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Uncertainty over Amarnath Yatra as Jammu administration withdraws cancellation order

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File image of Amarnath pilgrims | Commons


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Jammu: Within minutes of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) announcing cancellation of the Amarnath Yatra due to coronavirus pandemic, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday said the press note was “cancelled and withdrawn”.

However, nothing else was said, giving rise to uncertainty over the 42-day-long yatra which was scheduled to commence from the twin tracks of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district on June 23.

In an official statement titled “Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2020 cancelled due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic”, a spokesman said that the decision was taken at the 38th Board meeting of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) which met under the chairmanship of Lt Governor G C Murmu at Raj Bhavan here.

However, he said the board decided that the Pratham Pooja’ and ‘Sampann Pooja’ would be done with traditional fervor.

Later, within half an hour, another official statement was issued which read, “The Press Note titled Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2020 cancelleddue to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic released vide No: PR/DI/19/7062/ may kindly be treated cancelled and withdrawn.”

Earlier, Murmu, who is also chairman of the SASB, had said there were 77 red zones identified in the Kashmir valley from where the pilgrimage passed.

“Due to this pandemic, the establishment of langars, medical facility, camp establishment, material mobilization and snow clearance are not possible,” he said.

“Though Government of India extended the nationwide lockdown till May 3, it is highly unpredictable to know which direction it will take later. The safety of the pilgrims is of prime importance,” he said.

The spokesman said the board decided unanimously that in view of the pandemic, it wouldn’t be prudent to organize the yatra.

“It was also decided that the board would explore the possibility of telecasting the pooja and darshan of Shivlinga online and through other media for millions of devotees worldwide,” he said, adding the board members noted that this should also set an example for all to avoid such congregations.


Also read: Army’s summer strategy in place at LoC with temperatures expected to rise in Kashmir


 

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India

Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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