Officials Warn South Kashmir Cops Not To Visit Their Homes For Their Safety

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Don’t go back home, officials tell south Kashmir cops after wave of attacks targeting policemen

Since January, 37 policemen have been killed by militants, many when they were off-duty.

INDIA Updated: Sep 23, 2018 07:07 IST

Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir,Cops in Jammu and Kashmir,J-K cops killed in
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Swayam Prakash Pani pays respect to colleagues who were killed by militants, during a wreath laying ceremony at a base camp at Shopian, near Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on September 21, 2018. (Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

The Jammu & Kashmir administration is telling policemen and Special Police Officers in South Kashmir, which is seeing a wave of attacks against both, to not visit their families or homes.

The advisory comes in the wake of the killings of three SPO’s on Friday, and unconfirmed resignations of several others following a warning on Wednesday by Hizbul Mujahedeen commander, Riyaz Naikoo. The killings were in part responsible for India reconsidering its decision to agree to the meeting of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York later this month.

SPO’s, whose main role is in gathering intelligence, and local policemen are soft targets because they do not live in fortified camps like the ones housing members of the army and the Central Reserve Police Force.

On Friday , selection grade constable Nisar Ahmad, SPO Kuldeep Singh and follower, Firdous Kuchay were abducted by militants from Batagund and Kaparan villages early in the morning and killed within hours. Two other policemen in the same villages escaped because they weren’t home when the militants came visiting.

In the past too, there have been occasional advisories asking officers of the J&K police who reside in sensitive areas of south Kashmir to avoid visiting their homes.

“Keeping in view the sensitivity of threats and latest abduction and killings of three policemen, all SPO’s and policemen who are from south Kashmir are being told through telephone not to visit their homes,’’ said a police officer familiar with the advisory. “This is being done to save the lives of our men as militants have killed many of our men at their homes when they were not on duty. In the past, many have ignored similar warnings.’’

Since January, 37 policemen have been killed by militants, many when they were off-duty. Last month, on Eid ul Azha, three policemen including an officer, all of whom were on leave and celebrating Eid with their families were killed by militants.

The militants have been targeting SPO’s and local policemen whom they hold responsible for the killing of militants, especially in south Kashmir where so-called cordon and search operations are launched on specific information. Officials said that 28 militants were killed in Shopian district alone this year.

The four districts of south Kashmir have more than 3,000 SPO’s. Across the state, there are more than 30,000 SPO’s.

J&K Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said soon after the killing of three policemen on Friday that action would be taken against all the militants involved in the killings, and also dismissed the resignations of special police officers as rumors.

So far, over two dozen SPO’s have resigned in different parts of south Kashmir.

On August 30, militants abducted 11 police personnel and their family members after the police detained the father of Riyaz Naikoo. However, they were released after the police released Naikoo Sr.

First Published: Sep 23, 2018 07:05 IST

5 Best places to visit in September in India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Best places to visit in September in India, here are 5 spots that you can’t afford to miss

Travellers, keep in mind that September is one of the best months to take a trip across India. Here are 5 spots that are perfect options for you.

TRAVEL Updated: Sep 09, 2018 12:52 IST

Asian News International
Best destinations for travel,Travel,Jaipur
Best travel destinations for September include Manali, Leh, Diu, Ziro and Jaipur. (Shutterstock)

September is probably one of the best months to travel almost anywhere in India. The weather is pleasant with the monsoon slowly starting to subside by the end of August, and there is cool weather needed for leisurely travel.

Be it the mountains up north, the south, or even the deserts of Rajasthan, this month is a better time to visit tourist spots rather than going during the travel boom at the end of the year. Here are some recommendations for you from Confirmtkt and Travelyaari:

* Jaipur

Jaipur is a city in Rajasthan is a good place to visit for a fam jam where you can savour the local culture. There is chaotic traffic but also lots to shop, street food to enjoy and you can top off your stay at one of the numerous palace hotels in the region.

* Manali

The romantic city is surrounded by mountains and is a good place to travel to this September. It is a honeymoon destination, trekking paradise, a hippie hangout and even a quick getaway from your work commitments.

* Ziro

Honestly, anytime would be perfect if you are planning to visit this place among the hills. September is when you can glimpse the essence of the place and there is only mild rainfall. The remote hillock town offers a handful of activities, one of them being the acclaimed Ziro music festival which is a must-attend.

Go on a biking trip to Ladakh. (Unsplash)

* Leh: A trip to Leh by road is one of its kind and makes for a memorable experience. There are many surprises along the way.

* Diu

Diu is a small beach city in the union territory of Diu and Daman. It is a serene destination which is recommended as the best alternative to Goa. It boasts of cheap liquor, beachside shacks, and seafood. You can also indulge in sightseeing at the lesser-known Portuguese colony.

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 11:01 IST

Stay calm and meditate, mindfulness can boost pain tolerance

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Stay calm and meditate, mindfulness can boost pain tolerance

A new study says that the meditative practice of mindfulness can increase tolerance to pain.

FITNESS Updated: Sep 09, 2018 12:38 IST

Press Trust of India
Health,Wellness,Fitness
The study shows that people who are more mindful than others feel less pain. (Shutterstock)

Mindfulness — a meditative practice that focusses on paying attention to the present moment — can increase person’s tolerance to pain, a study has found. Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine in the US analysed data obtained from a study published in 2015 that compared mindfulness meditation to placebo analgesia.

They sought to determine if dispositional mindfulness, an individual’s innate or natural level of mindfulness, was associated with lower pain sensitivity, and to identify what brain mechanisms were involved. “Mindfulness is related to being aware of the present moment without too much emotional reaction or judgment,” said Fadel Zeidan, assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “We now know that some people are more mindful than others, and those people seemingly feel less pain,” said Zeidan, lead author of the study published in the journal Pain.

In the study, 76 healthy volunteers who had never meditated first completed the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory, a clinical measurement of mindfulness, to determine their baseline levels. While undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging, they were administered painful heat stimulation.

Whole brain analyses revealed that higher dispositional mindfulness during painful heat was associated with greater deactivation of a brain region called the posterior cingulate cortex, a central neural node of the default mode network. Further, in those that reported higher pain, there was greater activation of this critically important brain region.

“The results from our study showed that mindful individuals are seemingly less caught up in the experience of pain, which was associated with lower pain reports,” Zeidan said. “Now we have some new ammunition to target this brain region in the development of effective pain therapies,” he said.

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 12:38 IST

Depression in children

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Depression in children, it can affect their social skills and academics

Mental health professionals should work with teachers and parents to identify depressive symptoms early by including self-reports from children in mental health evaluations.

FITNESS Updated: Aug 31, 2018 11:18 IST

Asian News International
Depression In Children,Depression,Symptoms Of Depression In Children
Is your child depressed? (Shutterstock)

Turns out, children who show mild to severe symptoms of depression in second and third grades are six times more likely to have skill deficits, such as difficulties with social skills or academics, than children without symptoms, a new study reveals.

The study was performed by researchers at the University of Missouri. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported that as many as 2 to 3% of children ages 6-12 might have major depressive disorder. Both parents and teachers had difficulties recognizing depression in children.

“When you ask teachers and parents to rate a child’s level of depression, there is usually only about 5-10% overlap in their ratings. For example, the teacher might report that a child has difficulties making friends in class, but the parent might not notice this issue at home. Some people would view that overlap as the truth about a child’s well-being and areas of disagreement as errors, but we need to explore the possibility that they each are seeing different aspects of children’s behaviour and mental health,” said Keith Herman, professor in the MU College of Education.

Herman and Professor Wendy Reinke completed profile analyses of 643 children in early elementary school to explore how patterns between student, teacher and parent reporting can be used to gain a holistic picture of a child’s mental health.

They found that even though 30% of children in the study reported feeling mild to severely depressed, parents and teachers often failed to recognize the child as depressed. However, teachers and parents were more skilled at identifying other symptoms that might predict long-term risk for depression, such as social problems, inattention and skill deficits. This could be crucial, as Herman found that the children showing severe signs of depression were six times more likely to have skill deficits than their peers.

“The gold standard for identifying children who might be at risk for developing depression later in life is to ask the children themselves. However, even if a child doesn’t say they feel depressed, certain outward behaviours might provide clues to the state of the child’s mental health. It’s important for teachers and parents to catch these behaviours early to prevent long-term problems that occur with depression,” added Herman.

Herman said mental health professionals can work with teachers and parents to identify depressive symptoms early by including self-reports from children in mental health evaluations. Screenings also should consider social difficulties, inattention and skill deficits as this might help provide support to at-risk students before they develop further depressive symptoms.

Activists arrested in police raids in five states over alleged Maoist links

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Activists arrested in police raids in five states over alleged Maoist links

Lawyer and trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj, poet P Varavara Rao, activist Gautam Navlakha, and lawyers Arun Pereira and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested.

INDIA Updated: Aug 28, 2018 22:15 IST

Yogesh Joshi and Nadeem Inamdar
Yogesh Joshi and Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Maoist links,Activists arrested,Pune police
Arun Pereira (in grey), a human rights activist and lawyer, arrested by Pune Police on Tuesday. (Praful Gangurde/HT Photo)

Pune police raided the residences of prominent lawyers and activists across five states on Tuesday and arrested five people for alleged Maoist links.

Lawyer and trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj, poet P Varavara Rao, activist Gautam Navlakha, and lawyers Arun Pereira and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, creating fear and enmity between various groups, and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The arrests were part of an investigation into the violence that rocked Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra on January 1 during the bicentennial celebration of a British-era war.

The near-simultaneous police raids, led by Pune (urban) police, began at 6am in Hyderabad, Delhi, Faridabad, Mumbai, Thane and Ranchi and continued till afternoon. Police said the operation was part of a probe into an event called Elgar Parishad in Pune on December 31, 2017, when various activists and Dalit organisations came together.

The next day, violence broke out at Bhima Koregaon, about 40 km from Pune, as tens of thousands of Dalits celebrated the 200th anniversary of an 1818 war between the British army, manned mainly by Dalits, and the state’s Peshwa rulers, who were notorious for oppressive caste practices. Widespread stone pelting left one person dead and four injured. Protests swept Maharashtra over the next two days, bringing the state capital Mumbai to a virtual standstill.

“We have arrested five persons today for their association with the Maoist movement and support to Elgar Parishad, which triggered violence the next day,” said Pune Joint Commissioner of Police Shivaji Bodkhe.

The arrests were condemned by several opposition parties.

Writer P Varavara Rao after a medical check-up following his arrest by the Pune police in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, in Hyderabad on Tuesday. (PTI)

“There is only place for one NGO in India and it’s called the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). Shut down all other NGOs. Jail all activists and shoot those that complain. Welcome to the new India. #BhimaKoregaon,” tweeted Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

“No human rights activist should be arrested without a proper case. I defend the rights of everybody, more particularly human rights protestors. They are selfless NGOs, activists and obliged to fight in the enveloping darkness in dictatorial tendencies,” Congress spokesperson S Jaipal Reddy said. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the police raids constituted “a brazen attack on democratic rights and civil liberties”.

In the evening, the Delhi high court stayed Navlakha’s transit remand for a day, ordering him to stay in his house with two guards posted outside. He is allowed to meet his lawyers. A bench of justice S Muralidhar and justice Vinod Goel stopped the police from taking Navlakha to Pune and said they would hear the matter first thing on Wednesday. One police team also searched the residence of Father Stan Swamy in Ranchi although Swamy was not arrested in the absence of “evidence,” a senior official said.

According to the police, the names of those arrested on Tuesday cropped up during the interrogation of five persons arrested in June for Maoist links as part of the same investigation. These five were activist Sudhir Dhawale, lawyer Surendra Gadling, activist Rona Wilson, former Prime Minister’s rural development fellow Mahesh Raut, and retired professor Shoma Sen. They were arrested for allegedly having close Maoist links.

Those arrested on Tuesday were being brought to Pune on transit remand to be produced in the court on Wednesday said Bodke. Rao was arrested from Hyderabad, Bhardwaj was held in Faridabad. Another team of Pune police arrested Gonsalves in Mumbai and Ferreira from Thane. “We have recovered some documents, laptop, pen drive, hard disk and other material. The scrutiny of the seized items is on,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.

Interestingly, Pune (rural) police has charged two Hindu right-wing leaders, Milind Ekbote and Shambhaji Bhide, for the violence on January 1 in Bhima Koregaon. Ekbote is currently out on bail while Bhide has not yet been arrested. The investigation into the Elgar Parishad event on December 31, 2017 is being conducted by the Pune (urban) police.

The arrests were opposed by several activists. “The arrests are a dangerous sign of a government that fears it is losing its mandate and is falling into panic,” author Arundhati Roy told PTI. Historian Ramachandra Guha called the action “absolutely chilling” and demanded the intervention of the Supreme Court to stop this “persecution and harassment” of independent voices.

First Published: Aug 28, 2018 21:54 IST

Russia to hold biggest military drills since Cold War

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Russia to hold biggest military drills since Cold War

Russia will next month hold its biggest war games since at least the 1980s, with around 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft

WORLD Updated: Aug 28, 2018 20:18 IST

Russia,Military drill,War games
Military helicopters fire during the Zapad (West) 2017 Russia-Belarus military exercises at the Borisovsky range in Borisov, Belarus, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. (AP File Photo)

Russia will next month hold its biggest war games since at least the 1980s, with around 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft, the defence minister said Tuesday.

The Vostok-2018 exercises will be carried out from September 11 to 15 in the country’s east with the participation of China and Mongolia.

“This will be something of a repeat of Zapad-81, but in some senses even bigger,” Sergei Shoigu said of the 1981 war games in Eastern Europe, in comments reported by Russian news agencies.

He said “more than 1,000 aircraft, almost 300,000 troops and almost all the ranges of the Central and Eastern military districts” would be involved in the exercises.

“Imagine 36,000 pieces of military equipment moving together at the same time — tanks, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles. And all of this, of course, in conditions as close to combat as possible.”

Moscow said last year’s Zapad-2017 military drills, conducted in ally Belarus and regions of Russia, saw the participation of roughly 12,700 troops.

But NATO claimed Russia could have been massively underreporting the scale of the exercises, which some of the alliance’s eastern members said involved more than 100,000 servicemen.

First Published: Aug 28, 2018 16:48 IST

India, China to explore ways to avoid Doklam-like standoffs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India, China to explore ways to avoid Doklam-like standoffs

The Chinese defence minister met Modi during which the PM said both the countries are handling their differences with “sensitivity and maturity” by not allowing them to become disputes.

INDIA Updated: Aug 21, 2018 23:37 IST

India-China ties,Doklam,Nirmala Sitharaman
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with defence minister of China, General Wei Fenghe during a meeting in New Delhi on August 21.(PTI Photo)

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe will hold extensive talks on Thursday, focus of which will be to remove distrust and boost coordination between the armies of the two neighbours guarding their disputed border, official sources said.

Wei arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday on a four-day visit, nearly three-and-half months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that strategic communication between the two armies should be enhanced to avoid Doklam-like standoffs.

The Chinese defence minister met Modi during which the PM said both the countries are handling their differences with “sensitivity and maturity” by not allowing them to become disputes.

Sources said the primary objective of Wei’s visit is to deliberate with Indian defence establishment on implementation of decisions taken by Modi and Xi during the informal summit in Wuhan in April.

In the delegation level talks, the Indian side is likely to raise the issue of presence of sizeable number of Chinese troops in North Doklam.

Doklam, in the Sikkim sector, is a strategically important area which is claimed by Bhutan. India has been acting as security guarantor to the tiny country in the sensitive region.

The two sides are likely to deliberate on a mechanism under which troops from both sides will inform each other before carrying out any patrolling on the disputed areas along the nearly 4,000-km border.

The sources said both sides will also attempt to resolve differences in setting up of a hotline between the armies of the two countries.

After the Wuhan summit, both sides revived the long-pending proposal to set up the hotline so as to avoid flare-ups along the disputed border. But, the initiative hit roadblocks over differences on issues relating to protocol and technical aspect of the hotline.

The Indian Army has been maintaining that the hotline should be between its Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) and his equivalent official in Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). However, Beijing proposed that the deputy commander of its Chengdu-based Western Theatre Command would engage with the Indian DGMO.

The Indian Army is opposed to the Chinese proposal, insisting that an officer equivalent to Indian DGMO at PLA’s headquarters should be deputed for the communication through the hotline.

Currently, India and Pakistan have a hotline between their DGMOs.The hotline between India and China was first mooted by the two countries in 2013.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 22:23 IST

India unlikely to accept foreign financial assistance for flood-relief operations in Kerala

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India unlikely to accept foreign financial assistance for flood-relief operations in Kerala

Government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation, an official source said.

INDIA Updated: Aug 21, 2018 23:45 IST

Kerala floods,Flood-relief operations,Kerala natural disaster
Flood victims unload food and relief material from an Indian Air force helicopter at Nelliyampathy Village, in Kerala, on Tuesday. (REUTERS)

The government is unlikely to accept any foreign financial assistance for flood-relief operations in Kerala, official sources said.

They said government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has offered $100 million (around Rs 700 crore) as financial assistance for flood relief operation in Kerala.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, called up Prime Minister Modi and made the offer for assistance, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram.

Around three million Indians live and work in the UAE out of which 80% are from Kerala.

The government of Maldives has also decided to donate $50,000 (Rs 35 lakh) for flood affected people in Kerala.

It is understood that the UN is also offering some assistance for Kerala.

However, sources said India is unlikely to accept the assistance.

The floods in Kerala, worst in a century, have claimed lives of 231 people besides rendering over 14 lakh people homeless.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 23:21 IST

India Bids Farewell To Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee cremated in Delhi, nation bids farewell to poet prime minister

The last rites for former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were performed by his foster daughter Namita Bhattarcharya at Smriti Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna with full state honours on Friday evening.

INDIA Updated: Aug 17, 2018 23:25 IST

Atal Bihari Vajpayee,Vajpayee funeral,Vajpayee cremation
Namita Kaul Bhattacharya, daughter of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and her daughter Niharika, family members and political leaders at the cremation of the former Prime Minister at Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in New Delhi on Friday.(Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was laid to rest, with full state honours, in a ceremony marked by emotion and ritual, preceded by a public procession through the heart of Delhi which was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Friday afternoon.

Namita Bhattacharya, Vajpayee’s foster daughter, lit the pyre, amid tears, as South Asia and India’s tallest political leaders grieved in silence, paying their tribute to the three-time former PM and an icon of modern India.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, PM Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, former PM Manmohan Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, senior BJP leader and one of Vajpayee’s oldest political colleagues, LK Advani, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat were among those present at the funeral.

Leaders from across South Asia were also present to bid farewell to Vajpayee, who had deep relationships with leaders in the region and had invested time and energy in improving relations with countries in the neighbourhood during his time as PM. Bhutan’s monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali, Bangladesh’s foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali, and Sri Lanka’s acting foreign minister Laxman Kiriella travelled to Delhi to pay their tributes on the occasion.

Vajpayee died on Thursday evening, after a prolonged period of illness. He had been inactive since a stroke in 2009. In June, he was admitted to the All India Institute for Medical Sciences with a kidney and urinary tract infection. His condition deteriorated over the last three days.

The former PM’s death led to an outpouring of condolence messages from across the political spectrum. The cabinet declared a seven-day state mourning and a state funeral at the Rashtriya Smriti Sthal in Delhi.

On Friday morning, Vajpayee’s body was first brought from his residence on Krishna Menon Marg to the new Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters on the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg. Vajpayee was the founding president of the BJP in 1980, and played a critical role in bringing the BJP to power at the Centre. He however, never got a chance to visit the new headquarters.

PM Modi and Shah were waiting at the office, where they paid their respects to the later former PM. So did a range of cabinet ministers, chief ministers, BJP functionaries, opposition leaders, including former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja. Party workers had begun pouring in to office since 7 am.

In the afternoon, Vajpayee’s body was then taken to Smriti Sthal.

Leading thousands of workers, supporters, and those in mourning, Modi walked from the party HQ to the site, six kms away. It was a rare sight, for the PM, accompanied senior members of his cabinet, and Shah to march through the crowded streets of central Delhi, surrounded by visibly nervous security men.

Officials realised that Modi would walk with the procession only when he did not get into his car. An official of the Delhi Police, who asked not to be named, said they got a message from the Special Protection Group about Modi’s decision mere minutes before the procession left the BJP headquarters.

Modi subsequently tweeted, “People came from all parts of India, from all sections of society to pay tributes to an extraordinary personality who made an extraordinary contribution to the nation. India salutes you Atal Ji!” He added, “You will live on in the hearts and minds of every Indian. No words can ever do justice to your rich contribution towards the making of our country.”

The PM’s decision, a functionary said, was both a reflection of his personal debt to Vajpayee, his attachment with the former PM, and a recognition of what he meant for the BJP.

In a blog on Friday, Union Minister Arun Jaitley, credited Vajpayee with creating in an era dominated by the Nehruvian Congress, a political party that was an ideological alternative to the Congress, which disagreed on various issues with the Congress, which took the Congress head-on, which struggled for almost five decades and in the last two decades but eventually not only became an alternative to the Congress but overtook it. “Atalji ran a marathon,” Jaitley said. “He was a patient runner.”

But for him, LK Advani and others, Jaitley said, Indian democracy would have looked different – dominated by one party, one family with a lot of scattered smaller parties. “That did not happen. Atalji and his colleagues made the difference.”

At the Smriti Sthal, the cremation was accompanied with military honours, which included a gun salute by a 14-man army squad firing three volleys each. Six army drummers played the Dead March tune, with their instruments covered in black cloth, while six buglers sounded the Last Post and the Rouse.

The Army had, earlier, provided a gun carriage for the coffin, while six pall bearers of the rank of Major or lieutenant colonel or equivalent ranks, two each from the army, navy and the IAF bore the coffin, and a team of 24 military officers maintained round-the-clock vigil, in turns, over the mortal remains — eight each from the three services.

In keeping with the military honours, three service chiefs placed wreaths on the body of Vajpayee before leaders paid their floral tributes.

But as the ceremony ended, it was his foster family which returned to Vajpayee’s side in his final moment. The tricolour that was wrapped around Vajpayee’s body was removed and given to his foster granddaughter Niharika. His daughter Namita, son-in-law Ranjan and Niharika had taken care of the former PM as he was unwell over the past decade. Tales of his fondness and affection for his family abounded. And it was his daughter, who eventually performed the last rites, bringing an end to the life of one of country’s most remarkable men, as India grieved.

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 23:24 IST

India: Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

220,000 people left homeless in southern Indian state after unusually heavy rain

Play Video
1:35
 ‘Please pray for us’: Kerala experiences worst monsoon in nearly a century – video report

More than 324 people have died in the worst flooding in nearly a century in the south Indian state of Kerala.

Roads are damaged, mobile phone networks are down, an international airport has been closed and more than 220,000 people have been left homeless after unusually heavy rain in the past nine days.

Officials repeatedly revised the death toll upwards from 86 people on Friday morning to more than 300 by the evening as a massive rescue operation reached more flood-hit regions. “Around 100 people died in the last 36 hours alone,” a state official said.

Casualty numbers are expected to increase further, with thousands more people still stranded and less intense though still heavy rain forecast for at least the next 24 hours. Many have died from being buried in hundreds of landslides set off by the flooding.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/08/kerala_floods/giv-3902lxSDbOfGLgX2/

The Kerala chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the state was experiencing an “extremely grave” crisis, with the highest flood warning in place in 12 of its 14 regions.

“We’re witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala,” he told reporters.

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, was on his way to Kerala on Friday evening “to take stock of the flood situation in the state”, he said.

Kerala, famed for its tea plantations, beaches and tranquil backwaters, is frequently saturated during the annual monsoon. But this year’s deluge has swamped at least 20,000 homes and forced people into more than 1,500 relief camps.

People are airlifted to safety in Kerala floods, India.
Pinterest
 People are airlifted to safety. Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters

The toll in Kerala contributed to more than 900 deaths recorded by the Indian home ministry this monsoon season from landslides, flooding and rain.

Rescue workers and members of India’s armed forces have been deployed across the state with fleets of ships and aircraft brought in to save the thousands of people still stranded, many sheltering on their roofs signalling to helicopters for help.

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0:23
 Aerial view shows scale of monsoon flooding in Kerala, India – video

Officials estimated about 6,000 miles (10,000km) of roads had been submerged or buried by landslides and a major international airport in Cochin has been shut until 26 August. Communications networks were also faltering, officials said, making rescue efforts harder to coordinate.

Residents of the state used social media to post desperate appeals for help, sometimes including their GPS coordinates to help guide rescuers.

“My family and neighbouring families are in trouble with flood in Pandanad nakkada area in Alappuzha,” Ajo Varghese said in a viral Facebook post. “No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable and switch off. Please help … No rescue is available.”

Another man in the central town of Chengannur posted a video of himself neck-deep in water in his home. “It looks like water is rising to the second floor,” he says. “I hope you can see this. Please pray for us.”

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0:39
 Kerala floods: man, neck-deep in water, appeals for help from inside his house – video

The fate of the man was still unclear on Friday. The state finance minister, Thomas Isaac, tweeted in the afternoon that the last road to Chengannur had washed away before his eyes and the town was cut off.

The water has claimed parts of Cochin, the state’s commercial capital, and was still rising in some areas of the city on Friday, with residents urged to evacuate and guide ropes strung across roads inundated by fast-moving currents.

Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam.
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 Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

Meteorologists said Kerala had received an average 37.5% more rainfall than usual. The hardest-hit districts such as Idukki in the north received 83.5% excess rain. More than 80 dams across the state had opened their gates to try to ease the crisis, the chief minister said.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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