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Student wanted ‘out-of-body experience’, suggests email

JNU youth’s parents had no clue about his mental state

The Jawaharlal Nehru University student who was found dead inside the varsity’s library on Sunday wanted to have an “out-of-body experience”, suggests the email that he sent to his professor.

The document accessed by The Hindu reads: “Ever to the surface, in the past few months, has the need in me to venture beyond the body, to investigate into the physical death, been provoked [sic]”.

In the two-paragraph note, the student said he would not be able to prevent the email from reaching the professor as he would have taken the extreme step by then. “Whether I am dead in whatever sense, mentally or physically incapacitated, paralysed, captured or not [sic],” he wrote.

On the note, clinical psychologist Rajat Mitra said, “The words by him are indicative that he may be looking for an out-of-body experience but not conclusive. It can only become more concrete after it is checked whether he had similar conversations with someone, or read books, or surfed websites on the subject.”

Parents examine body

Sources in police said his parents, both doctors, examined the body before the post-mortem. They had no clue about his mental state His friends, however, said he had become reclusive in the last few weeks.

In the email, he had also asked the professor to help his family bear with the loss. He also mentioned two friends. “I pray for the peace of all living and abiding things [sic],” he wrote.

Dr. Mitra said, “It appears that he had been thinking like this from a long time. I don’t see any feelings of rancor or helplessness or despair here. It looks like he has made a decision to go,” he said.

After the post-mortem at Safdarjung Hospital on Saturday, the body was handed over to the family. His school friends from Tamil Nadu recalled him as a brilliant student.

Suicide prevention helpline: Sanjivni, Society for Mental Health,Telephone: 011-4076 9002, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. -7.30 p.m.

World Heritage Site tag may continue to elude Hyderabad

Row houses are likely to come up between the Golconda fort and the Qutb Shahi tombs

Slice of history: A view of Golconda Fort in Hyderabad.

The National Monuments Authority (NMA) has given the go-ahead for the development of 54 row houses in the regulated zone of the 500-year-old Golconda Fort and Qutb Shahi Tombs Complex in the city.

Topping a flurry of letters, the NMA in its 223rd meeting on April 15-16 gave the no-objection certificate to the builder for developing 10-metre high houses in the zone with a caveat — the colour scheme should match with that of the monuments.

Block continuity

The location is 101 metres beyond the wall near the Patancheru Darwaza (gate) and in the line of sight of both monuments. The construction will block the visual continuity that has existed for centuries between the two locations.

A number of archival images dating from the late 19th century show the domes from the high point of the Golconda fort and a view of the fort from the tombs. A visit to the site revealed that the construction would likely block the view. Also lost will be a slice of history.

“The Patancheru Darwaza was an important passage in the old road from the Inner Fort to the site of Old Golconda. The gate was the link to Golconda’s origins.

The site of ‘Old Golconda’ went far beyond this, and may have extended into this area of potential new construction between the fort and the tombs,” said Professor Robert Simpkins of the U.S.-based Porterville College, placing the location in its historical context. Prof. Simpkins has extensively studied and mapped the area and recently published a paper on ‘Inferring Road Networks and Socio-Political Change through Elite Monuments of the Golconda Kingdom’.

A six-year conservation effort by the State government in tandem with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture has transformed the Qutb Shahi monuments into a must-visit site.

“To secure ‘World Heritage Site’ status for Golconda-Qutb Shahi Tombs [2014 nomination], it is imperative that the pedestrian linkage is restored along the original route used by the Qutb Shahis. This space is also extremely significant visually to retain the heritage character of the two sites. It’s shocking to hear that private villas are planned on this significant archaeological zone,” said Ratish Nanda, CEO, AKTC, when asked about the development.

Documents seen by this reporter show that the Department of Heritage, Telangana, raised multiple concerns citing Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act against the issue of NOC, but to no avail.

Work is progressing at a rapid pace on the site. The ancient aqueduct that brought water from Durgam Cheruvu to the Golconda fort has been turned into a wall by the builder. A 2003 satellite map shows five small water bodies between the fort wall and the out enclosure of tombs, but now the area is filled with rubble and flattened.

Relief continues to elude Kerala flood victims

Many of them are living in rented and even damaged houses

Temporary arrangement: Workers engaged in securing a bund using mud at Valiyathuruthu in Kuttanad. Special Arrangement

Valiyathuruthu in Kainakary grama panchayat was the first to experience the pain of the floods that ravaged Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, last year. Now, almost a year on and the next southwest monsoon round the corner, residents of the panchayat say they are finding it hard to rebuild their lives. A number of flood victims are still living in rented houses, while several others continue to take shelter in their damaged houses, awaiting government aid.

The family of Gopinathan K. is among 258 families that live in close quarters at Valiyathuruthu, a place below sea level, severely affected by back-to-back floods.

Gopinathan remembers vividly June 14, 2018 when a portion of the bund in front of his house collapsed and gushing waters from the Paalkaranthodu almost swept away his grandchild out in the courtyard. The exterior wall of his house still bears the watermark of the floods. Inside, the floodwaters left craters on the floor after soil underneath it and a portion of the foundation of the structure was washed away.

The house now stands on sand bags.

“After the devastation, my family was promised assistance to rebuild the house. However, we have not received a single penny from the government. The authorities rejected my application citing lack of land documents. We have only the government to approach for help, but it is showing a complete indifference to the flood victims,” Gopinathan says.

The family, after living several months in the unsafe building, recently moved to a rented house. His neighbour Ramya Ratheesh, her husband Ratheesh P.R., and their daughter live in a shack, damaged in the floods.

“We have no other place to go. The authorities have promised us help, but after several months we feel cheated,” says Ms. Ratheesh.

After two bund breaches in June and July, followed by the August deluge, inundated all houses in Valiyathuruthu, the district authorities have promised to find a permanent solution to the problem. But nothing concrete has taken place, other than temporarily securing the breached portions of bunds with logs of coconut tree and mud.

As another southwest monsoon on the doorstep, the residents say lack of strong bunds leaves the place vulnerable to flooding again this season.

Odisha fishermen vulnerable due to frequent cyclonic events

In the past 100 years, State has witnessed 35% of storms that crossed the east coast

Coming to terms: Fishermen trying to lift an overturned boat at Penthakata. Biswaranjan RoutBiswaranjanRout

It’s been 15 days since Cyclone Fani swept through coastal Odisha but Erra Babu, 51, is not sure if he would be able to venture into the Bay of Bengal any time soon.

At Penthakata, where the expert seafaring fisherman lives, boats still lay upside down while fishing nets remain buried under mounds of sand – marks of the devastation left behind by one of the strongest summer cyclones to hit Odisha.

“This is probably one of the longest periods I have sat idle and kept watching the sea,” says Mr. Babu. He is likely to wait for a few more days as the boats can be repaired only when power is restored. The wait is painful, says Mr. Babu, who finds it difficult to feed his five-member fami​_ly as his savings and loans are getting exhausted with every passing day.

“There were times when we used to spend 180 days fishing in the deep seas in a year. Now, the number of fishing days barely crosses 100,” he says.

There are about 2,000 fishing boats in Penthakata and on any given day 5,000 fishermen would be deep inside the sea. In one stroke, Cyclone Fani rendered them jobless.

At Satapada on the banks of Chilika, Asia’s largest brackish water lake, Pramod Behera, who doubles up as a fisherman and a boat operator, says: “Fani left no place as safe. Neither my boat nor my fishing nets were spared, even though I had shifted them to places I thought were safe.”

The fishing community in the State has been severely affected; the loss is estimated at ₹6.95 crore. The figure, however, does not reflect the real loss, given the employment the sector generates.

Cyclones and other atmospheric events have caused a rise in unemployment in the community over the years. The idle time begins from the issuance of advisories till the event takes place. Extreme weathers are triggering migration from fisher villages, apart from alienation from fishing, a traditional livelihood option.

Its geographical location and physical environment make Odisha Coastal Zone vulnerable to frequent cyclonic disturbances. The coastline of Odisha is only about 17% of India’s east coast, but it has been affected by nearly 35% of all cyclonic and severe cyclonic storms that have crossed the east coast and by associated storm surges that have often inundated large tracts of coastal districts, according to a State government report.

Land and sea interaction

“The land and sea interaction is very high in Odisha, for which weather events are taking place so frequently. Land masses of Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts are slightly inside sea and get hit by atmospheric systems which are generated either from Andaman and Nicobar or from the southern side,” said S. C. Sahu, former Director of IMD, Odisha.

The east coast is one of the six most cyclone-prone areas in the world. In the past 100 years, the Indian subcontinent experienced 1,019 cyclonic disturbances, of which 890 were along the east coast. Of these, 260 made landfall along the Odisha coast, the report said.

With 29% of the total disturbances affecting the Odisha coast, its vulnerability is relatively high in comparison to West Bengal (14%), Andhra Pradesh (13%) and Tamil Nadu (7%).

“The revisit or recurrence time of a severe storm to the Odisha coast is around four years; for West Bengal it is five years. As far as cyclones are concerned, the revisit time for the Odisha coast is nearly two years, which is much shorter than that of other States, indicating that Odisha is the most frequently cyclone affected coastal State in the country,” said Bishnupada Sethi, Managing Director, Odisha State Disaster Management Authority.

The Hindu Group bags global media awards

The Hindu Group has bagged two prizes at the prestigious International News Media Association (INMA) Global Media Awards.

Awards were given under Group 1 representing regional/local brands and Group 2 representing global/national brands.

In Group 2, The Hindu Group for its ‘The Hindu for Client Parle’ bagged the second place for ‘Best Marketing Solution for an Advertising Client’. The Hindu in School bagged the third place for ‘Best Idea to Encourage Print Readership or Engagement’.

The INMA is a global community of market-leading news media companies reinventing how they engage audiences and grow revenue in a multi-media environment. The community consists of more than 10,000 executives at 700+ companies in 70+ countries.

Our campaign went on track: BJP

Aim was to have it centred on the image of PM, rather than individual candidates

High-pitched battle: Supporters listen to Narendra Modi in West Bengal, where he addressed 17 rallies in all.Rajeev BhattRajeev Bhatt

Polling for the final phase of the Lok Sabha election is due on Sunday, but the BJP says it has the satisfaction of running a campaign pretty much up to script.

From national security and the hard Hindutva messaging to trying to fashion a vote bank out of welfare beneficiaries, senior leaders maintained that whatever the result on May 23, the campaign did not throw up too many surprises.

The main aim was to revolve the campaign around the personality of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was, going to the polls, still the biggest advantage with the BJP.

The BJP has dropped nearly 40% of the sitting MPs, but anti-incumbency against those repeated on seats was going to be a problem from the outset.

The idea of every vote going straight to make Mr. Modi Prime Minister rather than to an individual candidate was pushed at every meeting by BJP leaders including Mr. Modi. “Aap button dabayiye aur seedha vote Modi ko Pradhan Mantri banayega [you press the button to directly make Modi the Prime Minister],” was a line repeated not just by senior leaders but by Mr. Modi himself. This was to circumvent the appeal of local factors in individual seats as well as other factors such as an economic slowdown and rural distress.

National security

The Balakot air strikes and the listing of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN were used to build up a narrative of a government that gave much importance to national security. “Ghar main ghus kar maara [we hit them inside their homes],” was again a phrase much in use. In fact, sources in the BJP say the counter (whether successful or not) to the Congress’s “Chowkidar Chor Hai” narrative over the Rafale deal by “Main bhi Chowkidar (I too am a Chowkidar)” could only have been possible after these events. “It gave us an impetus, for a campaign that could mitigate some effects of the Congress’s campaign,” said a source.

For the past three years, BJP president Amit Shah had been speaking about reaching out to beneficiaries of the Centre’s welfare schemes, to create a caste neutral constituency of the poor. The party set up 161 call centres across the country with 15,682 callers assigned to reach out to nearly 24 crore beneficiaries of Central schemes. Mr. Modi also made it a point to interact with a few beneficiaries at most of his 142 rallies in a little tent built behind the main stage at rally grounds. The Laabhaarthi as a category of voter is crucial according to the BJP if it has to have any hope of circumventing the formidable arithmetic of Opposition alliances especially in Uttar Pradesh.

Hard Hindutva

The fielding of Pragya Singh Thakur chargesheeted in the Malegaon case from Bhopal raised a controversy everywhere but, according to the party, it served to signal hard Hindutva, which Prime Minister Modi’s decision not to go in for a legislative route for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya had blunted to some extent. The “stand” against “Hindu terror” was marketed as an ideological goal realised in realpolitik. The gains from this strategy have been mixed, according to senior BJP men.

New ground

Four years ago, Mr. Shah came out with a list of 113 seats (later brought up to 120) where the party had not won ever but recorded a decent vote share in 2014 and deputed 3,000 full-time party workers across 13 States to help focus on efforts to cultivate the political ground. West Bengal and Odisha were on the party’s radar. The BJP also made sure that Mr. Modi held 17 rallies in West Bengal, the largest number after Uttar Pradesh, where he addressed 29 rallies.

With the party convinced that it had peaked in the Hindi heartland States in 2014, this was one way of trying to spread out the catchment area of seats. While the campaign went off more or less to plan, it will of course be revealed on May 23 whether it was a plan that brought forth the desired results.

In the Sundarbans, all vote for survival

On the front line of climate change, residents of Mathurapur’s islands face the rising sea

At nature’s mercy: A villager at Ghoramara stands beside what is left of his house. The island with 3,800 voters falls in the Mathurapur Lok Sabha constituency.Special ArrangementSpecial Arrangement

Nantu Das, a resident of the remote island of Ghoramara in the Sundarbans, celebrated his daughter’s wedding on May 14, five days before the 3,800 voters on the sinking island will exercise their franchise.

“The monsoon is a very difficult time for the residents of Ghoramara,” the 52-year-old areca farmer said. “Every year, the sea rises and gobbles up our homes. I want to send my daughter to a safe place before that,” Mr. Das added.

Located at the State’s southernmost tip and adjoining the Bay of Bengal, Ghoramara has been largely untouched by the high-pitched poll campaign seen elsewhere in West Bengal.

Sheikh Alimuddin, an islander, said his house was destroyed the night Cyclone Fani made landfall. Only a Trinamool Congress flag flutters near the house, whose roof was washed away by the rising waters.

Mr. Alimuddin said that while the Trinamool’s Lok Sabha candidate, Choudhury Mohan Jatua, 80, visited the island in the aftermath of Fani, the outgoing MP did not come to see the destroyed house. “I pray to Didi [Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee] that I be rehabilitated to some other island,” Mr. Alimuddin, who earns his living as a construction worker in Kerala, said.

Sanjib Sagar, the Trinamool’s gram panchayat pradhan who is busy working to ensure his party gets a lead on the island, said that he had prepared a list of 30 beneficiaries — whose houses had been destroyed by the rising sea — needing to be rehabilitated to another island. Mr. Sagar said he planned to submit the list to the District Magistrate after the polls.

The Mathurapur (SC) constituency includes the Sundarbans. It has bigger islands such as Sagar, where the annual pilgrimage of Ganga Sagar takes place, and the hinterland of Kakdwip, Patharpratima, Raidighi, where people primarily rely on agriculture and fishing.

On the last day of campaigning for Mathurapur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled his promise for a separate Fisheries Ministry. In her campaign, Ms. Banerjee had spoken about giving cards to fishermen who venture into the deep seas so that they were not detained by authorities in Bangladesh.

One of the most economically backward regions of the State, the Sundarbans is both a hotspot of climate change and biodiversity. According to a 2017 report of WWF India, out of every 1,000 people in the Sundarbans, 190 eat only one meal a day and 510 are malnourished.

Families at risk

There is also a lot of migration, with men moving away in search of opportunities while the women are left behind to care for the families.

In the 2016 Assembly polls, the Trinamool won all the seven Assembly seats that fall under the Mathurapur Lok Sabha constituency. Challenging Mr. Jatua’s bid for a third consecutive term, the BJP has fielded Shyama Prasad Halder, while the Left Front candidate is Sarat Chandra Halder.

In the adjoining Lok Sabha constituency of Joynagar, where people survive in a maze of rivers, rivulets and creeks, the Trinamool’s Pratima Mondal is seeking a second term. Among her numerous promises to the voters is one about ensuring that Joynagar town’s water crisis gets solved by 2021.

In Ambikanagar village in Kultali, Sumitra Das spoke about her husband who was lost in a tiger attack in 2017. Like several men of the islands, her husband had gone into the forest that is a part of the South 24 Parganas division for fishing but never returned. With two children in school, Ms. Das manages with a machine for husking paddy. Asked if the family had received any support, she said the local panchayat had given her money to build a small hut under the Indira Awaas Yojana. But she still faced a problem with the assurance of 100 days of employment, because not much work was available, she said. “Elections mean nothing to us, if we don’t have any work,” she said.

Joynagar, also reserved for the Scheduled Castes, has traditionally been a stronghold of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), an ally of the Left Front, and the SUCI (Communist). The latter party even had an MP, with the support of the Trinamool, elected in the 2009 polls. Six of the seven Assembly segments in the constituency were won by the Trinamool in 2016, with the Kultali seat being won by the CPI(M).

Despite the history of strong Left presence, the residents said that this time, the contest was between Ms. Mondal and Ashok Kandari of the BJP. This time Mr. Kandari has a better chance, according to a group of young men preparing to venture into a creek to collect honey.

The Left Front has nominated former Irrigation Minister and RSP leader Subhas Naskar.

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