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CAA protest: Large-scale violence across UP has ‘Bengal connection’

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Lucknow: With 12 people having died in violent protests over the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) in Uttar Pradesh, initial investigations suggest that the large scale violence has West Bengal connections. At least 6 persons from Kolkata who were directly involved in arson and damaging state property in Thursday’s unprecedented violence in Lucknow have been arrested by Lucknow police.

The police said that when the 11 mobile phones recovered from the spot of violence in Hazratganj area her were examined, the text of the phone list was to be in Bengali.

Police is questioning several youths who originally belong to Malda district in West Bengal. Director General of Police O.P. Singh later said that outsiders were involved in the violent protests in Lucknow and the police is investigating more on the “outsider” angle to ascertain the conspiracy behind the pre-meditated violence.

Meanwhile on Saturday, large-scale violence was reported in Rampur where protesters resorted to stone pelting. One person died and several were reported injured when police used force to contain the frenzied mob from indulging in arson.

A report by Rampur police’s Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) says that a call was given by local Muslim clerics to stage a protest near the Idgah and block offices. However at several places, large crowds gathered and later indulged in violence.

In UP’s “wild west”, more than 250 protesters have been arrested in Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Meerut and Bulandshahr. “Today the situation was more or less under control. We are now in the process of identifying the rioters who indulged in arson or damaging property. Their photographs are being displayed. The police have also recovered firearms from the rioters, particularly from Muzaffarnagar. Dozen of live cartridges were also seized from the spot,” Additional Director General of Police, Meerut Zone, Prashant Kumar told IANS.

On Friday, several places in UP witnessed violent protests against the newly amended Citizenship Act. Protesters hurled stones and torched vehicles in Lucknow, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Meerut and Sambhal.

As a precaution, mobile internet services remain suspended in Aligarh, Mau, Azamgarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Sambhal and Allahabad in view of the protests.

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Choose wisely – go organic this Holi

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With Holi -the festival of colours coming up — everyone is busy buying colours, ‘pichkaris’, and balloons but with increasing environment pollution and severe allergic reactions to synthetic colours, there is a growing awareness among people to opt for organic variants.

“In an approximately Rs 4,500-crore unorganised Holi colour market, the share of the organic variety is miniscule, but growing,” said Madhumita Puri, Founder and Executive Director of Avacayam Naturals, a Delhi-based manufacturer of organic colours.

The adverse effects of synthetic colours was observed in a study titled ‘The Holi Dermatoses’, published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology.
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It found a spate in skin diseases following the spring festival in India.

In the study conducted on 42 patients in Kolkata, 11 patients suffered due to activities related to preparation of colors and 12 reported aggravation of pre-existing dermatoses.

Nearly 60 per cent patients reported itching, while others reported to have suffered from a burning sensation, scaling, redness and watering of the eyes, as per the study.

Treading on a eco-friendly and skin-friendly path, Avacayam Naturals employed differently-abled persons to make organic colours by using waste and used flowers and leaves.

This solves three purposes at one go – generates employment for the disabled, manufactures harmless eco-friendly colours, and there is optimal usage of waste flowers.

Speaking to IANS, Puri said: “For making the colours, we collect used flowers — roses, marigolds, and others — and leaves from temples, weddings, and hotels.”

Avacayam Naturals, one of the programs that Puri started under her “Trash to Cash” scheme, makes four colours: Pink from roses, yellow from yellow marigolds, orange from orange marigolds, and green from leaves.

On being asked if the colours are harmless, she said: “Rather than damaging the environment, they are beneficial as each packet of colour is made from waste flowers which otherwise would dirty the place.”

How are the colours made?
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“After the flowers are collected, the workers sort them in different baskets according to their colour. Then, the petals and seed pods are separated and cut. These are then spread out to dry in a well ventilated space for all the moisture to evaporate.

“After that, they are ground and processed — without adding any chemicals — to be made into colours for people to enjoy,” Puri said, adding that the process of collection, drying, and grinding continues throughout the year but it is only before festivals that they process them into the final product.

“In a year, we manufacture around 20 tonne of pure organic colour, some of which is sold to Walmart India. One kilo of colour is sold between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000.”

When asked about the expiry date of these colours, Puri said: “The product is a dry one and completely natural. We have been testing them since five years now and have not found any deterioration in the quality, fungal infestations, or weevils. So there is no ‘expiry date’ to them.”

Another such manufacturer is Jaipur-based Red Earth which makes colours “exclusively from edible materials and scent them with pure, traditional attars”.

Speaking to IANS, Himanshu Verma, Director-Owner of Red Earth, said: “Every 2-3 years, we change our colour palette… this year we have four colours — Sunahra Dhamaal, Shvet Abeer, Neem Sanrachna, and Gulabi Nagariya — that are inspired by local materials.”

“The colours are curated on the basis of availability of local materials. We use items like camphor, neem, mehendi, multani-mitti, geru powder, arrowroot, flour, and others,” Verma said, adding that 50-60 per cent materials used are edible so that even if someone ingests them by mistake, they will not be as harmful.

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