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Debabrata Saikia seeks judicial probe into Assam lynching

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Assam lynching

Guwahati | The Leader of the Opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia today demanded a judicial probe into the lynching of two youths in Karbi Anglong district last week.

In a statement, senior Congress leader Saikia urged Assam Chief Minister to “institute a judicial enquiry” to get to the root of the motive behind spreading fake news across social media fora such as WhatsApp and Facebook, which resulted in the lynching of the two youths.

He said that it was essential for the government to ascertain whether the fell victims to a nation-wide conspiracy of creating an atmosphere of fear and doubt via social media.

Saikia referred to similar rumours about the presence of child-lifters being spread in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, while pointing out that already several people have been lynched as a result.

“The opposition leader said that there was ample scope to suspect that the well-coordinated spreading of fake news might be a ploy to divert people’s attention from issues of actual importance.

“In view of increasing doubts about a section of supporters of a particular political ideology being the masterminds behind such fear and hate-mongering, Saikia said that the Chief Minister should take it upon himself to order a thorough probe to unearth the truth and consequently prevent more damage being caused in Assam by such poisonous propaganda,” the statement said.

The two youths, Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath, had gone to the picnic spot of Kangthilangso waterfalls under Dokmoka police station in Karbi Anglong on Friday. While returning, their vehicle was stopped at Panjuri Kachari by a group of irate villagers, who pulled them out and killed them for being child-lifters.

Altogether 63 persons have been arrested from different parts of Assam for killing the youths and spreading rumours and hate messages on social media.

While 28 persons were held for killing the duo, the rest 35 were arrested for posting hate messages and rumours on social media.

The main accused Alfajoz Timung, who was out on bail in an old murder case and was arrested yesterday for the lynching, had asked the villagers over telephone to stop the duo’s vehicle and spread rumours of them being child-lifters.

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After heavy rain, Delhi’s air quality at year’s best

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New Delhi | Heavy rains drastically reduced the pollution level of the national capital, which recorded the best air quality of this year on Tuesday, authorities said.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, the overall air quality index (AQI) in the city was 133, which falls in the ‘moderate’ category.

This is the first time this year that an AQI as low as 133 was recorded, the CPCB data showed. In first week of January too, the air quality had improved to ‘moderate’ category for a brief period of time.

Delhi has been battling hazardous pollution level for the past few months and for the last one month the air quality has been oscillating between ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ category.

An AQI between 100 and 200 comes under ‘moderate’ category, 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, while that between 401 and 500 is ‘severe’.

On Tuesday, two areas recorded ‘satisfactory’ air quality while 32 areas recorded ‘moderate’ air quality, the CPCB said.

In the National Capital Region, Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Greater Noida recorded ‘moderate’ air quality, it said.

The overall PM2.5 level — fine particulate matters in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers — in Delhi was 61, while the PM10 level was 110, it said.

Authorities said the drastic drop in pollution level was due to heavy rain that lashed the Delhi NCR.

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Heavy rains lash parts of Delhi

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New Delhi |Heavy rains lashed parts of the national capital on Tuesday morning as the minimum temperature settled at five notches above normal.

Fifteen trains were delayed with an average delay of two to three hours. These include Howrah-New Delhi Poorva Express, Malda-Delhi Junction Farakka Express, Mumbai Amritsar Express and others. The Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Express was late by six hours, Northern Railways said.

According to a MeT official, the Safdarjung observatory recorded 14.8 mm rainfall, Palam observatory 22.8 mm rainfall, Lodhi road observatory 15 mm rainfall and Aya Nagar observatory recorded 26.1 mm rainfall.

“The minimum temperature was recorded at 12.5 degrees Celsius, five notches above normal, while the maximum temperature settled at 22.6 degrees Celsius, a notch above normal,” the official said.

The humidity level was recorded at 100 per cent at 8.30 am.

The weatherman has predicted rainfall throughout the day with the mercury settling at 19 degrees Celsius.

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BJP has reaped political benefits on Sabarimala issue: SNDP

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Kottayam | The BJP has reaped political benefits from the agitation against the Kerala government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court verdict on the Sabarimala women’s entry issue, the SNDP Yogam,an outfit of the numerically strong Ezhava community, said here Monday.

“If you ask me who gained from the Sabarimala agitation, I think the BJP has moved forward so far on the basis of their Hindutva ideology,” SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellapally Natesan told reporters here.

The statement of Natesan, considered very close to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, came amid speculations in political circles in Kerala on who would stand to benefit from the Sabarimala issue in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

The observation of the prominent Backward Community leader has also surprised political circles as the BJP itself was not ready to accept that the stir was a complete success.

The BJP, which had been spearheading the nearly two-month long stir against the government’s decision to implement the Apex Court order, permitting entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple, had admitted that its fight to protect devotees’ faith on the issue was “not entirely successful.”

The BJP called off its 49-day relay hunger strike on the Sabarimala issue in front of the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.

Speaking at the protest venue on Saturday, state BJP president P S Sreedharan Pillai had said: “There were notable achievements during certain phases of the agitation, but our fight to protect the faith was not entirely successful.”

Natesan, who strongly supported the CPI(M)-led government and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in organising the January 1 ‘wall of women’ protest to protect renaissance values and ensure gender equality in the state, observed that the wall was a ‘trap’ and said it collapsed a day after its creation.

Media reports had earlier said that SNDP yogam was upset with the LDF government over the entry of two women of menstruating age into the Sabarimala temple on January 2, a day after organising the women’s wall with its support.

Natesan’s son Thushar Vellapally is the top leader of BDJS, a key partner of the BJP-led NDA in Kerala.

Asked about the women’s wall, Natesan said he felt that it was ‘a trap.’

“The wall was good, but it collapsed the next day”, he said.

Natesan also criticised the meeting organised by the Sabarimala Karma Samiti, a right-wing platform seeking protection of faith, culture and traditions of the Sabarimala temple, at Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, saying it was an assembly of ‘Savarna sections’.

“It was not a meeting of all Hindu sections. We saw a unity of savarana (upper castes) there,” Natesan, an OBC leader, said, commenting on the Ayyappa Bhakta Sangamam (meeting of Ayyappa devotees), organised by the Samiti as part of its protest against the Kerala government’s decision to implement the September 28 Supreme Court verdict.

The meeting, inaugurated by spiritual Guru Mata Amrithananda Mayi, was attended by an array of spiritual and right-wing leaders at Thiruvananthapuram.

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