Kerala mosque hosts Hindu wedding
A Hindu priest conducting the wedding at the courtyard of the Juma Masjid at Cheravally in Kerala’s Alappuzha district.
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SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
JANUARY 24, 2020
MCI (P) 078/03/2019
WAR OF WORDS
OVER SAI BABA’S
Uber sells food-delivery business
Ride-share giant Uber has sold its
meal delivery business in India to
Zomato, one of its local competitors,
as it steps up efforts to achieve
India is one of Uber’s biggest
markets for rides, but its UberEats
meal delivery service has struggled to
keep up with the two largest online
food-delivery players Zomato and
Interpol issues notice to locate
Interpol has issued a blue notice to
locate controversial spiritual leader
Nithyananda who has been on the run
after being accused of rape.
Nithyananda fled India last year
even though his passport had been
cancelled by the foreign ministry a
year earlier. He is believed to have
travelled to Nepal before leaving for
an undisclosed destination.
Supreme Court refuses to strike
down citizenship law
The Supreme Court has sought the
Central government’s response to the
petitions filed against the new
citizenship legislation after it refused
to stay the law that has sparked
widespread opposition and protests
across the country.
The top court on Wednesday gave
the government headed by Prime
Minister Narendra Modi four weeks to
reply to a batch of 143 pleas
challenging the constitutional validity
of the Citizenship Amendment Act
passed last month.
First war memorial for animals
A war memorial coming up in Meerut
will feature a heroine who lost her life
in a counter-insurgency operation in
Kashmir in 2016. It will also feature
others who acquitted themselves
creditably in the Kargil war India
fought with Pakistan in 1999.
What makes the memorial unique
is that it is devoted to animals, mostly
dogs but also horses and mules, who
were heroic in the battlefield.
Mangaluru airport bomb suspect
Depressed engineer Aditya Rao, who
allegedly placed a bomb at the
Mangaluru airport on Monday, was
arrested on Wednesday after he
surrendered to the police in
He was later flown to Mangaluru
for custody and interrogation.
“On Friday Rao will be taken to
the airport and other places from
where he collected the material for
making the improvised explosive
device (IED). He left the IED in a
backpack at an airline counter on
Monday,” a police officer said.
A bomb squad later detonated the
IED in an open field.
World’s longest human chain
Braving cold weather, over five crore
people joined hands at the call of
chief minister Nitish Kumar to form
a human chain across Bihar to
champion the cause of the
environment as part of the “Jal
Jeevan Hariyali” campaign on Sunday.
On the occasion, messages about
de-addiction, child marriage and
dowry were also spread.
Chief Secretary Dipak Kumar said
the event covered 18,034km and
involved 5.16 crore people.
“This way, Bihar has made history
with the longest ever human chain in
the world,” he said.
15 youths suffer vision loss due to
The vision of 15 Rajasthan
youngsters, aged between 10 and 20,
has been affected due to watching the
Dec 26 solar eclipse with naked eyes.
Dr Kamlesh Khilnani, head of the
ophthalmology department at the
SMS Hospital in Jaipur, said they are
receiving treatment but their normal
vision is unlikely to be restored.
Sanskrit signages at all railway
stations in Uttarakhand
The Railway ministry has decided to
replace Urdu with Sanskrit on all
signboards at platforms in
The signboards will now be written
in Hindi, English and Sanskrit.
The Railway Manual says that the
names of railway stations should be
written in Hindi, English and in the
second language of the state.
In 2010, Uttarakhand became the
first state in the country to make
Sanskrit the second official language.
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Jamia Millia Islamia university students protesting against the police action at their campus.
Fear reigns in universities
One of India’s most famous universi-
ties is half-empty and some students
who are on campus track each other
on mobile devices to ensure people
are safe, as violent clashes spill on to
campuses that are seen as a hotbed of
The country has been rocked by
demonstrations against Prime Minis-
ter Narendra Modi’s new citizenship
law that some say discriminates
At least 25 people have died and
thousands of people have been ar-
Many of the most visible and
persistent protests have been in and
around universities, and some stu-
dents now fear for their safety follow-
ing clashes with police and unidenti-
fied mobs in recent weeks.
“I don’t think I can ever feel
completely safe, either in the girls’
hostel or on campus,” said Ms Nayla
Khwaja, a student at New Delhi’s
renowned Jamia Millia Islamia univer-
Last month police smashed their
way into the institution, firing tear
gas shells as scores of terrified stu-
dents barricaded doors and hid inside
Weeks on from the violence, large
parts of the college remain deserted,
with some parents refusing to allow
students who flock to the university
from all parts of India to return.
Less than half of the 20,000-strong
student population is back on campus
for the new semester, according to
college chief proctor Waseem Ahmad
Beyond the capital, protests have
also erupted in colleges in Mumbai,
Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai.
In some cases they have spilled
into nearby town squares, with citi-
zens holding Indian flags and demand-
ing the revocation of the law in the
most sustained opposition to Mr
Modi since he swept to power in
Students say they are concerned
about further attacks which they
blame on right-wing groups.
“There is an environment of fear
that was never seen before,” said Mr
Saheb Samanta, a scholar at Kolkata’s
Students have taken to sharing live
locations on WhatsApp with friends
when attending a protest or going to
“We are keeping some basic
checks in place. Letting friends know
where we are and also sometimes
walking in groups within campus.
This really wasn’t necessary before,”
said a masters student at Jadavpur
She declined to give her name out
of concern for her safety.
Critics say that Mr Modi’s ruling
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) govern-
ment is targeting universities to snuff
out dissent before the opposition to
his policies gets out of hand.
BJP spokesman Tom Vadakkan
rejected the allegation and said rival
political parties were trying to use
students as a way to settle political
scores with it.
“These parties are trying to stay
relevant,” he said.
The citizenship law lays out a path
to Indian nationality for six religious
groups from neighbouring countries
but not Muslims, prompting criticism
it undermines the country’s secular
It came months after the govern-
ment withdrew the special status of
Muslim-majority Kashmir and also
after the country’s top court ruled in
favour of Hindus in a decades-old
dispute over a place of worship that
the ruling party has long campaigned
Such moves have stirred deep
anxiety among India’s Muslim popula-
tion and liberals that Mr Modi is
promoting a Hindu-first agenda in a
country that celebrated its rich diver-
But the government has said the
citizenship law is aimed at helping
minorities like Hindus, Christians and
Sikhs who face persecution in Pak-
istan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Even small colleges in cities like
Bengaluru, far from the centre of the
protests in the capital, have been
caught up in the unrest.
This month, a group of 15 men
showed up at the gates of Jyoti Nivas,
a women’s college, demanding stu-
dents sign a charter supporting the
“We said they can’t force us to
sign because we are not for the CAA
(citizenship amendment act),” said
Ms Soorya, a 21-year-old student.
There was an altercation and the
college’s authorities ordered classes
to be suspended for the next two
The latest controversy over the birth-
place of the revered saint Sai Baba of
Shirdi apparently has its basis in rev-
Last week, a fresh war of words
broke out between community leaders
and people in two towns after the
Maharashtra government decided to
allocate Rs100 crore for the develop-
ment of Pathri in Parbhani district.
This town lies about 250 kilometres
from Shirdi in Ahmednagar district
where the Shirdi Sai Baba temple is
located and the reported death place
of the saint (1838 to 1918).
Pathri is considered by many as Sai
Baba’s birthplace, although there are
no credible records to establish this
fact, reported The Times of India.
The reference to Pathri by the
Maharashtra government as Sai Baba’s
birthplace was opposed by the Shirdi
Sai Baba temple trust and the locals
who protested with an indefinite lock-
out on Sunday.
The lockout was called off after
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav
Thackeray agreed to meet the protest-
The issue was resolved after he
assured the people of Shirdi that the
allocation of Rs100 crore for the
development of Pathri is not going to
lessen the importance of Shirdi, re-
ported the Press Trust of India.
His party, Shiv Sena, on Tuesday,
while noting that the Sai Baba temple
trust’s assets are worth over Rs2,600
crore, said that Shirdi became “rich”
because of the saint and none can
snatch away the richness of the town
where he died.
The trust receives more than Rs400
crore a year in donations from devo-
Shirdi, with a population of 40,000,
is one of the richest religious destina-
tions in India with the Sai Baba temple
at the centre of its overall economic
The town attracts thousands of devo-
tees every day and has single-handedly
contributed to Shirdi’s financial
growth. The locals have been the
Although the Sai Baba temple trust
is controlled by the state government,
the influx of money, thanks to the
constant flow of devotees from the
northern and southern parts of the
country, has made the locals prosper-
ous over the years, reported the Hin-
So it is natural that they are op-
posed to the proposed development of
Pathri by the state government.
People in Pathri, which is a back-
ward town, have been demanding the
development of their town as Sai
Baba’s birthplace with an eye to mak-
ing it a prominent pilgrim centre.
“The people of Shirdi fear they will
lose out on tourism if Pathri is devel-
oped,” Nationalist Congress Party’s
legislative council member Babajani
Durrani, also a trustee of Pathri’s Sai
Baba temple trust, told the Hindustan
Tourism has contributed immensely
to Shirdi’s overall growth with the
town getting an airport, rail connectiv-
ity, financial institutions, hotels and
Historians say there is no credible
record about Sai Baba’s birthplace.
“All that we know based on books
written on Sai Baba is that the saint
appeared in Shirdi and decided to
make this town his karma bhoomi (the
centre of his humanitarian work),”
Shirdi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, told
the Hindustan Times.
He, however, rejected local eco-
nomic interests as the reason for
Shirdi’s opposition to Pathri.
Meanwhile, villagers of Dhoop-
kheda in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad
district are demanding Rs50 crore for
the development of the town claiming
that Sai Baba was first spotted there.
This isn’t the first time that a
controversy has erupted over this popu-
lar saint’s birthplace.
In 2005, a Shirdi resident moved a
local court to have a public event
around Sai Baba cancelled.
More recently, President Ram Nath
Kovind’s bid to get a development
project going at Pathri was opposed by
locals in Shirdi.
Indo-Asian News Service
Devotees at the Saibaba temple in Shirdi.
War of words over Sai Baba’s birthplace
January 24, 2020
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