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India logs 7,579 new Covid cases, lowest in 543 days

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In the last 24 hours, India registered 7,579 new coronavirus cases, the lowest single-day spike in 538 days, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Tuesday.

Also in the same period, 236 people succumbed to the virus, which increased the overall nationwide death toll to 4,66,147.

The recovery of 12,202 patients has increased the cumulative tally to 3,39,46,749. Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.32 per cent, the highest since March 2020.

The active caseload stands at 1,13,584. Active cases presently constitute 0.33 per cent of the country’s total positive cases, the lowest since March 2020.

Also in the same period, a total of 7,83,563 tests were conducted across the country, which increased the total to 63.34 crore.

Meanwhile, the weekly positivity rate at 0.93 per cent has remained less than 2 per cent for the last 60 days now.

The daily positivity rate stands at 0.79 per cent, which has also remained below 2 per cent for last 50 days and less than 3 per cent for 85 consecutive days now.

With the administration of 71,92,154 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s Covid inoculation coverage has reached 117.63 crore as of Monday morning.

This has been achieved through 1,21,69,135 sessions.

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PM Modi to lead main International Day Of Yoga event at Mysuru

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead the mass Yoga event on June 21 at Mysuru. The day is celebrated as International Day of Yoga (IDY).

As the country is celebrating ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the Day will be observed at 75 iconic locations across the country and will focus on branding India on a global scale, Ayush Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Monday. The programme is being held in the physical mode after a gap of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing the press briefing, the Ayush Minister said that apart from the main event at Mysuru, another attraction on June 21 this year will be the Guardian Ring, a relay Yoga streaming event which will capture and weave together digital feed of IDY programmes organised by Indian Missions abroad.

The proposed plan is to initiate the streaming from Japan, the land of the rising sun, at 6 a.m. local time, and it will culminate in New Zealand, Sonowal added. Around 70 countries are likely to participate in the relay event.

The Minister also informed that a series of events are planned in the run up to the IDY and the 25 day countdown is being observed at Hyderabad on May 27, wherein around 10,000 Yoga enthusiasts will participate.

The earlier mega countdown events were organised at Shivdol as 50th day countdown on May 2 and the Red Fort as 75th day countdown on April 7.

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Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader says Places of Worship Act not engraved in stone, need to review it

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The controversy surrounding the Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi continues to deepen after the survey report became public. While the Hindu side claims to have found Shivling there, the Muslim side has called it a fountain. They have also cited the Places of Worship Act 1991. It is not only the Gyanvapi in Varanasi, but the Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Idgah Masjid in Mathura case has also been admitted by the court for debate.

While the construction work of the grand Ram temple in Ayodhya is going on in full swing, enabled by the Supreme Court verdict, the cases of Kashi and Mathura have also reached the court’s doorstep. Both sides are engaged in a war of words claiming ownership of the land.

when spoke to Vishwa Hindu Parishad International Working President and Senior Advocate Alok Kumar on the issue. Following are the excerpts of the conversation.

Q. Both the parties have their own claims regarding Gyanvapi survey. The Hindu side is calling it Shivling, while the Muslim side calls it fountain. What is your opinion on these claims?

A. We believe it is a Shivling and not a fountain. It is one of the original Jyotirlinga. It must have been worshipped after ‘pran pratishtha’. I believe that since it is a Shivling, there must be a temple as there cannot be Shivling in a mosque. After a mosque was constructed there, no Shivling could have come from outside, so it is certain that Shivling has been there since ancient times. The Shivling was there even at the time of country’s Independence, so the Places of Worship Act 1991 does not apply to it. Hindus must be given the right to worship in the entire complex.

Q. So, will the VHP be satisfied only by getting the right to worship at the place of Shivling?

A. This case has not been filed by the VHP. But as far as the Places of Worship Act is concerned, this was made in haste. There was no discussion nor was it sent to the Select Committee of Parliament. At that time the BJP strongly opposed this bill. The most important thing is that the legality of this law has also been challenged in the Supreme Court, on which the court has also issued notice. Therefore, this law is not engraved in stone and its provisions should be reconsidered.

Q. Who do you think should reconsider – the court or the government? Are you demanding from the BJP government to repeal the Act or change its provisions by bringing a new law?

A. The court is doing it. It has given notice to the concerned parties and so far as our (VHP) stand is concerned, it will be decided in the next two important meetings. VHP’s Board of Trustees will meet at Kanchi at the end of this month. Next month, on June 11 and 12, a meeting of our Margdarshak Mandal will also be held in Haridwar. The VHP will decide its stand and also its future course of action regarding this.

Q. Ashok Singhal, a veteran VHP leader, used to say that if the Muslims peacefully hand over Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura to the Hindus, there will be no enmity and an atmosphere of love, unity and harmony will prevail in the country. Then Hindus will not claim any other monuments of this kind. Ayodhya was decided through the Supreme Court. Does VHP still have the same stand on Mathura and Kashi?

A. See, Ram temple in Ayodhya is being built only through the court’s decision. If even today the Muslims will hand over Kashi and Mathura to the Hindus, this will create an atmosphere of goodwill. But if the same language is being spoken by the Muslim side as Owaisi and the Muslim Personal Law Board do, it will not be good for any of us. It is now clear that Kashi and Mathura are a matter of faith for the entire Hindu society. The VHP had earlier said that it will not consider these two issues till the Ram temple is resolved, but things are changing fast. We will discuss this in our upcoming meetings.

Q. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in 2019 said that due to historical reasons, the Sangh was associated with the Ram Mandir movement only as an exception. The BJP in the Palampur session of 1989, said that it will support only Ram Janmabhoomi movement. However, senior Sangh leader Sunil Ambekar recently said on the Gyanvapi issue that facts cannot be hidden for long. Are BJP, Sangh and the VHP running a movement in tandem this time also?

A. Sangh will take its own decision, BJP its own, but the sentiment of the whole country is the same that historical wrongs should be corrected.

Q. How will the dispute be resolved?

A. Both the matters are sub-judice and only the court can find the solution. This country has learned to respect the courts. People like Owaisi were roaring even at the time when Ramjanmabhoomi verdict came but it did not have any impact. The Supreme Court’s decision was accepted by both Hindus and Muslims, there was neither violence nor riots. So when the court decides on Kashi and Mathura, everyone will accept it, I hope.

Q. You mentioned the statement of Asaduddin Owaisi. You must have also heard the statements of Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leaders?

A. Akhilesh Yadav has been rejected twice by the people of Uttar Pradesh. The Congress leader showed his ‘janeu’ (sacred thread), but doing it half-heartedly will not work. If you want to respect Hindutva, you have to do it all the time. Those who continue to disrespect the Hindus and their sentiments, are fading away. The public is watching all this and will answer it again when the time comes.

Q. Mehbooba Mufti has said that you should give the complete list in one go.

A. She was sarcastic. All political parties have to say something or the other according to their party position. But the finding of Shivling there has answered several quetions.

Q. Will the VHP, like the Ramjanmabhoomi movement, run a mass movement for Kashi and Mathura? Will it hit the streets, put pressure on the government or fight a legal battle?

A. I have already told you that VHP will take a decision after discussing all these issues in the Board of Trustees meeting to be held in Kanchi this month and on June 11 and 12 in Haridwar.

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The five women whose petition has shaken up the nation

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 The five women who caused an upheaval in the country by filing a petition seeking permission to offer prayers at the Shringar Gauri shrine in the Gyanvapi mosque complex here are neither friends, nor part of one group.

Of the five petitioners, one is based in Delhi while four belong to Varanasi. The closest they came to know of each other is a chance meeting at a ‘satsang’.

While Laxmi Devi, Sita Sahu, Manju Vyas and Rekha Pathak live in Varanasi and have been present at every hearing of the case which began in August 2021, the fifth and the main petitioner, Rakhi Singh, lives in Delhi and has not been to court.

Rakhi Singh’s interest in religion seems to originate from her links to the ‘Vishwa Vedic Sanathan Sangh’.

Rakhi, 35, is a founder member of the outfit, which claims to have done ‘coordination’ for the petition. Her uncle, Jitendra Singh Bishen, is the President of the Sangh.

According to Santosh Singh, the UP convenor of the Vishwa Vedic Sanathan Sangh, the outfit coordinated with four of the women and brought them together to file the Gyanvapi petition in August 2021.

“We are managing the whole case,” he claimed.

The second petitioner is Laxmi Devi, 65, whose husband, Sohan Lal Arya, is a senior VHP office-bearer in Varanasi. Laxmi Devi is essentially a homemaker and lives in Varanasi’s Mahmoorganj area.

An active player in this case, her husband claims it was he who “inspired and brought together the five women (petitioners)”.

Arya, 71, is also the litigants’ agent in the petition.

The VHP Varanasi Mahanagar vice-president and spokesperson since 1984, he said that the petitioners, including his wife, were chosen by him.

Arya, who claims to have been associated with the RSS since childhood, said that he filed his first petition in the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi matter in a Varanasi court in 1985.

“This time, I decided to put women in front as it is they who pray to Maa Shringar Gauri. I chose the four women as I needed some women to file the petition. I didn’t have any other names, so I picked them,” he said.

The Vishwa Vedic Sanathan Sangh was founded in 2018 “for the cause of Hindutva”. The outfit has also filed cases over the status of Qutub Minar in a Delhi court as well as one regarding the Krishna Janmabhoomi in a Mathura court, which also involves dispute with a mosque.

Sita Sahu, another petitioner, however, has another story as to how they came together for the case.

“Four of us met at a satsang and decided to file the petition. We were contacted by Rakhi Singh saying she wanted to be a part of the petition, so we included her as well,” she said.

Sita Sahu runs a small general store from her house in Chetganj area of Varanasi, just 2 km from the Gyanvapi complex.

While she has never been associated with any outfit or organisation, she said, “We are doing work for Hindu religion and filed the petition because we are not allowed to properly worship our Goddess at the temple.”

Manju Vyas, 49, runs a beauty parlour from her house located 1.5 km from the Gyanvapi complex and is not a member or office-bearer of any outfit or organisation. Apart from her small business, she looks after her family. Her interest is to pray at the Shringar Gauri Sthal.

Rekha Pathak, 35, the fifth petitioner in the case, said she became a part of the petition for the cause of her Goddess.

“I felt bad that women who go to the temple for worship are not allowed past the barricading, so I became a part of the petition. The decision to file the petition was taken by us during a satsang of the temple because all of us worship the Goddess,” she said.

It is on their petition that the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Varanasi, ordered a videographic inspection of the Gyanvapi mosque, inviting objections from the Muslim community.

“For us, nothing else matters except for offering prayers at Shringar Gauri Maa and we will not rest till we are given the permission,” the petitioners said.

Interestingly, none of the five petitioners are aware of the legal or political implications that their petition is having on the nation.

“We are only concerned with worshipping at Shringar Gauri and nothing else matters to us,” said Rekha Pathak.

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