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# Of spring and hope in Shopian as ceasefire ushers in calm
No longer the sites of violent encounters, the laden orchards of south Kashmir hold the promise of peace
The cherry trees in Shopian’s Losedenow are weighed down with fruit.
It is just after the morning Sehri prayers that mark the beginning of the fast during Ramzan, and Pervaiz Ahm- ed Bhat and his family know they must move quickly.
The “suspension of operations”, what is called a conditional ceasefire or cease-ops, announced by the Union Home Ministry, has been in place for a week, and Mr. Bhat wants to maximise the time he can spend harvesting his crop of ‘Double Gilaas’ and ‘Misri’ cherry varieties this month.
Mr. Bhat hopes the cease-ops orders mean security restrictions will also be relaxed as, at present, they must submit identity cards to the security pesonnel and account for each family member going into the orchards, mentioning a fixed time for their return.
“I hope the cherries will reach the markets in time and won’t be damaged in storage rooms due to lockdowns of the security forces and the shutdowns sparked by killing of militants and civilians now,” said Mr. Bhat, particularly bitter about the frequent and intensive “Cordon and Search Operations” (CASO) that routinely disrupt life.
While the fruit hangs on the trees, the air in Shopian still hangs heavy with the bloodshed of the recent past. Laden with nature’s bounty, these orchards across four districts of south Kashmir — Anantanag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian — have also doubled as hideouts for militants from these areas, and hence often became the unwitting sites of violent encounters and deaths.
The current wave of militancy is identified with the killing of local boy Burhan Wani in 2016, one of a group of 11 militants who were famously photographed in an apple orchard here.
Last of 11
Three weeks ago, the last of the 11, Hizbul Mujahideen district commander Saddam Paddar was killed in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag. Four other militants and five civilians were also killed.
# 40 questions on ‘failed promises’
A+ only in ‘slogan creation,’ says Rahul
Countering the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas (Clean Intentions, Right Development) campaign to mark the completion of its four years in office, the Congress has coined the tagline, ‘India Betrayed’, raising 40 questions on the “failed promises” of the Narendra Modi government.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said that the BJP government had got A+ only in “slogan creation” and “self-promotion.”
‘Abysmal report card’
Tweeting a ‘report card’ of the government, he said the government had got F-grade or failed in agriculture, foreign policy, fuel prices and job creation. Only in “slogan creation” and “self-promotion” did the government get an A+.
Under ‘final remarks’, Mr. Gandhi said: “Master communicator; struggles with complex issues; short attention span.”
# Eleven killed in road accident
Eight of the victims belonged to two families Eleven persons were killed and 20 others injured in a road accident involving four vehicles on Rajeev Rahadari near Rimmanaguda of Gajwel in Siddipet on Saturday.
Some of the injured were shifted to Gajwel hospital, while others were admitted to Gandhi and Yashoda hospitals in Hyderabad. The condition of three persons undergoing treatment at Gandhi Hospital was stated to be critical.
The accident occurred at around 4.30 p.m. when a TSRTC bus ferrying passengers from Hyderabad to Karimnagar hit a lorry moving in the same direction from behind. The bus skidded and fell on its side. “The bus was moving at a high speed when it hit the left side of the lorry which was moving close to the divider,” Siddipet Additional DCP G. Narsimha Reddy said. The collision impact was such that the lorry was thrown to the other side of the road, after climbing the median, and got rammed by a tanker coming in the opposite direction from the Karimnagar side. An SUV carrying two families and moving behind the tanker crashed into it. While three passengers of the bus died, eight members travelling in the SUV were killed. Traffic came to a grinding halt on either side of the Rajeev Rahadari for several kilometres. Police had to struggle to take out the bodies from the SUV which got stuck underneath the lorry. The victims travelling in the SUV were identified as a Telugu daily journalist Lakshman, 35, his parents Gantamma and Mallaiah, both above 60 years of age, relatives Sattamma, 60, Susheela, 60, I. Srinivas, 8, Sindhu and a six-year-old girl yet to be identified. The deceased bus passengers were P. Rahul and Sai Nikhil, while Omkar, 10, succumbed to the injuries at Gandhi Hospital.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao expressed shock over the accident and conveyed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.
#36,000 delegates to attend Mahanadu
The stage is set for the launch of the three-day Mahanadu, the annual conclave of the Telugu Desam Party at the sprawling Siddhartha Engineering College campus in Kanuru here. Arrangements are in full swing for the big conference to be attended by 36,000 delegates.
Telugu Desam Party State president Kala Venkata Rao told the media here on Saturday that the 2018 Mahanadu gained significance because the elections were round the corner. It would stress the “historic need for the return of TDP national president N Chandrababu Naidu as the Chief Minister.”
He said the workers would discuss in depth what the party did for the development of the State and the welfare of the poor for the last four years. The conspiracy politics of various political parties would be highlighted, he added.
In all, 34 resolution would be discussed, 22 on Andhra Pradesh, eight on Telangana and the remaining four on both the Sates.
There would be a special session on the Centre-States relations and the party’s stand on national politics. The need for a third-front would also be discussed.
Minister for Agriculture Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy told the media that the loss caused to the nation by the introduction of the GST, the demonetisation and the discrimination shown by the Centre were on the agenda.
The TDP was the only political party that held such “disciplined conclaves for three days to discuss various issues threadbare.”
Minister for Information and Public Relations Kalava Srinivasulu said the BJP had embarked on a devious journey of weakening the States to undermine the regional parties. The TDP right from its inception gave top priority to the development and welfare of the people over making political conquests.
Mr. Reddy said the devotees of the Lord of Seven Hills were vexed with the way the hill temple was being undermined. “The filthy language being used by the YSRCP leaders showed the scant respect they had for the deity and the Chief Minister,” he said.
Lord Venkateswara was venerated by people and leaders of all faiths down the ages. The Muslim rulers, the Britishers, the Buddhists and the Jains too had tremendous respect for the Lord. The YSR CP and the BJP were bound to feel the wrath of the devotees, he said.
#High-voltage campaign ends in Chengannur
All set for polling tomorrow
The high-voltage campaign for the May 28 Chengannur Assembly byelection ended on Saturday.
The open campaign for the byelection came to a grand finale by 6 p.m., bringing the curtain down on the gruelling two-and-a-half-month-long exercise. Braving rain, supporters of the three major political fronts waving respective party flags staged a noisy performance during the final hours of campaign. This led to traffic snarls in Chengannur town. A minor scuffle also broke out between the LDF and UDF activists at Mannar. As many as 17 candidates are in the fray for the bypoll. The main candidates are Saji Cherian (LDF), D. Vijayakumar (UDF) and P.S. Sreedharan Pillai (NDA).
Earlier in the day, the LDF, UDF and NDA held public meetings and roadshows to woo voters in the constituency. The bypoll, necessitated following the death of Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA K.K. Ramachandran Nair, is seen as a litmus test for three major fronts. The outcome is significant for the ruling front as it is seen as an assessment of the two-year-old State government.
During the longer-than-expected campaign trail, several top leaders of the LDF, UDF and NDA campaigned for their respective candidates in an effort to sway the voters in a likely cliffhanger. From corruption to communalism, development issues, political murders, law and order situation, Karnataka polls, performance of the Union and State governments, sky-rocketing fuel prices, the electoral potboiler had it all.
Meanwhile, District Collector T.V. Anupama said all arrangements had been made for a free and fair polling on Monday.
#83.01% pass CBSE Class 12 exams, girls outshine boys
Thiruvananthapuram region performs best, followed by Chennai and Delhi
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced its Class 12 results on Saturday, with girls faring better than the boys.
With 499 marks out of 500, Meghna Srivastava from Step By Step School, Noida, topped the examination. Anoushka Chandra, from SAJ School, Ghaziabad, bagged the second position with 498 marks. Both girls are from the humanities stream. The third position was held by seven students who got 497 marks out of 500, officials said here.
The overall pass percentage was 83.01%, which is an an improvement of 1% against last year’s 82.02%. Girls did better than boys with a pass percentage of 88.31% against boys’ 78.99%.
The best performing region was Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala with a pass percentage of 97.32%. The Chennai region was second with 93.87%, followed by Delhi with 89%.
A total of 12,737 students secured above 95%, whereas 72,599 students secured above 90% in the exam.
The performance of candidates from foreign schools also improved this year, with a pass percentage of 94.94% compared to last year’s 92.02%.
Over 11 lakh students appeared for the examination conducted in 4,145 centres.
The examination was conducted between March 5 and April 27. This year, there was a hiccup in the form of paper leaks. The board conducted a retest of the Economics paper on April 25, nearly a month after it was leaked, triggering widespread outrage and confusion among students across the country.
The CBSE has set up a counselling helpline with 69 counsellors, principals and special educators to help students deal with post-result stress. The helpline will be functional from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on all days till June 9.
Out of the 69 counsellors, 49 are in India, including two special educators, while 20 experts are located in Nepal, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Al-Khobar, Jeddah), Oman, the UAE (Dubai, Sharjah, RasAl-Khaimah), Kuwait, Singapore and Qatar.
#Ireland ends abortion ban
The first official results declared on Saturday in Ireland’s historic referendum on its strict abortion laws showed that 66% backed repealing the constitutional ban on terminations.
Results from the first four of the 40 constituencies to declare showed 66.36% voted “Yes” and 33.64% “No,” on a 62% turnout, the central count centre announced. Support for “Yes” was 77% in Dublin Central, 69% in Cork South-Central, 64% in Cork North-Central and 60% in Galway East. The referendum was set to be a landslide vote in favour of overturning some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.
#‘We are a committed govt.’
Slams BJD govt for lack of progress on Mahanadi issue
Addressing a huge crowd at the historic Balijatra grounds in Cuttack on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spelt out the achievements of his government on the completion of four years in office.
Quoting facts and figures and comparing numbers, he said his government’s performances on all fronts have been “noteworthy” and the same have been possible only because his governance has been “committed” and “not confused”. He said at least four Chief Ministers involved in scams were now behind the bars and this fear of stringent law enforcement had brought these tainted parties together.
Attacks previous govts.
In his address for over an hour, Mr. Modi attacked the previous governments, saying the Congress was only concerned about a section of the people and had ignored a huge population of the poor and downtrodden.
The Prime Minister also took this opportunity to take pot shots at the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government in Odisha, particularly on the recent issue of the Mahanadi river.
“Odisha government did not come forward when the Centre wanted to hold negotiations to resolve the Mahanadi water dispute,” he said, adding that the government itself had admitted on the floor of the State Assembly that a major chunk of its share of the river water was flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
#IPL is a success story
How has it fared in its 11th year?
Ever since its maiden steps in 2008, the Indian Premier League (IPL), often seen as a blend between cricket and entertainment, has been a big hit. With leading international players adding to the allure, the summer league has its charms. Despite controversies like the 2013 spot-fixing scandal, the IPL remains a steady brand, dishing out quality cricket and throwing the spotlight on fresh talent. The story is no different in the latest edition. In fact, the frenzy has been much more than the last two seasons, thanks to the return of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals after their two-year suspension following the spot-fixing and betting controversy.
The new broadcaster Star India, too, left no stone unturned and attracted fans to all its platforms. The fact that the first qualifier between CSK and Sunrisers Hyderabad garnered 8.26 million concurrent views on Hotstar — a world record for live-streamed sport — reiterates the IPL’s enduring appeal.
This year’s final, between CSK and Sunrisers, will be played at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium today.
Why such huge turnouts?
Packed stadiums witnessing IPL games could be attributed to three factors – timing, duration and the presence of top international and domestic stars. The 8 p.m. start obviously suits working professionals on weekdays. Additionally, the abridged nature of Twenty20s means that ideally a game will not last longer than three hours and 15 minutes. Yet, the over-rates this season were pathetic and matches dragged on for almost four hours, but spectators were unfazed and lapped up the cricket. Attending an IPL game has become part of the summer bucket-list.
What does BCCI gain from IPL?
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) finds incremental appreciation in three facets: Revenue: The IPL is such a big money-spinner that the broadcast rights for five years starting this year fetched a whopping Rs. 16,347 crore. The BCCI distributes 60% of this money among the eight franchises. The remaining amount easily surpasses the Board’s other income, including broadcast rights for international matches played in India. Goodwill: The IPL has given financial security to a plethora of both domestic and overseas cricketers. Many former players also draw big bucks due to their association as commentators or coaches. And clout: The IPL has emerged as one of the biggest draws in global cricket, and, in turn, it helps the BCCI maintain its stature as the domineering force in the sport’s governance. After all, with the BCCI offering a share to other cricket boards for releasing their players for the IPL, no other board can oppose it or the league.
Do the franchises make money?
The smart franchises that did apt brand-linkages were in the green during the first decade, while a few struggled to break even. However, with the change in dynamics from this season — owners no longer have to pay an annual franchise fee coupled with a huge surge in assured income from the central pool — all eight franchises will earn a massive surplus.
Each franchise is assured of at least Rs. 250 crore from the central pool by the BCCI. Add to that the gate receipts and income from team sponsors, and it would mean each franchise will earn at least Rs. 300 crore. As for expenses, player and coach fees, along with operational costs, should not exceed Rs. 150 crore.
How has IPL helped cricket?
The IPL has offered financial security to a wide range of cricketers. It has changed cricket’s commercial scenario so much that it has inspired the mushrooming of leagues across the cricket-playing world. Even in India, other sporting associations feel empowered to have their own leagues, leading to a win-win situation for athletes and fans.
On the flip side, the IPL has resulted in many players preferring to be T20 freelancers and that could weaken international cricket’s longer formats.
#Ahoy, it’s the Navy
Aboard the Indian Naval Academy, where men and women train hard to wear the whites of an officer
A navy can’t be away from water, and hence Ezhimala, by the backwaters and the Arabian Sea in Kannur district of Kerala, is a fine spot to train cadets for India’s seafaring force. The village, a flourishing seaport of yore cradled against the Western Ghats, is now home to the Indian Naval Academy.
The 2,538-acre campus is a mini-India, with young men and women from all over the country training hard to wear the officer’s whites. The day begins at 5.30 a.m. at Asia largest naval academy, the cadets put through their paces under a meticulous plan by way of the “daily order”, which lists out the routine they have to follow.
Lieutenant Juhi Kashyap from Varanasi, who had completed her training, is the first from her family to join the Navy. “It was while working as a probationary officer in the Bank of Baroda that I came across the Indian Navy advertisement. From credit and debit and accounting, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of a more adventurous life. The INA has given me a chance to be different and serve the nation,” she says. The campus is entwined with maritime history. Among the many historical sites there is Mount Dilli, which Vasco da Gama is said to have used as a heading beacon before turning south to reach Kappad in Kozhikode, located 80 km away, in 1498. A total of 1,100 cadets get trained in the academy a year.
Source:- The Hindu