Sunday, 24 February 2008

Closing 771 year old police station of Balban's era in Delhi

The Kotwali police station, the oldest police station of Delhi, that survived for 771 years from the era of Sultan Balban, will soon be closed. It was established in 1237 AD and Fakhruddin was the first Kotwal.

The all-power Kotwal of India's capital during the Mughal era, sat here. It was this Chowki where Mirza Ghalib was caught and brought after his arrest for gambling, And itwas in this police chowki that Pt Nehru's grandfather Gangadhar Nehru was a Kotwal. Hundreds of Indian freedom fighters were hanged at the platform in front of this Kotwali after 1857 struggle for independence.

The great historian Ziauddin Burney has mentioned extensively about this chowki. Now the jurisdiction of Kotwali would be handed over to other police stations and the area divided amongst Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk and Daryaganj police stations.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Denied entry in Taj Mahal hotel for wearing 'slippers'

A family had a shock of their life when they were not allowed to enter the Hotel Taj Mahal in Mumbai because the elderly woman, Manjamma, 82, was not wearing an expensive 'footwear', rather she had ordinary slippers (chappal) in her feet.

Ironically it happened in the same hotel that was founded by Jamshetji Tata because he was denied entry in a hotel because of his dark skin in the Watson Hotel where only the whites were supposed to enter. That was way back in 1910. And a century later the wheel has turned full circle.

The old lady from Karnataka had come to meet her engineer granddaughter Sapna. She came to Mumbai and wished to have coffee at this grand hotel. But the ordinary 'chappals' turned off the guard so much that he told Manjhamma that the Coffee Shop that remains open 24 hrs was closed. When they again tried to reason, they were asked to go back.

Unfortunately this has happened in our own country with us", said Sapna. Majamma's son-in-law Laxman was also angry and said that it was humiliating and the Hotel staff hadn't apologised. As the controversy hit national headlines, the hotel later termed it 'unfortunate' and said that an inquiry would be done.

Friday, 15 February 2008

St Valentine's Day reaches Rural India

This is a quintessential rural Indian 'ishq'.

The photo of a young man on his bike along with a teenaged school girl, is shown on the left.

The girl riding a cycle has been stopped midway either on way to school or back home, and the couple are sharing a romantic moment.

This photograph is from a village near Sonepat, Haryana. Cool, isn't it!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Maharashtra in a Mess: The Big Joke that is Law in India

Raj Thackeray, a thug-politician, issues diktats and his goons go on attacking North Indians.

For weeks this tamasha goes on, thousands are leaving Maharashtra and the worst hit are the poor labourers, not the Amitabh Bachchans and the Shahrukh Khans.

But law doesn't act against the moneyed and the powerful men in India. India's business capital, Mumbai, and cities like Nashik, Pune, Aurangabad, are witnessing exodus of familie belonging to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Thackeray was having dinner with the Commissioner of Police when his men were going on rampage a few days back. And when he was arrested, he gets out on furnishing a 'personal bond' ie a muchalka, a privilege available to the 'respectable' persons in this country.

An ordinary citizens is bundled in the jail and kept behind bars for days without being charged, kept in illegal encounter and put to torture often for no crime. But Raj Thackeray enjoys an unprecedented immunity. And here lies the failure of this nation. In 60 years what we have done to this country and its law!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Sanjay Dutt marries Shahnaz Sheikh alias Manyata

At last, Sanjay Dutt has formally married Manyata, the little-known Bollywood starlet who had performed an 'item number' in Prakash Jha's Gangajal, only to fade in oblivion later.

For the last couple of years Shahnaz Sheikh, who is also known as Dilnasheen, was close to Sanjay. Rumours about their marriage abound in Mumbai.

Ignoring the disapproval of his sisters-Priya and Namrata. Sanjay's daughter, Trishala (from his first wife), was also absent. This is not the first marriage for either Sanju or Manyata.

Sanju has married twice in the past. His first wife died due to cancer and second wife Rhea Pillai sought divorce and is now married to tennis star Leander Paes.

Not much is known about Shahnaz alias Dilnasheen alias Dilnawaz. But she has also married, at least, twice before. Once to Meraj and then to Anees. Her background was a cause of concern to Sanjay's sisters.

His father, Sunil Dutt, had also married a Muslim, Nargis. The class-conscious sisters may not have liked it that a girl who performed a 'cheap item song' would become their 'bhabhi' but the wayward Sanju, ultimately followed his heart.

Nothing has been predictable about Sanjay who has seen lots of ups and downs in his life. Once addicted to drugs, later imprisoned in the Mumbai bomb blast case, he is again found an emotional anchor. Time will tell whether this relationship will last long. We wish it does.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Baba Amte: The Last Legend in a Nation of IT czars and growing billionaires

Baba Amte passed away in Anandvan (Maharashtra) at the age of 94.

A lawyer by profession, freedom fighter and a Gandhian, he had dedicated himself to the care and rehabilitation of the leprosy patients.

He was the voice of the voiceless. He fought for the tribals and undertook the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Gandhi called him 'Abhay Sadhak' (one who fearlessly sought the truth).

One of the greatest sons of India, Murlidhar Devidas 'Baba' Amte should have been the most natural choice for Bharat Ratna, which unfortunately got embroiled in a political controversy.

He fought against cate prejudices, communalism and raised his voice against social injustice. His sons, both doctors, are of course, carrying on the legacy and working for the poor and the unprivileged. Anandwan (Wardha) has school, college, printing press and cottage industries and lots more, all run by leprosy patients.

Baba is no more with us. And there is hardly anybody close to his stature in this nation of over a billion. We have hundreds of business barons, trade tycoons and IT czars but few who are ready to embark upon a similar journey. And that is the tragedy of modern India.

He famously said that compassion knows no religion, sect or ideology. Can we imbibe that alone?

Baba Amte [December 26, 1914-February 9, 2008]

Friday, 1 February 2008

Raj Thackeray questions Amitabh's loyalty to Maharashtra

Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray seems to be living in a make-believe world and believes that sensational statements and xenophobic comments will make him the Bal Thackeray of future.

Poor Raj doesn't understand that times have changed. Modern India doesn't have a place for such crazy chaps. Raj Thackeray had the audacity to ask questions about the reason Amitabh contested election from Allahabad, later became brand ambassador of Uttar Pradesh and doesn't do much for the state where he lives.

So who is Mr Raj Thackeray to test patriotism of Amitabh Bachchan or any other person. Such statements are terribly against the idea of India, as extreme regionalism hurts national unity for which Thackeray's erstwhile party has always been a claimant.

It was a different era when Bal Thackeray had targeted South Indians and later Muslims, to create the atmosphere of fear. It was the frustration of middle-class and poor Marathi youths that was a reason for Bal Thackeray's rise.

Raj is making wild statements. He doesn't like the Chhat puja, and calls it a 'Naatak', a drama. By making outsiders including people from UP and Bihar as target, he hopes to emerge as a son of soil, a Marathi leader.

Ironically in this country, hatespeak is yet to be treated as a serious crime. And rogue politicians enjoy a sort of immunity from the law. Just like others who have multiple identities, Amitabh is not just a UPite, but also an artiste and a Kayastha.

But if the Navnirman Sena leader dares to question the loyalty of any person, whether a film star or a taxi-driver from Allahabad or Alappuzha (Kerala), by his narrow interpretatation, we can surely question his loyalty to India.

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