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enter Kerala shrine
A Congress activist being
removed by the police after
members of the party
protested against the entry
of two women into the
Sabarimala temple on
MCI (P) 135/03/2018
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
JANUARY 4, 2019
PAGES 4 & 5
PUTS HIS STAMP
Singapore Press Holdings
(English/Malay/Tamil Media group)
V.K. Santosh Kumar
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India welcomes most babies on
New Year’s Day
India welcomed 69,944 babies on New
Year’s Day, the highest in the world, ac-
cording to Unicef.
This accounts for 18 per cent of the to-
tal babies born globally on that day.
China followed with 44,940 babies,
Nigeria 25,685, Pakistan 15,112 and In-
donesia 13,2 56.
An estimated 395,072 babies were
born around the world on New Year’s
Day. Of those, a quarter were born in
South Asia alone.
UP imposes ‘cow welfare’ tax to
tackle stray problem
The Uttar Pradesh government is
imposing a 0.5 per cent “cattle
protection” tax to protect stray animals.
The tax will be levied on excise items
like alcohol and the funds will be used
to build and maintain cow shelters
across the state.
The state cabinet cleared the policy
on Tuesday following three incidents of
farmers locking up stray cattle in
schools and police stations in the state
to protest against the cattle menace.
Film industry mourns passing of
Veteran actor Kader Khan passed away
on Monday in Canada after fighting
progressive supranuclear palsy, a
degenerative disease, for many years.
He was 81.
The Kabul-born Kader was not only
an outstanding actor but also a prolific
writer, having written dialogues for a
number of films and screenplays for
more than 40 years and was associated
with many of Amitabh Bachchan’s and
Govinda’s biggest hits.
Heat wave killed over 6,000
people from 2010 to 2018
Over 6,100 people died in India due to
heat wave between 2010 and 2018,
according to Minister of Earth Sciences
Almost one-third of such deaths
were recorded in 2015 alone.
Among the states, Andhra Pradesh
recorded the most deaths during the
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha
and West Bengal together reported
more than 90 per cent of the total
deaths during that period.
Three islands renamed
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
has renamed three of the country’s
islands in the Andaman and Nicobar
chain in a bid to dissociate itself from
two centuries of British rule.
Ross Island will now be known as
Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep, while
the nearby Neil Island, which
commemorated a British military
officer of the East India Company, has
been renamed Shaeed or Martyr
The adjoining Havelock Island,
which honoured a former British army
general who crushed the 1857 mutiny
by Indian soldiers against British rule,
will be called Swaraj or Independent
Flights diverted, trains delayed
due to fog in Delhi
Dense fog engulfed Delhi yesterday
with visibility dropping to 50 metres at
Palam affecting flight schedules at the
Indira Gandhi International Airport.
The departure of flights at the
airport was put on hold between
7.30am and 9.30am with eight flights
diverted and many arrivals delayed. At
least 12 trains were also delayed due to
the foggy conditions.
According to the Hindustan Times,
while last December was the coldest
December in 13 years, it also had the
least number of foggy days in 22 years.
Tendulkar’s coach Achrekar dies
Ramakant Achrekar, the man who
shaped Sachin Tendulkar into a cricket
superstar, has died aged 87. The coach
passed away at his home in Mumbai on
Wednesday after battling old
age-related ailments for the previous
“An outstanding mentor, he
groomed cricketing talent for years and
the gems he trained went on to bring
immense glory to the nation,” said
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Tendulkar, along with Achrekar’s
other wards like Vinod Kambli, Bal-
winder Singh Sandhu and Chandrakant
Pandit, yesterday took part in the proces-
sion to the crematorium, where his body
was consigned to flames.
First women’s university in
north-east to open on Jan 15
The first dedicated university for
women in the north-east will open on
Jan 15 when the Jamshedpur Women’s
College will be upgraded to a university.
More than 8,000 students from Bi-
har, West Bengal and Jharkhand are ex-
pected to benefit from the university.
A reveller dressed as Batman during the 35th Cochin Carnival.
New Year visual extravaganza
The 35th Cochin Carnival was
celebrated with fervour and gaiety at
Fort Kochi in Kerala to usher in the
New Year. The annual colourful fiesta
attracts a large number of visitors.
People got the chance to
participate in various activities and
games. The carnival hosted events
such as chavittunatakam (classical
dance-drama), backwater kayaking,
kurash (wrestling), cycling and kite
The highlight was the procession
on New Year’s Day led by elephants in
The origin of the carnival is traced
to the New Year celebrations during
the colonial days, when Cochin was
ruled by the Portuguese from 1503 to
January 4, 2019
Kerala remained tense a day after two
women defied a centuries-old ban and
entered the famous Sabarimala Hindu
temple on Wednesday.
The Sabarimala Karma Samithi
(SKS), an umbrella organisation of vari-
ous pro-Hindutva groups, organised a
statewide dawn-to-dusk shutdown to
oppose the role of the Left-front Kerala
government which apparently facili-
tated the entry of the women inside the
temple before dawn on Wednesday.
There were skirmishes at various
places between the organisers of the
shutdown and those who tried to resist
it, while incidents of stone pelting were
reported from Kozhikode, Kasargode
On Wednesday, police fired teargas
and used water cannons to disperse a
large crowd of protesters in the state capi-
tal Thiruvananthapuram. There were
protests in several other cities in the
Protesters forced shops to close,
blocked traffic, pelted stones at the po-
lice and vandalised a government office
in one district. About 80 state road cor-
poration buses were damaged and sev-
eral media personnel, including women,
were attacked. At least 31 policemen
In the evening, an SKS activist was in-
jured in a clash between workers of the
right-leaning Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) and the ruling CPI(M) in Pan-
dalam. Chandran Unnithan, 55, later
succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in
He suffered head injuries after being
allegedly hit by a stone during a clash.
Police said they have initiated a probe
into the death.
The Sabarimala temple has been the
site of protests and agitations since In-
dia’s Supreme Court, in September last
year, lifted the ban on entry of women
of menstrual age into the temple, which
draws millions of worshippers a year.
But the temple refused to abide by
the ruling because it is dedicated to the
deity Lord Ayappa, who is considered
celibate. Subsequent attempts by
women to visit the temple were blocked
The Kerala government, run by left-
wing parties, has sought to allow
women into the temple – a position that
has drawn criticism from India’s main po-
litical parties, including Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s BJP. The uproar has
put the issue of religion, which can be
highly contentious in India, squarely on
the political agenda months before a gen-
eral election, which is due by May.
Mr P.S. Sreedharan Pillai, the Kerala
state president of the BJP, described the
women’s visit as “a conspiracy by the
atheist rulers to destroy the Hindu tem-
ples”. He said the BJP would “support
the struggles against the destruction of
faith by the Communists”.
Leaders from the main opposition
Congress party in the state, in a rare
alignment with their main rival for
power at the national level, the BJP, also
called for protests. “This is treachery.
The government will have to pay the
price for the violation of the custom,”
Mr K. Sudhakaran, vice-president of the
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee,
News channels reported that the
chief priest briefly shut the temple for
“purification” rituals after the two
women entered it. The temple was re-
opened after an hour.
The women, identified by police as
university professor Bindu Ammini, 42,
and government employee Kanaka
Durga, 44, had tried to enter the temple
on Dec 24, and later approached the po-
lice for help, an officer said.
“There was an elaborate arrange-
ment for them to come just after the tem-
ple was opened early morning (on
Wednesday),” said the officer, who de-
clined to be identified. “The darkness
gave them, and us, cover.”
Police were guarding the homes of
the women after they left the temple, he
said. According to local news reports,
the police moved relatives of one of the
women who entered the temple into a
A video from a police officer posted
online by ANI showed the two women
in the temple with their heads covered.
Ms Ammini told a television channel
about their stealthy trek to the temple in
the middle of the night. “We reached
Pampa, the main entry point to the tem-
ple, at 1.30 am and sought police protec-
tion. We walked two hours, entered the
temple around 3.30 am and did the dar-
shan,” she said, referring to the ritual of
praying in front of the deity.
The state government defended its de-
cision to protect the women as they
went into the temple, saying it was a mat-
ter of civil rights.
“I had earlier made it clear that the
government will provide protection if
any woman came forward to enter the
temple,” said Kerala Chief Minister
Pinarayi Vijayan. He lashed out at the
BJP and other Hindu outfits, saying the
violence unleashed by them will be
dealt with strongly.
Mr Vijayan said the two women were
not “airdropped” to Sabarimala but
went as normal devotees and the other
pilgrims did not protest. “Kanaka Durga
and Bindu were given protection after
they sought security to visit the shrine.
They were not airdropped. They visited
the shrine like normal devotees. None
of the devotees protested,” he said.
The chief minister also came down
heavily on the chief priest’s action of
closing the temple for purification, ob-
serving that this was against the apex
court’s verdict. “Such things are to be de-
cided by the Devaswom Board (a socio-
religious trust that comprises members
nominated by both government and
community and which manages Hindu
temples and their assets in Kerala). The
action was not only a violation of the
Supreme Court verdict but also against
the rules of the board,” Mr Vijayan said.
On Tuesday, the state government
backed a protest by thousands of
women, who formed a 620km human
chain, termed the “women’s wall”, in
support of “gender equality” and access
to the temple.
This was after the Kerala Police filed
cases against 1,400 people who were
among thousands, including women
and children, on Dec 26 who lit
“Ayyappa Jyothies” (lamps) on a
795km stretch across Kerala vowing to
protect the rituals and traditions of
Mr Modi, in an interview with ANI
on Tuesday, appeared to support the
ban, saying the matter was related to tra-
“There are some temples which have
their own traditions, where men can’t
go. And men don’t go,” said Mr Modi,
who will run for a second term in elec-
tions later this year.
The Supreme Court is to start hear-
ing a legal challenge on its ruling to al-
low women into the temple from Jan 22.
Women are still barred from a hand-
ful of Hindu temples in India. The entry
of women at Sabarimala was taboo for
generations and formalised by the Ker-
ala High Court in 1991.
Reuters, AFP, Indo-Asian News
Women protesters in Kochi being removed by police on Wednesday.
Protests in Kerala as two
women pray at Sabarimala
Ms Bindu Ammini and Ms Kanaka Durga
being escored by police after they entered
the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday.
January 4, 2019
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