At least 68 pilgrims from India died during Hajj 2024 amid high summer heat; many Indians missing

News Network
June 19, 2024

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At least 68 Indian nationals have been confirmed dead during this year's Hajj pilgrimage, according to a diplomat in Saudi Arabia. Several Indians are reported missing too. This comes amid record-high temperatures in the Saudi holy city of Mecca, and the deaths of 550 pilgrims this year.

"We have confirmed around 68 dead... Some are because of natural causes and we had many old-aged pilgrims. And some are due to the weather conditions, that's what we assume," the diplomat told news agency AFP about the death of Indians on the condition of anonymity.

The diplomat also said that many Indian nationals are also reported missing, but he declined to give their exact numbers.

"This is a recurring occurrence every year," he stated, informing us that the situation is similar to previous years, with further details expected soon.

The Hajj pilgrimage, a central part of Islam, brings millions annually to Makkah, during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah. Each Muslim has to fulfil this religious obligation at least once in their lifetime.

This year's pilgrimage also saw intense heat and rising temperatures, which are the highest in recent decades.

A Saudi study even revealed how the temperatures in the pilgrimage area have increased by 0.4 degrees Celsius per decade. In 2023, over 200 pilgrims died during Hajj, and over 2,000 people suffered from heat-related stress as temperatures touched as high as 48 degrees Celsius.

Deaths have been reported of other nationals as well: Iran, Indonesia, Tunisia, Senegal, and Iraq's Kurdistan region. There have been no comments on the deaths by the authorities of these countries.

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News Network
July 7,2024

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At least five journalists have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on different places across the Gaza Strip over the last 24 hours. 

The Gaza media office said Saturday that the regime's forces killed three journalists in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the center of the territory.

Two of those who were killed in the camp were from the Palestine Media Agency. The other journalist was from the Islamic University Radio in Gaza.

Two more journalists were also killed in separate attacks in Gaza City, said the media office.

The latest deaths take the number of journalists killed in the besieged Palestinian territory since October to 158.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Israel’s military campaign on the Gaza Strip has become "the bloodiest for journalists" since the committee began documenting journalist killings worldwide in 1992.

The New York-based NGO said that media workers are being killed in the regime’s bombardment of the Palestinian territory at a rate with no parallel in modern history.

The committee put the number of media workers killed as of July 5 at 108 since the war began, also making it the deadliest period since the group began gathering data in 1992.

UN experts have previously warned about “the extraordinarily high numbers of journalists and media workers who have been killed, attacked, injured and detained in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” 

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News Network
July 15,2024

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New Delhi: The BJP's strength in the Rajya Sabha fell by four Saturday after as many nominated members - Rakesh Sinha, Ram Shakal, Sonal Mansingh, and Mahesh Jethmalani - completed their term.

All four were chosen - as non-aligned members - by President Droupadi Murmu on the advice of the ruling party, and formally allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government afterwards.

Their retirement brings the BJP's strength down to 86 and that of the party-led National Democratic Alliance to 101, which is below the current majority mark of 113 in the 245-member House.

The current strength of the Rajya Sabha is 225.

The Congress-led INDIA bloc has 87, of which the Congress has 26, Bengal's ruling Trinamool 13, and the Aam Aadmi Party and the DMK, in power in Delhi and Tamil Nadu, have 10 each.

Parties not aligned with either the BJP or the Congress - such as ex-Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's BRS - nominated MPs and independents hold the rest.

What Do BJP's Reduced Numbers Mean?

It means the government is now reliant on non-NDA parties - such as ex-ally AIADMK of Tamil Nadu and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party - to pass bills in the Upper House. As of now, assuming the BJP can count on the 15 votes from NDA parties' MPs, it will need a minimum of 13 additional 'aye's cast in its favour to push through bills.

The YSRCP (11) and the AIADMK (4) are the BJP's two most obvious 'allies', even if its relationship with the latter has been fractious since they split in December last year, months before the election.

Jagan Reddy's YSRCP has lent issue-based support to the BJP in the past, so at least 11 votes seem assured for Mr Modi's party. Former Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's BJD lent similar support too but, since it was beaten by the BJP in the May-June state election, has said it will not do so now.

The BJD has nine Rajya Sabha MPs.

If the AIADMK is unwilling to offer support, and the BJD of Naveen Patnaik has turned away, the BJP will then turn to votes from nominated members.

There are a total of 12 nominated members in the Rajya Sabha. Although non-aligned when brought in, since they are chosen by the government, in practice they tend to support the ruling party.

Non-aligned parties like the BRS, which has four MPs, and independents may also come into play.

Vacant Seats

There are a total of 20 seats vacant at this time, including 11 held by elected members for which polls are expected this year. Of these, there are two seats each in Maharashtra, Assam, and Bihar, and one each in Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, and Tripura.

The BJP-led alliance has the numbers to win seven - from Assam, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Tripura. And if it can keep its flock together in Maharashtra, it will win two more from there.

This could give the BJP as many as nine extra seats. If it wins those, and with the nominated members' votes, as well as the YSRCP's, it will have more than enough to cross the majority mark.

There are also four seats vacant from Jammu and Kashmir, which is expected to hold an Assembly election by September 30, in line with a Supreme Court order.

The Telangana seat is likely to be won by the Congress, which swept to power last year.

This is crucial because it will give the party enough votes to claim the Leader of the Opposition post in the Rajya Sabha. The Congress will then hold the LoP seat in both Houses.

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News Network
July 10,2024

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Mangaluru: BJP leader and Mangaluru City North MLA Bharath Shetty has been booked for his alleged comments against Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi, police said on Wednesday.

At a press conference here, Mangaluru City Police Commissioner Anupam Agarwal said that an FIR has been filed by the police in Kavoor police station over the complaint lodged by K Anil, a Congress corporator of the Mangaluru City Corporation.

In the complaint, the Congress corporator alleged that MLA Bharath Shetty had made a provocative statement taking the name of Rahul Gandhi.

Mr Agarwal said an investigation is on.

Meanwhile, Congress party workers and leaders on Wednesday continued their tirade against Mr Shetty over his remarks against their party leader.

At a gathering in Surathkal on Sunday, the BJP MLA, who represents Mangaluru City North had stated that Mr Gandhi should be "arrested inside Parliament and slapped". This statement had gone viral, and Congress leaders and workers expressed their displeasure over it in the media and on social media.

Addressing a press conference, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Working President Manjunath Bhandary took a dig at the BJP MLA asking, "How will he enter Parliament? Will he carry a weapon to attack the Leader of the Opposition? Is Shetty a terrorist?" He further said, "I am certain that Bharath Shetty cannot even talk straight to a common worker of the Congress party, let alone confront Rahul Gandhi." 

Mr Bhandary attributed the main cause of BJP leaders' and legislators' outburst at Rahul Gandhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi referring to the Congress leader as 'balak buddhi' (childish). This term must be expunged, he added.

He said that due to the behaviour of BJP MLAs in Dakshina Kannada district in recent days, "we are ashamed to elect MLAs from the coast". He accused the BJP of plotting riots because they "cannot accept the presence of the Congress government in the state".

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