Chandigarh, October 5, 2016: Schools in border areas of Punjab reopened on Wednesday, although with less than 50 percent attendance, officials said.
Reports from schools in the six border districts of Amritsar, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Ferozepur, Tarn Taran and Fazilka said that only 35-45 per cent students attended the schools on Wednesday.
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The main reason for this was that the Punjab government, which ordered the reopening of the schools, has still not said anything about the villages within 10 km of the International Border with Pakistan that were ordered to be evacuated on September 29.
“Children studying in schools have left the villages with their families and moved to safer locations. How can they be expected to attend classes? Only children from families which have not moved out or are living nearby came to attend classes today,” a teacher in Attari village in Amritsar said.
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Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh on Wednesday asked Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to explain why the residents of the border areas could not stay in their homes when schools were being reopened there.
“What is the point in opening the schools when you are forcing people to evacuate (their homes)? You are clearly losing it,” Amarinder said in a statement here.
He said that “the state government’s decision to open the schools in the border areas clearly vindicated the Congress’ stand that the Akali-BJP government was just whipping up war hysteria in the border areas for its political ends”.
“Who will go to the schools when there is nobody staying in those areas. In fact, neither schools should have been closed nor evacuations carried out in the first instance,” he said.
The Punjab government had on Tuesday ordered that schools in the border belt of the state should be reopened from Wednesday.
“All schools in border belt will open from tomorrow (Wednesday). These had been closed due to security reasons,” Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema said on Tuesday.
The schools, which were situated within 10 km of the international border with Pakistan, had been ordered closed on Thursday last week following the Indian Army’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) to destroy terrorist launch pads.
The Punjab government, based on directions from the Union Home Ministry, had also ordered the evacuation of villages in the border districts.
Though thousands of people were evacuated, many refused to move out of their homes in the border villages, saying that they had to tend to their properties, crops and cattle.
The evacuation order affected nearly 1,000 border villages and a population of over 400,000.
Punjab shares a 553-km-long International Border with Pakistan. (IANS)
Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.
After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.
However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.
According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.
Google was yet to comment on the new development.
Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.
“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.
“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.
On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.
While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.
Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.
Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)