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Nitish Kumar to launch signature drive over PM’s DNA remark

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Patna: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to comply with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s request to take back his “DNA” remark, the Janata Dal-United leader on Monday announced he would launch a ‘Shabdwapsi’ drive to protest the remark.  Nitish_Kumar_(cropped)

The drive, meant to protest the prime minister’s July 25 remark about Nitish Kumar’s DNA, is scheduled to commence on Tuesday (August 11) with sit-ins across Bihar. It will collect signatures of 50 lakh people and send their blood samples to Modi for a DNA test.

Janata Dal-United (JD-U) spokesperson Ajay Alok said the party would stage sit-ins across the state on the issue on Tuesday and hold a ‘Swabhiman’ rally on Aug 29 here.

Nitish Kumar recently tweeted: “In this shabdwapsi (take back your words) campaign, at least 50 lakh people of Bihar will join a signature campaign and send their samples to Modiji for a DNA test”.

The participants will offer samples of their DNA and sign a petition saying that the prime minister’s comments crossed the line.

“PM Modi hasn’t retracted his derogatory remarks on our DNA, we’ll take the battle to people now,” Nitish Kumar said.

Alok said the rally would be jointly addressed by Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad.

“It will kickstart the joint rally campaign by the grand alliance of JD-U, RJD, Congress and National Congress Party to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance ahead of next assembly polls,” he said.

Modi, who addressed a rally in Gaya on Sunday, did not respond to Nitish Kumar’s request to consider taking back comments on his DNA. “Neither had he mentioned it nor did he counter it. He simply ignored it,” a senior BJP leader said.

Last week, in a letter released on Twitter, Nitish Kumar said: “Most of us feel that these statements, beyond questioning my own descent, have disrespected the lineage of our people and have denigrated the great legacy of the state.”

Addressing a public meeting in Muzaffarpur district on July 25, Modi said: “There seems to be some problem in his (Nitish Kumar) DNA because the DNA of democracy is not like that. In democracy, you give respect even to your political rivals.”

(IANS)

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India Struggles with Encephalitis Outbreak in Eastern State of Bihar, One of Its Poorest Regions

In 2014, an outbreak of encephalitis killed 350 children in Muzaffarpur

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India, Encephalitis Outbreak, Bihar
Children showing symptoms of encephalitis undergo treatment at Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur, Bihar state, India, June 18, 2019. VOA

At least 152 children have died in an encephalitis outbreak during the month of June in India’s eastern state of Bihar, according to local health authorities. Following a petition, India’s supreme court ordered an investigation into the epidemic.

Acute encephalitis syndrome, sometimes referred to as ‘brain fever’, has claimed lives in 20 of Bihar’s 38 districts.  In particular, the disease has gripped the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, reaching epidemic proportions in a region already stricken with poverty and poor child health.

In 2014, an outbreak of encephalitis killed 350 children in Muzaffarpur.

A petition filed to India’s supreme court sought to end the current epidemic, accusing local and regional governments of being negligent in their response.

India, Encephalitis Outbreak, Bihar

At least 152 children have died in an encephalitis outbreak during the month of June in India’s eastern state of Bihar. Pixabay

“[Encephalitis] is completely curable and lives of young children are being lost due to the inaction of state machinery,” the petition read.

“Most of the deaths are occurring due to lack of medical facilities in the area of outbreak,” it continued.

In response to the petition, Indian supreme court justice Sanjiv Khanna said “We issue notice to the Bihar government seeking a detailed response.”

State and national officials must respond within seven days on health conditions, according to India’s top court.

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India’s health ministry affirmed its earlier promise to open a children’s ward in the district and monitor the epidemic, as state health official face sharp criticism for what has been seen as indifference and negligent behavior.

India’s health minister Harsh Varadhan insisted that the Indian government was providing “all possible support” to combat the epidemic.

Since June 1, more than 700 cases of the disease have been recorded, though there are signs that the disease has been slowing, with no new deaths reported on Monday. (VOA)