Animals of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) are ‘reclaiming’ their migratory paths that were blocked for years by illegal stone quarries in the hills beyond a highway along the southern periphery of their habitat.Banned by SCThe Assam Forest Department banned stone mining activities in the hills of the Karbi Anglong district south of KNP on April 30 after the Supreme Court ordered their closure on April 12. The ban followed a petition by environmental activist Rohit Choudhury against the stone quarries that caused noise pollution besides contaminating the streams flowing down the hills into the park.The hills of Karbi Anglong south of the highway have been the natural refuge of animals whenever much of KNP goes underwater during the monsoon every year. This year’s flood has till Wednesday morning killed 205 animals, including 18 one-horned rhinos. Most drowned while 16 hog deer and a sambhar were run over by vehicles while trying to cross the highway for the relative safety of the hills.“We found elephants, deer and other animals in and around the Dhing quarry, less than two kilometres from our range office. Our staff spent three nights for a rhino that went up the hill near the deserted quarry before returning after the animal made its way back to the national park,” said Pankaj Bora who heads the Bagori Range of KNP. Officials of the park’s Burapahar Range spotted tiger pug marks close to a quarry near the Silimkhowa village. The quarry is along the Maloni animal corridor, but the animals fleeing floods were confined to a small patch at the foothills after the stone-crushing machines came up at the quarry about four years ago.‘Refuge and fodder’“The hills are part of the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape. The noisy quarries had hindered the movement of animals to higher altitudes, offering 750 sq. km. of refuge and fodder. Animals moving toward the areas during this flood after a long gap underlines the efficacy of the ban that the Supreme Court ordered,” KNP Director P. Sivakumar said.At least five of several stone quarries on the hills are visible from the highway.Jagannath Rongpi, Divisional Forest Officer of the Karbi Anglong East Division, also attributed the movement of animals to “low disturbance” this time. “We are low on vehicles and staff, and are running with officials and Home Guards on deputation from other divisions, but local people are helping us keep a watch on the animals and ensure they return to Kaziranga safely after the water level subsides,” he told The Hindu.Data provided by KNP officials said the water level had fallen by 162 cm. during the last 24 hours. But heavy rainfall in eastern Assam and Arunachal Pradesh could result in another wave of flooding for Kaziranga in the next few days.
The Allahabad High Court on Saturday transferred a judge from Agra in western Uttar Pradesh to Mahoba in Bundelkhand after he ordered a police constable to remove the khaki uniform in court as punishment for allegedly not giving passage to his car.Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Agra, Santosh Kumar Yadav was transferred as Secretary (full time) district legal services authority HC Registrar General Mayank Kumar Jain said in an order.The constable, a driver with the Agra police identified as Ghurelal, was allegedly forced by the judge to take off his shirt, belt and cap and made to stand in court for almost an hour on Friday. The policeman, who was driving a police van carrying accused to be presented before court, was reportedly punished for not giving passage to the judge’s vehicle in the court premises. Humiliated by the incident, the constable then wrote to the district police chief and applied for voluntary retirement. He also apparently broke down.
Congress leader Hardik Patel and two party MLAs were on Wednesday detained while they were on way to Palanpur district prison in Gujarat to meet sacked IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, an official said.Bhatt, who was in June awarded life sentence in a custodial death case, is currently lodged at the Palanpur district jail.“We were expecting law and order issues at the jail in Palanpur, so we detained around 30 people, including Hardik Patel, Congress MLAs from Palanpur and Patan and their supporters, when they entered Palanpur to go to the sub-jail to meet Bhatt,” Superintendent of Police Niraj Badgujar said. The two MLAs who have been detained are Mahesh Patel of Palanpur and Kirit Patel of Patan.
On August 16, a few policemen arrived at the house of Vadamalai Raman in village Purandarai located in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu with photographs of a patient who has been staying at the Bangaon Subdivisional Hospital in West Bengal for over two years. Vadamalai’s mother, Misiyammal, identified the person in the photographs without much difficulty. He was Janaki Raman, her son who went missing about 11 years ago.Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from her village Suguna, Janaki Raman’s sister-in-law could not hide the excitement the family felt at the prospect of finally reuniting with a close relative after more than a decade.She said her husband Vadamalai will leave for West Bengal on Tuesday to bring Janaki Raman back to his native village.Janaki Raman had remained in West Bengal for over a decade, mostly as a vagabond and then as an inpatient at the Bongaon Subdivisional Hospital. He spoke only Tamil and authorities at the state-run hospital had no idea about his antecedents. It was only after the hospital authorities involved ham radio operators (amateur radio operators) the breakthrough was made.“First, he would not speak. But we were certain that he was from south India. It took months to record his voice. Only then did we try to know what language he spoke and then contacted other ham radio operators in south India,” Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary of the West Bengal Radio Club said.Bengaluru-based Manjunath. R, a member of the Indian Institute of Ham, found out that Janaki Raman was speaking in Tamil. He spoke to him over telephone, pretending to be a family member and learnt about his village and post office. Sankar Prasad Mahato, the medical superintendent of the hospital, said the patient’s condition was much better now and he was eager to return to his village.
The Utah State of the U.S. will help Rajasthan in the integration of resources and technology for renewable energy through policy exchanges, which will facilitate transfer of technology for energy storage, scheduling and forecasting, electric mobility and strengthening of power transmission networks.MoU signedThe State government’s Energy Department signed a memorandum of understanding with the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development as part of the U.S.-India State and Urban Initiative here on Monday. The MoU will ensure cooperation between the two States for meeting the challenges in the energy sector.Principal Secretary (Energy) Naresh Pal Gangwar said the MoU would pave the way for energy partnership between Rajasthan and Utah with the emphasis on energy efficiency and implementation of smart technology for reducing transmission and distribution losses. “The agreement will be mutually beneficial, as it will identify new domains with the progress of partnership,” he said.Laura Nelson, Executive Director, Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development, who signed the MoU on behalf of the western U.S. State, made a presentation on the initiatives taken in the energy sector in Utah. Representatives of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies were also present on the occasion.
Naresh Tikait, chief of the Bharatiya Kisan Union and head of the Baliyan Khap of Jats, has said love marriages are not acceptable and the khap would never allow it. In a video that is gaining traction on social media, Mr. Tikait can be heard saying that parents spend ₹30 to ₹40 lakh on the education of their girls and then they go and marry someone of their choice. “This is not right. When they spend on their nurturing, parents should have a say in the selection of the life partner of their daughters.” He said his appeal was not just for the girls but for the boys as well. “But it is more directed towards girls, as they are the izzat (pride) of the family. Such actions lower the pride of the family in society.”The video was recorded at a community convention of Jats in Baghpat last Friday.Rakesh Tikait, senior leader and BKU spokesperson, told The Hindu that the guidelines were more about love marriages within the gotra. “The khap is open to inter-caste marriages, most of which are love marriages, among equivalent caste groups. We attend such marriages but marriages within the gotra are still looked down upon, despite the Supreme Court directions. Villagers still boycott such weddings as it is against their customs,” said Mr. Rakesh.He said the khap has accepted that love marriage is a reality these days. “Their number is increasing with the movement of our children to cities for jobs. But children should understand that love and marriage are two different things. In our society, it is a kind of pact between two families. Parents should also understand that the forced separation of lovers is not a solution. Youngsters understand their rights under the law and social pressure doesn’t work on them. It is better to turn love marriages into arranged marriages.”
No congregational prayers were offered at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid — the grand mosque of Kashmir — for the 17th consecutive Friday since the Centre announced abrogation of Article 370 provisions on August 5 this year, officials said. Even though movement of public, private and transport vehicles was less on Friday compared to the previous day, shops and business establishments remained open till noon in most parts of Kashmir Valley and in some areas in the Civil Lines till late afternoon, they said. While there was a semblance of normalcy in the Kashmir valley over the past few weeks, a fresh shutdown started on Wednesday last week as posters threatening shopkeepers and public transport operators appeared at some places.The mosque in Nowhatta area in downtown Srinagar — the old city area — has been closed for prayers for nearly four months, officials said. People were barred from offering Friday prayers at the grand mosque after the Centre’s decision to abrogate the special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir given under Article 370 of the constitution as authorities apprehended that vested interests might exploit the large gatherings at the mosque to fuel protests. The officials said pre-paid mobile phones and Internet services continued to remain suspended. Separatists remained in preventive custody while the mainstream leaders, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been either detained or placed under house arrest. The government has also detained former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah under the controversial Public Safety Act, a law enacted by his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 when he was the chief minister.