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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Feb 14 ~ Capt Cook .. .. to Coimbatore blasts


Feb. 14th ~ why attach any significance when none exists !!

When it commenced it voyage, sure none would have ever dreamt of the quagmire that the vessel was to encounter…. It was the tanker MV EnricaLexie  on voyage from Singapore to Egypt with a crew of 34 including 19 Indians ~ it had somebody special – the six Italian marines from the San Marco Regiment guarding the vessel.It entered to its way of notoriety when the Marines fired at a fishing trawler named St. Antony that  had left Neendakara in Keralawith a crew of 11 to fish for tuna.  On that fateful day of 15th Feb 2012,  the shooting and killing of Indian fishermen occurred closer to shores of Kerala and soon there were different versions on the incident and the place of occurrence. It was sad death for Ajesh Pink and Valentine aka Gelastine, natives of Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively,  shot dead by Italian marines of the Reggimento San Marco, Marina Militare.

With mushrooming of Corporate MNCs, there is globalisation and lot to learn from what happens around the globe.  In the past few years lot has been done to promote 14th Feb – as many ensure pushing their sales. Globally, there are lot of apps on the market for young folks in search of love: Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid, to name a few- all aiming at potential mates judge one another based on looks. Times reports that Willow, a new app hitting the App Store  is seeking a different approach.  It reportedly fills the void in match-making !

Miles away, NASA made a last ditch attempt trying to revive Mars rover Opportunity, before calling it quits. The rover has been silent for eight months, victim of one of the most intense dust storms in decades. Thick dust darkened the sky last summer and, for months, blocked sunlight from the spacecraft's solar panels. So now on 14th Feb, Opportunity is officially dead.  During a press conference, NASA said that Opportunity hadn't responded to a last-ditch effort Tuesday to establish contact. A planet-encircling dust storm cut off communications with Opportunity on June 10, 2018, preventing its solar panels from storing power. Since then, over 830 rescue commands had been beamed to the rover. On Tuesday night, despite the transmission of commands and Billie Holiday's I'll Be Seeing You to Mars via the Deep Space Network, the rover couldn't be roused. NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said during a press conference that with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude, they declare the Opportunity Mission as complete.  

Opportunity was, by far, the longest-lasting lander on Mars. Besides endurance, the six-wheeled rover set a roaming record of 28 miles (45 kilometers.) Its identical twin, Spirit, was pronounced dead in 2011, a year after it got stuck in sand and communication ceased. Both outlived and outperformed expectations, on opposite sides of Mars. The golf cart-size rovers were designed to operate as geologists for just three months, after bouncing onto our planetary neighbour inside cushioning air bags in Jan 2004.

Captain James Cook FRS (1728 - 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.  In three voyages, Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe. He mapped lands from New Zealand to Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean in greater detail and on a scale not previously achieved. Cook was attacked and killed in 1779 during his third exploratory voyage in the Pacific while attempting to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu, a Hawaiian chief.  He left a legacy of scientific and geographical knowledge which influenced his successors well into the 20th century, and numerous memorials worldwide have been dedicated to him.  In 1779, his attempted kidnapping of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, the ruling chief of the island of Hawaii and the decision to hold him in exchange for a stolen long boat (lifeboat) was the fatal error of Cook's final voyage, and ultimately led to his death.Cook's arrival in Hawaii was followed by mass migrations of Europeans and Americans to the islands that ended with the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the aboriginal monarchy of the islands.

Over 240 years ago, on the morning of 14.2.1779,   Cook and his men launched from Resolution along with a company of armed marines. They went directly to the ruling chief's enclosure where Kalaniʻōpuʻu was still sleeping, and tried kidnapping him.  Cook's men and the British Marines were confronted on the beach and was killed in the melee.  That occurred on Feb 14, not known as Valentine’s Day at that time. 

It was on this day, Feb 14, 1998 that Coimbatore was subjected to the most devastating attack of terrorist bombings Tamil Nadu has ever witnessed. On Saturday, February 14, going by the official accounts,  58 people were killed and over 200 injured in the 12 bomb attacks in 11 places, all within a 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) radius. Several bombs that failed to detonate were defused by the bomb disposal squads of the Army, the National Security Guards and the Tamil Nadu Commando School. An abandoned car laden with a horrifying 70 kg of explosives, discovered on East Lokamanya Street in R.S. Puram, close to the BJP meeting venue, gave cause for much anxiety for days until the complicated device was dismantled.

Within hours of the blasts, the Tamil Nadu Government banned Al-Umma and the Jihad Committee. Al-Umma founder-president S.A. Basha and 12 other members of the organisation were arrested in Chennai; explosive materials and weapons were seized from his house in Triplicane, Chennai. A judicial committee formed  in Apr 2000 under Justice P.R. Gokulakrishnan to probe the case confirmed that Al Ummah was responsible for the attacks.  Hundreds of innocents lost their lives, thousands lost their livelihood – and this day continues to haunt them all.

With grief ..
14th Feb 2019.


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