Family of 4 murdered in UP, teen was allegedly gang-raped; relatives blame ‘upper-caste’ men

News Network
November 26, 2021

Lucknow, Nov 26: Four members of a family in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj, including a 16-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, were found murdered at their home on Thursday morning.

Relatives of the family, which belongs to a Scheduled Caste, have claimed the girl could have been raped before her death, and they have accused a neighbouring family, which belongs to the so-called "upper caste", of the crime.

Police have registered an FIR with charges including gang rape and murder against 11 named persons. The Prayagraj police chief told the media some people had been taken into custody for questioning.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is the party's in-charge for the state, which votes in an Assembly election next year, is due to visit Prayagraj at 3 pm, and is expected to meet with the family members of those killed.

The bodies of a 50-year-old man, his 45-year-old wife, and their children were found at their home.

Police said they may have been attacked with a sharp weapon, and that there were grievous injuries on their bodies. The girl's body was found in a room inside the house, while the other three bodies were found together in the courtyard.

A member of the extended family told the media of a land dispute with the "upper caste" family that had been festering since 2019, and claimed the victims had been assaulted by that family in September. The police, however, were trying to force a compromise, the family member alleged.

"The police were forcing the murder victims to compromise. Sushil Kumar (a police constable) used to come to us and pressure us to compromise. The police used to sit at their (accused) homes. The local inspector also told us to compromise," the family member told the media.

"On September 21 the family was beaten up but an FIR was filed only after a week, and then a counter FIR was filed against the aggrieved family too, though they were the ones who got beaten up," the family member added.

"It appears all four were hit on the head with an axe. There are grievous injuries on the bodies. Initial information suggests that in 2019 and 2021 they had filed cases under the SC/ST Act against some people related to a land dispute. The family alleged there was no headway in these cases. We will take strict action," Sarvashrestha Tripathi, the Prayagraj police chief, said in a video statement. 

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Agencies
January 7,2022

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Haunted by the spectre of last year's crisis, India is bracing for a deluge of Covid-19 cases, with authorities of various megacities bringing in restrictions in a bid to keep infections in check.

Case numbers have yet to match the enormous figures seen last spring, when thousands died each day and the Hindu holy city of Varanasi maintained round-the-clock funeral pyres for the mass cremation of virus victims.

But daily infections nearly tripled over two days this week to more than 90,000, a surge driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant that some experts worry could again see the country's hospitals overwhelmed.

An overnight curfew has been imposed in the Delhi area that includes the capital, where weekend movement restrictions will begin on Friday evening, with all non-essential workers asked to stay home.

Tech hub Bangalore has also declared a weekend curfew, while sprawling financial centre Mumbai introduced a night curfew.

"Even a small percentage of a large number of cases translates to a large number in absolute terms," Gautam Menon, a professor at India's Ashoka University who has worked on Covid infection modelling, told AFP.

"This could potentially stress out health care systems to levels comparable to or worse than the second wave."

Doctors and nurses who spoke to AFP have so far been optimistic, with fewer severe cases among those patients admitted to hospital -- and with the benefit of experience.

"Last year, we didn't know what exactly we were dealing with. I think now, mentally, it's a little better," one frontline worker at a Delhi hospital said.

Suresh Kumar, director of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital in the capital, where cases have quadrupled from a handful at the start of the week to 20, said the rise was "not a cause for panic".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration has so far shied away from the drastic nationwide lockdown introduced during last year's catastrophic outbreak.

But local officials have watched the sharply rising case numbers with alarm and some of India's biggest urban centres have moved to impose restrictions again.

Earlier virus lockdowns were a hammer blow to the Indian economy and many are worried about the financial impact of new restrictions.

"I will be working only for 15 days this month," said Delhi resident Tumul Srivastava, whose office is subject to the 50 percent occupancy limits imposed by the city.

"My salary may be deducted. All this is adding to my anxiety."

India appears better placed to weather Omicron than it was ahead of the calamitous Delta wave it suffered last spring, when more than 200,000 people died in a matter of weeks.

Back then, hospitals ran out of oxygen and patients desperately scrambled to source medicine after a run on pharmacies.

In the time since, Indian health workers have injected nearly 1.5 billion vaccine doses, with government data showing nearly two-thirds of the country fully vaccinated.

That campaign, combined with last year's Delta sweep of towns and villages around the country, may help lessen the impact of the latest spread.

"Though we do not have data, this may give strong hybrid immunity against severe outcomes," University of Michigan epidemiologist Bhramar Mukherjee told AFP.

Preliminary studies have so far suggested the Omicron variant has led to less severe health consequences among those infected, despite its rapid spread.

Mukherjee warned however that an uncontrolled spread of new infections could still pose serious problems for India, even if the direct virus toll is a fraction of that seen last year.

"As you are witnessing in the US and UK, a major chunk of the working population being sick is affecting the societal infrastructure and leading to chaos," she said.

"I am afraid there may be a period in India when we see the same thing -- just the sheer volume may make the system crumble."

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News Network
January 11,2022

Lucknow/New Delhi: In a massive jolt to the BJP and Yogi Adityanath just before the Uttar Pradesh election, a minister and three MLAs quit and joined the party's main challenger, Akhilesh Yadav. Swami Prasad Maurya, a top minister and backward caste leader in the Yogi Adityanath government, posted his resignation letter on Twitter.

Soon after he went public, three more MLAs, Roshan Lal Verma, Brijesh Prajapati and Bhagwati Sagar announced their resignations.

Reports suggest Mr Maurya may take a few more ministers and MLAs with him.

"Despite a divergent ideology, I worked with dedication in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet. But because of the grave oppression of Dalits, OBCs, farmers, unemployed and small businessmen, I am resigning," Swami Prasad Maurya wrote in the stinging resignation letter.

He told reporters: "What impact my exit will have on the BJP will be obvious after the 2022 assembly election."

As his letter emerged on Twitter, Akhilesh Yadav tweeted a photograph with Mr Maurya, welcoming him and his supporters to the Samajwadi Party. "I warmly welcome Swami Prasad Maurya, a leader who fights for social justice and equality, and all his supporters. There will be a revolution in social justice. Chang is coming in 2022," Mr Yadav tweeted in Hindi.

On cue, Roshan Lal Verma, a three-time MLA, declared that he was leaving the BJP with Mr Maurya.

Keshav Prasad Maurya, Deputy Chief Minister, posted an appeal on Twitter: "I don't know why Swami Prasad Maurya quit but I appeal to him, don't quit but let us talk. Decisions taken in haste can backfire."

The exits in Lucknow began as Yogi Adityanath and top BJP leaders met in Delhi to discuss Uttar Pradesh election strategy.

Mr Maurya, a powerful OBC (Other Backward Class) leader and multiple-term MLA, joined the BJP in 2016 after quitting Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Mr Maurya is the BJP MLA from Padrauna in eastern Uttar Pradesh. His daughter Sanghamitra is a BJP MP from UP.

Uttar Pradesh, India's most politically vital state, votes from February 10 in seven rounds in an election widely seen as a semifinal of sorts before the national election of 2024. The results will be declared on March 10.

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News Network
January 11,2022

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Bengaluru, Jan 11: Scolded by his father for watching television, a 23-year-old youth ended his life on Sunday by stabbing himself with a knife.

A complaint filed by Reshma, mother of the deceased Syed Sahil, said he was at home around 11 am when her husband Abbas came home and scolded him for wasting his time. Abbas then went to his elder daughter’s house.

Sahil, a resident of JJ Nagar, worked in a scrap shop and had been irregular at work. On stabbing himself, he stayed home for four hours assuming the injury was minor. But he died while getting treated for his injury on Monday morning.

Sahil rushed to the kitchen when Reshma was cooking. The youngster shouted at her and Abbas, stabbed himself with the knife, threw it to the floor and sat on the sofa in the hall. Reshma assumed that he was only threatening them. She checked on him and found a wound on his abdomen.

Since Sahil did not complain of pain, Reshma assumed that the injury was minor and stuck a bandage on the injury. She gave him food and busied herself with household chores.

Around 1 pm, Sahil complained about severe stomach pain. Reshma rushed him to a nearby private hospital with his friend Salman’s help and informed Abbas as well. Sahil succumbed to his injuries while receiving treatment at 3 am on Monday. A senior official said no foul play has been found in the parents’ version of events prima facie and therefore, a case of unnatural death has been registered in the JJ Nagar police station.

Sahil’s parents scolded him several times for getting into bad company and avoiding going to work. His father chided him for watching TV on Sunday.

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