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REPORT ON PAGE 4
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
JULY 3, 2020
MCI (P) 068/03/2020
PUERTO RICAN SONG
111 test positive after man’s wedding, funeral
More than 100 people have tested positive for
Covid-19 after attending the wedding – and then the
funeral – of a man, who reportedly tied the knot
while ill with the disease.
Officials in Bihar said the 26-year-old groom had
symptoms of the deadly coronavirus when he got
married on June 15. He died two days later. “So far
111 people who either attended the wedding or the
funeral have tested positive,” said Mr Raj Kishor
Chaudhary, chief medical officer in Patna, the state’s
capital on Wednesday. “All others have been
identified and isolated.”
Covid-19 vaccine approved for human trials
Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine has been
approved for human trials, making it India’s first
domestic candidate to get the green light from the
government’s drug regulator as cases surge in a
country with more than 1.3 billion people.
The Drug Controller General of India has
approved the company’s application to conduct a
Phase I and II clinical trial of Covaxin, which was
developed in collaboration with the Indian Council
of Medical Research’s National Institute of Virology.
Large Covid-19 care facility set up in Delhi
Delhi has set up one of the world’s largest Covid-19
care facilities, hoping to reinforce its loosening grip
on a worrying outbreak of the disease in the city.
The makeshift facility, expected to be fully
operational later this week, has 10,000 beds and
covers an area of nearly 1.25 million square feet,
which is equivalent to 16 football fields.
Kerala blocks 29 roads to Karnataka
With the number of Covid-19 cases rising in
Dakshina Kannada, the Kasaragod district
administration in Kerala dumped mud to block all
the 29 roads leading to Karnataka on Tuesday.
When the first wave of Covid-19 cases hit the
area in April, the Dakshina Kannada administration
had dumped mud on all the roads leading to
Helicopter, drones to spray insecticide
India on Tuesday deployed a helicopter and a dozen
drones to spray insecticide and stop desert locusts
that have spread to nine heartland states of the
world’s second-biggest producer of rice and wheat.
The move came after swarms invaded Gurugram,
a satellite city of the capital New Delhi, during the
weekend, prompting people to criticise authorities
for not quickly containing the outbreak.
Poor to get free foodgrains till November end
The Central government extended a scheme for
distribution of free foodgrains to the country’s
poorest until the end of November to help them
cope with the economic pain of the country’s long-
drawn Covid-19 lockdown.
Some 800 million of India’s poorest have been
provided free foodgrains since April and this will
continue for another five months, Prime Minister
Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.
The entire programme will cost an estimated
Rs1.5 trillion ($27 billion).
Infant mortality rate highest in MP, lowest
Madhya Pradesh has recorded the highest infant
mortality rate of 48 for every 1,000 live births while
Kerala has registered the lowest – just seven,
according to the latest data of the Registrar General
and Census Commissioner of India.
The data showed the infant mortality rate in
India has improved, albeit slightly, from 33 in 2017
to 32 in 2018.
Centre declares Nagaland ‘disturbed area’ for
six more months
The Central government on Tuesday declared the
entire Nagaland state a “disturbed area” for a
further six months till the end of December.
The Home Ministry said the Central government
is of the opinion that the Nagaland is in such a
disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of
armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.
Snake rediscovered after 129 years
A team from the Wildlife Institute of India has
rediscovered a snake in Assam after it was believed
to be extinct for 129 years.
The species “Hebius pealii,” also called Assam
Keelback, was discovered in 1891 when British
tea-planter Samuel Edward Peal collected two male
specimens from Sibsagar district in Assam.
One was kept at the Zoological Survey of India
headquarters in Kolkata and the other in London’s
Natural History Museum. The snake was never seen
Goa expecting foreign tourists by October
A Goa minister has said foreign tourists would
begin arriving in the state by October as chartered
flights had started booking slots at Dabolim airport.
State Ports Minister Michael Lobo also said
tourists from European nations, especially Russia,
have started booking trips to Goa.
3-year-old rescued after watching
Days after a five-year-old was killed in a terror
attack in South Kashmir, a civilian was killed right
in front of his three-year-old grandson in North
In heart-breaking pictures that were carried by
Indian news media, the boy is seen sitting on the
dead body. He was later attended to by army and
police personnel who carried him away.
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India celebrated National Doctor’s
Day on Wednesday by honouring
the frontline warriors in the battle
Madadgar Parivar chairman Prakash
Gurjar (right) greeted doctors and
medical staff of the Indian Red
Cross Society in Ahmedabad,
Gujarat, which has recorded more
than 33,000 Covid-19 cases.
Dr Chandresh Jardosh, the
president of the Gujarat chapter of
the Indian Medical Association
(IMA), said: “Across India, 57
members of the IMA have lost their
lives to Covid-19. We will pay
homage to these Covid warriors.”
National Doctor’s Day marks the
birth anniversary of the eminent
Indian physician and freedom
fighter Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy,
who was the chief minister of West
Bengal from 1948 until his death
National Doctor’s Day pays homage to Covid-19 warriors
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The deaths of a father and son from
alleged torture by policemen have
sparked outrage across India, with
many drawing parallels with the
killing of Mr George Floyd in the
Their case has thrown a new spot-
light on police brutality just weeks
after the killing of Mr Floyd, an
African American man, by a white
police officer in the US led to world-
Mr J. Jayaraj, 58, and Mr Bennicks
Immanuel, aka Fenix, 31, were ar-
rested in Sathankulam, Thoothukudi
district, on June 19 and accused of
keeping their store open past permit-
ted hours in Tamil Nadu, which has
reimposed a lockdown to curb the
spread of Covid-19.
They were remanded to judicial
custody and lodged at the Kovilpatti
jail on June 21. Mr Jayaraj died on
June 22 night and Mr Benicks on June
23 morning in hospital. The family
alleged in written complaints that they
were severely abused by policemen
and had suffered rectal bleeding.
The Indian Express reported that a
preliminary police probe found the
two were stripped and tortured.
The magistrate appointed by the
Madras High Court to probe the
incident wrote to the court saying
officers at the police station had de-
stroyed evidence, did not cooperate in
the investigation and had tried to
intimidate the judicial team.
The magistrate’s note to the High
Court confirmed the torture allega-
tions, saying witnesses had testified
that “both father and son were beaten
by lathis throughout the night, till
Sub-Inspectors Balakrishnan and
Raghuganesh, who were allegedly in-
volved in the torture of the father and
son, were arrested by the Crime
Branch of the Tamil Nadu Police’s
Crime Investigation Department on
According to news reports, special
Crime Branch teams are also hunting
for the other six accused policemen.
The state’s Chief Minister Edappadi
Palaniswami said on Sunday that the
case would be transferred to the fed-
eral Central Bureau of Investigation
pending the approval of the Madras
High Court. The state government
announced a compensation of Rs20
lakh ($370,000) for the family, while
the opposition Dravida Munnetra
Kazhagam pledged Rs 25 lakh.
The deaths in the small town of
Sathankulam triggered a protest last
week and shopkeepers across Tamil
Nadu staged a strike on Wednesday.
“Reeling from what I’m hearing.
Absolutely stunned, sad and angry...
the guilty must not be allowed to go
unpunished,” tweeted Bollywood star
Tamil film star Rajinikanth said:
“The manner in which a few police
officials behaved with the magistrate is
very shocking. All the officials con-
nected with the incident should be
severely punished. They should not be
State politician, social activist and
lawyer Jignesh Mevani wrote that the
“George Floyds of India are far too
many”. “Will Indians march on streets
in thousands like in America?” he
Indian cricketers Ravichandran Ash-
win and Shikhar Dhawan also sought
justice for the bereaved family.
The Tamil Nadu Senior Advocates’
Forum passed a resolution demanding
action against the guilty.
“The magistrate who remanded
them to judicial custody, the duty
doctor who issued the fitness certifi-
cate as well as the jailor have all failed
in their duties and contributed to the
tragedy,” the resolution said.
“We strongly condemn the incident
which demonstrates lack of respect for
the rule of law... We call for justice to
be done by swift, meaningful steps in
accordance with law.”
Several reports by human rights
groups in India have detailed cases of
alleged torture of suspects in custody,
with deaths often blamed by police on
suicide or natural causes.
According to the National Human
Rights Commission, 3,146 people died
in police and judicial custody in
“Custodial violence and torture is
so rampant in India that it has become
almost routine,” it said in a report. “It
represents the worst form of excesses
by public servants entrusted with the
duty of law enforcement.”
Convictions in such cases are ex-
tremely rare, according to activists.
TikTok stars hurt by app ban
People in Sathankulam gather as the coffins of (above, right) Mr J. Jayaraj and his son
Bennicks Immanuel are brought home.
Ms Geetha Sridhar never used to
enter her kitchen in Mumbai
without her smartphone.
The 54-year-old homemaker
used to post dozens of short
videos daily on the Chinese
video app TikTok, mostly of
herself cooking traditional
With one million TikTok fol-
lowers, she earned an average of
Rs50,000 ($850) a month from
companies that paid her to use
For thousands of Indian con-
tent creators like Ms Sridhar,
TikTok was a window into fame
But on Tuesday, the app,
owned by China’s ByteDance,
went blank on phones across
India after the government
banned it along with 58 other
Chinese-origin apps which Delhi
considered a threat to national
The move came weeks after a
deadly skirmish between Indian
and Chinese soldiers along their
disputed Himalayan border.
“TikTok made me strong and
confident. I started wearing West-
ern clothes, dancing on the
streets... I am disappointed,”
Ms Sridhar said.
TikTok was a sensation in
India. With more than 600 mil-
lion downloads, India accounted
for 30 per cent of its two billion
ByteDance planned to invest
US$1 billion in India, its top
growth market where it employs
Unlike Instagram, Facebook
and Twitter, TikTok found reso-
nance in India’s hinterland as
well as its cities, thanks to its less
elaborate user interface, back-
ground music options and vari-
ous special effects.
Users – who ranged from top
Bollywood stars to people in
remote villages who became
mini-celebrities – posted a wide
variety of content.
Jokes, dance clips and videos
related to India’s thriving movie
industry dominated the platform.
Mr Vishal Pandey, 22, had
nearly 17 million followers on
TikTok and used the platform to
regularly post videos – every-
thing from dancing to short hu-
morous acting sketches.
His popularity on the plat-
form helped him secure acting
offers for some movies.
“TikTok opened so many
doors for me,” he said. “Instead
of having to line up outside
auditions, I got calls from casting
agents saying: ‘Can you please
work in our web series’.”
“Right now, there is abso-
lutely no app that can compare
to TikTok. None.”
After India imposed the ban
and just before the app went
blank, many TikTok users posted
videos expressing their displea-
sure. Some told their followers to
track their future posts on
YouTube or Instagram.
Indian video-creation apps
like Roposo, described on
Google’s app store as “India’s
own video app”, and another
named Chingari are likely to see
a popularity surge after the Tik-
But some users said they will
Indian student Siri Challa, 23,
had only recently started posting
videos of her mother and herself
dancing to catchy songs on Tik-
Tok. In less than three months,
she garnered one million follow-
ers and a promotion deal with a
“I’m going to miss it, but I
guess it is time to move on,”
Ms Challa said.
Ms Geetha Sridhar and her daughter Sarada Sridhar dance as
they make a video.
Outrage over father and son custodial deaths
July 3, 2020
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