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Australia Retreats From Jail Threat Over India Travel Ban Amid Backlash

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Australia Retreats From Jail Threat Over India Travel Ban Amid Backlash

Scott Morrison said the idea he had blood on his hands was “absurd”. (File)

Sydney:

Australia’s prime minister fended off accusations of racism and having blood on his hands Tuesday, as he retreated from a threat to jail Australians trying to escape Covid-wracked India.

Scott Morrison’s government moved to ban travellers from India from entering Australia until May 15, threatening rule-breakers — including Australian citizens — with prison time.

Amid a widespread backlash, Mr Morrison on Tuesday said it was “highly unlikely” that Australians who skirted a ban would be jailed.

“I think the likelihood of any of that occurring is pretty much zero,” Mr Morrison said in a breakfast-time media blitz on Tuesday.

Around 9,000 Australians are believed to be in India, where hundreds of thousands of new coronavirus cases are being detected every day and the death count is soaring.

Among those trapped are some of Australia’s most high profile sporting stars — cricketers playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

Commentator and former Test cricket star Michael Slater was among those who pilloried Mr Morrison’s decision, saying it was a “disgrace”.

“Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this,” he tweeted. “If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home.”

Mr Morrison said the idea he had blood on his hands was “absurd”.

“The buck stops here when it comes to these decisions, and I’m going to take decisions that I believe are going to protect Australia from a third wave,” he said.

“I’m working to bring them home safely,” he added, indicating that repatriation flights could begin soon after May 15.

The decision came into force on Monday and was denounced by rights groups and some of Morrison’s most prominent allies including Sky News commentator Andrew Bolt who said it “stinks of racism”.

Australia has largely avoided the worst of the pandemic through some of the strictest border controls in the world.

There is a blanket ban on travel to-and-from the country unless an exemption is secured.

Non-residents are mostly banned from entering and anyone who does come into the country must carry out a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.

But that system has come under increasing strain as the virus has jumped from quarantine facilities and caused a series of outbreaks in the largely unvaccinated community.

The conservative prime minister faces reelection in the next 12 months, and had hoped Australia’s relatively successful handling of the pandemic would propel him to victory.

But the India travel ban and a glacial vaccine rollout have prompted criticism.

Australia has administered 2.2 million vaccine doses out of a population of 25 million people, who each need two doses to be fully immunised.

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All India Parisangh shares image from 2008 to target Modi govt

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On Saturday (May 15), Dalit organisation All India Parisangh (AIP) sparked controversy by taking potshots at the Modi government using a 13-year-old image. The organisation was founded by Dalit activist and Congress leader Udit Raj.

In a tweet, AIP wrote, “Unke ‘Mann ki baat’ kyu sunna, jab Ganga pe terti lasho par bhi khamosh raha.” It loosely translates as “Why should we listen to PM Modi’s monthly radio programme ‘Mann ki Baat’ when he is silent on dead bodies floating in the river Ganga?”. The Dalit organisation shared a picture of a dog mauling a human skeleton, along the banks of a water body. At the time of writing, the image was retweeted 167 times and had 463 likes.

Screengrab of the post by the All India Parisangh

By posting the image, the organisation tried to insinuate that it is a recent image showing the mortal remains of a Covid-19 victim whose last rites were not performed. Reports of bodies of Covid victims floating on Ganga river have emerged in the last few days, and All India Parisangh tried to say the image also shows such an incident.

What is the Truth?

It may be noted that the image posted by All India Parisangh has the watermark of Alarmy on it, an stock image platform. Popular Twitter user ‘Befitting Facts’ pointed out that the stock image from Alarmy dates back to February 20, 2008. The disturbing picture was taken by one Dinodia Photos RM and captioned, “Dog eating dead man on Varanasi ghat, Uttar Pradesh in India.” Given the picture dates back to 2008, it must be remembered that the BJP did not have its government at the Centre nor at the State level. And as such, the unfortunate incident is not the result of PM Modi’s negligence.

Screengrab of the image via Alarmy

Earlier, close to 100 unidentified and decomposed bodies were found floating in the Ganga, sparking fear among the locals in several districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. While 71 bodies were recovered from Bihar’s Buxar district, other 25 bodies were fished from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district with locals suspecting them to be the bodies of Covid victims.

After Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, in a horrifying video, at least half a dozen corpses were seen floating in the Runj river in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh. Buxar police suspected the bodies might have floated from the neighbouring Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh. Authorities of both the districts were yet to confirm if the bodies were of Covid victims. As such, All India Parisangh seized the opportunity and shared a 13-year-old picture to blame the Modi government.

All India Parisangh compared Brahmins to pigs last year

Besides fake news, the Dalit organisation has been at the forefront of peddling Anti-Hindu hatred. It has time and again resorted to such vile derogatory casteist hurls targeting Brahmins, and resorted to the anti-Brahmin propaganda by posting an image of a pig wearing ‘Janeu’ – the sacred thread in July last year.

By openly propagating anti-Brahmin sentiments and comparing Brahmins to ‘pigs’, the Parisangh claimed that the Indian judiciary is only comprised of Brahmins. Expressing its contempt for the country’s judiciary, the Dalit organisation claimed that ‘Brahmin’ judges in the Indian courts only recommended fellow people from the community, who were then selected as judges by the third set of Brahmins. The derogatory comments were not only directed at the Brahmins of the country but also an attack on the independence of the judiciary.

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Govt, Admin, Public – All Dropped Guard After First Covid-19 Wave: RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

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File photo of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

File photo of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Bhagwat said the country should stay united and work as a team in these testing times, instead of pointing fingers at each other.

  • PTI New Delhi
  • Last Updated:May 15, 2021, 19:21 IST
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After the first wave of COVID-19, the government, administration and public dropped their guard which led to the current situation, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Saturday and urged people to stay positive and proactive to fight the pandemic. Addressing a lecture series Positivity Unlimited’, Bhagwat said the country should stay united and work as a team in these testing times, instead of pointing fingers at each other.

“We are facing this situation because, whether it was the government, administration or public, everyone dropped their guard after the first wave despite indications from doctors, he said. Bhagwat said there is talk of a third wave. But, we will not be scared. We shall stand like a rock.

We have to stay positive and take precautions to keep ourselves COVID negative in the present situation, he said. The RSS chief said that this is not an appropriate time to point fingers and all should avoid making irrational remarks.

Citing England’s situation in World War II when everything seemed going against it, Bhagwat said a quote was written on the then prime minister Winston Churchill’s desk which read, “There is no pessimism in this office. We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They don’t exist”. Similarly, he said, in this situation we can’t give up on courage. We need to also have steely resolve.

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12-Year-Old Among 4 Killed as Slabs Collapse in Ulhasnagar Building, 1 Missing

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Rescue operation at the Ulhasnagar building. (Image: Twitter/ANI)

Rescue operation at the Ulhasnagar building. (Image: Twitter/ANI)

The incident took place in a ground-plus four-storey residential building in camp no 1 around 1.40 pm.

  • News18.com Thane
  • Last Updated:May 15, 2021, 19:16 IST
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At least 4 people were killed after slabs of a residential building collapsed in Ulhasnagar town of Maharashtra’s Thane district on Saturday, Thane Municipal Corporation said. A 12-year-old child is among the four people who lost their lives. According to latest update, one person is still missing.

The incident took place in a ground-plus four-storey residential building in camp no 1 around 1.40 pm, said Santosh Kadam, chief of the regional disaster management cell of the Thane Municipal Corporation.

A slab on the fourth floor came crashing down on other slabs, trapping people in the process, he said. Local firemen rushed to the scene and rescued 11 residents, who were taken to a local hospital for first aid, the official said.

A team from the Thane Disaster Response Force is at the scene to help firemen remove the debris and rescue five others who are trapped, he added.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI)

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