The Hindustan Times – Southern railways withdraws circular on Hindi usage after Stalin’s warning

The Southern Railway had issued a circular asking station masters and train operation controllers to communicate in Hindi or in English and not in regional languages to avoid any miscommunication. On Friday, the circular was withdrawn.

Chennai – Tamil Nadu – India, 14 June 2019. Last month, the Southern Railway had issued a circular asking station masters and train operation controllers to communicate in Hindi or in English and not in regional languages to avoid any miscommunication.

The Southern Railway Mazdoor Union (SRMU) had opposed the move as a backdoor imposition of Hindi in Tamil Nadu.

The SRMU had also asked whether the travelling public in Tamil Nadu would also be asked to learn Hindi or English to communicate with the station masters.

In its revised circular, the Railways has asked its employees to communicate in such a manner so as not to result in any misunderstanding of the messages.

Reacting to the original circular, DMK President M K Stalin said it is arrogance on part of the Railways to say that communication should not be in Tamil in Tamil Nadu.

He said, the instruction not to speak in Tamil in Tamil Nadu but only in Hindi is not just imposition of Hindi but language dominance.

Stalin warned railway officials to stop such “silly” orders or “his party would put a stop to it”.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/southern-railways-withdraws-circular-on-hindi-usage-after-stalin-s-warning/story-bIJ2TKoGJAuAFR7B9MjqZN.html

The Hindustan Times – Amritsar turns into fortress ahead of Bluestar anniversary

On the anniversary of Operation Bluestar in 2014, a clash between radical Sikh activists and the task force of the SGPC had taken place in which several people were injured in the Golden Temple complex.

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 06 June 2019. Amritsar turned into a fortress on Wednesday with security being beefed up in the city on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the Operation Bluestar to prevent any untoward incident.

Operation Bluestar was a military action ordered by then PM Indira Gandhi to flush out Sikh militants holed up in Harmandr Sahib Complex in Amritsar. The operation that was carried out between June 1 and June 8, 1984 claimed several lives and left the shrine damaged.

Around 5,000 police and six companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in the city amid apprehensions that various separatist Sikh outfits may create trouble on Thursday at the Golden Temple complex.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Gobind Singh Longowal sought cooperation of the various Sikh organisations and devotees to observe the anniversary peacefully.

In 2014, a clash between radical Sikh activists and the task force of the SGPC had taken place in which several people were injured in the Golden Temple complex.

In view of a shutdown call given by the Dal Khalsa, a separatist outfit, in Amritsar on Thursday, the police have made security arrangements. CCTV cameras have been installed at vulnerable points to keep an eye on potential trouble makers.

“We have deployed adequate security in the city and no one will be allowed to disrupt peace,” said Amritsar commissioner of police SS Srivastva said.

“I along with around 600 cops will remain present on the premises of the Golden Temple,” said additional deputy commissioner of police Jagjit Singh Walia.

Flag marches were also conducted by the police, along with the paramilitary forces, at several places. The police also busted a few terror modules which allegedly operated at the behest of foreign handlers to cause communal disturbances.

Meanwhile, the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs, said the Centre should apologise for the Operation Bluestar. “A resolution should be passed in Parliament acknowledging that what the then government had done in 1984 was a mistake,” said the jathedar on Wednesday.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/amritsar-turns-into-fortress-ahead-of-bluestar-anniversary/story-3TFnBJHWAEbYITukjDY0GI.html

The Hindustan Times – Sikh shrine destroyed in Pakistan, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh asks PM Modi to seek probe

Punjab CM put pressure to undertake a thorough probe into the destruction of the centuries-old Guru Nanak Palace in Narowal.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 29 May 2019. Panjab CM Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pressurise Pakistan to undertake a thorough probe into the destruction of the centuries-old Guru Nanak Palace in Narowal.

He has also offered his government’s help to get the property in Pakistan’s Punjab rebuilt, if the Centre could secure Islamabad’s permission for the same.

Amarinder Singh wrote to Modi requesting him to take up the matter with the government of Pakistan asking for “a probe in the wanton destruction of the property in question and to bring to justice all the guilty persons associated with this unfortunate act”.

Calling for urgent steps to restore the remaining structure through scientific conservation and restoration, the Chief Minister also sought to impress upon the government of Pakistan the need to preserve all such monuments that have an association with Sikh heritage in an institutionalised manner so that such incidents do not recur in future.

“If the government of India arranges permission from the Pakistan government, the Panjab government (India) would rebuild the historic property,” he said in a press statement.

Amarinder Singh strongly condemned the shocking incident, which he said hurt the sentiments of Sikhs around the world.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, he wrote: “The building, which some media reports cite to be around four centuries old and has been visited by a large number of Sikh pilgrims, has been rapaciously pillaged and destroyed.”

He said the incident had caused great consternation in his state and it was almost ironic that it had happened at a time when the two countries were poised to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sikh-shrine-destroyed-in-pak-punjab-cm-amarinder-singh-asks-pm-modi-to-seek-probe/story-IUS1w7hsAnitT9iKFzkYXO.html

The Hindustan Times – Telangana’s Karimnagar town to offer ‘funeral for Re 1’ for poor families

Sardar Ravinder Singh, mayor of Karimnagar, has announced that the municipal corporation will bear all the expenses for the last rites of the dead irrespective of their caste or religion.

Srinivasa Rao Apparasu

Hyderabad – Telangana – India, 21 May 2019. A civic body in Telangana’s Karimnagar district has come up with a scheme to offer funeral services at a cost of just one rupee to help poor families perform the last rites for their loved ones.

Sardar Ravinder Singh, mayor of Karimnagar, has announced that the municipal corporation will bear all the expenses for the last rites of the dead irrespective of their caste or religion, whether it is cremation or burial.

“We shall provide hearse van for taking out the funeral procession, material required for performing the last rites, including flowers, garlands, firewood, sandalwood pieces, kerosene, ghee, new clothes for the person performing the funeral, all free of cost. We shall charge only Re 1 for record’s sake,” Singh said while speaking to the Hindustan Times.

The scheme, “Antim Yatra” or “Aakhri Safar” (final procession), will be formally launched on June 15.

Similarly, for poor people belonging to other religions, too, the corporation would provide the required facilities, besides allocating space for burial of the mortal remains.

Singh said he has been donating Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 to the poor for performing the last rites of their family members for the last ten years.

“But I have realised that performing last rites as per the rituals is as costly as performing a marriage, especially among the Hindus. So, I got this idea of funding the cost of the funeral from the municipal corporation budget itself,” he said.

Since the corporation has staff and vehicles at its disposal, Singh said it would not cost more than Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 for other material towards the last rites.

“We discussed it in the corporation meeting and decided to allocate Rs 1.10 crore in the budget this year. We shall also purchase new vehicles at a cost of Rs 50 lakh for carrying the dead bodies,” he said.

The corporation would also arrange for food for about 50 relatives of the deceased after the funeral at a cost of Rs 5 per head if they wanted. About 2,000 volunteers working for the municipal corporation would coordinate with authorities in implementing the Re 1 funeral scheme.

Singh said the municipal corporation would also invite philanthropists to make donations for the scheme, which, he said would get an overwhelming response. “We shall open a separate bank account for the donors to contribute money,” he said.

The Karimnagar mayor is also contemplating constructing a separate building to keep the bodies of the deceased before they are taken to the crematorium or burial ground.

“Most of the people stay in rented houses and if any of their family members die, the landlords generally do not allow the bodies into the houses. For such people, we are planning to provide space to keep the bodies till the funeral arrangements are made and also for performing the rituals in the next 10-12 days,” Singh added.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/telangana-s-karimnagar-town-to-offer-funeral-for-re-1-for-poor-families/story-SMo8Ux29noRqzxPGd6pRwO.html

The Hindustan Times – NCR needs a plan to tackle summer air pollution

The authorities seem to wake up to the health hazard only during the winter

New Delhi – National Capital Region – India, 13 May 2019. The air pollution crisis in Delhi and in the National Capital Region (NCR) is now a year-round public health emergency. According to data provided by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi’s air quality on Monday was “very poor” (322); Ghaziabad was also “very poor” (384), and Gurugram was “poor” (277).

The air quality of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) has been consistently bad for the last few days: an average of the PM2.5 data across 10 locations in Delhi, where the CPCB and the Delhi Pollution Control Board monitors are located (taken between May 1 and May 12), show that the Air Quality Index (AQI) levels touched 500 (hazardous) several times.

Why is summer pollution so high in Delhi and NCR? First, Delhi has certain inherent disadvantages, geographical and meteorological, unlike, say, a seaside city such as Chennai.

However, there is no nationwide source apportionment or inventory study to understand why Chennai does better than Delhi. On Monday, Chennai’s AQI was “good” (43). Experts say that the lack of rain in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Delhi leads to dust accumulation in these parts.

Second, the NCR also has a high level of industrial and vehicular pollution. Third, there is the unique problem of post-harvest stubble burning. According to a study (2013-14) done by the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), summer pollution is mainly a result of dust and fly ash.

The situation is going to get worse as the climate becomes more unpredictable and drier. This is the reason why Delhi and NCR need a plan to counter summer pollution.

The authorities seem to wake up to the health hazard only during the winter months. Monitoring and acting on the problem is needed through the year. Not executing an action plan to combat pollution in seasons other than winter will cost the region dear.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/ncr-needs-a-plan-to-tackle-summer-air-pollution/story-stT4aq1AxnrG3wi6FqycYP.html

The Hindustan Times – ‘Worst fears have come true’, says complainant in CJI case

In a statement issued after the panel’s notification was made public, the complainant said “gross injustice” has been done to her “as a woman citizen of India”.

Our Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 07 May 2019. The former Supreme Court employee who levelled charges of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said on Monday she was “highly disappointed and dejected” by the clean chit given to him by the three-member in-house panel of the Supreme Court, and would decide on the next step after consulting her lawyer.

In a statement issued after the panel’s notification was made public, the complainant said “gross injustice” has been done to her “as a woman citizen of India”. The court’s notification said that the full report did not need to be made public, citing a previous Supreme Court judgment dating back to 2003.

The woman said she was terrified “because the in-house committee, despite having all material placed before them, appears to have given me no justice or protection and said nothing about the absolutely mala fide dismissals and suspensions, indignities and humiliations suffered by me and my family. I and my family remain vulnerable to the ongoing reprisals and attack.”

The complainant had detailed the alleged wrongful dismissals and indignities in a sworn affidavit sent to 22 judges of the apex court on April 19. She said that not only were the services terminated, her husband and brotherin-law were suspended from the Delhi Police.

Her third brotherin-law, who has a disability and whose job she had secured with Gogoi’s help, was given a termination letter. “Today, my worst fears have come true, and all hope of justice and redress from the committee have been shattered,” she said in her statement.

The woman participated in the proceedings of the panel but walked out after her third deposition on April 30, saying she had lost faith in it because she was not allowed to be accompanied by her lawyer, and because the proceedings were not being recorded.

The complainant also said that she was not aware if the committee had called other persons, such as the police officer who, she alleged, had taken her to the CJI’s residence to make her apologise. The complainant said she also asked the panel to secure the call record details of the CJI and had submitted two mobile numbers, asking that the committee corroborate her charge that he regularly called and sent her WhatsApp messages.

“I will consult my lawyer and decide on the next steps. Today, I am at the verge of losing faith in the capacity of our system to deliver justice to the weak and vulnerable who are pitted against the powerful within the system itself,” she said.

Gogoi has refuted the allegations, saying a ‘bigger force’ wants to deactivate CJI’s office.

In an interview, last week, her lawyer Prashant Bhushan said that the complainant can invoke various remedies under the law. “She can file an FIR with a police station but that will require the permission of the President of India. She can also go to court challenging her dismissal from service,” Bhushan said.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/worst-fears-have-come-true-says-cji-case-complainant/story-vQ3kp2eW0QZ6UFsQxWwOrM.html

The Hindustan Times – Bride among 4 killed in Punjab road accident, groom critical

The accident occurred after their Mahindra Bolero crashed into a stationary combine machine, which is used for harvesting crops, on the highway.

HT Correspondent

Ludhiana – Panjab – India, 29 April 2019. A 22-year-old bride was among four people killed in a highway accident in Punjab’s Ludhiana on Monday, hours after her wedding, police said.

The dead include Heena Ansari, the bride from Krishan Vihar in Ludhiana, her sisters-in-law Husna Bano, 30, Zarina Khatun, 27, and another relative Jamshed Ansari, 27, who was driving the vehicle they were travelling in. The groom Anjum Ansari, 23, and Heena’s twin sister Ruksana, 22, were seriously injured in the accident at around 7am.

The accident occurred after their Mahindra Bolero crashed into a stationary combine machine, which is used for harvesting crops, on the highway. The assistant of the driver of the combine machine has also suffered injuries.

The family was returning from Yamunanagar after the wedding.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bride-among-4-killed-in-punjab-road-accident-groom-critical/story-3uivYz5oNZ8iiKA5fNPSyK.html

The Hindustan Times – Sri Lanka imposes emergency, says international network involved in attacks

Police said 87 bomb detonators were found at the city’s main bus station, while an explosive went off near a church where scores were killed on Sunday when bomb squad officials were trying to defuse it.

Colombo – Sri Lanka, 22 April 2019. Sri Lanka said on Monday it was invoking emergency powers in the aftermath of devastating bomb attacks on hotels and churches, blamed on militants with foreign links, in which 290 people were killed and nearly 500 wounded.

The emergency law, which gives police and the military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders, will go into effect at midnight on Monday, the president’s office said.

Colombo, the seaside capital of the Indian Ocean island, was jittery on Monday. Police said 87 bomb detonators were found at the city’s main bus station, while an explosive went off near a church where scores were killed on Sunday when bomb squad officials were trying to defuse it.

A night curfew will go into effect at 8 pm, the government announced.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack but suspicion was focusing on Islamist militants in the Buddhist-majority country.

Investigators said seven suicide bombers took part in the attacks while a government spokesman said an international network was involved.

Police had received a tip-off of a possible attack on churches by a little-known domestic Islamist group some 10 days ago, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The intelligence report, dated April 11 and seen by Reuters, said a foreign intelligence agency had warned authorities of possible attacks on churches by the leader of the group, the National Thawheed Jama’ut. It was not immediately clear what action, if any, was taken on the tip-off.

Police said 24 people had been arrested, all of whom were Sri Lankan, but they gave no more details.

International anti-terrorism experts said even if a local group had carried out the attacks, it was likely that al Qaeda or Islamic State were involved, given the level of sophistication.

Two of the suicide bombers blew themselves up at the luxury Shangri-La Hotel on Colombo’s seafront, said Ariyananda Welianga, a senior official at the government’s forensic division. The others targeted three churches and two other hotels.

A fourth hotel and a house in a suburb of the capital Colombo were also hit, but it was not immediately clear how those attacks were carried out.

“Still the investigations are going on,” Welianga said.

Most of the attacks came during Easter services and when hotel guests were sitting down for breakfast buffets.

“Guests who had come for breakfast were lying on the floor, blood all over,” an employee at Kingsbury Hotel told Reuters.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said an international network was involved, but did not elaborate.

“We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country,” Senaratne said. “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

The president, Maithripala Sirisena, said in a statement the government would seek foreign assistance to track the overseas links.

Sri Lanka was at war for decades with ethnic minority Tamil separatists, most of them Hindu, but violence had largely ended since the government victory in the civil war, 10 years ago.

Sri Lanka’s 22 million people include minority Christians, Muslims and Hindus.

Foreign victims

Most of the dead and wounded were Sri Lankans although government officials said 32 foreigners were killed, including British, USA, Australian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese nationals.

Denmark’s richest man Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife lost three of their four children in the attacks, a spokesman for his fashion firm said.

A British mother and son at breakfast at the Shangri-La, British media reported, while five Indian political workers were killed at the same hotel, relatives told Indian media.

The hotel said several guests and three employees were killed.

The USA State Department said in a travel advisory “terrorist groups” were plotting possible attacks in Sri Lanka and targets could include tourist spots, transport hubs, shopping malls, hotels, places of worship and airports.

There were fears the attacks could spark communal violence, with police reporting late on Sunday there had been a petrol bomb attack on a mosque in the northwest and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims in the west.

Bomb found near airport [bold

Traffic was uncharacteristically thin in normally bustling Colombo after an island-wide curfew was lifted earlier Monday.

Soldiers with automatic weapons stood guard outside major hotels and the World Trade Centre in the business district, a Reuters witness said.

An Australian survivor, identified only as Sam, told Australia’s 3AW radio the hotel was a scene of “absolute carnage”.

He said he and a travel partner were having breakfast at the Shangri-La when two blasts went off. He said he had seen two men wearing backpacks seconds before the blasts.

“There were people screaming and dead bodies all around,” he said. “Kids crying, kids on the ground, I don’t know if they were dead or not, just crazy.”

There were similar scenes of carnage at two churches in or near Colombo, and a third church in the northeast town of Batticaloa, where worshippers had gathered. Pictures showed bodies on the ground and blood-spattered pews and statues.

Dozens were killed in a blast at the Gothic-style St Sebastian church in Katuwapitiya, north of Colombo. Police said they suspected it was a suicide attack.

Questions over why the intelligence report warning was not acted upon could feed into a feud between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the president.

Sirisena fired the premier last year and installed opposition strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his stead. Weeks later, he was forced to re-instate Wickremesinghe because of pressure from the Supreme Court but their relationship is still fraught as a presidential election nears.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/sri-lanka-blames-local-militant-group-national-thowheed-jamath-for-blasts-that-killed-290/story-IKnse8fiNnfE4ngsbJ0uUM.html

The Hindustan Times – Tax raids on properties of Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath’s close aides

In a 3 am raid, the officials searched the house of Praveen Kakkar, OSD to Kamal Nath. The house is located at Indore’s posh locality Vijay Nagar.

New Delhi – India, 07 April 2019. The Income Tax department on Sunday conducted raids on residences and offices of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s nephew and two close aides.

Those raided were CM’s nephew Ratul Puri, officer on special duty (OSD) to Nath, Praveen Kakkar and a close associate R K Miglani.

The raids in Madhya Pradesh that began at about 3 am on Sunday are said to be a part of IT department’s nationwide raids on 50 locations, sources said.

Ratul Puri, who is chairman of board of directors of Hindustan Power Projects Pvt Ltd is under scanner for an alleged money laundering case related to Augusta Westland VVIP chopper scam.

The raids were conducted at four properties of Kakkar in Indore and two places in Bhopal of Kakkar and Miglani.

“I am in Chhindwara right now. I don’t know about the raids,” Miglani said while Kakkar couldn’t be reached for comments. Chief minister Kamal Nath too couldn’t be reached for his comments.

As per a report by news agency ANI, Ratul Puri had denied his involvement in the money laundering case and has in a written statement said, “I have no connection in the AgustaWestland case or defense. I run an independent business. I have no business dealings with any relative of mine.”

The properties raided in Indore include Kakkar’s bungalow at Scheme no. 74 at Vijay Nagar, his office at BCM Heights, Jalsa Marriage Garden and another flat.

The Bhopal properties raided include Kakkar’s Nadir Colony bungalow, Miglani’s residence, an NGO director’s residence and a relative of Kakkar.

The IT team that conducted the raids came from Delhi, sources said.

Though the recovery during the raids is yet to be known, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted, “Black money worth crores has been recovered from the office of KamalNath’s personal secretary.”

Miglani, who has been associated with Kamal Nath for many years, was appointed an advisor to Kamal Nath when he took over as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in 2018.

Kakkar has been associated with former union minister and sitting MP of Congress from Ratlam Lok Sabha seat Kantilal Bhurai and was also his OSD.

Miglani resigned from the post of advisor on February 23 this year to help Kamal Nath in the ensuing by-poll to the Chhindwara assembly seat from where Nath is to contest to continue in his chair of CM.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/income-tax-officials-raid-madhya-pradesh-cm-kamal-nath-s-aide-s-residence/story-zS8A0BjmVqFjti0D2EKhPJ.html

The Hindustan Times – Sushma Swaraj seeks report into kidnapping of 2 Hindu girls in Pakistan’s Sindh province

In a tweet, Swaraj, while tagging a media report about the incident, said she has asked the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to send a report on the matter.

New Delhi – India, 24 March 2019. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has sought details from the Indian envoy in Pakistan into the reported abduction of two Hindu teenaged girls and their forcible conversion to Islam on the eve of Holi in Sindh province.

In a tweet, Swaraj, while tagging a media report about the incident, said she has asked the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to send a report on the matter.

According to the media report, the incident took place in Dharki town of Ghotki district in Sindh province on the eve of Holi.

It said the Hindu community in the area staged protests, demanding action against perpetrators of the alleged crime.

India has been raising the issue of plight of minorities, particularly the Hindu community in Pakistan.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sushma-swaraj-seeks-report-into-kidnapping-of-2-hindu-girls-in-pakistan-s-sindh-province/story-WRktZ9h76qdmACvUp9QhqO.html