was individualised,

because someone wanted to be a 'Vaccine

Guru'. Narendra Modi wanted to be known

as a 'Vaccine Guru'."

He said that India was not short of oxygen

but the government delayed setting up of 162

onsite oxygen plants across 14 states by 8

Corporation (BMC) has cancelled the

scheduled 3-day vaccination drive starting

Monday and the schedule has now

been pushed ahead by a day, said

Municipal Commissioner I. S. Chahal.

In a precautionary move, the Indian

Coast Guard ensured the safe return of

months and "when the crisis hits hard, the

state governments were blamed".

Citing the eight-phase West Bengal

around 5,600 boats which had gone for

fishing in the Arabian Seas besides rerouting

335 merchant ships in the vicinity

of the cyclone path. It said that the

operations started from May 11 when

the first warning of the impending

cyclone was received with preventive

and response measures initiated on the

entire west coast including

Lakshadweep Isles, with multiple agencies

working in coordination.

Western Railway General Manager

Alok Kansal conducted video-conference

with the top officials of the various

divisions on the Maharashtra-Gujarat

region to take stock of the preparedness

for the natural calamity. He gave

detailed instructions on train movements,

communication including satellite

phones, wireless and drones, logistics,

speed restrictions, alternative

power arrangements, fuel, tree-cutting

equipment, JCBs, utility vehicles, cancellations,

part-cancellations of various

services, etc. as a safety-cum-precautionar

ymeasure.

Kansal asked the officials to follow

the guidelines of the Disaster

Management Manuals of the Railways,

the NDMA and state agencies, said WR

spokesperson Sumit Thakur.

Teams of the NDRF, SDRF,

Maharashtra Police, Fire Brigade, Coast

Guard, Indian Navy and other agencies

are on high alert in the entire coastal

belt to tackle any eventuality.

PM 'individualised' everything to

become 'Vaccine Guru': Congresss

Assembly elections, the "super-spreader rallies"

and the Kumbh Mela, Khera said that

questions were being asked on the government's

decisions. "You can't have centralised

decision-making and decentralised responsibility,

both have to be decentralised, both

have to be in tune with each other."

"Today, because of you, different states

are negotiating with the same companies,

vaccine manufacturers for their people. They

will all get different prices... Why? Who will

be answer these questions too?" he asked.

Khera alleged that when the nation was

getting overwhelmed by the pandemic, one

man with his government "still busy trying to

save a fake image that he has built of himself.

His fake image cannot be more important

than my real life, than the real lives of

my family members, my friends, my loved

ones...."

Can we have end to this 'Rambo culture', asks Sajad Lone

Srinagar : People's Conference

Chairman Sajad Lone has hit out at Jammu

and Kashmir Police for arresting the sons of

separatist leader Ashraf Sehrai.

Sehrai, who was detained under Public

Safety Act (PSA), died in a Jammu hospital

on May 5. "And y do u have to do that.

Which society will condone ur actions. They

lost their father who died while being in govt

custody. What r u competing for—- ferocity.

Point taken. Yes u do come across as ferocious,

Cruel and Ugly. Now Can we have an

end to this Rambo culture," Lone said in a

tweet. Earlier, police said Sehrai's sons and

others were arrested for raising "anti-national"

slogans and were not booked under the

stringent PSA. Police also appealed to people

not to pay heed to rumours.


18 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Guru Tegh Bahadur, Sikhism and Mughals

This first May (2021), was also the

day of 400th Anniversary of birth of the

Ninth Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur ji.

Guruji has a very important place in the

consolidation of Sikhism; he was also

the one who sacrificed his life for the

sake of principles. As such Sikhism, the

religion founded by Sant Shri Guru

Nanak Dev ji has been a major religion

which has developed in the subcontinent.

When the orthodoxy of Muslim

maulnas and the Hindu priests was stifling

the humane aspects of religion,

Nanak founded this religion, which was

based on humanism and equality. Rather

than having a confrontationist attitude to

Islam or Hinduism, he was inspired and

highlighted the values of equality in particular.

He appreciated the monotheism

from Islam and theory of Karma from

Hinduism. He travelled to Mecca to

understand the intricacies of Islam and

went to Kashi to internalize the subtlety

of Hinduism. The result was that the

religion he founded had massive appeal

to vast masses that flocked to him for

spiritual and moral enhancement.

He underlined the teachings of

Muslim Sufis particularly Sheikh Farid

and Hindu Bhakti Saint Sant Kabir and

their likes. More than rituals he focused

on the interpersonal amity and opposed

the rigidities imposed by the clergy of

both religions. To break the untouchability

and the hierarchy inherent in the

social system, the Sikh tradition introduced

langar (community meals), one

of the most beautiful contributions of

Sikhism in a multi religious society.

Even today when any community is

faced with problem of food supply

members from this community are

forthcoming in organizing langers. The

one’s organized for Rohingiyas, and one

organized for farmers agitating for their

rights have been were very touching.

Lately in the times of Corona the unique

concept of ‘Oxygen Langar’ is a

remarkable contribution from this community.

Sikhism has a unique and distinct

theology and practices. The Holy book

of Sikhs is a great contribution to our

society as apart from the writings of

Gurus themselves, it incorporates the

writings of Bhakti and Sufi saints. The

core aspect of the religion is morality

and love for the community, overcoming

the caste and religion’s boundaries.

UK's Royal Mail launches stamps

in Prince Philip's memory

Remarkably the foundation of Golden

temple (Amritsar) was laid by a Sufi

saint Miyan Mir, an indication of

respecting for values rather than divisive

narrow boundaries. It is due to this

that Sant Guru Nanak himself proclaimed,

Na main Hindu; Na main

Muslaman. (I am neither a Hindu nor a

Muslim), these were two major religions

in the area.

Today there are claims that Sikhism

is a wing of Hinduism to protect it from

the cruel Muslim rulers. It is claimed

that this tradition was mainly there to

challenge the Mughals. There is no

doubt that some Sikh Gurus faced cruelty

from Mughal rulers, particularly

Aurangzeb, but that is part of the story.

In totality Sikhism did begin as an egalitarian

religion and later the Sikh community

did organize itself as a centre of

power. Many of these conflicts for

power are presented as struggles of

Sikhism and Islam, which is not true.

Akbar in particular had good relations

with Gurus who succeeded Nanak.

Later Jahangir and Guru Arjun had a

conflict as Guru Arjan had blessed the

rebel prince Khusrau. Some insignificant

incidents like emperor’s favorite

hawk flying in to Guru’s camp when the

emperor was on a hunting expedition

also acted as irritants. Interestingly in

one of the small scuffles between

emperor and Sikh Guru, Sikh forces

were led by Painda

Khan, a Pathan. On

the question of power

Sikh Gurus also had conflicts with the

Hindu Rajas of Hills, particularly the

Raja of Bilaspur. The Rajas were

uncomfortable with the rise of Sikh

power. There are records that

Aurangzeb’s relationship with Sikh

gurus was not linear. He gave grant to

Guru Har Rai’s younger son Ram

Kishan, in the form of land in

Dehradun. Selective incidents from

Aurangzeb and Sikh Gurus are being

generalized to present as if all Mughal

Kings were against Sikhs.

It is propagated that Hindus were

being oppressed by Mughal Governor

of Kashmir. Iftekhar Khan held that post

from 1671. His predecessor Saif Khan

had a Hindu as his advisor. About

Iftekhar Khan, who was anti Shia; even

the history of Kashmir written by

Narayan Kaul in 1710 does not mention

Ram Puniyani

persecution of Hindus. It is true that

execution of Guru Tagh Bahadur by

Aurangzeb was cruel and uncalled for. It

is this act which led to founding of

Khalsa by Guru Govind Singh. That,

religion was not the central motive of

most battles also becomes clear from

the fact that the combined force of many

of the hill Rajas attacked Guru at

Anandpur.

Later when Aurangzeb was in

Deccan, he wrote to Governor of Lahore

to conciliate with Guru Govind Singh.

After the Guru wrote to Aurangzeb, he

invited Guru to Deccan to meet him.

Guru did start his journey to Deccan but

on way came to know of the death of

Aurangzeb. Sikhism is a great example

of an egalitarian religious movement

turned into a political, militaristic

movement and which moved towards

independence.

Sikhism is the best example of popular

subaltern egalitarian aspirations

which the Sikh Gurus kindled. It

brought in the values

of equality and overcame

the social hegemony

of clerical elements and traditions

which were harping on domination in

the garb of religion. It transcended the

narrow boundaries to bring in

Humanism, upholding the best aspects

of prevalent religions around.

The propaganda that Aurangzeb

wanted to convert the country into

Darul Islam, does not seem to be logical.

In the systematic study of composition

of his Court shows that the number

of Hindu officials in his Court rose to

nearly 33%, more than even the previous

rulers. With Rajputs he had cordial

relations as Raja Jai Singh and Jaswant

Singh were his trusted officers. Same

way he had to spend lots of energy

fighting against Afghan Tribesmen.

Guru Tegh bahadur and other Sikh

Gurus who emphasized humane values

deserve our highest respect.

Women offer prayers to

'Corona Mai' in UP villages

London : The UK's Royal

Mail on Thursday announced

that it has issued four new

stamps in the memory of Prince

Philip, who died at the age of 99

last month. The commemorative

stamps feature black and white

images taken at various stages of

the Duke of Ediburgh's life,

reports dpa news agency.

One image reflects the

Prince's time in service, taken by

the photographer Baron, while

the second is of the him attending

the passing out parade of his

son, Prince Andrew, the Duke of

York, at Dartmouth Naval

College in Devon.

Another stamp is of Philip at

the Royal Windsor Horse Show,

while the last is a portrait taken

by photographer Terry O'Neill.

The four stamps cost 5.76

pounds and are a mix of Second

Class, First Class, 1.70 pound

and 2.55 pound stamps.

The memorabilia is listed for

pre-order on the Royal Mail

website but will only go on sale

from June 24. "Throughout

adulthood, the duke of

Edinburgh dedicated himself to

the service of this country, the

Commonwealth and to the many

causes he was involved with,"

Simon Thompson, Chief

Executive of the Royal Mail,

said. "For more than seven

decades he was at the centre of

our national life. His passing is a

key moment in our history which

we mark with this set of commemorative

stamps," Thompson

added.

The Prince, Queen Elizabeth

II's husband, and was the

longest-serving consort in

British history.

Varanasi/Kushinagar (UP)

Women in the villages of

Varanasi and Kushinagar have

now deified the Coronavirus

and have started worshipping

'Corona Mai' to lessen her fury

and save people from dying.

The women, on Sunday,

lined up to offer prayers to

'Corona Mai' in Kushinagar

district. In Varanasi, women are

coming together in groups on

the Ghats to offer prayers and

appease the Corona Mai.

Surili Devi of Kushinagar

said that they would offer

prayers for 21 days to appease

the Corona Mai and were confident

that the pandemic would

recede. When asked who prescribed

them this spiritual

method to check the deadly

virus, she said, "A number of

pandits have said that we

should offer prayers to stop the

Corona virus."

She said that everyone was

confident that the prayers

would work and Corona would

go away from their villages.

Women who are lining up to

pray for hours, are not maintaining

social distancing.

"When we are praying to

Corona Mai, there is no need

for anything else. The 'Corona

Mai' will bless us and cure people,"

said Ishwari, another

devotee.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

MESSIAH!!

VENERABLE

Dr. Saranapala

The moment the news reached Venerable Dr. Saranapala of

Canada that millions of people in India are affected due to the second

wave of Coronavirus, he started organizing donations to help the

poor and needy.

Venerable Dr. Saranapala selected his trusted team in India and

started sending donations to buy food material, essential medicine,

and oxygen cylinders for those who are unable to afford it. By doing

so he has saved thousands of human life.

In Gurugram & Delhi, Venerable Dr. Saranapala selected his trusted

team to distribute food material to the neediest and poor people.

Dr. Rahul Kumar Balley and his team distributed food material (Atta,

Dal, Sugar, Rice, and cooking oil) to the poor and needy people.

More than 6 Lakh migrant laborers lost their jobs due to curfew and

lockdown in the month of April & May. They do not have food to eat

and survive. Their small children are sleeping without food.

In Noida, Venerable Bhante Sumit Ratan Thera is selected by

Venerable Dr. Saranapala of Canada to distribute medicine and oxygen

cylinder. Venerable Bhante Sumit is distributing the essential

medicine prescribed by doctors to the people who are unable to

afford even the basic medicine.

Venerable Dr. Saranapala holds a Ph.D. in religious studies.

Reverend Dr. Saranapala is a global public speaker, teacher of mindfulness,

Mediation, spiritual Counsellors & Founder of ‘Canada: “A

Mindful and kind nation”. He is a recipient of “Canada 150 Medal

and Sesquicentennial Community Award” from the Government of

Canada. He has conducted mediation retreats to the city counsellors

in Mississauga, Brampton, Toronto, the Peel Region and the Toronto

District School.

He is a learned professor who earned respect from his students

through hard work. Venerable Dr. Saranapala is running a Buddhist

temple in Canada and quite a popular and resourceful Urban

Buddhist Monk who is always ready to help the affected people

across the world.

We, the people of India, are grateful to Venerable Dr. Saranapala

of Canada and wish him a long, purposeful life with love & compassion.

He is a Messiah for the poor and needy people. The poor and

needy people who have received food material, medicine are blessing

Venerable Dr. Saranapala for his timely help.

-Dr. Rahul Kumar

senior Correspondent, the Asian Independent, UK-

NEWS

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 19

Support for the Sewer Workers &

Waste Pickers (Daily wagers, labourers

/contractual workers) of Delhi NCR!

-URGENT-

Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) has been working in close association

with Sewer workers and Waste Pickers on their issues. India is facing brunt of Covid 19

second wave. Covid 19 second wave is attacking millions of people every day.

Lockdown by various states have been announced. Delhi NCR has been locked down

since April 19, 2021.

Due to the frightful spread of Covid 19,

humanitarian aid have been limited. Many

concerned citizens and organizations came

forward to reach out and help people struggling

to get supplies of oxygen and hospital

beds. Owing to India’s size and population, it

is very difficult for anyone to reach to everyone.

Most of the Sewer Workers and Waste

Pickers in Delhi are Daily wagers who used

to earn hand to mouth. Delhi has unofficially

many sewer workers and waste pickers. They

all are struggling due to the lockdown.

DASAM plans to:

• Provide monetary assistance to the families

of Sewer Worker and Waste Pickersthus

enabling them to buy milk (for young

children), medicines, gas supply, oil, soap

etc. by their own. Each worker will be given

a sum of Rs 1000/- only.

The monetary assistance will be given to

only verified people. We aim to provide for

minimum 200 (100 sewer workers and 100

Kolkata : Police in West

Bengal were on the alert on the

first day of the statewide lockdown

on Sunday and actively

enforcing the bar on any unauthorised

movement. While there were

some breaches of the restrictions,

the streets in Kolkata and around

the state were largely deserted.

The state imposed a near total

lockdown condition in the state,

giving a window of three hours --

7 a.m. to 10 a.m. -- for shops to

operate and people to buy essentials.

A handful of people were seen

waiting for their turn outside grocery

shops in the morning, while

some queued up next to vegetable

and fish stalls at local market

places early in the day.

However, in several markets in

the city and its outskirts, such as

Hatibagan, Gariahat and Sodpur,

customers did not maintain physical distance

and many vendors were spotted without

masks. Some hawkers who had their shops

open beyond 10 a.m. were forced to close

down by the police. Sukumar Saha, a fish

vendor in Kakdwip area of South 24

Parganas, said: "The government could have

imposed a total shutdown on market-places.

This three-hour window is more of a hassle.

Just when the business was at its peak, we

were told to shut down."

Some markets like that in Maniktala,

Lake Town, Hatibagan in Kolkata and in

Asansol, Durgapur and Purulia, tried to continue

with their business beyond the stipulated

time but police closed the market forcefully

and, in some cases, arranged for some

unique punishment for breaking rules. In

Purulia, police asked the violators to shut

their shops and do ten sit-ups in front of the

police before allowing them to go.

A senior police officer said necessary

measures were being taken to generate

awareness on the lockdown norms, and

action would be taken against those violating

the rules.

As the government has imposed a strict

suspension of public transport and private

vehicles were only allowed with proper reason,

there were hardly any vehicles seen on

the road. Police, however, took details of the

few private vehicles that plied on the road.

waste workers) families located in Delhi-

NCR. If we are able to raise more amount,

we will reach out to more.

• Provide dry ration to (50) Sewer Worker

and (50) Waste Pickers family.

We need your help and financial support

to sustain and expand this effort. We are writing

this appeal to come forward and help

those in need. Any amount you choose to

give will be appreciated.

If you want to help DASAM’s relief work

kindly support. To Donate:

Account Name – MAGADH FOUNDA-

TION

Account No. – 920010069743911

IFSC Code – UTI0000126

Branch Name- AXIS BANK, B-6,

Lajpat Nagar 2, New Delhi

UPI ID: enazafar96@okaxis

For donations a Copy of pan card is

required, after making a donation, please

send an email to dashaktimanch@gmail.com

For more details, contact:

+918178959197 : 9958797409

– In solidarity

Sanjeev Kumar

Secretary, Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar

Manch (DASAM)

Roads deserted on Bengal lockdown's

first day as police keep vigil

"If they failed to give a proper reason, then

they were either told to go back and, in some

cases, we have seized the vehicle," a senior

Kolkata police officer on duty told IANS. So

far, Kolkata police have arrested 23 people

and lodged cases against them under the

Disaster Management Act, while 59 vehicles

have ben seized.

As the Metro services in the city were suspended,

several frontline workers complained

that they had difficulty reaching their

place of work.

"I and my colleague got late to work, as

he had to take a detour and pick me up from

home," a nurse working in a private hospital

said.


20 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Need to clean caste vocabulary of our mind

(Asian Independent)- A Television

actress more known for her flirting

ways than any acting exposed her caste

mind when she said : Lip tint ko halka

sa blush ki tarah laga liya hai because

main YouTube pe aane wali hoon aur

main achha dikhna chahti hoon. Bh***i

ki tarah nahi dikhna chahti hoon.

Simply translated is that I am planning

to speak to you through my YouTube

channel and hence I want to look beautiful

and not like the Bhangis , a

derogatory term used for the community

of those engaged in sanitation and

manual scavenging work. The term is

officially prohibited now but

Brahmanical mindset continue to use

this term to humiliate the community.

The actress Munmun Dutta later

issued a statement by saying that she

never meant to hurt the people and it

was a goof up because she is not a

native Hindi speaker though it is

another matter that she is an important

player in Tarak Mehta ka Ulta Chashma

which started in August 2008. If you

have watched the show, it might look

light entertainment with comedy on

day to day issues but frankly it is also a

way to inject the Savarna cultural values

where traditions and past become

supreme as prescribed by the RSS.

Munmun Dutta s so called apology

is nothing but clever attempt to escape

from the criminal offence after the

hashtag to arrest started graining

momentum on twitter. Fact is that what

Dutta said is common in the echelon of

the caste Hindus and they are part and

parcel of the feudal cattiest society particularly

in the northern belt, proudly

referred as cow-belt .

Abuses and slurs on the basis of ones

jaati ie. caste, gender, disability is part

of our culture . A common abuse in our

day today life is behanxxxxd and a it

comes in our mouth as if like a

mantra . Terming langada , loola ,

andha , behara for physically challenged

persons with Polio, blind and

deaf, is also common. For women who

cant conceive the term is used as

banjh . Similarly widows, single

women too were called through various

derogatory names.

The idioms and sayings in Hindi

have absolute Brahmanical abuse

against the people on the margin. I

would call that Brahmanical abuse of

the grammar. The abuse against the

Dalits and women are part of language

and used to get the maximum claps.

Political leaders, orators , have always

used such caste narrative to build up

their case . One should not forget in

the aftermath of Mandal Commission

report, many Savarna boys organised

unique protests where they were

sweeping the street and some of them

shining the shoes of the people while

the girls cried with slogans if all the

boys are doing this work then where

will we get our husbands . The contempt

for the work that Dalits have

been engaged in and the thought that it

is the work they deserved while our

work is to dominate and rule, makes

the Savarnas think that they are meritorious

and deserve all the important

position by virtue of their caste

supremacy. Accepting that non brahmins

and Dalits in particular can have

merit and perhaps better than them is a

rare thought and difficult to fathom.

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

India need a serious introspection as

such nasty thoughts that some people

are born unequal while others have

born merit in them is an idea which

might have emerged two thousands

years back but in the modern times

when we have a constitution and are

rule based, such thoughts itself must not

merely be serious condemned but thoroughly

punished so that there is no

chance of their repetition. India need a

hate crime law which can take such

issues on a serious basis and punish the

guilty. Our schools, colleges and dictionaries

need a relook and student

must be informed from the child hood

how caste system is killing human

inside us and how this system should be

thrown into garbage.

In the meanwhile, it is time that

Munmun Dutta s utterings should be

taken seriously and she must be prosecuted.

Aim is not the punishment but

the message must go what ails our society

and why it is essential that such

thoughts does not appear in our mind.

Caste discrimination must have the

same kind of intolerance from us as

world is dealing with racial prejudices.

Our children must know from their

homes that we are living in society

where constitution is supreme and it

deals every one as equal. Caste discrimination

and caste system must be not

merely condemned but thrown in the

dustbin and for that we must put annihilation

of castes on our agenda but

will that be possible if our students are

not taught about the dirty relic of our

past which the caste system is and how

Baba Saheb Ambedkar fought against

it. Let this Bambai cinema , which

often make jokes on the colour of your

skin and glorify the past start taking a

lesson from Dr Ambedkar s life and

mission. We hope more and more

Indian families would read Dr

Ambedkar, Jyoti ba Phule, Periyar and

others who preached humanism and

human values. Once we become

humanists in true sense, the dirty edifice

of the caste system will automatically

collapse. The task is tough as

those enjoying power and patronage for

centuries would not leave their privileges

and hence international community,

anti caste groups and Bahujan masses

should join hand to do the needful

and get an alternative as shown by Dr

Baba Saheb Ambedkar.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

Authentic and Adventurous Dagestan

Having been to quite a few

amazing places across the globe,

I would list Dagestan among the

destinations definitely worth visiting.

Situated in the south of

Russia on the Caspian Sea and in

the North Caucasus, Dagestan

can boast the wide-screen

wilderness and striking beauty of

its mountains, mirror-smooth

lakes, picturesque mountain

rivers, remote half-abandoned

villages to head for to discover

their authenticity and tranquillity,

legacy of what once used to

be part of the Great Silk Road,

and other interesting things and

sites that will make your trip

there unforgettable.

Makhachkala, the capital of

Dagestan and the largest city in

the North Caucasus, is just a

three-hour flight from Moscow.

The city may not be known for

its white sandy beaches, though

it is located on the Caspian Sea,

but there s no denying

Makhachkala is one of the most

ethnically and culturally diverse

cities in Russia. The vibes are of

an old bustling market town.

Head for authentic ambience and

cuisine at Restaurant-

Museum na Lermontova or

choose a ritzy spot like

Syrovarnya on Lake Akgel.

The next day you might

want to visit Derbent, which

claims to be the oldest city in

Russia and one of the oldest

continuously inhabited cities

in the world. It changed ownership

many times due to its

strategic location and at the

beginning of the 19th century

it passed to Russia. Now it

holds legacy of many cultures

like Persian, Arab,

Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan

and Iranian. Derbent is also

renowned for its Medieval

fortress, Naryn-Kala, which is a

UNESCO world heritage site.

Travel back in time wandering

its cobbled streets and enjoying

breath-taking views on the city

and the sea. The oldest mosque

in Russia that was built in 734 is

also located in Derbent.

Another notable site is the

Sulak Canyon, the deepest

canyon in Europe and one of the

deepest in the world. The views

are absolutely fabulous and stunning

both from the top of the

mountains down the canyon and

when you are in a speed boat

exploring the untouched beauty

of the Sulak river. On your way

back stop by Glavryba, the ecofriendly

tourist spot. Not only

-Dr. Rahul Kumar

Senior correspondent

the Asian independent UK

can you savor freshly caught

trout there, but also ride a jet ski

or kayak down the Sulak river.

To further uncover

Dagestan s natural wonders, set

off on a road trip to Ghunib, a

rural locality up in the Caucasus

Mountains. Along the way revel

in the serene waters of the

Irganai reservoir (you might as

well want to take a boat trip) and

make a stop at one of the roadside

home cafes in Shamilkala to

have a light meal of hot ovenbaked

bread, cheese and local

herbal tea with homemade jam.

A friendly host or hostess will

most probably invite you in their

garden to treat you to their

seasonal fruit and nuts. I

was visiting the place in

November and ate persimmon

and walnuts right from

the trees. That was a truly

genuine experience. Once

in Ghunib, visit its local

historical museum and then

go further up in the mountains

to take in spectacular

wide-screen mountain

views. Later in the evening

you might want to try local

specialities like khinkal,

kyurze and chudu in the

cafØ in the main square.

Stay overnight in

Ghunib and next morning

head for Chokh, a village with

only two streets and less than

1000 inhabitants, located on top

of craggy cliffs. From there, on

the opposite mountains, you will

see the ultimate goal of your

journey the ghost village of

Gamsutl, which is sometimes

referred to as the Machu Picchu

of Dagestan . Located 1500

meters above sea level, the village

is believed to date back

2000 years. Once there were

around 300 houses and also

shops and a hospital but the last

resident died in 2015. The only

way to reach the place is first by

car and then with an hour-long

climb on foot along a narrow

path. The dramatic and epic

views from top of the village are

undoubtedly worth the effort.

Also, evidence of various eras

and religions can still be distinguished

on the house fronts like

Christian crosses, Persian

inscriptions, Arabic script, and

the Star of David.

Dagestan has a lot to offer

those looking for adventurous

and authentic experiences. You

just have to start planning your

trip there. The best time to

explore its intact nature is from

April to October when scenic

landscapes are at its best. And in

the summer heat, if you feel like

having a swim in the Caspian

Sea, head to resort cities

Kaspiysk and Izberbash.

Come and visit Dagestan, a

land with a mix of riddles and

revelations, adventures and tranquillity,

old and new, off-grid

and comfortable, and you will

fall in love with it once and forever.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Mother India since Independence

has gained world-wide respect. Prior to

this, centuries ago the European and the

English Authorities sent explorers in

search of India. They risked high seas to

reach it. Queen Victoria had a lot of

interest in India. India attracted all

because it had wealth, spices and rich

history.

The Aryans were the first foreigners

to enter India through Hindu Kush and

the History between them and the

inhabitants of India started here in West

India then known as Sind Ghatti.

Today’s Punjab, Pakistan, Afghanistan,

Burma and Nagaland were part of it.

The Aryans since arrival have spread

hatred against the natives and from the

rulers have degraded them to mere nothing.

Ancient cities Mohenjo-Daro and

Harappa are evidence to native progress

and these discoveries have uncovered

the truth covered by the Aryans. These

archaeological discoveries by Sir

Wheeler in the year 1920 have brought

pride and dignity for the natives but the

hatred against them has remained intact.

It was mostly the natives who joined

the British Army in India. They performed

beyond British expectations and

many for bravery received Victoria

Crosses. The fighting

spirit of the Ghurkha and

the Sikh regiment is still

remembered.

Through the loyalty

shown by the Ghurkha

soldiers, the British

Government included

them in the Her Majesty

troops.

Since Independence,

all the ruling

Governments have pursued

a motto to improve

India economically and

build it’s Military arson.

Unfortunately, all the

Governments have totally ignored those

who are below poverty line. They have

purposely kept them in that state.

By keeping them in this state they are

able to use them in any manner that

would enhance their success. On false

promises and through bribes, the poor

are easily bought for their votes and

used in making of a huge number in the

election gatherings. They are also used

to cause trouble during the election period.

The circumstances of the poor force

them to fulfil such demands.

But now through this BJP

NEWS

Government, the things

have worsened because

it is following a different

agenda and that is to

establish Hindu Rashtra

in India. For them establishing

of the Hindu

Rashtra is more important

than India’s

progress. Their main

concern is to replace

Indian Constitution by

Manusmriti.

Thousands are dying

but instead of saving

lives, they are completed

focused in building of

new central Vista. For them, it seems

that this project is of utmost importance

then the human life.

There is lack of oxygen in the hospitals

and medical staff is deeply

depressed in the way the deaths are happening.

They are raising awareness to

third wave but the Government is failing

to respond.

It seems the Government is chasing

to cut gap between 85% and 15%.

Through rallies the corona has spread

into the rural areas and there they have

no medical aid at all. They are dying in

large numbers but exact numbers are

not being informed.

The poor in the rural area are unable

to finance cremating so in Bihar and

Uttar Pradesh they are putting the bodies

in River Ganges. More than 100

bodies have been recovered by the villagers

in Bihar those were floating in

the River Ganges. The authorities are

only declaring forty.

Some believe that bodies are also

being put in the River Ganges by the

authorities to hide the true figures.

Another theory is that the bodies have

been put in the River Ganges in hope

they reach Bengal and would give the

BJP Government an opportunity to

strike at Mumta Benerjee.

Dirty politics have become a norm in

India. In England the life is returning

back to normal because the Government

has acted as per recommendation of the

scientists and medical administrators.

The Indians living in the foreign countries

are now noticing that the Hindus

have started to lose the respect they had.

The Muslims and the Sikhs have

started to gain respect because their

good deeds are being shown worldwide.

The Muslims and the Sikhs were

labelled as terrorists but to the world

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

OH INDIA – 0H INDIA – OUR MOTHER INDIA

Mitej Teji

21

they have proved that it is the Hindus

who are raciest towards other communities.

The people living in Britain are experiencing

this so an application for the

caste act was raised. It was finalised and

was to be implemented but has been

held back. What is happening in India

does prove that RSS is caste based ideology.

It has not made any effort to help

the needy and the BJP Government is

serving FIR’s on the people who are trying

to help the ones in need.

The Corpses those have been left

behind by those who cannot meet the

cremation costs are being buried or cremated

by the Muslim Brotherhood. The

Sikh are feeding the needy and helping

the covid sufferers by supplying oxygen.

The world was shocked to see that

the oxygen tanks donated by Saudi

Arabia had Reliance stickers put on to

hide the donator’s name. This shows of

hidden hate against the Muslims within

the RSS and BJP. We are living in 21st

century but this Government is trying to

drag us back into ancient times when

the Brahmins had full control under

their belt. It is like bringing back slavery

in India.

Jai Bharat

India and France backed by QUAD may have

to counter Islamic State in Mozambique

New Delhi : India and

France with backup support

from Japan and the United

States — key members of

the Indo-Pacific QUAD,

which also includes

Australia — may need to

focus on Mozambique to

counter the deadly Islamic

State terror group.

Alarming reports are

emerging about the rise of

the Islamic State (IS) in

Mozambique, a country

with vast natural resources.

Specifically, the IS appears

to be eyeing Mozambique's

energy reserves, including

oil and gas, to fuel a prolonged

conflict, if not emergence

of a new Caliphate in

Africa.

The IS has already

acquired considerable experience

in Syria of taking

over oil wells and fuelling

its operations by selling

energy through grey-zone channels.

After its displacement from West Asia,

the IS can now leverage that experience,

and knowledge of underground

networks to monetise illegal sales, in

its new geographical setting.

The IS was essentially thrown out

of Syria and Iraq. Consequently, it has

discovered new safe havens in parts of

Afghanistan, Central Asia and Africa,

including Mozambique.

The IS has been digging in, in the

impoverished Cabo Delgado region in

the northern part of Mozambique. In

March, it overran the resort town of

Palma, not far from an energy project

run by Total, the French energy major.

In an opinion article in The Hill,

Kelly Alkhouli a political consultant at

the Center of Political and Foreign

Affairs (CPFA), points out that apart

from energy, the Cabo Delgado area is

a significant trafficking route for

ivory, timber, rubies, arms and, most

importantly, heroin. Heroin, he says, is

largely produced in Afghanistan and

then trafficked into Iran and Pakistan;

from there it follows various routes to

the international market.

Over the past three decades, northern

Mozambique has become increasingly

significant in the southern trafficking

route, where heroin produced

in Afghanistan and into Iran and

Pakistan is then transported to South

Africa and shipped off to Europe.

According to a recent study, roughly

USD 600 million to USD 800 million

worth of heroin is trafficked

through northern Mozambique, says

the report.

Where does India fit into the picture

and what is its interest in denting

the IS's hold in the country?

The marginalisation of the IS in

Mozambique is important to India for

several reasons. For instance,

Mozambique has 3,000 Indian nationals,

representing various Indian companies

or working as professionals in

Mozambican companies. Besides,

there is 20000 strong Indian diaspora

population tracing is roots to Gujarat,

Goa, Daman& Diu. This Indian-origin

community is mostly engaged in

wholesale and retail trade in

Mozambique, according to an Indian

embassy posting.

Second, India has invested billions

of dollars in Mozambique, but these

investments are now being endangered

by the IS forays. India's ONGC

Videsh Ltd. (OVL) and Oil India Ltd.

(OIL) have invested heavily in the

$24.1 billion liquefied natural gas

(LNG) project on the Afungi peninsula

in Mozambique, which was being

led by French energy titan Total SE.

The project is meant to yield 12.88

million tonnes of LNG per annum. But

following the IS attack in March in the

Cabo Delgado region, Total has pulled

out of the Afungi project.

Further entrenchment of the IS in

Cabo Delgado would also mean that

the terror group could permeate its

influence in neighbouring

Malawi, Tanzania and South

Africa, along the Indian Ocean

coastline.

With the IS impinging significantly

on Indian interests, as well

as that of the France, certain contingency

plans may have to be

drawn. But Kelly Alkhouli in his

article in The Hill advises

against any form of direct military

action by foreign powers in

Mozambique. "A foreign military

intervention should be

avoided at all cost; it would only

be an expensive advertisement

for global jihad in southern

Africa," he observes.

Instead, he suggests that certain

countries with experience in

combating terrorism could provide

substantive support by

training Mozambican forces on

the ground and increasing security

cooperation with

Mozambique, especially along

the Tanzanian border.

Analysts say that in order to impose

psychological pressure on IS, without

arming it with any propaganda

mileage, India can team up with

France and two other QUAD members,

Japan and the United States, to

locally train and provide backup support

to the Mozambican forces.

France, Japan and the United States all

have military bases in Djibouti in the

Horn of Africa. France can also provide

assistance to Mozambique from

its territories of and La Réunion and

Mayotte in the Indian Ocean.

(This content is being carried under

an arrangement with

indianarrative.com)


22 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

UK expert urges 'utmost caution'

over LOCKDOWN easing

Police use drones for

surveillance in Trichy

Chennai : The Trichy district police have deployed drones for

surveillance on whether people are coming out of their homes during

the lockdown period. The drones will be in action in five divisions

of Trichy district including, Lalgudi, Jeeyapuram, Musiri,

Mannaparai and Thiruverumbur.

A senior police officer while speaking to IANS said, "We are

deploying drones in the busy areas and as of now we will have one

drone a day in one division. The drone facility will help us identify

the violators and people are also aware that we are using drones,

hence most will fall in line."

The police are of the opinion that the gatherings in public

places in Trichy have come down drastically but people are venturing

out on two wheelers in large numbers. The use of drones is

helping the police keep track of violators during lockdown.

Trichy district police superintendent in a press statement said

that the police had so far booked and fined 16,262 people for not

wearing masks since the lockdown was imposed and a total of 608

were penalized for not maintaining social distance.

About 800 police personnel and 300 home guards are deployed

by the Trichy district police to monitor the situation and the rural

police have kept a tight vigil at 20 entry points in the district. Two

wheeler patrol in 30 places and four wheeler in 15 places were

deployed across the district, according to the statement of the district

police superintendent.

J&K Police refutes

Mehbooba Mufti claim on

arrest of Sehrai's sons

Srinagar : Jammu and Kashmir Police denied on Sunday that

the two sons of recently-deceased separatist leader Ashraf Sehrai

have been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

Reacting to the PDP chief and former Chief Minister

Mehbooba Mufti's tweet alleging that the PSA seemed to be the

only solution the Central government had for the problems in

Kashmir, police said that Sehrai's two sons have been arrested for

raising anti-national slogans during a funeral, but have not been

detained under the PSA.

Sehrai died of Covid on May 5 this year in a Jammu hospital

where he was shifted from the jail.

Family and relatives alleged that he had been shifted to hospital

from the prison too late.

London : Rich nations must delay their

plans to vaccinate their children and

teenagers against Covid-19 and instead

donate the jabs to low-income countries,

the World Health Organization (WHO)

said.

"In a handful of rich countries, which

bought up the majority of the vaccine supply,

lower risk groups are now being vaccinated,"

WHO director-general Dr Tedros

Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a

virtual conference in Geneva on Friday.

"I understand why some countries want

to vaccinate their children and adolescents,

but right now I urge them to reconsider and

to instead donate vaccines to Covax,"

Ghebreyesus said. The statement comes as,

last week, the US, Canada and Switzerland

laid out plans to begin coronavirus vaccine

shots for adolescents. The global distribution

of Covid vaccines remains vastly

uneven. Four of the world's high-income

countries, with a population of 1.2 billion

(16 per cent of global population), account

for 4.6 billion doses (53 per cent of all purchased

doses). On the other hand, the lowincome

countries hold just 770 million

doses, according to a study from the Duke

Global Health Innovation Centre. The US

is expected to have 300 million or more

coronavirus vaccine excess doses by the

end of July, the study found. The US, followed

by China and India have administered

the highest number of vaccine doses

London : The next stage of lockdown

easing in England slated for Monday

should be approached the "with utmost

caution", a UK public health expert

warned.

Richard Jarvis, co-chairman of the

British Medical Association (BMA) public

health medicine committee, said on

Saturday that "key segments of the population"

were still not vaccinated against

Covid-19, Xinhua news agency reported.

"It is a real worry that when further

measures lift on May 17, the majority of

younger people, who are often highly

socially mobile and could therefore be

most at risk of a more infectious strain, are

not yet vaccinated," he told the BBC.

Those people in that age group had seen

the highest rates of positive tests throughout

the pandemic but would now be able to

mix in larger groups indoors "without

many of the mitigations that have helped to

push infection rates lower and lower since

the start of the year", he said.

"We are urging the public, and young

people in particular, to take a cautious

approach to social and physical contact, to

continue practising 'hands, face, space' and

to meet outdoors wherever possible," he

added.

The expert's warning came after Britain

witnessed a spike in cases of the coronavirus

variant first detected in India.

The UK government's Scientific

Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)

has said the relaxation on Monday could

"lead to a substantial resurgence of hospitalisations,

similar to, or larger than, previous

peaks".

The scientists said there "may be some

reduction in protection" when it comes to

the current vaccines.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson

said on Friday that the spread of the Indiarelated

variant, known as B1617.2, would

not affect the scheduled easing of lockdown

in England from Monday.

He said there was "no evidence" to suggest

the current vaccines would be less

effective against the strain.

From Monday, pubs, bars and restaurants

in England will be permitted to open

overall. But, a few countries in Africa are

yet to get started on vaccination campaigns.

"The fact that so many are still not

protected is a sad reflection on the gross

distortion in access to vaccines across the

globe," Ghebreyesus said. At present, only

0.3 per cent of vaccine supply is going to

low-income countries. Thus, many low and

lower-middle income countries do not have

vaccine supply to even immunise health

and care workers, he lamented. "Trickle

down vaccination is not an effective strategy

for fighting a deadly respiratory virus,"

he said.

The global fair-access schemeACovax

is co-led by the WHO, the Global Vaccine

Alliance (Gavi) and the Coalition for

indoors, while indoor entertainment will

also resume, including cinemas, museums

and children's play areas.

People in England will be allowed to

meet outdoors in groups of up to 30 people,

and meet indoors in groups of up to six or

as two households.

Meanwhile, all remaining accommodation

including hotels, hostels and B&Bs

can reopen from May 24, according to

Johnson.

The British government's roadmap is

expected to see all legal limits on social

contact to be removed on June 21.

WHO asks rich countries to

delay child vax, donate jabs

Epidemic Preparedness Innovations

(Cepi), with the UN children's fund,

Unicef, as key implementation partner, has

been signed by 92 of the world's poor

countries.

The scheme aimed to first inoculate 20

per cent of the population in these countries

starting with health workers.

"Saving lives and livelihoods with a

combination of public health measures and

vaccination -- not one or the other -- is the

only way out of the pandemic,"

Ghebreyesus said. "Covid-19 has already

cost more than 3.3 million lives and we're

on track for the second year of this pandemic

to be far more deadly than the first,"

he stated.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

23

Bhima Koregaon, COVID-19

and custodial apathy in jails

On May 15th, several family

members of the 15 prisoners

accused in the Bhima Koregaon-

Elgaar Parishad case addressed the

press via an online press conference.

Some of the arrestees have spent

three years behind bars and continue

to await trial. Even as the COVID-

19 pandemic rages with greater

intensity, several among those incarcerated

have contracted the virus.

Most of the arrestees are over the

age of 60 and most suffer severe

comorbidities. Despite the rapidly

deteriorating health of the incarcerated,

particularly most recently in

the case of Prof. Hany Babu basic

medical attention has been denied to

them. Demanding that those imprisoned

be released on bail in light of

the looming threat of the pandemic,

Prof. Babu’s wife Jenny Rowena,

Adv. Surendra Gadling’s wife Minal

Gadling, Fr. Stan Swamy’s friend

Fr. Joseph Xavier, Mahesh Raut’s

sister Monali, activist Harshali

Potdar of Republican Panthers

Jatiya Antachi Chalwal and friend

of Sudhir Dhawale, Adv. Sudha

Bharadwaj’s friend Smita Gupta

addressed the press.

Harshali told us of conditions

within Taloja Jail from Sudhir

Dhawale who informed her that

majority of the staff including cleaners

and cooks inside prison have

tested positive for COVID-19. The

hospital inside Taloja is currently

treating 60-65 people for the virus.

No testing facilities are available

inside jail. Instead, the jail is testing

people who are fit in order to show

that there are no cases. Eight persons

inside Sudhir Dhawale and

Vernon Gonsalves’ barrack have

tested positive. Yet the prison staff

have refused to test them. Sudhir

Dhawale despite being over the age

of 45 has been denied the vaccine as

he does not have an Aadhaar card.

Despite the fact that his documents

have been confiscated by the police,

being denied the right to be vaccinated

while in the custody of the

state raises the question, “whose

responsibility is it now?” The letters

being sent by them are reaching the

family with a delay of over a month

and video calls are not available.

Despite the Prison Act 1894 that

ensures that prisoners are entitled to

basic medical facilities. However, in

Taloja, there are no doctors, nurses,

lab technicians, etc. but only three

ayurvedic practitioners. Right to

proper food and water, right to intermingle

with other prisoners, communication

with family members

and lawyers through letters and

calls, speedy trials, etc. – all of these

rights are being violated.

Speaking of her husband Prof.

Hany Babu currently under treatment

in JJ Hospital after testing

positive for COVID-19 and suffering

a grave infection in his left eye,

Jenny Rowena spoke of the dangerous

situation inside jail. Despite

a 22-year-old undertrial prisoner

dying of COVID-19 inside jail

after complaining of sore throat

and still being denied medical

attention, the prisoners are expected

to take care of others who are

patients in the jail hospital which is

in fact a series of rooms with no

facilities. After developing a severe

eye infection on May 3rd, Prof.

Babu was not hospitalized. While

Jenny Rowena and Babu’s lawyers

made several desperate calls to the

prison authorities and informed

them to address the eye infection

which had spread to his cheeks and

forehead pushing his eye outward,

the jail authorities did not provide

him medical care. After May 7th,

his vision started being affected

and he was unable to coordinate

both eyes. Hearing this the family

has been in sheer panic. After

repeated efforts to reach the jail

superintendent to provide updates

of Babu’s medical condition, Babu

was taken to a small hospital where

he was prescribed arbitrary antibiotics.

Even though a follow-up

appointment was scheduled, Babu

was not permitted to visit the hospital.

Jenny and the legal team

intervened with the Chief Minister

to intervene and eventually Babu

was taken to the hospital on May

12th.

With limited water supply, unable

to wash clothes and maintain

hygiene, Prof. Babu struggled to

wipe his pus-filled eyes. Having to

use the same cloth again and again

without assistance to administer eye

drops given to him by the doctors in

the small hospital. While the prisoners

are tested for COVID-19 with

the Rapid Antigen Test and then test

negative, when taken to the hospital

after their situation worsens, the

RTPCR test reveals that they are

positive for the virus. Jenny emphasized

that every arrested person is a

human being but instead they are

being left to die in prison. When all

over the world people are demanding

decongestion of prisons, this is

not happening in India. While Babu

has been arrested on the basis of

documents found on a computer

which has repeatedly been found a

malicious plant, this should be noted

and all of them should be released.

Despite this, even the medical

reports of Babu have not been provided

to the family. The state should

be responsible for addressing the

medical conditions of the prisoners.

In this extraordinary situation,

extraordinary steps must be taken to

release these persons who are all

eminent persons who have worked

for the betterment of society.

Fr. Joseph Xavier spoke of how

Fr. Stan Swamy has never complained

about his health in 7

months. But on May 14th, for the

first time Fr. Stan spoke of his deteriorating

health. Furthermore, he is

disturbed by what he is seeing inside

prison. The Jesuits and the family

members are deeply concerned

about his health. While Ayurvedic

medicine is available inside prison,

it is not good enough to address the

precarious health conditions and

spread of COVID-19 in Taloja

prison. Being an 84-year-old suffering

from Parkinson, loss of hearing

and now suffering fever, cough and

troubles in his stomach, it is necessary

that he be provided allopathic

medicine and a doctor for diagnosis

and treatment. He has to be vaccinated

for COVID-19 urgently. He

cannot be denied vaccination just

because he does not have an Aadhar

card. While Fr. Stan has a hearing

problem, phone calls are not adequate

to communicate with him.

Communication through letters

have become inconsistent as letters

take 1 or 2 months to reach the family

and friends. On behalf of the

family members, he placed three

requests to the state and the prison

authorities – 1. Present a correct and

clear picture of the Taloja prison

conditions May 15th 2021 from the

point of view of health conditions

and protect the lives of the Bhima

Koregaon arrestees.

He said the family and friends are

prepared to address the medical

needs of the prisoners. 2. Facilitate

access to information through letters

and phone calls and to permit video

calls to ensure that the prisoners can

be provided emotional support. 3.

Finally, considering the pandemic

situation, facilitate the release of all

15 prisoners immediately on bail.

Smita Gupta spoke of Sudha

Bharadwaj’s health over the last

three years. Sudha suffers several

comorbidities including diabetes

with pulmonary tuberculosis

amongst other ailments. Having

lived in unhygienic and poorly

ventilated spaces within prison

where access to clean water is difficult,

she has developed a whole

host of new problems including

skin infections, urinary infections,

weight loss, hair fall besides others.

Her health makes her extremely

vulnerable and particularly now

when over 40 people in Byculla

Jail have tested positive for

COVID-19. While the antigen test

is less reliable, the number of cases

reported is underreported. In a

series of phone calls, Sudha has

indicated that she has been unwell

since April 7th – around the time

when she got vaccinated. Although

it was first presumed to be due to

side effects of the vaccine, it eventually

became clear that it was not

connected to the vaccine. She was

unwell for 3 weeks with diarrhea,

tastelessness and other symptoms

indicating the new strain of the

virus. The jail doctors keep prescribing

basic antibiotics although

they have had no effect. Now her

health has deteriorated and she is

unable to do her own work and

needs aid to do her daily chores

including washing clothes. She

reached out to the jail authorities a

number of times but it has all fallen

on deaf ears. In fact, when these

matters reached the wider public

through the press, the jail superintendent

called her a habitual complainer.

She has been a person who

has spent her life in difficult conditions

as an activist and the jail

superintendent’s attitude reveals

the kind of treatment prisoners

receive when they raise concerns.

The agenda is clear – to not keep

the prisoners healthy. Now, her

family and friends fear for her life.

After the press reported her condition,

she was taken to hospital

where a battery of tests was done

on her. None of the reports have

been made available to the family.

The court has asked that these

reports be made available by May

21st. There is complete lack of

transparency, especially for prisoners

with comorbidities living in

awful conditions. In this case they

are bent upon process as a punishment

and all the prisoners are being

denied the basic right to health and

life.

Wife of Adv. Surendra Gadling,

Minal Gadling spoke of how her

husband suffers from hypertension,

diabetes and asthma and requires

regular checkups and consultation

to ensure that his condition does not

regress. Worsening condition of his

eye due to refractive error is a matter

of concern. He also required a

new pair of spectacles and even this

request was not considered. She

subsequently had to courier a new

pair of spectacles recently after a

month without glasses. For the last

few months, there has been a severe

water shortage in prison which has

affected their ability to perform

basic chores. When they complain

to the jail authorities, they threaten

them with changing their barracks

or stoppage of calls and letters to the

family. The phone calls are brief,

not lasting even 5 minutes and at

most times the phone connection is

poor and they are not audible. It is

very difficult to ascertain their

health from these calls. No video

calls are allowed and even though

Adv. Gadling’s mother died a few

months ago, he was not able to see

her. His bail application to perform

the final rites was denied citing that

he was using his mother’s death to

avail bail, something which is his

right. While the pandemic has

slowed down court proceedings, the

conditions are extremely worrisome

and the continued denial of bail is

pushing them closer to death.

Prof. Babu’s brother Harish MT

mentioned that the prison conditions

are worrying for the family as the

source of infection inside prisons is

through the jail staff while family

members are denied mulaqats and

even basic communication with the

outside world. Mahesh Raut’s sister

Monali spoke of how Mahesh has

been experiencing fever, body aches

and cough and he has not been provided

medicines, thermometer or

oximeter in jail. The medicines she

tried to send were not accepted by

the jail authorities causing additional

worry for the family. She reiterates

that she will continue to try to

send him essential medicines by visiting

the jail again. It is clear that all

the family members and friends of

all 15 who remain in jail in the

Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad

case are extremely worried for their

lives and well being who remain in

inhuman conditions. Collectively

they demanded that all of them be

provided bail and be allowed medical

care at home while this pandemic

rages on.

Friends and family members

made an appeal to the press to

amplify the contents of their message

so that the wider world can

learn of what is happening to the

Bhima Koregaon prisoners. They

called for the release, at least temporarily,

on medical grounds of all

the BK prisoners and pointed out

that under the recent Supreme Court

judgment, the Maharashtra High

Powered Committee was vested

with the power to do so.

Journalists who wish to watch the

recording can access it here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/sh

are/KySMx73YzH4lIZ2WUelfHF

psKS7hHWU8YzljSu0vZsH2XGt

-

sFero_hbMvImTf8.v7AQVhN8L

Lal85fH


24 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Supercomputer simulations unlock old space weather puzzle

London : Scientists have long

questioned why the bursts of hot gas

from the sun do not cool down as fast

as expected, and have now used a

supercomputer to find out.

When the solar wind hits the Earth,

it is almost 10 times hotter than

expected, with a temperature of about

100,000 to 200,000 degrees Celsius.

The outer atmosphere of the sun,

where the solar wind originates, is typically

a million degrees Celsius.

Using these simulations, the team,

led by University College London

(UCL) researchers, deduced that the

solar wind stays hot for longer because

of small-scale magnetic reconnection

that forms in the turbulence of the

solar wind. This phenomenon occurs

Amaravati : The Andhra

Pradesh High Court on

Sunday directed that rebel

Narsapuram MP, K.

Raghurama Krishnam Raju,

be shifted from Guntur district

jail to a private hospital.

After receiving a report

from a lower court about the

nature of MP's injuries, the

high court took up the hearing

and directed that he be

shifted to the Ramesh

Hospital.

Counsel of the rebel

YSRCP MP told the court

that its orders that doctors

from Ramesh Hospital examine

his injuries were ignored.

He argued that CID officials

met the petitioner when he

was in custody, thus violating

the law. After hearing the

arguments, the high court

directed that the MP be

immediately shifted to the

hospital.

Meanwhile, Raju's wife

Rama alleged that her husband's

life is in danger in jail.

She stated that if anything

happens to him, the state government,

the Chief Minister,

and CID will be responsible.

Earlier, police shifted Raju

to the district jail amid high

when two opposing magnetic field

lines break and reconnect with each

other, releasing huge amounts of energy.

This is the same process that triggers

large flares erupting from the

sun's outer atmosphere.

"Magnetic reconnection occurs

almost spontaneously and all the time

in the turbulent solar wind. This type

of reconnection typically occurs

across an area of several hundred kilometers

-- which is really tiny compared

to the vast dimensions of space.

Using the power of supercomputers,

we have been able to approach this

problem like never before. The magnetic

reconnection events we observe

in the simulation are so complicated

and asymmetric, we are continuing

drama. He was taken out of the

our analysis of these events," said lead

author Jeffersson Agudelo of UCL.

To confirm their predictions, the

team will compare their data with that

collected by the European Space

Agency's (ESA) latest flagship mission,

Solar Orbiter.

The Solar Orbiter is designed to

find the origins and causes of the solar

wind and study the workings of our

sun.

"This is an incredibly exciting time

to combine huge plasma simulations

with the latest Solar Orbiter observations.

Our understanding of reconnection

and turbulence could take a major

leap forward by combining our simulations

with the new data from the

Solar Orbiter," Agudelo explained.

Shift MP to hospital from

jail, directs Andhra HC

Jaipur : Rashtriya

Government General Hospital

(GGH) from the rear gate and

was shifted to jail.

The high court had on

Saturday constituted threemember

Medical Board headed

by Superintendent of

GGH, Guntur to examine the

nature of injuries of Raju.

The rebel MP of Andhra

Pradesh's ruling party was

arrested on charges of sedition

by the police in

Hyderabad on Friday. He was

later brought to Guntur.

On Saturday, he was produced

before Additional

Junior Civil Judge's court in

Mangalagiri. Though he complained

to the judge that CID

sleuths tortured him in custody,

the court sent the MP to

judicial custody till May 28

and sent him to hospital for

treatment.

Raju's lawyer later moved

the high court, which passed

the orders constituting a medical

board as immediate relief

and gave directions to provide

necessary treatment to the

MP. The bench also directed

that the entire examination

should be videographed and

handed over to the District

and Sessions Judge in Guntur.

Both Centre, state responsible

for Raj's Covid crisis: Beniwal

Loktantrik Party and Nagaur

MP Hanuman Beniwal on

Sunday made a scathing attack

on both the Centre and state

government for the deteriorating

coronavirus situation in

Rajasthan.

Asking why Chief Minister

Ashok Gehlot is not removing

Health Minister Raghu Sharma

for "mismanaging" the situation

in the state, he also

demanded FIRs be lodged

against officials/governments

responsible for deaths of so

many young people in dearth of

oxygen, ventilators, medicines

and beds in hospitals.

Addressing a virtual press

conference, Beniwal also held

the Election Commission

responsible for the spread of

COVID by allowing Assembly

polls in five states.

"The situation has worsened

because of the working of the

Central government and state

government. The Election

Commission also stands equally

responsible for the spread of

corona infection in the country

as they could have postponed

the assembly elections in five

states in view of the increasing

infection," he said. Terming the

coronavirus situation in the

state as "dangerous", he said

that everyone, including the

state and Central governments,

should come together to defeat

corona, vaccines should be

made available at the earliest to

save lives in the country in both

urban and rural India; oxygen,

oxygen plants and medicines

should also be made available

easily throughout the country.

Demanding action against

those who failed to provide

medicines and oxygen, he said:

"Either the Central government

or state government should

take responsibility for the death

of so many young people due to

the lack of oxygen."

"Health Minister of

Rajasthan should resign for

failing to handle the situation.

Action against officers guilty of

negligence should also be

taken," he said.

Beniwal's RLP quit the

NDA in December last year

over the issue of farm laws.

Punjab extends Covid restrictions till May 31

Chandigarh : With Punjab continuing

to report high Covid positivity,

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on

Sunday ordered extension of all the

existing restrictions up to May 31,

with directions for strict enforcement

of all curbs.

The Deputy Commissioners will

continue to determine opening of

shops in a staggered manner and

enforce other restrictions to check

spread of Covid, especially in rural

areas, Amarinder Singh said, adding

that they can also make suitable

amendments based on local condition

as long as these do not dilute the state's

overall restrictions.

The district authorities shall continue

to ensure strict implementation of

all directives on Covid appropriate

behaviour, including social distancing

norms, regulating crowds in market

places and public transport, and imposition

of penalties prescribed for violation

of norms and restrictions.

Reviewing the state's Covid situation

at a high-level meeting, the Chief

Minister said while the restrictions so

far had shown results, with some

decline in day-on-day positivity and

cases coming down from around 9,000

to 6,000 in this period, there was need

to extend the same in view of the high

positivity of 13.1 per cent as of the

May 9-15 period, with CFR standing

at 2.4.

He also directed the district administrations

to investigate complaints of

fleecing of patients by some private

hospitals, warning that these would be

shut down if they continue to indulge

in such practices.

Such cases have to be strictly dealt

with, he said, directing the police to

crack down on those found indulging

in hoarding or black-marketing of any

Covid-related essentials or medicines.

The Chief Minister also expressed

concern over the spread of the new

fungal disorder associated with Covid.

He stressed the need to increase

surveillance for this disease as, if it is

not treated early, it can cause severe

complications.

He also directed the Health

Department to ensure that medicines

to treat this disease are available with

the state. On the availability of oxygen,

the Chief Minister said that while

the state, through judicious measures,

had been able to prevent any mishap,

the situation should be closely monitoring

by the Health Department.

The state was expecting over 2,500

oxygen concentrators on the ground

within this month, he said, directing

the department to ensure the best use

of the same.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

3,816 new Covid

cases, 27 deaths

in TELANGANA

Hyderabad : Telangana's daily count of

Covid-19 cases dropped to under 4,000

with fewer tests conducted on Sunday.

The state reported 3,816 new cases, taking

the cumulative tally to 5,28,823.

The authorities conducted 44,985 tests

during the 24-hour period ending 5.30 p.m.

on Sunday. On week days, 65,000 to

70,000 samples are being tested daily.

The virus claimed 27 lives during the

period, pushing the death toll to 2,955.

The case fatality rate stands at 0.55 per

cent against the national average of 1.1 per

cent. According to the daily media bulletin

by the Health Department, the state continues

to see more recoveries than the new

cases.

As many as 5,892 people recovered

from Covid during the period, taking the

cumulative recoveries to 4,74,899.

The recovery rate improved further to

89.80 per cent against the national average

of 84.2 per cent. The number of active

cases, which had touched 80,000, has now

dropped to 50,969.

The authorities conducted 44,985 tests

during the period. With this, the number of

tests conducted so far rose to 1,40,61,725.

Samples tested per million population now

moved up to 3,77,800.

Greater Hyderabad reported 658 new

cases. Rangareddy and Medchal

Malkajgiri, adjoining Hyderabad, reported

326 and 293 cases, respectively.

Karimnagar reported 152 new cases followed

by 151 in Khammam, 143 in

Sangareddy, 142 in Mahaboobnagar, 138

in Siddipet, 135 in Vikarabad, 131 in

Nagarkurnool, 209 in Karimnagar, 198 in

Khammam, 189 in Warangal Rural, 179 in

Vikarabad, 161 in Warangal Urban, 156 in

Nagarkurnool and 150 in Siddipet.

Delhi Metro extends suspension

of services till 'further notice'

New Delhi : In wake of the Delhi government's

order of extension of lockdown

in the city for another week (till May 24),

the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC)

on Sunday announced it was also extending

the suspension of its services "till further

notice". The DMRC did not share any

particular time frame for the suspension of

services, in place since May 9, to held curb

the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

"In the wake of extension of curfew in

Delhi for the containment of Covid-19 by

the Govt. of NCT of Delhi, the Delhi

Metro services on all its Lines shall also

remain suspended till further notice. Any

change in services will be notified," the

DMRC tweeted.

On May 9, the Delhi Metro had suspended

services on all its lines till 5 a.m.

on May 17 in the wake of revised guidelines

issued then by the Delhi government

on extension of curfew in the city.

On Saturday, Delhi recorded 6,456 new

cases, including 262 deaths, due to Covid-

19. While announcing the extension of

lockdown in the city, Chief Minister

Arvind Kejriwal said although over the last

few days, Covid-19 cases and positivity

rate have come down, any complacency

would squander the gains achieved so far

in the ongoing second wave of the pandemic.

NEWS

India imports

$6.2bn gold in

April

New Delhi : India's gold

imports in April stood at $6.2

billion on the back of strong

consumer demand.

During the same period last

year gold imports stood at just

$2.83 million on account of the

nationwide lockdown.

The surge in gold imports

pushed India's trade deficit to

$15.1 billion in April 2021 as

against $6.76 billion a year ago.

However, silver imports last

month declined as per

Commerce Ministry data. Silver

worth $11.90 million was

imported during the period

under review, down from

$103.75 million in April last

year.

India's merchandise imports

grew in April 2021, rising to

$45.72 billion, with an increase

of 167.05 per cent over $17.12

billion in April 2020.

Exports grew to $30.63 billion,

higher by 195.72 per cent

over the $10.36 billion reported

in April 2020.

16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021

25

First Oxygen express

train reaches Kerala

Kochi : The first oxygen express

train to Kerala reached Vallarpadam

terminal in Kochi at 3.30 a.m. on

Sunday. A total of 118 Metric

Tonnes of Oxygen was delivered.

The load which was originally

sent to Delhi from Tata Steel plant,

Kalinganagar, Odisha, was rerouted

to Kochi as it was released to Kerala

by the Union government after the

requirement in Delhi dipped. The

oxygen will be loaded in tanker lorries

and despatched to other districts

of the state under the supervision of

the state fire force. The oxygen control

room functioning at the state

capital Thiruvananthapuram will

monitor the situation of the movement

of the tankers to the various

districts of the state. The arrival of

oxygen will alleviate the situation

of oxygen shortage in the state.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had

the other day told media persons

that the state is witnessing a shortage

of oxygen and that it has

appealed to the union government

to provide the necessary oxygen.

With the arrival of oxygen express,

this issue will be settled for now.


26 16-05-2021 to 31-05-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

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