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SriLankan leaders mourn demise of Karunanidhi

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MK

Colombo | Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa and several other political leaders in the country have expressed sorrow at the demise of former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi by recalling his contributions to cinema and politics.

The 94-year-old leader, a five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, breathed his last at Kauvery Hospital in downtown Chennai at 6.10 pm yesterday after waging a grim battle for life for 11 days.

Sri Lanka’s incumbent President Sirisena and his predecessor Rajapaksa in tweets said they were saddened by the death of the veteran Tamil Nadu leader.

“The death of M Karunanidhi, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and senior politician, deeply disturbed me. I express my deepest sympathy for everyone, including his family and supporters who have been saddened by the loss of Anna,” Sirisena tweeted.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he had spoken with M K Stalin over his father’s health.

“His contributions to Tamil literature, cinema and politics are unparalleled. I join the millions of people who are mourning. My deepest condolences to the family and people of Tamil Nadu,” Rajapaksa tweeted.

C V Wigneswaran, the chief minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated Northern Province, while paying tributes Karunanidhi said he led several protests for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause.

“But he could have further pressured Delhi to prevent the massacre in Mullaivaikkal (the scene of the final battle between the government troops and the LTTE),” Wigneswaran said.

During the Rajapaksa presidency, Karunanidhi was not seen in favourable light by Colombo for his pro-LTTE stand. In the 1980s during the LTTE’s formative years, Karunanidhi was accused of supporting them by Sri Lankan leaders.

The main Muslim party leader Rauff Hakeem tweeted, “His contribution as an artiste and a political ideologue would remain unmatched. This brings an epochal phase in Tamil Nadu political history to a close”.

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Bulandshahr violence: Court sent acccused armymen on 14 day judicial custody

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Lucknow | A local court on Sunday sent the accused army men in Bulandshar violence Jitendra Malik alias Jitu Fauji to a 14-day judicial custody.

Jitendra Malik allegedly involved in the killing of a police inspector during mob violence in Bulandshahr was arrested on Saturday night. “The Army handed over Jitendra Malik to UP STF team in Meerut yesterday late night,” IG STF Amitabh Yash told PTI here today.

On Monday, a mob of some 400 people rampaged through a village in Bulandshahr district apparently after cow carcasses were found in a jungle nearby. During the violence, Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a 20-year-old man died of gunshot wounds. Nine people have been arrested in connection with the violence. Earlier Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat said Saturday that full cooperation will be extended in the investigation of the incident

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Pakistan issues visas to 139 Indian pilgrims to visit Katas Raj dham

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Katas Raj dham

New Delhi | The Pakistan High Commission on Sunday said it has issued visas to 139 Indian pilgrims to visit Katas Raj Dham, the famous Shiva temple, in the country’s Punjab province.

Under the framework of a bilateral protocol on visits to religious shrines, Sikh and Hindu pilgrims from India visit Pakistan every year. Pakistani pilgrims also visit India every year under the protocol. “Another group of Indian pilgrims, comprising 139 people, have been issued visas by the Pakistan High Commission to visit Shree Katas Raj Dham in Chakwal district from December 9-15,” the Pakistan High Commission said.

Last month, Pakistan had granted visas to more than 3,800 Sikh pilgrims to visit the country. Some of the pilgrims had attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor on November 28 in Narowal. The corridor will link the Darbar Sahib shrine in Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in India.

Earlier this month, over 220 Indian pilgrims were granted visas to visit the famous Hindu temple, Shadani Darbar, in Sukkur.  Katas Raj is one of the holiest places for the Hindu community in Pakistan. The temples form a complex surrounding a pond named Katas — which is regarded as sacred by the devotees.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood stated that the issuance of visas for yet another group of pilgrims from India was consistent with Government’s of Pakistan’s policy of promoting visits to religious shrines and was a reflection of its commitment to faithfully implement the 1974 Protocol, the High Commission said in a release. He said that Pakistan remained committed to providing all possible facilitation for the visiting pilgrims and strengthening people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

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Large number of Muslim women likely to go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ in 2019: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

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Haj

New Delhi | A large number of Muslim women are likely to go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion) next year, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday.

Naqvi, while chairing a meeting here with representatives of organisations associated with Haj, said that Haj Committee of India has received more than 2,23,000 applications for Haj 2019 till now. The over 2,23,000 applications include about 47 percent women, he was quoted as saying by a statement released from his office.

Haj application process had started on November 7, 2018, and the last date for it is December 12. Naqvi said that more than 2,000 women have applied to go for Haj in 2019 without ‘Mehram’ with the number likely to go up.

Naqvi said that in 2018, for the first time, the Centre had lifted the ban on women going to Haj without Mehram, which resulted into about 1,300 women going for the pilgrimage without any male companion. They had been exempted from the lottery system and more than 100 women Haj coordinators and Haj assistants had been deployed to assist the Indian women Haj pilgrims, Naqvi said.

For the first time after Independence, a record number of Muslims — 1,75,025 — from India performed Haj in 2018 and that too without any subsidy, he said. Naqvi said that making the Haj process completely digital has helped in making the entire process transparent. For Haj 2019, about 1,36,000 online applications have been received and the online portal for Private Tour Operators (PTOs) is already operational, Naqvi said.

While on one hand, the portal has ensured transparency in the functioning of PTOs, on the other hand it is very beneficial for the pilgrims as they get all the necessary information, he said, adding that the new policy for the PTOs is also likely to be chalked out this year. Naqvi said that the central government, in coordination with Indian Consulate in Jeddah and various concerned agencies in Saudi Arabia, is working to ensure safety and better facilities for the pilgrims.

The bilateral Haj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia is likely to be signed soon, he said.

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