Modi quotes Dylan to hail change, jokes about `100 NIA raids Zakir Naik’s Mumbai offices, home
CASH CRISIS Sonia hits out at ‘shortcuts to greatness’; four people die in queues
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday quoted Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan to hit out at critics of the government’s decision to recall high-value banknotes, saying “the times they are a-changin” and asked them not to criticise “what you can’t understand”.
Modi’s swipe came 11 days after he announced a ban on Rs500 and Rs1,000 banknotes, a surprise decision that has left millions of Indians struggling to exchange the banned currency and withdraw cash from banks and ATMs.
Earlier in the day, Congress president Sonia Gandhi took a dig at leaders who are in a “quest for shortcuts to greatness”, in what is seen as a veiled criticism of Modi’s demonetisation move that her party says has been executed badly.
Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi also targeted Modi. “The cold play while the poor suffer!” he tweeted, referring to the British band Coldplay which performed in Mumbai after Modi’s address through video-conference.
The Congress’ fresh salvo came on a day when at least four more people died, allegedly due to exhaustion from queuing several hours to exchange banknotes.
The government says the demonetisation was aimed at curbing black money and counterfeiting of currency. Students at a Jammu college pose for a photograph with the new Rs2,000 banknote, backing PM Modi’s demonetisation move.
Federal antiterrorism investigators searched a dozen offices and homes linked to televangelist Zakir Naik on Saturday, recovering cash and potentially incriminating documents, a day after the police charged the controversial preacher with promoting terrorism.
Officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) swooped down early in the morning on the headquarters of Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), which was banned this week for five years under a tough anti-terrorism law. The teams conducted searches in the Dongri and Mazagaon neighbourhoods, where Naik’s home and offices are spread across several buildings. The searches went on till late at night. Investigators also searched a media company that Naik used to beam his ofteninflammatory speeches.
Blood donations that usually drop during the holiday season is yet to take off after Diwali this year, with blood banks across the city facing a severe scarcity, especially of the blood groups B positive and AB.
Blood banks said there is usually a sharp fall in donations around Diwali as people go on vacations, but the shortage this year has lasted longer than usual. Dr Kishore Jha, the blood bank officer at the Mahatma Gandhi Seva Mandir blood bank, Bandra, said,“At any point, we have a stock of 500 units of all blood groups, which is sufficient. Right now, however, we have about 30-40 units of blood,” he said.
The staff at the state-run JJ Mahanagar blood bank, Byculla, also reported facing a shortage for three weeks. “We have had to refuse people who need blood,” said a staff member at the blood bank. The Red Cross Blood Bank at Fort has 19 units of blood, compared to 100 units that make up their ‘adequate supply’. “We have now reserved the stock only for Thalassemia patients,” said Mangesh Sawant, a technician.
The shortage has hit patients and their families. Sunil Shah (name changed), a Goregaon resident, said he called up every blood bank in the city to arrange for blood for his 29-year old son who has Thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder. “My son’s needs three units of B positive blood every 15 days. As we are travelling on Monday, one bank called a donor,” he said.