SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
IN INDIA’S U-19
MCI (P) 079/10/2022
CREATING A RIPPLE
REPORT ON PAGE 3
Mr Ashish Jerry Choudhary cycled
more than 7,000km over 101 days
to reach Singapore.
Italian woman arrested for
allegedly punching cabin crew
A 45-year-old Italian woman was
arrested on Monday for assaulting
crew members on board a Vistara Abu
The airline said Paola Perruccio,
who had an economy class ticket,
insisted on sitting in business class and
assaulted a crew member when
She allegedly punched a cabin crew
member, spat on another and walked
partially naked during the flight.
She was arrested by the Mumbai
police based on a complaint by the
cabin crew, but was later given bail by
a Mumbai court.
Air Force jets crash during
exercise, pilot killed
Two Indian Air Force fighter jets
crashed on Saturday, killing one pilot,
in an apparent mid-air collision during
an exercises south of New Delhi.
The crash involved a Russian-made
Sukhoi Su-30, carrying two pilots, and
a French-built Mirage 2000, operated
by a third. Both aircraft had taken off
in the morning from the Gwalior air
base, around 50km east of where they
An investigation was underway to
determine the cause of the crash.
Rahul Gandhi ends 135-day march
to revive Congress party
Several hundred people gathered as
snow fell in Indian Kashmir’s main city
of Srinagar on Monday to mark the
end of Congress party leader Rahul
Gandhi’s foot march that he began at
the southern tip of the country 135
The Bharat Jodo Yatra, or Unite
India March, was aimed at boosting
the 52-year-old’s popularity but the
Congress still faces an uphill battle
against Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),
which appears poised to sweep the
general elections due next year.
“I didn’t do the Yatra for myself or
Congress,” said Mr Rahul.
“The aim is to stand against an
ideology that wants to destroy the
foundation of the country.”
Two Polish skiers dead in Kashmir
Two Polish nationals were killed and
21 other skiers rescued from the site of
an avalanche that hit the resort of
Gulmarg on Wednesday, police said.
A huge snowslide barrelled down
from the 4,390m peak of Mount
Apharwat in Kashmir and buried
nearly two dozen people on the slope,
all foreigners except for two local
guides. High-altitude rescue teams
rushed to the site on snow scooters
and retrieved the bodies of the two
Ideology of hate consuming India,
says Gandhi’s great-grandson
India’s rising tide of Hindu nationalism
is an affront to the legacy of Mahatma
Gandhi, his great-grandson said, ahead
of the 75th anniversary of the revered
independence hero’s assassination.
Gandhi was shot dead at a
multi-faith prayer meeting on Jan 30,
1948, by Nathuram Godse, a religious
zealot angered by his victim’s
conciliatory gestures to the country’s
Godse was executed the following
year and remains widely reviled, but
author and social activist Tushar
Gandhi, one of the global peace
symbol’s most prominent descendants,
said his views now have a worrying
resonance in India.
“That whole philosophy has now
captured India and Indian hearts, the
ideology of hate, the ideology of
polarisation, the ideology of divisions,”
“For them, it’s very natural that
Godse would be their iconic patriot,
Police officer who shot Odisha
minister made previous attempts
The Odisha crime branch has claimed
that the police officer who shot and
killed state Health Minister Naba
Kisore Das last Sunday attempted to
do so five times previously over the
last 15 days.
Assistant Sub-Inspector Gopal
Krushna Das, who allegedly
assassinated the minister by firing two
shots, has been dismissed from service
“On each of the five occasions, the
minister wasn’t present at his home,”
the Times of India quoted a crime
branch officer as saying.
The police believe Gopal’s crime
was an act of revenge after the
minister refused to provide a job for
the police officer’s relative.
Andhra Pradesh moves capital to
Visakhapatnam from Amaravati
Andhra Pradesh has chosen the coastal
city of Visakhapatnam to be its new
capital, effectively shelving the
development of Amaravati, a city that
was to be built from scratch by
“Here I am, to invite you to
Visakhapatnam, which is going to be
our capital in the days to come,”
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan
Mohan Reddy said on Tuesday,
announcing a global investor summit
scheduled for March 3 and 4.
Mr Reddy did not offer a timeline,
but added: “I myself will be moving
over to Visakhapatnam in the months
Supreme Court to consider cases
against block on BBC film
The Supreme Court will consider
petitions next week against a
government order blocking the sharing
of clips of a BBC documentary that
questioned Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s leadership during riots in 2002
The government has dismissed as a
biased “propaganda piece” the film
released last week, titled India: The
Modi Question, and blocked the
sharing of any clips from it on social
New Delhi-based lawyer M.L.
Sharma opposed the government’s
move in one of the petitions to the
Wangchuk claims house arrest,
administration denies charge
Engineer and innovator Sonam
Wangchuk claims he has been placed
under house arrest at his institute in
Leh, Ladakh – a charge denied by
police who said he was only prevented
from observing a five-day fast at the
top of the 5,600m Khardung La.
The education reformist, who
inspired a pivotal character in the
Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots, wants
the government to address the
demands of the people of Ladakh,
including environmental protection
form unchecked industrial expansion.
The police said Wangchuk was not
given permission by the administration
as the temperatures fall below -40 deg
C at Khardung La.
Hockey coach Reid quits after
World Cup debacle
India’s hockey coach Graham Reid
resigned on Monday, a day after a
World Cup that the side
embarrassingly exited at the group
stage on home soil.
Once a powerhouse of hockey with
eight Olympic golds to their name,
Hockey India said president Dilip
Tirkey and secretary Bholanath Singh
“met with players and the support
staff of the team to understand and
analyse the team’s performance and
strategy for the way ahead”.
Reid, a former Australia player,
coached the Indian team to a bronze at
Tokyo 2020 – their first Olympic
medal in 41 years.
A member of the
Bharath Scouts, the
national scouting and
paying tribute to
Mahatma Gandhi on
his death anniversary in
Bengaluru on Monday.
movement leader was
shot dead at
point-blank range by a
religious extremist 75
India marks Jan 30
as Martyrs’ Day.
Narendra Modi paid
homage to Gandhi at a
ceremony in New
Delhi. He also tweeted:
“I bow to Bapu on his
punya tithi (death
anniversary) and recall
his profound thoughts.”
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Nation pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi on 75th death anniversary
Guru gets second life sentence for rape
A sessions court in Gandhinagar, Gu-
jarat, on Tuesday sentenced self-styled
god-man Asaram Bapu (left) to life
imprisonment in a 2013 rape case filed
by a woman disciple.
He was found guilty of assaulting
the woman several times between
2001 and 2006 at his ashram in
The 81-year-old is currently serving
a life sentence after he was convicted
of raping a 16-year-old girl in 2018.
His lawyer said he would appeal
against the latest court sentence.
Additional sessions judge DK Soni
said Asaram committed a “very seri-
ous crime” against society and should
be punished “to the fullest extent” to
prevent the exploitation of religious
The court also imposed a fine of
Rs50,000 ($802) on Asaram to be paid
as compensation to the victim.
“The crime against the accused has
been proved beyond doubt by the
prosecution. That the accused has
reached an old age and not keeping
well cannot be ground for defence,”
the court said in its order.
“The accused has committed a very
serious crime and there can be no
place for sympathy for such a heinous
crime. The perpetrator of such a
heinous crime cannot be spared to
prevent the exploitation of the devout
people of the society.”
Asaram, known for his teachings on
yoga and meditation, has millions of
followers and hundreds of ashrams
around the world. He also has strong
The authorities in Gujarat had tight-
ened security ahead of Tuesday’s order
over concerns that there could be
violence from the guru’s supporters,
reported the BBC.
A day earlier, the court in Gandhina-
gar city convicted Asaram under vari-
ous sections of the Indian Penal Code,
including rape and wrongful detention.
Six others accused in the case,
including Asaram’s wife and daughter,
were acquitted due to insufficient evi-
Allegations of sexual abuse came to
light in 2013 when the woman from
Surat filed a complaint against the
guru. She claimed Asaram raped her
several times at his ashram in Motera
city, where she was confined for five
years before she could escape.
In 2019, Asaram’s son Narayan Sai
was sentenced to life imprisonment for
raping the woman’s younger sister.
Asaram was arrested in 2013 after
two of his followers accused him of
raping their daughter.
Police said he had called the victim
to his room in his ashram in Jodhpur
city in Rajasthan on the pretext of
“curing” her and then raped her.
They added that the guru forced the
victim to perform sexual acts on him
and threatened to murder her family if
she spoke about the incident.
Two of the guru’s aides were also
convicted and given 20-year jail terms
in connection with the case.
Asaram is serving varying jail terms
in various cases.
Indo-Asian News Service
A. VISHNU VARDNI
Mr Ashish Jerry Choudhary wants to
transform his village in Rajasthan “so
that it resembles Singapore”.
The 25-year-old Indian, who
reached Woodlands Causeway on Jan
24 after a 101-day cycling expedition
over more than 7,000km, is impressed
by Singapore’s lush greenery and desig-
nated cycling paths.
“My village Budania in Jhunjhunu
district in Rajasthan has been badly
affected by global warming and negli-
gence,” he told tabla!.
“I lived in New Delhi for four years
and it is heavily polluted. I see that
Singapore has taken early measures on
“I’m impressed by the cycling paths
in Singapore, which connect cyclists to
offices, schools and other places. In big
Indian cities like New Delhi and
Jaipur, there are no such facilities and
accidents involving cyclists are com-
mon on the roads.
“There are also lots of dustbins on
the roadsides in Singapore and people
heed traffic rules.
“Everything is perfect here. We can
learn from Singapore.”
The Bachelor of Education graduate
from Rajasthan University goes on
cycling expeditions to raise awareness
on the importance of saving the envi-
He set off from the Dwarkadhish
temple in Dwarka, a city in Gujarat,
on Oct 16 last year and cycled through
Thailand and Malaysia to reach Singa-
Due to the ongoing civil war, he
had to change his original course of
travelling via Myanmar. He instead
flew from Imphal, the capital of Ma-
nipur in India, to Bangkok.
Mr Choudhary said he and his
family had been braving the effects of
climate change in Jhunjhunu for as
long as they can remember.
Surrounded by sand dunes with no
water source, they have to collect
rainwater and withstand temperatures
of up to 50 deg C in summer and
nearly -5 deg C in winter.
The climate is also unsuitable for
growing rice, which is a luxury eaten
only during festivals. Wheat is the
staple for the villagers of Jhunjhunu.
Mr Choudhary is devastated by the
deterioration of his village. Even the
202ha of forested area where he, his
sister and grandfather would go to
exercise, has become a junkyard.
His concern for India’s environment
deepened four years ago when he was
pursuing his bachelor’s degree in litera-
ture at Delhi University.
The air quality index (AQI) score at
the national capital was above 150.
Good air quality has an AQI value of
50 or below.
Mr Choudhary then decided that he
would go on solo cycling expeditions
to encourage a car-lite society.
He has cycled from New Delhi to
Jhunjhunu (235km), from New Delhi
to Jaisalmer (785km) and from Kash-
mir to Kanyakumari (3,500km) to
raise awareness about the evil of
single-use plastics and the importance
of saving water and conserving natural
“I strongly encourage using
reusables in schools,” said Mr Choud-
hary, who usually spreads his message
in educational institutions.
“I also ask the students to actively
plant trees in their neighbourhoods
and care for them.”
Mr Choudhary himself planted a
siris sapling in school on the encourage-
ment of his 6th standard teacher.
“It will always be a reminder to
continue my journey in advocating for
the environment,” he said of the
sapling which has grown into a tree
and it bears his name.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr
Choudhary used the downtime to train
for his cross-country expeditions. Last
year, he also started the Jhunjhunu
Cycling Group to bring together cy-
cling enthusiasts in his hometown.
His goal this year is to spread his
message across Asia, starting with
Singapore. He will then cycle to Laos,
Cambodia and Vietnam in November.
Mr Choudhary described his jour-
ney to Singapore as arduous. He had
to cycle over hills and through moun-
tains and jungles, with a 40kg load
strapped to his bicycle.
His Malaysian e-visa was rejected
on his first attempt and he had to
extend his stay in Nakhon Si Tham-
Since he was on a tight budget, he
stayed with locals or in temples. At
other times, he camped out in the wild
in his tent.
Mr Choudhary visited organisations
such as Rotary Club, Siddh Peeth
Shree Lakshminarayan Temple,
Vivekanand Seva Sangh, Little India
Shopkeepers and Heritage Association,
Bijhar Singapore and Bhojpuri Society
Singapore in the past week to share his
experiences and promote his cause.
“I was very impressed by the sensi-
ble young man,” said Rotary Club
member Narasimhan Mohan.
“He had a very adventurous atti-
tude, with a noble cause. What sur-
prised me most was his plastic-free
Mr Choudhary, who is currently in
Batam, will be leaving for India from
Singapore on Feb 10.
“I’m impressed by the cycling paths in Singapore, which
connect cyclists to offices, schools and other places...
There are also lots of dustbins on the roadsides in
Singapore and people heed traffic rules. Everything is
perfect here. We can learn from Singapore.”
– Mr Ashish Jerry Choudhary (above)
Eco-warrior on wheels
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