Children, women among 90 dead, over 300 injured in stampede at Ramadan charity event

News Network
April 20, 2023


Sanaa, Apr 20: Nearly 90 people were killed and hundreds of others injured in a deadly stampede that broke out in Yemen's capital during a charity distribution in the holy month of Ramadan. 

The latest tragedy to strike the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country came days ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

At least "85 were killed and more than 322 were injured" after the stampede in the Bab al-Yemen district of Sanaa, a Huthi security official said.

"Women and children were among the dead," he told AFP on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.

A second health official confirmed the toll.

An AFP correspondent in the Huthi-controlled capital said the incident took place inside a school where aid was being distributed.

Security forces deployed heavily around the area as people flocked to the scene hoping to locate relatives but they were barred from accessing the site.

The dead and injured have been moved to nearby hospitals and those responsible for the distribution were taken into custody, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the rebel's Saba news agency.

Authorities have called for an investigation.

The Huthi's interior ministry did not provide an exact toll but said "dozens of people were killed due to a stampede during a random distribution of sums of money by some merchants".

Videos circulating on social media showed bodies lying on the ground inside a large complex as people clamoured around them.

Civil war broke out in Yemen in 2014, when Iran-backed Huthi rebels seized Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year to prop up the internationally recognised government.

Fighting has eased dramatically since a six-month, UN-brokered truce last year, even after it expired in October.

But the war unleashed what the United Nations describes as one of the world's worst humanitarian tragedies.

More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the UN, including government employees in Huthi-controlled areas who haven't been paid civil servant salaries in years.

Over 21.7 million people -- two-thirds of the country -- need humanitarian assistance this year, according to the UN.

The stampede tragedy dims the cheer of a massive prisoner exchange between the country's warring parties that saw nearly 900 detainees freed over the weekend.

On Monday, more than 100 other prisoners of war were flown from Saudi Arabia to Yemen.


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News Network
May 24,2023


Mangaluru, May 25: A complaint has been filed against Belthangady BJP MLA Harish Poonja at Puttur town police station over his speech raising false allegations against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

In his complaint on Tuesday, municipal councillor Mohammed Riaz said Poonja, during the BJP’s election victory celebrations at Belthangady on May 22 had alleged that Siddaramaiah was responsible for the murder of 24 Hindu workers. He also handed over the video of the incident to the police along with the complaint.

He said such charges against the Chief Minister are condemnable and asked the police to hold an enquiry and take strict legal action against Poonja.

The audio and video clips of the speech in which he strongly criticised Hindu workers who campaigned for Congress during the Assembly elections had gone viral on social media.

"You sought a vote for Siddaramaiah who got 24 Hindu activists killed. You sought a vote for Congress which is proposing a ban on Bajrang Dal," he had allegedly said in the speech.

BJP had been claiming that during the previous tenure of Siddaramaiah between 2013 and 2018, coastal Karnataka region witnessed murders of Hindu activists. The party also alleged that the Siddaramaiah government had withdrawn cases against SDPI workers.


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News Network
May 17,2023


The Congress on Wednesday hit out at the BJP for criticising it over the delay in deciding the chief minister of Karnataka, and cited examples when the BJP declared its chief ministers in Uttar Pradesh and Assam several days after winning the polls.

"Just to refresh memories of PM's drum-beaters especially. 2017 UP Vidhan Sabha election results out on March 11th. Yogi appointed CM 8 days later on March 19th. 2021 Assam Vidhan Sabha election results out on May 3rd. Himanta Biswa Sarma became CM 7 days later on May 10th," AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter.

"There are many more such examples," he also said.

Several BJP leaders are criticising the Congress for the delay in deciding on the chief ministerial candidate in Karnataka amid hectic lobbying for the top post. 

The results in Karnataka were declared on May 13 but the party has not finalised its chief ministerial face yet and the process of consultations is on.

Karnataka's two chief ministerial aspirants Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar held separate meetings with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday as the party held hectic consultations to decide on who would lead the government in the southern state.

BJP's IT cell head Amit Malviya said a sorry state of affairs prevails in Congress where president Mallikarjun Kharge sees himself more as a "postman".

"Want to watch circus? Watch the Congress select their CM in Karnataka," he said on Twitter.

Referring to the lobbying by Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar for the post of chief minister, he said, "The BJP also holds discussions and deliberations to elect its CMs and has often ensured smooth transition of power, even between CMs. Despite elaborate consultations, you will never find BJP aspirants falling over each other, rallying supporters and issuing veiled threats to the Party through the media".

"On the contrary, last evening, Lutyens journalists, who D K Shivkumar hosted at the Claridges, almost appointed Siddaramaiah as the Karnataka CM. Sorry state of affairs in the Congress, where President Kharge sees himself more as a postman, let alone being a decision maker or even part of the decision making team… He keeps referring to some High Command," he added.


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News Network
May 17,2023


Bengaluru, May 17: The implementation of the five 'guarantees' announced by the Congress may cost the state exchequer an estimated Rs 50,000 crore annually.

Key party leaders who spoke about the cost of the welfare measures insisted that one could not call them "freebies" as they were tools of empowerment.

The 'guarantees' found resonance with voters of the May 10 Assembly elections, particularly with women, and played a key role in the party's resounding victory, political analysts noted.

The Congress bagged 135 seats in the 224-member Assembly, and ousted the BJP from power, with the erstwhile ruling party winning in just 66 constituencies, while the Janata Dal (Secular) managed to get only 19 seats.

Some BJP leaders have alleged that implementation of the 'guarantees' would push the State into financial bankruptcy, and have also claimed that the Congress would not honour its pre-poll promises fully.

During campaigning, Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders had repeatedly said that if voted to power, the party's government in its maiden Cabinet meeting on the first day of assuming power would pass orders approving the 'guarantees' to facilitate their swift implementation.

The five schemes that the Congress guaranteed it would implement are 'Gruha Jyothi' -- to provide 200 units electricity free to every household; 'Gruha Lakshmi' -- to grant Rs 2,000 to every woman head of a family; 'Anna Bhagya' -- to distribute 10 kg rice to every member of BPL families every month; 'Yuva Nidhi' -- to sanction Rs 3,000 dole to unemployed graduates and Rs 1,500 to unemployed diploma holders for two years (in the 18-25 age-group); and 'Shakti' -- to enable free travel for women across Karnataka in state buses.

In an interview on Wednesday, vice chairman of the Congress manifesto drafting committee Professor K E Radhakrishna said the implementation of the five guarantee schemes will not cost more than Rs 50,000 crore annually.

"I can authoritatively say that all these guarantee schemes put together will not be more than Rs 50,000 crore," he said.

Radhakrishna, who has the distinction of drafting five manifestos for the Congress, said even some of the Congress leaders have the perception that these schemes cannot be implemented.

"Some of our leaders have that perception but we are very sure because I have worked out the financial implications. It is not more than Rs 50,000 crore. Even Rs 50,000 crore is not a charity. It's empowerment," he said.

Explaining the way these schemes will be implemented, the educationist noted that the total budget of Karnataka government is about Rs three lakh crore. At least 60 per cent of revenue of any good economy is spent on sustained development, Radhakrishna said, adding that it goes to paying salary of government employees and to implement empowerment programmes.

"Revenue moves capital, capital moves revenue. So, Rs 1.50 lakh crore of the Rs three lakh crore budget has to be spent. If that does not happen, then we will not have funds to spend another Rs 1.5 lakh crore. They are related to each other," he explained.

Out of five guarantees, 'Anna Bhagya' is an existing scheme, and the new promise is an extension, he added.

"We were giving seven kg of rice. BJP reduced it to five kg. Now again we want to make it 10 kg. We are giving rice and millets. This will encourage its cultivation and production," the Congress leader pointed out.

Regarding 'Gruha Jyothi', Radhakrishna said Karnataka is a power surplus state and is selling electricity to other states.

According to him, the Congress in its manifesto has promised to set up huge solar parks of 5,000 megawatt capacity. It has also promised to set up a small solar cluster in each village.

"These clusters will generate employment to people in the village and make the villages self-sufficient in terms of electricity. We are going to increase power generation, which will eventually generate employment opportunities," Radhakrishna explained.

The Rs 2,000 guarantee under 'Gruha Lakshmi' is not for all women heads of families, he clarified. "This is only for the Below Poverty Line families. We will not give to rich people. This scheme is only for empowering poor people," the Congress leader said.

Regarding 'Yuva Nidhi', he said world-over unemployment allowance is given in many countries.

"Whether our degree education is relevant for a job is a larger issue, but as of today the graduates are in a helpless condition," Radhakrishna pointed out.

As part of the scheme, the government is planning to set up a large employment exchange, he said.

"We are going to coordinate with 'Bharat Jogo Udyoga Kendra' (Bharat Jodo Employment Centre) where we will take private industries on board," he explained.

The government will also tie up with the Rajiv Gandhi Skill Development Corporation to train and skill the graduates and make them employable by the industries, Radhakrishna said.

Talking about the 'Shakti' scheme of free bus rides for women, he said already students are getting free passes to travel to their college from their house.

"Not every woman travels in the buses. Only those who are not rich travel in buses. It's (the free travel guarantee) will empower garment workers, domestic servants, 'pourakarmikas' and women engaged in menial jobs," he said.

"There will be no conditions. We will be very happy if every woman travels. It will reduce pollution," Radhakrishna quipped.

He said these five schemes are meant only to empower people and they are not freebies.

Recalling the proverb 'If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime', the educationist pointed out, "But we believe that to catch the fish, that hand that catches the fish should have some minimal strength. That is the empowerment we do."


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