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SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
SEPTEMBER 13, 2019
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ISRO lost contact with lander
400m above moon
Contact with the Chandrayaan-2
lander was likely lost when it was as
close as 400m to the moon’s surface,
according to a latest news report by
Initially, it was widely reported
that the India-made Vikram lander
was 2.1km above the lunar surface
when it went silent.
The confusion could have been
caused by a possible
misinterpretation of a statement
released by the Indian Space
Research Organisation on it losing
contact with Vikram.
The lander was making a “soft”
or controlled landing near the South
Pole of the moon last Saturday when it
lost contact with ground control in the
final stage of the descent.
Chaotic scenes at Delhi airport as
more planes fly from T3
Shifting of IndiGo and SpiceJet’s
operations to Terminal 3 (T3) at the
Indira Gandhi International Airport in
New Delhi in the wake of ongoing
revamp of Terminal 2 caused chaos on
Monday with long queues for
boarding and travellers missing their
“Without adding infrastructure, the
airport operator has squeezed two
more airlines into T3. This has created
massive chaos,” an airline executive
A source working at Delhi airport
said there is generally heavy rush on
Monday and the shifting of the two
airlines added to the traffic.
Toddler falls off SUV, parents
drive away without noticing
A video showing a baby falling out of
a moving car in a forest area near
Munnar in Kerala went viral on social
media on Monday.
The video shows the one-year-old
girl crawling on the road even as her
parents drove away without noticing
that their daughter had fallen out of
The parents and their extended
family members in the car reportedly
dozed off when the incident occurred.
A forest official noticed the baby
near a check post with injury marks
on her head. She was picked up and
handed over to her parents.
India’s first ‘water-grid’ in
The country’s first ‘water-grid’ costing
Rs3.5 lakh crores will come up in the
parched Marathwada region of Maha-
rashtra in the next five years as part
of the Jal Jeevan Mission, Prime
Minister Narendra Modi announced
To be implemented over the next
five years, the Jal Jeevan Mission’s
aim is to save water and deliver it to
people’s doorsteps to resolve their
“It will free women from the
hassles of having to toil hard to fetch
water,” Mr Modi said.
Malayalees celebrate Onam
A mahout watching a group of
elephants who took part in festivities
marking Onam at a temple on the
outskirts of Kochi yesterday.
The 10-day annual harvest festival
in Kerala is celebrated by the
Malayalees who decorate their houses
with flowers, wear new clothes,
organise cultural programmes and
indulge in a special feast – Onam
sadhya – which has about 25 dishes.
It is also a cultural homage to the
legendary king Mahabali, who, it is
believed, visits people’s homes on
Thiru Onam, which fell on Wednesday.
The celebrations will continue till
Sunday with snake-boat races,
carnivals involving elephants,
fireworks, elaborate flower decorations
and traditional songs, dances and
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6D South India Tour ............ fr $1240
6D North India ..................... fr $1275
6D South India Temples ..... fr $1320
5D Dubai Experience fr $1340
6D Best of Nepal ................. fr $1500
7D Kerala, India .................. fr $1540
6D Beijing & Shanghai ........ fr $1800
7D Sydney & Melbourne fr $2080
8D Turkey Highlights .......... fr $2400
8D Morocco Highlights ....... fr $2465
8D Best of Spain
...... fr $2880
7D New Zealand
....... fr $3110
Angry over the heavy fines being
imposed for violating traffic rules un-
der the new Motor Vehicles Act,
Indian Youth Congress members
protested outside the residence of
Union Transport Minister Nitin Gad-
kari in New Delhi on Wednesday.
They raised slogans against the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led cen-
tral government and even lifted up a
motorcycle to mark their protest.
Youth Congress’ president Srinivas
B.V. said they tried to gift two old
motorcycles and scooters to Mr Gad-
kari to make him realise how people
were being forced to pay fines that are
higher than the value of their old
vehicles, reported the Press Trust of
But they were thwarted and handed
over the vehicles to Delhi Police per-
The new penalties for 17 traffic
offences, which came into effect on
Aug 28, have triggered public anger
and a clamour for a reversal in several
states. Many of them have decided not
to implement the new Motor Vehicles
(Amendment) Act citing that it would
overburden people and lead to higher
levels of corruption.
In an embarrassment to the central
government, Maharashtra’s ruling BJP-
Shiv Sena coalition on Wednesday
termed the new penalties “exorbitant”
and stopped its implementation.
The state followed Uttarakhand,
which on Wednesday became the sec-
ond BJP-ruled state after Gujarat to
reduce penalties for traffic violations.
Karnataka, another state in which
BJP is in power, said it would follow
suit, while the Kerala government has
started to examine how the fines can
The central Ministry of Law and
Justice on Wednesday notified the
Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill,
According to the new guidelines,
the penalty for driving without a
licence has been hiked from Rs500
($10) to Rs5,000, while for speeding,
it has been increased from Rs400 to
Rs1,000 for light motor vehicles and
Rs2,000 for medium passenger vehi-
cles. For driving without using a seat
belt, the fine has been raised from
Rs100 to Rs 1,000.
West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and
Rajasthan were some of the first states
which asked for a review and subse-
quently rejected the higher penalties.
West Bengal Chief Minister Ma-
mata Banerjee said: “We are not
implementing the amended Motor Ve-
hicle Act right now because our gov-
ernment officials are of the opinion
that if we implement it, then it will be
a huge burden on the people. It is very
harsh,” she said.
While announcing Maharashtra’s de-
cision, Transport Minister Diwakar
Raote urged the Centre to “reconsider
and reduce” the hefty fines by making
amendments to the new act.
However, Mr Gadkari dismissed the
contentions, reiterating that the fines
are intended to “save lives” and were
revised after 30 years.
“We haven’t done this (Amend-
ment Act) to augment revenue. We
have done this to save lives. If state
governments want to reduce it (fines),
they are welcome to do so,” he said.
Mr Gadkari added that the higher
penalties were meant to increase road
discipline among citizens as India re-
mains one of the top accident-prone
nations in the world.
Data from the Ministry of Road
Transport and Highways shows that
147,00 people lost their lives due to
road accidents in 2017. The scenario
remains much the same even now.
The Bengaluru city traffic police
department, which strictly enforcing
the fines until the Karnataka govern-
ment issues a revised notification,
collected Rs42.5 lakh ($820,000) in
fines from 10am on Tuesday to 10am
Of the 10,923 people fined, the
maximum were levied on those riding
without helmet, followed by parking
violations and rash and negligent driv-
Indo-Asian News Service
Youth Congress members protest outside Central Minister for Road Transport and Highways
Nitin Gadkari’s residence in New Delhi.
Big protests against increase in traffic fines
September 13, 2019
Across a river in a remote part of
India’s northeast, labourers have
cleared dense forest in an area equiva-
lent to about seven football fields and
are building the first mass detention
centre for illegal immigrants.
The camp in the lush, tea-growing
state of Assam is intended for at least
3,000 detainees. It will also have a
school, hospital, recreation area and
quarters for security forces.
A high boundary wall and watch-
towers are also being built, according
to Reuters’ interviews with workers
and contractors at the site and a
review of copies of its layout.
Some of the workers said they were
not on a citizenship list Assam re-
leased last week as part of a drive to
detect illegal immigrants.
That means the workers could them-
selves end up in detention.
Ms Shefali Hajong, a gaunt tribal
woman from a nearby village, said she
is not on the list and will join nearly
two million people who need to prove
they are Indian citizens by producing
documents such as birth and land
ownership certificates dating back
If they fail to do so, they risk being
taken to detention camps like the one
The government says there are hun-
dreds of thousands of illegal immi-
grants in Assam from neighbouring
Bangladesh, but Dhaka has refused to
accept anyone declared an illegal immi-
grant in India.
Ms Shefali, who belongs to the
indigenous Hajong tribe, said she is
tense because of the situation.
“But I need to fill my stomach,”
she said in the Assamese dialect as she
used a hoe to feed stones into a
She and other workers make about
Rs280 a day which is considered a
decent wage in the impoverished area.
She doesn’t know her exact age,
but believes it is 26, adding that she
does not know why she isn’t on the
“We don’t have birth certificates,”
said her mother Malati, also a worker
at the site.
The camp, near the town of Goal-
para, is the first of at least 10 deten-
tion centres Assam has planned, ac-
cording to local media reports.
“People have been coming here
every other day from nearby villages
asking for work,” said Mr Shafikul
Haq, a contractor in charge of building
a large cooking area in the camp.
The mammoth Supreme Court-or-
dered exercise to document Assam’s
citizens has been strongly backed by
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
Bharatiya Janata Party-led government
that came to power in New Delhi five
Critics say the campaign is aimed at
Muslims, even those who have lived
legally in India for decades.
Many Hindus, mostly poor and
ill-educated, are also not on the citizen-
ship list which was released last week.
BRINK OF CRISIS
“Assam is on the brink of a crisis
which will not only lead to a loss of
nationality and liberty of a large group
of people but also erosion of their
basic rights – severely affecting the
lives of generations to come,”
Amnesty International said.
An Indian foreign ministry
spokesman said those not in Assam’s
citizenship roster “will not be detained
and will continue to enjoy all the
rights as before till they have ex-
hausted all the remedies available
under the law”.
The central government and the
Assam government did not respond to
questions about the camps.
From Goalpara town, the camp
being built is reached by a leafy,
narrow road dotted with coconut
trees. A shaky wooden bridge takes
vehicles across a small river to the site,
overlooked by rubber trees.
Government guidelines for deten-
tion camps released earlier this year
include building a boundary wall at
least three metres high and ringed
with barbed wire, local media reports
A red-painted boundary wall encir-
cles the new camp at Goalpara. Green
fields and mountains too are visible
behind the two watchtowers and quar-
ters for security forces being built.
The camp will have separate living
facilities for men and women, accord-
ing to workers and contractors.
Mr A.K. Rashid, another contrac-
tor, said he is building six of what
would be around 17 buildings with
detention rooms of around 32.5
square metres each.
Each of the buildings will have 24
rooms, he said, adding that drains for
sewage were being built along the
boundary walls of the centre.
Mr G. Kishan Reddy, a central
government official, told parliament in
July that the government had pub-
lished guidelines for detention centres
which stipulate the construction of
basic amenities like electricity, drink-
ing water, hygiene, accommodation
with beds, sufficient toilets with run-
ning water, communication facilities
“Special attention will be given to
women, nursing mothers and chil-
dren,” he said.
“Children lodged in detention cen-
tres will be provided education in
A senior police officer said the
camp will initially house about 900
illegal immigrants who are held at
detention facilities in Assam jails.
A group from India’s National Hu-
man Rights Commission that visited
two of those facilities last year said the
immigrant detainees there were in
some ways “deprived even of the
rights of convicted prisoners”.
India’s top court is hearing a peti-
tion for their release.
The detention centre for illegal immigrants being built on the outskirts of Goalpara town; (below) labourer Shefali Hajong, whose name is not on the citizenship list.
Detention centre for illegal immigrants
September 13, 2019
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