Indian crew send SOS to PM Modi
Chef Binay Kumar Sarkar
(folded hands) and other
Indian crew members on
board the Diamond Princess
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Coronavirus crisis on cruise ship
REPORT ON PAGE 3
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
FEBRUARY 14, 2020
MCI (P) 078/03/2019
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Marketing Team Head
BJP loses Delhi elections
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s central ruling
party conceded defeat in a hard-fought state
election for control of India’s capital Delhi,
the most significant test of his popularity after
his religion-based citizenship law led to
widespread protests across the country.
The incumbent Aam Aadmi Party, led by
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, held on to power as
it swept 62 of the 70 seats in the state assembly,
down from 67 in the 2015 elections. Mr Modi’s
Bharatiya Janata Party won eight seats, up from its
previous three. The Congress did not win any seat.
Main accused in 1993 serial blasts arrested
Munaf Halari, a key accused in the 1993 Mumbai
serial blasts and a close associate of the terror
attack’s key conspirator Tiger Memon, was arrested
in a drug seizure case on Sunday.
He was caught at Mumbai airport while on his
way to Dubai on a Pakistani passport.
Police believe he is responsible for heroin
smuggling through the Gujarat coast in which five
Pakistani nationals were arrested on Jan 2.
109-year-old rail line to shut down
The 109-year-old railway line that passes through
the Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh will be
The 171km rail route between Nanpara and
Mailani that takes passengers through forests and
agricultural fields will be closed after the
Lakhimpur-Mailani broad gauge line is opened later
this month. This is being done after a High Court
order on the conservation of wild animals and
The railways are now planning to conserve the
metre-gauge line as a heritage one. “We may start a
toy train for Dudhwa visitors – one that will not
harm the animals,” said an official.
Protesting Kerala groom arrives on camel
In a unique form of protest against the Citizenship
Amendment Act (CAA), Mr Haja Hussain, a
bridegroom in Kerala, arrived for his wedding
ceremony in Vazhimukku, about 20km from the
state’s capital Thuruvananthapuram, riding on a
camel and holding an anti-CAA poster.
“Along with the meher (the custom where the
groom hands over gold or money to the bride), I
also gave a copy of the Constitution,” said the
businessman. “CAA should be rejected.”
Trump to visit India from Feb 24 to 25
United States President Donald Trump will visit
India, with stops in New Delhi and the western state
of Gujarat, from Feb 24 to 25.
He and First Lady Melania Trump will make the
trip to “strengthen the United States-India strategic
Gujarat is the home state of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi and independence icon Mahatma
Officials suspended after bus tragedy
The Odisha government on Monday suspended four
engineers following the bus tragedy on Sunday in
which 10 people died.
Ten passengers were electrocuted and 25 injured
when a bus caught fire after coming in contact with
an overhead power transmission line in Ganjam
India set to be world’s fastest growing
India’s economic growth is bouncing back as the
slump bottoms out, with a projected growth of 6 per
cent in the 2020-21 fiscal year, making the country
the fastest growing economy in the world.
Mr Sanjeev Sanyal, principal economic adviser at
the finance ministry, on Tuesday said economic
growth is set to accelerate to 6 per cent in the
financial year beginning in April, compared with an
estimated growth of 5 per cent in the current one.
Eighth leopard found dead in UP
A three-year-old female leopard was
found dead in Bijnor’s Nangala Nattha
village on Tuesday, taking the death toll of
the big cats to eight in the area in the past
According to forest officials, the carcass
of the big cat was found lying in a sugarcane field.
“The leopard seems to have died of natural causes,
but we are sending the carcass to the Indian
Veterinary Research Institute for a post-mortem,”
said Dhampur forest ranger Arvind Srivastava.
Alleged mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror
The alleged mastermind of a deadly attack on
India’s financial capital over a decade ago has been
jailed in Pakistan for nearly six years on separate
terror charges. Hafiz Saeed was found guilty of
“being part of a banned terrorist outfit” and for
“having illegal property”, his lawyer Imran Gill said.
He is wanted in India for allegedly planning the
2008 attack in Mumbai, when 10 Islamist militants
armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and other
weapons killed 166 people and injured hundreds
Wendell Rodricks, pioneer of Indian resort
wear, dies in Goa
Visionary designer Wendell Rodricks, 59, known as
the pioneer of resort wear in India, died on
Wednesday in his Goa home.
The cause of death has not yet been revealed.
He was known for creating designs that brought
together the traditional with the relaxed Goan vibe.
Man shot dead by daughter’s ‘rapist’
The father of a rape survivor was shot dead
allegedly by the man accused of raping his
15-year-old daughter in Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad
The victim’s family said the rape-accused,
Aachman Upadhyay, had threatened to kill them if
they did not drop the rape case.
He has not been arrested. But his property was
seized on court orders.
Indian artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s sand sculpture depicting
people wearing protective masks with a message of support
for China has garnered global appreciation.
He created the artwork at Puri’s Golden Beach in Odisha.
China’s Ambassador to India Sun Weidong thanked
Pattnaik for his support and wrote on Twitter: “Appreciate
World Health Organisation’s Director-General Tedros
Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Such a beautiful way to
express solidarity to the people of #China during this
challenging #2019nCoV outbreak. Thank you,
@sudarsansand.” Other social media users also lavished
praise on the artist.“Thanks. We are all human... And we
need to help each other by any means,” wrote one.
Another observed: “That’s India and the great Indian
culture and heritage. Excellent Sand Art. There is no issue
you leave out. Too good.”
Indo-Asian News Service
Sand art earns international praise
Two Indian crew members have tested
positive for coronavirus on a cruise
ship off the Japanese coast, the Indian
Embassy in Japan confirmed on
The Diamond Princess was quaran-
tined with almost 3,700 passengers
and crew members aboard on Feb 3.
It hosts the highest concentration of
coronavirus cases outside China.
A passenger carrying the virus had
disembarked from the British-owned
ship last month in Hong Kong.
It is carrying 138 Indians and
arrived in Japan early last week.
A total of 175 people on the ship
have so far tested positive for the
The quarantine has now been ex-
tended till Feb 19.
On Wednesday, an Indian security
officer aboard the ship sent out an
appeal for help to the Indian govern-
Ms Sonali Thakkar was placed in
isolation on Monday, a week after the
ship docked at Yokohoma on Feb 3.
“We are scared that if the infection
is spreading, it is spreading so fast that
we could also become one of them.
We don’t want to. We just want to go
back home,” she said.
The 24-year-old officer’s interview
with NDTV came even as the Dia-
mond Princess reported 39 new coron-
And, as the situation on the ship
worsened, compounded by the delay
in getting back results on tests being
performed on passengers, she sent out
yet another appeal to the Indian
“We want the Indian government
to take us back to India and isolate us
there. Or at least send some more
medical staff across to help these
people with the tests. We want to go
home,” Ms Thakkar said.
She told NDTV that she has al-
ready informed her friends and family
in Mumbai about her situation.
“They are really worried about me,
they just want me to get back home.
They are praying day and night for
me, and that’s all they can do from
their side,” she said.
“And I just want to tell (my par-
ents) to stay strong, stay positive. Your
girl is going to be back soon.”
The ship’s Indian crew had sought
assistance from the Indian government
Last Sunday, Mr Binay Kumar
Sarkar, a chef from north Bengal,
went on social media to appeal to the
Indian government for help.
“Please somehow save us as soon
as possible. What’s the point if some-
thing happens (to us)... I want to tell
the government of India, Modi-ji,
please segregate us and bring us back
home safely,” he said.
Mr Sarkar said that he and his team
members are “scared”.
Speaking in Hindi and flanked by
five other crew members, he called on
the Indian government and the United
Nations to enforce an “urgent segrega-
Those who are healthy should be
allowed to disembark before they, too,
contract the coronavirus, he said.
“Day by day spreading… rapidly,”
he wrote, “and risking everyone’s
lives.” Speaking to Business Insider
later, Mr Sarkar described the situa-
tion on the ship as “out of control”.
He said that Japanese authorities
should be screening everyone on
board for coronavirus.
“People are willing to wait till the
results come back, but, if they don’t
test positive, they should be allowed
to leave the ship and go home to their
families,” he said.
“There are lot of people who don’t
have coronavirus, so why are we all
being confined here?”
The only people being screened for
the virus are those whose temperature
rises above 37.5 degrees Celsius.
“Please save at least those of us
who are healthy,” he said.
“What is the point of coming after
we have all been infected or worse?”
Mr Sarkar told The Washington
Post that the crew serves three meals a
day to passengers’ rooms.
A constant worry, though, is “who
will be next”.
Being trapped on the ship is fan-
ning fears that “very soon we will all
be infected,” he told the paper.
While plenty of his teammates are
worried about losing their jobs if they
speak out, Mr Sarkar told Business
Insider that his only priorities are his
health and family.
More than anything, he stressed, he
wants to stay alive.
A third Indian, who is also a cook,
echoed the concerns of his crew
mates, reported The Washington Post.
“This was my first job, and this has
happened to me,” he said.
“I am stuck here, and I don’t know
if I will go home alive.”
The man said that he had not been
tested for the virus but that he fears
more will soon fall ill.
“I am scared. I don’t know what
will happen tomorrow,” he said. “We
want to go home.”
Princess Cruises did not respond to
a request for comment about the
conditions of the crew members, but
the Japanese government said it is
working to improve their situation.
“We are aware of their concerns,
have heard voices that more needs to
be done to improve their conditions,
and we have been considering mea-
sures to address those issues,”
Mr Masami Sakoi, a senior official in
the health ministry, said.
The Indian Embassy in Tokyo re-
sponded with an assurance that it is
“constantly monitoring” the situation.
When the ship arrived off Japan,
authorities initially tested nearly 300
people for the virus, gradually evacuat-
ing dozens who were infected to local
In recent days, testing has ex-
panded to those with new symptoms
or who had close contact with other
infected passengers or crew, and sev-
eral more cases were reported.
Those who remain on the ship have
been asked to stay inside their cabins
and allowed only briefly onto open
They have been asked to wear
masks and keep a safe distance from
each other when outside, and given
thermometers to regularly monitor
Indo-Asian News Service
Two Indians test positive
on f loating quarantine
The cruise ship Diamond Princess hosts the highest number of coronavirus cases outside China
“I want to tell the government of India, Modi-ji,
please segregate us and bring us back
– Diamond Princess chef Binay Kumar Sarkar
February 14, 2020
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