QBullet: Amritsar Train Tragedy Kills 61; Sabarimala Stir Rages On
1. Amritsar Train Accident: 61 Dead, Railways Says ‘Clear Case of Trespassing’
At least 61 people were killed and 72 injured after a speeding train mowed down Dussehra revellers near Amritsar on Friday, 19 October, PTI reported. The incident took place at Joda Fatak level crossing where Dussehra celebrations were underway.
Initial reports suggest Dussera revellers were watching the burning of a Ravan close to the track. The crowd had spilt on to the rail line when the local train came and crushed a number of them in Amritsar. Rescue operations have been launched and efforts are underway to save people from the debris. The accident happened at gate no. 27 between Amritsar and Manawala.
2. Sabarimala Stir Halts 2 Women Close to History
Two women were 50 metres away from history early on Wednesday, 17 October, reaching near the 18 steps that lead to the sanctum sanctorum of Kerala’s Sabarimala temple even as thousands of protesters stood guard to stop them from entering the hilltop shrine. In the end, the women had to return – like many others over the past three days – after the temple’s main priest said he would stop the rituals and close the gates if they did not turn back.
3. Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Died in Fight at Consulate in Istanbul, Confirms Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia said on Saturday, 20 October, that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has died, and said it fired two senior officials over the incident that has provoked an international outcry and strained relations between Riyadh and the West.
A statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said a fight broke out between Khashoggi and people who met him in the consulate and led to his death. “The investigations are still underway and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested,” the statement on state media said, adding that royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri have been fired from their positions.
Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, went missing after entering the consulate on 2 October to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.
4. Ex-BSP MP’s Son, Who Brandished Gun at Delhi’s Hyatt, Sent to Judicial Custody Till Monday
A Delhi court Friday, 19 October, dismissed the bail plea of former BSP MP’s son Ashish Pandey, who was seen brandishing a gun and threatening a couple at the Hyatt Regency hotel in R K Puram, ANI reported. The Patiala House Court sent him to judicial custody till 22 October.
Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Anand also rejected the plea of Delhi Police seeking Pandey’s custody for two more days after he was produced in the court on Friday following his one-day custodial interrogation, PTI reported.
5. PM to Honour Bose Legacy by Observing INA Anniversary
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join freedom fighters and veterans to unfurl the tricolour from the Red Fort on 21 October to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind (independent India) declaration in what analysts describe as a smart political move to appropriate the legacy of one of the leading lights of India’s freedom movement, and of another Congressman.
On 21 October 1943, Netaji, as Bose is popularly known, announced the formation of the country’s first independent government . Although it was shortlived, some historians consider it an important milestone in India’s journeys to independence.
6. BJP May Drop Over Half of Its MLAs in Rajasthan to Counter Anti-Incumbency
BJP is contemplating dropping more than half of its sitting legislators in Rajasthan in an attempt to cushion its prospects in the forthcoming Assembly polls from the discontent against incumbent MLAs.
Well-placed party sources said 80-100 of the 160 sitting MLAs might be replaced in what could arguably be the biggest-ever political culling of incumbent MLAs belonging to any party.
The party move is also intended to send a message to lawmakers in other states as well as members of the Lok Sabha about the risk of being dropped on the basis of feedback about their performance which is being gathered, apart from traditional channels, through PM Narendra Modi’s Namo app.
7. #MeToo: Anirban Blah Allegedly Attempts Suicide
Anirban Blah, the co-founder of celebrity management agency Kwan Entertainment, who was accused of seeking sexual favours from aspiring actors was rescued by police late Thursday night (18 October) from the railing of the old Vashi bridge during an apparent suicide attempt.
Police had acted on an alert by The Times of India after a copy of his suicide note reached TOI staff. Following the tip-off from TOI, joint commissioner of police (law and order) Deven Bharati spoke to his counterpart in Navi Mumbai asking him to rush a team to the old Vashi bridge.
“We managed to save him in the nick of time. If it wasn't for the TOI's late night call, Navi Mumbai policemen could not have reached him on time. He had got off a cab and was on the bridge when the police team caught him," Bharti told TOI.
8. EWS Students in Private Schools Await Books
Seven months into the academic session, hundreds of economically disadvantaged parents in the Capital have complained that their children had not been provided with free books, stationery and uniforms by many private schools, in violation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
Under the RTE Act, 25% of seats in entry-level classes – nursery, KG and first standard – are to be reserved for children whose parents earn less than ₹1 lakh per annum. The Delhi RTE rules specify that students enrolled under the EWS/DG (disadvantaged group) categories in private schools are entitled to free textbooks, writing material and uniforms, for which the government reimburses a fixed amount.
9. India’s 1st ATM for Bitcoins Launched
In February, when the finance ministry banned banks and regular financial institutions from being part of the bitcoin network, Indians could no longer buy and sell bitcoins, unless they had an overseas account or an overseas relative or friend who could transact on their behalf.
Now, to help users overcome this challenge, cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin has launched an ATM – or a kiosk, as the company prefers to call it – for Indians to buy and sell bitcoins. The first of these has been installed in a mall in Bengaluru.
The ATM, provided by ATM-maker NCR, is like the regular bank machine that we see, but with a few modifications. One of these is that the debit/credit card slot has been disabled, given that banks have been banned from supporting the cryptocurrency ecosystem.