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Prayers unlikely to be allowed at Jamia Masjid; phone, Internet service remain cut

Voices of dissent: A day before Id, women shout slogans during a protest in Srinagar on Sunday. REUTERSREUTERS

Security was tightened and restrictions were reimposed in the Kashmir Valley on the eve of Id on Sunday, amid reports of “street mobilisation.”

All communication lines, including phones and the Internet, remained snapped for the seventh day and were unlikely to be restored on the occasion of the festival, a top security source said.

Meeting with Imams

Srinagar District Magistrate Shahid Choudhury told The Hindu that the administration had a meeting with several imams (religious heads) to prepare for the festival on Monday. A senior government official said prayers were unlikely to be allowed at Jamia Masjid, one of the biggest mosques, at Nowhatta, to prevent any large procession.

Asked why the restrictions were reimposed after they were eased on Saturday, Mr. Choudhury said, “Section 144 of the Cr.PC that prohibits the assembly of more than four people was never completely lifted in the city. The restrictions were always there. Movement of traffic was allowed in some areas.”

DGP Dilbagh Singh told The Hindu that no decision was taken on resuming the Internet services in the Valley because authorities suspected “mischievous posts” would be put out by Pakistan on social media to incite people. “One odd stone-throwing incident in Srinagar’s downtown area does not mean the entire Valley is out to throw stones. It cannot define the security situation in the entire State. The entire State is peaceful. Earlier, stone-throwing incidents were larger in number,” Mr. Singh said.

A top police source said former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah would be allowed to offer Id prayers at a shrine on Gupkar Road. A congregation prayer would be allowed for other members of political parties such as the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party who were detained at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), an official said.

Information Commissioner M.K. Dwivedi said restrictions were reimposed to avoid any untoward incident.

2.61 lakh people shifted to relief camps

The death toll in rain-related incidents in the State rose to 72 on Sunday, even as most central and north Kerala districts reported diminished rainfall after four days of torrential downpour.

Till Sunday, 2,61,249 people (75,636 families) have been evacuated to 1,639 relief camps across the State. Kozhikode, Malappuram, Thrissur and Wayanad districts account for a majority of the camps; 58 people are still missing: 50 in Malappuram, seven in Wayanad and one person in Kottayam, the government said in a 9 p.m. update. In all, 286 houses have been destroyed and 2,966 houses damaged.

“Weather forecasts show heavy rain could persist for two more days in the State. So we need to remain vigilant,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, after a high-level meeting at the State Emergency Operations Centre here.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued orange alerts indicating the likelihood of isolated heavy rainfall in Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod for Monday.

With the rain fury abating, rescue operations resumed in the landslip-hit Kavalappara in Malappuram and Meppadi in Wayanad on Sunday morning.

The Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) retrieved three more bodies from Kavalappara after an intensive day-long search. With this, the death toll in the landslip has risen to 12.

One more body was recovered from Meppadi, also on Sunday. Revenue officials identified the deceased as Rani, 53, wife of Panneerselvam whose body was recovered on Friday.

So far, 10 bodies have been recovered from the site. Although Wayanad recorded a dip in rainfall on Sunday, the banks of the Kabani river and its tributaries remain flooded.

In the Upper Kuttanad region of Pathanamthitta district, the situation has turned grim. Floodwaters receding from the upper reaches of Pampa have inundated paddy fields and low-lying regions.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday that he had no confusion whatsoever in his mind on the need to remove the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and added that its abrogation would end terrorism in the region and put it on the road to development.

Mr. Shah was speaking at an event in the city to release a book Listening, Learning & Leading…, published by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, chronicling the two-year tenure of Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Mr. Shah said he firmly believed that there was no benefit from Article 370 to the nation and to Kashmir and that it should be removed at once.

“As a Home Minister, there was no confusion at all in my mind as to what would happen after the removal of Article 370. I was sure that after the removal of Article 370, terrorism will end inside Kashmir and the State would be on the path of development,” he said.

However, referring to national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand’s speech in which he illustrated how people even now referred to the (problematic) bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Shah said, “I had a slight apprehension in my mind that I should not be a part of such visualisation.”

A laser-guided land leveller helps farmers save groundwater and raise productivity..RAVIKUMAR NARABOLITHE HINDU

A laser-guided land leveller harnesses technology to accurately flatten a field in a fraction of the time used by a traditional oxen-powered scraper.

The result? Farmers save precious groundwater and increase productivity by 10 to 15%.

The hitch? Such hitech levellers cost at least ₹3 lakh, way beyond the reach of the average small farmer.

But a new app that’s being described as “Uber for tractors” offers a solution.

“We want farmers to have affordable access to cutting-edge technology at their doorsteps,” says a senior Agriculture Ministry official. “There are now more than 38,000 custom hiring centres (CHCs) across the country, which rent out 2.5 lakh pieces of farm equipment every year. By the end of the month, we plan to launch a new mobile app to efficiently connect farmers with these CHCs, just like Uber connects you to cabs.”

The CHC app is already open for registrations by the farmers, societies and entrepreneurs who run these centres. So far, almost 26,800 CHCs have registered to offer more than one lakh pieces of equipment for hire.

“Say, I need a rotovator with tractor for one acre of land. The app will show me the CHCs which have the equipment available within five, 20 and 50 km of my location, with their rates,” explained the official. “I can then call the CHC or just use the app to book the equipment at a specific time and location, and it will turn up just like an Uber.”

Rating system

Feedback from both the CHC and the farmers contributes to a rating system, allowing customers to make informed decisions.

The Ministry’s app will also create an invaluable database for policy-makers, who can track the use and cost of equipment.

“We have already done very successful demo runs in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab,” said the official.

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