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UP CM visits Ayodhya on Diwali, inspects site for planned Lord Ram statue

Press Trust of India

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Ayodhya: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday visited the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site and several ancient temples in Ayodhya, besides inspecting a probable location near Sarayu river for a planned statue of Lord Ram.

His visit to Ram Janmabhoomi site came a day after the three-day Deepotsav ended, in which Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook was the chief guest on the last day.
“He arrived in Ayodhya this morning around 8:30 am from Faizabad where he stayed at the Circuit House last night. First, he visited Hanuman Garhi, and then the Ram Janmabhoomi, where he spent some time,” Faizabad BJP president Awadhesh Pandey said.

Pandey said he accompanied the chief minister at a few of the temple visits, during which Yogi also interacted with several religious leaders. Security was stepped up at the Ram Janmabhoomi site, where a large number of people from cross the country on Wednesday visited on Diwali.

A police official said about 20,000 people visit the site on Diwali, almost double the footfall recorded on regular days, adding Yogi Adityanath went in the morning.

Local residents said the chief minister had visited the birthplace of Lord Ram after last year’s Deepotsav as well.

Yogi’s visit to Ram Janmabhoomi site came at a time when the chorus has grown within the party and the Sangh Parivar, seeking construction of a temple through an ordinance. At present, a statue of Ram Lalla (child avatar of Lord Ram) is kept at the site, which attracts devotees from far and wide.

The Supreme Court recently fixed the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute cases for the first week of January next year before an appropriate bench, which will decide the schedule of hearing.

As many as 14 appeals have been filed against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgement that suggested that the 2.77 acres of disputed land be partitioned equally among three parties – the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

Pandey said after visiting the Ram janmabhoomi, Adityanath went to Kanak Bhawan temple and then to Sugriv Kila, located in the heart of Ayodhya. He then visited Maniram Das Ki Chavni and Digamber Akhada.

“Yogiji also inspected a site near Sarayu river for a planned statue of Lord Ram there. He later went to Gorakhpur where he met children of a tribal village and attended a programme there,” he said.

Pandey said one of the probable sites is a patch of land between the Ram Ghat Halt and railway-bridge on Sarayu, which Yogi inspected. Incidentally, Ayodhya Mayor Rishikesh Upadhyay had recently said that plans are afoot to install a statue of Lord Ram on the banks of the Saryu river.

Yogi’s Wednesday visit comes a day after he announced that Faizabad district will now be renamed as Ayodhya.

Pandey had on Tuesday said that the option to resolve the Ayodhya dispute through community dialogue is “over” and the BJP will work towards the construction of a Ram Temple here through constitutional or legislative means.

The Faizabad BJP chief also claimed that majority population of Ayodhya want to see the temple getting built as it is a “matter of faith” for them and “BJP is the only party that raises this issue for them”.

Many experts have said that the Ayodhya land dispute matter should be taken up by the court after the 2019 elections, as it might affect the voters.

The Akhil Bharatiya Sant Samiti, an umbrella body of Hindu seers, in New Delhi on Sunday had “directed” the Narendra Modi government to bring in legislation or an ordinance to build the Ram temple in Ayodhya.


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PM Modi embraces Maldives as new leader Solih takes office, China out of favour

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Male/New Delhi: Maldives’ President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih takes office , seeking help from India and the United States to climb out from under a mountain of Chinese debt that his predecessor racked up in a breakneck development of the coral islands.

The surprise defeat of pro-China strongman Abdulla Yameen has opened a window for India, the strategic outpost’s traditional political partner, to regain ground lost to Beijing in their tussle for regional dominance.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the highest ranking visitor at the inauguration at the national soccer stadium in the capital Male. By contrast, China’s highest-ranking attendee will be Culture and Tourism Minister Luo Shugang.

“I will convey to the new Maldivian government … the desire of my government to work closely for realisation of their developmental priorities, especially in areas of infrastructure, health care, connectivity and human resource development,” the Prime Minister said in a post on Facebook.

PM Modi’s presence signals the end of years of frosty relations because of Yameen’s embrace of China, a relationship that had deepened India’s anxieties about being encircled by countries leaning towards Beijing.

In Sri Lanka, an island nation to the southeast of India, the rivalry between New Delhi and Beijing has been one of the triggers for a political crisis in recent weeks.

The low-key Solih, a veteran lawmaker, has promised an “India first” policy in the Maldives, saying the small nation of a little over 400,000 people needs solid ties with its immediate neighbour.

His team is also reviewing millions of dollars of investments from China, as well as the related debt that the country has run up from Chinese lenders and how to restructure it.

Solih has said investigations will be launched to find out what happened and fix accountability, Adam Azim, a member of his transition committee, told reporters.

“We were led to believe it’s about USD 1.5 billion, the Chinese debt, but it could be worse,” said another member of Solih’s top economic team, which has been holding discussions with finance ministry officials during the transition following the election in September.

He said the team had already reached out to India, the United States and Saudi Arabia for financial assistance so it could tackle the debt.

“We straightaway need 200-300 million dollars to kick start the budgetary support,” the adviser said.

Debt of USD 1.5 billion would be more than a quarter of the country’s annual gross domestic product. Another member of the incoming president’s economic team said firm proposals for assistance had been discussed with Indian and US officials.

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Cyclone Gaja hits Tamil Nadu, 30 killed, many homeless

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Chennai: When ‘Gaja’ hovered over the Bay of Bengal near Nagapattinam district for the past one week, the public and all government stakeholders did little realise its ferocity.

With 30 persons dead, heavy winds uprooting thousands of trees in the delta districts and collapsed power lines, ‘Gaja’ tore into districts like Nagapattinam, Cudd-alore, Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai and Tiruvarur districts. Nagapattinam district bore the major brunt of the storm.

‘Gaja’, played hide and seek for over a week and finally struck with winds speeds touching 110 kmph, as earlier warned by the Indian Meteorological Department and Regional Meteorological Centre, which were closely monitoring the situation throughout the day. Both agencies kept updating revenue officials about ‘Gaja’ trail.

Revenue officials who have had kept their eyes peeled over the stormy development, had quickly evacuated around 81,000 people to safety across the delta districts. The storm did not spare livestock, as a huge numbers of cattle were killed across these districts.

The IMD, in its bulletin, said that the cyclone made landfall between 12.30 am and 2.30 am, after which it trundled on its way westwards, and is slowly poised to weaken.

Further, districts like Pudukkottai, Tiruchy and Ramanathapuram had on Thursday and Friday mornings, received mild rain.

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LED TV, coconut water and more: Inspection reveals Unitech directors ‘enjoying’ Tihar jail

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New Delhi: LED TV, coconut water, crates of mineral water, badminton rackets and household items were among the prohibited things found in the prison cell of Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay, lodged in Tihar Jail for allegedly cheating home buyers.

This was communicated to the Delhi High Court by Additional Sessions Judge Ramesh Kumar, who carried out inspection on September 4 following complaints from other inmates that Chandra brothers and others jailed for white collar crimes were enjoying “luxurious lifestyle”.

He said in a report that the circumstances indicated “corruption” and “grave misuse of power” on the part of DG Prisons and Tihar Jail officials.

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao on Friday issued notice to the AAP government, Director General (DG) Prisons and senior officials of Tihar Jail seeking their stand on the matter by February 1, 2019.

In the report, Kumar-II has recommended that an FIR be registered against DG Prisons and officials of Tihar Jail as such activities also pose an “extra burden on the public exchequer”.

He has said that apart from household amenities, including mattresses, mustard oil, foot-mats and stools, in their cell, the brothers also enjoyed a separate “office” room having a computer with internet, a printer as well as eatables and Aquafina mineral water.

On the brothers’ claim that they had bought the Aquafina mineral water from the jail canteen, the judicial officer found that only Bisleri was sold there.

Apart from that, the steel nets in the barracks housing the Chandra brothers were covered with blankets and boards “to avoid smell or outer air” from going into their cell, the report said.

It also said that such facilities cannot be provided to any inmate without the “involvement” and “knowledge” of the DG Prisons and other officials of Tihar Jail and proved as “positive” the complaint made by 25 inmates of Tihar Jail in their letter.

The report also indicates that the jail officials had told the ASJ that the letter was written by the inmates to pressurise them into providing extra facilities to the other prisoners which was not permissible under the jail manual.

The report also said that some of the complainant inmates were shifted to Mandoli Jail after they had sent the letter.

The High Court took suo motu cognisance of the report and the letter written by the inmates and turned it into a public interest litigation.

The inmates in their letter had claimed that while those arrested for financial crimes, like the Chandra brothers, were “enjoying an extra luxurious life in Tihar Jail” with a “separate VIP ward” for them, other prisoners were allegedly not getting sufficient food, drinking water, fruits and other necessities, including medical treatment.

However, those arrested for white collar crimes were getting specialised medical treatment for even minor ailments, had access to smart phones, could regularly communicate and meet with family members without hindrance, have home cooked meals, watch TV, play badminton and enjoyed a “luxurious life”, the letter said.

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