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Women skip Sabarimala temple after huge protests



Two women forced to return from Sabarimala temple
Sabarimala: Police escort one of the two women to Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, Kerala on Oct 19, 2018. The two women, Kavitha and Rehna Fathima, made it almost 500 metres short of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple before being forced back by a wall of male devotees and priests who blocked their way. (Photo: IANS)

Sabarimala (Kerala), Oct 19 : Huge protests by hundreds of devotees at the entrance of Sabarimala temple forced the Kerala Police accompanying two women on Friday to call off their journey towards the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

At 10.50 a.m., Kavita, the Hyderabad-based journalist and her four member crew along with another woman devotee Rehna Fathima from Kochi, began their descend towards Pamba foothills of the temple.

It was around 6.45 a.m., when the two women accompanied by a 100 policemen led by Inspector General of Police S.Sreejith started their two-hour climb. Twenty led them from the front while 80 officers backed them behind as at least one of women put on police gear.

In a never-before move, around 30 employees attached to the temple tantri and the chief priest went on protest as they stopped their rituals and sat down in front of the hallowed 18 steps leading to the sanctum santorum and sang Ayyappa hymns after they heard that the two women were about to reach the shrine.

When the group reached the first entry point to the temple, hundreds of protesters were lying on the road leading to the hilltop temple.

Soon Sreejith received a call. He told the protesters that the government has decided not to use force and asked them to relent.

“Now I have to talk to the two women, who also have their rights according to the Supreme Court directives and it too has to be protected. Please do not create any disturbances here, but you can continue to chant the hymns,” said Sreejith.

After an hour, Sreejith told the media that he had a word with the temple tantri who categorically told him he would be forced to close down the temple if there was any violation of tradition and faith.

“So we told the two women about it and they also decided to abandon their trek and return, asking for protection till they reached home,” Sreejith said, adding that would be provided. “So we are taking them back.”

However, Kerala Minister of Devasoms, Kadakampally Surendran told the media here that they have come to know that the two women were actually activists.

“After coming to know that, it becomes our duty to protect the rights of the devotees and not that of activists.

“Our request to women activists is not to ply their trade in hallowed places. The police should have been more cautious. They should have found out more about these women. The state government is duty-bound to protect the rights of the devotees,” said Surendran.

Fathima’s house in Kochi was meanwhile damaged by angry devotees.

“We have just come here after hearing about the damage caused to her home. We do not know if there were other residents around,” said a police official.

Fathima works with the BSNL in Kochi and lives with her partner. Both had started out for the temple.

“There are no separate rule of law for activists, or others. There is only one law. She is not an activist and she has the right to go and pray as per the apex court directive,” said Fathima’s partner who is a news producer, who along with his team is present at the protest venue.

BSNL has issued a statement saying it was not connected with Rehana Fathima’s action, who is a staff of their Ernakulam Business Area.

“Outside BSNL premises, Rehana Fathima alone shall be fully responsible for her action in her own personal capacity outside the normal business hours.

“This is in no way related to the written assigned official responsibilities, as per BSNL conduct and service rules and regulations,” the statement said.

When the police along with the two women were on their ascend, the temple Tantri family and members of the Pandalam royal family went into a huddle.

They were considering closing down of the temple in order to stop the women from entering, according to informed sources.

Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam summoned police chief Loknath Behra to his office and spoke to him about the overall situation.

Devasom Minister Surendran spoke to state CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

BJP leader K. Surendran lashed out at the state government and Sreejith for violating the Kerala Police Act Rule 43.

“According to the Rules, none other than a police official can use their dress or their equipment. We wish to know how come Sreejith allowed the two women to use police uniform and helmet.

“This destroys the sanctity of the Sabarimala temple. We warn the Kerala government not to try tricks to forcefully impose the apex court verdict,” said Surendran.

The temple opened its doors on Wednesday for the first time since the September 28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed women from the 10-50 age group to enter the famed shrine.

On Thursday, there was a dawn-to-dusk shutdown across Kerala called by outfits owing loyalty to Hindu groups and the BJP.


Farm bills Modi govt’s ‘death warrant’ for farmers: Rahul Gandhi on Farm Bill

The Parliament on Sunday witnessed a lot of drama and uproar. Calling the farm bills introduced by the government as “black laws”, Congress party hit out at the government and raised the issue of Minimum Support Price (MSP).



Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the farm bills that were passed in the Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) on Sunday, saying that the ‘democracy is ashamed’ by the decision.

“The farmer who grows gold forom earth, Modi government’s pride is making that farmer cry tears of blood,” the Congress leader wrote on Twitter in Hindi.

Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, which the government says will help boost the farming sector through private investments, were approved in Rajya Sabha today, inviting a lot of criticism from opposition parties.

“Democracy is ashamed of the way this government issued a death warrant against farmers through these bills in Rajya Sabha,” Rahul Gandhi further wrote on Twitter.


The Parliament on Sunday witnessed a lot of drama and uproar. Calling the farm bills introduced by the government as “black laws”, Congress party hit out at the government and raised the issue of Minimum Support Price (MSP).

“Why the government is running away from providing legal obligation for MSP. Who will take a guarantee of MSP outside ‘Mandi’,” Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

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No restriction on accessing any website in Jammu and Kashmir: Centre

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the mobile data services are presently restricted to 2G speed in all but two districts of the Union territory.



Postpaid Mobile in Kashmir

There is no restriction on accessing any website, including social media sites, in Jammu and Kashmir, the Lok Sabha was informed on Sunday.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the mobile data services are presently restricted to 2G speed in all but two districts of the Union territory. “There is no restriction on accessing any sites, including the social media sites,” he said in a written reply. Reddy said the internet services are already available in Kashmir on fixed line (without any speed-related restrictions) as well as mobile data services (at 2G speed) since January 24, 2020.

He said restrictions on accessing social media sites were also lifted on March 4, 2020. Further, high speed mobile data services too have been commenced in the districts of Ganderbal (Kashmir Division) and Udhampur (Jammu Division) with effect from August 16, 2020. The minister said fixed line internet connectivity is available without any speed-related restrictions, with Mac-binding.

He said the businesses have had access to internet through fixed line connectivity and internet kiosks opened in large numbers across the Valley without any speed restrictions.

Reddy also informed the Lower House that 2G mobile internet speed is not an impediment in Covid control measures, including dissemination of information to the general public as well as health workers.

Also, he said, e-learning apps and education/e-learning websites of the Government of India, Government of J&K are accessible over 2G internet for downloading e-books and other study material.

“Further, the restriction on high speed mobile internet services has not been an impediment in the administration of justice and the courts have taken special measures to conduct their proceedings during the pandemic by providing video links/URLs to lawyers and the litigants,” the minister said.

“Considering the overall security scenario and in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir issues orders from time to time regulating telecom and internet services in terms of the applicable rules and the principles laid down and directions contained in the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India..,” he added.

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Lok Sabha creates fresh record, burns midnight oil for Public Importance matters

This is the fourth session of the 17th Lok Sabha in a row when the lower House registered a new record by concluding its business in late-night proceedings involving debate on major issues linked to the common people.



Lok Sabha

New Delhi, Sep 21 : The Lok Sabha inked another record in the history of Parliament by hearing ‘Matters of Urgent Public Importance’ during midnight proceedings of the ongoing Monsoon Session when most of the Indians were sleeping. The lower House which began its proceedings at 3 p.m. on Sunday concluded its session at 12.34 a.m. on Monday, spending more than two hours to hear the ‘Matters of Urgent Public Importance’ raised by the parliamentarians.

Several parliamentarians and officers in the Lok Sabha secretariat said it was the first time in the history of Parliament when the Lok Sabha (House of the People) held ‘Matters of Urgent Public Importance’ or ‘Zero Hour’ after the Lower House was constituted for the first time on April 17, 1952, following the first General Elections – held from October 25, 1951, to February 21, 1952, and the First Session of the First Lok Sabha that had commenced on May 13, 1952.

‘Matters of Urgent Public Importance’ gives Members of Parliament (MPs) a vehicle to discuss a matter of current concern without the requirement for a question to be before the Chair.

The Assembly does not make a judgement on the matter by way of resolution.

Under this procedural device, a Member may, with the prior permission of the Speaker, call the attention of a Minister to any matter of urgent public importance and the Minister may make a brief statement thereon.

There shall be no debate on such a statement at the time it is made. After the statement, brief clarifications can be sought from the Minister by the Member who has initiated the Calling Attention and other Members whose names appear in the List of Business are called by the Speaker.

Only those matters which are primarily the concern of the Union Government can be raised through a Calling Attention notice.

The Calling Attention procedure is an Indian innovation that combines asking a question with supplementaries and making brief comments; the government also gets an adequate opportunity to state its case. The Calling Attention matter is not subject to the vote of the House.

Known as ‘Zero Hour’, the matter of public importance started on late Sunday night after the House passed three major Bills — two related to the Union Home Ministry and one of the Finance Ministry — on the recommendation of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

Announcing to start the ‘Zero Hour’ of the Monsoon Session, for the first time in the night, Birla, however, requested Members of Parliament to conclude their matters within one minute. “I will give enough opportunities to every MP during Zero Hour but not enough time,” Birla said before creating the history by running the Zero Hour which began around 10.30 p.m. on Sunday and crossed 12 midnight.

Generally, the ‘Zero Hour’ time immediately follows the Question Hour. It used to start at around 12 noon (hence the name) and members can, with prior notice to the Speaker, raise issues of importance during this time.

Due to Covid-19 precautions, it was decided that the half-an-hour time slot will be fixed for the ‘Zero Hour’ during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament which started on September 14 and is set to conclude on October 1.

Soon after the clock hits 12 O’clock, the Speaker again extended the time of the House for more half-an-hour to give chance to all MPs who got a chance to speak during the ‘Zero Hour’.

Birla again extended the time of the ‘Zero Hour’ at 12.30 a.m. on Monday, saying “the time is extended till the end of all matters to be raised”.

The House was finally adjourned at 12.34 a.m. on Monday. The Lok Sabha earlier has held various late-night proceedings.

On March 12 this year during the Budget Session, the Lok Sabha conducted its business till late night in a marathon sitting that crossed 12 hours while concluding debate on the demands for grants under the control of the Ministry of Railways for 2020-21, skipping lunch as well as dinner breaks.

The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, which provided Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, was also passed in the Lok Sabha on December 10 last year in the late-night hearing though it was vehemently opposed by the major opposition parties which described it as “anti-Muslim”.

This is the fourth session of the 17th Lok Sabha in a row when the lower House registered a new record by concluding its business in late-night proceedings involving debate on major issues linked to the common people.

The Lok Sabha created an undefeated record On July 25, 1996, when a discussion on demands for grants on Railways began on the day after the lunch and ended on July 26, 1996, at 7.17 a.m.

Ram Vilas Paswan, the senior Bihar-based politician from Lok Janshakti Party and the present Cabinet Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, was the Railway Minister at that time.

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