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Nightingale of India passes away at 92



BY S VENKAT NARAYAN, Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, February 6: India’s legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar passed away in a Mumbai hospital on Sunday after a prolonged illness, including Covid complications. She was 92.

Muse to some of Indian cinema’s greatest composers, recipient of the country’s highest civilian honour the Bharat Ratna, and the embodiment of Indian femininity on the movie screen for over 50 years, she breathed her last in a hospital, where she was admitted a month ago after testing Covid-positive.

Born in 1929 to Marathi classical singer and theatre actor Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar and his Gujarati wife Shevanti in Indore in Madhya Pradesh state, Mangeshkar has sung for over seven generations of female actors in India, with her voice often being described as ‘virginally pure’ and her playback for an actress symbolic of the latter having made it in Bollywood, particularly through the 1960s and 70s when the singer was at her peak.

The eldest child of the family with sisters Meena, Asha, and Usha, and brother Hridaynath, all accomplished singers and musicians, Mangeshkar began her career at the age of 13 after her father’s death by singing for a Marathi film called Kiti Hasal (1942). Her move to Mumbai in 1945 was followed by small numbers in a few movies until the big breakthrough happened with “Aayega Aanewala” composed by Naushad and picturized on Madhubala in Mahal (1949).

She worked with composers as disparate as Anil Biswas, Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad Ali, S.D. Burman, C. Ramchandra, Hemant Kumar, Salil Chowdhury, Khayyam, Ravi, Sajjad Hussain, Roshan, Kalyanji-Anandji, Madan Mohan, and Usha Khanna over the next several years.

Mangeshkar had the unique distinction of singing for around seven different generations of female actors: Madhubala and Nimmi in the 1940s, Meena Kumari , Nargis and Nutan in the ‘50s, Waheeda Rehman, Asha Parekh and Sharmila Tagore in the ‘60s, Mumtaz, Hema Malini , Jaya Bhaduri and Zeenat Aman in the ‘70s, Sridevi and Rekha in the ‘80s, Juhi Chawla, Karisma Kapoor and Manisha Koirala in the ‘90s and Preity Zinta and Kareena Kapoor in the 2000s.

Together with sister Asha, who was known for more sensuous songs compared with the older sister’s simple chastity, Lata Mangeshkar was widely notorious for her monopoly over the film music industry during those years. Legend has it that composers such as Hemant Kumar and Madan Mohan had waited for the singer to recover from her illness and sing for their films Bees Saal Baad (1962) and WohKaun Thi (1964).

The songs she sang after her doctors once declared that she would sing never again, such as Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil in Bees Saal Baad and Naina Barse in Woh Kaun Thi are considered Mangeshkar’s milestones. For singers and musicians who had not been treated as stars in India until then, she had brought a unique status and stardom during those years, aided by the growth and popularity of the radio.

Widely respected in the Indian film industry and affectionately called ‘Didi’ (elder sister) by all, Mangeshkar recorded songs in several thousand films across 36 regional Indian languages and foreign languages, primarily in Marathi, Hindi, and Bengali. She remains an enduring memory thanks to her signature white sari clad figure and her songs notching up views and streams endlessly across streaming platforms for newer generations to discover her.

She has also composed music for a couple of Marathi films and produced four movies, including Gulzar’s Lekin (1991). Among her exhaustive charitable work is a hospital in her father’s name in Pune called Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Centre.

Lata Mangeshkar, who remained unmarried, is survived by a large family, including her siblings and their children and a legion of fans across the world who would today swear by the words that poet and music director Naushad had once written for the singer: “The very heart of India throbs in your voice.”

 And to attend her funeral.

Tributes came in from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and countless number of celebrities and ordinary admirers from all over the world. India declared national mourning in her honour. She was laid to rest with military honours. Modi flew down to Mumbai to bid her farewell.

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Wimal asks for PSC probe into top officials’ complicity in violence



Colombo HC lawyers concerned over shocking developments

By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, says a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) should be appointed to investigate the role played by IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Public Security Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. (retd.) Jagath Alwis in the recent SLPP hothead attack on those demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, including Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Weerawansa yesterday (18) told The Island that Parliament should inquire into the unprovoked attack that triggered an extremely violent response by the public as well as those awaiting an opportunity to unleash violence on selected group of lawmakers on 09 May.

The former Industries Minister said he was confident that Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, would look into the issues at hand.

Responding to another query, Weerawansa said that Senior DIG Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon’s claim that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary had interfered with his (Tennakoon’s) plan to disperse the SLPP mobs couldn’t be easily dismissed.

MP Weerawansa declared, in Parliament on Tuesday (17), that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry dissuaded the Senior DIG from performing his duties although he had received specific instructions from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to stop the march on Galle Face. The former JVPer questioned whether those conspirators wanted to show the world the failure on the part of the police and the armed forces to maintain law and order.

Asked whether police headquarters and the Public Security Ministry had responded to his accusations, Weerawansa said he hadn’t been contacted by them so far.

Pointing out that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), inquiring into 09 May turmoil had recorded Senior DIG’s statement, Weerawansa said that the outfit could issue an interim statement on the matter.

The Colombo High Court Lawyers’ Association said that the shocking revelation, made in Parliament, should be expeditiously inquired into.

The Association’s President Attorney-at-Law Lakshman Perera said that the ongoing investigations had taken an unexpected turn in the wake of high profile specific allegations pertaining to the conduct of the IGP, as well as the Public Security Ministry Secretary. Pointing out that the HRCSL and the CID had already recorded DIG Tennakoon’s statement, pertaining to the incidents, and the officer was among a group of 22 persons slapped with a travel ban by the Fort Magistrate, lawyer Perera said that the CID couldn’t turn a blind eye to accusations directed at the head of the department as well as Secretary to the relevant ministry.

Lawyer Perera said that investigations couldn’t be completed without verifying accusations made in Parliament.

Lawmaker Weerawansa said that the question was on whose behalf the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary intervened at a time the country was under emergency and after the Senior DIG in charge of Colombo received specific instructions from the President himself.

Although the SLPP goons did not shed any blood or cause any serious injuries, unlike the well-organized mobs that caused havoc across the country thereafter, MP Weerawansa said that he couldn’t comprehend why the police and the armed forces allowed the situation to develop to an extremely dangerous level.

The HRCSL in its initial reaction to the unprovoked attacks on those who had been demanding the resignation of the government condemned the violence caused by a group of people who made it very clear that violence was their intention.

HRCSL Chairperson retired Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe said: “The failure of the police to prepare for this eventuality and prevent and manage the violence and destruction is a gross failure of public order. There must be an immediate inquiry into this matter. The inaction of the police to prevent the clash is condemned.”

The Island brought the latest developments to the notice of the HRCSL yesterday as MP Weerawansa said that those who conspired and planned the project that involved those at the helm of Temple Trees then and the SLPP should be arrested. The conspirators shouldn’t be allowed to escape justice while the CID arrested those who carried out the actual attacks.

Police spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that the department couldn’t respond to what transpired in Parliament. Acknowledging that he was aware of the allegations made in Parliament, Attorney-at-Law Thalduwa said in case their response was sought through proper channels, whatever the queries would be answered.

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Dr. Pathirana says IGP, Public Security Ministry Secy. allowed goon attacks



Galle District parliamentarian Dr. Ramesh Pathirana has reiterated that IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Secretary to the Public Security Ministry, Maj. General (retd) Jagath Alwis had facilitated the 09 May unprovoked attack on anti-government protesters.

The former Minister Pathirana declared in Parliament yesterday (18) that National Freedom Front (NFF) leader MP Wimal Weerawansa’s allegation, pertaining to the origins of the violence, was true.

Dr. Pathirana said that he was among those who had brought supporters to attend a meeting chaired by the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The vast majority of those who attended the Temple Trees meet on May 09 wanted to thank the war-winning President as he gave up active politics, the MP said. However, some unscrupulous members had instigated the participants there.

Dr. Pathirana said he had been at Temple Trees at that time and as he feared violence could erupt due inflammatory speeches, contact was made with Senior DIG in charge of Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon. Dr. Pathirana said that the senior police officer had assured him that the police were ready to face the situation and confident of preventing those who attended the Temple Trees function from reaching Galle Face.

“Thereafter, I left Temple Trees for a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. There were several other members. When trouble erupted, President Rajapaksa immediately got in touch with Senior DIG Tennakoon, who revealed he had been asked not to use force by the IGP himself.”

Dr. Pathirana said the President had asked the senior law enforcement officer why he didn’t carry out instructions issued by him (the President).

The Galle District MP emphasised that the IGP and the Secretary to the Public Security Ministry were responsible for the violence at Kollupitiya and Fort police areas which triggered violence in many parts of the country. (SF)

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New Deputy Speaker not from Rajapaksa political dynasty



Newly-elected Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapaksa said that he was not a member of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s clan.

The Hambantota District Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) lawmaker said so when The Island asked him whether he, too, was a member of the Rajapaksa family now under fire over the continuing political-economic-social turmoil.

Rajapaksa polled 109 votes at a secret vote held in Parliament on Tuesday (17) to secure the Deputy Speaker’s post. MP Rajapaksa defeated Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Rohini Kaviratne, who polled 78 votes.

The SLPP rebel group members refrained from voting for Rajapaksa after the top SLPP leadership ignored their appeal to fill the vacancy through consultations with the SJB.

Rajapaksa succeeded SLFP’s Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, who quit the post twice, the second occasion after beating SJB’s Imthiaz Bakeer Markar at a secret vote.

Deputy Speaker Rajapaksha said that he had served as the Chairman of the Ambalanthota Pradeshiya Sabha in 1997. Subsequently, he became a member of the Southern Provincial Council.

Asked whether he was a resident of the Rajapaksas’ home base, Deputy Speaker said that he was from Pallerotta, Ambalantota. (SF)

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