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This Kolkata community Puja welcomes the sightless to touch and feel the festivities

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Durga Puja preparations

Kolkata, Oct 13 : As Bengal gets decked up in a shimmery jacket of lights to celebrate its biggest carnival in style, the organisers of a famous community Durga puja here have built their marquee with artefacts and elements dedicated to the visually impaired to help them experience the festive grandeur they otherwise miss out on.

The Samaj Sebi Sangha in south Kolkata’s Ballygunj area, that created a lot of buzz last year by creating the country’s then longest ‘Alpona’ (traditional street graffiti), is inviting people to its 73rd Durga Puja this year, to touch and feel the artwork.

Right at the entrance, a giant installation of goddess Durga’s face, made of 12,000 iron screws, welcomes the visitors. By touching the artwork, the visually challenged will get an idea about how the face of a traditional Durga idol looks like.

The marquee, designed by city-based artist couple Subhodip Majumdar and Sumi Majumdar, has a separate brailed path for the unsighted that would help them walk down to the main idol independently. Words like “Ma” and “Jai Ma Durga” are written in Braille on the inner walls.

The interior has been aesthetically decorated with artefacts made out of nails and thread, woodwork and paperwork using similar methods taught in the blind schools.

Atop the pandal is a face with hands covering the eyes that symbolises the hands as the eyes for the unsighted. Right below, two front panels depict the solar and lunar eclipses that signify giving back light to the blind.

The puja organisers said the unique theme was visualised earlier this year when the committee came in touch with a city based social organisation that works for the visually impaired and were moved by listening to the stories of their unfulfilled wishes centreing around the festival.

“Samaj Sebi always comes up with puja themes which have a social angle. So, when we interacted with the visually impaired, we found that the sightless feel tremendously left out during the festivities. So they mostly remain indoors and listen to the Puja commentaries on television or radio,” its General Secretary, Arijit Maitra, told IANS.

He said the theme also highlights the challenges faced by the sightless and attempts to raise mass awareness about the importance of eye donation.

“We thought if we can execute the concept properly it would be a great experience for the visually challenged. Our motive is also to create an awareness about the importance of eye donation among the common people who visit our marquee. It is the duty of those who can see to bring back the light in the life of the sightless,” he noted

The organisers have also tied up with four city-based blind schools – Southern Avenue’s Lighthouse For the Blind, Ramkrishna Mission Blind Boys’ Academy in South 24 Pargana district’s Narendrapur, Behala-based NGO the Voice of World and the Blind Person’s association – which are expected to bring at least 500 visually impaired persons to the marquee over the five day festivities.

“They would come to the puja through the special braille path and eat the ‘puja Bhog’ (offerings) with us on all five days. There will also be a special cultural performance by a group of 30 visibly challenged people from the NGO on Sashthi, the first day of Puja,” another member of the organising committee revealed, adding that every visually impaired person visiting the marquee will be given sheets with the puja itinerary, details of the concept of the puja and the Durga mantra in Braille.

The community puja that had depicted ‘lost childhood and caged youth’ as its theme last year by constructing cage-like structures made of iron rods, has also joined hands with the city-based MP Birla Eye Donation Camp to sensitise the visitors about the importance of eye donation.

Representatives from the institution will be present at the puja premises with pledge forms and certificates for those willing to donate their eyes after death.

“So far 10 visitors and 30 members from the puja committee have signed the forms,” the organisers said.

As an added attraction to the sightless and the common devotees alike, famous Bengali actor Prasenjit Sengupta, who played the role of a visually impaired in his last film “Drishtikone”, has lent his voice to the narrative that will be played in the marquee to chronicle the life experiences of those who cannot see the light of the day.

(Milinda Ghosh Roy can be contacted at [email protected])

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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.

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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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Mumbai to get 150 more suburban train services from Monday

The selected 10 per cent staff will require QR ID codes from the government which along with a valid identity card to commute after buying tickets/passes, said an official.

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mumbai local

Mumbai, Sep 20 : Mumbai will get an additional 150 suburban services on the Western Railway (WR) which will ease the commuting travails for officegoers and those in essential services permitted by the Maharashtra government, officials said here on Sunday.

With this, the number of WR suburban services will shoot up from 350 to 500 daily, while the Central Railway is already running 355 services.

This works out to 855 services daily – or barely one-third of the regular 2,300-plus suburban services that was the norm before the lockdown in March-end.

AWith the increase in services, the government permitted 10 per cent of key employees of private and cooperative banks to commute by local trains, in addition to essential staff of public sector banks, various government departments, aircraft maintenance staffers and lawyers who have been allowed so far.

The selected 10 per cent staff will require QR ID codes from the government which along with a valid identity card to commute after buying tickets/passes, said an official.

To avoid overcrowding and maintain physical distance, the WR and CR will open additional ticket booking counters at major stations on the suburban section which spans across Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad.

Several railway passengers organisations and Bahujan Vikash Aghadi (BVA) legislator Kshitij from Nalasopara (Palghar) have urged Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to resume suburban services for all office-goers.

Presently, many office-goers, especially those from Thane, Palghar and Raigad who commute to their workplaces in Mumbai are forced to travel at least 6 hours daily owing to huge traffic snarls on main roads and the two highways serving the country’s commercial capital.

Moreover, despite the restricted categories allowed to commute by local trains, there is overcrowding during the morning-evening peak hours making a sham of the physical distancing norms.

Meanwhile, the Covid cases and fatalities in the Mumbai Region (comprising Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad) have been on an upswing since the past few weeks, even as the state case tally reached 12,08,642 besides 32,671 fatalities till date.

Of these, the lion’s share belongs to Mumbai circle with 435,201 cases so far besides 14,780 deaths, causing huge concern among health authorities.

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11-kg tumour extracted from Mumbai woman’s abdomen

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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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