Dalit anger singes BJP, Mayawati’s stock rises No helmet, no fuel: State gets tough on two-wheeler safety FOR YOUR PROTECTION Man from Zakir Naik’s foundation held for ISIS links THE ZAKIR NAIK CONTROVERSY
AFTERMATH Protests spread in UP, Gujarat; Opposition guns for Modi govt 4,500
BSP chief Mayawati took centre stage in national politics and won rare unanimous opposition support in parliament on Thursday, as protests grew over derogatory remarks about her and atrocities against Dalits.
Thousands of people filled the main streets of Lucknow and elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh, demanding the arrest of expelled state BJP leader Dayashankar Singh for comparing Mayawati to a prostitute. They left after the authorities promised to arrest Singh within 36 hours.
The insult to Mayawati, a Dalit icon and four times chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, came at a time the central government has been struggling to contain protests over the beating of four Dalit men by self-styled cow vigilantes for skinning a dead cow in Gujarat.
Thursday’s demonstrations as well as Mayawati’s speech in parliament signalled that Uttar Pradesh was set to become the focal point of Dalit protest politics, with elections in the state just months away. Accounting for about 21% of the state population, Dalits are Congress V-P Rahul Gandhi visits Una to meet the Dalit victims who were assaulted by ‘cow protectors’.
a key swing vote.
Implying a political backlash for the BJP, Mayawati said Dalits would never forgive the party for Singh’s comments.
“People from the weaker sections of society… respect me a lot; they treat me as a goddess and if you say bad things about their goddess, they will feel bad and are bound to protest,” she said.
In the Rajya Sabha, her speech bore the hallmark of a potential election pitch.
Those riding two-wheelers without a helmet can no longer buy fuel at petrol pumps, courtesy the state government’s new No Helmet No Fuel rule.
Transport minister Diwakar Raote, while announcing the decision in the state Assembly, said allowing unsafe riders to refuel their two-wheelers was like encouraging them to ride without helmets. “The decision was taken in accordance with the guidelines laid down by a road safety committee appointed by the SC,” he said in the state Assembly. He also said policemen, who do not follow traffic safety rules will also face action.
The minister said the state has already made helmets compulsory for both the rider and the pillion rider.
A few other states such as Kerala will implement the policy from August 1. Around 4,500 petrol pumps have been asked to implement it in Maharashtra. The pumps also have to display boards at their outlets informing customers about the decision.
Petrol pump operators, however, opposed the move saying it was not their job. “We had a meeting with senior police officers of the Mumbai police commissionerate about implementation at 223 petrol pumps in the city on an experimental basis. But implementation across the state was a unilateral decision taken without taking us into confidence. We do not have any right to deny petrol. The denial will lead to unwarranted brawls,” said Uday Lodh, president, Federation of All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Associations.
A public relations manager working for controversial televangelist Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation was arrested from Nerul on Thursday for allegedly radicalising a couple from Kerala and recruiting them with the Islamic State.
A team of Kerala police and the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested 45-year-old Arshid Asif Qureshi under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Arshid’s name surfaced when the Palarivottam police station in Kochi registered a complaint against Yahya, alias Bestin Vincent, a Christian from Palakkad who converted to Islam and is believed to have joined the ISIS, after he went missing from Kochi with his wife Merin Jacob, alias Mariyam.
The complaint was registered by Merin’s brother Ebin Jacob.
Police sources said Qureshi was the public relations manager when Naik had held a massive public conference in 2009 and that he was responsible for all the coordination. Ebin’s complaint says theirs is a Christian family from Edapally in Kochi. His sister had met Yahya while working in Mumbai in 2015, and eventually the two got married.