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Maharashtra Congress opposes Haj airfares, visa fees hike

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Haj pilgrims
Hyderabad: Haj pilgrims' lucky draw. Photo: IANS

Mumbai, May 5 (IANS) The Maharashtra Congress on Saturday opposed the recent hike in airfares and visa fees for Haj and Umrah pilgrims, saying it has made the annual pilgrimage unaffordable for a large number of Muslims.

In a letter to the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Mumbai, former Congress Minister and legislator M. Arif Naseem Khan said that the Mumbai-Jeddah and Medina return airfares have been increased from Rs 35,000 to Rs 52,500, or more than 50 per cent.

Besides, the visa fees have also been hiked by around Rs 35,000 for those pilgrims wishing to go for a repeat Haj/ Umrah pilgrimage within two years, he said.

“The Indian Muslims are economically weaker and they spend their entire lifetime savings to go for this biggest pilgrimage of their life. This is now become exorbitant and unaffordable to many who may not be able to go for this pilgrimage,” Khan said.

Many Indian Muslims have resented the sudden airfares and visa fees hike as now Haj would become a remote possibility for them, he added.

Khan urged the Consul-General to convey their sentiments and request to the Saudi Arabian government to review and slash the enhanced airfares and visa fees to ensure the pilgrimage remains accessible and affordable to a larger number of people.

This year, the Haj pilgrimage season is scheduled to start in the fourth week of August, while Umrah can be performed around the year, with many preferring to travel during the Holy Ramadan month of fasting and penance, starting May 15 worldwide.

IANS

India

Agri laws are death sentence for farmers: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress party is also protesting against the farm laws across the country.

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, Sep 28 : Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday alleged that the agriculture-related laws are a “death sentence” for farmers whose voice has been crushed both inside and outside Parliament.

“The agriculture laws are a death sentence to our farmers. Their voice is crushed in Parliament and outside. Here is proof that democracy in India is dead,” he said on Twitter.

Gandhi tagged a news report along with his tweet that claimed that Opposition members demanding a division of votes were on their seats when the farm bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha, while the government said they were not.

Gandhi and his Congress party have been demanding that the farm legislations be withdrawn as they are not beneficial for farmers, who will be enslaved at the hands of private players and big businesses.

The Congress party is also protesting against the farm laws across the country.

The government has, however, asserted that the new laws will free farmers from the clutches of middleman and allow them to sell their produce anywhere they want at a remunerative price.

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India

Congress protests against farm laws in Goa, demands rollback

“If this is not a new ‘zamindari system’, what else is? Through this specious mode of contract farming, farmers will be left at the mercy of big companies, courts and bureaucracy in the event of any dispute.

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Goa Congress Farm Protest

Panaji, Sep 28 : The Congress in Goa on Monday staged a protest at the Raj Bhavan here to protest against the three new agricultural laws and demanded their rollback.

In a memorandum submitted at the Raj Bhavan, Goa Congress leaders leading more than 1,000 protestors claimed the new legislations were “anti-farmer but corporate-friendly”.

Parliament passed the three Bills in its Monsoon Session. President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent on September 24 whereas the central government published it its gazette on Sunday.

“The biggest flaw in the contract farming law is that Minimum Support Price (MSP) is not mandatory. Once the mandi system is abolished, farmers will be solely dependent on contract farming and big companies will decide the price of farmer’s crops on their own,” claimed the memorandum signed by top Congress functionaries and addressed to the President of India.

“If this is not a new ‘zamindari system’, what else is? Through this specious mode of contract farming, farmers will be left at the mercy of big companies, courts and bureaucracy in the event of any dispute.

“In such a scenario, powerful big companies will naturally exercise their influence on bureaucracy and attack the very livelihood of farmers by engaging them in the legal intricacies and earn profits,” the memorandum said.

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Disaster

15 MLAs test Covid positive in Odisha

BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the party will form a committee of MLAs, MPs and leading farmers’ leaders to study the provisions of the farm Bills recently passed in Parliament.

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Naveen Patnaik

Bhubaneswar, Sep 28: At least 15 MLAs including Deputy Speaker Rajanikant Singh and three ministers have tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the monsoon session of the Odisha Legislative Assembly starting on Tuesday, official sources said on Monday.

The MLAs underwent Covid-19 test on two days at the Assembly premises, ahead of the commencement of the Assembly session.

“I have been tested positive for COVID-19 and have been admitted in SUM Covid Hospital, Bhubaneswar. I request each and everyone who have come in close contact with me in recent few days to get themselves tested. Jai Jagannath,” tweeted Deputy Speaker Singh.

Ministers Samir Ranjan Dash, Padmini Dian and Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi tested positive for coronavirus during the test drive at the Assembly premises, said the official.

Besides the MLAs, their PSO and drivers, Assembly staff and journalists, had undergone RT-PCR test.

The monsoon session of the Odisha Assembly is scheduled to begin from Tuesday and will culminate on October 7.

Meanwhile, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress held their legislature party meetings to discuss their strategies for the monsoon session.

BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the party will form a committee of MLAs, MPs and leading farmers’ leaders to study the provisions of the farm Bills recently passed in Parliament.

“In both houses of Parliament, BJD raised its concerns regarding protection of farmers’ interest in the farmers’ Bills and suggested for close scrutiny by Parliamentary Committee. The party will form a Committee of MLAs, MPs and leading farmer’s leaders to study the provisions. I would like to assure the farmers that their welfare will be paramount in any of our interventions,” said Patnaik.

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