India

Indian media criticise poor security at political rallies

A massive crowd was present at Patna's Gandhi Maidan when a bomb exploded on Sunday
Image caption A massive crowd was present at Patna's Gandhi Maidan when a bomb exploded on Sunday

Media in India feel authorities need to provide better security at political rallies to avoid violence in the run up to the 2014 general elections.

The criticism comes after bomb attacks on a crowd gathered for an opposition rally in the eastern state of Bihar on Sunday killed six people and injured more than 100.

The explosions took place near a park where main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was due to speak.

Newspapers say the blasts took place due to a "major security lapse" and it is "unpardonable" for such attacks to be allowed to take place at a political event.

"The usual excuse of a conspiracy, trotted out by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, does not absolve the state authorities of their responsibility. The argument that terrorists can choose their time and place of attack also does not hold water," says the Deccan Herald.

The paper says the blasts should be taken seriously because the country is entering into an extended period of electoral campaigns, ahead of polls in five states next month and general elections next year.

The Tribune says the blasts "should not have been allowed to happen" and it is "inexplicable" that six bombs exploded at the venue of Mr Modi's rally.

"That two of them exploded near the dais (stage), in an area that should have been sanitised by the police, is unpardonable. The state police should already have been on an alert," it adds

Meanwhile, The Asian age urges political parties to end the "blame-game" and instead focus on finding those responsible for the blasts.

In domestic news, the Election Commission in Delhi has decided to track the behaviour of candidates on social media platforms for any violations of poll code in the upcoming state assembly elections in November, reports The Asian Age.

Delhi's chief electoral officer Vijay Dev says the candidates will be asked to provide details of their accounts on Facebook, Twitter as well as messaging applications such as WhatsApp and also explain the expenditure on maintaining these accounts and personal websites.

The commission will take help from law-enforcement agencies to monitor the content of messages or online posts by the candidates, the paper adds.

Saffron festival

The Indian government is planning to launch an insurance scheme that will benefit over one million citizens working in the Gulf countries, reports The Hindu.

The scheme will encourage citizens to save money as the government will also contribute to their corpus, the paper says.

The plan will also ensure that they have enough money to resettle when they return to India, it adds.

Elsewhere, a new study says smoke from incense sticks and funeral pyres contributes significantly to environmental pollution in South Asia but is not considered in climate studies, reports the Hindustan Times.

The Nature India journal says smoke caused by religious rituals is common in the region but remains "completely missing" from national or international health reports.

And finally, a three-day saffron festival has begun in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, reports The Tribune.

Kashmir is known for its high-quality saffron production.

Authorities hope the event will help attract more tourists as well as promote saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, whose production has fallen significantly in recent years, it adds.

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