Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Take stringent action against those recycling masks, making fake sanitizers

AKB1411As stock markets crashed across the world, including India, after the World Health Organization declared Coronoavirus a pandemic affecting 118 countries, there is some good news: scientists in Israel have achieved a breakthrough in understanding the biological mechanism and qualities of the virus and are on the verge of inventing a vaccine. The development process involves a series of tests and it may take several months for carrying out tests and trials.

In India, the first Coronavirus death was reported from Karnataka, where a 76-year-old man with a travel history to Saudi Arabia, died due to this virus. Delhi government ordered closing of all schools, colleges and cinema halls till March 31. So far, 80 confirmed cases have been reported across India.

In the midst of this worldwide scare, some unscrupulous people have tried to make a killing in the market by recycling used masks and manufacturing fake sanitizers. They were taking advantage of rampant profiteering that is going on in the sale of masks and sanitizers.

I got a video of recycled masks being made on my WhatsApp on Thursday. On getting it checked through our reporter, we found that these were seized by police in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. The local police have arrested one Imran, who claimed that he was asked by one Amit Thakker to dispose of these recycled masks by throwing them away on the roadside. According to Imran, Amit Thakker, who used to deal in electronics, had started recycling used masks on a large scale, and had been selling 50,000 to one lakh masks daily. When the video of this shady business went viral, he asked Imran to dispose them of and that was when the police stepped in.

In Manesar, near Haryana’s Gurugram, fake sanitizers were being made in a factory that used to make car lubricants. Blue coloured chemical filled in tubs, were being packed into bottles labelled as ‘Viro’ sanitizers. The Food and Drugs department raided the factory and seized nearly 5,000 bottles.

Similarly, in Srinagar, drug inspectors raided and seized more than 50 litres of fake sanitizers being prepared with thinner, glycerine, water and lemon flavour.

People who indulge in such nefarious activities are enemies of society, and they should be given the most stringent punishment at a time when the entire world is striving to fight the deadly coronavirus. These people are committing a sin. I have sent details of such raids to the higher authorities and I expect the government to take exemplary measures against those who are playing with people’s lives.

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People will surely watch what exemplary action is taken against Delhi rioters

AKB2610Home Minister Amit Shah, speaking on Delhi riots for the first time, told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that action against rioters would go down as an example for future rioters across the country. “I promise no one, irrespective of religion, caste and political affiliation, will be spared”, he said.

Shah said the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court has been requested to spare a sitting judge who will head a Claims Commission that will determine the amount of damages to be recovered from those who indulged in arson, looting and damage to properties during the riots.

Alleging that the Delhi riots were pre-planned to coincide with the visit of US President Donald Trump to bring disrepute to India, Shah said, police have identified 60 social media accounts that were created on February 22 and 23, and were closed on February 26.

Shah said, police have identified nearly 1,000 rioters using facial recognition software. Out of them nearly 300 rioters had come from Uttar Pradesh. The Home Minister refused to identify the riot victims on the basis of religion saying that he considered all the victims as Indians.

I think the exemplary punishment that Amit Shah has promised will definitely have an impact on future riots, provided the policy is implemented with vigour. I also welcome the steps taken by his ministry to identify those anti-national elements who provided funds to the rioters. Three such hawala financiers have already been arrested.

The people of India will now await what exemplary action police takes against the rioters and their handlers. The most unfortunate part of the five-hour-long debate in Lok Sabha was that the main opposition party Congress walked out when Shah was replying. A walk out on such a sensitive issue does not augur well for our democracy.

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Jyotiraditya’s exit is just the beginning of fresh troubles for Congress

AKB2610After keeping the Congress leadership on tenterhooks for an entire day, senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia sent in his resignation to party interim president Sonia Gandhi saying “it is now time for me to move on”. In his letter, Scindia said, “this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year”.

The resignation came shortly after Scindia met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in a clear indication that he, along with his MLAs, are going to join the BJP before the end of this week. In a face saving effort, the Congress leadership “expelled” Scindia with immediate effect on charge of “anti-party activities”.

So far, Madhya Pradesh Raj Bhavan sources have said, 21 Congress MLAs, all supporters of Scindia, have sent their resignations from the Assembly. There are reports of another five or six Congress MLAs ready to send resignations. Most of these MLAs are presently in Bengaluru.

In day long hectic political activity, senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan reached Bhopal to keep the flock of party MLAs intact. There were reports of several BJP MLAs flown out to Delhi and lodged in a hotel in Gurugram.

With a trial of strength looming large, the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government appears to be teetering on the brink of collapse. Only 80 MLAs attended a meeting held on Tuesday at the chief minister’s house, while efforts are on to rope in others.

Jyotiraditya Scindia is not new to BJP. His grandmother Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia was a founding member of BJP, and his father Madhavrao Scindia was in Bharatiya Jana Sangh, when he switched sides and joined the Congress during the Seventies. His aunt Vasundhara Raje is a senior BJP leader and former chief minister of Rajasthan. Another of his aunts, Yashodhara Raje, has been BJP MLA for five terms and was a minister in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government.

This is the first time that the entire Scindia family has come into the fold of BJP. Congress leaders may have their own gloomy prognostications, but Jyotiraditya is definitely going to carve out a special place for himself in the BJP. His aunt Yashodhara welcomed his decision with a tweet in Hindi, ‘The blood of Rajmata has taken a decision in the national interest. We will work together to build a new nation.”

It is sheer coincidence that the BJP has got a big Holi gift in the form of Jyotiraditya Scindia on the occasion of his father Late Madhavrao Scindia’s birth anniversary. And for the Congress, it is a big shock from which it may find it difficult to recover. The party leadership regarded Kamal Nath as a shrewd manipulator and go-getter, but 24 of his MLAs ditched the party under his very nose.

The manner in which these MLAs left the Congress raises questions about the party leadership and its style of functioning. On Holi, one of my friends sent me a WhatsApp message saying “Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya, this means Rahul telling his mother Sonia, while you were sleeping Jyotiraditya left.”

Now that Kamal Nath is busy in last-ditch efforts to save his tottering government, let me say this. The common Congress party worker in Madhya Pradesh and in other states is feeling bewildered. When the party returned to power in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, people thought it was a message of revival for the party. But within a span of 15 months, due to lack of proper leadership and correct policies, the party will now lose power in MP.

A young leader, who always stood like a rock behind Rahul Gandhi, has left. This was plainly due to Rahul Gandhi’s incapability.

The most interesting part is that while power in a big state like MP is being recaptured by BJP, and a big leader is joining the BJP, fingers are being pointed at the weak Congress leadership. This is a serious challenge to Sonia Gandhi, who had been trying to reinforce Rahul’s leadership in the party, but with Jyotiraditya’s departure, I doubt whether party leaders will accept Rahul has their leader.

The hopes are few and Congress leaders from UP, Rajasthan and Haryana have already started raising questions about the party high command. The high command’s attitudes are being held responsible for the imminent loss of power in Madhya Pradesh. The indications are clear. After Jyotiraditya, there may be fresh troubles for the Congress in other states.

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Why India TV did a reality check on anti-CAA protests

AKB1411 India TV reporters on Friday conducted a reality check on anti-CAA protest venues at Shaheen Bagh (Delhi), Nagpada (Mumbai), Ghanta Ghar (Lucknow), Bhopal, Nagpur and several other cities and almost all of them found that the numbers of women protesters sitting on dharna are fast dwindling.

At Shaheen Bagh, only 10-12 women protesters were present, and the tents appeared to be desolate. On seeing India TV cameras, a hooter was sounded by the organisers and soon more women came to the venue. The protesters tried to physically stop our female reporters Meenakshi Joshi and Disha Pandey from telecasting the visuals live, prevented our camerapersons from doing their work and were very aggressive.

Shaheen Bagh was supposed to be the epicentre of anti-CAA protests across India.

Our reporters did a reality check at several other protest sites across India. At Iqbal Maidan in Bhopal, a big tent that was erected for women protesters for the last 66 days was almost empty. As news spread about our reporter arriving with a camera, a crowd of nearly 60 protesters, mostly males, collected and shouted slogans against India TV. They heckled and physically shoved our reporter Anurag Amitabh away from the protest site. Only three women along with 8-10 males were found sitting at the protest site, while the crowd had collected outside the tent.

A similar scene was witnessed at Ghata Ghar in Lucknow, where the tent for protesters was erected 48 days ago. Only a handful of women protesters was present and they gave various excuses for the dwindling number. At Mumbai’s Nagpada, it was the 41st day of protest, and there too, the number of protesters had dwindled. Some of the protesters cited blazing sun as one of the reasons for the dwindling number.

At the Commisionerate ground in Jaipur, only 21 women protesters were found present on the 40th day of protest. There were mattresses, blankets, chairs and food packets in place, but the number had dwindled fast. One of the protesters cited bad weather as one of the reasons.

For the last 83 days, there had been anti-CAA protests across India. People had been making speeches about defending the Constitution. So long as the crowds were present, these protesters revelled in publicity, but now that their numbers have dwindled, they are preventing the media from doing a reality check.

The question is: who has given these protesters the right to put others to inconvenience by blocking main arterial roads? And what are the excuses that are being offered? Some women said they had to go home to perform namaaz, some said they were busy with their children appearing for exams and some even cited coronavirus scare as the reason.

Two months ago, these protesters were insisting that they would allow reporters to come to protest sites only if it was telecast live. On Friday, it was the opposite. The same protesters were objecting to why the scenes at the protest venue were being shown live.

People who were alleging that the media was not showing the truth about their protests, were now angry over the truth that was being telecasted. Those claiming to be followers of truth and non-violence, appeared to be violent on Friday and trying to hide the truth.

Those who vowed to defend the Constitution, by holding tricolour flags and putting up pictures of Mahatma Gandhi, were themselves trying to hide the truth. Those who were speaking about freedom of expression were themselves trying to muzzle the media.

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Let our human rights activists learn a lesson from Delhi riot videos

akb The death toll in Delhi riots has gone up to 53 with Guru Teg Bahadur hospital reporting six more deaths on Thursday. Nearly 300 injured people are still in hospital. The grief has been compounded with the emergence of two fresh videos on Thursday which showed a 2,000-plus mob targeting Delhi policemen in Chand Bagh locality.

The videos clearly show that policemen were outnumbered, with rioters throwing stones at them and even firing, with policemen trying to shield themselves over a road divider, while trying to escape the fury of the mob. This was the spot where Head Constable Ratan Lal was shot dead by rioters, the area DCP Amit Sharma was critically wounded along with ACP Anuj Kumar and more than a dozen policemen.

The video clips show several women were part of the protest march that soon became a rioting mob. The videos may help Delhi Police in nabbing the attackers. Police have sought the help of cyber cell and forensic lab to develop the pictures in order to identify the rioters.

One of the videos was probably shot from the roof of a gym in Yamuna Vihar, while the second video was shot from Chand Bagh side. Police are trying to contact the persons who shot the video clips. There are also reports of a third video showing a rioter shooting at police. The rioter has been identified and he may be nabbed soon.

Now please try to realize the compulsions under which our policemen have to work. Our National Security Adviser says, government makes laws and policemen have to enforce them responsibly. But, in reality, what actually happened on the ground?

There was rioting and rioters had clearly outnumbered the police. The mob had put policemen on the run, and they were trying to save themselves from rioters. In any democratic country of the world, if police fires at rioters, nobody raises questions, but, in India, police is allowed to fire only in self-defence, because there are many busybodies who raise questions.

The videos clearly show that rioters had used women and children as their shield, and when they attacked the police, the women protesters also threw stones. Our policemen exercised maximum restraint. They bravely faced the stones and bullets, but did not fire a single bullet at the women and children. Their senior police officers, critically wounded, had to be taken to hospitals, and one of them laid down his life. Should we not praise their sense of restraint?

I felt sad watching our policemen cornered by mobs, stoned by rioters and shot in cold blood by assassins in this manner. Imagine what one should do in such a critical situation. Had the police used lathis or bullets on women and children, they would have been suspended, a judicial inquiry commission would have been set up, and the policemen would have to spend the rest of their lives making the rounds of courts, without getting any relief.

I think our civil society needs to decide what to do when faced with such situations. Those who allege violation of human rights must watch these videos and learn a lesson. On one hand, our brave policemen showed utmost restraint, while on the other hand, on Thursday, our opposition lawmakers threw papers at the Lok Sabha Speaker. These errant MPs have made a spectacle (tamasha) of the temple of our democracy. Time to think.

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Follow precautions carefully, no need to panic due to Coronavirus

akb0712As the number of people tested positive for coronavirus touched 29 on Wednesday, there was a rush for buying sanitizers and masks with chemists running out of stocks at many shops. Paytm has asked all its employees at its Gurugram office to work from homes for the next 15 days after an employee, who had returned from Italy, was tested positive. Most of the political leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have cancelled their Holi Milan gatherings in view of the coronavirus scare.

To add to the anxiety of common people, a large number of fake news videos are circulating on social media. One of the videos, from an American news channel, reported that more than 15 lakh people in China have been afflicted with the virus and on an average, nearly 50,000 people are either dying or being shot by authorities. Nobody knows from where this news channel obtained its facts, but this video is surely going to strike fear in the minds of common people.

There should not be any panic because out of the 29 people found positive in India, 18 are Italian nationals. Two of them are being treated in Jaipur and the remaining 16 have been quarantined in a hospital in Delhi NCR. Similarly, six people in Agra were tested positive after 13 people met a man who had returned from Italy with the virus.

Rajasthan government is trying to contact 213 people who had come in contact with the group of Italian tourists who had visited tourist spots. Of them, 51 reported negative after tests, while reports are awaited for the rest. The group had visited Jhunjhnu, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur and Bikaner. The entire Ramada Hotel in Jaipur, where the tourist group stayed, is being sanitized. In Noida, tests of students from two private schools have been found negative but they are being quarantined as a precautionary measure.

A nationwide campaign is on to screen all passengers coming from international flights, while similar screening is on at India-Pakistan Attari and Dera Baba Nanak check posts.

Let me make some facts clear. Coronavirus is not fatal in all infection cases. Overall, only 3.5 per cent of the total number of people found positive in China and other countries have died. The only worrying point is this virus travels very fast but it does not mean that the virus is floating in the air. Only close contact with people infected with virus can cause this disease to spread. People should follow the do’s and dont’s carefully, keep sanitizers handy, avoid shaking hands with people and desist from touching their eyes, nose and face frequently.

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Take timely precautions to prevent Coronavirus from spreading

AKB1411Five private schools in National Capital Region have been closed down till March 10 for sanitizing the campuses after the parent of a student, who had hosted a birthday party, was found positive with Coronavirus. At least 70 people came into contact with the Coronavirus patient, and among these, six were from Agra and 44 people were those who attended the birthday party.

Meanwhile, National Institute of Virology, Pune has confirmed that an Italian tourist admitted to a Jaipur hospital has been confirmed virus-positive. His wife has also been tested positive. The couple visited major tourist spots in Rajasthan as part of a group of 23 tourists from Italy and they might have put a lot of people at risk, health authorities say.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to people not to panic. “We need to take small yet important measures to ensure self-protection”, the PM tweeted. Modi also shared an advisory on basic protective measures people can take to avoid coming in contact with the virus.

These steps include: washing hands frequently, maintaining social distancing, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, practicing respiratory hygiene and seeking medical care at the earliest, if one has fever, cough and difficulty in breathing.

Research done on Coronavirus so far has shown that the virus is temperature-sensitive. It is not active in temperature beyond 35 degree Celsius and perishes at temperature beyond 50 degree Celsius. The virus can remain active in air for nine days. Scientists in India feel that the risk of spread of Coronavirus is there for the next 45 days when summer will set in. Once temperature rises in hot summer, the virus will stop from spreading. Yet, the next 45 days are crucial because the virus spreads very fast.

To avoid this virus from spreading, people should avoid visiting congested places, try to keep at least one metre distance as the virus spreads due to coughing and breathing, avoid shaking hands with people and do ‘namaste’ greetings from a distance, keep sanitizer to wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds at a time, and try to wear masks for avoiding the virus.

There is no need to panic. If one is infected with the virus, it does not mean that it could be fatal. There are more than 90,000 people in the world infected with Coronavirus and, till now, only a little more than 3,000 people have died. So the fatality rate is hardly four to five per cent, but prevention is the best cure. Panicking can only lead to more problems.

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Rumour-mongering and hate messages must be nipped in the bud

AKB1411Delhi Police on Monday arrested more than 40 people on charges of spreading panic through social media about fresh communal violence in the city. All these rumours later turned out to be fake. A few of those arrested had a large number of followers on Twitter, while in several other cases, several thousand people made PCR calls to police to report about firing and violence, all of which were later found to be false.

On Sunday alone, over 2,000 PCR calls were made to police within a span of two hours from 7 pm to 9 pm reporting disturbances, but all of these calls were found to be based on fake news. 481 fake calls were received in West Delhi, while 413 fake calls were received in South East Delhi by police.

On Monday too, there was panic for some time when a rumour spread about rioters moving on M. B. Road near Tughlaqabad. Both the police and media were alert and the rumour was later found to be false. Senior Delhi police officers at the level of SHO, ACP and DCP had to take recourse to Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to assure people that there was peace in all localities of the city.

Delhi Police has now started taking action against gangs spreading rumours. These gangs have been spreading panic in areas like Khayala, Badarpur, Paschim Vihar, Kalindi Kunj, Madanpur Khadar, Dwarka, Rohini, Govindpuri, Uttam Nagar and Jasola. On Sunday evening, some Delhi Metro stations had to be closed for some time due to panic caused by rumours.

There could be many reasons behind spreading rumours. In one instance in Khayala, police had raided a den of gamblers, and while escaping, the gamblers spread rumours about rioting to deflect attention of the police.

Rumours always spread like wildfire. During the Nineties, rumours of Lord Ganesha idols drinking milk led to virtual stampedes at temples with people trying to make the god drink milk. The rumours spread so fast that Hindus in California tried to offer milk to Ganesha statues. Similarly, a rumour once spread about sea water on Mumbai coast turning sweet, and thousands of people rushed to seashores with bottles to collect ‘sweet’ sea water.

In Delhi, the perpetrators of communal riots on February 24 and 25 used rumours to spread hate and panic leading to violence, and Delhi Police was caught napping. However, on Sunday and Monday, Delhi Police effectively foiled the plans of rumour mongers, whose main aim was to create panic and cause mistrust among Hindus and Muslims.

I understand that rumours have a force of their own, but it will be better if our citizens stop forwarding fake messages and hate videos on social media. If India TV viewers get such fake news or hate videos on their cellphones, they can contact us on 93505 93505. You can also forward such messages to me on Twitter @RajatSharmaLive .

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