Indian expat swims to shore in choppy sea after slipping off yacht in Dubai

Gulf News
December 6, 2020

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Dubai, Dec 6: An Indian expat in Dubai had a near-death experience as he swam for around two hours in the cold, choppy sea to reach the shore after slipping off a yacht on Thursday.

Rajveer Vakani, a 27-year-old accountant from the Indian state of Gujarat, said he was on board a rented yacht on which his friend’s birthday party was taking place. The yacht set sail from Dubai Marina around sunset and everyone was moving to the upper deck about an hour and a half later, he added. Vakani, who lives with his elder brother in a flat in Al Nahda, said he was the last one on the lower deck when guests moved upstairs.

“While I was making my way towards the others, I slipped and went overboard. I shouted for help but no one could hear me. I watched the yacht sailing away and thought it will be back soon after someone realises I’m missing,” Vakani, who is not an expert swimmer, said.

‘This is do or die’

The yacht didn’t turn around for what Vakani estimates to be around 20 minutes or so. “I was trying to stay afloat in the same place, in case they would come back. But it was getting very tough; the waves were thrashing my face and I was swallowing a lot of seawater. It was cold and very dark. I saw the lights of the Burj Al Arab hotel in the distance and thought to myself, ‘this is it, this is ‘do or die’,” said Vakani, who was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans then.

Vakani tried swimming towards the hotel lights. He swallowed more water and the cold salty sea stung his eyes. Vakani kept a slow pace to conserve his energy and held his morale high. “I’ve seen lot of survival shows, I know what people are capable of if they have the will. I told myself I could do this, that I could survive.”

Rocky landing

After what felt like an endless swim, which lasted around two hours, Vakani reached a heap of rocks not too far from the hotel. Exhausted and feeling nauseous, Vakani vomited and waited to regain some energy to move. “A man, I think he was American, was walking past and saw me. He helped me walk to the road, where another man, a Russian, let me use his mobile phone and I called my brother, who told me to take a taxi and come home. The first taxi refused because I was soaked but soon another taxi came, which took me home,” said Vakani, who is from Bhavnagar city.

‘They were in shock’

Vakani used another mobile, which was kept at home, to call a friend and tell him what had happened. He heard how his friends on the yacht had called the police and looked for him. “My friend said they were all in shock as they thought I must have died because they couldn’t find me for hours. They had gone to the police station to follow up. Upon hearing the news, the police called me in to ask questions about what had happened and after checking everything, they closed the case,” Vakani said.

“My message to everyone is ‘don’t give up’. When you find yourself in a tough situation, you have to tell yourself, ‘I can do this’; you have to believe in yourself and stay strong.”

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News Network
November 20,2021

New Delhi, Nov 20: Om Raj excitedly shows his small diary carrying details of all the friends he made at Singhu border, while Manak Singh says he will miss the protest site which witnessed their daily hardship for over a year to convince the Centre to repeal the farm laws.

Sitting with his friends on a cot near temporary tents set up at Ghazipur border, Raj (85) said the protest venue now feels like home and that the agitating farmers have developed a deep bond with each other.

The farmer, a native of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, shows his diary in which he has meticulously maintained details of all the protesters he has befriended in the past one year.

"See this is my tenth diary and there are hardly any pages left. I have maintained details of all the farmers I met here and became friends with over the period. We all stay in touch. The bond that we developed here has only become stronger. I also plan to visit them,” Raj says enthusiastically.

At Ghazipur border, one of the three prominent venues of the anti-farm laws agitation, protesters were filled with excitement following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of repealing the controversial farm laws.

Another protestor says he will definitely miss the venue after he will return to his village.

Asked if he ever went to his hometown during the last one year, Raj recalled that he visited his native place on just two to three occasions and returned within a few days.

Since the last two months, the elderly farmer has set up a small venture which he starts at around 10 am and closes by 5 in the evening. He says the intention behind it was just to have some ‘gupshup’ (conversation) and pass the time with other farmers.

He also showed the spread of the products for sale -- bidis, matchboxes, badges and flags.

"When the farmers get bored, they sit here and pass time. I sell bidis and matchboxes which usually fetches me around Rs 100 a day,” he said.

Manak Singh (77), a native of Amroha district in Punjab, says, "This spot has become our place for chit-chat. We will stay here until all the laws are repealed as per legal procedure. We will not go unless all our listed seven demands are met by the central government. This announcement by the Centre could have also been done with upcoming elections in mind."

Having braved severe weather conditions and other hardship during their protest, the farmers say this has only made their brotherhood and will power stronger.

"If the government would have made this announcement earlier, we would not have suffered so much," a protester rues.

Meanwhile, a few tents away, 68-year-old Ram Kumar Sharma, hailing from Nithari village in Noida, had been serving ‘langar’ (free meals) from morning till night, at the protest site for nearly a year now.

Sharma, who is also a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, says he comes around 10 am and leaves at night after the last langar is served.

“I have been organising the langar with the spirit of social service. I will miss the farmers after they will leave the site,” he says.

“I do not want to see anyone going back with an empty stomach. I am myself a farmer and do not want to see anyone hungry,” he adds.

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News Network
November 27,2021

Bengaluru, Nov 27: Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah on Saturday said Congress will face the MLC elections solo and will not ally with any political party.

Speaking to reporters, Siddaramaiah alleged an alliance between JD(S) and BJP not only in MLC elections but in the recently concluded bypolls, too. BJP has fielded Lakan Jarkiholi from Belagavi.

Congress workers work for Congress but there is confusion among BJP members, he commented.

For a query about Kodagu polls, he said, BJP and Congress will face each other. It is noteworthy that BJP leader A Manju's son Mantargowda is the Congress candidate in Kodagu. Siddaramaiah also denied Manju joining Congress. "We will not take him into the party."

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coastaldigest.com news network
November 15,2021

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Udupi, Nov 15: Acclaimed film composer and a songwriter Hamsalekha, who had sparked a row by making controversial remarks against former Pejawar Mutt pontiff Late Vishwesha Theertha Swamiji, has apologised for the same.

Hamsalekha, who predominantly works in the Kannada film industry, was invited as the chief guest at an award function in Mysuru, where he spoke about the ugly practice of untouchability in Hindu society.

Referred to the initiative undertaken by the late swamiji to visit the Dalit colonies, he said: "The best he can do is to go there and sit. Can he eat chicken if offered, or can he eat mutton fry or liver fry? I don't think that visiting the houses of Dalits is a big achievement." 

He went on to say that people of forward communities should take Dalits to their homes and feed them. They should also offer to wash the utensils used by the Dalits, he had commented.

However, as the video went viral and sparked outrage, Hamsalekha came out with an apology, the video of which he posted in the Facebook. "I know I was wrong in making such comments in an awards ceremony… Even my wife did not like some of my utterances and I sought apologies from her. I am a musician and do not want to hurt anyone... Please forgive me if my words have hurt you," he said in the video.

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