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Eid Mubarak: Volunteers across faiths come together to fight Covid-19



Humanity shines forth in crisis as people come together across lines of caste, class and faith in the fight against Covid-19. The pandemic has proven to be a medical and humanitarian crisis which continues to ravage families and communities. Voluntary support from individuals and various organisations is coming forth as a godsend. Working day and night to save lives on-ground, volunteers from various religion-based and cause-based organisations give hope in this deepening war on coronavirus.

An example is the Dawoodi Bohra community, which has tried to maintain the spirit of Eid by lending a helping hand wherever possible.

“Our Dawoodi Bohra volunteers across different parts of the country are doing everything possible, especially during the holy month of Ramadan to help locals with medical care, food, water and dry rations,” said Yusuf Hakimuddin, a member of Project Rise, adding, “As part of the community’s global social care initiative, Project Rise, special Covid Care Centres and dedicated War Rooms have been set up in Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Indore and Kolkata to provide beds, oxygen cylinders and essential medical supplies to those facing hardship.”

Citizen volunteers Sanjay Raina and Adnan Shah, who hail from Kashmir, believe that during a national crisis of this dimension, conscientious citizens must rise above political, religious and social divides to help each other. They are rallying necessary resources via their Twitter handle, ‘PlasmaNCR’ to field requests and expand plasma donor pools.

Khalsa Aid India, the humanitarian organisation known for providing support to victims of natural disasters and civil conflicts, has descended on-ground for Covid-relief work as well. As of last week, they have distributed over 350 concentrators to needy patients at their doorstep, and are raising funds for the procurement of 5,000 concentrators for other cities as well.

Amarpreet Singh, Managing Director, Khalsa Aid Asia Pacific said last week, “The nation was grappling with bare minimum resources and we were receiving distress calls overwhelmingly. That’s when we started with the distribution of oxygen concentrators in and around Delhi. It’s been 8 days now; we have distributed around over 350 concentrators to the most needy patients. Our volunteers have been on-the-go 24×7 ensuring concentrators reach the doorstep of the patient. We are eternally grateful to ImpactGuru for believing in us and helping us to expand our outreach.”

In a nationwide initiative, ISKCON temples have come forward to help as well. ISKCON Delhi has been regularly serving nutritious food to elderly people, pregnant women, and people affected by Covid-19 at their doorstep. More recently, ISKCON Delhi with the support of the government has set up a Covid-care centre at DDU College, Dwarka. The 200-bed oxygen-equipped facility provides free-of-cost basic treatment to the people infected by the virus. The temple team has also arranged yoga classes, mantra meditation, and counseling at the centre for mental health and speedy recovery of the patients.

An ISKCON volunteer says, “We not only believe in treating the disease but also healing the person so that they become fully active and healthy. So in this centre along with basic medication and treatment required, we also focus on activities that keep a person both physically and mentally fit.”

Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS), a pan-India NGO working in disaster response, education and medical aid, has placed over 110 on-ground support volunteers in Delhi government hospitals in Covid-19 wards, vaccination centres, RT-PCR test centres, help desk, telecalling helpline, and management of the attendants and patients as per need, from April 22 till date. BJS Delhi General Secretary Vijay Jain said: “We recognise the severity and spread of this pandemic in India, and especially in Delhi which is gasping for breath. We intend to increase the strength to over 250 with the support of people and sponsors. Cricketing legend Virender Sehwag through his Foundation has come forward generously and has also contributed to our Mission Oxygen Concentrator Bank of over 150 machines in Delhi to be given on rotational basis to hospitals/community.” It plans to significantly expand outreach and volunteer base.

Nehemiah Abraham from Project Life said that just within a week, their volunteers were able to impact 12 communities with the distribution of recovery kits, medicines and other essentials. They have also acquired oxygen concentrators for distribution.

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All Jammu and Kashmir parties being invited for June 24 meeting with PM




Amid reports that New Delhi is extending invitation to all mainstream political parties in J&K, former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti confirmed on Saturday that she has received the invitation while NC patron, Dr Farooq Abdullah said he is yet to receive it.

Former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti has confirmed that she has received a formal invitation from New Delhi for the meeting scheduled on June 24.

“Yes, I got a phone call from Delhi inviting me for a meeting on June 24. The meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi”, Mehbooba told reporters.

She, however, added that she hasn’t decided yet whether she would attend the meeting.

Dr Farooq Abdullah told some reporters that he hadn’t received any invitation from Delhi so far.

“Once we receive such invitation, we will meet to decide the strategy to be adopted regarding the invitation”, Dr Abdullah told reporters.

Sources close to People’s Conference chief, Sajad Lone told IANS that he has also received the invitation to attend the June 24 meeting.

CPI-M leader, M.Y. Tarigami said he has so far received no formal or informal invitation from Delhi regarding the meeting.

Tarigami has said that sources in Delhi have confirmed to him that all mainstream leaders of J&K would be invited to attend the proposed meeting.

J&K Apni Party chief, Syed Altaf Bukhari said, “Solution to J&K’s problems lies in New Delhi. We have stated openly that we have a relation with Delhi.”

“Solution to J&K’s problems lies in New Delhi and not in Islamabad, New York or London. Delhi’s invitation to J&K’s political parties is a welcome development”.

Bukhari sarcastically added that all these parties called Apni Party the King’s party so far. “Now who is the king’s party?” he said.

He added that since job security and security to own land has been restored to people of J&K through the good offices of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, statehood would also be restored in future.

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Calcutta High Court snubs Mamata Banerjee government on post-poll violence




Four days after West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar wrote to chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleging that the state government has been inactive and indifferent about the sufferings of the people due to post-poll violence, the Calcutta High Court on Saturday criticised the Mamata Banerjee government and observed that the state has not taken any concrete steps to address the complaints pertaining to post-poll violence.

“In a case where the allegation is that life and property of the residents of the State are in danger on account of alleged post poll violence, the State cannot be allowed to proceed in the manner it likes. The complaints required immediate action… It is the duty of the State to maintain law and order and inspire confidence in the residents of the State,” the High Court observed.

The five-member bench, hearing a clutch of petitions alleging hundreds of persons got displaced due to the violence and that they are now unable to return to their homes due to fear of backlash, also observed, “Though action should have been taken by the State but despite matter being pending in Court apparently no concrete steps have been taken”.

The 5-judge bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal reminded the West Bengal Government that it is duty bound to maintain the law-and-order situation in the State and to inspire confidence in the people. The Bench also comprises of Justices I.P. Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar.

The Court asked the State to ensure that there is no obstruction of any kind in this process. “Such obstruction shall be viewed seriously, which may entail action under the Contempt of Courts Act besides others,” the order said.

The Court also directed the State Legal Services Authority to look into complaints of displaced persons who are being prevented from returning to their homes and take necessary steps for their rehabilitation.

The court then ordered the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to constitute a committee that will examine complaints filed by persons who were displaced during the post-poll violence in West Bengal. Earlier, the High Court had constituted a committee composed of members nominated by NHRC, SHRC & SLSA to coordinate rehabilitation of displaced persons of Entally constituency.

The Committee shall examine all the cases and may be by visiting the affected areas will submit a comprehensive report to this Court about the present situation and also the steps to be taken to ensure confidence of the people that they can peacefully live in their houses and also carry on their occupation or business to earn their livelihood.

“The persons prima facie responsible for crime and the officers who maintained calculated silence on the issue, be pointed out,” the Court added.

The case will be heard again on June 30.

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar recently wrote a strong letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee criticising her silence over post poll retributive bloodshed, violation of human rights, outrageous assault on dignity of women and wanton destruction of property. The letter was met with utmost criticism from the state government.

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PM Narendra Modi condoles demise of DPIIT Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra




Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday expressed grief over the demise of Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary of Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

Odisha-born Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Mohapatra succumbed to Covid-19 on Saturday. Mohapatra was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Delhi where he took his last breath.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said: “Saddened by the demise of Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra, DPIIT Secretary. I had worked with him extensively in Gujarat and at the Centre. He had a great understanding of administrative issues and was known for his innovative zeal. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal also expressed his condolences over the demise of Mohapatra through Twitter, saying “extremely saddened to hear about the loss of Dr Guruprasad Mohapatra, Secretary DPIIT. His long-standing service and dedication to the Nation have left a lasting impact. I convey my deepest sympathies to his family and friends”.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also took to Twitter to express his deep condolence. “A pioneer, he made unparalleled contributions in reforming the urban development landscape in Gujarat, led many public enterprises with distinction and also steered the commerce & aviation sector,” Pradhan tweeted.

The 1986 batch IAS officer, Mohapatra had assumed charge as the secretary of the DPIIT in August 2019.

Before taking over as the secretary of DPIIT, he had served as the chairman of the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Mohapatra had also served as a joint secretary in the Department of Commerce, where he worked for the promotion of special economic zones (SEZs), public procurement and project exports (financing and insurance), a statement from DPIIT had said.

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