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[India], Oct 19 (ANI): The Pandalam Palace Trust on Friday wrote a letter to functionaries of Sabarimala Temple asking them to shut down the temple in case of any breach of rituals.

The letter, which is addressed to executive officer and administrative officer of Sabarimala Devaswom, said that if anything happens at the temple against the rituals, it must be shut down.

In case of any breach of rituals, the temple should be reopened only after the Tantri (head priest) cleanses the shrine, the letter further said.

The Pandalam Royal family, who claimed to have a strong bond with Lord Ayyappa, had earlier said that if all women are allowed to enter the temple then the Lord would curse devotees with bad fortune.

The royal family had also organised a peaceful protest on October 12 against the Supreme Court's verdict, which allowed entry of women of all age groups in the temple.

Earlier in the day, State Devaswom (religious trusts) Minister Kadakampally Surendran said that people of all ages would be allowed to go there, but at the same time the government won't allow it to be a place where activists can come and showcase their power. It can't be a place to stage their points of view, he added.

On September 28, the Supreme Court passed the verdict pronouncing that women, irrespective of their age, have the right to enter the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala. (ANI)

Posted: October 19, 2018, 9:42 am

Distressed by the allegations about his alleged love affair, a sadhu in Uttar Pradesh's Bamna village cut off his private part during a nine-day fasting of Navaratri.

The sadhu identified as Madani Baba, who is currently admitted in a hospital in Bamna district, alleged that a conspiracy was hatched against him by a group of people as they could not bear his aim to build an ashram in an empty land.

He said that the people had tarnished his image by linking his name with a woman who stays in a nearby area.

"The sadhu happens to be a 28-year-old man residing in Kamsin village. He cut off his genitalia after an allegation surfaced against him. His treatment is underway," Bamna district hospital doctor Balveer Singh told ANI.

The district police have initiated an investigation into the matter. (ANI)

Posted: October 19, 2018, 9:31 am

[India], Oct 19 (ANI): President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended greetings to the nation on the occasion of Dussehra and Vijayadashmi on Friday.

"On the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashmi, Dussehra greetings and Shubho Bijoya to fellow citizens. This is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. May the day bring happiness to our families and our shared society," President Kovind tweeted.

Prime Minister Modi tweeted: "Vijayadashami greetings to everyone."

Vijayadashami is majorly celebrated in eastern states of India, marking the end of Durga Puja. Similarly, Dussehra is widely celebrated in northern India when effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Meghnad are burnt with fireworks marking the destruction of evil. (ANI)

Posted: October 19, 2018, 9:26 am

[Belgium], Oct 19 (ANI): Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu held a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the European Union headquarters on the sidelines of the 12th Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM) summit on Friday.

During the meeting, the two leaders expressed satisfaction with the regular high-level contacts between the two countries and agreed to further strengthen the bilateral ties through greater economic cooperation and people to people exchanges.

Prime Minister Tsipras recalled President Ram Nath Kovind's successful visit to Greece in June 2018.

He then informed Vice President Naidu about the economic conditions of Greece and the efforts taken by the government to restore the stability of the financial system. Prime Minister Tsipras also commended the growth of the Indian economy over the last few years and asserted that it had a positive influence on the global economic situation.

The Greek Prime Minister also encouraged Indian companies to consider investing in Greece, particularly in the port sector. He also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit Greece at an opportune time.

Naidu, meanwhile, thanked Prime Minister Tsipras for inviting India as the "Honoured Country" at the Thessaloniki International Fair in 2019 while asserting that India would be represented at the event with a strong business delegation.

The Vice President also briefed the Greek Prime Minister about the country's economic growth and the efforts being taken by the government to promote inclusive growth through the various developmental programmes and flagship initiatives. He further called for greater tourism flows between the two countries.

Naidu thanked Greece for its support for India's membership to the various export control regimes and for its consistent support to India's candidature for a permanent seat in a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council. He also talked about the Greek scholar Demetrios Galanos, who had translated, among other texts, the Bhagavad Gita into Greek. (ANI)

Posted: October 19, 2018, 9:20 am

[India], Oct 19 (ANI): Congress party president Rahul Gandhi, on Friday, called on Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in New Delhi.

Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, Sonia Gandhi, was also present in the meeting, along with former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh and senior Congress party leader Anand Sharma.

Wickremesinghe arrived in India on Thursday on a three-day official visit. He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.

The visit of the Sri Lankan leader has come close on the heels of a media report that Maithripala Sirisena, the President of the island nation, accused India of hatching a plot to assassinate him.

However, Sirisena categorically rejected the report on Wednesday and hours later had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Modi.

"He (President Sirisena) mentioned that the mischievous and mala fide reports were utterly baseless and false, and seemed intended to create misunderstanding between the two leaders as well as damage the cordial relations between the two friendly neighbours," read a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

Wickremesinghe is also scheduled to meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh on October 20 before holding a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj before concluding his visit the same day. (ANI)

Posted: October 19, 2018, 9:15 am

[India], Oct 19 (ANI): Two women who were en route to the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala agreed to return after the temple head priest (Tantri) Kandararu Rajeevaru threatened to shut down the temple if they attempted to force their way in.

"We had brought them (journalist Kavitha Jakkal and woman activist Rehana Fatima) till the temple premises but Tantri refused to open the temple for them. While we were waiting, Tantri informed me that if we attempt to take the women ahead they would close the temple," Kerala Inspector General of Police (IGP) S. Sreejith told ANI.

Sreejith assured that the two women will be taken back in full police protection.

He said, "It is a ritualistic disaster. We took them up to temple and gave them protection but 'darshan' is something which can be done with the consent of the priest. We will give them (Kavitha Jakkal and Rehana Fatima) whatever protection they want."

The Sreejith said that the women agreed to cooperate after he had discussed with them the situation prevailing in the hilltop.

"We have told the female devotees about the situation, they will now be going back. So we are pulling back. They have decided to return," he said.

As per reports, tempers cooled down after Jakkal and Fatima who had almost made it to the Lord Ayyappa shrine agreed to give up their journey.

Two days after the Sabarimala Temple in Kerala opened its doors for the first time for women in the 10-50 years age group as per the Supreme Court verdict pronounced on September 28, no woman of menstrual age have yet been able to visit the shrine because of continuous protests.

"The Supreme Court's point is right that men and women are equal. But, the culture that prevails here is that women in the age group of 10-50 years are not allowed in the temple. It is our custom. We should follow our customs as India is a custom-following country," a devotee in Sannidhanam had said.

Earlier in the day, a number of devotees had gathered to block the entry of women trekking up to the hill shrine.

"Police will not create any issue in Sabarimala and we don't want a confrontation with you devotees. We are only following the law. I will be discussing with the higher authorities and brief them on the situation," the IGP had earlier said.

Places around the temple such as Pamba, Nilakkal, Sannidhanam and Elavungal have witnessed the majority of the violent protests since the doors of the shrine reopened on Wednesday. Protestors had allegedly vandalised a bus carrying journalists and other passengers at Laka near the Nilakkal base camp. The police were forced to lathi-charge the protestors as they resorted to stone pelting.

Elderly women were seen entering the temple on Wednesday evening, but women between 10 to 50 years of age refrained from visiting the shrine for the sake of their own safety.

Owing to the protests and violence, Section 144 (prohibiting assembly of more than four people) has been imposed in Pamba, Nilakkal and Elavungal.

The temple opened on Wednesday at 5 pm, and it will close on October 22. (ANI)

Posted: October 19, 2018, 9:15 am

[India], Oct 19 (ANI): Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh performed 'Shastra Puja' at Border Security Force (BSF) Sector Headquarters in Rajasthan's Bikaner city along the highly sensitive India-Pakistan border, on the occasion of Dussehra on Friday.

Reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's resolve to maintain peace in the Kashmir Valley, he said, "We want that peace be maintained in Kashmir and we are making a lot of efforts to achieving it. We have allocated maximum possible funds for development of Kashmir. As far as terrorism is concerned, all terrorists coming there are from Pakistan."

Singh is on a two-day visit to the city to celebrate the festival of Dussehra with the BSF jawans.

'Shastra Puja' or worship of weapons is part of the Dussehra festival which is celebrated to mark the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana.

Last year, the Home Minister had attended Dussehra celebrations at Joshimath in Uttarakhand along the Sino-India border. (ANI)

Posted: October 19, 2018, 9:12 am

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday came out with new measures to increase the liquidity flow to non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and housing finance companies (HFCs).

The move comes amid concerns of a credit crunch for the NBFC sector post default by some of the IL&FS Group companies.

"It has been decided that, with immediate effect, banks will be permitted to also reckon government securities held by them up to an amount equal to their incremental outstanding credit to NBFCs and HFCs, over and above the amount of credit to NBFCs and HFCs outstanding on their books as on October 19, 2018, as 'Level 1 HQLA under FALLCR' within the mandatory SLR (Statutory Liquidity Ratio) requirement," RBI said in a notification on Friday.

"This will be in addition to the existing FALLCR (Facility to Avail Liquidity for Liquidity Coverage Ratio) of 13 per cent of NDTL, and limited to 0.5 per cent of the bank's NDTL (Net Demand and Time Liabilities)."

In September, RBI said it will ease SLR norms from October to induce liquidity into the financial system amid concerns of a credit crunch.

SLR is a reserve requirement that commercial banks must maintain.

As per the notification, the additional FALLCR will be available up to December 31.

"The single borrower exposure limit for NBFCs which do not finance infrastructure stands increased from 10 per cent to 15 per cent of capital funds, up to December 31, 2018," the notification said.

Posted: October 19, 2018, 8:50 am
Kochi: Although she may not have reached the Sabarimala temple today, Rehana Fathima is no stranger to controversy.

She made headlines in March this year when, in protest against comments from a professor in Kozhikode who said women should cover their watermelon-like-breasts, posted pictures of herself with watermelons covering her breasts. Hours after sharing the pictures, they were taken down by Facebook after a flurry of trolls and threats.

To the 31-year-old government employee, mother-of-two, model and activist from Kochi, plethora of reactions is one she’s used to. “I don’t understand why people make such hue and cry about a woman’s body,” Rehana had said at the time. “I wanted to question the restrictions regarding a woman baring her body,” she says. “Men and women are held to different standards.”

In 2014, she participated in the Kiss of Love campaign in Kerala against moral policing. Her partner, filmmaker Manoj K Sreedhar, had shared a clip of the kiss on Facebook.

She was the only woman in the Ayyanthol PuliKali team, a traditional Onam tiger dance usually done by all-male troupes. She had said at the time she always wanted to “perform in a space dominated by men”.

Rehana was born in an orthodox Muslim family. She says she became disillusioned with religion after her father’s death. Rehana now lives with her filmmaker partner Manoj, their two daughters and his parents. Manoj has produced the art film, and her debut movie, Eka about intersex people.

Posted: October 19, 2018, 8:04 am

[India], Oct 19 (ANI): At least three terrorists were killed during an encounter with the security forces in the Boniyar town Jammu and Kashmir's Baramulla district on Friday.

According to officials, four AK-47 rifles and four haversacks were recovered from the slain terrorists. The operation is currently underway.

The latest attack comes amidst rising incidents terror strikes in Jammu and Kashmir even as the government strives to ensure peace, and foils cross-border terrorism that disturbs normalcy in the region.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the government is making all efforts to ensure peace in the Valley, adding that the maximum possible funds have been allocated for the development of Kashmir.

"We want that peace to be maintained in Kashmir and we are making a lot of efforts for that. We've allocated maximum possible fund for development of Kashmir. As far as terrorism is concerned, all terrorists coming there are from Pakistan", Singh told reporters in Bikaner.

General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC) Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh recently asserted that the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir is under control even as there is no change in the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The Army Commander said, "The situation is under control. However, the situation remains fragile because of the attempt by Pakistan to push infiltrators in Jammu and Kashmir. As per inputs available to us, there is no change in terrorist infrastructure across the LoC in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and therefore, we keep having several reports of infiltration attempts by Pakistan trained terrorists."

On Wednesday, the security forces neutralised three terrorists in Srinagar's in Fateh Kadal area. The slain militants were identified as Mehraj-ud-Din Bangroo, Fahad Mushtaq Waza and Rayees Ahmad. A police personnel named Kamal Kishore also lost his life in the ensuing gunfight. (ANI)

Posted: October 19, 2018, 7:29 am

Pune: Women activist Trupti Desai was detained by the Pune Police on Friday morning after she, along with other women activists, threatened to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convoy.

Her detention comes a day after she wrote a letter to Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Modi to discuss Sabrimala issue.

Trupti, who is leading the protest for women's entry into Sabarimala temple, also threatened to block Prime Minister Modi's convoy if he doesn't meet her.

Minutes before her detention, Trupti told ANI, "Despite the Supreme Court's verdict, the women are not being allowed to enter Sabarimala Temple. Even the journalists who went there for coverage were assaulted. Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming to Shirdi and I want to meet and ask him that if everyone can safely go to Shirdi Sai Temple without any fear, then why same can't happen at Sabarimala. If he wouldn't meet me, we have plans of stopping his convoy to make our request to him."

Claiming that detaining her would be a violation of her democratic right to protest, she further said, "Police has come to detain me while I was leaving for Shirdi early morning. If a similar strict action would have happened in Kerala, today women might have gone to Sabarimala temple. I have the right to protest and with this detention, police are trying to suppress our democratic right."

However, the police maintained that Desai was detained owing to security concerns.

"Because of security reasons, we have requested her not to go to Shirdi. If she forcibly tries to leave, necessary measures will be taken to deter her," said Police Inspector Vijay Puranik.

On Thursday, activist Rahul Easwar was arrested from Nilakkal base camp and a non-bailable FIR was registered against him for stopping women from entering the temple premises. After the arrest, he was kept at the Pamba police station.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Shirdi in Maharashtra on and will unveil the plaque to mark the laying of a foundation stone for various development works of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust. Furthermore, he will release a silver coin to commemorate the centenary year of Shri Saibaba Samadhi. 

Posted: October 19, 2018, 7:28 am
New Delhi: Ashish Pandey, the son of a former Bahujan Samaj Party MP who has been accused of brandishing a pistol and threatening the guests at a five-star hotel in New Delhi, told the police on Thursday that he was instigated by a woman, who had shown him the 'middle finger', after which he had got the weapon from his car.

Pandey, who surrendered before the Patiala House court on Thursday, also said in a video message that he was being subjected to a media trial and that only one side of the story was being shown, portraying him as a 'terrorist'.

"The woman accompanying Gaurav (Kanwar, son of a former Congress MLA) showed me the middle finger, which instigated me to get my pistol from my car," Pandey told the police after his arrest in the case.

"Pandey claimed that Kanwar was in the ladies' washroom in the hotel when his female friends went to the washroom.

"They raised an objection over Kanwar's presence in the washroom which led to an argument, following which Pandey was called by his friends," a senior officer privy to the probe said.

Pandey claimed that he asked Kanwar to come out of the washroom but the latter refused to do so and instead, challenged him, saying, "What is your business if I am inside the washroom?" the police said.

Subsequently, Kanwar's female friend showed the middle finger to Pandey and his women friends at the porch of the hotel and that instigated him to get the pistol from the car, the accused told the police.

Pandey was on his way home in Lucknow on Sunday night when he got to know about the video of the incident being circulated on the social media.

He then messaged all his friends, requesting them to ensure that the video was not circulated and asking them to delete it from their phones.

The next day, when he realised that the video had gone viral, he took his son and wife along with him and went hiding at various places in and around Lucknow, Pandey told the police.

His father, uncle and brother were in touch with lawyers and his friends, while he was juggling between places, he told the interrogators.

The police are yet to recover the weapon Pandey had brandished at the foyer of the south Delhi hotel in the early hours of Sunday.

"I have been subjected to a media trial. I am being portrayed as a terrorist. I am not denying that the incident happened but it is being shown from one side," Pandey said in a video message he released before his surrender.

In the video, he said the CCTV footage of the hotel should properly be checked to ascertain who was at fault.

"They should check the CCTV footage and see who entered the ladies' washroom and after exiting from it, who threatened whom. When I came out, I took the licensed gun from my vehicle. I did not aim the gun towards him (Kanwar) and the weapon was pointed downwards.

"Everyone is saying I threatened a woman with a gun but I did not even address the woman, who was with him. She pushed me and even made obscene gestures at me using her hands. Her male friend said things to me," Pandey said.

He added that he would tell his side of the story to the police and that he had full faith in the country's judicial system.

After the video of the incident went viral on the social media, resulting in a public outrage, Pandey had requested his friends on WhatsApp not to circulate the video and apologised for what he did.

The video of the incident at the Hyatt Regency hotel in New Delhi prompted the police to step in and launch a hunt for Pandey. A Delhi court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Pandey on Wednesday.

Pandey's father Rakesh Pandey is a former BSP MP and his brother Ritesh is an MLA in Uttar Pradesh.

Posted: October 19, 2018, 7:15 am
Kochi: Kerala IG S Sreejith on the Sabarimala disaster: "We had brought them ((journalist Kavitha Jakkal and woman activist Rehana Fatima) till the temple premises but the tantri and priest refused to open the temple for them. While we were waiting, the tantri informed me that if we attempt to take the women ahead they would close the temple.

"It's a ritualistic disaster. We took them up to temple and gave them protection but 'darshan' is something which can be done with the consent of the priest. We will give them whatever protection they want."

Both the women attempting to enter the shrine had to turn back after the priests said they would shut the temple and stop rituals if the attempted to enter the shrine. They were stopped 500 metres away from the main temple.

On the third day after the Sabarimala temple opened for the first time after the Supreme Court ruling lifting the centuries-old ban on entry of women of all age groups, no women has yet been able to visit the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

Devotees have blocked attempts from women in the age group of 10 to 50 years from taking the 4.7 km walk from Pamba.

On Thursday, Suhasini Raj, who works as the India reporter for The New York Times, along with a colleague, managed to go past the Pamba gateway but was stopped midway by angry devotees who formed a human wall before her.

Posted: October 19, 2018, 7:01 am

[India], Oct 19 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday arrived in Shirdi and visited the renowned Sai Baba shrine here.

He paid his obeisance at the Samadhi Temple before taking part in rituals at sanctum sanctorum of the Saibaba Samadhi Temple Complex.

Later in the day, the Prime Minister will unveil the plaque to mark the laying of a foundation stone for various development works of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust.

He will also release a silver coin to commemorate the centenary year of Shri Saibaba Samadhi.

Prime Minister will also address a public gathering where he will hand over keys to the beneficiaries of the housing scheme Prime Minister Awas Yojana- Grameen (PMAY-G). (ANI)

Posted: October 19, 2018, 6:37 am

Hyderabad: Dog lovers have a reason to rejoice with the first park for canines being inaugurated in the city of Hyderabad.

Spread over 1.2 acres in Hyderabad's Kondapur area, the park has been developed by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) at cost of Rs. 1.1 crore and was thrown open for public on Thursday.

Pet lovers will have to shell out a meagre sum of Rs.10 to enter that park, which authorities say has been built with international standards.

"It is India's first certified dog park built with international standards. It has been built in 1.2 acres in Kondapur area. We will charge ten rupees to each responsible pet owner who comes to this park with their dog," Harichandana Dasari, Zonal Commissioner, West Zone, GHMC told ANI.

Pooches will be treated with an extravagant experience as the park houses a splash pool, an amphitheatre, loo cafe and three lawns. For those who want to keep their dogs fit and obedient, the options of dog trainers and exercise equipment are also available.

To ensure a comfortable experience for all breeds and their owners, separate enclosures have been marked for small and big canines. The park, the first of its kind, is also certified by the Kennel Club of India.

The Municipal Corporation started working on the park a year ago and the idea was conceptualized keeping in mind the fear dog owners experience while walking their dogs on the road.

Visitors expressed delight over the initiative, detailing how it enables them to spend more time with their beloved pets.

"We are very happy visiting this park with our pets. Being dog lovers, we are able to enjoy ourselves a lot at this place. Now, we can spend some time with our pets here," said Lakshmi, a visitor.

Another visitor, Sameera said, "I appreciate Telangana government for this initiative."

Posted: October 19, 2018, 6:26 am
Kochi: The two women attempting to enter the Sabarimala shrine on Day 3 after the temple opened for prayers, have decided to return.

This comes after the Sabarimala priests said prayers will not be offered and the temple will be closed if the women enter.

The women then said they will not enter the temple. The police will now escort the women down from the temple in the same way that they were escorted up.

Two women, including a reporter from Hyderabad, began trekking to Sabarimala hill Friday amid strong protests by devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the Lord Ayyappa temple.

Their attempt to reach the shrine came a day after a New Delhi-based woman reporter of a foreign media outlet made a failed bid to visit the temple.

Police led by IG S Sreejith have have thrown a security ring around the women who had requested security to go to Sabarimala Sannidhanam. There have been strong protests by devotees opposing the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into the Lord Ayyappa temple. The woman reporter is in her late 20s while the details of the second woman, who was carrying Irumudikkettu (holy bundle), was not immediately known.

Protests against the entry of women of all age groups in Sabarimala Temple continued on Friday with protesters saying, "No woman between 10-50 years of age will enter here. We are protecting Sabarimala."

On Thursday, the New Delhi-based woman journalist was stopped midway by devotees opposing the entry of women of menstrual age into the hill shrine.

The journalist accompanied by her male colleague, a foreigner, descended the hills from Marakkoottam area in the face of mounting protests.

A case has been registered against devotees who allegedly prevented her trekking and forced her to climb down the hills.

Posted: October 19, 2018, 5:36 am
New Delhi: The National Commission for Women has come out with a dedicated e-mail address to report instances of sexual harassment at workplace after several such complaints were made to the body by women who have narrated their ordeal under the #MeToo movement on social media.

The NCW, in a statement, said it has received formal written complaints from various women about instances of sexual harassment at their workplace. 

"The National Commission for Women follows a zero tolerance of sexual harassment of women at all workplaces and the Commission is committed to ensure safety and dignity of women including at all workplaces," it said.

In light of the complaints received in the past few days, the National Commission for Women has decided to create a dedicated email ID to receive such complaints.

"The Commission urges women who have come forward on social media and other platforms about their alleged harassers to send their formal written complaints to ncw.metoo@gmail.com," the women rights body said.

The NCW will be taking forward complaints of sexual harassment at workplace received on the mail so that appropriate action may be taken, as per law, it added.

The #MeToo movement started with actor Tanushree Dutta accusing another actor Nana Patekar of harassing her during the shooting of a Bollywood film in 2008. Patekar has denied the allegations.

The matter escalated sharply with more and more women coming forward with their complaints against men in seats of power in various institutions, including in entertainment, media and advertising.

Journalist-turned-politician M J Akbar had to resign as the Minister of State for External Affairs on Wednesday following a spate of complaints of alleged sexual harassment during his tenure as editor of various media publications. He has denied the allegations and has even dragged one of the complainants to court with a defamation case.

Other prominent personalities who have been accused of sexual misconduct include Subhash Ghai, Sajid Khan, Alok Nath, Suhel Seth and Jatin Das, all of whom have denied the allegations even as multiple women have spoken out against them.

Posted: October 19, 2018, 5:29 am
The sudden decision of Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath led BJP government to change the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj hasn’t shocked many people. A government led by a politicized seer, despite sitting on a huge majority has been an all-round flop. The governance is in a mess with different projects stalled at different level and the nomenclature may help the government win a few brownie points.

The government that has nothing to show, in terms of development, after much deliberation, seems to have realized that if it needs to do well in the next parliamentary elections next year, it needs to show something concrete to its electoral base. UP with its 80 Lok Sabha seats was the biggest prize in the saffronites’ kitty that single-handedly propelled them to the political center-stage with two third majority at the Center.

Allahabad didn’t mean the City of Allah

Many uninitiated may tend to believe that Mughal Emperor, Akbar, named Allahabad as the City of God, on the name of Allah. But this is far from truth. In Urdu, the city was called Ilah Abad and not Allahabad. Ilah in Arabic means god, any god. And thus Ilahabad meant, the City of God or deva bhumi. It had nothing to do with Islam or Allah. On the contrary, the name revered the pristine history and glory of the place that was dear to the large Upper Caste Hindu population that remained in Gangetic plains at that time.

History of Allahabad

A detailed description of the history of Allahabad is found in ‘Agra Vol Xiv’. It says, “All that is known of the Hindu period is that the northern part of the district across the Ganges formed part of the kingdom of Kosala, and that the portion south of the Ganges was under the Bhil and other Bundelkhand chiefs, so that the city itself, so far as it then existed, was probably a Bhil settlement When Hwen Tsang visited it he found only two Buddhist convents and hundreds of Hindu temples, but long before that it must have been of some importance as a seat of the Buddhist religion”.

It goes on to add, “The Emperor Babar wrested the district from the Pathans in 1529, and in 1675 Akbar re-named the city and erected the fort towards the end of his reign, his son Salim, who was afterwards the Emperor Jahdngir, was governor of Allahabad, and lived in the fort. His two sons, Khusru and Khurram, lived with him till Akbar’s death, when Salim became emperor as Jahangir, and Khusru at once rebelled against his father : he was twice defeated and captured and was at last made over to his brother Khurram (afterwards Shahjahdn), in whose custody he died in 1615, and the mausoleum in the Khusru Bagh at Allahabad was then erected in his honour : it was completed in 1622”.

Emperor Akbar’s secular credentials

Akbar, whose secular credentials are known to everyone, and who is despised by many extremists among Muslims, is least of all expected to name a city at the cost of displeasing his Hindu subjects and nobility. Akbar was a secular emperor who not just physically brought India together, but developed the unique Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb of the country that ensured communal amity across the Gangetic Plains.

Amartya Sen, while writing in his, ‘Argumentative Indian’ says:

“It was indeed a Buddhist emperor of India, Ashoka, who, in the third century BCE, not only outlined the need for toleration and the richness of heterodoxy, but also laid down what are perhaps the oldest rules for conducting debates and disputations, with the opponents being 'duly honoured in every way on all occasions'. That political principle figures a great deal in later discussions in India, but the most powerful defence of toleration and of the need for the state to be equidistant from different religions came from a Muslim Indian emperor, Akbar. This was of course much later, but those principles of religious toleration, enunciated in the 1590s, were still early enough at a time when the Inquisition was in full swing in Europe”.

Mughal emperor, Akbar, not just entered into matrimonial alliances with Hindu rajas and maharajas, he cultivated very close family relations with Rajput nobility. This was a tradition that was later followed by other Mughal rulers, only with the exception of Aurangzeb.

There is no denying that the matrimonial alliances that Akbar entered with Rajpur kings and other Hindu nobility across North India were of different nature than the old alliances. The Mughal emperor gave complete religious freedom to his Hindu wives and gave an honoured place to their parents and relations in the nobility. He also allowed the worship of Hindu deities inside his palaces, and his Ibadatgah had place for Hindu deities as well.

How he cultivated close relations with the Hindu nobility can be gauged by the fact that Raja Bharmal of Amber was made a high grandee. His son, Bhagwan Das, rose to the rank of 5000 and his grandson, Raja Man Singh, to the rank of 7000. This rank was accorded by Akbar to only one other noble, Aziz Khan Kuka, his foster brother. He showed his special relations with Kachhawaha ruler in other ways. The infant prince, Danyal, was sent to Amber to be brought up by Bharmal's wives. In 1572, when Akbar went on a military expedition to Gujarat, Bharmal was placed in charge of Agra, where all the royal ladies were residing, a signal honour given only to nobles who were either relations or close confidants of the emperor.

The secular traditions of the Mughal court were visible in Delhi till their twilight years and also during the Mutiny of 1857 when Hindus and Muslims got together under the leadership of Bahadur Shah Zafar and revolted against East India Company’s misrule. But this all is not going to be visible to either Aditya Nath or his cohorts. Their blinkered worldview will not allow such light to enter their minds.

More columns by Syed Ubaidur Rahman:

Will Owaisi-Ambedkar alliance in Maharashtra benefit the BJP?


Modi with Syedna: PM's Muslim outreach is a lost cause now

Mob lynching in India - The menace is growing

Why Jinnah's portrait should be removed from Aligarh Muslim University

Muslim Law Board caught in a time warp

Minorities' persecution and blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Narendra Modi Muslim outreach: Will Muslims bite the bait?

Army Chief's remark on Assam political party unjustifiable

Will Congress return to power in Karnataka?

Muslim Law Board shocked by top cleric's views on Babri

Narendra Modi: Why Muslims are losing hope

Why Muslims are not mourning withdrawal of Haj subsidy

Owaisi expands his appeal thanks to talaq bill

Will Indian Muslims take a break from too much focus on electoral politics?

Posted: October 19, 2018, 4:07 am
New Delhi: In potentially controversial remarks that could provoke a backlash, Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan has said the #MeToo movement was started by “people with perverted minds” and wondered if it was fair to level accusations over incidents that happened years ago.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader made the comments in response to questions by reporters on Wednesday amid the raging #MeToo storm which has demolished the carefully cultivated reputations of many distinguished personalities in the field of media and entertainment industry including celebrated journalist M J Akbar. 

Akbar, who edited many mainstream publications before joining politics, resigned as Union minister of state for external affairs on Wednesday after a host of his former women journalist colleagues accused him of sexual harassment.

“If someone makes an allegation that such a thing happened... when the incident happened we were playing together while in class 5... Would it be fair?

“This (MeToo movement) is the result of the behaviour of some people who have perverted minds,” Radhakrishnan, Union minister of state for shipping and finance said.

Noting that the ‘MeToo’ movement had sullied the image of the country and women, he wondered if it would be right for men to start “making similar accusations like them”.

“That will be such a big insult… Will it be acceptable?” Radhakrishnan said.

The #MeToo movement has gathered steam over the past few days with a number of women speaking about sexual harassment at workplace and outed their alleged tormentors.

Several celebrities including actors Nana Patekar, Alok Nath, filmmaker Subhash Ghai, author Chetan Bhagat, singer Kailash Kher and Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu are among the few who have been called out by their alleged victims.

Posted: October 19, 2018, 3:45 am

New Delhi: Ashish Pandey, a former Bahujan Samaj Party MP’s son who had brandished pistol at guests and threatened them in the foyer of a five-star hotel in New Delhi, surrendered on Thursday before a Delhi court which sent him to one-day police custody.

The accused approached the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh and moved an application seeking to surrender.

The application for surrender, filed through lawyer S P M Tripathi, said Ashish Pandey, the son of former BSP lawmaker Rakesh Pandey, has been wrongly framed in the FIR and has been subjected to media trial. 

It said Ashish Pandey is ready to submit before the court voluntarily and police may be directed to take him into custody if required.

However, since the magistrate concerned was on leave, the plea, seeking judicial nod to surrender, of Ashish Pandey was referred to another link judge who was hearing urgent matters of other courts whose presiding officers were on leave.

Meanwhile, the court staff of Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh informed police about Ashish Pandey’s surrender plea to be taken up by link magistrate Neetu Sharma.

The accused along with his lawyers appeared before Metropolitan Magistrate Sharma to press for his surrender plea and police personnel were also there to seek custodial interrogation of Ashish Pandey.

The magistrate, at the outset, allowed the policemen to formally arrest and quiz Ashish Pandey in court premises for 20 minutes.

Later, the public prosecutor submitted that police was seeking a four-day custodial interrogation of Ashish Pandey on various grounds.

“Accused is from Lucknow. The weapon has to be recovered and also it has to be verified whether the gun has a licence. The accused is also required to be taken to Lucknow and other places to know whereabouts of other accused,” the prosecutor said.

The counsel appearing for the accused opposed the application moved by police.

“The police knows that the gun is licensed. I (Ashish Pandey) am not required. I am ready to provide the gun. I am also not involved in previous cases. This case is highlighted only because the father of the accused was a politician and the matter is hyped by the media. No notice was served to the accused and NBW was issued malafidely,” the defence counsel said.

The court, however, granted one-day police custody of the accused.

The court had on Wednesday issued a non-bailable warrant against Ashish Pandey for brandishing a pistol at guests and threatening them in the foyer of a five-star hotel here.

A video of the incident, that occurred early on Sunday, had gone viral on social media resulting in public outrage. It prompted police to step in and launch a hunt for the accused who had gone missing after the incident. 

Posted: October 19, 2018, 2:51 am