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Latest Posts

11 Dec 2018

UK COURT ORDERS EXTRADITION OF MALLYA...Bars await `bejewelled playboy'

AMIT ROY, TT, 11 Dec 2018, London: When the judgment in the Vijay Mallya case came after a two-hour delay at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday, chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot got straight to the point: "I am ordering extradition -- I am referring the matter to the home secretary." Arbuthnot was thorough, including the way in which she described the 62-year-old Mallya. Bankers had been "charmed" by a "glamorous, flashy, famous, bejewelled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy" into losing their common sense, she said.

Provided UK home secretary Sajid Javid agrees, Mallya can be extradited to India once the appeals process is exhausted to face bank fraud and moneylaundering charges involving Rs 9,000 crore. The judgment was so well-argued Mallya leaves after his extradition hearing on Monday. (Reuters) and devastating that some lawyers felt the chances of a successful appeal are limited. (See Page 6) Arbuthnot concluded that "a spell in custody is likely to help him cut down on alcohol. A regular exercise routine will need to be worked out by his doctors to keep him healthy".

The following are some of the key conclusions in the judgment: Mallya is not being prosecuted in India for his political opinions. The court found a prima facie case of conspiracy to defraud, involving executives of Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines and IDBI officials. Mallya had misrepresented how loans received from banks would be used. It appeared that the banks were deliberately misled about the fortunes of Kingfisher Airlines. There is clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of the loan funds and the judge found a prima facie case that Mallya was involved in a conspiracy to launder money.

10 Dec 2018

Morcha leader held

SNS, KURSEONG, 9 DECEMBER: A leader of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) (Bimal Gurung camp), Bimal Darjee, was arrested by the Kurseong police today under various charges related to last year's Gorkhaland agitation in the Hills.
The leader from Tindharia under the Kurseong sub-division was produced before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Court in Kurseong today.
Asked at the Kurseong sub-divisional hospital in the morning today, Mr Darjee said that a team of police personnel visited his house in Tindharia early morning yesterday and told him that senior police officials wanted to talk to him.  Police had taken him to the hospital for a medical examination.
Mr Darjee was the Central Committee member of the GJMM's Bimal Gurung camp. He had later joined the GJMM's faction led by Binoy Tamang and Anit Thapa. He was, however, inactive in the party for the past several months.

GTA case: GNLF for 'neutral' court

SNS, DARJEELING, 9 DECEMBER: The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) has said that it is looking into the legal possibilities of transferring their court case of 2012, which challenges the validity of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), from the Calcutta High Court to any other court in a neutral state.
"Around June last year, Binoy Tamang had filed a petition of the GTA vs state government and in that case we had tiled an intravenous petition, maintaining that there was already a case filed by our leader Subash Ghisingh in the year 2012. We had filed the case as we did not want our old case to be hampered it the Supreme court gave any directions," GNLF leader Neeraj Zimba said after the first meeting of the party's steering committee here yesterday.
"Hearing our petition, the Supreme Court had said that there was a point in our old case with it also maintaining that the GTA vs state government case was secondary. It had said that the primary thing was it the GTA was valid and constitutional or not The Supreme Court had then directed the High Court to hold a hearing on our old case as soon as possible, but till now, no such thing has happened.
We are now looking for options to transfer the case to a neutral state like Delhi or Guwahati as there is such a provision," he added,
According to him their leader Mann Ghisingh recently went to Delhi to meet senior lawyers and to see if there were any legal possibilities for this.
Speaking about the meeting today,N. Zimba said that on 22 June this year, the different GNLF committees had been dissolved and a steering committee formed recently.
"Nothing conclusive took place today, but things like how to organise the party, was discussed, for which a central convenor will be chosen,
who will form branch committees and other frontal organisations. It was also decided that since Mirik is a sub-division now, it will have a branch committee."
Asked about the Lok Sabha elections, he said, "We are of the opinion that the candidate should not be son of the soil as he will be in a minority there. We will take a decision when the time comes. They say that the BJP betrayed the Gorkhas, but that is not the case as it was due to the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha leadership not knowing what to do, the BJP betrayed us. There should have been some one who knew how to demand and take our voices to Delhi."

Darjeeling gets new weather observatory

Darjeeling gets new weather observatoryAmitava Banerjee | MP | Darjeeling: Darjeeling town has got a new weather observatory. The part-time observatory has been set up on the campus of St. Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling, by the Indian Meteorological Department, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
"Climate change is a worldwide phenomenon. Darjeeling Hills being an ecological hotspot, climate change has affected both the flora and fauna. The climate that we used to experience a decade ago is not the same as today. However, we do not have the data to substantiate this. We wanted to set up a weather station for this," stated Father Dr. Donatus Kujur, Principal of the College.
The college has Botany, Zoology and Geography departments. "The data collected from this weather station will benefit these departments. Collection of data using different instruments is also part of the syllabus. The weather station is looked after by students of these departments. They collect the data," added Father Donatus.
Data including temperature, rainfall and wind speed is collected twice a day and sent to IMD, Kolkata. The data is collected at 7 am and 5 pm daily.
"The IMD department installed the part time observatory at St. Joseph's College in Darjeeling on December 1. We mainly need the temperature and rainfall data from this observatory," stated Dr. G K Das, director, IMD, Kolkata.
Darjeeling has dubbed the setting up of the weather station as a very positive and praiseworthy endeavor.
"The students are getting hands-on experience in data collection and interpretation. In future it can be taken to the next level by making real time data available in public domains," stated Wing Commander (Retd) Praful Rao of Save the Hills, an NGO working in disaster management, especially the landslide arena.
St. Joseph's College is a Catholic minority coeducational degree and post-graduate college, managed by the Darjeeling Jesuits of North Bengal through St. Joseph's North Point College Educational Trust.
The college section began as a part of St. Joseph's School, which started its journey in 1888. In 1927, the college section (offering basically the intermediate course) was affiliated to Calcutta University. Later, with the establishment of the University of North Bengal in 1962, the college was affiliated to it.

Cong seeks to boost base in tea gardens

BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, Siliguri: The Congress has launched a campaign in the tea belt of north Bengal to build up the support base by highlighting the alleged failure of the Narendra Modi government to fulfil promises for the industry.

Sankar Malakar, a working president of the Bengal unit of the Congress, said on Sunday that there were around four-and-a-half lakh workers in 275 tea gardens in north Bengal.

"Along with their dependants, the total population in the tea belt is around 20 lakh. But in the past four-and-a-half years, the central government has done nothing for them other than making empty promises. Narendra Modi himself was in the region in 2014 and in 2016 and had asserted that the Centre would look into the issues of tea workers and their families. But nothing has changed," said Malakar.

Malakar, who is also the Sankar Malakar (right) in Siliguri on Sunday. Picture by Passang Yolmo Darjeeling district chief of the Congress, said the party had already assembled conventions of tea garden workers.

In the past three days, the conventions were held at Batasi in the Kharibari block of Darjeeling district and Banarhat of Jalpaiguri district.

"More such conventions would be held in due course. We want to remind the tea workers how the central government has ignored their plight," said the Congress leader.

The Congress's trade union, INTUC, enjoys considerable support among tea garden dwellers. The party has made a bid to cement its base in the tea belt after Somen Mitra took charge as the state Congress chief.

"The Intuc is a constituent of the Joint Forum (apex body of 24 tea trade unions) and still enjoys the support of a sizeable portion of tea workers in the Dooars and the Terai. They are huge vote banks in the Parliament constituencies of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar," said an observer.

Alok Chakraborty, a state general secretary of the Intuc who is based in Siliguri, said the party was also highlighting the delay by the Mamata Banerjee government in fixing minimum wages for the tea workers. "A meeting on the minimum wage will be held in Siliguri on December 13. If no decision comes up, we will launch an extensive agitation across the state from January," said Chakraborty

Training for garden dwellers

TT, Jalpaiguri: The district administration will soon launch a skill development training programme for unemployed people residing in the tea gardens of Jalpaiguri to help them find an alternative employment opportunity.

The training would be carried out under the state's Utkarsh Bangla scheme and the administration has initiated online registration process for the programme.

Some of the fields in which training would be provided include driving, interior decoration, nursing, tailoring, carpentry, construction work, electrical works and public relations.

Shilpa Gourisaria, the district magistrate of Jalpaiguri, said: "Initially, we plan to train around 800 unemployed people, most of whom are youths. For them, the process of online registration has started from December 1. Around 22 different departments and Industrial Training Institutes will provide them training in dif- Unemployed people during a session in Jalpaiguri. File picture ferent fields." A source at the administra- tion said the training would begin after the registration process completes. "In recent years, employment opportuni- ties in the tea estates have virtually dried up. Also, a section of youths do not want to work in the gardens. However, in many cases, they find it tough to get a job due to lack of training. That is why it has been decided to provide them training and also help with employment opportunities." There are around 6 lakh unemployed people in the tea gardens of Jalpaiguri.

Observers said the decision is yet another move to consolidate support for Trinamul in the tea belt before the polls..

20 hill boys set for German training.... EINTRACHT FRANKFURT PICKS DARJEELING BOYS

VIVEK CHHETRI , TT, 09 Dec 2018, Darjeeling: German soccer club Eintracht Frankfurt has picked 20 boys aged below 12 in the Darjeeling hills for training in the team's home country.

Sisir Subba, the son of a carpenter from the remote village of Karmatar in Bijanbari block, and Rupa Lama and Thendup Tamang from Vah-Tukvar tea garden play football and have occasionally dreamt of making big.

Their dreams got wings on Sunday as they were among 20 hill boys who would fly to Germany for training at Eintracht Frankfurt. The club is currently placed fifth in Bundesliga, the top-tier football league in Germany, and is only a point behind Bayern Munich.

The 119-year-old Eintracht Frankfurt has partnered with Darjeeling police and Calcutta-based Football Next Foundation to scout for 24 talents in the hills to build an under-12 soccer team.

Akhilesh Chaturvedi, the superintendent of police, Darjeeling, said: "The process Boys selected by Eintracht Frankfurt pose with the club's flag in Darjeeling on Sunday started almost a month ago and 24 children have been selected. Out of them, four were picked up as reserve." The talent hunt was spearheaded by three persons, Nicolai Adam, Felix Hansvencl, the heads of international sports project and international partnership at Eintra- cht Frankfurt respectively, and Mike Ansstadiou, the advisor to the Football Next Foundation.

Adam has also served as the head coach of the Indian U-17 team. "We found at least 20 talented players. Talent always counts but this is just the beginning as only hard work can bring success," said Adam.

Kaushik Maulik, the founder of the Football Next Foundation, said: "The team will be flying to Germany for training-cum-competition in March-April next year." Hansvencl said the 20 boys would undergo training in Germany where matches would be organised with other U-12 teams. "They can experience the competition, learn about culture of Germany and Eintracht Frankfurt, go on a stadium tour and watch Bundesliga matches. It will be a complete package," said Hansvencl.

The children will be evaluated over a period of three years.

Chaturvedi said the children would be trained at Dali Police ground here for the next two-three months.

"Mike Ansstadiou will return and base himself in the hills to draw up the plan. With nearly 3,000 children participating in the German club's talent hunt in the hills, it must be the biggest exercise of the sort in India," said Maulik..

9 Dec 2018

Dawn air most toxic, stay away from morning walks

Subhro Niyogi, Prithvijit Mitra, TNN, KOLKATA: Your morning walk, the high point of thousands of Calcuttans’ daily exercise regime, may have become the unhealthiest part of the day, thanks to the city’s stratospheric pollution levels that tend to peak every morning.

Climate analysts and physicians warn that the air at that morning walkers breathe is the most toxic and advise people not to venture out till at least 7.30am when the pollution begins to dissipate as the sun warms the earth.

Particulate matter and noxious fumes have made Kolkata’s air during the early hours of the day more unhealthy to breathe than ever before, say doctors. Trapped in the early morning fog, the pollutants hang low and can infiltrate your bloodstream through the lungs if you venture out before 7am, they warn. Precautions like using a mask can protect you to an extent, but there are no fool-proof measures against pollution.

While the pollution count is high in the early mornings every winter, it has been particularly bad this year with the ultra-fine particulate matter of size 2.5 µg/m3 (PM 2.5) hovering over the 400 mark consistently between midnight and 6 am. Last month, too, it was consistently over the 300 mark, higher than the corresponding figure of November 2017.

“The concentration of PM 2.5—the finest particulate matter—has been alarmingly high early in the morning. This is due to the fact that the moisture level remains low in the early hours and traps the pollutants. It is imperative to take precautions while going out of home in the morning, though nothing can guarantee immunity from pollution,” said pulmonologist Ranjan Das.

DAWNWhat’s even more alarming is the expansion of the peak pollution hours from 9pm to 2am (5 hours) recorded on December 5 and 6 to 9pm to 9am (12 hours) on December 6-7. It expanded further —10 pm to 11 am— on December 7-8.

Noon to 6pm safest for outdoor activities’

An analysis of the hourly PM2.5 data at the automatic air quality monitoring stations at RBU and Victoria Memorial in the past three days shows that air is most toxic between 9 pm and 11am.

“People should walk in the afternoon now to reduce exposure to high PM 2.5 concentration. The data shows that it’s in the afternoon when PM 2.5 count is the lowest,” said cardiologist Amitava Basu.

“If you’re planning a picnic or insist on exercising outside, you’re usually best off doing it between noon and 6 pm,” he added. Though the PM 2.5 count is still five-times the safe limit of 60 during this period, it is far better than night and early morning when it reaches eight-times the safe limit.

Businessman Rajeev Lohia, who is at Rabindra Sarobar every morning, says he had felt the difference as did many others. “The air feels heavier. Around a decade ago, one felt more energetic during the early morning walks in winter because unlike summer, one doesn’t perspire. But in recent years, it’s been the other way round,” he said.

Among those who wear masks are engineer Gopal Mitra and his wife, Debrina, a teacher. They first took to wearing masks about five years ago in Delhi when the air took on an ominous gray hue. When they relocated here three years ago, they thought they were leaving the threat behind. But that wasn’t to be.

Tapan Das, a level 2 rowing coach at the lake and an international rower and umpire, says the situation is getting grimmer each winter. “A few days on, there will be a haze over the water that will bring rowing to a grinding halt. You can’t expose the kids to this level of pollution,” he said.

By year 2021, Siliguri train via Bangladesh in 7 hours ...

Pinak Priya Bhattacharya | TNN | Dec 8, 2018, HALDIBARI (COOCH BEHAR): Indian Railways is working to revive the old Siliguri-Sealdah route via Bangladesh by 2021. While the line is likely to become operational with goods trains, officials do not rule out passenger trains later. If that does happen, it will cut travel time to Siliguri from to 11 to seven hours.

According to railways, the route, that will be nearly 200km less than the 573km now, will see trains enter Bangladesh at the Petrapole-Benapole border and exit at the Chilahati-Haldibari border in north Bengal. Trains from Siliguri will pass through Chilahati, Domar, Toronbari, Nilfamari, Sayeedpur, Darshana, Parbatipur after crossing Haldibari and then reach Sealdah via the Benapole-Petrapole border.

The railways has already sanctioned Rs 11 crore for infrastructure development at Haldibari in addition to Rs 31 crore sanctioned earlier. The Bangladesh railway is said to have sanctioned Rs 80.17 crore to develop infrastructure, including fresh tracks along 7.5km on this section. “The aim is to finish work by 2021. Tracks are being laid to operate trains,” New Jalpaiguri ADRM Pratim Roy said .

Haldibari’s acting station master said of the 3.05km track that was to be laid from Haldibari station up to the zero point on the Indo-Bangla border, work on a 3km stretch had been completed. A flyover is being built and electric signalling being overhauled. Two 560m platforms are nearing completion. The old sleepers with the capacity to bear 60kg load are being replaced by those that can sustain up to 90kg load.

In March, a train engine from NJP opeated up to the Bangladesh border on the Haldibari-Chilahati route for the first time since the route was closed in 1965.

In 2011, India and Bangladesh had inked a pact during Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India for opening new rail links with Bangladesh for cultural exchange and various activities between the two countries.

Haldibari is the terminal station for trains like Haldibari-Kolkata Superfast Express, Teesta Torsha Express and Darjeeling Mail. Prior to 1965, trains would pass through Haldibari and enter Chilahati in the erstwhile East Pakistan through which it travelled to Kolkata.

Following the Indo-Pak war in 1965, this line was permanently shut down.

GNLF sights on GTA elections

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Darjeeling: The Gorkha National Liberation Front on Saturday said they would not allow anyone "to score a goal in an open goal post" during the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) polls. 
The statement gains significance as the GNLF is opposed to the GTA and has also filed a case at the Calcutta High Court challenging the validity
of the party. The GNLF perceives as the GTA to be an illegal administrative set up.
Neeraj Zimba, member of the party's newly formed steering committee, said: "The GNLF will not allow allow any one to score a goal in an open
goal post." He was referring Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's demand for an early election to the hill body, said sources.
Binay Tamang is currently heading the hill body after being nominated by the state government to the board of administrators of the GTA " Neeraj Zimba might not contest the elections in the party's banner but one can contest as an independent candidate". Zimba added. 
Mann Ghisingh, the president of the GNLF had earlier stated that though the party was opposed to the GTA, a section within the party was of
the opinion whether it would be right to surrender power for the next five years. During 2013 GTA elections, the GNLF had not contested.
The state government, which conducts the GTA polls, however, has not issued any notification on the polls.
The GNLF leader also said that the party was not particularly stressing on the "son of the soil" policy in the upcoming election.

SC gifts life to rapist and killer

The Supreme Court, however, made it clear that Rajput’s sentence would not be relaxed to 14 years, as is done by the states in some cases on account of good conductTT,9 Dec 2018, New Delhi: The Supreme Court has commuted to 20 years' rigorous imprisonment the death penalty handed to a convict who had raped and murdered a 13-year-old in Maharashtra, observing that though the crime was "abominable" it cannot be termed "brutal, depraved, heinous or diabolic". 
"Though we agree that the crime committed is of an abominable nature, it cannot be said to be of such a brutal, depraved, heinous or diabolical nature so as to fall into the category of the rarest of rare cases and invite punishment with death," a bench of Justices N.V. Ramana and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar said in a recent judgment. 
"We also find ourselves unable to agree with the view of the courts that the appellant is such a menace to society that he cannot be allowed to stay alive," the Supreme Court added. 
The top court partly allowed the appeal filed by the convict, Viran Gyanlal Rajput, challenging the concurrent findings of the Raigad sessions court, on June 25, 2014, and Bombay High Court on February 16, 2015, sentencing him to death under IPC Section 302 (murder) and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act for the kidnapping, rape and murder of the girl and causing disappearance of evidence. 
On the basis of circumstantial evidence, the sessions court had handed him the death penalty and his appeal against it had been dismissed by the high court Both courts had noted that Rajput had not shown remorse and concluded that he was beyond reform and so should be sentenced to death.
Writing the judgment on December 5 Justice Shantanagoudar said: "We are of the view that the prosecution did not establish that the appellant was beyond reform, especially given his young age. We are also mindful of the appellant's lack of criminal antecedents prior to the commission of this crime, and of his post-incarceration conduct, which in no way suggests the impossibility of his reform.
"It would be pertinent to observe at this point that although the trial court noted his lack of remorse during the hearing, and the high court noted his lack of remorse after committing the crime, as he was found calmly wandering around the locality, this does not in any way indicate that there is no scope of reform for the appellant." 
The Supreme Court, however, made it clear that Rajput's sentence would not be relaxed to 14 years, as is done by the states in some cases on account of good conduct The apex court "shared the concerns" of the trial court and the high court about "the lack of remorse on behalf of the appellant and the possibility of reoffending".

Army detains cop-killing suspect, Bulandshahr SSP axed... Jawan Jitendra Malik aka Jeetu Fauji was detained by his unit 22 Rashtriya Rifles

Indian army soldier Jitendra Malik, aka Jeetu Fauji, detained for Bulandshahr cop's murder
Imran Ahmed Siddiqui and Muzaffar Raina, TT, Srinagar/NewDelhi, 9 December 2018: An Uttar Pradesh police team has left for Jammu and Kashmir to arrest army jawan Jitendra Malik aka Jeetu Fauzi, whose name appears in an FIR on Monday’s violence linked to alleged cow slaughter in Bulandshahr district in which police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh was killed.

Police said Jeetu, 22, was visiting his home in Mahav village but left for his 22 Rashtriya Rifles unit in Sopore after the violence.

Officials in Srinagar said Jeetu had been detained by his unit after the Uttar Pradesh police approached the army’s Udhampur-based Northern Command headquarters for his custody. Sources at the army headquarters in New Delhi confirmed this.

General Bipin Rawat, the army chief, has said the army “will fully cooperate with the police” in the investigation.

“If there is some evidence and the police feel they suspect him, we will produce him before them,” Rawat has been quoted as saying.

Subodh and a 20-year-old undergraduate student, Sumit Kumar, were killed when a crowd of Sangh parivar supporters and others attacked the police after the carcasses of 25 cows were found in a field in Mahav village.

An army officer in Jammu said Jeetu had told his superiors that he and 30 others had gone to the police station to register an FIR against cow slaughter but left after the violence broke out.

“He has told his commander that he was not at the spot where the police inspector was shot dead,” the officer said.

A senior Uttar Pradesh police officer told The Telegraph: “A police team is in Jammu and Kashmir to bring him back to Lucknow. The special investigation team formed to probe the case can ascertain his role only after a thorough interrogation.”

Jeetu is the 11th accused named in the FIR, lodged at Syana police station, and would become the 10th suspect to be arrested once the army hands him over to the police. Yogesh Raj, the Bulandshahr district convener of the Bajrang Dal who is accused of inciting the crowd, is still on the run.

Officers said they had identified Jeetu after examining video footage and questioning eyewitnesses.

Jeetu’s family has told the police he returned to Jammu on Monday afternoon, after the violence. His elder brother is also in the army. Jeetu’s mother claimed he was in Kargil.

“Jeetu is in Kargil and if any evidence emerges showing he killed the policeman, I shall kill myself,” she told reporters. “I’m not so heartless; I’m equally pained by the death of the policeman.”

She accused policemen of harassing her family and raiding their home at night and ransacking it.

The Yogi Adityanath government on Saturday transferred Bulandshahr senior superintendent of police Krishna Bahadur Singh to the director-general’s office in Lucknow.

It shifted out two other policemen: Syana circle officer Satya Prakash Sharma and Suresh Kumar, officer in charge of the nearby Chingravati police post.

Sources said the additional director-general (intelligence), S.B. Shiradkar, had in his report to the state government on Friday blamed “intelligence failure” for the incident. The transfers are understood to be in line with his findings on the police handling of the situation.

“The report said the violence was planned and executed amid an intelligence failure that left the police bereft of ground-level information and caused them to be outnumbered. It led to the fatal attack on inspector Subodh Kumar Singh,” a senior officer said.

The alleged involvement of a soldier in Subodh’s killing has left the army red-faced. Senior army officers in Srinagar were tight-lipped about the development.

A senior police officer in the Valley said the Uttar Pradesh police seemed to have directly approached the army and not kept Jammu and Kashmir police in the loop.

Adityanath has come under fire for terming Subodh’s murder an “accident” and claiming that lynchings do not take place in Uttar Pradesh.

“There is no mob lynching in Uttar Pradesh. The incident in Bulandshahr was an accident. The guilty will not be spared,” he said on Friday.

Police sources said a video had surfaced suggesting Sumit, initially described as a bystander, may have been among those who threw stones at the police.

A Lament For the Whisperers... Because now screaming is how we speak. It is the new normal

ABSTRACT: Requiem to Beauteous Bygone WhispersSankarshan Thakur, TT, 9 December 2018: Requiem to Beauteous Bygone Whispers
We spoke softly. The memory of it may now be buried in the dung heap of raucous decibels, be we did whisper once upon a time. We did not need to any more. Whispers were enough. Okay, not whispers all the time, but a softly spoken tone. Not weak. Not fragile. Not lacking in strength or vigour. In fact quite firm. And forthright. But softly so. We whispered away the mightiest global empire from these shores. We did not scream. We did not rave and rant. We did not raise arms. We did not fire a shot. We called nobody any names.

We merely stated, even of tone, that things were as they were and they ought no longer be so. We refused to cooperate when we thought we ought to. We boycotted when we thought we ought to. We consigned to holy fires what we did, all manner of things. As protest for what we would not have. As protest for what had been imposed on us. As protest for what we recognised as no longer acceptable, even though we were told it was much the vogue of the day. We shoved it. But we shoved it quietly and collectively. To the fires we put such things, and we returned stoic, as if nothing had happened but a protest. As if nothing more had happened than us putting our signature on it. We burnt. Oh yes we did. But we did not commit arson. There are differences.

As I keep saying, but nobody understands, or few do, there are differences. Differences.

There is a difference between lighting a candle or a diya and lighting a pyre, for instance. One is a beginning, the other the beginning to an end. All things that begin must end, but yet there is a difference between lighting a diya or a candle, and lighting a pyre. You understand, of course. Some differences you shall have to understand.

There are beginnings. And there are ends. There are rituals of lighting to beginnings and to ends. But there are differences. Once we set fire to things as a mark of our collective revolt and celebration. What has now become of us? What has now become of us that we set fires with animus, fires of animosity?

And we no longer whisper. We scream. And we scream so loud and so often that screaming has become not screaming but speaking. Screaming is how we speak. It is the new normal. We used to quietly light diyas and candles and we used to reckon their warmth sufficient.

We would very often take those lights out and light up our streets and lanes and bylanes. And whisper to each other glad tidings. It’s our festival. Oh it’s your festival? And your festival too? It’s our collective festival? Is it? Let there be light. Bah! Let there be light. Let there be lights!! But what has suddenly become of us? I mean, I am the all seeing one, Mahadeb. What has suddenly become of us that we are no longer lighting lights to the purposes we used to? That we are lighting things for other purposes? That we are resorting to setting things alight?

I am, as I said, and would reliably repeat to you, Mahadeb. Part of who I am is also destruction. Have you not heard of my Tandav? It is how I dance. And when I dance there is debris to be expected around where I dance. I am Tandav. I know a few things about destruction. Believe me. But I can see there are few who know it too —- Destruction. And how to go about it. Whispering is not one of them. Destruction comes with noise. Whispering comes with the umbra of silences: shhhhhhhh! It is nothing that can even get mention. Those that whisper silently pass. Those that scream stay. That is how we have become, that is who we are. Or you are.

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