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Top UK diplomat calls Golden Temple a mosque, apologises for gaffe

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New Delhi/London: A top UK diplomat has called one of India’s holiest places, the Golden Temple, a mosque following which he apologised for the gaffe amid protests by the Sikh community.
Simon McDonald, Permanent Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, referred to the Golden Temple in Amritsar as the “Golden Mosque” in a tweet on Monday. “At Queen’s Birthday party, presented with picture of The Queen at Golden Mosque in Amritsar in 1997, a permanent memento for Deputy High Commission’s wall,” he tweeted.
On realising his mistake, he apologised for the gaffe. The Foreign Office top diplomat said this morning: “I was wrong: I am sorry. I should of course have said the Golden Temple or, better, Sri Harmandir Sahib”.
However, Bhai Amrik Singh, the chairman of the Sikh Federation, said: “This was a major gaffe by a top civil servant and totally unacceptable. It demonstrates a remarkable level of ignorance from someone in his position”.
“In our view, a public apology and admitting the mistake is not enough. What we need is a commitment from the UK government and senior civil servants to root out such ignorance and discrimination or we will continue to face hate, abuse and threats of violence,” he was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
The Golden Temple also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, located in the city of Amritsar, is one of the most revered spiritual sites of Sikhism in the world.
The gaffe comes as Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn vowed to launch an independent inquiry into Britain’s military role in the Indian army’s 1984 raid on the Golden Temple in Amritsar under his party’s government The Labour leader promised that an investigation into the attack, which is said to have left thousands of people dead, would be in the party’s next manifesto.


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Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs

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Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.

“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.

This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.

 

According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.

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Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara

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Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.

The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.

“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.

 
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Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.

With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.

Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.

 

Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.

However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.

The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.

The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.

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