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Amarnath Yatra cancelled in wake of Covid-19 pandemic




The annual Amarnath Yatra would be symbolic only this year, in wake of the Covid pandemic, but all the traditional religious rituals will be performed at the cave shrine as per practice, the J&K government decided on Monday.

A detailed discussion was held with the members of the shrine board on the present Covid-19 situation before the decision.

Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also Chairman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, held deliberations with Chief Secretary Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, DGP, Dilbag Singh, Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra, and Principal Secretary to Lt Governor, Nitishwar Kumar, who is also the CEO of Shrine Board, and directed that devotees should be enabled to attend the morning and evening aarti in online mode.

He said it would help them to pay their obeisance while also avoiding travel and exposure.

The meeting was informed that shrine board has put in place virtual and televised mechanism for live telecast of ‘aarti’ from the holy cave.

“It is important to save people’s lives. So, it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s pilgrimage in the larger public interest. Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board is aware of and respect the sentiments of millions of devotees, and to keep the sentiments alive, the Board shall continue the live telecast of morning and evening aarti from the Holy Cave shrine,” the Lt Governor said.

He also stressed upon the need to follow Covid protocol on the significant and pious days like ‘Pratham Pooja’, and the ‘Samapan Pooja’. He further stressed that saints visiting the cave shrine to perform ‘aarti’ as per “Shastras” would follow Covid appropriate behaviour.

The shrine board CEO said that arrangements have been made for the ‘Chhari Mubarak’, the mace of Lord Shiva, to be taken to the holy cave on August 22, when the yatra is to conclude, coinciding with the festival of Raksha Bandhan.

“Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board has been assessing the Covid situation in the Union Territory and the country. Our focus is on containing the pandemic and strengthening health infrastructure,” he said

Nitishwar Kumar said that both morning telecast of aarti at 6 a.m. and evening aarti at 5 p.m., each for 30 minutes, is to be live-streamed on the shrine board’s website and the app specifically dedicated for the devotees.

The devotees can pay their virtual obeisance to the holy ice ‘Lingam’ online through the shrine board’s link The same may also be streamed through the its mobile app which may be downloaded through the link from the Google Play Store.

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‘Will act considering HC order’, EC to SC on disqualified Lakshadweep MP’s plea




 The Election Commission (EC) on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it will consider the Kerala High Court order, which suspended the conviction of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal in an attempt to murder case, and take action in accordance with the law.

Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Faizal, submitted before a bench headed by Justice K.M. Joseph that the by-election cannot go on as the high court has suspended the conviction of his client.

Faizal’s conviction had resulted in his disqualification from the Lok Sabha. The bypoll was announced by the EC after Faizal was disqualified following his conviction in the case.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the EC, contended before the bench, also comprising B.V. Nagarathna, that the action will be in accordance with law against the backdrop of the high court order.

Singh took strong exception to the allegations made in Faizal’s petition that the poll body had acted in a malafide manner and questioned how a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution could be filed in the matter.

The bench said, “Without going into the allegations or pronouncing on any merits, we dispose of the writ petition recording the submission that action will be taken by the EC in accordance with law in light of the high court order of suspension of conviction.”

Faizal, in his plea filed in the apex court, had argued that the bypoll was announced without awaiting the outcome of his plea for stay of conviction and sentence in the high court.

Earlier this month, the EC had said the bypoll to the Lakshadweep Lok Sabha seat will be held on February 27 along with the byelections to six Assembly seats spread across five states.

Faizal, leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, had moved the apex court challenging the EC’s press note announcing by-election in his erstwhile Lakshadweep constituency, terming the announcement as was arbitrary, malafide and unlawful.

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‘Let religious people handle’, SC declines AP plea against HC order on Ahobilam Mutt temple




The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a plea by the Andhra Pradesh government against a high court order, which held that the state had no authority under law to appoint an executive officer to the Ahobilam Mutt temple in Kurnool district.

A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul told the counsel, representing the Andhra Pradesh government, to let the religious people handle this matter.

The bench, also comprising Justice A.S. Oka asked why is the state government stepping into this matter, and added: “Let the temple people deal with it… Why should religious places not be left to religious people?”

The top court said that Andhra Pradesh has no jurisdiction or entitlement under law to appoint an executive officer of the ‘Sri Ahobila Mutt Parampara Aadheena Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Devasthanam’ (the Ahobilam Mutt temple).

It told the state government lawyer: “In every case under Article 136, we need not try to settle the law. Sorry.”

After hearing the arguments, the top court declined to entertain the state government and others’ appeal against the high court order.

A petition before the high court contended that the Ahobilam temple has been under the control of Sri Ahobilam Mutt, which is based in Tamil Nadu, since time immemorial.

The high court had said appointing an executive officer for the temple, which is a part of the mutt, violated Article 26(d) of the Constitution as it affects the right of administration of Jeeyars’/Mathadipathis.

The Andhra Pradesh government and others had challenged the high court order passed in October last year.

It made it clear that the temple is an integral part of the Ahobilam Mutt and the contention raised by the state government that the temple and Mutt were distinct entities cannot be entertained.

The high court further added that said the temple is an integral and inseparable part of the Ahobilam mutt, which was established as a part of the propagation of Hindu religion and for rendering spiritual service for propagating Sri Vaishnavism.

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Students are taking my test and I enjoy it: PM Modi




Inaugurating the discussion on ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha, 2023,’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that crores of students in the country are taking his exam and he derived pleasure from it.

Modi said that it was perhaps the first time where Pariksha Pe Charcha was being held in such cold weather, since it is usually held in February.

Ashwini, a student of Madurai Kendriya Vidyalaya, asked a question on the stress and pressure to score high marks in exams. Similarly, other students asked questions on how to deal with their family’s expectations if they do not score well in the exams.

Modi replied that it is natural for one’s family to have expectations from their children but it is concerning if the expectations are a result of social status.

He added that sometimes parents, despite knowing their child’s capabilities and calibre make tall claims among their peers.

They then expect the same from their children which creates “pressure on the children to score better marks.”

The PM gave the example of a cricket match and said that a cricketer focuses entirely on the ball when he enters the field and not on the spectators shouting “chauka, chauka!” (four).

He said that the player does not hit sixes and fours on the crowd’s demand and focuses on his game and the ball.

Modi advised the students to focus on their studies in a similar way and not feel pressurised.

The PM guided the students to introspect and understand their potential and not achieve less than their potential.

Arushi Thakur, a student from Himachal Pradesh said, “It is not clear from where do I start studying during exams, I often feel that I’ve forgotten everything that I had studied.”

Many other students asked the PM questions regarding time management and exam preparations.

Modi said that one should know how to manage time in exams and in life. He said that students’ work often piles up due to procrastination and not doing the work at the right time.

He advised the students to analyse the amount of time they want to dedicate to a particular subject to avoid spending hours on the subject that they are familiar and good at.

He added that the students should start reading the subject that they face difficulty in with a fresh mind.

The PM said that the students can learn time management by observing the working style of their mothers and advised them to utilise their time properly for studies.

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