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Increased horizontal velocity may have cast lander away, suggests scientist

Words of solace: PM Modi consoles ISRO Chairman K. Sivan in Bengaluru after the link with the lander was lost. PTIPTI

Hours after India’s dream of placing a lander spacecraft on the moon crashed on Saturday morning, Indian Space Research Organisation’s teams associated with the still orbiting Chandrayaan-2 mission were looking for clues in the last minutes of data from the lander Vikram.

The lander was to have set itself down on the moon's surface at 1.55 a.m. on Saturday. It had been descending for 12 minutes. However, three minutes before lunar touch down, it lost contact with the earth and went blank. It was 2.1 km above the moon’s surface then, ISRO said soon after it detected the setback around 2 a.m.

Possible causes

On what went wrong, a senior space scientist, who has worked on all three ISRO planetary missions, said an increased horizontal velocity might have cast the lander away from the planned site (shown with red lines on the consoles) causing ISRO to lose its link with the lander. “The search for it may be wider now. Only subsequent visits of the orbiter should tell us where it is,” he said.

He suspected that instead of losing velocity as it came down, the lander may have gained velocity at some point. It may also have lost its orientation or attitude (orientation/tilt) — which then increased its velocity. An attitude loss or tilt can also cause a loss of link or telemetry. Add to it the already working speed and moon's gravity — and it could have crashed to death from a height of 2 km, he said.

Although the terrain between two craters was mapped well, obstruction by hills or sand high rises could not be ruled out, according to him.

No more concessions to India, says Aviation Minister

Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said on Saturday that Pakistan denied President Ram Nath Kovind the use of Pakistani airspace for his flight to Iceland this month because of India’s continued aggression against and oppression of the Kashmiri people.

“We got India’s request for their President’s flight. It was discussed with relevant quarters and decided that enough is enough, no more concessions for India,” he told The Hindu.

Mr. Khan said that while Pakistan allowed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to use its airspace for his visit to France in August as a goodwill gesture, India continued to flout international laws and was least bothered about its “reprehensible” conduct in Kashmir. “Different options are under consideration regarding Pakistani airspace’s use for Indian flights. Apart from VVIP flights, we are considering not to allow Indian airlines to use our airspace,” he said.

Mr. Khan said Pakistan marked its Defence Day on September 6 as Kashmir Solidarity Day as it had been more than a month now that people in Kashmir did not have access to hospitals, there was food shortage and students could not go to schools or colleges. The Federal Cabinet and members of Parliament felt that India should not be given any more concession. “India attacked Pakistan after the Pulwama incident. We only responded, and successfully so. India closed its airspace after [the] Balakot [air strikes]. We responded. But we also opened the airspace again as a goodwill gesture. Unfortunately, India has taken our goodwill gestures as signs of weakness,” he said.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan would not allow Mr. Kovind to use its airspace.

In New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “We regret the decision of the Pakistan government to deny overflight clearance for a VVIP special flight, which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country. We call on Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions.”

‘They see more opportunities, jobs and a better future’

Ajit Doval

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Saturday said he is “fully convinced” that a majority of Kashmiris support the Centre’s decision on Article 370 and affirmed that the restrictions were meant to prevent Pakistan from creating more mischief through proxies and terrorists.

Article 370 “was not a special status. It was a special discrimination. With its withdrawal, we have brought Kashmiris on a par with Indians,” he said.

At an interaction with a select group of Indian and foreign journalists, Mr. Doval said restrictions had anyway been eased progressively, and only 10 of the 199 police districts in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh still had prohibitory orders, while landlines had been restored fully in all the three areas.

‘Answerable to court’

On the political detentions, he said they were preventive in nature and very much allowed under the law, which meant the government was answerable to courts and would have to pay a heavy penalty if it did anything that was extra-judicial.

In the dilution of Article 370, announced on August 5, “they [Kashmiris] see greater opportunities, a better future, more jobs for youths. There is a vocal minority that opposes it. It appears to people that that is the voice of the people. That is not necessarily true,” Mr. Doval said.

Pakistan was bent on creating trouble, and would very much like to see unrest in the Valley, which would add grist to its anti-India propaganda. To achieve that aim, Pakistan had sent many terrorists into Kashmir with the intent of causing trouble, and to ensure that normalcy was not restored.

Journalist testifies in defamation case filed by M.J. Akbar

M.J. Akbar

Journalist Priya Ramani on Saturday recorded her statement in the criminal defamation case filed against her by former Union Minister M.J. Akbar.

Defending the use of the word “predator” in her tweet on October 8, 2018, Ms. Ramani said it was in the context of her personal experience with Mr. Akbar and the shared experiences of many other women.

Ms. Ramani said there was no overt physical attack on her, “but that did not excuse Mr. Akbar’s sexually coloured behaviour”.

Testifying in the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, Ms. Ramani said after completing her master's in journalism from the U.S., she was looking for a job when Mr. Akbar asked her to meet him for an interview at a hotel, and allegedly called her to his room. Ms. Ramani alleged that he asked several personal questions, offered her alcohol, and moved to the sofa and gestured to her to sit next to him, which she refused. Concerned about her physical safety, she quickly left the place after being told that his office would follow-up about the job, she said.

‘First male boss’

In 2017, when Vogue's features editor asked Ms. Ramani to write in the context of the #MeToo movement, she said she “couldn’t help but remember my personal story of my first male boss”. “I began the article with my M.J. Akbar story. I never named him,” she said, stating that only first four paragraphs were on her experience.

A year later, the movement gained momentum in India on Twitter.

Several journalists called out the editors they had worked with.

Parents asked to bring pen drives and hard drives to schools in the Valley to copy study material

Facing deprivation: Children catching up on lessons at a tuition centre due to the lockdown in Srinagar. NISSAR AHMADThe Hindu

The ongoing uncertain situation in Kashmir has forced local schools to distribute study material and video lessons to parents, to assist their wards in pursuing self-learning at home.

Kashmir’s prominent Delhi Public School (DPS) has directed parents to reach its Budgam campus with pen drives and hard drives. “The drives should have a minimum capacity of 32 gigabytes. Video lessons and study material will be made available for Class 1 and 2 on September 7 and for Class 3, 10th and 12th on September 8,” reads the DPS notice.

Such notices have been issued by other prominent schools too to help students catch up with time lost due to the one-month long clampdown and curfew-like restrictions, imposed since the August 5 decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

A series of meetings between the DPS administration and the parents had failed to arrive at a consensus on resuming regular classes at present, or in the immediate future.

The absence of connectivity with mobile phones and Internet, which is key for school administrations to apprise the parents of upcoming schedules, is only adding to the difficulties.

No compromise

“No parent will compromise with the security of their children,” said the father of a DPS student, declining to be identified. “The administration is not ready to guarantee students’ safety. Many schools are insisting that parents drop and pick up their wards. In the current circumstances, it’s not possible,” he added.

Parents are complaining that their wards may have only a five-month academic session this year. The Valley’s schools resumed functioning after a winter break in March and closed on August 5. “The Centre has played its politics of abrogation of provisions of the Article 370 at the cost of our future generation,” said a local resident, whose two sons study in Class 10 and Class 12 in a prominent Srinagar school. “Our next generation is going to pay a heavy price. This will force parents to send their wards outside India,” the resident added. Schools close for the annual winter break in December.

Nazia Jan (name changed), with a Masters in Arts, has offered to teach children free up to Class 5 at her residence in Srinagar’s Saidakadal area. “This is a small effort to bring to these helpless children some sense of normality,” she said.

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