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Lakhs of women take part in Attukal Pongala festival

By around 10 a.m, a radius of 10 kilometre of the city roads was occupied by the women.

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Attukal Pongala

Thiruvananthapuram, March 9 : As expected the state capital on Monday was taken over by lakhs of women who took part in the famed Attukal Pongala temple festival.

The Pongala cooking takes place on the penultimate day of the 10-day-long Attukal festival and is done by women by sitting on the road that starts from the temple and extends to all other parts of the city.

On account of the festival, its a public holiday for all in the capital district.

The temple, located in the heart of the city, is dedicated to Attukal Bhagavathi, believed to be an incarnation of Kannaki, the central character of the Tamil epic “Silappathikaaram”.

The roads leading to the temple were occupied by women for the past two days. They put in place a makeshift kiln, made out of freshly baked bricks.

By around 10 a.m, a radius of 10 kilometre of the city roads was occupied by the women.

The rituals began around 10.20 a.m when the chief priest of the Attukal Bhagavathi Temple lit the makeshift stove with fire brought from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

The fire is then passed on to the stoves of the women who had lined up on either side of the roads to cook their offering using rice, jaggery and coconut.

According to the traditions, the women who take part in the Pongala festival have to be dressed in new clothes and every item used for cooking the ‘divine’ pongala has to be brand new.

Like in the past, this time also women from show business – TV and film industry, which included Chippy, Sangeetha Mohan and singer Rajalekshmi, to name a few, were present.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and his wife, came out of their official residence and went around the main road greeting the women who were busy cooking.

In front of the State Secretariat was a group of transgenders cooking their own food.

With the Coronavirus raging in around 100 countries, this time the foreign nationals who otherwise take part in the festival were asked to remain in their hotels and were not allowed to cook alongside the women in the streets.

The event in 2009 was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest religious gathering of women on a single day.

According to the legend, Kannaki destroyed Madurai in Tamil Nadu after the king of Madurai wrongfully imposed the death penalty on her husband.

After that, Kannaki travelled to Kerala, where she rested for a while at Attukal and women are said to have cooked pongala to please her.

By around 2.25 p.m. after the chief priest sprays the holy water on the offering, then other priests about 300 of them go around all the places spraying the holy water and once that’s done, after a final prayer, the women pack their bags and make their way back.

Various state government departments made arrangements to see that festival goes off peacefully. Close to 5,000 police officers were on duty in the capital city, including 1,500 women police officers.

The organisers are assisted by the numerous clubs and other bodies, who set up numerous drinking water kiosks and supply free breakfast and lunch.

Incidentally, the biggest feature of the festival is when an army of cleaning staff employed by the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation take over the streets, after the women leave and in a matter of two hours all the bricks and firewood ashes are cleaned up.

India

Centre enhances approval free limits for FDI in defence

“Proposals for raising FDI beyond 49 per cent from such companies will require government approval.”

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FDI

New Delhi, Sep 18 : The Centre has enhanced the FDI limit for defence sector by allowing up to 74 per cent capital via automatic route.

Government approval will be required for in-take of foreign capital beyond 74 per cent with a stipulation that the foreign capital “is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded”.

According to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the decision will take effect from the date of FEMA (Foreign Exchange Mana gement Act) notification.

“FDI up to 74 per cent under automatic route shall be permitted for companies seeking new industrial licenses,” DPIIT said in a press note.

“Infusion of fresh foreign investment up to 49 per cent, in a company not seeking industrial license or which already has government approval for FDI in Defence, shall require mandatory submission of a declaration with the Ministry of Defence in case change in equity or shareholding pattern or transfer of stake by existing investor to new foreign investor for FDI up to 49 per cent within 30 days of such change.”

“Proposals for raising FDI beyond 49 per cent from such companies will require government approval.”

The development assumes significance as the Centre is trying to boost domestic defence sector manufacturing.

At present, India is considered to be one of the largest weapons importers in the world.

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Cities

DJ Halli violence: CSOs appeal Bengaluru police to widen probe

The Bengaluru City police are probing the incident and the violence that took place then at the streets of East Bengaluru on August 11, in which four were killed during police firing and several were injured.

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protect temple Bengaluru riots

Bangalore: Alleging inaction by Facebook and the City Police, a fact-finding committee formed by several Bengaluru based civil society organisations (CSOs) appealed to the Bengaluru City Police to widen the scope of investigation against the alleged Facebook post believed to have led to the same.

The Bengaluru City police are probing the incident and the violence that took place then at the streets of East Bengaluru on August 11, in which four were killed during police firing and several were injured.

“The intelligence failure to predict and prevent the violence must be investigated,” the committee has strongly demanded in its report on the violence that ensued on the night of August 11th, 2020 titled ‘Communalising Violence in DJ Halli’.

“This report brings out several truths. This report is not the end, on its authority, we must inquire into the truth and find out who is behind the violence, and who all failed to act. There are people who profit from the riot as well. We must find out those who are responsible. We must further tolerance,” said (Retd.) Justice H.N. Nagmohan Das.

Adding to this, senior journalist Indudhara Honnapura said, “There was an opportunity to stop this, but Police failed to do so. Everyone, including the police, knew this is a sensitive area. There are many good officers, but I do not understand why they did not send sufficient police force to control the incident. Why didn’t the government provide information to the police?”

“Facebook has failed to act against Naveen’s post which amounts to hate speech. Besides the local police too showed laxity in handling the situation as a result of this, situation went out of their (Police) control,” the report alleged.

The committee further stated that there was an intelligence failure in the state machinery’s reaction to the incident, the police were responsible for a delayed response in registering the FIR against Naveen, which resulted in a discontent crowd swelling at the stations.

Denying allegations that the mob was communal or political in nature, the team comprising CSOs claimed that lack of substantial evidence to suggest that the mob violence was communal in nature, in that it specifically targeted the Hindu community or that it was premeditated and pre-planned.

“This is a local and spontaneous incident that has been taken advantage of by different political parties for immediate political gains which included the upcoming corporator elections in the state,” the committee observed.

“The police have carried out several arbitrary arrests in the middle of the night, which has created an atmosphere of fear in the areas. The families of those arrested have not been informed of the arrest or whereabouts of their loved ones,” the report stated.

The committee claimed that a larger agenda of total criminalisation and demonisation of the entire community has also been noted.

Besides this, the report also came down heavily on the several sections of media which have misportrayed the incident in a communal light by spinning conspiracy theories and targeting the Muslim community.

The fact-finding committee claimed that it inferred several facts on the incident, after a thorough inquiry into the incident, documenting several testimonies, and gathering evidence from all those involved across the spectrum.

Key findings by the committee:

1.) The Facebook post uploaded by accused P. Naveen, nephew of Pulkeshi Nagar MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy crosses the constitutional protection encompassing free-speech, and amounts to hate speech against the Muslim community, the committee noted.

2.) Further, it accused the police and the media of not sufficiently probing the intent and motive behind the post but focussing on the violence that followed the same instead.

3.) The mob violence appears to be not directed by any visible leadership. However, the role of the mob in attacking Devarajeevanahalli (D. J. Halli) and Kadugodanahalli (K. G. Halli) police stations and MLA Murthy’s residence in Kaval Byrasandra destroying public and private property is undeniable and unjustifiable.

Alleging police inaction, the committee observed that the cops failed to act swiftly and effectively on the post when small delegations approached the police station and to intervene in effective ways to prevent the violence from escalating in the areas.

The report added that the perceived delay in lodging the FIR, and the failure to assure firm legal action and the perception that this was due to the MLA’s intervention cannot be ignored.

The imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 (of the Code of Criminal Procedure) has been termed a ubiquitous punishment to those in the areas, who allegedly met with verbal and physical abuse when they attempted to leave their homes.

The fact-finding team was comprised former chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Nina Nayak, independent journalist Cynthia Stephen and 21 others including lawyers, civic activists, representatives of various CSOs and policy researchers a” has urged the state government to form peace committees including all communities to restore peace in the areas.

Earlier about two weeks ago another fact finding report was submitted by ‘Citizens for Democracy’, a platform of responsible citizens – which reportedly has a backing of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh claims to be committed to democratic values, safety and security of the citizens of India – had termed that the riots were pre-planned and organised and it was undoubtedly communally motivated.

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India

Punjab farmer tries to commit suicide over Farm Bills

A protesting farmer in Punjab on Friday tried to commit suicide by consuming poisonous substance.

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Farmers Protests Kurukshetra

A day after the Lok Sabha passed two contentious agriculture Bills, despite the opposition by BJP’s oldest ally Shiromani Akali Dal terming it as an “anti-farmer” move, a protesting farmer in Punjab on Friday tried to commit suicide by consuming poisonous substance.

The farmer tried to commit suicide at a protest site in Badal village, the hometown of the Badals, in Muktsar district.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) state secretary Shingara Singh Mann said farmer Pritam Singh, 60, was disturbed over the passing of the agriculture Bills in the Lok Sabha.

The farmer feared that the Bills would be against the farmers.

The condition of the farmer is stated to be serious.

The farmers have been staging a protest at the Badal village just outside the residence of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal against the Bills brought by the Central government.

Akali Dal’s lone minister in the Narendra Modi government, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, resigned from the Union Cabinet on Thursday to protest the Farm bills.

While announcing the decision to withdraw the minister from the Union Cabinet, SAD President Sukhbir Badal said the party would continue to support the government and the BJP, but will oppose the anti-farmer policies.

He said the three agriculture related Bills in the Lok Sabha would sound the death knell for 20 lakh farmers, three lakh ‘mandi’ labourers, 30 lakh farm labourers and 30,000 ‘arhatiyas’, besides destroying the food grain procurement system established over a period of 50 years.

Earlier, warning that enacting laws on the ordinances issued by the Centre vis-a-vis farmers would lead to unrest in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had led a Congress delegation to Governor V.P. Singh Badnore, seeking his intervention for non-pursuance of the three agriculture-related Bills in Parliament.

The Chief Minister submitted a memorandum to the Governor and told him that the Congress felt that any move to “tinker with the present procurement system, and that too in the times of a nationwide crisis, may deepen social unrest among Punjab farmers”.

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