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BJP government’s ‘honeymoon’ comes under shadow as crimes soar

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Yogi Adityanath

Lucknow, May 22 : Two months is not a long time in politics to fall from grace, especially when a landslide of public support has propelled you to power.

But in Uttar Pradesh, the honeymoon period of the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government seems to have been spiked by a series of incidents of heinous crimes and law and order issues. Serious crime figures have seen a sharp increase — in many cases going up manifold.

Having come to power in March with a three-fourths majority, riding on anti-incumbency and promising a turn around in the law and order situation, which the BJP said had collapsed during the Samajwadi Party (SP) regime, the situation in less than two months has turned against the ruling party.

From murders to rapes to dacoities to caste conflicts and communal tensions, the government seems to be tottering in face of soaring crime and shaken public confidence.

The situation has come to such a pass that the Allahabad High Court (HC) last Saturday expressed concern over the crime situation in the state.

While disposing of a petition, a bench of Chief Justice D.B. Bhonsle and Justice Yashwant Verma directed the Principal Secretary (Home) and the Director General of Police to rein in the criminal and mafia elements.

The twin murder of bullion traders in Mathura earlier this week seems to have set the alarm bells ringing in the ruling establishment, so much so that within 24-hours of the incident, 67 IPS officials were transferred across the state, apparently in a desperate bid to control the fast-slipping law and order situation.

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“Yes, indeed the soaring crimes are our first and foremost challenge but we are doing enough to rein in the criminals and restore law and order in the state” said a senior cabinet minister while admitting that the confidence of the people in Adityanath’s government “for now stood shaken”. Statistics on the ground reveal that the minister’s “enough” claim is apparently not enough.

Data released by the state police paints a rather grim picture. Between March 15 and April 15 this year, rapes increased four times over the past year, murders doubled and dacoities grew manifold. In 2016, in this corresponding period, there were 41 rapes against 179 this year and dacoities rose from three to 20.

Murders have gone up from 101 to a worrying 240 and robberies from 67 to 273. It’s not only the statistics. The perception of the people on crumbling law and order should worry the ruling elite.

Soon after Adityanath was sworn in, a husband-wife duo was killed and their young daughters raped and murdered in Allahabad; four people were murdered in Chitrakoot thereafter, a teenage trader was killed after this. In Lucknow, two sisters were murdered in broad daylight in their Lucknow home and a trader was shot dead in Gorakhpur, Adityanath’s parliamentary constituency.

Ashok Singh, the spokesman of the Uttar Pradesh Congress, says all that the state government was doing was preaching and the Chief Minister was busy doling out assurances. “In the past two months, the state is in throes of despair and the people have realised that the BJP government has failed to maintain law and order,” he said.

Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary was equally uncharitable. “The BJP tricked the people into believing in the dreams spun by them and now the poor people are facing the consequences as the criminals run amok and the powers that be are busy with ‘bhashanbaazi’ (sermonising)” he said.

Ram Achal Rajbhar, state president of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), accused the Adityanath government of triggering caste conflicts and communal tension and then going into “silent mode” for political considerations.

Opposition parties cite the caste conflict in Saharanpur and half-a-dozen other places which has singed the state in the past 60 days. Not surprisingly, as the opposition gunned for the state government, the ‘ready-to-shoot’ BJP spokesmen and leaders, who would slam the predecessor Akhilesh Yadav government previously over the smallest of incidents are now silent and duck questions on law and order.

Having effected more than 200 transfers of IPS officials in the past two months, the state government seemingly is yet to get the hang of the challenges that lie ahead. K.L. Gupta, a retired DGP, who served under Kalyan Singh, calls for more proactive policing and says police needed to be given more free hand with political interference minimised.

Put on the mat by a handful, but vocal, opposition parties in the assembly, Adityanath assured the House that his government was committed to “bringing the rule of law in the state” and that his government would treat criminals as criminals and political patronage of such unscrupulous elements would not be allowed.

However, most eyes are now on the 45-year-old monk-turned-Chief Minister of India’s most populous and politically significant state. The example of his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav is still fresh in the minds of those who elected his party to power. The lessons of history, political observers opine, can only be forgotten at one’s own peril.

By : Mohit Dubey

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])

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How important is speech in transmitting coronavirus

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coronavirus infection

New York: Normal speech by individuals who are asymptomatic but infected with coronavirus may produce enough aerosolized particles to transmit the infection, according to a new study.

Although it’s not yet known how important this is to the spread of COVID-19, it underscores the need for strict social distancing measures, according to the findings, published in the journal Aerosol Science and Technology.

“Aerosols are particles small enough to travel through the air. Ordinary speech creates significant quantities of aerosols from respiratory particles,” said study lead researcher William Ristenpart, Professor at the University of California, Davis in the US.

These respiratory particles are about one micron, or one micrometre, in diameter. That’s too small to see with the naked eye but large enough to carry viruses such as influenza or SARS-CoV-2.

Last year, Ristenpart, graduate student Sima Asadi and colleagues published a paper showing that the louder one speaks, the more particles are emitted and that some individuals are “superemitters” who give off up to 10 times as many particles as others.

The reasons for this are not yet clear.AIn a follow-up study published in January in PLOS One, they investigated which speech sounds are associated with the most particles.

Calculating just how easily a virus-like SARS-CoV-2 spreads through droplets requires expertise from different fields, the study said.

From virology, researchers need to know how many viruses are in lung fluids, how easily they form into droplets and how many viruses are needed to start an infection.

Aerosol scientists can study how far droplets travel once expelled, how they are affected by air motion in a room and how fast they settle out due to gravity.

“The aerosol science community needs to step up and tackle the current challenge presented by COVID-19, and also help better prepare us for inevitable future pandemics,” the researchers concluded.

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Can water treatment methods kill COVID-19 virus?

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Coronavirus

New York, April 4 : As some coronavirus, including the deadly SARS-CoV-19 one responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, can remain infectious for days — or even longer in sewage and drinking water — researchers have called for more testing to determine whether water treatment methods are effective in killing coronavirus.

The virus can be transported in microscopic water droplets, or aerosols, which enter the air through evaporation or spray, the researchers wrote in an editorial for Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, a leading environmental journal.

The researchers — Haizhou Liu, Associate Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Riverside in the US; and Professor Vincenzo Naddeo, Director of the Sanitary Environmental Engineering Division at the University of Salerno in Italy — suggest governments of developed countries must support and finance water and sanitation systems wherever they are needed.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need for a careful evaluation of the fate and control of this contagious virus in the environment,” Liu said.

“Environmental engineers like us are well positioned to apply our expertise to address these needs with international collaborations to protect public health,” Liu said.

During a 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong, a sewage leak caused a cluster of cases through aerosolisation.

Though no known cases of COVID-19 have been caused by sewage leaks, the novel coronavirus is closely related to the one that causes SARS, and infection via this route could be possible.

In fact, traces of the novel coronavirus have been found in some wastewater treatment plants in the Netherlands, according to reports.

Fortunately, most water treatment routines are thought to kill or remove coronaviruses effectively in both drinking and wastewater.

Oxidation with hypochlorous acid or peracetic acid, and inactivation by ultraviolet irradiation, as well as chlorine, are thought to kill coronaviruses.

In wastewater treatment plants that use membrane bioreactors, the synergistic effects of beneficial microorganisms and the physical separation of suspended solids filter out viruses concentrated in the sewage sludge.

Liu and Naddeo cautioned, however, that most of these methods have not been studied for effectiveness specifically on SARS-CoV-19 and other coronaviruses, and they have called for additional research.

They also suggested upgrading existing water and wastewater treatment infrastructure in outbreak hot spots, which possibly receive coronavirus from places such as hospitals, community clinics, and nursing homes.

For example, energy-efficient, light-emitting, diode-based, ultraviolet point-of-use systems could disinfect water before it enters the public treatment system.

Potable water-reuse systems, which purify wastewater back into tap water, also need thorough investigation for coronavirus removal, and possibly new regulatory standards for disinfection, the researchers wrote.

The extent to which viruses can colonise biofilms is also not yet known. Biofilms are thin, slimy bacterial growths that line the pipes of many ageing drinking water systems. Better monitoring of coronaviruses in biofilms might be necessary to prevent outbreaks.

If the novel coronavirus could colonise biofilms that line drinking water systems, showerheads might become a possible source of aerosolised transmission.

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Cover atheist Muslims from neighbouring countries under CAA: Taslima Nasrin

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Writer Taslima Nasrin

New Delhi : “If the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is about giving citizenship to the persecuted in the neighbouring countries, I appeal to the Government of India to extend it to atheists and persecuted Muslims too. Just like Hindus, Christians and Buddhists are discriminated against in Bangladesh and Pakistan, atheists and activists who criticise Islam are hacked to death in Muslim nations, be it Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan. In most cases, the well-off manage to get political asylum and settle in Europe or America, but what about the others? India must come forward,” says writer Taslima Nasrin, best-known for ‘Lajja’, who has been in exile for more than 25 years after a fatwa was issued against her for ‘criticising Islam’ by a fundamentalist Islamic organisation in 1993.

Stressing that she is still a staunch believer in the Uniform Civil Code, the writer, whose works have been translated into more than 30 languages adds, “Let’s be clear — all religions are anti-woman and need critical scrutiny. The basis of marriage has to be equality. In these times, how can you have archaic laws that favour men when it comes to inheritance, divorce, etc?”

Nasrin, a physician by profession, who fled Bangladesh in 1994 and spent the next ten years of her exile in Sweden, Germany, France and the US to come to Kolkata in 2004, was even forced out of West Bengal in 2007. “Isn’t it so absurd — a Bengali writer is neither accepted in East nor West Bengal? I moved from Europe to Kolkata for the love of the Bengali language, to be close to my roots. How do I feel now? Abandoned is the word,” she laments.

Talking about her recently released book in India, ‘My Girlhood’ (Penguin Hamish Hamilton), which has been banned in Bangladesh, Nasrin says, “It starts with the time when I was not even born and traces my life till the age of fifteen. I witnessed the mass movement against Pakistan in 1969, the 1971 war, how for nine months, our family had to move from village to village to save ourselves from Pakistanis who were leaving a trail of devastation wherever they went. It was banned by Bangladesh on charges of ‘obscenity’, just because it also talked about the sexual harassment of a 15-year-old by a family member,” says the author about the book that was written while she in Sweden. ‘My Girlhood’ was adjudged as the Best Non-Fiction work by Los Angeles Times.

A quarter of century of exile has surely changed the meaning of home for Nasrin. For the first five-six years, it was more on a physical level. Slowly, home has become a place that lives inside. “Now, it is where I feel safe, secure and loved. Where there is solidarity, respect and support. Physically, that can be anywhere in the world. After such a long time, different connections start collapsing from your own land….parents die, you lose touch with your friends…”

But writing for Nasrin is not visiting wounds from the past, (‘My Girlhood’ is a memoir). She insists that even if there are autobiographical elements in her body of work, she talks about the society, politics, women and patriarchy.”I tell stories so we can fight against sufferings. My intention has always been to keep talking about a society that is kind, liberal and most importantly, more human.”

As ‘Shameless’ (HarperCollins India), the sequel to her book ‘Lajja’ gets set to release in the near future, the author, who wrote it between 2004 and 2006, while living in Kolkata says that it revolves around the Bangladeshi Hindu family that escapes from Bangladesh to Kolkata in ‘Lajja’. “While living in Kolkata, I got a first-hand experience of the condition of refugees in the city. I finished it in 2007, but had to leave the country after that. The draft, which required polishing was in India, that’s why the delay in publishing.”

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