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Israel Gaza: Netanyahu vows to press ahead with Rafah offensive

Israel Gaza: Netanyahu vows to press ahead with Rafah offensive

A young child peeks over the rim of an empty bowl she holds while standing in a crowd awaiting food aid in Rafah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted his troops will advance on the Gazan city of Rafah, defying outside pleas to reconsider.

French President Emmanuel Macron was among those warning Mr. Netanyahu off, telling him the human cost of Israel’s operation in Gaza was “intolerable”.

But Mr Netanyahu has ordered his army to prepare for a ground assault.

Some 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, which has already come under bombardment.

Mr Netanyahu vowed to press on with a “powerful” assault, declaring that Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, must be eliminated from the southern city.

“We will fight until complete victory and this includes a powerful action also in Rafah after we allow the civilian population to leave the battle zones,” he said.

President Macron phoned Mr. Netanyahu on Wednesday to say Israel’s operations in Gaza “must cease”.

He expressed “France’s firm opposition to an Israeli offensive in Rafah, which could only lead to a humanitarian disaster of a new magnitude”.

The prime ministers of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand issued a joint statement expressing their “grave concern” that a military operation in Rafah would be “catastrophic”.

“We urge the Israeli government not to go down this path,” the statement read, adding “The impacts on Palestinian civilians from an expanded military operation would be devastating”.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, visiting Israel, warned that people in Rafah with nowhere to go could not “simply vanish into thin air.”

Spain and the Republic of Ireland have asked the EU, of which they are members, to examine “urgently” whether Israel is complying with its human rights obligations in Gaza under an accord linking rights to trade.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory reports that at least 28,576 people, mostly women and children, have been killed as a result of Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

Israel took action after Hamas-led gunmen killed at least 1,200 people and seized 253 hostages in a surprise attack on its territory on 7 October.

In the earlier days of the war, Israel had instructed Palestinians to seek refuge in Rafah as the Israeli military moved against the northern cities.

Rafah is Gaza’s southernmost and features a crossing point into Egypt where humanitarian aid has been allowed to enter the Strip.

Now Israeli authorities want civilians to relocate to what they call a “humanitarian zone” – a thin strip of mainly agricultural land along the Mediterranean coast known as al-Mawasi.

Among the displaced civilians in Rafah was Ahlam Abu Assi, who told AFP news agency she “would rather die” there than return to famine-like conditions like those experienced by relatives who had stayed in Gaza City.

“My son and his children have nothing to eat. They cook a handful of rice and save it for the next day,” she said.

Map showing Israeli ground operations in southern Gaza (4 February 2023)

Another city, Khan Younis, has been the focus of Israel’s operations in the south of Gaza so far.

Thousands of displaced Palestinians sought shelter there in the Nasser hospital but are now also being ordered to evacuate.

Mr Netanyahu’s vow to press on came after peace negotiations involving officials from the US, Israel, Egypt, and Qatar ended inconclusively.

Israel’s prime ministerial office said Hamas had presented no new offer for a hostage deal and Israel would not accept the militant group’s “ludicrous demands”.

“A change in Hamas’ positions will make it possible to move forward in the negotiations,” it added.



Mai Atal Hu

Mai Atal Hu

Story: The biopic follows the life and times of the former Prime Minister of India, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It also chronicles the various facets of his personality and the country’s achievements under his leadership.

Review: Making a biopic on a stalwart like the 10th Prime Minister of India, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is no mean feat. While the creators must weave a cohesive narrative from an exhaustive chronicle, the actor must portray the role befittingly. Main Atal Hoon stands out in both regards. Pankaj Tripathi delivers a pitch-perfect performance as Vajpayee, a poet, politician, statesman, and gentleman. Besides the mannerisms and speech, the actor perfectly nails the nuances of his personality. On the other hand, award-winning director-writer Ravi Jadhav (Natrang, Taali, etc.) and co-writer Rishi Virmani come up with aces in chronicling the life and times of one of the most admired figures in India.

Inspired by Sarang Darshane’s book, Atalji: Kavihridayache Rashtranetyachi Charitkahani, the movie succinctly covers Vajpayee’s journey from being a freedom fighter to a revered leader. The narrative summarises all the prominent influences, pivotal events, and important achievements under his leadership. From the Kargil War, the bus yatra from India to Pakistan, and the Pokhran Nuclear Test, many crucial episodes have been depicted through archival footage, making the narrative more engaging and authentic. However, the audience may need knowledge of Indian politics to understand a few parts of the movie. Although a narrator sets the context regularly, it would have helped to have some background in these portions.

The film initially moves at a steady pace but slows intermittently until the interval. It picks up its speed again in the second half when the narrative shifts towards the peak of his days as a politico. Besides its writing and direction, the biopic boasts stellar cinematography by Lawrence Alex Dcunha. The movie is a visual treat, from silhouettes to camerawork enhancing important scenes. Salim-Sulaiman, Payal Dev, Kailash Kher, and Amritraj provide a soundtrack that evokes inspiration, and Monty Sharma’s background score makes the narrative more powerful. The use of Vajpayee’s poetry recitation and lyrics in songs also add to the appeal.

While Pankaj Tripathi shines as Vajpayee and looks like his replica, especially in long shots, Raja Rameshkumar Sevak, as LK Advani, looks extraordinarily similar to the senior leader. Other political figures, such as Sushma Swaraj (Gauri Sukhtanker) and Arun Jaitley (Yogendra Patwal), have also been portrayed perfectly. Vajpayee’s relationship with his father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee (Piyush Mishra), is heartwarming and even elicits a few chuckles. The depiction of his equation with his classmate and long-time friend Rajkumari Kaul, nee Haksar (Ekta Kaul), is pleasant. Although the movie touches upon how Vajpayee met his adopted daughter, Namita Bhattacharya (Kaul), their relationship could have been improved.

The film’s narrative, treatment, and stellar portrayal by Pankaj Tripathi will leave you enamored. Watch this movie that will fill you with admiration for one of the most significant political figures in India.


Source:- TOI

Transforming Ayodhya into the ‘Hindu Vatican’

Ayodhya: Transforming a flashpoint holy city into the ‘Hindu Vatican’

On a brutally cold morning, Yogendra Guru looked adrift in a maze of traffic after visiting the heavily secured makeshift shrine where Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.

Frenzied construction work provided the backdrop in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya – a vast center to welcome pilgrims, arched sandstone gates, and a broad corridor leading to a brand new $217m (£170m) temple for the Hindu deity. A multi-billion dollar makeover has seen swathes of the city bulldozed to turn it into what some Hindu nationalist leaders are calling a “Hindu Vatican”.

Mr. Guru had endured a grueling 14-hour bus journey with two dozen family members who made the pilgrimage to Ayodhya from their village in Morena district in central Madhya Pradesh state.

“I am elated that we are finally getting a new temple. It seems like the Hindus have awakened, experiencing a sense of freedom. I believe we were previously suppressed,” he told me.

Next week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fulfill a decades-long Hindu nationalist pledge by opening the temple, which replaces a 16th-century mosque that once stood here, on one of India’s most controversial religious sites. In 1992, Hindu mobs tore down the Babri mosque, claiming it was built by Muslim invaders on the ruins of a Ram temple, sparking nationwide riots that took nearly 2,000 lives.

Workers atop the under construction Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India, on Friday, Dec. 29, 2023.
Stretching across 7.2 acres, the three-story shrine, clad in sandstone and anchored by granite, boasts towering pillars

The stormy ownership dispute between Hindus and Muslims ended in 2019 when the Supreme Court granted the site to Hindus, despite explicitly stating that the demolition of the mosque was an “egregious violation of the rule of law”. (The court gave Muslims another plot of land in Ayodhya to construct a mosque.)

Mr Modi opens the Ayodhya temple months before the general elections, with his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) eyeing a record third consecutive term. He says the new temple will “unify the nation”. Senior minister Rajnath Singh believes the shrine would mark “the beginning of India’s cultural revival and restore national pride”.

Critics say the timing of the opening leans more towards political strategy than religious significance, building a Hindu nationalist momentum ahead of the polls. After all, they argue, the movement to build a temple was a major factor in propelling the BJP to a prominent position in Indian politics.

“After enduring life in a tent, Lord Ram has now found a rightful abode. It’s been a test of patience for all of us,” said Satyendra Das, the 86-year-old head priest of the makeshift shrine, where a smaller idol of Ram had been placed for the past three decades.

The new temple is as grand as it gets. Stretching across 7.2 acres in a 70-acre complex, the imposing three-story structure, clad in pink sandstone and anchored by black granite, boasts towering pillars and rests upon 70,000 sq ft (6,503 sq m) of pristine white marble. A 51-inch (4.25-ft) idol of Ram will be placed on a marble pedestal.

When fully complete – Mr. Modi will be opening only the ground floor on 22 January – by the end of the year, the temple will expect to greet a staggering 150,000 visitors per day, seven times the current rate.

Preparation at Maharshi Valmiki International Airport Ayodhya ahead of its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 29, 2023 in Ayodhya, India
Ayodhya’s makeover includes a shiny new airport…
View of newly built Ayodhya Railway station on December 27, 2023 in Ayodhya, India.
…and a massive new railway station

To make all this happen, Mr Modi’s government is pulling out all the stops to transform Ayodhya, a tranquil pilgrim town on the banks of Saryu, a tributary of the Ganges, to what officials call a “world-class city where people come as pilgrims and tourists”.

The $3.85bn (£3.01bn) makeover includes expanded roads, a shiny new airport, a massive railway station, and a multi-level car park. More than 3,000 homes, shops and “structures of religious nature” have been either completely or partially demolished to facilitate the widening of four main roads, including the newly christened 13km (8-mile) Ram Path, leading to the temple. A lighter yellow paint now gives the buildings a uniform, bland look.

Hotel chains like Radisson and Taj are building new properties; up to 50 new hotels and homestays are planned, while scores of grubby guesthouses are receiving facelifts. Not surprisingly, land prices have already trebled.

“You can’t recognize the place, it’s changed so much now. There’s a bit of shock and awe that all this has happened,” said Valay Singh, author of Ayodhya: City of Faith, City of Discord, who has been visiting the the city since 2016.

There are also plans for additional attractions surrounding the new temple, including a heritage walk featuring 162 murals depicting Ram’s life, a facility on a Saryu river island that offers “insights into the Vedic civilization”, and the creation of a wedding city and developing the place as a naturopathy center.

“We want to create the most beautiful city in the world,” says Gaurav Dayal, Ayodhya’s most senior official.

More than 3,000 homes and shops have been either completely or partially demolished to widen pilgrim corridors
Half of Vishal Pandey’s ancestral six-room house had been demolished for the road widening of a pilgrim corridor

Faith threads its way through every facet of life in Ayodhya, where temples rise like sentinels in an untidy skyline and monks walk the streets. Tens of thousands of pilgrims circumambulate the city at least twice a year. The ubiquitous monkeys still have a free run. Bazaars teem with hawkers selling religious bric-a-brac: flowers, sandalwood, devotional books, and replicas of deities.

Mr. Singh describes it as a “fragile, pilgrim-dependent economy”. On her first visit to the city, Disha Chakraborty, a student of life sciences from Shillong in north-eastern India, told me: “This place is dilapidated, let’s be honest. But it doesn’t matter because people are so devoted. So many have put their collective faith in an idol.”

Yet, in this city of both a few thousand temples, large and small, and 45-odd mosques, and festivals and fairs, a transformation is underway, blending the old with the new.

As well as tattoo parlors and takeout food, Ayodhya has a restaurant called Dark Cloud and a salon called Stylish Chand Men’s Parlour, offering a variety of style cuts. Laser shows light up the sky after the dark. The place swarms with competing YouTubers and Instagram Reel makers, each trying to make the place “trend”.

Shakila Bano, 38 years old, makes a garland of Marigold flowers at her house as the construction site of Hindu Ram Temple is seen in the background, in Ayodhya, India, November 22, 2023. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
Shakila Bano makes a garland of marigold flowers at her house – Ayodhya’s temple economy is dependent on local Muslims

Inspired by faith, tradition, and curiosity, millions of devotees and tourists are now expected to descend on Ayodhya after the new temple opens. Yet, even in its peace, there are rumblings of discontent. The road-widening initiative for pilgrims slices through the city, leaving a trail of homes and shops smashed by bulldozers.

Anand Kumar Gupta, who heads an association of local shopkeepers, said around 1,600 of them have “been displaced and have nowhere to go”. He added that they were paid an average of 100,000 ($1,200) rupees for repairs. “This rebuilding has disturbed us,” he said.

On a pilgrim route being widened, some three dozen homes of people who work in the city’s temples stand partially demolished. The street is overflowing with sewage from leaky pipes. Wobbly bamboo bridges stretch precariously over muddy trenches that scar the ground outside the doors. Owners of the destroyed homes have been given plots at a distance.

Vishal Pandey said that half of his ancestral six-room house had been demolished for the road widening. Despite a compensation close to 700,000 rupees for the affected portion, the toll on their eight-member generational dwelling is irreversible, he added. “There is anger among the locals,” Mr Pandey told me. “But we are also happy that Ram is finally getting a permanent home. He was in a tent for such a long time. Now it’s our turn [to suffer].

“Where there is destruction, there is development. Let’s see what happens.”

Local vendor named Udaikant Jha selling religious items near Dashrath Mahal on December 22, 2023 in Ayodhya, India.
Bazaars in Ayodhya teem with hawkers selling religious bric-a-brac

Kanti Devi, who has lost half of her house, is more trenchant. “We are not happy at all,” she says. “Even the officials come and tell us we are giving you a lot of pain. It’s good that the temple has been made, but how does it help us? Whatever we built, they have razed to get more pilgrims into the town.”

Officials say residents of the demolished dwellings and shops have been compensated with money and new houses under government schemes. “All compensation has been given. It is delayed in some cases because of litigation involving family disputes. There’s nothing left to be done now,” says Mr Dayal.

In many ways, people coming in from outside have shaped the destiny of Ayodhya where Hindus and Muslims have long lived in mixed neighborhoods. This endured despite the demolition and a subsequent attack on local Muslims in December 1992, allegedly leading to the death of 18 Muslims and the torching of their homes. It was a city that became a flashpoint for religious violence.

“We have moved on. However, the events remain a source of pain for us,” said Khaliq Ahmed Khan, a social worker.

Mr Khan believes Hindus and Muslims share warm relations in Ayodhya, rooted in a centuries-old inter-dependence. “Hindu devotion to Ram is intertwined with the support of Muslims, particularly in the temple economy, where their trade plays a crucial role. The two communities are inseparable.”

This sentiment is echoed by Raghuvansh Mani, a local college professor: “The sectarian strife originated from outside; the local people have minimal involvement in that.” Some locals share similar sentiments, feeling that outsiders are determining their fate, as the new temple aims to open Ayodhya to the world.

“Only time will tell,” says Mr Pandey.



100 days since Hamas – Israel War

100 days since Hamas attacked Israel, triggering war in Gaza

Supporters and families react as others hold pictures of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza take part in rally in Tel Aviv
Families of Israeli hostages held in Gaza joined a massive rally in Tel Aviv marking a hundred days of their captivity

One hundred days ago, the previously unthinkable happened in Israel. A state, born out of adversity and war only 75 years ago, woke up to what some have since described as a threat to its very existence.

On Saturday night, in Tel Aviv, the events of 7 October were commemorated by thousands of people. Uppermost on the minds of everyone were the around 130 hostages abducted by Hamas and still being held in Gaza, although some of them may not still be alive.

Just after dawn 100 days ago, thousands of heavily armed Hamas fighters stormed through and over the Gaza border fence in several different places.

They attacked kibbutzim, military bases, and border towns, accustomed to rocket attacks from Gaza but overwhelmed by the scale of the Hamas incursion.

At least 1,200 people were killed along the length of the border as Israeli defenses were caught completely by surprise.

Images of hundreds of young music lovers fleeing for their lives at the Nova festival shook Israel to its core. More than 360 people were killed at the festival site and dozens more were abducted to Gaza.

The number of civilians killed in the Israeli bombardment that followed the Hamas attacks has been huge. More than 23,000 have been killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, many of them women and children. Thousands more are believed to be dead under the rubble.

Yossi Schneider
Yossi Schneider’s cousin was kidnapped by Hamas along with her two young children and husband

In Israel on Saturday, among those at the huge commemorative event in Tel Aviv were families of the disappeared, carrying posters and wearing T-shirts featuring the faces of their loved ones.

I spoke to Yossi Schneider – a cousin of Shiri Bibas, who was kidnapped along with her two young children and husband.

“There are 130 people, mainly civilians being held without medicines and the Red Cross is not even being allowed to visit them,” says Yossi, angered that the wider family has received little information on their physical or mental welfare.

“There are three generations of my family that have disappeared. Three generations of my family! And the world is keeping silent and asking us to stay calm. I cannot take it anymore,” he adds, tired but frustrated.

Most people here would say that 7 October was the biggest threat ever faced by Israel and that Israelis have never felt so vulnerable. While the safe return of the hostages is their absolute priority, many also agree with their government’s war aims in Gaza and few voices are calling for tolerance and coexistence.

A man sits in front of the rubble of a house in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip
A man sits in front of the rubble of a house in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip

As Israel’s shaken defense establishment eventually responded to what was happening in the south as Saturday 7 October drew to a close, the Israeli military embarked on an unprecedented bombing campaign in Gaza – its stated goal: the destruction of Hamas and its support structure.

Much of the territory, from Gaza City in the north to Khan Younis in the south, has since been destroyed.

Israel says Hamas has been severely weakened and, according to the Israeli military, rendered almost inoperable as an organized force in northern Gaza.

But the number of civilians killed in the Israeli bombardment has been enormous.

Palestinian officials say that 85% of Gaza’s population has been displaced. While more aid is now getting into Gaza the UN’s humanitarian chief has described the situation as “intolerable”.

Fatten Abu Shahada
Faten Abu Shahada now lives in a plastic tent with her family in Khan Younis

Faten Abu Shahada needs regular kidney dialysis which is one reason why she and her family have been forced to move south. Home for Faten and the kids is now a plastic tent in Khan Younis – the sound of an Israeli drone overhead is their constant companion.

“Gaza has been destroyed. There’s no Gaza left – no hospitals, no education,” says Faten. “Our children have lost their school year, Gaza is no longer alive.”

Israel is coming under increasing international pressure to consider a ceasefire or pause in Gaza, such is the scale of the civilian suffering.

Even its closest ally the US, which consistently defends Israel’s right to self-defense and to prevent a repetition of 7 October, has repeatedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the civilian death toll is “far too high”.

President Biden has spoken of Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing”, which he said meant the country was losing support around the world.

Gideon Levy
Columnist Gideon Levy says the war in Gaza will last as long as the Americans allow it

Gideon Levy is a columnist for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and a frequent critic of Mr Netanyahu. I asked him if this war – already Israel’s longest since 1948 – would soon conclude.

“The war in its current shape will last as long as Americans will allow Israel (to do it),” says Levy.

He adds: “I don’t think it will be many weeks more. But that doesn’t mean that the war is over because nobody has thought about the day after.

“If Israel doesn’t pull out of Gaza, there will be resistance. And if there is resistance there will be retaliation.”

As Israeli troops continue to attack Hamas positions in central and southern Gaza, ending the war seems to be far from Mr Netanyahu’s intentions.

Israel says the fighting will not end until Hamas is completely defeated. The immediate future across the region, and especially for thousands of civilians living in appalling conditions in Gaza, looks particularly bleak.


Pakistan says children killed in Iranian strike

Pakistan says children killed in Iranian strike

An Iranian missile launcher
Iranian missiles – seen here during a training drill – have hit Pakistan, Iraq and Syria in recent days

Pakistan says two children were killed and three others injured in strikes by neighboring Iran on Tuesday.

Iran said it targeted two bases linked to the militant group Jaish al-Adl, according to a news agency affiliated with the country’s military.

But Pakistan rejected this, calling it an “illegal act” that could lead to “serious consequences”.

Pakistan is the third country, after Iraq and Syria, to be hit by an Iranian attack within the last few days.

A missile attack by Iran on Pakistan is near-unprecedented. Tuesday’s strike hit a village in the vast south-western province of Balochistan, which borders the two countries.

In a strongly worded statement, Pakistan’s foreign ministry strongly condemned the “unprovoked violation of its airspace by Iran”.

It called the incident “completely unacceptable”, adding that it was “even more concerning that this illegal act has taken place despite the existence of several channels of communication between Pakistan and Iran”.

Pakistan has protested with a “concerned senior official” in Iran’s foreign ministry in its capital city Tehran, adding that “this blatant violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and that the responsibility for the consequences will lie squarely with Iran”.

Iran had late on Monday launched ballistic missile strikes against targets in Iraq’s northern city of Irbil, prompting condemnation by the US.

The Iranian strikes come amid heightened tensions across the Middle East since the war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian group Hamas began on 7 October.

Iran has declared that it does not want to get involved in a wider conflict, but groups in its so-called “Axis of Resistance” have been carrying out attacks on Israel and its allies to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement has exchanged cross-border fire with Israeli forces; Shia militias have launched drones and missiles at US forces in Iraq and Syria; and Yemen’s Houthi rebels have attacked ships in the Red Sea.

Israel has reportedly carried out strikes that killed a Hamas leader in Lebanon and a Revolutionary Guards commander in Syria, while the US has killed an Iraqi militia leader in an air strike in Iraq and bombed Houthi targets in Yemen.

Pakistan and Iran have fought armed separatist groups, including Jaish al-Adl, for decades in the sparsely populated region.

Security on either side of their shared border, which runs for about 900km (559 miles), has been a long-running concern for both governments.

Tehran has linked the group with attacks last month close to the border, which killed over a dozen Iranian police officers.

At the time, Iran’s interior minister Ahmad Vahidi said the militants responsible had entered the country from Pakistan.

Jaish al-Adl is the “most active and influential” Sunni militant group operating in Sistan-Baluchestan, according to the office of the US Director of National Intelligence.


Source:- ttps://

About Lakshadweep

About Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep is one of the smallest union territory out of all the seven union territories that are there in India. ‘Lakshadweep’ means ‘a hundred thousand islands’ in Sanskrit and Malayalam. It was formerly known by various names such as Laccadive, Minicoy, and Aminidivi Islands. Kavaratti is the capital of Lakshadweep.

Lakshadweep Islands

It is a platoon of 36 islands and is also the principal town of the Union Territories in India. The beauty of this place is popularly known for the enticing and enlivening beaches and lush green landscapes. Hence, because of a number of beaches in its account, most of the population of Lakshadweep is engrossed in fishing and cultivation of coconut.

Out of 36 islands in the group, only 10 have inhabitants namely Amini, Kiltan, Chetlat, Kadmat, Bitra Kalpeni, Agatti, Kavaratti, Kiltan, Andrott and Minicoy. The place appears more of a Muslim’s Union Territory because almost 93% of the population are Muslims. Also, the people there are very quiet and have a much laid back attitude. The area is virtually crime free.

Brief History of Lakshadweep

The group of islands of Lakshadweep are aboriginal and, hence, there are a number of speculations that have been made about the advent of inhabitation on Lakshadweep. Amongst all, one of the earlier references that is worth mentioning, is about the region being in the Periplus of the Eritrean Sea by some anonymous author.

Vasco Da Gama was the first westerner to visit the islands but it was only the Englishmen who explored it further. The Lakshadweep islands have also been greatly mentioned in Ibn-e-Batuta which is a story of an Arab traveler. The islands have been ruled by various powerful rulers such as Tipu Sultan in 1787, Chirakkal family of Cannanore and later on ultimately by the Britishers, who attached the Malabar district of the Madras Presidency.

It was only in 1956 that these islands were segregated from the main administrative units and were formed it into a new union territory by combining all the islands, under the States Reorganization ActClick here for more information on history of Lakshadweep

Geography of Lakshadweep

About Lakshadweep Tourism

Lakshadweep islands spreads up to about 32 square kilometers in area and is an amalgamation of 36 different islands, out of which 26 islands are untouched by human inhabitancy. The lush green islands are rich in vegetation and the beautiful combination of islands are also called as Emerald islands.
It is located in the Arabian Sea and is at a distance of approximately two hundred and twenty four to four hundred and forty kilometers away from the city situated along the coast of the southern state of Kerala, Kochi. Lakshadweep is probably one and the only chain of coral islands in the sub-continent. Click here for more on geography on Lakshadweep

Climate of Lakshadweep

The temperature of the tropical paradise pretty much depends upon its latitudinal positioning and geography on the earth.

In the summers, the temperature ranges from 22 to 35 degrees whereas in the winters the temperature is more or less similar ranging from 20 degrees to 32 degrees. No matter the temperature is a bit on a higher side, the islands have a very pleasing atmosphere whole around the year and manages to lure a large amount of tourists.

The chief rainy season is the Southwest monsoon which starts from late May and extends up to early October. The precipitation is more evenly distributed in the southern islands as compared to the northern islands.

Lakshadweep Tourism

Facts About Lakshadweep Islands

Tourism in Lakshadweep is one of the biggest industry as far as income and employment of the islands is concerned. The tourism of the place is dependent on its physical characteristics, from its vast marine life to its flora and fauna. The tourist department of the islands has paid a lot of attention towards its infrastructure, conservation of its beaches and monuments and construction of newer hotels.

It has a long stretch of coastline which provides a lot of scope for expansion in the field of adventure tourism. It has emerged as one of the most potential water sports destination in India. The department has also established a few water sports institute which offers a facility of sports like canoeing, kayaking, surfing, water skiing, scuba diving, etc.

Major Tourist Attractions in Lakshadweep

  1. Agatti island, Kavaratti
  2. Minicoy island, Minicoy
  3. Lighthouse, Minicoy
  4. Museum, Agatti
  5. Lagoon, Agatti
  6. Urja Mosque, Kavaratti
  7. Kadmat island, Bangaram
  8. The lighthouse, Androth
  9. Juma Masjid, Minicoy
  10. Amini beach, Amini

Shopping in Lakshadweep

This tropical paradise does not guarantee you a big shopping mall or hi-fi shopping complexes for having a retail therapy if the scenic beauty is too less for you. In spite, you will find several roadside stalls which offer you a wide range of souvenirs, vintage coral shells and exciting knick-knacks. Apart all these items, one can also shop for breath taking coconut shell curios, marvelous seashell artefacts and other local handicrafts that you can hardly find anywhere else on the planet.

Moreover, if you are someone who is a marine-life enthusiast, then you might end up carrying some of the colorful fishes back home from the aquarium stores in Lakshadweep.

Kalpeni is among the best place for shopping of souvenirs to take back with you. There is a local handicraft store behind the Koomel resort which sells various wood work items. The most famous is the model of boats using coconut and shrub barks. Also shop for t-shirts from the hosiery unit on the eastern side of island. Click here for more shopping information in Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep Festivals

During the Muslim festivals, Lakshadweep showcases an exuberant culture and tradition. However, there are a number of tribal festivals that are also celebrated with a lot of zeal and energy. The most appropriate place to witness such festivity are the numerous mosques which are present all over the islands. Id-ul-Fitr which is celebrated after Ramadan, is one of all the festivals that is celebrated by everyone present on the island.

Even though you being a tourist, you will find yourself irresistible to be able to be a part of all the exhilarating celebrations going around. The sudden transformation from a calm and peaceful locality into a jubilant and cheerful loud place will surely sweep your feet off the ground.

Food in Lakshadweep

All About Lakshadweep

If you are someone who is a big time fanatic when it comes to sea food, Lakshadweep is the right place for you. You would find a combination of ample of coconut along with the sea food. The island has to offer a number of mouth-watering dishes from a spicy non vegetarian food to healthy vegetarian food.

Since, the island is in close proximity to Kerala, the cuisine of the islands is highly influenced by it. The people of the island have a great inclination towards the coconut water as it is the most abundant aerated drink of the place. Apart from specializing in local food, the restaurants of that place also serve a series of inter-continental dishes such as Chinese, Thai and Korean cuisines.

How to Reach Lakshadweep

About Lakshadweep Islands

The islands are very well connected by the means of sea and air. The administration of the islands operates ships from Kochi to Lakshadweep, having standard voyages. The journey lasts up to 18 to 20 hours. The ships are well-equipped and offer a range of modern accommodation and amenities.
The Agatti Island of the territory is also connected through regular flights from Kochi International Airport. The Kochi airport is connected to all major cities of India. You can also find helicopter services from Agatti to Kavaratti and takes about a time of one and a half hour.

Quick facts about Lakshadweep

Government- District Magistrate
Population as per 2011 census-
Metropolis- 64 Thousands
Density-2,149 per sq km
Area- 32 sq km
Time zone- IST
STD code- 04896
Official language- Hindi, English and Malayalam





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US and UK hint at military action after largest Houthi attack in Red Sea

US and UK hint at military action after largest Houthi attack in Red Sea

Two figures stand in a room of the HMS Diamond, looking out at a fiery scene
The UK’s Ministry of Defence shared images of the HMS Diamond deploying Sea Viper missiles and guns

The US and UK have hinted they could take military action against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, after they repelled the largest attack yet on Red Sea shipping.

Carrier-based jets and warships shot down 21 drones and missiles launched by the Iran-backed group on Tuesday night.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution on Wednesday demanding an immediate end to the Houthi attacks.

The text endorsed the right of UN member states to defend their vessels. The Houthis reacted scornfully to it.

Their spokesman Mohammed Ali al-Houthi called the resolution a “political game”. They claim to be targeting Israeli-linked vessels, in protest at Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

The UN resolution demanded “that the Houthis immediately cease all such attacks, which impede global commerce and undermine navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace and security”. Eleven nations voted for it, but Russia, China, Mozambique and Algeria abstained.

Earlier, the US and several allies warned of “consequences” for the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. Asked about potential strikes in Yemen, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Watch this space.”

The International Chamber of Shipping says 20% of the world’s container ships are now avoiding the Red Sea and using the much longer route around the southern tip of Africa instead.

The Houthis said they targeted a US ship on Tuesday providing support to Israel. It was the 26th attack on commercial shipping in the Red Sea since 19 November.

The US military said Iranian-designed one-way attack drones, anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-ship ballistic missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen at around 21:15 local time (18:15 GMT).

Eighteen drones, two cruise missiles and one ballistic missile were shot down by F/A-18 warplanes from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower, which is deployed in the Red Sea, and by four destroyers, the USS Gravely, USS Laboon, USS Mason and HMS Diamond.

HMS Diamond shot down seven of the Houthi drones using its guns and Sea Viper missiles, each costing more than £1m ($1.3m), a defence source said.

No injuries or damage were reported.

Later, Houthi military spokesman Yahya al-Sarea confirmed its forces had carried out an operation involving “a large number of ballistic and naval missiles and drones”.

“It targeted a US ship that was providing support for the Zionist entity [Israel],” he said.

“The operation came as an initial response to the treacherous assault on our naval forces by the US enemy forces,” he added, referring to the sinking of three Houthi speed boats and killing of their crews by US Navy helicopters during an attempted attack on a container ship on 31 December.

He added that the rebels would “not hesitate to adequately deal with all hostile threats as part of the legitimate right to defend our country, people and nation”.

Mr Sarea also reiterated that the Houthis would continue to “prevent Israeli ships or ships heading towards occupied Palestine from navigating in both the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea until the [Israeli] aggression [on Gaza] has come to an end and the blockade has been lifted”.

A spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “very concerned” because of the risks the situation posed to global trade, the environment and lives, as well as the “risk of the escalation of the broader conflict in the Middle East”.

File handout photo showing HMS Diamond (14 October 2020)
The UK’s HMS Diamond and three US warships helped shoot down the Houthi drones and missiles

Mr Shapps warned on Wednesday that the UK and its allies had “previously made clear that these illegal attacks are completely unacceptable and if continued the Houthis will bear the consequences”.

“We will take the action needed to protect innocent lives and the global economy,” he added.

Later, the defence secretary said in a TV interview that Iran was “behind so much of the bad things happening in the region” and warned the Islamic Republic and the Houthis that there would be “consequences” if the attacks on shipping did not stop.

Asked if there could be Western military action against Houthi targets in Yemen, or even targets inside Iran, he replied: “I can’t go into details but can say the joint statement we issued set out a very clear path that if this doesn’t stop then action will be taken. So, I’m afraid the simplest thing to say [is] ‘watch this space’.”

He was referring to a statement put out a week ago by the UK, US, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore, who launched “Operation Prosperity Guardian” last month to protect Red Sea shipping.

They said the attacks posed “a direct threat to the freedom of navigation that serves as the bedrock of global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways”.

It may not have had the bravado of Mr Shapps’ “watch this space” warning, but US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was also clear in his condemnation of the incident.

A map showing the Bab al-Mandab strait, which sits between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti and Eritrea on the African coast

Speaking to reporters at an airport in Bahrain during a Middle East tour, he was pressed by BBC North America correspondent Anthony Zurcher about whether it was time that talk of consequences turned to US action.

Mr Blinken responded that he did not want to “telegraph” a US military move, but that he had spent the past four days in the region warning the Houthis to cease their aggression.

They have not only refused, but after this latest strike have claimed they are specifically targeting US ships.

Almost 15% of global seaborne trade passes through the Red Sea, which is linked to the Mediterranean by the Suez canal and is the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

The fear is that fuel prices will rise and supply chains will be damaged.

The Houthis say they have been targeting Israeli-owned or Israel-bound vessels to show their support for the Iran-backed Palestinian group Hamas since the start of the war in Gaza in October.

Formally known as the Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), the Houthis began as a movement that championed Yemen’s Zaidi Shia Muslim minority.

In 2014, they took control of the capital, Sanaa, and seized large parts of western Yemen the following year, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene in support of the international-recognized Yemeni government.

The ensuing war has reportedly killed more than 150,000 people and left 21 million others in need of humanitarian assistance.

Saudi Arabia and the US have accused Iran of smuggling weapons, including drones and cruise and ballistic missiles, to the Houthis in violation of a UN arms embargo. Iran has denied the allegation.




Aditya-L1: India’s Sun mission set to reach destination in hours

Aditya-L1: India’s Sun mission set to reach destination in hours

Aditya-L1 lifted off from the launch pad at Sriharikota on Saturday morning

India’s first solar observation mission is set to reach its final destination in a few hours.

On Saturday, the space agency Isro will attempt to place Aditya-L1 in a spot in space from where it will be able to continuously watch the Sun.

The spacecraft has been travelling towards the Sun for four months since lift-off on 2 September.

It was launched just days after India made history by becoming the first to land near the Moon’s south pole.

India’s first space-based mission to study the solar system’s biggest object is named after Surya – the Hindu god of the Sun, who is also known as Aditya. And L1 stands for Lagrange point 1 – the exact place between the Sun and Earth where the spacecraft is heading.

According to the European Space Agency, a Lagrange point is a spot where the gravitational forces of two large objects – such as the Sun and the Earth – cancel each other out, allowing a spacecraft to “hover”.

L1 is located 1.5 million km (932,000 miles) from the Earth, which is 1% of the Earth-Sun distance. Isro recently said that the spacecraft had already covered most of the distance to its destination.

An Isro official told the BBC that “a final maneuver” will be performed on Saturday at around 16:00 India time (10:30 GMT) to place Aditya in L1’s orbit.

Isro chief S Somanath has said they will trap the craft in orbit and will occasionally need to do more maneuvers to keep it in place.

Once Aditya-L1 reaches this “parking spot” it will be able to orbit the Sun at the same rate as the Earth. From this vantage point it will be able to watch the Sun constantly, even during eclipses and occultations, and carry out scientific studies.

Aditya-L1's trajectory
Presentational white space

The orbiter carries seven scientific instruments which will observe and study the solar corona (the outermost layer); the photosphere (the Sun’s surface or the part we see from the Earth) and the chromosphere (a thin layer of plasma that lies between the photosphere and the corona).

After lift-off on 2 September, the spacecraft went four times around the Earth before escaping the sphere of Earth’s influence on 30 September. In early October, Isro said they had done a slight correction to its trajectory to ensure it was on its intended path towards the final destination.

The agency says some of the instruments on board have already started work, gathering data and taking images.

Just days after lift-off, Isro shared the first images sent by the mission – one showed the Earth and the Moon in one frame and the second was a “selfie” that showed two of its scientific instruments.

And last month the agency released the first-ever full-disk images of the Sun in wavelengths ranging from 200 to 400 nanometers, saying they provided “insights into the intricate details of the Sun’s photosphere and chromosphere”.

Scientists say the mission will help them understand solar activity, such as the solar wind and solar flares, and their effect on Earth and near-space weather in real time.

The radiation, heat and flow of particles and magnetic fields of the Sun constantly influence the Earth’s weather. They also impact the space weather where nearly 7,800 satellites, including more than 50 from India, are stationed.

the agency released the first-ever full-disk images of the Sun in wavelengths ranging from 200 to 400 nanometre, saying they provided "insights into the intricate details of the Sun's photosphere and chromosphere".
Presentational white space

Scientists say Aditya can help better understand, and even give a forewarning, about solar winds or eruptions a couple of days ahead, which will help India and other countries move satellites out of harm’s way.

Isro has not given details of the mission’s cost, but reports in the Indian press have put it at 3.78bn rupees ($46m; £36m).

If Saturday’s maneuver is successful, India will join a select group of countries that are already studying the Sun.

The US space agency Nasa has been watching the Sun since the 1960s; Japan launched its first solar mission in 1981 and the European Space Agency (ESA) has been observing the Sun since the 1990s.

In February 2020, Nasa and ESA jointly launched a Solar Orbiter that is studying the Sun from close quarters and gathering data that, scientists say, will help understand what drives its dynamic behavior.

And in 2021, Nasa’s newest spacecraft Parker Solar Probe made history by becoming the first to fly through the corona, the outer atmosphere of the Sun.



The Indian-American rift ever widens

The Indian-American rift ever widens

Here are 5 reasons why:
  1. Joe Biden saying no to attending India’s Republic Day Parade.
  2. The US making a big fuss over the Khalistani radical, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, in the recently concluded 2+2 ministerial dialogue between the two countries.
  3. India continuing to buy oil from Russia and growing ever closer to a country which is arguably America’s number one enemy.
  4. India and China mending their dispute, which is not to America’s liking.
  5. India keeping its options open regarding the 100+ jet aircraft that it has to buy from abroad, which again irks America.

1. In 2023, India’s Republic Day parade fell on 26 January. The US President’s State of the Union (SOTU) address to the US Congress fell on 7 February, 2023. In 2024, India’s Republic Day parade will fall on January 26. In 2024, the SOTU is slated for February or March. There really should be no conflict between the parade and the address.

Modi had extended the chief guest invite to Biden during the G-20 summit in November. Biden sat over the invite. It’s only now that we have learnt that Emmanuel Macron is coming. He was extended the invite and he accepted within the day.

India has awarded its highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, to only two foreigners—Abdul Ghaffar Khan of Pakistan and Nelson Mandela of South Africa. These are steep hills to climb for any foreigner. In lieu of the Bharat Ratna, India felicitates foreign leaders by calling them to the Republic Day parade. It’s a military parade, yet Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama chose to attend it in 2015. He was looking to sell US arms to India then.

So if you want to be friends with India, you don’t reject an honour such as being the chief guest at the parade, unless you want to miff the Indians. Perhaps Biden has some other meetings lined up, but so must have Macron. Macron is not a small leader. Certainly the Indians are not happy about Biden saying no and will in all likelihood hesitate to call him again in case he wins reelection. That means a US president could go about 15 years before being invited to India’s prestigious parade. This is certainly not how friends treat each other.

2. Pannun is a US citizen. The US cares about the lives of its citizens. But what if that citizen promotes the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Canada as Pannun has done? What if he dares to down Indian civilian planes and storm our new Parliament, really a bastion of our democracy? I saw a state-run bus in Canada with a placard imploring Khalistanis to kill 50,000 Hindus.

Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, has said that India has constituted a high-level commission of inquiry to go into the US allegations over the alleged foiled plot on Pannun, but he added that it was Khalistani separatism and terrorism in the US and Canada that was of greater concern to India. The US is not treating India like a strategic partner here, like it would treat the UK. The breach between the US and India widens.

3. As if the above was not enough, India continues to buy Russian oil. This irks the US no end. India saved $2.7 billion in the first three quarters of 2023 by buying Russian oil compared to what it would have paid if it had bought Iraqi oil (which is of similar quality to Russian crude) instead.

Putin has showered plaudits on Modi for his US-independent policy in buying oil. S Jaishankar has called Russia an all-weather friend of India which has been there to save India at its times of need. How can India be allies with two visceral enemies, the US and Russia? India has shown that if push comes to shove, it will choose Moscow over Washington.

4. Galwan—the clash between India and China—happened in 2020. The US must have hoped that the situation would escalate. But India and China are deescalating. The Quad focuses on the Indo-Pacific but India’s navy is not strong enough to take on the Chinese one. The US perhaps hopes that if war comes to China, say over Taiwan, then India would attack China from up north in Ladakh. That may be a pipedream. India may not get involved in any war at all. Plus it is best friends with Russia and so is Russia with China, so Russia can be expected to pull India and China apart in case of a scuffle between them.

5. India has to buy some 100 fighter jets from abroad. When Modi visited the US in June, it seemed that the US had sewn up the deal. But that is not the case. India is still talking to the French and the Russians. That must make the Americans see red.

All in all, India and the US are not moving closer but moving apart.

Source:- Times of India

Bangladesh elections: 7th January 2024

Bangladesh elections: Why India matters across the border

Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh's prime minister, right, along with Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, speaks to the media during a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022

As Bangladesh gets ready to hold general elections on 7 January, the role of its giant neighbor India is being intensely discussed in the country.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is seeking a fourth consecutive term and her win looks inevitable as the main opposition parties are boycotting the election.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies say they have no faith that Ms Hasina will hold a free and fair election. They asked her to step down and allow the polls to be held under a neutral interim government – demands she rejected.

The Muslim-majority nation of about 170 million people, Bangladesh is almost surrounded on three sides – barring a 271km (168-mile)-long border with Myanmar in the southeast – by India.

For India, Bangladesh is not just a neighboring country. It’s a strategic partner and a close ally, crucial to the security of its north-eastern states.

So, Indian policy makers argue that Delhi needs a friendly regime in Dhaka. Ms Hasina has forged close ties with India since she was first elected in 1996 and it’s no secret that Delhi wants to see her return to power.

Ms Hasina has always justified Dhaka’s close relationship with Delhi. During a visit to India in 2022, she said Bangladesh should not forget India, its government, people and armed forces as they stood beside the country during the independence war in 1971.

This backing for her Awami League party has triggered sharp criticism from the opposition BNP.

“India should support the people of Bangladesh and not a particular party. Unfortunately, Indian policy makers don’t want democracy in Bangladesh,” Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, a senior BNP leader told the BBC.

Mr Rizvi said Delhi was “alienating the people of Bangladesh” by openly rooting for Ms Hasina and backing what he called a “dummy election”.

An Indian foreign ministry spokesperson refused to comment on the BNP’s allegations on Delhi’s alleged interference in Bangladesh polls.

“Elections are a domestic matter to Bangladesh. It’s for the people of Bangladesh to decide their own future. As a close friend and partner of Bangladesh we would like to see peaceful elections there,” the spokesperson said in response to a question by the BBC.

Supporters and opponents of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rally in front of the World Bank on 1 May 2023 in Washington DC.

India is also concerned that the return of BNP and the Jamaat-e-Islami party could pave the way for the return of Islamists in Bangladesh, as it had happened when the coalition was in power between 2001 and 2006.

“They gave rise to so many of these jihadi groups which were used for various purposes, including the 2004 assassination attempt on Ms Hasina and the capture of 10 trucks full of arms that came from Pakistan,” Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, a former Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka told the BBC.

Soon after coming to power in 2009, Ms Hasina also won favor with Delhi after acting against ethnic insurgent groups of India’s northeast, some of which were operating from Bangladesh.

India and Bangladesh share close cultural, ethnic and linguistic ties. Delhi played a key role in Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971 by sending in troops in support of the Bengali Resistance Force.

Dhaka depends on Delhi for the supply of many essential commodities like rice, pulses and vegetables. So, India is influential in Bangladesh from the kitchen to the ballot.

India has also offered more than $7bn Line of Credit to Bangladesh since 2010 for infrastructure and development projects.

But over the decades, there have been irritants in relations ranging from disputes over sharing of water resources to accusations of meddling in each other’s internal affairs.

“India has an image problem in Bangladesh. It comes from the perception that Bangladesh is not getting the best of the good neighbor, whether it comes to Delhi’s support for the government that possibly doesn’t enjoy full democratic legitimacy or in deals where we seek equitable share,” Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka, told the BBC.

Ms Hasina came to power for a second time in January 2009 and her party has since won two more elections, although there have been accusations of widespread vote-rigging. The Awami League has denied the allegations.

Though India has gained road, river and train access via Bangladesh to transport goods to its north-eastern states, critics say Dhaka is still not able to do full-fledged overland trade with landlocked Nepal and Bhutan across the Indian territory.

India also has other strategic reasons to have a friendly government in Dhaka.

Delhi wants road and river transport access for its seven north-eastern states through Bangladesh.

Now the road and train connectivity from the Indian mainland to its northeast is through the “chicken’s neck” – a 20km (12 mile) land corridor that runs between Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Officials in Delhi are afraid this stretch is strategically vulnerable in any potential conflict with India’s rival, China.

While several Western governments had wanted to impose additional sanctions on Bangladeshi officials over alleged human rights violations and extra-judicial killings, India has been resisting the move calling it counterproductive. More so, since Beijing is keen to extend its footprint in Bangladesh as it battles for regional supremacy with India.

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as she arrives for a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on 5 July 2019 in Beijing, China

“We have conveyed to the West that if you push Ms Hasina, she will go into the Chinese camp, like other countries have done. That will cause a strategic problem with India,” the former Indian diplomat, Mr Chakravarty, said. “We can’t afford that,” he added.

Despite close ties between the two governments there is suspicion among some Bangladeshis when it comes to India.

“I don’t think Indians are friendly in all the areas. We are always having a problem with India as we are a Muslim nation,” Zamiruddin, a vegetable merchant in Dhaka, said.

“We will have to safeguard ourselves first and then rely on others. Otherwise, we will be in trouble,” he added.

While Delhi is concerned about the possibility of an Islamist regrouping, many in Bangladesh are worried about what’s happening across the border.

Rights groups say since the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 in India, discrimination against religious minorities, particularly Muslims, has increased – an allegation the BJP denies.

Indian politicians also talk about alleged infiltration by “Bangladeshi illegal immigrants’ – seen as a part reference to Bengali Muslims who live in states like Assam and West Bengal.

“The maltreatment of Indian Muslims creates high potential possibility of maltreatment of the Hindu minorities in Bangladesh,” Mr Bhattacharya said.

Hindus constitute nearly 8% of Bangladesh’s population.

Delhi is clear that Sheikh Hasina at the helm will suit its interests. But the challenging part will be reaching out to the people of Bangladesh.