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Sahitya Akademi expresses solidarity with writers as threats continue



S. Hareesh

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram/Panaji, Aug 2 (IANS) In a major development that has averted a possible return of the 2015 awardwapsi protest, the Sahitya Akademi has vociferously expressed solidarity with writers after at least 26 heavyweight authors urged Indias National Academy of Letters to condemn repeated ongoing threats to Goa’s award winning writer Damodar Mauzo and Malayalam novelist S. Hareesh.

“I must make it clear that the Akademi condemns all attacks against writers and I am saddened by the news of Mauzo and Hareesh. I condemn these threats in strongest of words,” Sahitya Akademi President Chandrashekhar Kambar told IANS over telephone from Bangalore.

The 81-year-old said that he will be writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and draw his attention to the “pressures and attacks” writers like Hareesh are facing. I am also trying to speak to the concerned minister (Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma) but he is not available,” he said.

“The Akademi is meant to uphold free speech and I will not hesitate. I will talk,” Kambar asserted.

On being reminded that the same body took as many as 54 days to publicly condemn the killings of rational thinkers and writers M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar that had triggered massive protests by writers bringing the Akademi to a standstill in 2015, Kambar said that the past should be left behind as the Akademi was on the cusp of revival.

“Forget the past, we are doing everything in our capacity and we have taken a stand already, that we condemn these attacks against S. Hareesh and Damodar Mauzo,” he said.

In an official statement released Thursday afternoon, the Akademi reiterated that it “condemns all attacks on writers, thinkers and poets, not only in India but all over the world”.

It said that the Akademi received “the news of threat” to writers with “great pain”.

“Sahitya Akademi strongly condemns these attacks and stand behind the writers’ community of India,” read the one-paragraph press statement from the Sahitya Akademi, signed by Kambar.

A collegium of heavyweight and multiple award winning writers such as Nayantara Sahgal, Keki Daruwalla, K. Satchidanandan, Ritu Menon, Jerry Pinto and Meena Alexander, among several others, had written to the Akademi under the banner of Indian Writers’ Forum, urging it to condemn such instances.

The writers’ forum pointed out that the Akademi had failed to take a “bold, public stand” in 2015.

“We hope this would not happen in your dispensation and that this big literary institution will take a brave stand now,” the letter read.

Reacting to Akademi’s statement, writer and poet Keki Daruwalla, who had returned his Sahitya Akademi award in 2015 and was among the writers who urged the Akademi to condemn threats on Wednesday, said that it was “excellent news”.

“I am happy that the same scenario (like 2015) has not been repeated. We have done our part and I complement the Akademi for having spoken out, and particularly Mr Kambar, for taking immediate cognisance of the matter, instead of sitting silent like the Akademi did in 2015,” Daruwalla told IANS.

In the meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that the culture of banning books impacts the free flow of ideas and should not be taken recourse to unless they are hit by Section 292 of the IPC that prohibits obscenity.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud reserved its order on a plea seeking to omit certain excerpts from “Meesha” by Hareesh.

“You are giving undue importance to this kind of stuff. In the age of Internet, you are making this an issue. It is best forgotten,” said Justice Chandrachud.

But even as top writers express their solidarity, the vitriol against Malayalam novelist S. Hareesh and his publisher DC Books have continued as they received numerous threats and messages of intimidation from some right wing outfits. The Kerala state government has assured the publisher of their support.

An officer of the Cantonment Police station in Thiruvananthapuram said a case has been registered on Thursday against four acitivists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party) who took part in a protest before the DC Books office on Wednesday.

“The case has been registered against four people who have been identified. They burned the book, that has now become controversial. However, today also there was a protest, but no case has been registered,” said the police officer who did not wish to be identified.

Mauzo has been provided police security following threats to his life in view of revelations made by those arrested in the murder case of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru.

The award-winning Konkani writer and progressive thinker Mauzo had earlier confirmed to IANS that round-the-clock security was provided to him after he was informed by a central intelligence agency about threat to his life.


11-kg tumour extracted from Mumbai woman’s abdomen





Mumbai, Sep 20 : Doctors in Mumbai have extracted a gigantic 11-kg tumour from the abdomen of a 55-year-old woman after a marathon nine-hour surgery.

A team of medicos headed by oncologist Dr Tanveer A. Majeed, urologist Dr Santosh Palkar and Dr Shilpa Deshmukh performed the complicated surgery at the Zen Multispeciality Hospital in Chembur.

The patient Sujata Sinha (name changed) is a housewife who noticed her abdomen growing daily accompanied by breathing difficulties.

At the height of lockdown in June, she consulted a local doctor who confirmed the presence of a tumour with ultrasound and CT scan.

However, owing to the lockdown she did not take any further steps or medicines, even as the tumour continued to grow rapidly, making her look obese.

Finally, she was referred to the ZMH and Dr Majeed checked her condition on September 8 to find she was weighing around 80 kgs, and suffered from diabetes and hypertension.

Further tests revealed the huge abdominal tumour encroaching the right half of the abdomen, pushing the right kidney to the left side, duodenum, liver, small intestine and colon to the left side, besides her major blood vessels supplying to the heart.

After further clinical diagnosis, the patient was advised surgery by Dr Majeed as it indicated a rare cancer of connective tissues that resemble fat cells under a microscope.

“After opening the abdomen, we found a huge tumour which had displaced all the other body organs to the left side. It weighed 11 kgs and had dimensions of 55 cm x 40 cm x 35 cm, and the patient lost around one litre of blood during the nine-hour operation,” said Dr Majeed.

The patient is recuperating well at the hospital now, has started an oral liquid diet, can breathe normally, and will be required for a follow-up after three months.

“We delayed treatment due to the pandemic lockdown. But I am fortunate to be operated at ZMH where the doctors saved my life. I feel much lighter now, can eat and breathe properly and resume normal life,” said the patient gratefully.

Prior to this, a team of doctors at the Global Hospital, Parel, had extracted a massive 12-kg tumour from a woman’s abdomen in December 2014.

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Uttar Pradesh man nabbed for importing drugs from United States

He used to order the drugs from the US through Instagram or Wickr and the payments were made through bitcoins.





Lucknow, Sep 20: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested a person from here and seized 2.7 kg of bud (curated marijuana) concealed in an air compressor machine at Delhi.

The consignor is based in the US and a few earlier seizures made by NCB had the same origin which alerted the NCB team.

The payment for the consignment was made through bitcoins and came into contact through Instagram ID of the consignor.

According to the NCB press statement, the parcel was sent to India from the US on August 31.

A detailed investigation into the case with the help of digital analysis led NCB team to the consignee C. Gidwani, a Lucknow resident, who accepted his involvement in the case on September 18.

The necessary digital evidence was also seized. He admitted that he used to import such parcels on a regular basis for last one and a half years for himself and further distribution to his friends.

He used to order the drugs from the US through Instagram or Wickr and the payments were made through bitcoins.

The accused also revealed that he used to get ‘charas’ and ‘marijuana’ from Delhi and Bangalore-based suppliers. Further investigations into the backward and forward linkages were underway.

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Agri Bills historic, in farmers’ interest: Modi tweets in Punjabi

Modi said that the Indian farming system immediate needed the latest technology.




Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Sep 20 : In the wake of protests by farmers in Punjab and Haryana against three agriculture-related Bills, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday assured the farmers — through tweets in Punjabi language — that the proposed laws were historic and in their interest.

“No dilution of MSP regime; government procurement of agricultural produce to continue,” Modi said in one of the series of tweets in Punjabi, hours after the passage of two of the three contentious agricultural Bills by the Rajya Sabha.

Reiterating his government’s commitment and dubbing the passage of the farm Bills as a “watershed moment”, the Prime Minister said: “We are here to serve the farmers. We will do our best to help the farmers and ensure a better life for their future generations.”

Modi said that the Indian farming system immediate needed the latest technology.

“Our agriculture sector is in desperate need of the latest technology that assists the industrious farmers. Now, with the passage of the Bills, our farmers will have easier access to futuristic technology that will boost production and yield better results. This is a welcome step.”

“For decades, the Indian farmer was bound by various constraints and bullied by middlemen. The Bills passed by Parliament liberate the farmers from such adversities. These Bills will add impetus to the efforts to double the income of farmers and ensure greater prosperity for them,” tweeted the Prime Minister.

Earlier in the day, the Upper House of Parliament also its nod to The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. The Lok Sabha passed the two Bills on Thursday.

The third is The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

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