India bans firebrand Hindu from vote campaign for anti-Muslim comment

Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, addresses the audience after inaugurating power projects in Allahabad, June 4, 2017.(Reuters)
Updated 15 April 2019

India bans firebrand Hindu from vote campaign for anti-Muslim comment

  • Yogi Adityanath, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, had been warned this month about his campaign speeches
  • Adityanathhad spoken about a “green virus” in a speech last week, apparently referring to Muslim voters

NEW DELHI: India’s election commission on Monday banned a firebrand Hindu nationalist state chief minister from campaigning for three days to stop him stoking hatred between religious communities in a divisive election that will end next month.
The saffron-clad Yogi Adityanath, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, had been warned this month about his campaign speeches, the election commission said in its order.
The commission said Adityanath, a holy man who is chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, had spoken about a “green virus” in a speech last week, apparently referring to Muslim voters who he said were being wooed by opposition parties.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been playing to its nationalist base and painting its rivals as soft on terrorism and eager to appease Muslims, who make up about 14 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population.
A BJP spokesman said the party was inclusive toward all communities and its leaders were discussing the ban on Adityanath.
“The party believes in all-together development for all, and we don’t believe in any polarization,” the spokesman, Harish Srivastava, said.
The election commission also imposed a ban on the powerful leader of the Dalits, people at the bottom of the Hindu caste structure, saying she had violated a code of conduct by asking Muslims to vote en bloc for opposition candidates.
The ban on the Dalit leader, Mayawait, would run for two days, it said.
A spokesman for Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, which is in an alliance with another regional party in Uttar Pradesh, could not be reached.
Staggered voting in the general election began last Thursday and will end on May 19.
Although jobs, nationalism and conditions for farmers are the main issues, religion is an important and sensitive topic.
The BJP repeated in its manifesto a commitment to build a Hindu temple in the northern town of Ayodhya at a site disputed by Muslims, seeking to gain the support of majority Hindus.
Last week, BJP president Amit Shah referred to illegal Muslim immigrants as “termites” and vowed to throw them into the sea.
Surveys suggest that Modi’s ruling alliance can win a simple majority this time, a poorer performance that in the last election in 2014, when it secured a commanding majority on a promise to turn India into an economic and military power.


Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

Updated 17 August 2019

Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

  • Marium, the female baby dugong had already lost her mother when she was initially found
  • Biologists tried saving her, but they believe she died of a combination of the plastic and shock

BANGKOK: An 8-month-old dugong nurtured by marine experts after it was found lost near a beach in southern Thailand has died of what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic waste, officials said Saturday.
The female dugong — a large ocean mammal — was named “Marium” and became a hit in Thailand after images of biologists embracing and feeding her with milk and seagrass spread across social media. Veterinarians and volunteers had set out in canoes to feed Marium up to 15 times a day while also giving her health checks.
Last week, she was found bruised after being chased and supposedly attacked by a male dugong during the mating season, said Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
She was brought in for treatment in the artificial sea on Libong Island in Krabi province.
“We assume she wandered off too far from her natural habitat and was chased and eventually attacked by another male dugong, or dugongs, as they feel attracted to her,” Jatuporn said Saturday.
An autopsy showed a big amount of plastic waste in her intestine, which could also have played a part in her death as it led to gastritis and blood infection, he said.
“She must have thought these plastics were edible,” Jatuporn said.
The dugong is a species of marine mammal similar to the American manatee and can grow to about 3.4 meters (11 feet) in length. Its conservation status is listed as vulnerable.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-arcpha said Marium’s death saddens the whole nation and the world.
“Her death will remind Thais and people all over the world not to dispose trash into the oceans,” Varawut said at a news conference.