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Hajj 2021: Saudi Arabia may allow 5000 pilgrims from India

(Asian News Hub) – Amid second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia has announced that 60 thousand people will be allowed to perform hajj this year. Out of them, 15,000 will be domestic pilgrims.

According to a report published in The Hindu, Central Haj Committee officials predict that Saudi Arabia would put a cap of 5000 pilgrims from India. No prediction has been made over the State-wise breakup of the pilgrims.

Apart from reducing the number of Hajj pilgrims, the Kingdom has also made it clear that pilgrims aged below 10 years and above 60 years will not be allowed.

Persons who were hospitalized in the past six months are also not permitted to perform Hajj.

Physical distancing mandatory while performing Hajj
While performing Hajj, the pilgrims will have to adhere to a two-meter physical distancing norm.

As a precautionary measure, all carpets will be removed from Masjid Al Haram.

During pre-COVID times, millions of pilgrims used to perform Hajj every year. In 2019, 2.5 million pilgrims from across the world had performed Hajj.

As Saudi Arabia government used to allow one in one thousand Muslims from India, 1.75 lakh Indian pilgrims performed Hajj in 2019.

Hajj: One of the five pillars of Islam

Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the five pillars of Islam. The other four pillars are Shahadah, Salat, Zakat and Sawm.

It is mandatory for Muslims to perform the pilgrimage once-in-a-lifetime if they are physically and financially capable of it.

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Lioness dies after testing positive for COVID-19 in Chennai

(Asian News Hub) – A nine-year old Asiatic lion has died from the coronavirus in a state-run zoo on the outskirts of the south Indian city of Chennai, the zoo said on Friday.

There have been various coronavirus cases in animals, including two white white tiger cubs thought to have died of COVID-19 in neighbouring Pakistan and lions also testing positive in Spain and two other cities of India.

“A 9-year old lioness Neela succumbed to the disease on the evening of 3rd June,” the Arignar Anna zoological park said of the latest incident.

The outbreak was first observed on Thursday, with most of the lions asymptomatic, it said. They were quarantined and given antibiotics.

“Samples of tigers and other large mammals are being sent for testing,” the zoo’s statement added. 

REUTERS

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Over 8,700 people died on railway tracks during lockdown

(Asian News Hub) – Over 8,700 people were mowed down on railway tracks in 2020 even though passenger train services were severely curtailed due to the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, with officials saying many of the victims were migrant workers.

The Railway Board shared the data on such deaths for the period between January and December 2020 in its reply to a question by Madhya Pradesh-based activist Chandra Shekhar Gaur under the Right to Information Act.

“Based on the information received from the State Police, 805 people suffered injuries and 8,733 people died on the railway track between January 2020 and December 2020,” the Railway Board has said.

Officials separately said that many of those dead were migrant workers who chose to walk home along the tracks because train routes are considered shorter than roads or highways.

They said these workers also chose the tracks as this way they could evade police for violating lockdown norms, and also had the belief they would not get lost midway.

“They also assumed that no trains would be running because of the lockdown,” one of the officials said. Railway Spokesperson DJ Narain said that such incidents happen on the tracks “not due to accidents but because of trespassing”.

“It’s a civic issue of concern. The Railways has always made huge efforts in sensitising trespassers to avoid walking on tracks. Around 70,000 kms of rail tracks are spread across the country with over 17,000 trains of all kinds running on a daily basis. Deaths on tracks of trespassers is unfortunate and sad. Our concern on Safety of passenger and citizens is second to none.”

He also appealed to people to avoid taking shortcuts to cross tracks.

“They must understand that shortcuts can be dangerous and trespassing must be avoided.

These kinds of accidents perhaps occur more on roads due to careless road-crossings,” Narain said, adding that there have been no casualties due to any “train accident” in the last two years.

While the fatalities during 2020 were fewer compared to four years immediately before that, the numbers are still significant given the fact that the passenger services were restricted after the coronavirus lockdown was announced on March 25.

Only freight trains were in operation during the lockdown, and before the railways started Shramik Special trains from May 1 to ferry migrant workers home.

The passenger services have been reopening in phases, and by December, around 1,100 special trains were in operation along with 110 regular passenger trains.

The services have now been restored to 70 per cent of the pre-Covid period.

While many fatalities on tracks last year could not be registered for some reason or the other, the deaths of 16 migrant workers after being run over by a freight train in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad last May rattled many as they were killed while resting on the tracks thinking no train would be coming due to the Covid suspension.

According to Railways figures, compiled from state governments, 56,271 people died and 5,938 were injured in such incidents between 2016 and 2019, registering an increasing trend, with 2017 being an exception.

As many 14,032 people died in such accidents in 2016, 12,838 in 2017, 14,197 in 2018 and 15,204 in 2019, the figures showed.

However, the Railways do not consider these deaths “railway accidents”.

Railway’s death statistics are maintained in three forms –consequential accidents, trespassing and untoward incidents.

These deaths come under the category of “untoward incidents” or “trespassing”, and are investigated by state police and the victims are also compensated by state governments concerned.

The Railways has carried out massive campaigns to reduce such deaths and also paid ex gratia to the kin of the victim on sympathetic grounds in some cases.

The measures taken by the Railways include elimination of unmanned-level crossings over the broad gauge network, signal modernisation, the use of modern machines in maintenance, among others.

PTI

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CM Yogi, Ramdev’s books now part of academic curriculum in UP

(Asian News Hub) – The Uttar Pradesh state government has recommended books by Yogi Adityanath and Baba Ramdev to be included in the academic curriculum.

This recommendation has been made to the University Grants Commission (UGC) as well.

Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Hathyoga Ka Swaroop Va Sadhna’ and Ramdev’s ‘Yog Sadhna Va Yog Chikitsa Rahasya’ have already been included in the second-semester undergraduate philosophy curriculum of Chaudhary Charan Singh University (popularly known as Meerut University). These books have also been included to be a part of elective subjects taken by students studying other courses.

The pro-VC of the university, Prof Y Vimla was quoted by TOI, saying, “We had a Board of Studies meeting on philosophy recently in which it was decided that the works of Yogi Adityanath and Ramdev would be included in the syllabus.”

“The two books have been recommended by the state government and been endorsed by the board of studies of the university,” Dr NC Lohani, a member of the board committee and head of the department of Hindi Arts, said.

The Print reported that a member of the syllabus development committee, who did not wish to be named, said that the books have been chosen for their “high literary value”.

“All the books were chosen to be there because of their high academic and literary value. Some are suggested readings and some are a part of the credit-based course,” the member told The Print.

These books will be taught alongside books by famous philosophers like Plato and Aristotle.

Recently, Ramdev was in controversy for mocking modern medicine.

“Allopathy is a stupid, lame science. First, hydroxychloroquine failed. Then, Remdesivir, Ivermectin, and plasma therapy failed. Other antibiotics including Fabiflu and steroids too failed,” Baba Ramdev said.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on May 27, filed a complaint against Ramdev for his comments.

The IMA also served a defamation notice on Ramdev for alleged disparaging remarks against allopathy and allopathic doctors, demanding an apology from him within 15 days, failing which it said it will demand compensation of Rs 1,000 crore from the yoga guru.

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