One lakh court cases decided by a single judge. That’s the feat, unprecedented in India’s legal history, accomplished by Justice Sudhir Agarwal, who has been a judge of the Allahabad High Court since October 2005. Formerly an advocate specialising in tax law, he has been standing counsel for the UP Power Corporation, UP Rajkiya Nirman Nigam and the University of Allahabad, and was appointed additional advocate-general in 2003. As a justice, he was a member of the three-judge bench that decided the Babri Masjid title suit in 2010, and is also known for a court order he gave in 2015 to the effect that all government officials should educate their children at government primary schools, as an incentive for them to focus on improving such schools. Lawyers practising at the court plan to felicitate Justice Agarwal later this month.
Sanitary Eye In The Sky
Standing on Siliguri’s terraces, one may soon catch a glimpse of a drone flying overhead. No, this isn’t some government initiative to spy on private citizens. It will merely aim to espy any stagnant water on the rooftops, as part of an effort to fight the spread of dengue. The disease has caused deaths in the town recently. Rajiv Ghosh, 17, had begun to put a drone together out of interest, supported by money borrowed by his parents as well as funds donated by neighbours, with the final cost coming to Rs 1.5 lakh. While he was working on it, he heard the mayor mention the idea of using drones to combat dengue, and decided to offer his services. Test flights of the drone, which Ghosh says can rise to 1,800m but will be restricted to 200m for security purposes, will begin soon.
Wrapped up snugly in acrylic blankets, the baby pachyderms are the picture of happiness and comfort. When Southeast Asia was buffeted by unexpectedly cold weather in December, Myanmar’s Winga Baw camp for orphaned elephants was quick to take action, with workers rushing to keep their charges warm using straw. They had crucial help from Blankets for Baby Rhinos, a global network of 1,500 volunteers who knit and crochet winterwear for orphaned baby animals of all kinds. Founded on Facebook in November 2016 by Sue Brown and Elisa Best, the group leapt into action after being contacted by Sangdeaun Lek Chailert, founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, a Thailand-based non-profit. The blankets arrived in Thailand towards the end of October or the start of November, and from there were sent on to Myanmar.”All seven babies, they loved it,” Chailert was quoted as saying.
War Of The Tunday Succession
Over 100 years have passed since Haji Murad Ali, known as “Tunday” for his one arm, opened a shop selling kababs and paranthas in Lucknow. His speciality, the galouti kabab, rose to fame after he won a competition and earned the Nawab’s patronage, and “Tunday Kababi” became an iconic brand. Recently, this name has been the object of a legal tussle between Tunday’s grandson Mohammad Usman and one Mohammad Muslim, who claims to be an illegitimate female-line grandson of Tunday. The issue came to Usman’s attention when he discovered that Muslim had licensed someone to open a restaurant called “Lucknow Wale Tunday Kababi” in Delhi. Proceedings began in 2014; Delhi HC decided in favour of Usman last month, stating that Muslim had filed no evidence in support of his claims.
An Ever-Elusive Bachelor
In Multan last month, a local woman made her way to Gilani house, determined that she would marry her “beloved”, Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. When confronted by security personnel, she pleaded that she had fallen in love with Bhutto and had brought gifts for him, only to be turned away without a meeting. This incident is far from a one-off, and Bhutto for his part made a clear policy statement a while ago. While speaking to journalists last year, he said, “There are too many offers, but the woman will have to convince my sisters (Bakhtawar Bhutto and Asifa Bhutto) first. It is a very difficult task.”
Red Hot Hybrid Peppers
Kishore’s fireball is a curve ball. Curled in shape and smaller than India’s hottest chilli, U-Morok , this new breed from Manipur is our hottest hybrid chilli. Named after creator Rajkumar Kishore, chief scientist at Manipur-based Kwaklei and Khonggunmelei Orchids Pvt Ltd, it is a combination of capsicum frutescens cultivar, capsicum chinense cv, and the hybrid of the two aforementioned varieties. Unlike Guinness world record-holder U-Morok, Kishore’s Fireball can be cultivated under direct sunlight, and has a low rotting rate, but is not as hot.
It’s just #TooEdgy4Pak
In the Pakistani film Verna, Mahira Khan, the country’s top actress, plays a teacher who is kidnapped and raped by a governor’s son. The Pakistan censor board promptly banned it, citing its “edgy content” that “maligned state institutions”. A public backlash saw many Pakistani women share their experiences of rape and abuse on social media, along with extensive news coverage. The ban was lifted by an appellate board and the film opened on November 17. Khan, who places the film in the context of the #MeToo movement, stated that the censors had objected because the film dealt with inequalities that inevitably obstruct victims’ attempts to obtain justice.
Saeed’s Call Record
Suspected 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind and head of the banned Jamaat ud-Dawa, Hafeez Saeed, is yet again under the scanner. This time, a BBC report accuses of him of inciting British youth to jehad during a tour of the UK in the 1990s.
A Dawn report citing the BBC investigation says, Saeed, who has a $10 million bounty on his head for allegedly masterminding 26/11, thrilled audiences in packed mosques in cities around the UK by calling for a return to the days when Muslims waged jehad and infidels paid them protection money. Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a terror group active in Kashmir, has always denied involvement in the Mumbai carnage. The BBC investigative report came amidst concerns for the British government and intelligence agencies about the large number of Muslims going abroad to fight in Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Syria.
The investigation, which was the basis of a 40-minute BBC Radio 4 documentary, The Dawn of British Jihad, was broadcast on Tuesday night. It revealed that the roots of violent religious struggle by British Muslims were laid in the mid-1990s, much earlier than previously thought.
The tour of Britain was chronicled in Mujalla Al Dawah, a monthly magazine published by Saeed’s organisation, Markaz Dawa Wal Irshad.
According to the articles, uncovered during the BBC investigation, Hafiz Saeed arrived in Britain on Aug 9, 1995, and set about lecturing the youth about jehad. Summing up the British tour, the author wrote: “A large number of young people want to get jehad training. A group of around 50 college and varsity students has so far finalised its programme. The valleys of Britain are resounding with chants of jehad. The time is not far off when Muslims will wake up”, and the era of the early Muslim invaders of Europe “will come back in the vales of Europe. There will be chants of Allahu Akbar over Alhamra if the spirit of jehad is back among Muslims of Europe.”
Each trip raised £1,50,000 or more, and women donated their gold bangles and earrings in response to Saeed’s call. Hundreds of Britons went to battlefields in the Philippines, Kashmir and Bosnia, with some losing their lives.
Britain banned LeT in early 2001 and Pakistan a year later. But shortly before that, Saeed resigned and formed JuD, which is currently on a watchlist, though officially not banned. Saeed was confined to his home in Pakistan for several months last year, but has been freed since.
Illustrations by Sajith Kumar