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  • 08/07/13--07:50: Iftar in Tihar
  • By Natisha Mallick, TwoCircles.net

    New Delhi: Tihar Jail is the largest prison in South Asia. It houses about 12,000 prisoners, under-trials and detainees many of whom are Muslims. Recently an NGO organized an iftar program for Muslim prisoners who are fasting in the month of Ramadan.

    Here are some pictures of the program held on Friday Aug 2, 2013.


    A maulana from outside the prison is giving a lecture to the prisoners.


    Members of the organization that arranged the iftar/


    Food is being arranged in plates


    Dua before iftar


    Maghrib prayers


    Dua after Maghrib

    Link:

    TCN Ramadan 1434: http://twocircles.net/Special_Reports/ramadan_1434.html


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    By IANS,

    Thiruvananthapuram : Various Muslim clerics and community leaders announced that Eid-ul-Fitr would be celebrated in Kerala Thursday after the moon was sighted in Kozhikode.

    Supreme leader of the Indian Union Muslim League Pannakad Hyder Ali Shihab Thangal and other religious leaders made this announcement.

    The state government has announced a public holiday for all educational institutions for Thursday and Friday, while for the government offices, Thursday has been declared as a restricted holiday, while it is a public holiday on Friday.

    Muslims in Kerala constitute roughly 24 percent of the 3.20 crore population.


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    By Shaik Zakeer Hussain, TwoCircles.net,

    Banglore: If you search for something on IslamSearch.org, the possibility of the results satisfying your Google seduced taste senses might turn out to be bleak. But search for the word 'Islam' or anything and everything related to Islam, then you can be rest assured to get the best possible results, something even Google would find hard to beat.

    That's because IslamSearch.org, is a recently launched search engine, which is primarily designed to provide information specifically related to Islam. It generates site links based on the content quality and strong meta data, among other indicators, which is painstaking culled by the site admin and volunteer editors.



    Public Presentation of IslamSearch.org at Masjid-e-Ibadur-Rahman in Hyderabad.

    The Hyderabad based website was started in March 2013, by Ashfaq uddin, who is an online Graphic and Web design tutor and who, simultaneously also heads IT at another Islamic venture AskIslamPedia.

    "Islamsearch.org's objective is to provide authentic Islamic information available on scattered websites to both Muslims and non- Muslims alike and to educate them with the authentic teachings of Islam," says Ashfaq uddin.

    Using a specialized structure of coding, the engine searches keywords entered only from a set of pre-approved sites, which Ashfaq refers to as, "Authentic Islamic websites." Website owners and visitors can submit their site addresses to be included in IslamSearch.org, which would be approved, after it satisfies the search engine's criteria.

    Why an Islam centric search engine, when all one has to do to avoid un-islamic content is to stop searching for it?

    The site creator answers that there is a tendency among Muslims to search for an Islamic answer to questions and issues they encounter in their daily lives, and the problem, he says with sites like Google and other search engines is that they link to sites, which provides biased and in-accurate information.

    "Few months ago, there was an uproar through out the country, because a young woman was raped in Delhi, so people started searching what the religion has to say about this act and they were directed to a particular website, which is known for its anti-Islamic content," says Ashfaq. "It is for this reason a necessity for a site like IslamSearch.org arises," he points out.



    The site assures that the links found on it, is from the best websites from across the web and pledges to remove any link, "which is not Islamic or goes against any law or personality."

    Ashfaq says that the response so far has been really good and "hundreds of new visitors are joining on a daily basis". He recently held a presentation on IslamSearch.org at a Masjid in Hyderabad for a packed audience. He says, his team is now in talks with various Islamic scholars to promote the site among Muslims across the world.


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : The Supreme Court will on Monday hear a plea by Gujarat Additional Director General of Police P.P. Pandey seeking anticipatory bail and to restrain the CBI from arresting him in the Ishrat Jahan staged shootout case.

    An apex court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai said the matter will be heard Monday after Pandey's counsel made a mention of his petition.

    Pandey has challenged the Aug 7 Gujarat High Court order rejecting his anticipatory bail plea and his plea against being arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

    Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan and her three alleged associates Pranesh Gopinath Pilai, Amjad Ali and Jishan Johar were killed by Gujarat Police in a staged shootout June 15, 2004. Gujarat police had described them as Pakistani Fidayeens who came from Jammu and Kashmir to assassinate the Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

    Pandey had moved the Gujarat High court challenging the special CBI court that had Tuesday rejected his plea for anticipatory bail.

    The Special CBI court Aug 6, while rejecting Pandey's plea for anticipatory bail had expressed its apprehension that Pandey might tamper with witnesses and allegations against him were of serious nature.

    An Ahmedabad magistrate court had issued non-bailable warrants against Pandey May 2 and he went underground to evade arrest. He was later pronounced as absconder.

    Pandey was joint commissioner of police in Ahmedabad heading the Crime Branch when Ishrat Jahan and her three associates were eliminated in the staged shootout.

    Initially the investigation into the killing was carried out by the Gujarat police which had filed a closure report.

    On the plea by Ishrat Jahaan's mother Shamima Kausar, Gujarat High court entrusted investigation to Special Investigation Team. However, on another plea by Gopinath Pillai - father of Javed @ Pranesh Gopinath Pilai - High court asked the CBI to take over the investigation.


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : The Supreme Court will hear Monday a PIL seeking the stay of the suspension and consequent issuance of charge sheet to IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal.

    The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam said this when PIL petitioner advocate M.L. Sharma mentioned the matter before the court.

    Nagpal was suspended last month ostensibly for breaking down a wall of a mosque, an action the Uttar Pradesh government said could have communal tension.

    But the widespread belief -- strengthened by a Samajwadi Party leader's public claim -- is that action was taken against her because she took on a mafia extracting sand illegally from the river bed in Noida.


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    By IANS,

    Thiruvananthapuram : Thousands of Muslim men and women across Kerala congregated at Eidgahs Thursday morning to offer prayers on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

    Muslims in Kerala account for more than 24 percent of the 32 million people in the state.

    Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations were in full swing in the Muslim-dominated districts of north Kerala like Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargode.

    Across the state, Muslims got together at halls and, in some places, in stadiums to hear religious discourses by clerics.

    The state government has declared a two-day holiday on account of Eid. The Saturday following it is the second Saturday of the month, observed as a holiday by the state government. Keralites are thus in holiday mode until Sunday.

    However, central government offices are working Thursday, as are all IT companies.

    "I have taken the day off on account of Eid, but the office is working. For the past few years, this is the practice we follow," a Muslim IT professional working at the Technopark campus in the state capital said.

    Mutton stalls in the state have witnessed a huge rush since Wednesday evening, as people queued to buy meat at a cost as high as Rs.500 a kg. Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the dawn-to-sunset period of fasting during the month of Ramadan.

    Wednesday night, after the moon was sighted in Kozhikode, Muslim clerics and community leaders announced that Eid-ul-Fitr would be celebrated in Kerala Thursday.


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    By Arif Kudroli, TwoCircles.net,

    Mangalore: Muslims all over the city gathered at Idgah on Lighthouse Hill at 8 am and at the Noor Masjid at 8:15 am to offer the special Eid Namaz.

    Across Kerala, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, lakhs of joyful Muslims, many of them wearing the conventional kurta-pyjamas, thronged various Masjids and Eid-gahs to offer Eid prayers, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.



    Eid-gah Masjid in Light House Hill, Masjidunnoor in Hampankatta, Taqwa Masjid in Pumpwell, Ibrahim Khaleel Masjid near State Bank and Kachi Memon Masjid in Bunder were overcrowded with devotees. Eid prayers were also held at Central Juma Masjid in and Salsabeel Masjid in Ullal and Huda Masjid in Thokkottu.

    In most of the Masjids, the devotees, after offering the Eid prayers, prayed for communal harmony and welfare of the country as well. They also prayed for the victims of violence and barbarism in Syria, Egypt and other parts of the world.

    Donning new clothes, Muslims visited houses of their relatives, where they were treated with special sweet dishes. Platters of a variety of delicious cuisines were prepared in Muslim households.

    Children dressed in festival attire added colour to the celebrations. People wished Eid Mubarak and hugged each other as a large number of shutterbugs tried to capture the poignant scenes of the festival prayers and greetings.

    A large number of women devotees also offered Eid prayer in some of the Masjids. “The number of women participating in Eid prayer has been continuously increasing since last few years thanks to the Islamic awakening in coastal Karnataka”, said Maulana Mujahid Ansari, a cleric.



    Mangalore Qazi Message

    In his Eid message Mangalore Qazi Twaqa Ahmed Mulsliyar exhorted the Muslims not to forget the lesser privileged people and needy during the festivities. “We have a social responsibility towards the poor and needy. As long as we attend to their problems, God’s blessings will continue to shower upon us,” he said.

    He said Eid-ul-Fitr is a special gift of Allah to those who keep month long fast and engage themselves in prayers and spiritual cleanliness as per His commandments.

    In Udupi Jamia Masjid, the Khatheeb addressing the assemblage, said that Islam encompasses love, affection, compassion and peace. “We have gathered here to offer gratitude to almighty after 30 days of fast.”

    In another Masjid, the cleric opined that communal harmony is our country’s strength. Emphasizing importance of fasting of Muslims during the month of Ramadan, he said, community would not involve in any sort of committing mistakes, lying and betrayal. He called upon the gathering to continue the same after the end of fasting season and aid the needy.

    In rural areas of coastal Karnataka and Kerala too the festival was celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety.


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    By TCN News,

    Aligarh: Prof. Arif Nazir, Department of Hindi, Aligarh Muslim University has been selected for a University Level Award by the Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan, Lucknow. The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 50,000/- and citation. The award will be presented to him in a function to be held at Lucknow.

    Prof. Arif Nazir has been engaged in teaching Hindi for more than 30 years and 11 research scholars have got Ph.D. under his guidance. Earlier, Prof. Arif Nazir has received several awards like UGC Research Award, Natali Puraskar, Pravasi Mahakavi Harishankar Adesh Sahitaya Sindhu Samman (Research) Nagrilipi Samman, Parishad Puraskar, Abdul Rahim Khan Khana Samman, Hindi Ratna Samman and Tulsi Samarchan Samman etc.



    Prof. Arif Nazir

    He has authored 8 books and more than 80 research papers published in journals of repute. He has been to several countries many times for the development of Hindi. He has completed five research projects. He has participated in about 75 national and international conferences.


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    By Twocircles.net Staff Reporter,

    Kolkata: As Muslims are in the country are gearing up to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, a 150 year old mosque is Kolkata is under threat from the suporters of the radical Hindu organization RSS.

    Hindutva activists broke the boundary of the mosque few days ago, that led to a clash between two communities. To disperse the crowd the police had to retort to lathi charge and fired tear gas on August 4.



    As the Eid is slated to be clebrated on Friday, the local adminstration is not taking any risk and has deployed police force outside the mosque.

    As communal tension is flaring up in the city, that has relatively been clam for decades during the Left rule, local Muslims alleged that a youth arrested from the community has not yet been released, while those youths from other community has already been released.

    The mosque under attack is over 150 years old under the Zillur Rahman Waqf Estate (EC no. 3179) situated at Doctors Lane under the Taltala Police Station in Central Kolkata.

    Local social activist Asfaque Ahmed told TCN that with contributions from the community they were planning to have renovations, and put marbles on the floor. However, local Hindutva groups did not allow the renovation work.

    According to sources, some local residents from other community had requested the Imam of the msque to temporarily keep the Durag idol at the fencing rock of the mosque, due to unaviablity of adequate space. The Imam, in order to maintain communal harmony, had ceded to the request.

    However, as they need to start the renvation work in the moosque, they urged them to remove the Idol, that led to tension. Local Hindu groups are now claiming that the place was not in use, and since the locality is srrounded by Hindu residents, they had bee using the place for their own purpose.

    The matter has reached the highest authority in the state.

    West Bengal Masjid Mangal Samity, the Doctor Lane’s Mosque was established in 1834 and it was registered under the West Bengal State Waqf Board. After partition and due to communal riots most of the houses of Doctors lane were abondoned by Muslims, and hence regular namaz had also stopped.

    In the 1978 renowned doctor of that area and Chairman of the West Bengal Masjid Mangal Samity Dr Shfi Layek took the initiative to restore the mosque. After initial renovation work, five times prayer had since continued without any intruption and an Imam was also recruited on behalf of the Zilllur Rahman Waqf Estate.

    According to reports local MP Sudip Banerjee called a meeting of the elders of both the communities and appealed them to maintain peace. Meanwhile, Muslims groups have demanded deployment of more police force in the area for the protection of the mosque.


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    By Sheikh Qayoom, IANS,

    Srinagar : With tastefully decorated markets, pavement vendors spreading goods right to the middle of the road, long queues before bakery shops, self-indulgent buyers and unscrupulous traders, Eid shopping has reached a fever pitch here as the other problems afflicting this state take a back seat.

    Despite the border tension between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir, locals appear to put their worries behind them as they prepare to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr.

    Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Two days ahead of the festival, shoppers hit the markets early Wednesday morning looking for bakery products, mutton, chicken, vegetables and other essentials of life.

    As shoppers indulge in panic buying, traders dictate prices because the administration does little more than setting up market checking teams which shop for their families as they go around, apparently "checking the markets".

    A few traders are even booked to provide material for official press releases that assert that the prices are under control.

    Eid has always been an occasion in Jammu and Kashmir during which celebrations and festivities take precedence over other priorities and problems of life.

    "Why not? After all Eid comes but once every year. As occasions for joy and festivities are otherwise also few and far between, Kashmiris naturally do not want to spoil their mood by haggling over prices, etc," college principal Muzaffar Ahmad told IANS.

    Children, accompanied by parents buying firecrackers and readymade garments are a common sight in the local markets.

    Women carrying shopping bags more than they can handle is another common sight in departmental stores of the city.

    Interestingly, the affluent local middle-class forms the majority of shoppers at the city's high-end departmental stores, where plastic currency is used for almost 90 percent of transactions.

    "It is only the meat shops and the bakery shops which do not have the credit card facility. Everywhere else in the city you can buy anything with a credit card," said Irfan Manzoor, a local mediaperson.

    For the last few years the locals have been contributing significantly to orphanages and other philanthropic causes in the city.

    "It is directly related to two things. One is the power to donate and the other the religious and moral realization that one has a duty towards fellow human beings.

    "Since Kashmir has seen the worst type of violence during the last 23 years, it is natural for people to seek more solace in religion and morality than they did before the turmoil", said Farah Qayoom, who teaches sociology at Kashmir University.

    "Well, my family has been keeping the fast for the last 28 days. It is not doing too much or being self-indugent if I buy things to please everybody at home on Eid-ul-Fitr", said senior bank official Junaid Ahmad.

    To manage the choked roads and streets in the city, the traffic police have announced an elaborate roadmap on Eid eve.

    Given the prevailing confusion on the roads, it appears the traffic police do not want to spoil the festivities by strictly enforcing regulations.

    (Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at sheikh.abdul@ians.in


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : The winding by-lanes of old Delhi were abuzz with activity Thursday as Muslims thronged the markets around the 17th century Jama Masjid to shop for new clothes, accessories and food items to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr Friday.

    Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the dawn-to-dusk period of fasting during the month of Ramadan. While the festival was celebrated Thursday in Kerala, Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries, it is likely to take place in Delhi Friday.

    New attire, footwear and cosmetics were the most popular commodities in the market.

    "Everyone has to wear new clothes and footwear on Eid if they can afford it. It's kind of an unwritten rule," said Rahim Khan, a tailor in Meena Bazar who eagerly awaits the festival every year because of the high income he makes during the period.

    Bakeries, eateries and raw meat sellers did brisk business as people bought bread, curries and kebabs for Sehri (meal before dawn) or Iftaar (meal after sunset).

    Interestingly, most of the business is done at night.

    When the rest of the city is dozing, the walled city comes alive with markets like Ballimaran, Chitli Kabar and Matia Mahal remaining open 24 hours in the days leading to Eid.

    Be it a shop for apparel or footwear, a kiosk selling kebabs or kulfis or even a salon, for many shopkeepers, the business is so good in the days before Eid that they make up for any losses they might have incurred during the year.

    "We get customers all night and have to work in shifts to cater to them. Around 30 percent of our profits are earned during Eid," said Miraj Ahmed, owner of Swadesi Boot House in Ballimaran.

    "Many people have to go to offices or work during the day. So they don't get time to shop and, therefore, they come out at night," he added.

    But youngsters like Taha Alam, who are fasting during the day, see no point in tiring themselves by going out.

    "I like to rest when I am fasting... I got a haircut at 3 a.m. last night and then had sehri and dozed off. I go out with friends every night to eat all kinds of food or just indulge in some window shopping," said the 16-year-old Alam.

    With the festivities set to continue till Sunday, you know where to go to satiate those late night hunger pangs.


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday greeted the nation on the occasion of Eid and said the festival celebrates the spirit of brotherhood, love and compassion.

    In his message on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, Ansari said: "The festival celebrated with gaiety and piety all across the country reinforces the timeless message of universal brotherhood, love and compassion."

    "May this auspicious day unite the country and bless us with peace, progress and prosperity," he said.

    The prime minister said the festival marks the culmination of the holy month of Ramadan and celebrates the spirit of sharing and brotherhood.

    "May this festival bring peace, prosperity and happiness," he added.


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : Youngsters from around the country are demanding immediate reinstatement of suspended Uttar Pradesh IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal and are using social media to spread the word.

    At present, there over 35 support groups such as "Iron lady Durga" and "Justice for Durga" on popular social networking website Facebook and other sites.

    There are even photos of Nagpal with inspirational quotes being shared on popular chat platforms like Whatsapp and Blackberry Messenger.

    "She was suspended for doing her duty honestly. Is this the future of India where the corrupt will rule us and punish those who go against their will," asked a fuming 19 -year-old Jyothika, a student from Tamil Nadu who aspires to join the Indian Police Service (IPS).

    "But these incidents are really demoralising," she added.

    Nagpal, a 28-year-old 2009 batch officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), who had taken on the sand mafia in Noida, was suspended by the Uttar Pradesh government July 29.

    The state government said she was suspended for ordering the demolition of a mosque wall, and this could have led to communal tensions. Nagpal has denied the charge.

    For 28-year-old Raman Chetri, a resident of Kalimpong in West Bengal, Nagpal is a role model and motivation for many youngsters like him.

    "I am working in a government organistaion and there is rampant corruption around me but never have I let myself get tempted. She is a role model for me and it's good to know that there are others like me out there," he said.

    Youngsters also said Nagpal must be reinstated immediately.

    "She should get her job immediately or a bad precedent will be set among many civil services aspirants that if you mess with a politician you may lose your job," said Rehman Saif, a 25-year-old from Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

    "It would be disastrous if civil servants start working under the influence and fear of corrupt politicians," he added.

    Such has been the impact of Nagpal's suspension that a district collector in Nanded, Maharashtra named a baby girl born at a state-run hospital Durga Shakti, after the suspended IAS officer.

    The collector, who was on an inspection of the hospital, was asked by the baby's mother to name her child.


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    By TwoCircles.net Staff Reporter,

    Hyderabad: ‘Commoner of Police of Hyderabad will take every possible step to maintain peace and tranquility of the city,’ this was the assurance given by Home department of Government of Andhra Pradesh to the High Court, responding to the Writ petition filed to cancel Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Rs.5 BJP Yuva meet in the city.

    A city base advocate Ghulam Rabbani has filed a petition No. 23385/2013 in the High Court two days back alleging that Modi’s public meeting will create tensions in already sensitive Hyderabad in the backdrop of his recent impervious communal comments on different public meetings. Advocate Rabbani stated in his petition that he feared same insensitive and communal rant from Narendra Modi on his August 11th BJP Yuva meeting which could possibly lead to enmity between different communities and communal riots.

    On Thursday during petition admission argument Government pleader appearing for the Home Department assured that CP will directly monitor the meeting and ‘no one like him (Modi) will be allowed to create communal tension in the city’. Home department also presented the granted permission copy to the court which specifically stated that permission for Modi’s meet is conditional.

    Justice Rammohan Rao who was hearing the arguments after getting the assurance from Home Department posted the matter after one week, and assured petitioner Advocate Rabbani that ‘If some untoward things happen during the meet or after the meet, than court will be here to look into it’.

    Speaking with TCN, Advocate Rabbani claimed that today’s scrutiny in the High Court is a vindication as now Commissioner of Police will be directly responsible if any communal rant from Narendra Modi, and if it happens than court will also directly interfere to take necessary action.

    Advocate Rabbani said High Court didn’t dispose his petition and posted it for after one week which clearly indicates that High Court will indirectly monitor Narendra Modi’s meet and if any untoward situation arise due to his speech than it will issue necessary order in the next hearing.

    Advocate Ghulam Rabbani felt today’s petition has created riders for Modi by making judicial sword hanging over his neck. Advocate Rabbani said he was inclined to file the petition fearing that Modi might rise illegal BhagyaLaxmi Mandir adjacent to Charminar issue which for past one year has gripped Hyderabad in communal frenzy.

    He said now after direct monitoring from Commissioner of Police and indirect observation from High Court Narendra Modi will mince words before indulging in any communal rhetoric.


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    By TwoCircles.net Staff Reporter,

    Vijayawada: As whole Seema Andhra region is crippled by violent agitation calling for backtrack on Telengana promise in the whole fierce course, Eid preparations have taken a backseat.

    In all the 13 districts, including 5 Muslim concentrated districts of Andhra and Rayalseema region there is huge scarcity of essential commodities due to the ongoing mass strike from the last one week. Banking and transportation suffered a major hit in the region.

    Muslim United Front, an Andhra based organization, has called for moderation in United Andhra agitation at least till Eid. Its president Habeebur Rehman, speaking with TCN, said that many Muslim organizations of SeemaAndhra have already given representation to Samaikya (United) Andhra Joint Action Committee to keep transportation, banking and necessary services out of agitation outcome.

    “We have informed respective JAC leaders in districts and many NGO’s heading United Andhra agitation that Ramzan Pandogu (festival) is a very important festival for Muslims. We told them that we sympathize with their cause and of United Andhra, as Muslims in Seema Andhra support United Telugu state as they see it upright in their interest, but agitation should not affect Eid celebrations at any cost,” Habeebur Rehman said.

    He infromed that due to blocking of highways and stalling of transportation many Muslims were not able to travel to their native villages to celebrate Eid. Moreover, due to closer of banks due to strike many Muslim families couldn’t withdraw enough money to celebrate Eid with usual fervor. He also added that celebrations will definitely take a backseat due to high prices of essential commodities of Eid like milk which is now scarcely available.

    He said that Muslims in Andhra and Rayalseema region are hoping that United Andhra agitators will take their fellow Muslim community emotions into consideration and will minimize the intensity of agitation at least till Eid.


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    Third Aman Chaupal Organised At Indraprastha School With Raza Rumi.

    By TCN News,

    New Delhi: Amidst rising tension between India and Pakistan over the death of four soliders at LoC, Aaghaz-e-Dosti (an initiative for Indo-Pak friendship, started by Mission Bhartiyam) organized its third Aman Chaupal today on 8 August 2013 at Indraprastha Hindu Girls' Senior Secondary School in New Delhi.

    Aman Chaupal is an informal session wherein people from Pakistan or who have been to Pakistan share their experiences and address students' curiosities and questions. The objective of this initiative is to bridge the communication gap that guides Indo-Pak relations and that gives way to stereotypes and mutual hatred and suspicion. This is the third Aman Chaupal. The first and the second were done with peace activist from Pakistan Saeeda Diep at Columbia Foundation School and South Asian University.



    In this Aman Chaupal, Raza Rumi was the guest. Raza Rumi is a senior Pakistani journalist and currently affiliated with Jinnah Institute, a public policy think tank located in Islamabad. He is associated with reputed newspapers like The News, Express Tribune and Friday times and has also worked in the United Nations. He has recently authored a book "Delhi by heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveller" and was in India for its launch.

    Raza Rumi had addressed an excited group from classes 9th-12th. Originally a session for 30 minutes, it was happily extended to more than an hour as the questions wouldn't end. There were questions on the recent ceasefire violations, on the fate of fishermen on both sides of the border, the poor state of jails, on the terror groups in Pakistan, on Malala, on the role of China and the status of women and minorities.

    The fact of women constituting 50% seats in the Pakistan Government had earned loud claps.

    As on minorities, they were informed that the religious minority is very small in Pakistan, as compared to India but they have privileges like quota in schools and colleges. But unfortunately, there are extremist groups because of whom, they do face hardships.

    There were many questions in and around the history of India and Pakistan and the separation.

    "But when India and Pakistan know that it was the British who had created rifts for their own interests, why are they still fighting?", inquired a student.



    The children had also inquired about people on the other side - how are they and what do they think about India. They were informed that the children on both sides of the border look the same, speak the same language and have the same routine of school and then play. But more importantly, People on both sides share not only the same culture, language, religious beliefs and challenges, they also share the same desire for peace.

    One of the last questions was "All countries do terrorism then why is only Pakistan called a terrorist country?"

    The teachers were also very encouraging towards the initiative. One of them remarked, "They learnt more than they could learn from the books. We teach them these things but if someone from Pakistan comes and tells them, it is always more convincing."

    The event organisers were Devika Mittal who is the convener of Devika Mittal and Madhulika Narasimhan, a passout of South Asian University. The co-ordinator from the school was Ms. Jigyasa Gupta.


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    By IANS,

    Mumbai : The Bombay High Court Thursday said it will Aug 12 begin the final hearing for the confirmation of the death penalty awarded to Pune's German Bakery blast convict Himayat Mirza Baig.

    The court will also take up an appeal filed by Baig last Monday challenging his conviction and death sentence, simultaneously from Monday, a division bench comprising Justice V. K. Tahilramani and Justice Mridula Bhatkar said here.

    Baig was produced before the court Thursday in a tight security blanket thrown by the Mumbai police and the Quick Response Team.

    The court will also take a decision whether Baig is required to be produced before it for all hearings or he can be produced via a video-conference from the jail premises.

    Baig, along with five others accused - Indian Mujahiddeen operatives Yasin Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal, Riyaz Bhatkal, Faiyaz Kagzi and Mohsin Chaudhari - were named as the prime accused in the Feb 13, 2010 German Bakery blast.

    Seventeen people, including five foreigners, were killed and another 58 injured in Pune's worst-ever terror attack on Valentine's Day-eve.

    The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), which investigated the case, arrested Baig and showed all the five other accused as "absconders".

    In April this year, a Pune sessions court found Baig guilty under various charges and sentenced him to death. The verdict was subject to confirmation of the high court.


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    By IANS,

    Lucknow : The first flight carrying Haj pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh to Saudi Arabia will fly from the Babatpur Airport in Varanasi Sep 7, officials said Friday.

    Subsequent flights will take off from Lucknow and New Delhi September 9.

    The chairman of the Uttar Pradesh state Haj committee and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan has asked the Hajis to make preparations for the pilgrimage as per guidelines.

    He has also urged the pilgrims to plan their journey such that they reach the Haj house in Lucknow 48 hours in advance of the onward flight.

    Haj pilgrims from Sultanpur, Balrampur, Gonda, Shahjahanpur, Kannauj, Hardoi, Lakhimpur Kheri, Barabani, Etawah and 21 other districts will take their Haj flight from Lucknow, while pilgrims from other districts have been marked for New Delhi and Varanasi.


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    By IANS,

    Mumbai : Muslims in Maharashtra celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr with great fervour and gaiety Friday. This year, the festival that marks the end of the period of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan fell on a Friday, making it special.

    Lakhs of Muslims clad in traditional attire trooped out at dawn to the nearest mosque in places like Dahisar, Borivli, Jogeshwari, Andheri, Marol, Bandra, Sion, Byculla, Mazagaon, Ghatkopar and other areas of state capital Mumbai to offer the thanksgiving "khutba" or special Eid namaaz.

    For the first time in over two decades, the main Eid-ul-Fitr prayers could not be held at the historic Azad Maidan owing to rain, Syed Zafar, a senior citizen residing in Nagpada, south Mumbai, said.

    "This year, the prayers were conducted mainly in the big and small mosques, many of which had erected special marquees to protect the devout from unpredictable Mumbai rains," Zafar said.

    The morning prayers would be followed by similar special Friday prayers later in the afternoon, making the Eid-ul-Fitr of this year rare and truly memorable.

    "For the first time in many years, Eid-ul-Fitr falls on a Friday, making the occasion twice as auspicious for all Muslims," Shabbir Somji, senior member, Khoja Asla Ashri Jamaat, told IANS.

    Soon after the "khutba", Muslims greeted each other with "Eid Mubarak" and hugged, inside the mosques. Beyond the mosque, the greetings and hugs extended to non-Muslim brethren.

    Then, the first celebrations started with a bowl of "sheer-korma", the special Eid sweet preparation made of milk, vermicelli and lots of dates, assorted dry fruits and saffron, eaten with relish and served to visitors through the day.

    Elsewhere in Maharashtra, traditional pomp and enthusiasm marked Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations in Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Pune Nashik, Aurangabad, Beed, Latur, Nanded and other districts in the state.

    The festival was celebrated with gusto in Muslim-dominated towns like Bhayander, Mira Road, Bhiwandi, Mumbra, Malegaon, Alibaug and others across the state.

    Shortly after the sighting the Eid moon Thursday night, mosques and other religious places in Mumbai and other parts came alive with colourful fairy lights, decorations of with flags, flowers and festoons to herald the joyful festival.

    Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre, AICC general secretary in-charge of the state Mohan Prakash, AICC general secretary Gurudas Kamat and AICC secretary Sanjay Nirupam were among the prominent people sending out Eid-ul-Fitr greetings.

    Meanwhile, heavy security was deployed in all Muslim pockets in Mumbai and other parts of the state to ensure peaceful celebrations.


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    By IANS,

    New Delhi : The day began on a pleasant note in the national capital as Eid-ul-Fitr was celebrated Friday. Light rain and cool winds made for ideal conditions for festivity. The Met office has forecast more rain later in the day.

    "The skies will be cloudy and rain is expected in some parts of the city," an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

    The maximum temperature will hover around 30 degrees Celsius.

    The city experienced a wet Friday morning and the minimum temperature settled a notch below average at 25.4 degrees Celsius.

    Delhi received a total of 16.2 mm of rains from 8.30 a.m. Thursday to 8.30 a.m. Friday.

    Rains had lashed the city Thursday as well, and the maximum temperature had settled three notches below average at 30.8 degrees Celsius, while the minimum was a notch below average at 25.8 degrees.

    Since the monsoon's arrival in June, Delhi has received 501.3 mm of rain, 39 percent more than the average.


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