Four killed in India clash ahead of Trump arrival

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People supporting the new citizenship law beat a Muslim man during a clash with those opposing the law, in New Delhi, India, February 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
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People supporting the new citizenship law beat a Muslim man during a clash with those opposing the law, in New Delhi, India, February 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
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People vandalize a car during a clash between a group protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Bill and those supporting it, in New Delhi, India, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (AP)
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Demonstrators gather along a road scattered with stones following clashes between supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law, at Bhajanpura area of New Delhi on February 24, 2020, ahead of US President arrival in New Delhi. (AFP)
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A man supporting a new citizenship law throws a petrol bomb at a Muslim shrine during a clash with those opposing the law in New Delhi India, February 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Policemen stand on a vandalised road following clashes between supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law, at Bhajanpura area of New Delhi on February 24, 2020, ahead of US President arrival in New Delhi. (AFP)
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Policemen stand on a vandalised road following clashes between supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law, at Bhajanpura area of New Delhi on February 24, 2020, ahead of US President arrival in New Delhi. (AFP)
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Policemen shelter behind a barrier in a road scattered with stones following clashes between supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law, at Bhajanpura area of New Delhi on February 24, 2020, ahead of US President arrival in New Delhi. (AFP)
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Policemen walk along a road scattered with stones following clashes between supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law, at Bhajanpura area of New Delhi on February 24, 2020, ahead of US President arrival in New Delhi. (AFP)
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A police officer fires a tear gas shell to disperse crowds after a clash between people supporting a new citizenship law and those opposing the law, in Maujpur area of New Delhi, India, February 23, 2020. (REUTERS)
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People supporting a new citizenship law jump over a road divider during a clash with those opposing the law in New Delhi, India, February 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
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People supporting a new citizenship law destroy the protest site used by those opposing it, in New Delhi, India, February 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 25 February 2020

Four killed in India clash ahead of Trump arrival

  • The new law has raised worries abroad — including in Washington — that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies

NEW DELHI: A policeman was among at least four people killed in New Delhi on Monday during violent clashes over a contentious citizenship law, local media said, hours before US President Donald Trump arrived in the Indian capital for an official visit.
Protesters torched at least two houses and shops before later setting a tire market on fire, the Press Trust of India said. Local TV channels showed plumes of black smoke billowing from buildings.
One video posted on social media showed crowds of men shouting “Jai Shree Ram” or “Hail Lord Ram,” a revered Hindu deity, as they went on a rampage.
Protests have broken out across India since the citizenship law came into force in December, leaving at least 30 people killed in clashes with police. Critics say the law discriminates against Muslims.
The new law has raised worries abroad — including in Washington — that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies.
The latest unrest erupted between several hundred supporters and opponents of the law in a Muslim-dominated area of northeast Delhi on Sunday, and continued Monday.
A constable died after receiving a critical head injury, while another senior officer was among the injured.
Local media said three civilians also died and many people were hurt.
“Please renounce violence. Nobody benefits from this. All problems will be solved by peace,” Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia tweeted that schools in the capital’s northeast would be shut on Tuesday and exams postponed.
Trump arrived in the western state of Gujarat on Monday and addressed about 100,000 people at a rally with Modi before he visited the Taj Mahal monument in Agra.
Later Monday the US president landed in Delhi before official talks in the city on Tuesday.
A senior US official told reporters that Trump would raise concerns about religious freedom in the Hindu-majority nation during the trip, calling them “extremely important to this administration.”
 


Tech-savvy Indonesians go off-grid to help to remote villages fight virus

Updated 04 July 2020

Tech-savvy Indonesians go off-grid to help to remote villages fight virus

  • Young volunteers tackle tough terrain, pandemic myths in isolated northern region

JAKARTA: A group of tech-savvy young locals in Indonesia’s northern North Halmahera regency is spreading awareness about the dangers of COVID-19 in remote corners of the archipelago at a time when bureaucracy has impeded a rapid response to the pandemic.

The Relawan Merah Putih, or Red and White Volunteers, includes a multimedia expert, university students, lecturers, civil servants and a web developer in Tobelo, the main city of North Halmahera in North Maluku province, about 2,500 km from the capital Jakarta.

The city is located on Halmahera island, part of the Maluku Islands, Indonesia’s fabled Spice Islands on the northeastern part of the sprawling archipelago.

Stevie Recaldo Karimang, a 28-year-old freelance photographer and videographer, told Arab News that he set up the group after social restrictions introduced to counter the pandemic put him out of business. 

He quickly developed a website on the pandemic and created online flyers and audiovisual materials that he and 31 other volunteers distributed on social media platforms and messaging apps to educate the public about the pandemic soon after the first cases in Indonesia were confirmed in Jakarta in early March.

“We translated the information we took from the national COVID-19 task force into the market language spoken here, which is a mixture of Indonesian and the local dialect, to make it more understandable for the locals,” Karimang said.

The group also used a drone to issue public warnings against mass gatherings.

“The drone helped to remind people not to form a crowd when social restrictions were enforced. We attached a flashlight to the device to catch the crowd’s attention, and we were able to dismiss such gatherings.”

But the volunteers shifted their efforts to rural areas after the first coronavirus case in North Maluku province was confirmed on March 23.

Jubhar Mangimbulude, a microbiology expert at Halmahera University and the group’s adviser, said the team had visited 30 isolated villages out of 196 townships in the regency, which is home to 161 million people.

“We reached one village after hours of driving over rough terrain. We have to use four-wheel-drive vehicles because along the way we may have to cross a river where the bridge is damaged,” he told Arab News.

Mangimbulude said that many villagers were unaware of the pandemic and only knew from TV that a dangerous virus was spreading quickly and infecting people. He was glad to find that no COVID-19 cases had been detected among the villagers.

But he acknowledged that misinformation was rife and said that he had to debunk myths about “how alcohol could be used to prevent the disease.”

“The villagers heard that the virus can be killed with heat in one’s body, and since drinking alcohol can warm the body, they encouraged their children and elders to drink a local alcoholic beverage made of fermented sugar palm fruit,” Mangimbulude said.

Fellow volunteer Oscar Berthomene, a local civil servant, said that the group was able to move faster than the regency administration whose bureaucracy slowed down the response to the pandemic.

“I have support from my supervisor, and we were able to help their activities with cars to allow them to move around,” he told Arab News.

The regency has about 18 percent of the 953 cases in the province, which make up about 1.5 percent of the national total of 62,142 as of Saturday.