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Saharanpur riots were well-planned: UP Cops

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Certain aspects of the Saharanpur clashes indicate meticulous planning by the rioters who had a singular agenda of dividing the Sikhs and Muslims in the western Uttar Pradesh district.

IG, Meerut Zone, Alok Sharma confirmed that the clashes were “pre-planned”. “The riot was preplanned. The way the firing was done and shops were burnt indicate many possibilities…We are investigating all angles,” he said.

The role of the civil and police administration is also under the scanner as the armed rioters had a free hand for nine hours till 4 pm on Saturday before the lathi-wielding policemen dispersed the mob.

ADG, Telecom, Devendra Singh Chauhan admitted that the local administration could have prevented the riots if decisions were taken promptly. “The district magistrate and the senior superintendent of police are expected to take prompt decisions in such situation.

The violence could have been averted if action was initiated at the proper time,” Chauhan, who has been sent to Saharanpur as special observer, said.

The ADG said the rioters have been identified and police teams have been constituted to arrest them. The culprits will be booked under the stringent National Security Act, Chauhan added.

The rioters had a well-chalked plan as they first set ablaze the firebrigade office and fire tenders, crippling the department from carrying out any relief work. They then carried out looting and arson at the Ambala Road.

“Some rioters were lighting Molotov cocktails and throwing them inside the shops. Despite repeated requests to impose curfew in the city, the police kept saying till 4 pm that they didn’t receive any order to stop the people from gathering.

Over 4,000 people had assembled at Ambala Road by 10 am. They were increasingly getting violent,” cloth trader Harvinder Singh, whose shop was torched, claimed. Interestingly, the disputed plot was never a major issue for the two communities until recently. The Sikhs claimed the Muslims had claimed their rights over the plot after they bought it four years ago. Though the Muslims claimed that the plot was a Waqf property, they could not prove the same in a minority commission.

Later, they had withdrawn their claim over the plot and it was finally handed over to the Sikhs. Since then, it was a non-issue for the two communities. The construction work was started there a year ago without any opposition from the other side, the Sikh community claimed. But all of a sudden, some people objected to the construction by Sri Guru Singh Sabha and violence erupted on Saturday.

Locals also claimed that some motorcycle-borne masked men were indiscriminately firing at whosoever standing on their way, suggesting that they wanted to spread terror among the people for stopping construction at the plot.

“We saw two masked men on a motorcycle who were firing at the passers-by in Ghantaghar area,” Sanjeev Bhandari, whose shop was set on fire at Ambala Road, said. Prior to the clashes on Saturday, Saharanpur had last witnessed communal violence in December 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya.

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Akhilesh’s UP tops the Riot list of 2013

With 247 incidents of communal violence, Uttar Pradesh has earned the dubious distinction of topping the list of states that witnessed riots in 2013 and the situation is no different in 2014 too.

The communal violence claimed 77 lives last year in UP. While the data for this year is still being compiled by the Union home ministry, a rough estimate put the number of communal clashes reported this year to around 65, in which at least 15 people lost their lives.

In Saharanpur, where clashes broke out between two communities on Saturday, three 33 injured so far.

Riots in Muzaffarnagar and its adjoining areas had claimed over 60 lives during August-September last year. More than 90 people were also injured and over 50,000 people were displaced due to the communal violence then.

Uttar Pradesh also recorded a maximum of 360 people being injured in these incidents in 2013. The state also registered a maximum of 118 communal incidents in 2012 in which 39 people were killed and 500 were injured. Maharashtra came next with 88 communal incidents last year followed Madhya Pradesh (84), Karnataka (73), Gujarat (68), Bihar (63) and Rajasthan (52).

A total of 823 such incidents were reported from across the country last year. A total of 133 people were killed and 2,269 injured in these incidents. While 12 people were killed in Maharashtra in these incidents, 11 people were killed in MP during the period.

‘ISI could be behind clash’

Union minister Kalraj Mishra (inset) on Tuesday raised suspicion that there could be Pakistani intelligence agency ISI’s hand behind the Saharanpur incident. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Kalraj said during the UPA rule, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had also pointed out ISI’s presence in riot-hit Muzaffarnagar.

Eid in the shadow of curfew

A large part of Saharanpur in western Uttar Pradesh remained under curfew even on the festival of Eid as the administration did not muster courage to lift it from the entire city.

Although the curfew was lifted in old city area between 7 am and 11 am, the devouts were not allowed to offer namaz at Eidgah. The administration asked them to offer Eid prayers in the mosques near their houses.

The curfew was relaxed in new city area from 3 pm to 7 pm. But the people could not meet their friends in old city area where shoot-at-sight order was given to the police.

“We relaxed curfew in two phases for the devouts to observe prayer and wish each other on the occasion of Eid. No major incident was reported from any part of the district in the last 24 hours,” District Magistrate Sandhya Tiwari said.

Locals working in Uttarakhand, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were unable to celebrate Eid with their families as all roads to Saharanpur remained closed to prevent the entry of outsiders.

The state transport department cancelled all 569 buses which ply between Saharanpur and other places outside the city on the directive of the police.

People come out on streets after curfew was relaxed for a few hours in riot-hit Saharanpur on Tuesday.

People come out on streets after curfew was relaxed for a few hours in riot-hit Saharanpur on Tuesday.

The police have so far arrested 68 people for their alleged involvement in the clashes on Saturday. Three people were killed and 33 injured in the clashes between two communities over a land dispute.

Meanwhile, UP Governor Ram Naik and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav visited Aishbagh Eidgah and greeted people on the occasion. Asked about the plot of land over which clashes erupted, Yadav had said the matter is sub judice and action would be taken accordingly.

(With PTI inputs)

Azam says Centre & BJP playing dangerous game

Uttar Pradesh Minority Affairs Minister Azam Khan on Tuesday accused the Central government and the BJP of playing a ‘dangerous game’ to vitiate the atmosphere in the state.

“The Union home minister has given certain directives to the UP government to maintain peace in the state. But on the other side, they have given questionable signals to the BJP workers here,” Khan told reporters on Tuesday.

“What the Union home ministry says at its meetings is quite different from what it asks party workers to do. I want to say that the Centre and the BJP must stop playing this dangerous game. They are trying to vitiate the atmosphere in UP over trivial issues,” the UP minister said.

Sources told MAIL TODAY that though Rajnath Singh had assured complete support to Akhilesh, he had later issued strict directives to the UP government when other BJP leaders reacted against his soft attitude.

“Rajnath didn’t want to blame the UP government because he has a twodecade-old political relation with SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

However, when senior BJP leaders criticised him during party meetings and PMNarendra Modi asked him about an actiontaken report, Rajnath shot off a letter to the UP government, asking the CM why action was delayed when rioters were burning shops,” said an officer on the condition of anonymity.

However, BJP MP from Saharanpur Raghav Lakhan Pal said whatever happened in Saharanpur was the handiwork of Congress leader Imran Masood. “The violence was instigated by Imran Masood. He had planned to destroy the business of a particular community….”

When contacted, Masood said, “I am not the one to push my own city into violence. It was instigated by the BJP MP who wants to field his son in the Assembly polls from Saharanpur….”

Indian News

COVID-19: Plasma therapy positive result on critical Corona Virus patient: Max Hospitals

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COVID-19: Plasma therapy positive result on critical Corona Virus patient: Max Hospitals

New Delhi: The Max Hospital in Saket has administered plasma therapy on a critical coronavirus patient and it’s showing positive results with the patient being taken off ventilator support, the hospital said on Monday.

The 49-year-old man became the first patient to be administered plasma therapy at the Max Hospital (East Wing) here, the hospital said in a statement.

In convalescent plasma therapy, the antibodies of a person who has recovered from the virus are taken and transfused into a sick person (having the virus) to help boost the person’s immune system.

The patient from Delhi had tested positive for Covid-19 on April 4 and was admitted on the same day to the coronavirus facility at the Max Hospital with moderate symptoms and a history of fever and respiratory issues.

“His condition deteriorated during the next few days and he soon required external oxygen to maintain saturation. He also developed pneumonia with Type I respiratory failure and had to be put on ventilator support on April 8,” the hospital said.

When the patient showed no improvement, his family members requested the hospital to administer plasma therapy on compassionate grounds, a first of its kind treatment modality that is being used for the disease in India.

“The family came forward to arrange a donor for extracting plasma. The donor had recovered from the infection (confirmed by two consecutive negative reports) three weeks ago and again tested Covid-19 negative at the time of donation along with other standard tests to rule out infections like Hep B, Hep C and HIV,” the hospital said.

The critically ill patient was administered fresh plasma as a treatment modality as a side-line to the standard treatment protocols on the night of April 14, it said.

“After receiving the treatment, the patient showed progressive improvement and by the fourth day, he was weaned off ventilator support on the morning of April 18 and continued on supplementary oxygen thereafter,” it added.

The hospital said the man has been shifted to a room with round-the-clock monitoring facility.

“He has started taking oral feed since Sunday and is faring well,” it said.

Speaking on the success of the first case administered under plasma therapy at the hospital, Sandeep Budhiraja, Group Medical Director, Max Healthcare, and Senior Director, Institute of Internal Medicine, said the case opened a new treatment opportunity during these challenging times.

“We are delighted that the therapy worked well in his case, opening a new treatment opportunity during these challenging times. But it is important that we also understand that plasma therapy is no magic bullet. During the patient’s treatment at the Max Hospital, other standard treatment protocols were followed and we can say that plasma therapy could have worked as a catalyst in speeding up his recovery,” Budhiraja said.

He also said the recovery cannot be attributed 100 per cent to the therapy.

“We cannot attribute 100 per cent recovery to plasma therapy only, as there are multiple factors which carved his path to recovery,” he said.

He further added that in a country like India, a therapy of such kind has a good potential to help Covid-19 patients who have disease severity, which fits into moderate to severe categories.

“Government regulations should work towards making it more accessible for hospitals across the country to be able to use it. One donor can donate 400 ml of plasma which can save two lives, as 200 ml is sufficient to treat one patient,” Budhiraja said.

So far, 47 people have lost their lives due to coronavirus in Delhi.

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Indian News

This Week In Punjab Was All About Justin Trudeau Visit

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For the past few days the visit by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his delegation has been much in the news in the Indian media in general and the Punjabi media in particular.  The main emphasis of this visit has been the close links between the two democracies.

The  progress made by the Indian Diaspora in general and Sikhs in particular in Canada  has been a matter of great pride not only in Canada but also in India. In Canada the proportion of people of Indian origin is 1.4% . This is quite close to the Punjabis in India at 1.9%. The clout of Sikhs in particular in every area in Canada is often the topic of discussion here. This is more so at this time .

It was interesting to note that a prominent Indian journalist Harih Khare wrote a very insightful article in The Tribune as a tribute to Canada  on the eve of the current visit by the Canadian Prime Minister. Titled “Welcome Justin Trudeau”, Khare quoted former governor general David Johnston ‘ s treatise: The Idea of Canada. This is a beautiful illustration of Canadian values. Khare also quoted extensively from Justin Trudeau’s Common Ground: Political Life. Both of these works highlight Canada’s diversity, multiculturalism and inclusiveness. All of this makes Trudeau’s visit more relevant and meaningful for the people of India. Incidentally, Canada has become one of the most popular countries in India in general and Punjab in particular.

In this context it was only natural that Justin and his delegation have received A very warm welcome everywhere. His visit to Taj Mahal in Agra, Hamandar Sahib in Amritsa and every other place like Ahmedabad, Bombay and New Delhi have been great success.  In a sense this has been a memorable milestone in Canada – India relations.

On another front, my family and friends had an opportunity to visit Rajasthan for a few days. This visit included spending a few days in the Pink City of Jaipur. It is a beautiful city . The Amber Fort is just amazing. It is home to the world’s largest cannon. In addition to that it has great artefacts from the past.  Built on  steep hillside it is a marvel of engineering. Jaipur is also home to the impressive Jantar Mantar, Jal Mahal City Palace and much more.

From Jaipur it was on to visit Dhanda Bhagat’s  Gurdwara about two hours drive from Jaipur. This is a very spacious Gurdwara in the memory of Dhanna Bhagat whose 600 th anniversary was celebrated with great deal of enthusiasm last year. From there we moved on to Ajmer, home of a sacred Dargah. After paying our obeisance at the Dargah , we moved on to nearby Pushkar, one of the holiest places for the Hindus. Pushkar is reported to have 326 temples and has the only temple devoted to Lord Brahma. Also, Pushkar had the honour of visits by Guru Nanak Dev ji and Guru Gobind Singh ji. The Gurdwara here is also  very impressive.

After spending a few days in Rajsthan it was time to head home. On our way home we thoroughly enjoyed our visit in Delhi. It was an honour for us to pay our obeisance at the historic Bangla Sahib and Raquab Ganj  Gurdwaras. From Delhi we moved on to another historic place called Paunta  Sahib in Haryana.  There are a number of Gurdwaras here. Guru Gobind Singh ji stayed here for more than four years. Here he successfully turned back the attack by a number of hill chieftains at Bhangani. There are a number of Gurdwaras around here dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh ji ‘s stay in this area.

After taking a short break my family and friends plan to visit a few more places of interest. The weather so far has been great. It is a welcome change from the cold and snow of Metro Vancouver.       -Balwant Sanghera .

Balwant Sanghera  is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.  He is currently on a family vacation in India.

 

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Walmart In Talks To Buy Large Stake In Flipkart At $20-23 Billion Valuation

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NEW DELHI – American retailer Walmart Inc may end up taking a large stake in Flipkart Ltd at a price that could value India’s largest e-commerce firm between $20 billion and $23 billion, three people close to the development said. If it goes through the deal will pit Walmart against Amazon in India, mirroring the fight between the two companies in the US.

Walmart has expressed an interest in buying Flipkart Ltd but a buyout is unlikely to go through as a key Flipkart investor SoftBank Group is opposed to a sale, the three people added on condition of anonymity. “Softbank is not willing to cash out this early as they see themselves as a long term investor in Flipkart,” one of the three people mentioned above said.

The talks are in the early stages and the companies haven’t finalized the final details, the people said. Walmart is expected to invest fresh capital in Flipkart as well as buy shares from existing investors including Accel Partners and Naspers, they added.

Any deal is likely to make Walmart the largest shareholder in Flipkart, they said.

Walmart is not the only suitor pursuing Flipkart. Search giant Google has also offered to invest in the e-retailer at a valuation of $15-$16 billion, said a fourth person close to the development. Flipkart is also talking to other investors, this person said, without naming the investors.

Flipkart’s biggest backer and key board member Lee Fixel of Tiger Global was in Walmart’s headquarters last week helping put together the deal, this person said.

Flipkart and Walmart declined to comment. Google and Softbank did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The Economic Times newspaper reported on 31 January that Walmart is in talks to buy 15-20% of Flipkart.

In August 2017, Flipkart received a commitment of $1.4 billion in fresh capital from Japan’s Softbank Group valuing the company at about $14 billion.

Launched in 2007, Flipkart has thus far raised more than $6 billion.

The current valuation offered by Walmart includes Flipkart’s fashion businesses Myntra and Jabong, ebay India, as well as mobile payments firm PhonePe.

Walmart has eyed India’s retail sector for years but the existing foreign direct investment (FDI) policy does not allow the retailer to serve have a meaningful presence in the country.

It does operate in India’s B2B (business to business) retail and e-retail segment but has stayed away from direct retail. Walmart has stayed away from joining hands with any other Indian retailer since it’s partnership with Bharti Enterprises ended in 2013.

New potential investors are willing to value the company at a much higher price partly because Flipkart has shown that it is holding its own against Amazon, which has been unable to unseat its local rival as the country’s largest online retailer despite outspending Flipkart, say analysts. Additionally, Flipkart is seen as the one of the most attractive assets in the global Internet economy, benefitting from the long-term potential ascribed to India’s internet market by investors.

Walmart and Google held funding talks with Flipkart in late 2016 but those discussions didn’t lead to deals.

 

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