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Maharashtra

Maharashtra: For 2nd year, austere Ganeshotsav, sans crowds amid Covid fears

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For the second consecutive year, millions of people in Mumbai, the coastal Konkan region and other parts of the state on Friday cheerfully welcomed Lord Ganesha amid stringent restrictions to ward off the lurking threats of the Covid-19 ‘third wave’.

The state’s biggest public festival’s lowkey celebrations were further hit by an abrupt change in the rules — banning all physical ‘darshan’ at the 2,400-odd public associations which have erected marquees (pandals) for devotees — disappointing the organisers.

“We were all geared to conduct the festival with full Covid-19 protocols but at the last-minute, the new rule with Sec. 144 has been clamped. This has come as a shock to all, but we shall strictly adhere to the government norms for public safety,” the BrihanMumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav Samanway Samiti (BSGSS) President Naresh Dahibhavkar told IANS.

The missing crowds could entail huge losses of over Rs
100-crore for the public associations which had hoped to collect devotees offerings in their coffers besides sponsors and advertisers, for carrying out various charitable services round-the-year, rued Dahibhavkar.

Undaunted, the ordinary folks lustily chanting ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’, started bringing the idols of their beloved lord since last night to their homes, housing societies, public or private complexes and associations, and virtually every household in villages, for the low-key but highly devotional celebrations over the next 10 days.

This morning, lakhs of families performed the ‘sthapna poojas’ followed by traditional ‘aartis’ to mark the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

On Saturday, a majority of the households would give the first send-off and perform the immersions of the Ganpati idols marking the one-and-half-day celebrations of the fest ending on September 19.

Considered the God of wisdom, the pot-bellied-elephant-headed Lord Ganesha brings in prosperity and good fortune and drives away obstacles (‘vigna’) and ill-luck.

This year also, the idol height is restricted to 4 feet for marquees and 2 feet for home worship — a significant drop from the pre-pandemic era when some of the majestic Lord Ganesha idols benignly stared down at devotees from 20-feet plus pinnacles.

Hoping to make the best of the austere celebrations, the BSGSS have decided to enhance their Covid-19 volunteer forces by at least 20 per cent to grapple the potential ‘third wave’, said Dahibhavkar.

“From tomorrow, we shall launch health campaigns, organise blood donations and other social activities in a planned manner to avoid crowds,” he added.

Celebrated across the country, the Mumbai-Pune-Nashik-Konkan quadrangle is the main epicentre of the festival with some of the biggest celebrations witnessed here annually.

Not willing to take any chances with the ‘third wave’ apparently round-the-corner, the government has permitted only ‘online’ darshans since even temples and other places of worship are shut as per the Centre’s directives.

“We have made all necessary arrangements for online darshans,” said actor Aadesh Bandekar, the Chairman of Shri SiddhiVinayak Mandir Trust, Mumbai, who is accorded the Minister of State (MoS) status.

The curbs notwithstanding, lakhs of idols of Lord Ganesha came to the homes of people, ranging from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, ministers, Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and Pravin Darekar, NCP President Sharad Pawar, state Congress President Nana Patole, city unit chief Bhai Jagtap, leaders of various parties, lawmakers and activists.

Lord Ganesha is also visiting top industrialists, film stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Urmila Matondkar, Nana Patekar, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, the Kapoor clan, the Dutt family, and many more.

Maharashtra

‘Love jihad’ law in Maharashtra very soon? Fadnavis says will study laws of other states

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Days after Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s comments on “love jihad” with reference to the Shraddha Walker murder case, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the government has not taken any decision on the “love jihad” law yet but they will study laws of the other states.

This comes after the press conference of Shraddha’s father, Vikas Walker. Shraddha was strangled by her live-in partner Aaftab. He also cut her body into 35 pieces which he kept in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence in Mehrauli in south Delhi in May this year, before dumping them across the city over several days.

Vikas Walkar claimed on Friday that she would have been alive if the Maharashtra Police had helped him.

He alleged that the Vasai Police showed “laxity” in the investigation of the case, however, hailing the combined probe by the Delhi Police and the Vasai Police.

Earlier, in November, Speaking to ANI, Shraddha’s father, Vikas Walker had said that he suspected a love jihad angle in his daughter’s case. The murder of the girl had sparked debate over ‘love jihad’ in Maharashtra. 

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Maharashtra

Mumbai: China mission to commemorate Dr. Kotnis’ 80th death anniversary

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The Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis Memorial Committee and the Consulate General of China in Mumbai will commemorate and pay homage to the legendary medico Dr. Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis on the occasion of his 80th death anniversary, an official said here on Friday.

Dr. Kotnis, revered in China and India alike, passed away in China at the young age of 32 on December 9, 1942 and the memorial event shall be held on Saturday, said Consul General Kong Xianhua.

The tributes will be in memory of Dr. Kotnis’ services to the Chinese people as part of the Indian Medical Mission there in 1938, and the focus of tomorrow’s event would be aInheriting the Spirit of Dr. Kotnis & Working together for a bright future, said Xianhua.

“We honour his heroic deeds to renew his spirit in the new era. Chairman Mao wrote in the elegy that the Chinese people will never forget Dr. Kotnis’ spirit of internationalisma He arrived in Chian at the most dificult time of the country’s anti-Fascist war, rescued the wounded in the front-line, and devoted himself to the liberation of the Chinese people,” he said.

The diplomat added his countrymen will forever remember how Kotnis devoted his precious life to the cause of China under very tough conditions, and the Chinese people admire and cherish his memory even today.

There are many commemoration events lined up in China on Friday and also during the annual Qingming Festival to pay homage to martyrs like Kotnis.

Kotnis was born in Solapur on October 10, 1910 and acquired his medical degree from the University of Bombay through the Seth GS Medical College & KEM Hospital here.

After Japan invaded China, the Communist General Zhu De had requested Congress leader Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to send a medical team, and the then Indian National Congress President Subhash Chandra Bose made the necessary arrangements and organised the funds for the voluntary mission.

When Dr. Kotnis was barely 28 and preparing his Master’s, he took his family’s permission and joined the humanitarian Indian Medical Mission Team to China.

The mission — with Dr. M. Atal from Allahabad, Dr. M. Cholkar from Nagpur, Dr. B.K. Basu and Dr. D. Mukerjee from Kolkata, besides Kotnis from Solapur — first went to Hankou Port in Wuhan in September 1938.

Later it was sent to Yan’an where they met top Chinese leaders like Mao Zedong, Gen. Zhu De and others.

During the IMMT sojourn there, Dr. Kotnis worked under trying conditions to treat and operate upon wounded soldiers in mobile clinics virtually non-stop for days for nearly five years.

In 1940, Dr. Kotnis, who had learnt Chinese, met a local nurse Guo Qinglan and they married in December 1941, and the couple had a son Yinhua in August 1942.

Barely three months later, owing to the immense stress of his medical duties on the warfronts, Dr. Kotnis suffered major health issues and passed away on December 9, 1942.

Shocked by his demise, subsequently, China honoured him with a statue, a memorial, tomb and other honours, besides a memorial in his hometown of Solapur.

India released a special postage stamp (1993) in his honour, the renowned filmmaker V. Shantaram made a biopic “Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahania (1946) and a Chinese film “Ke Di Hua Dai Fu” (1982).

Successive Indian Presidents and Prime Ministers as well as top Chinese leaders have remembered Dr. Kotnis and his family in Maharashtra, and his selfless services to the Chinese people in their time of need.

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Crime

Maharashtra: Police constable dies by suicide in Dhule; probe underway

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 A 57-year-old police constable allegedly hanged himself to death at his native village in Dhule district of north Maharashtra, an official said on Friday.

The incident took place on Thursday evening at Pohbara in Sakri taluka and the deceased constable was identified as Kaluram Chaitram Ahire, he said.

“Ahire was posted at the Mantralaya, the state secretariat, in Mumbai for security. He had been at his native place since the last few days,” he said.

He was found hanging in the cattle stable in the premises of his residence, the official said, adding that the exact reason behind the suicide is yet to be known.

Investigation into the case is being conducted by Pimpalner police.

In another case recently, a 24-year-old youth from Shivshakti Nagar in Turbhe allegedly died by suicide. The police said that the youth was going through financial issues which prompted him to take the grave step.

Identified as Kiran Ghadge, the deceased worked in private company’s housekeeping department.

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