Monday February 19, 2018
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Dead men don’t talk: Delhi journalist covering Vyapam scam dies mysteriously

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Image by India Today
Image by India Today

 

By NewsGram Staff Writer 

Bhopal/New Delhi: A journalist from a Delhi-based TV channel investigating Vyapam scam mysteriously fell ill and died in a hospital on Saturday, officials said.

Akshay Singh of TV channel Aaj Tak died in Jhabua on Saturday afternoon.

The Congress party voiced concern about the “more than 40 mysterious deaths of individuals associated with the Vyapam scam”. The party said the issue needs to be probed thoroughly.

Akshay Singh was in Madhya Pradesh for coverage of the recent deaths due to the scam in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) or Vyapam.

On Saturday, he was in Meghnagar in Jhabua to talk to the family members of scam-accused Namrata Damor, who was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

Jhabua Superintendent of Police Abid Khan told IANS that Akshay Singh and his two colleagues interviewed the family members for around an hour, after which the journalist suddenly fell ill. He was taken to a hospital, where doctors declared him dead.

Sources said that after the interview was over, Akshay Singh and his colleagues went to get some documents photocopied, when he fell ill and began foaming at the mouth.

The alleged manipulation in the selection process for government jobs in Madhya Pradesh, conducted by Vyapam, is being probed by a Special Investigation Team.

Congress leader R.S. Surjewala said in a statement: “The Congress party is pained at and condoles the untimely death of Akshay Singh, the Aaj Tak/India Today reporter investigating the Vyapam Scam in Madhya Pradesh.

“His death, coming after more than 40 mysterious deaths of individuals associated with the Vyapam scam raises very serious concerns and questions and needs to be investigated thoroughly and impartially.”

The India Today Group, in a statement, said it was deeply saddened by the untimely death of Akshay Singh, who was working with Aaj Tak as a special correspondent since December 2013.

It said Akshay Singh was part of Aaj Tak’s ‘special investigation team’ and was on an assignment in Madhya Pradesh investigating the Vyapam scam for the past four days.

“The cause of his sudden demise is not yet clear,” it said adding “We hope that doctors and law enforcement agencies are able to establish the cause of Akshay’s death.”

Finance minister Arun Jaitley paid condolences on the death of the journalist.

jaitley tweets

(With inputs from IANS)

 

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BJP Offers Christians a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Is Religious Pilgrimage A New Playground For The Political Parties?

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community

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In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
  • The political parties (BJP and Congress ) are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage in the coming local elections of the eastern states of India
  • The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively
  • After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022

The Campaign promises during the elections times are quite bizarre nowadays, from “I’ll cut your taxes,” to “vote for me, and I’ll set you free.”

In the coming local elections in the Christian- majority state of Nagaland in India the agenda by the rival BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Congress parties are unique: “Vote for us and get either a free or a heavily subsidized pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”

Yes, you read it right. The political parties are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage. The offer has been put up by the Prime Minister Modi- led BJP for the upcoming elections. Even the local partners of the Congress party are treading up the same path.

Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

The BJP has not made it clear yet if it is offering the scheme to all of India’s Christians, or only to Christians in the northeast, or only to Christians in Nagaland. The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively. Nagaland is one of smallest states of India, with the population of just under two million people.

Also Read: Muslim women can now travel for Haj without Mahram

As per the Tourism Ministry figures, around 58,000 Indian tourists came to Israel in 2017, a 47% increase from 2015.

The elections are scheduled for the February 27 in three northeastern states – Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura – later this month.

The AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also tweeted on the double standard of the government and lashed out at the government for its discriminatory decision, ending Haj subsidy but allowing subsidies to continue for Hindu pilgrimages like the Mansarovar Yatra.

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community. But recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. The government cited the reason for the subsidy withdrawal as they wanted to utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls. After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022.

Also Read: Government ends Haj subsidy as part of a new policy

The scheme is a clear cut example of hypocrisy and opportunism, especially considering the cancellation of Haj subsidies. It seems quite contrary, on the one hand, the government is cutting down the benefit scheme for one section of the society and on the other hand, some other community is been offered the same thing. Such moves bring out the double standards of the political parties just for the sake of vote bank. In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented.

In 2011, Nigeria also did something same as that of India. For many years, their government financed a trip to Mecca for Muslims, leading to some 42,000 Nigerians visiting the country. But with the change in the government, subsidies have been cut considerably and now a 12-day pilgrimage costs around 2000 dollars. The change in stance has resulted in 78% decrease from 2011.