REPORT ON PAGE 5
delivered to your doorstep.
Call 6319-1800 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catch us online at www.tabla.com.sg
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
DECEMBER 13, 2019
MCI (P) 078/03/2019
TO BE JUDGE
PAGES 8 & 9
For editiorial matters,
write to us at
For advertising enquiries,
Talk to us at
For home delivery, call
(Mon to Fri 9am to 6pm)
Advertise with us by calling
9366-5277 or 9327-0712
Catch us online at
Singapore Press Holdings
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
V.K. Santosh Kumar
Marketing Team Head
Arrests after Delhi’s
Police in New Delhi on Monday
arrested the owner and manager
of a factory where 43 people
died in the Indian capital’s
deadliest fire in 20 years.
The blaze started early on
Sunday morning when more
than 100 workers were sleeping
in the four-storey building
located in a residential area.
The factory, which made
school bags, toys and stationery
goods, was packed with
combustible materials such as
paper, plastic and cardboard,
causing it to burn for hours
before being brought under
Most employable talent
Maharashtra tops the list of states with
the highest employable talent, followed
by Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra
Pradesh and Karnataka, according to
the India Skills Report 2020 which was
released on Tuesday.
Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune stood
out as the most employable cities.
The report assessed 300,000
candidates from 35 educational
institutions across 28 states and nine
Woman shot in the face for
refusing to dance
A man is on the run in Uttar Pradesh
after he shot a wedding singer in the
face because she stopped performing.
The incident took place on Nov 30
in Chitrakoot district but came to light
only a week later after a video of the
shooting was shared on messaging
Police said the shooter has been
identified and they are “confident” he
will be caught soon. The woman
survived and is recovering in hospital.
Delhi a gas chamber, then why
One of the four men on death row
over the infamous 2012 New Delhi
gang-rape and murder appealed
against his sentence on Tuesday citing
pollution. Akshay Kumar Singh said in
his review petition to the Supreme
Court that the air quality in New
Delhi was like a “gas chamber” and its
water “full of poison”.
“Everyone is aware of what is
happening in Delhi-NCR (national
capital region) with regard to air and
water. Life is going to be short, then
why death penalty?” he asked.
Probe into encounter that killed
A bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde
and Justices S.A. Nazeer and Sanjiv
Khanna said on Wednesday that a
former Supreme Court judge will be
asked to probe the killing of four rape
accused in last week’s alleged
encounter near Hyderabad.
According to the police version, the
four men, all lorry workers in their
twenties accused of rape and murder
of a 26-year old veterinarian, were
shot dead by a police team after they
fired at them in an attempt to escape
from the scene of the crime.
Tribal artistes are seen waiting to perform at
the Tribal Sports Competition in Bhopal.
More than 4,500 students from 284
Eklavya Schools across 24 states particpated
in the five-day event which concluded on
Eklavya Model Residential Schools were
started by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in
1997 to ensure tribal students in the remote
areas of the country get access to quality
The Games had competitions in
16 different disciplines, including hockey,
wrestling, football, archery, kabaddi and
kho-kho, a popular tag game.
4,500 take part in Tribal Games
Fire engulfs a police officer during protests in Agartala, the capital of Tripura.
India moved thousands of troops into
the northeastern state of Assam yester-
day as violent protests erupted against
a new law that would make it easier
for non-Muslim minorities from some
neighbouring countries to seek Indian
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
Bharatiya Janata Party-led government
has said the Citizenship Amendment
Bill is meant to protect besieged mi-
Critics say it undermines the coun-
try’s secular constitution by not offer-
ing protection to Muslims while others
argue it will open India’s northern
states to a flood of foreigners.
Resistance to the bill has been the
strongest in Assam, where a move-
ment against illegal immigrants from
neighbouring Bangladesh has sim-
mered for decades.
As India’s upper house of parlia-
ment passed the bill in the early hours
of Thursday, protests took place across
In Assam, protesters defied a cur-
few, torching cars and tyres and chant-
ing anti-Modi slogans.
While the streets of Assam’s capital
Guwahati were largely calm as troops
moved in from neighbouring states,
protesters were back on the streets in
other parts like Morigaon, where they
Mobile Internet was suspended in
some parts of Assam with the govern-
ment saying that social media plat-
forms could potentially be used to
“inflame passions and thus exacerbate
the law and order situation”.
“A landmark day for India and our
nation’s ethos of compassion and
brotherhood!,” Mr Modi tweeted after
the citizenship law was apssed on
Wednesday. “This Bill will alleviate
the suffering of many who faced
persecution for years.”
Opponents of the legislation have
threatened to challenge it in the
Supreme Court, saying it violates the
principles of equality and secularism
enshrined in the constitution.
“The bill will take away our rights,
language and culture with millions of
Bangladeshis getting citizenship,” said
Gitimoni Dutta, a college student, in
Despite assurances from Home Min-
ister Amit Shah that safeguards will be
put in place, people in Assam and
surrounding states fear that arriving
settlers could increase competition for
land and upset the region’s demo-
The Citizenship Amendment Bill
seeks to grant Indian nationality to
Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains,
Parsis and Sikhs who fled Afghanistan,
Bangladesh and Pakistan before 2015.
The bill passed the upper house of
parliament with 125 members support-
ing it and 105 opposing. It will be sent
to the president to be signed into law,
with his approval seen as a formality.
The government said Muslims from
Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan
are excluded from the legislation be-
cause they do not face discrimination
in those countries.
In response, Bangladesh’s Foreign
Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told
news agency UNB on Wednesday that
his country did not oppress minorities.
“In our country, religious harmony
is at a very high level. No one from
other religions is oppressed here... We
see those (minorities) in equal eyes
and as the citizens of Bangladesh.”
The United States Commission on
International Religious Freedom said
on Monday that Washington should
consider sanctions against Mr Shah, a
close associate of Mr Modi, if India
adopts the legislation.
“The passage of the Citizenship
Amendment Bill marks the victory of
narrow-minded and bigoted forces
over India’s pluralism,” said Mrs Sonia
Gandhi, leader of the main opposition
Defending the bill in the upper
house, Mr Shah said the new law
sought to help only minorities perse-
cuted in Muslim-majority countries
contiguous with India.
“Nobody is taking citizenship away
from India’s Muslims. This is a bill to
give citizenship, not take citizenship
away,” Mr Shah said.
Tapping his white cane, Mr Vinod Kumar Sharma
spends four hours a day running the gauntlet of
crowded trains and New Delhi’s congested, potholed
and often pavement-less roads.
He is one of an estimated 63 million visually-im-
paired people in India, according to the World
Health Organisation. Of those, some eight million
are completely blind – around 20 per cent of the
Many roads in Delhi lack pavements, forcing the
44-year-old father of three to walk on the roadside,
probing his white cane in front as cars and trucks
tear past just centimetres away.
On trains, where passengers are packed like
sardines in the megacity of 20 million people, he is
dependent on fellow commuters helping him to
navigate platforms and squeeze in and out of
Mr Sharma said that people always help him to
get on and off trains.
“The people are good. But there are broken roads
and open sewage holes which are always a risk,” he
Mr Sharma, like many other blind Indians, also
battles a dire lack of opportunities in education and
employment for disabled people.
Many are forced to beg or turn to charity to make
Poverty and poor access to healthcare in rural
areas also contributes to the high prevalence of
vision impairment in India, experts say.
Mr Sharma, who hails from one of India’s poorest
states – Bihar, lost his sight as a teenager while
working in the fields near his village.
He moved to the Indian capital to try and get
treatment, but when doctors were unable to help
him, he stayed on.
He trained at a school for the blind and landed a
job in a factory, making children’s braille toys for
more than two decades before it shut down last year.
He started to retrain as a massage therapist in
January, resolutely making the long commute to
classes at the Blind Relief Association in Delhi.
“I have picked up massage as I have become
older and there aren’t many other avenues for me,”
Ms Swapna Merlin from the Blind Relief Associa-
tion said many of its trainees are from rural regions
and have been brought up to believe that they
cannot exist outside their families’ care.
“Once they come out and know they can do
different things, that itself is a big exposure to
them,” she said. “Every story of success is an
inspiration for many others.”
The blind stumble on Delhi’s ‘broken’ streets
Mr Vinod Kumar Sharma crossing a railway track in Delhi.
Troops moved to Assam amid violent protests
Over a century ago, more than 400 Indian soldiers
serving in Singapore turned against their British
The soldiers were known as sepoys, and the
mutiny that occurred in 1915 during World War I led
to the killings of 44 British soldiers and civilians and
five deaths among the local population. More than
200 sepoys were court-martialled and more than 47
were given the death sentence.
Diplomat Umej Bhatia wanted to explore what
led the sepoys to turn against their masters.
“I also wanted to understand the motivations of
the sepoys who stayed loyal to their British officers. I
wanted to rescue them from being one-dimensional
props of imperial history or history told from the
Mr Bhatia, 48, took 10 years to research and
write Our Name Is Mutiny – The Global Revolt
Against the Raj and the Hidden History of the
Singapore Mutiny, 1907-1915.
The book was launched on Nov 27 at Hort Park,
where the first bullet of revolt was fired.
Mr Bhatia places the Singapore mutiny in the
larger context of a global revolt against the British
Raj that spilled across the Empire.
His layered and nuanced narrative brings to life
the sepoy mutineers and their Indian officers and
tells of the sometimes bumbling decisions and
conduct of the British military officers.
Describing the book as “unfiltered history”,
Mr Bhatia said he had to mine sources from around
the world, including the British Archives in London,
archives in Canada and India and the National
Archives in Singapore.
He also had to hunt down many old and rare
books on Singapore and hard-to-find biographies of
Indian revolutionaries as well as inquiry and investi-
Mr Bhatia, Singapore’s Ambassador to
the United Nations in Geneva and Vi-
enna, said he tried his best to provide a
historical re-enactment of the event, in-
cluding its background and period atmos-
phere, while remaining faithful to the
“I wanted to connect traditional, top-
down history which is about decisions
taken by leaders with the bottom-up
reality of the foot-soldiers and men and
women on the ground who have to carry
that history and bear its consequences,”
said the diplomat.
“The pull of the past, including the
perspective of history told from below,
and cries of the small voice of history
demand to be heard and brought to light.
“Instead of dutifully consuming the standard
narrative, if we cannot appreciate what was, or
embrace submerged history, we risk missing out on
the possibilities for the future. We will also end up
uncritically accepting the sketching of events over
only the waterline.”
Dr Tan Yai Yong, who wrote the foreword, praised
Mr Bhatia for “bringing to life the feelings, thoughts,
aspirations, fears and sense of isolation of the sepoys
as well as what triggered them to do the things they
did – turn against the British officers and the political
order which they had sworn loyalty to”.
Mr Bhatia said that ultimately he wanted to write
a book on history that’s entertaining to read.
“I wanted to capture the fact that history is a
story of its people. History is not about dates, events
or larger forces. It’s about people, their egos, their
weaknesses and their resilience,” he said.
“At the end of the day it’s a story of human spirit
and I hope people enjoy it.”
Former politician George Yeo, who was the guest
of honour at the book launch, said Our Name Is
Mutiny “chases threads that lead us into all conti-
nents, to all parts of the world” and “was not a
simple story to tell”.
“Umej’s book does a stellar job in tracing these
threads to explain why the Singapore Mutiny is not
intelligible in itself, but only against a much wider
global landscape,” Mr Yeo said. “It is also a story
about Singapore as we celebrate our 200th anniver-
sary this year of the founding of Singapore by
Mr Bhatia’s interest in the Singapore mutiny was
piqued about a decade ago when he was browsing at
a bookshop in London’s Charing Cross Road and
came across a yellowed topographical map of Singa-
pore. The map was dated August 1915 – the height
of World War I.
It had been printed six months after the British
Empire forces crushed the Singapore Mutiny and the
Global Revolt against the British Raj in India.
He noticed a marking of a “German Prisoners
Camp” at Tanglin Barracks on the map.
“Some of the Germans interned there had been
sailors on a German naval ship known as the Emden
that had brazenly attacked both Penang and Chennai
ports during the war,” said Mr Bhatia.
“It had even caused an evacuation of civilians
from war-time Chennai. The name of the ship,
Emden, is forgotten today in English but in some
South Indian languages it denotes swagger and
mischief and even became a bogeyman to scare little
As he dug deeper, he discovered that there was
another ship known as the Komagata Maru, a
Japanese steamer that played its part in the great
events of the time.
The ship was chartered by a self-taught Sikh
businessman Gurdit Singh who spoke Hokkien and
Malay and travelled between Singapore and various
Malay states to pursue business opportunities. He
became inspired by Indian nationalist ideas and led
the ship on a quixotic adventure to challenge the
race laws of the Empire in British dominions like
The fate of the ship and other ships of revolt is
also part of Mr Bhatia’s story of the 1915 Singapore
Our Name Is Mutiny – The Global Revolt Against the
Raj and the Hidden History of the Singapore Mutiny,
1907-1915 is sold at $39.90 in bookshops.
Mutineers being executed outside Outram Road Prison after the revolt in 1915 by more than 400 Indian soldiers in
Book remembers Indian mutineers in Singapore
“I wanted to capture
the fact that history
is a story
larger forces. It’s
about people, their
– Mr Umej Bhatia
Get all your content needs and
connect with the community,
now easier than ever on
Tap into a world of
arts and culture
on the move.
|Singapore Press Holdings|
|Copyright © 2019 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co|