Lesotho’s inhospitable, snow-covered highlands are home to a hardy people who nonetheless battle in the cold. The Land Cruiser Club of Southern Africa handed out almost 400 blankets toneedy communities in Lesotho.(Imagse: Kath Fourie) MEDIA CONTACTS • Elmarie de Marillac Four Wheel Drive Club of SA +27 861 393 272 RELATED ARTICLES • Riders saving lives in Lesotho • Lesotho lodge a top pick for 2010 • Bikers gear up for Toy Run 2010 • SA comics team up for charity • Wartrail: a winter wonderlandKath FourieAs I walk away from the St James lodge in Mokhotlong region in the remote highlands of Lesotho, the blurred scenes of the day flash through my somewhat frazzled brain.I’ve been snapping pics since 7:30am, travelling through the eastern reaches of the tiny kingdom, which at this time of year is a harsh, dry, bleached, frozen landscape.Stretching my legs while the members of the Land Cruiser Club Southern Africa (LCCSA) sort out who is sleeping where for the night, I come across three tiny girls with shaved heads each wielding a knife. They reach my hip in height and I wonder what they’re up to as they peer between the rockeries of a stone wall.When they see me sneaking up on them there is much giggling and hiding of faces under scrappy blankets, but I soon find out that they’re collecting ‘cabbage’. This turns out to be an assortment of paltry green-yellow leaves, weeds really, which are the only edible things that grow unassisted during the winter.We walk along a little while, and exchange names. It’s a simple interaction, and, I suppose, typical of a white person venturing into these parts. I can’t help but fall in love with Thato; she has the most sticky-out ears and painfully thin body yet carries herself with perfect grace. Eventually I walk on and they hurry back to their homes with the greens for dinner.This is the reality of Lesotho; a country landlocked by South Africa with a population of just over 2-million people, a disturbing HIV rate and a severe lack of employment opportunities. Children are skinny; the people are cold and desperate.The Basotho are a tough nation, make no mistake, but that doesn’t make having so little any easier. This is why we’re here, to hand out blankets to people who drastically need them.Supporting a worthy causeStructural engineer Kelvyn Davidson says: “My dad is a member of the Lions Club of Durban Host and I found out from him about their initiative to collect blankets for those in need this winter. I’m a member of LCCSA and I thought this would be a really worthy cause for us to support.”Davidson is one of the 5 000+ members of the LCCSA. The club has actually been around for a good while, but was formally structured in 2005. It predominantly operates with an online presence, consisting of a website and forum that collectively house one of the world’s biggest banks of information regarding absolutely anything to do with Land Cruisers.Hennie Kotze, a formidable Afrikaner who wears shirt sleeves as we huddle in our scarves and beanies, is one of the club’s volunteer custodians from Gauteng province.“A lot of the money used to buy the blankets came from club members who couldn’t make the actual trip,” he said. “It didn’t take more than a thread on the forum to get this whole thing going. That’s the beauty of the internet these days.”It also doesn’t take much to get a bunch of Land Cruiser enthusiasts on board for a trip to a place with terrible roads, a decent chance of snowfall and plenty of ice.With 100 blankets from the Lions Club of Durban Host and 274 from LCCSA, nine Land Cruisers wind their way up through the frozen dog-legs of the treacherous Sani Pass from KwaZulu-Natal into a frigid Lesotho and on to the Harvesters Hillock church in Mohkotlong.Here we’re greeted by the smiling pastor Ntate Ntsimane, and waste no time in setting out about half the blankets on a plastic tarpaulin next to the church. A crowd of children and women have been hanging around the church since 8 that morning, as they weren’t sure of our expected arrival time.“But look here,” Ntsimane says, lifting his left arm in the air and pulling down his sleeve, “This is Africa, no one wears a watch!”After the feeding scheme dishes out hot samp (made from maize kernels) and beans – which we are all offered, and want, but don’t take because it’s clear there isn’t enough – a short ceremony takes place and the blankets are handed out.Ntsimane tries to check each blanket off against his list of names before it gets too tedious, clearly wanting to make sure we know the blankets are going straight to the people for whom they’re intended.It’s a sentiment that I appreciate, as all too often in any desperate country corruption diverts 90% of goodwill into private pockets. I’m fairly certain that these thrilled kids, receiving blankets from the hands of the more privileged kids of the Land Cruiser families, are getting something they really need.Ntsimane wishes us well, and a good portion of blankets are loaded into the back of his pickup to be driven high up into the remote villages and handed out later. Before we leave he points up to the hills far in the distance and says: “That is where all these people are heading now, they have a far way to go.”My legs feel distinctly lucky as they squish up between two other taller people in the back of a 1990 Land Cruiser 62 series wagon, fondly named Maddy by her owner Warwick Chapman.Chapman’s brother Barry and his father Richard talk Land Cruiser-speak non-stop. I marvel at how much technical jargon they know, and I realise that yes, I may think Land Cruisers look cool; but that’s nowhere near enough to contribute towards to the conversation.I think my final faux pas is accidentally saying, “So how many Land Rovers are there on this trip?” This is greeted first by stunned silence and then shortly followed by a disgusted “None. But there are nine Land Cruisers.” I decide to keep quiet.Making a differenceFast-forward a few hours and I’ve already met the three little foragers from earlier in my story, and we’ve now settled into the basic accommodation at St James mission. Fires blaze inside and out, there is plenty of food and a few sneaky bottles of wine and sherry. It’s pleasant, but everyone is acutely aware of the people living in the pitch black around us. We know the huts are there, filled with families who will face the night without warm sleeping bags and nourishing mutton stew.Hennie stands up, still in shirt sleeves: “I just want to say what a wonderful trip this has been. I felt today, when we arrived at that church with our big, shiny Land Cruisers all in a row, that it might look bad, you know? We are so lucky to have what we have. But I realised as we handed out the blankets that what we were doing was really important.”Hennie’s right; yes, a big shiny Land Cruiser can be seen as a distinct division between a poor Basotho and a comparatively rich South African, but driving from all corners of South Africa to bring people something they need and can’t afford is a fine display of compassion.The temperature in the night drops to -11 ̊C, and tent dwellers wake to ripples of ice formed by the condensation of their breath. We say goodbye and split into two teams, those going out of Lesotho in the north and those heading back into KwaZulu-Natal. On the way we distribute the remainder of the blankets, stopping at villages that look worse off than others.But we begin at the village below St James, and I look around surreptitiously for my three little friends. I’m just heading back to the car when I spy Thato peering from behind a hut. I dash back to grab a blanket from a Cruiser, and Thato looks bewildered when I hand it to her.I fight the urge to bend down and hug her. Thato wouldn’t be pleased with me squeezing her; she is too distinguished for that. Staring up at me, with a look that suggests she thinks I may very well be insane, Thato smiles quizzically. She waves goodbye as we move off, the bulk of the grey blanket highlighting how slim she is. Like a wispy, winter leaf.
A Suspected Meth Lab beneath a Walmart Parking Lot Has Officials “Completely Astounded”A giant, graffiti-filled storm sewer beneath a Walmart parking lot in Upstate New York may have housed a shocking setup: an underground laboratory used for making methamphetamine, police said. Authorities in Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo, have opened an investigation into the suspected meth lab some 12 feet under the superstore parking lot, along a busy thoroughfare that leads to the town’s shops, according to local news reports. “I was completely astounded,” Amherst Highway Superintendent Patrick G. Lucey told the Buffalo News. “It’s like, are you kidding me? It’s just not something you run across. I’m sure it can happen. Anywhere at any time somewhere where there’s the opportunity and the motive, it can happen. But this was definitely something new.” [Source: The Washington Post]Mother-of-Six Made Millions Shoplifting over 45 YearsThe woman is now claiming benefits says she has GIVEN UP looking for work – as she needs ‘£1,000 a week to be comfortable’ A former shoplifter who claims she made almost £2million during her 44-year ‘career’ as a thief says she has given up looking for a job that would pay enough to match the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. Kim Farry, 55, from Fulham, London, dubbed the ‘millionaire shoplifter’ said she made a ‘business’ out of her ill-begotten gains – which has seen her jailed seven times. Her life of crime allowed her to enjoy designer clothes, plastic surgery and exotic holidays.Now she has changed her ways she says she has no choice but to claim £1,300 a month in benefits, including housing allowance, as she can’t find suitable work. ‘I don’t want to work in a shop, it’s boring. There is more to me than standing at a till. It’s not enough money for me,’ she said on the latest episode of Channel 5’s On Benefits. She added: ‘I only want to earn big money, I am not earning stupid money because of what I used to earn. You need a £1,000 a week to be comfortable.’ [Source: Daily Mail]- Sponsor – Attempt to Steal Priest’s Liquor Lands Man in PrisonA man was sentenced to three years in prison after admitting to assisting in a burglary at Blessed Sacrament, including into the priest’s residence. Devin K. Stull, 19, entered a guilty plea to one count of burglary, a second-degree felony. Assistant Licking County Prosecutor Chris Reamer said Stull and two juveniles broke into the residential area of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament. The burglars ransacked several rooms inside the church, looking for items to steal, and broke a secure door, which led to a safe, which they tried to enter, Reamer, said. Court records show the burglars attempted to steal bottles of liquor before Father Jonathan Wilson, who was inside, yelled and caused the burglars to flee.Reamer recommended a three-year prison sentence, citing Stull’s criminal history as a juvenile and an arrest in November for underage consumption, obstructing official business and disorderly conduct while intoxicated. Branstool agreed with the three-year sentence and told Stull he clearly wasn’t getting the message about his behavior. “This is how people get killed,” he said of the burglary.Branstool gave Stull credit for 165 days in jail and ordered him to pay $1,000 in restitution to the Columbus Diocese to cover costs not handled by insurance for damage done to the church. The two juveniles were also found delinquent in Licking County Juvenile Court on burglary charges. A 17-year-old was committed to the Department of Youth Services for at least one year, according to court records. A 15-year-old was given a suspended sentence in DYS custody and will be on a period of indefinite supervision. [Source: Newark Advocate]Man Stole Pizza because He Said He Was “God”In an unusual retail theft report, police said a man stole a box of pizza because “his name was God and everything was his.” Police say Adam Farrell of Scranton refused to give his name when a store employee approached him and asked if he planned on paying for the pizza. Farrell continued eating and told the store employee he was God.When approached by police, Farrell said he was “God and the police was the Devil.” Police took Farrel into custody and identified his real name through a fingerprint check. Farrell pleaded guilty to retail charges before a judge and was later released. [Source: ABC27 News]Man Broke into Ohio Jail for ProtectionA 23-year-old man called 911 Saturday from inside of an Ohio jail, saying he was trying to get to safety. Chad Saylor, 23, climbed a pipe and ultimately became trapped inside Butler County Jail, according to police. Officers found him there unharmed.“Mr. Saylor told dispatchers that people were after him with weapons and trying to kill him and he needed to get to safety. I’m guessing he came to the right place,” Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said on Facebook. Saylor was ultimately arrested, not for breaking into the jail, but because he had an active warrant for theft, Dayton Daily News reports. Police didn’t locate or arrest anyone else related to the incident. A few days ago, an inmate escaped from the same jail and was found a day later. “With this most recent guy successfully getting into the compound, I’d say we’re one up on the bad guys,” Jones said. [Source: USA Today] Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now
In the study of clocks, complication refers to any feature beyond the simple display of hours, minutes, and seconds. The more complications in a watch, the more difficult it is to design, create, assemble and repair. A connoisseur’s collection grows with his taste in complications. Some great creations… Bvlgari: OctomaseratiBvlgari,In the study of clocks, complication refers to any feature beyond the simple display of hours, minutes, and seconds. The more complications in a watch, the more difficult it is to design, create, assemble and repair. A connoisseur’s collection grows with his taste in complications. Some great creations…Bvlgari: OctomaseratiBvlgari and Maserati’s unique collaboration creates a focus on graphic layouts providing time measurement information including a jumping hour, and four retrograde displays. This creation merges the expertise inherent in each of the two firms based on a broad range of shared references: precision, performance expertise, style and elegance.Case: 45mm steel.Complication: Central chronograph seconds hand.Omega: De Ville ChronographThe De Ville line has long been known not only for its elegant styling but for its introduction to the brand’s most important watchmaking innovations. The 1999 De Ville saw Omega launch its calibre 2500 equipped with a co-axial escapement, and it was in the De Ville Hour Vision annual calendar that the Si14 silicon balance spring made its debut. This new model’s co-axial calibre 9301 has an 18-carat gold rotor and balance bridge, a central chronograph seconds hand as well as gold diamond-polished central hour and minute hands. Its applied roman indexes are also crafted from gold, facetted on the sides and ends and fully diamond-polished.Case: 42mm; 18-carat red gold.Complication: Time zone function.Richard Mille: RM 037Created from skeletonised grade five titanium, the new piece sports a new stem-crown mechanism, patented by Richard Mille. The machine tooling process requires two days of adjustment separately for the bezel, the caseband, and the case back. The empty case requires more than 255 tooling operations and more than five hours of glazing and polishing in the final stage.Case: 52.20mm tall by 34.40mm wide.Complication: 50-hour power reserve.advertisementRolex: Perpetual Sky DwellerWith 14 patents, five of which are new, the watch provides, in an unprecedented and highly original way, the information global travellers need to easily keep track of time: a dual time zone, with local time read via centre hands and a reference time display in 24-hour format read via a rotating off-centre disc visible on the dial. It also equipped with a new calibre, the 9001, an officially certified Swiss chronometer entirely developed by Rolex.Case: 42mm oyster case.Complication: Dual time zone and 24-hour display.Cartier: Rotonde Annual CalendarElegance is the art of balance and the sum of an equation that connoisseurs of fine objects define as the golden number. Cartier has chosen to incorporate an annual calendar mechanism directly into the plate of the 1904 MC calibre. This refined movement incorporates a semi-instantaneous mechanism for converting the large date into two independent numerals. It also carries within it a simple and intelligent mechanism which makes it possible to display, without any possibility of error, the months having 30 or 31 days, once the current month has been set.Case: 45mm 18-carat pink gold.Complication: Annual calendar.IWC: Big Pilot Perpetual CalendarThe piece unites the clear-cut instrument look of the 1940s and IWC’s tradition of manufacturing Pilot’s watches with the wish to benefit from the technological advances of the 21st century. The elaborately equipped watch comes with a host of advanced features, including a perpetual calendar with its four-digit year display, moon phase display and seven-day power reserve. The tiny aircraft silhouette on the seconds hand also creates an eye-catching signal-red highlight on the monochrome dial.Case: 48mm.Complication: Perpetual calendar with four-digit year, moon phase.Longines: 180th Anniversary ChronographBased in Saint-Imier since 1832, the watchmaker is celebrating its 180th anniversary by presenting a reminder of the first chronographs closely based on the first wrist chronograph. The new model uses calibre L788, a column-wheel chronograph movement developed exclusively for Longines which enables the wearer to activate the various chronograph functions by simply pressing on the push-piece integrated into the crown. The sleek lines and the distinctive lugs provide these new models with a subtle balance between classical and contemporary design.Case: 39mm.Complication: Chronograph central seconds sweep.Ulysse Nardin: El ToroThe striking aesthetic of El Toro combines sapphire crystals and ceramic with a timeless dial design that inspired its powerful name. This high tech perpetual calendar with a dual time function adjusts forward and backward in seconds over the quick corrector position of a single crown. The oversized date, the day, the month and the year change instantly forward or backward when the hour hand is moved to a new local time across the dateline with pushers. The manufactured self-winding movement strives to be the most consumer friendly perpetual calendar ever produced.Case: 43mm, 18-carat rose gold, blue ceramic bezel.Complication: Perpetual calendar with dual time function.advertisementRoger Dubuis: La MonegasqueHonouring the spirit of Monte Carlo, its legendary history and world of glamour, La Monegasque is a line that demonstrates the company’s creativity. Here the breathtaking race of time seems suspended in all the refinement and beauty of the complication that is most associated with fine watchmaking: the flying tourbillon. A window opens onto a silvered disc with a brushed sunray effect is enhanced by the power-reserve indicator and the pink gold flying tourbillon. a rhodium-plated intermediate dial carries the white transferred markers outlined in black. Lastly, a brushed anthracite circle surrounds it, given depth with silvered snailing, black transfers and pink gold edge.Case: 44mm 18-carat pink gold.Complication: Flying tourbillon.Zenith: El Primero Chronomaster open grande date moon and sunphaseThe timepiece inspired by the captain line created in 1952, makes a clear allusion to historic timepieces with dauphine hands, facetted with rhodium-plating and hand set long markers. The manufactured movements, decorated with cotes de geneve and circular graining are visible through a sapphire case back. The model reproduces the various stages of the lunar cycle what had only been previously available in Zenith’s pocket watches. It is displayed in an aperture at 6 o’clock and the date is displayed at half past one.Case: 45mm; 18-carat rose gold.Complication: Integrated chronograph, moon and sun phases.Seiko: AnantaA sanskrit word that means ‘the infinite’ this watch was made to embody the most technologically advanced craftsmanship in the world.Case: 46mm sapphire crystal.Complication: Spring drive chronograph.De Grisogono: Otturatore Imagined by Fawaz Gruosi, the centrepiece of this unprecedented creation is a high-performance mobile sequencer.Case: 45mm wide and 50mm tall.Complication: On demand moon phase and date.Blancpain: Villeret Squelette 8 JoursThis entirely openworked and decorated movement is fully visible through the two sapphire crystals on the front and back.Case: 38mm white gold.Complication: Flying tourbillon.Van Cleef: Midnight Poetic wishThe exotic watch enables collectors, wherever they are in the world, to look at the exact position of the stars in the sky of Paris.Case: 43mm; 18-carat white gold.Complication: Paris sky star map.
“Employment figures have more than doubled when compared to 2007. The BPO sector is now employing over 26, 000 persons island-wide. Within the sector, we have approximately 60 firms operating, including several industry heavyweights such as Xerox, Teleperformance, Sutherland Global Services, Alorica, HGS and Startek,” he noted further. Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, says the local business process outsourcing sector (BPO), which is valued at more than US$400 million, continues to grow exponentially, and could reach US$750 million by 2020. Story Highlights The Minister said he is also heartened by a recent study conducted with companies involved in outsourcing, which revealed that the sector is expected to see growth across all functions surveyed particularly IT, finance, and HR. Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, says the local business process outsourcing sector (BPO), which is valued at more than US$400 million, continues to grow exponentially, and could reach US$750 million by 2020.“Over the years, we have seen tremendous growth in the local sector, boasting a compound annual growth rate of 20 per cent per annum,” he said.“Employment figures have more than doubled when compared to 2007. The BPO sector is now employing over 26, 000 persons island-wide. Within the sector, we have approximately 60 firms operating, including several industry heavyweights such as Xerox, Teleperformance, Sutherland Global Services, Alorica, HGS and Startek,” he noted further.Minister Wheatley was delivering the keynote address on the final day of the Outsource2Jamaica Symposium and Expo at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St. James on April 13.He noted however, that there are still too many persons who are in the dark about the opportunities that the sector presents, pointing out that BPO is more than call centre operations.“BPO is much more than that and its value, both locally and internationally, exceeds what most persons know or expect from the sector,” he said.He pointed out that locally, the sector provides a wide range of services spanning medical, legal, financial, information communication technology (ICT), human resources, among others.Dr. Wheatley said he is very pleased that Jamaica has become an integral part of “a global movement” in outsourcing, an area, which he said, has been steadily becoming the preferred choice for many firms.“At a global level, the sector is projected to reach US$262.2 billion by 2022 driven by cost benefits achieved by outsourcing back-office administration, the development of new generation technologies such as process automation, big data analytics, Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) and embedded analytics-based BPO,” he pointed out.“Growing competitiveness of global markets and the ensuing pressure on businesses to run efficiently and ensure cost effectiveness is providing opportunities for accelerated growth in BPO services,” he said.The Minister said he is also heartened by a recent study conducted with companies involved in outsourcing, which revealed that the sector is expected to see growth across all functions surveyed particularly IT, finance, and HR.Jamaica, he contended, is in a good position to benefit from expansion in these services.The Outsource2Jamaica Symposium and Expo was put on by the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) and its members and partners, including JAMPRO.It ran from April 12-13 and was designed to provide a platform to raise the profile of Jamaica as a BPO destination.JIS REGIONAL OFFICE
CALGARY – An oilsands research alliance says it is entering its sixth year focused on finding new ways to reduce the sector’s need for steam, the generation of which leads to almost 80 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions.Dan Wicklum, CEO of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance or COSIA, says generating steam to separate heavy sticky bitumen from the northern Alberta sands in which it’s trapped is responsible for about 56 million tonnes per year of the total of 71 million tonnes of GHGs emitted from the oilsands.Wicklum says COSIA members hope to cut GHG intensity by 10 to 30 per cent over the next five years, while also sharing technologies to lessen the industry’s impacts on land and water and deal with tailings ponds.Canada generates about 1.8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and the oilsands contribute about 9.3 per cent of that total — the Alberta government has set a hard cap of 100 million tonnes per year, which could limit growth in the oilsands unless GHG emissions can be reduced.Stephen Kaufman, general manager for external innovation and regional development for Suncor Energy Inc., says some “game-changing” innovations like the less-GHG-intensive extraction technology in use at its newly opened Fort Hills oilsands mine are only practical to use in a new project.But the company is actively pursuing new technologies including radiofrequency electromagnetic heating and the use of solvents with steam that offer “incremental” environmental benefits as it pursues a goal of reducing GHG emissions per barrel by 30 per cent by 2030.“Steam for us is a huge operating cost,” he said. “It’s often said that an in situ (oilsands) project is really a water treatment and steam generation plant more than an oil-producing plant, in terms of the size of the kit that you need and the ongoing cost to buy natural gas.”
EDMONTON – Alberta’s finance minister says the province will abide by a free trade ruling against its craft beer subsidies, but says the program will be replaced with something else.Joe Ceci says the province is committed to helping its craft brewing industry grow, especially given it faces stiff protectionist measures in other provinces.Ceci wouldn’t say what the changes will be.A three-member appeal panel upheld an earlier ruling that Alberta’s subsidy plan contravenes the Agreement on Internal Trade.For two years, Alberta has been taxing all beer producers at the same rate, but also giving grants to Alberta brewers.Artisan Ales, a Calgary-based importer, challenged the program, saying it was unfair and cut deeply into its sales.
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – The 6th Semi-Annual Gala hosted by the 100 Woman Who Care Dawson Creek Chapter will be held on March 4th, 2019 at the George Dawson Inn.The 100 Woman Who Care, is a group of local woman who has come together for one evening to help infuse financial help into local charities. At the event, the woman come together to listen to three nominated charities who present their stories to the woman. By sharing who they are, what they are doing in the community, and why they deserve the support.Each attending woman brings $100 to the event, and casts her vote towards the charity she feels deserves the donation. When you multiply $100 by 100 woman there is a quick infusion of funding for the chosen charity. Since 2016, members have given approximately $85,000 to local charities.To contact the Dawson Creek Chapter, email: email@example.comFB Page; CLICK HEREThe Fort St. John Chapter will be holding their event, March 12, 2019, at the Lido TheatreTo contact the Fort St. John Chapter, email: firstname.lastname@example.orgFB Event Page; CLICK HERE
The Gallery is also still looking for volunteers to help out before, during, and after the Auction.This event is instrumental in keeping the “Let’s Art Program” a free service for youth and seniors.The 36th Annual Art Auction is October 5 at the North Peace Cultural Centre.For more information, you can visit the North Peace Cultural Centre’s website. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Peace Arts Gallery Society is gearing up to host their 36th Annual Art Auction.Currently, the Gallery is in the process of collecting local artwork for this year’s auction titled ‘Harvest Moon Gala’.This year, the Gallery says they would like a full month Exhibition to celebrate the generousity all of the Artists, Artisans, Crafters as well as the huge contribution the volunteers make, so they are asking that artists bring their work into the Gallery by September 3.
Greater Noida: Gautam Buddh Nagar police have arrested a rewarded criminal, carrying bounty of Rs 25, 000 on his head, from Mamura area of Noida on late Thursday night. Police said that the accused was wanted in a gang rape case with a minor girl by Jewar police. According to police, the arrested accused has been identified as Furkan Qureshi, native of Jahangirpur area of Jewar. Cops said that Qureshi, along with his accomplice Nanhe allegedly abducted a girl student from Jewar area in a car after making her consume a drink laced with sedatives, in the month of June last year. The duo of accused kept the girl at a secluded place and gang raped her for a couple of days. Later they let her go and threatened her with death consequences if she tells about the incident to anyone. However, the minor rape victim reached home and narrated her ordeal to parents, following which a case was registered.
Star power adds the glamour element to the heat, dust, and grime of political campaigns. This election too, we won’t just see star campaigners but even celebs who have picked up the political cudgels. Soothing to the eyes, yes, but one often wonders if celebrityhood can and should be the only criterion for some of the candidates in the election fray? Celebrity entrants to political parties just ahead of elections is not new. Earlier, we witnessed well-known actors and sportspersons simply lending their star power to a candidate. Today, that candidate can very well be a young actor or a cricketer. But it is a varied mix. Outspoken social media supporters such as cricketer Gautam Gambhir joined BJP and is likely to fight from a Delhi seat. At the same time, you have actors such as Shatrughan Sinha and Hema Malini seeking re-election while Jaya Prada has switched party colours to don BJP’s saffron to fight polls from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur. West Bengal will see Babul Supriyo, Moon Moon Sen, and newbies Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty battling for votes. There are also Prakash Raj, Urmila Matondkar, Nikhil Gowda, Pawan Kalyan, Shilpa Shinde, and Arshi Khan, trying their luck in the political arena. Also Read – A special kind of bondOut of this mixed list of celebrities, only a chosen few have exhibited an active interest in politics. They have been vociferous about their views and where they stand on the political spectrum. The rest, like dutiful children, are all being paradropped to exude charm and attract votes. I was watching a rather painful news story with dream girl Hema Malini. Painful because the BJP MP while looking stunning didn’t seem to have any meat in her rhetoric at all. Whenever she was asked about what work she had done in her constituency of Mathura, the actor kept saying that she has done a lot of work but just can’t remember it at the moment. Err! Really? Also Read – Insider threat managementAs a reporter who has actively covered state and general elections, I have witnessed how candidates have nurtured their constituency over years. While covering the campaign trail it is fairly easy for people like us to discern the once-in-a-blue-moon visitor from the serious politician who has an undeniable connect with people. This bond with the voter doesn’t happen overnight. Sure, people will throng the streets to catch a glimpse of cine stars, but a true leader would have built his connect over a longer period of time with experience and love for the masses. Of the celebrity MPs who have already been in Parliament, save a few, most have been playing ‘outstanding’ roles i.e. they have seldom stepped inside the Parliament! Their attendance is poor, they barely raise questions, and more often than not, leave their MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) funds under-utilised. Former Rajya Sabha MPs such as Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha have historically abysmal attendance records – Tendulkar with 7.3 per cent attendance while Rekha had just 4.5 per cent! It is important to remember that these celebrity MPs get paid a generous sum by the Government of India to carry out their duties. They are meant to represent their people in Parliament and actively strive towards the development and progress of their constituency. But with most celeb MPs playing truant from Parliament and their constituencies, busy with film shoots, shows, brand endorsements, and cricket matches, one wonders if fame is enough to even allow these fair-weather entrants to contest. Should there be a clause set by the Election Commission of India to allow only serious political workers to fight polls? And what of the hardworking party worker who has lost his chance to fight elections outdone by glitz and glamour? Politics is no child’s play; it requires sincerity, hard work, and dedication. My only wish is that this year’s winning celebrity candidates showcase their seriousness about serving the people. Otherwise, there will be more ‘missing MP’ posters doing the rounds like in the case of Navjot Singh Sindhu in 2013. (The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)