I certainly did not dupe; please clear my name in media at least: Ramya tells Congress

News Network
May 12, 2022

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Film actress and former Lok Sabha member Divya Spandana aka Ramya has asked the All India Congress Committee General Secretary K C Venugopal to clear her name in the media regarding reports that said that she had duped the party of Rs 8 crore.

She further tweeted that she didn’t run away and resigned from the party for personal reasons and claimed that the story was planted to discredit her credibility.

“Humble request to @kcvenugopalmp to please clarify with the media about this whenever you’re in Karnataka next. The least you can do for me Venugopal ji, so I don’t have to live with this abuse and trolling for the rest of my life. (sic)”, she tweeted. 

He remarks come after some media reports claimed that Rahul Gandhi's most-trusted aide Praveen Chakravarty along with Divya Spandana were in incommunicado since the day of the 2019 general election results after allegedly charging huge sums of money in the name of research. It was further reported that Spandana was said to have received Rs 8 crore for her research and social media drive during the electioneering phase. 

Yesterday, Ramya had alleged the Congress instructed the workers to troll her on social media for a statement she’d made against Karnataka Congress President D.K. Shivakumar. 

“So the ‘office’ has circulated these messages among the congress leaders & volunteers asking them troll me. Save yourself the trouble — I’ll do it myself.(sic)”, Ramya wrote, attaching a series of screenshots that showed various messages in English and Kannada allegedly circulated to troll her. She also tagged Shivakumar and Congress’ Srivatsa Y.B. presently a member Rahul Gandhi’s team and former social media head of the Karnataka Congress.

The day before yesterday, Ramya had criticised the Mr Shivakumar for claiming BJP leader and Karanataka Higher Education Minister Ashwathnarayan C.N., had met the Congress’ M.B. Patil to “seek protection” from being questioned on public platforms in the PSI recruitment scam.

“People across parties meet each other, go to functions, some even get married into families — I’m surprised @DKShivakumar would say this about @MBPatil who’s a staunch congressman. Shouldn’t the party be fighting elections as one [email protected],” wrote Ramya on Twitter, in response to Shivakumar’s comment.

In May 2019, during the Lok Sabha elections, BJP came back for the second time with a majority, defeating Congress. The following month, Spandana deleted her Twitter and Instagram accounts citing a “break from politics.” She even cut off all communication with party leaders. She was subsequently removed from the post of the Congress’ social media head.

Divya joined the Indian National Congress in 2012 as a member of its youth wing. She won Mandya Lok Sabha seat by-election in 2013 but was subsequently defeated in the 2014 Ggneral elections. As the Congress’ social media head, she was known for post hard-hitting tweets, especially taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

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News Network
May 4,2022

Bengaluru, May 4: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Wednesday that Union Home Minister Amit Shah would let him know the BJP central leadership’s decision on expanding or reshuffling the Cabinet. 

“He said he will talk to me about it after going to Delhi,” Bommai told reporters when asked if anything was discussed on the Cabinet expansion or reshuffle when Shah was in the city on Tuesday. 

Bommai did not respond to speculation that the party would consider appointing deputy chief ministers. “That’s something I’m getting to know from you (media),” he said. 

Shah’s visit to Bengaluru has raised the hopes of ministerial aspirants as a decision is expected soon on revamping Bommai’s Cabinet. Meanwhile, BJP leaders lined up to deny speculation that Bommai himself would be replaced. 

Apparently, the BJP central leadership is expected to arrive at a decision before May 10. This got credence on Tuesday when the government decided to postpone a Cabinet meeting scheduled to be held on May 5 to May 11. Speculation is that the postponement is meant to accommodate the possibility of an expansion or reshuffle of the Cabinet.

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News Network
May 6,2022

Allahabad, May 6: The Allahabad High Court on Friday ruled that delivering the azaan on loudspeakers is not a fundamental right.

The court made this remark while dismissing a petition filed by one Irfan of Budaun, who sought permission to play Azaan using loudspeakers in the Noori Masjid.

"The law has now been settled that use of loudspeaker from mosque is not a fundamental right. Ever otherwise a cogent reason has been assigned in the impugned order. Accordingly, we find that the present petition is patently misconceived, hence the same is dismissed," said the court.

The court further said that although azaan is an integral part of Islam, it stated that delivering it through loudspeakers is not a part of the religion.

"Azaan is an integral part of Islam, but giving it through loudspeakers is not a part of Islam," a bench headed by Justice BK Vidla and Justice Vikas said.

Ruling on the petition, a two-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court had noted that there have been previous instances where courts have ruled that the call for prayer on a loudspeaker is not a fundamental right.

Azaan is the Islamic call to prayers which is given five times at prescribed times of the day. A muezzin is a person who proclaims the call to the daily prayer five times a day at a mosque.

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Agencies
May 2,2022

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Cairo, May 2: For the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the smell of freshly baked orange biscuits and powdered sugar-dusted cookies typically fills the air in Mona Abubakr's home. But due to higher prices, the Egyptian housewife this year made smaller quantities of the sweet treats, some of which she gives as gifts to relatives and neighbours.

The mother of three has also tweaked another tradition this Eid, which began Monday in Egypt and many Muslim-majority countries and marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. She bought fewer outfits for her sons to wear during the three-day feast.

“I told them we have to compromise on some things in order to be able to afford other things,” she said.

This year, Muslims around the world are observing Eid al-Fitr — typically marked with communal prayers, celebratory gatherings around festive meals and new clothes — in the shadow of a surge in global food prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Against that backdrop, many are still determined to enjoy the Eid amid easing of coronavirus restrictions in their countries while, for others, the festivities are dampened by conflict and economic hardship.

At the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, tens of thousands of Muslims attended prayers Monday morning. The Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Indonesia's capital Jakarta was shuttered when Islam's holiest period coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and was closed to communal prayers last year.

“Words can't describe how happy I am today after two years we were separated by pandemic. Today we can do Eid prayer together again," said Epi Tanjung after he and his wife worshipped at another Jakarta mosque. “Hopefully all of this will make us more faithful.”

The war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia have disrupted supplies of grain and fertilizer, driving up food prices at a time when inflation was already raging. A number of Muslim-majority countries are heavily reliant on Russia and Ukraine for much of their wheat imports, for instance.

Even before the Russian invasion, an unexpectedly strong global recovery from the 2020 coronavirus recession had created supply chain bottlenecks, causing shipping delays and pushing prices of food and other commodities higher.

In some countries, the fallout from the war in Ukraine is only adding to the woes of those already suffering from turmoil, displacement or poverty.

In Syria's rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, Ramadan this year was more difficult than Ramadans past. Abed Yassin said he, his wife and three children now receive half the amounts of products — including chickpeas, lentils, rice and cooking oil — which last year they used to get from an aid group. It has made life more difficult.

Syria's economy has been hammered by war, Western sanctions, corruption and an economic meltdown in neighbouring Lebanon where Syrians have billions of dollars stuck in Lebanese banks.

In the Gaza Strip, though streets and markets are bustling, many say they cannot afford much.

“The situation is difficult,” said Um Musab, a mother of five, as she toured a traditional market in Gaza City. “Employees barely make a living but the rest of the people are crushed.”

Mahmoud al-Madhoun, who bought some date paste, flour and oil to make Eid cookies, said financial conditions were going from bad to worse. “However, we are determined to rejoice,” he added.

The Palestinian enclave, which relies heavily on imports, was already vulnerable before the Ukraine war as it had been under a tight Israeli-Egyptian blockade meant to isolate Hamas, its militant rulers.

Afghans are celebrating the first Eid since the Taliban takeover amid grim security and economic conditions. Many were cautious but poured into Kabul's largest mosques for prayers on Sunday, when the holiday started there, amid tight security.

Frequent explosions marred the period leading to Eid. These included fatal bombings, most claimed by the Islamic State affiliate known as IS in Khorasan Province, targeting ethnic Hazaras who are mostly Shiites, leaving many of them debating whether it was safe to attend Eid prayers at mosques.

“We want to show our resistance, that they cannot push us away,” said community leader Dr. Bakr Saeed before Eid. “We will go forward.”

Violence wasn't the only cause for worry. Since the Taliban takeover in August, Afghanistan's economy has been in a freefall with food prices and inflation soaring.

At a charity food distribution centre in Kabul on Saturday, Din Mohammad, a father of 10, said he expected this Eid to be his worst.

“With poverty, no one can celebrate Eid like in the past,” he said. “I wish we had jobs and work so we could buy something for ourselves, not have to wait for people to give us food.”

Muslims follow a lunar calendar, and methodologies, including moon sighting, can lead to different countries — or Muslim communities — declaring the start of Eid on different days.

In Iraq, fewer shoppers than usual appeared to have visited the capital's clothing markets this year. Security issues also plague celebrations, with security forces going on high alert from Sunday to Thursday to avert possible attacks after a suicide bombing in Baghdad last year ahead of another major Islamic holiday killed dozens.

In India, the country's Muslim minority is reeling from vilification by hardline Hindu nationalists who have long espoused anti-Muslim stances, with some inciting against Muslims. Tensions boiled over into violence at Ramadan, including stone-throwing between Hindu and Muslim groups.

Muslim preachers cautioned the faithful to remain vigilant during Eid.

Indian Muslims “are proactively preparing themselves to deal with the worst,” said Ovais Sultan Khan, a rights activist. “Nothing is as it used to be for Muslims in India, including the Eid.”

Still, many Muslims elsewhere rejoiced in reviving rituals disrupted by pandemic restrictions.

Millions of Indonesians have crammed into trains, ferries and buses ahead of Eid as they poured out of major cities to celebrate with their families in villages in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country. The return of the tradition of homecoming caused great excitement after two years of subdued festivities due to pandemic restrictions.

“The longing for (the) Eid celebration in a normal way has finally been relieved today although the pandemic has not yet ended,” said Hadiyul Umam, a resident of Jakarta.

Many in the capital flocked to shopping centres to buy clothes, shoes and sweets before the holiday despite pandemic warnings and food price surges.

Muslims in Malaysia were also in a celebratory mood after their country's borders fully reopened and Covid-19 measures were further loosened. Ramadan bazaars and shopping malls have been filled with shoppers ahead of Eid and many travelled to their hometowns.

“It's a blessing that we can now go back to celebrate,” said sales manager Fairuz Mohamad Talib, who works in Kuala Lumpur. His family will celebrate at his wife's village after two years of being apart due to earlier travel curbs.

There, he said, they will visit neighbours after the Eid prayers, glorifying Allah and sending salutations upon Prophet Muhammad, and sharing food at each stop.

“It's not about feasting but about getting together,” he said ahead of the holiday. With Covid-19 still on his mind, the family will take precautions such as wearing masks during visits. “There will be no handshakes, just fist bumps.” 

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