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Closed-door celebration for Kerala Muslims on Eid

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 24 (IANS) For Muslims across Kerala, Sunday began with an unusual celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr: unlike in the past, most of them made it a private and a closed-door affair on account of lockdown norms in place to combat Covid-19.

Muslim clerics on Friday said the moon had not been sighted. But the 30-day Ramadan was to end on Saturday, so the clerics declared that Eid-ul-Fitr in Kerala would be celebrated on Sunday.

In normal circumstances, Eid would have been celebrated with thousands of devout Muslims participating in open prayer sessions at specially erected Eid-Gahs at playgrounds and auditoriums. The community members would also have visited their near and dear ones with rich food being served throughout the day.

One of the country”s tallest Islamic scholars, Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musliyar, who is currently the Grand Mufti of India and also the President of the Islamic Community of India, has wished people well, but had a word of caution for them.

“The world is facing one of its worst times as a pandemic has caused untold miseries to all. At this time of crisis, we should spend more time in prayers. This is one day when we should abide by the orders of the authorities to enable us to combat Covid-19. All of us should pray that the world recovers from this crisis,” said the Grand Mufti.

At Kozhikode, one of the important Muslim centres in the state, it was a closed-door affair at many homes.

“We decided to stay indoor. After a prayer session, our family sat down and had a breakfast. As the entire world is suffering due to coronavirus, and many people are finding life very tough, we decided that there would be no celebrations at all. It would be a simple and normal day for us,” said a teenage girl in Kozhikode.

The supreme leader of the Indian Union Muslim League, Panakkad Hyderali Shihab Thangal, in his message said as the world is going through one of its worst crises, the day should be used for prayers for those who are going through tough times.

Even as the lockdown norms continue to be strict, and despite it being a Sunday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan allowed slight relaxations. Shops selling meat and fish were open in the morning for a few hours.

Muslims account for 88.73 lakh of the 3.34 crore population in Kerala.

Disaster

India leading successful fight against COVID-19: HM Amit Shah

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Amit Shah

New Delhi, July 12 : Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said India was leading a successful fight in managing the coronavirus pandemic at a time when health services of most countries were collapsing.

The Home Minister said that the whole world was concerned about how India – a huge densely populated country with a federal structure – would fight this pandemic, but today “the most successful fight against this pandemic has been fought in India.”

“We are on a strong pedestal in the fight against COVID-19 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the motto ‘One People, One Thought, One Nation’,” Shah said while launching the Central Armed Police Forces’ (CAPFs) nationwide tree plantation drive in Gurugram which has set a target of planting 1.37 crore saplings.

Shah said only governments are fighting this pandemic across the world, but here in India, 130 crore people besides state governments are united in fighting this threat. His remarks came when the country recorded 28,637 fresh COVID-19 cases on Sunday, taking the total tally to 8,49,553 while the death toll from the disease climbed to 22,674.

In this fight, Shah said our CAPFs are playing a very important role whether it be markets, railway stations, whenever state governments have sought support in managing crowded places or the local police have sought the support of our security forces in enforcing the lockdown.

Mentioning that we should harness natural resources and not exploit them, Shah said this balance has been disturbed today due to consumerism and as a result we are facing the challenges of climate change and global warming. He said several programmes are being run on environmental protection but only tree plantation can check pollution and save the earth.

Shah said Prime Minister Modi while participating in the Paris World Environment Summit had cautioned the world against over exploitation of nature and the world accepted his formula in the Paris declaration on tackling climate change. Shah pointed out that various programmes of the government of India such as eight crore free cylinders to rural households are also environment friendly.

“I commend the brave CAPF jawans and applaud them for not only protecting and securing the nation but also having undertaken this massive campaign to plant more than one crore saplings of long lasting trees,” he said.

On the occasion Shah planted a sapling of the ‘peepal’ tree.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, DGs of the seven CAPFs and senior officials were also present. To mark the plantation drive, more than 10 lakh saplings are being planted at various locations of the CAPF throughout the length and breadth of the country.

These saplings are being planted by the CAPF personnel by contributing voluntary labour. Till June 30 this year more than 20 lakh saplings have been planted by all CAPFs across different regions of the country.

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Cities

Maharashtra Guv Koshyari tests negative for Covid; says ‘hale and hearty’

“Reports appearing in a section of the media regarding my health are baseless. I am hale and hearty,” said Koshyari.

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Bhagat Singh Koshyari

Mumbai, July 12 — Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Sunday said that the has tested negative for COVID-19 and was “perfectly alright”.

“I am perfectly alright and not in isolation now. I underwent relevant tests, the results of which came out to be negative. There are no symptoms of CCOVID-19 either,” assured Koshyari.

However, the Governor said that considering the Covid situation elsewhere, he continued to discharge all his official duties strictly adhering to protocols like social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks.

“Reports appearing in a section of the media regarding my health are baseless. I am hale and hearty,” said Koshyari.

Earlier, an official of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that a few persons in the Raj Bhavan complex have tested positive for coronavirus, and they are likely to undergo a fresh round of tests by the civic authorities soon.

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Business

Haunting Past – From AI Files – Airline paid Atul Chandra Rs 80 lakh in excess ‘erroneously’ as Sandhu shielded fraudster pilots

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Air India 777

New Delhi, July 12 : Fresh allegations have emerged against Captain Rajwinder Singh Sandhu, the newly appointed Director (Operations) of Air India, who was terminated for anti-management activities and has been shielding fraudster pilots.

According to a Twitter post, Capt Sandhu was terminated for anti-management activities. He is also accused of shielding Capt Atul Chandra since July 2019.

As per the post, Chandra has defrauded Air India of around Rs 2 crore in two years.

The post goes on to say that “if a thief, fraudster, crook returns returns D money it is admission of guilt but this Common sense was lost on Capt Sandhu. In fact based on d action Capt Atul Chandra shld hv been sacked without ny benefits. Capt Sandhu is defending d fraudster amounts to criminal conspiracy”.

Documents reviewed by IANS show that Air India acknowledged in December 2018 having paid excess amounts of Rs 80 lakh to Capt Chandra “erroneously”.

R.K. Goel, General Manager (Finance) Northern Region wrote a mail to Dilawar Singh Rawat, Dy Director Finance/Administration, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on December 7, 2016.

The mail says that Capt Chandra is presently on deputation from Air India to DGCA.

“However, since the papers pertaining to such deputation are not available with our personnel department, Capt Atul Chandra has been erroneously paid salary and allowances from Air India also for such deputation period till August 2018, resulting in excess payment of around Rs 80 lakh to him,” the mail said.

“It is required that copies of all the documents pertaining to his deputation to DGCA may please be provided to us. Moreover, you are also requested to help us in recovering the amount of such excess payment from Capt Atul Chandra,” Air India told DGCA.

In a similar case, Capt Sandhu is also accused of shielding another pilot, Capt Karan Mann in 2018 who was facing similar charges of withdrawing excess amounts from Air India running into crores of rupees over several months.

The Finance Department of Air India had red flagged payments running into crores of rupees and foreign exchange in thousands of dollars over several months made to a pilot, Karan Mann in 2018, who was facing complaints of receiving excess payments as he was allegedly not flying.

However, a draft enquiry report by a committee of the northern region of Air India in Delhi in August 2018 came to the conclusion that no excess payments had been made.

“Capt Mann held a valid licence and was medically fit. No enquiry for any technical/non technical reason was pending against him and no specific instructions for grounding issued by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The Bureau of Civil Aviation and Safety (BCAS) did not issue an instructions/communications to Air India or Capt Mann for reason of delay in issue of his airport entry pass (AEP)

In view of the above, Capt Mann has been paid only the relevant salary and flying allowances for the period under consideration and not paid the layover allowances. No excess payment has been made him.

Committee constituted by Regional Director (Northern Region) to enquire into the charges against Capt Mann for excess payment of allowances, the draft report said.

The Committee members included Capt Rajeev Khurana of CMS, Capt Aditya Singh Dhillon, NR and R.K. Sikka-Finance.

The committee was examining a complaint against Capt Mann for excess payment of allowances.

During this time, these complaints had Air India northern region and headquarters in a tumult with several departments involved. The Northern Region also passed on the issue to Mumbai which it said had made the payments.

General Manager Operations NR in a mail said in October 2018: “It is reiterated that the decision as well as payment for Pay and Allowances was made by CMS Mumbai. Therefore, in the interest of expediting the enquiry and seeking further clarifications, details of payments made
to Capt Karan Mann may be directly sought from CMS Mumbai, which will clarify the draft report.”

The red flag was raised by R.K. Sikka, DGM Finance.

In a mail to Narayan Koli, Mumbai Allowances, Sikka, Dy GM (Finance) wrote on October 16, 2018: “In my opinion, the payment of flying allowances also should not be payable as the payment is based on number of hours flown by a pilot and in this case, Capt Karan Mann has not flown due to not having the valid licence to fly the aircraft.

“It is therefore requested that clarification may please be provided whether salary and flying allowances are payable to Capt Karan Mann considering he was not having the valid licence to fly the aircraft and his PIC was also not renewed and he has not done any ground work during this period as informed by GM (Operations) NR office.”

In a mail dated September 4, 2018, Sikka wrote about the draft report into the enquiry against Capt Karan Mann.

“Reference to the draft report dated August 31, in regard to enquiry of Capt Karan Mann. As you are kindly aware that in the last meeting which was held in your office, the undersigned had placed the copies of the payslips for the period April 2016 to June 2018 and copies of flying allowances paid to him during the period June 2016 to June 2018 amounting to Rs 47.45 lakhs and Rs 1.5 crore was paid towards salary and flying allowances.”

“It has also been informed by the GM (WR) that Capt Mann has collected $93,321 towards flying and layover allowance vide email dated August 21, 2018 for the period July 2016 to November 2018.

“As per the draft report, it has been informed that Capt Mann was endorsed on B 787 PIC on July 25, 2017 and his AEP was issued on April 19, 2017.

It is evident from the above that Capt Mann did not fly the day he was relieved from DGCA i.e. May 31, 2016 to April 19, 2017. Furthermore, it was also informed that Capt Mann did not perform any ground job during the period May 31, 2016 to April 19, 2017.

“Whereas, he has been paid salary and flying allowances and layover allowances for the above mentioned period.

It is therefore requested that a meeting be arranged with GM (Operations), NR/Fin, NR/Pers before finalizing the draft report.”

The mail was marked to GM Operations, GM Fin, GM CMS, GM Fin NR among others.

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