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tv   Witness History  BBC News  May 9, 2021 3:30pm-4:00pm BST

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settlers laying claim to the land saying that the land was owned byjews prior to 19a8 when the state of israel was created. they were forced to leave because of fighting that took place then. those palestinian families are people, in the main, who are refugees from other parts of land that became the state of israel and they were resettled there by the united nations and with the backing of thejordanians when they were in control of the land. this has been a long—running court case with palestinian families really fighting for many years to try to keep their properties. there are small properties dotted around that already in the hands ofjewish settlers and it can be very tense in that neighbourhood although it remains a majority of palestinians living there. it's going to come as a huge relief that the attorney general has got involved and has asked israel's supreme court, which is due to have a crunch hearing on monday, about this case,
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to postpone that. the attorney general is looking to get involved. there's been a lot of outcry from foreign diplomats, from the international community. of course they see eastjerusalem as being occupied and have suggested that evictions of this kind of the palestinian families could breach international law. serious disruption on some of the uk's busiest rail lines is expected to continue into next week after cracks were discovered in some high speed trains. inspections on more than 180 trains are due to be completed today, but great western railway and london north eastern railway have advised passengers to check timetables. our correspondent, sean dilley, has this update from kings cross station. to describe the picture at kings cross, one of the major london terminals, there are people
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turning up for travel. within the last couple of minutes there was one train on the platform coming behind us here, but there are plenty of staff trying to help people to make theirjourneys. the advice has been clear that lner along with gwr out of paddington all the way to swansea, bristol and penzance are saying if you don't have to travel, please don't. we heard earlierfrom robert nisbet from the rail delivery group speaking on behalf of all of the train operators, in this case that 183 trains were taken out of service yesterday. these are the hitachi 800 trains with the cracks in the metal underneath. they say safety is the top priority, they are working as quickly as they can to get the hitachi 800 trains back and operational, many of those returning to service today. but the rail delivery group say timetables may have a knock—on effect as we move forward. the advice from the government, which the rail companies
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appear to be listening to, is to make sure there's plenty of staff to help those who absolutely need to travel. in many ways it's fortunate it is a weekend, many people are used to remote working with covid—19, but they say if you do not need to travel, please try not to. sean dilley reporting there. now it's time for a look at the weather with ben rich. hello. it's certainly not completely sunny out there. we've got some areas of cloud, we've got some showery rain in places, but it is warmer than it has been, with the highest temperatures through today across eastern parts of england. up to 20 or 21 degrees. now, through this evening and tonight, it is across this south—eastern corner where we will see some heavy thundery downpours drifting up from the near continent. some showers continuing further west as well, some clear spells in between, and it is pretty much frost—free, with temperatures between 7 and 11, maybe 12 degrees across parts of eastern england. tomorrow we will see an area of heavy rain clipping in to the far north—east of scotland. elsewhere, it is a sunshine
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and showers day. some of those showers will be heavy and thundery and it will be quite windy as well. could well see wind gusts in excess of a0 mph for parts of england and wales. not as warm as today, but still getting up to between 1a and 17 degrees. for the week ahead, we will see some heavy downpours, but some drier interludes too, and the nights should stay frost free. hello, this is bbc news. the headlines. scotland's first minister, nicola sturgeon, warns it would be "completely outrageous" for the westminster government to block a second independence referendum the people of scotland have voted for the snp on the strength of offering, when the time is right, an independence referendum. the labour leader sir keir starmer prepares to reshuffle his team after the party's disappointing performance in the elections — he's already removed his deputy angela rayner, as campaigns chief. police are granted more time to question a man arrested
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in connection with the murder of community support officerjulia james. the government is expected to end the advice against hugging each other, as part of the relaxation of lockdown rules in england next week. and disruption continues on some of britain's busiest rail lines, after small cracks are found in some high speed trains. now on bbc news, witness history. divya arya presents eyewitness accounts of moments in india's modern history. we hear about the legacy of partition and how india built a model city in the 1950s. this programme was filmed before the covid pandemic. hello and welcome to a special edition of witness history with me, divya arya, here in delhi as we present remarkable eyewitness accounts of key moments in india's modern history. coming up, we'll hear how india built a modern
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city in the 1950s... ..the story of goa's struggle for independence... ..plus, we remember the industrial disaster at bhopal in 1984... ..and the pioneers of india's international call centres. but we begin with partition, when in 1947, british—controlled india won its independence and split into two states, india and pakistan. india had a hindu majority, pakistan was predominantly muslim. millions of people were forced to leave their homes and switch countries amid terrible communal violence. and its legacy is still felt today, not least by those whose families chose to remain despite the political and religious divide. this is the story of one of them. i'm mohammad amir mohammad khan, known as suleiman to family and friends, the raja of mehmoodabad. i'm from a muslim family
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which once ruled a very large feudal estate, including a beautiful palace called the qila of mehmoodabad. the indian government is laying claim to my property, saying that it is enemy property. no one is paying for it. so these days, everything is crumbling. this dispute goes back to 1947, the partition of india into two states, a muslim majority state called pakistan and a hindu majority state of india.
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it was estimated that a million people died, ten million people were displaced. some muslims went to the state of pakistan. many hindus came to india. it was not just the country that was divided, families were divided too. in the late 50s, my father took pakistani nationality, and that is when my family's problems began. because when india and pakistan went to war in 1965, the government laid claim to our properties. there was an act of parliament called the enemy property act, which empowered the government to take over, temporarily, the properties of pakistanis. it was notjust our family
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which was affected, thousands of families were affected, the properties are worth billions of dollars. but our issue is that only my father took pakistan nationality. i have always been an indian. my mother was always an indian. we had to fight our case from the lowest to the highest court, and in every court, we won. and the supreme courtjudge said that by no stretch of imagination could i be considered an enemy, and considered me the heir to my father's properties. but then the government went and changed the laws, and the battle has begun again.
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i suppose like so many people in india and pakistan, we're still caught up in the repercussions of partition and the acrimonious relations between india and pakistan. in a way, i've been forced to live in the past. and with apologies to yeats, ifeel as if i'm drowning in a beauty that has long since faded from this earth. the raja of mehmoodabad. after the trauma of partition, there was a determination to build a new, modern india. one of the more memorable projects was launched
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by the indian prime minister, jawaharlal nehru, when in 1950, he invited the famous architect le corbusier to build a brand new capital for the punjab province in chandigarh. le corbusier got his first opportunity to design a whole new city in india, where nehru commissioned him to lay out the capital city of the punjab, chandigarh. they wanted the citizens of the state of punjab and in india as a whole to regain their confidence, which could have been shattered due to this dramatic partition of the country into india and pakistan. and to bring back the faith in the future, they wanted revolutionary ideas. buildings have to become - sanctuaries from the climate. the sun breakers break- the summer sun when it is high in the sky, and admit - the winter sun when it is low. corbusier was very concerned
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about the harsh climate of this particular city and the region, and he wanted to provide comfortable conditions, living conditions, for all the residents. the city is cut up into 30 residential sectors- by the road system. each residential sectorl has its own shops, post office, school, health- centre, playground, gardens. the road system is designed in such a way that no door. of any house or building opens onto a thoroughfare _ of fast traffic. my grandparents were migrants from pakistan and i do remember them very clearly telling us that we were lucky to have taken this house in chandigarh where we had, because of this huge plot which we had, which had abundance of green both on the front and the rear. we used to cycle. i remember feeling like a lord because the roads were so wide and we used to have just one going up and down. the indians are also -
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proud of the city centre, the business area with its banks and administrativel buildings, which to _ a westerner, look monotonous, grey and empty. the indians regard it. as dignified and clean, a mark of maturity. corbusier was given a mandate that you have this limited budget and the city cannot afford beyond that. because of his creative genius, he was able to use local material, locally available materials. they were very good bricks, the soil was very good, you know. what is architecturally one of the most modern cities| in the world is being built- by men and women who have to cart each brick, each - measure of earth and concrete, as they were carted 4,000 years ago. i
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the open hand monument signifies the very concept of the city. the open palm signifies open to give, open to receive. a lot of people from pakistan had to migrate to india and they had to be suitably housed. and it stands majestically, beautifully positioned against the backdrop of shivalik hills. as so often, le corbusier has put his work on a grandiose scale using the mountains as a backdrop. today we are fighting tooth and nail to preserve the backdrop of the shivalik hills. it is marred by urbanisation, and the intent of keeping it green, as corbusier envisioned, is lost. i think the city would lose quite a bit. so it is our duty as citizens that we must save chandigarh. the architect sumit kaur
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on the creation of chandigarh. now, even after indian independence in 1947, there were some parts of india that remained under european colonial control. goa on the west coast of india was ruled by the portuguese till 1961, when finally, the indian army marched across the border to reclaim the lost territory, ending centuries of european rule in india. libia lobo sardesai took part in goa's struggle for independence. in 1947, when india became independent from british rule, i was a young goan student in bombay. but goa had not become independent at the same time because goa was a portuguese colony. 10,000 demonstrators in new delhi crowd around india's parliament house, shouting demands that portugal abandon goa, the tiny colony on india's coast she has held since the 16th century. people in goa could not get any newspapers from india,
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and the people were suffocating more because of lack of news and lack of communication. we found two wireless sets. we built them up into transmitters that we can use these transmitters to communicate with the people through the radio. the name of the radio translated in english, it is voice of freedom. but the real name was was voz da liberdade, which the portuguese could understand. the broadcast used to be in portuguese and konkani twice a day for one hour. the transmitter was first, as a trial method, put in a truck, and the truck was stationed in a forest so that nobody could discern it.
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it used to rain very heavily. you could not put your foot without being bitten by a leech. now, it is just difficult to imagine because it was notjust a day or two, but six years. two of us were doing the broadcast, mr vaman sardesai and myself. and we had done such a historic work together that we could not part. so we decided to marry! feelings have reached a boiling point over this last european possession. and december 15th, 1961, the indian army started marching towards goa. so we were getting all the news from the army as to how they had progressed, what had happened, and we were also communicating this to the people of goa. the indian army came fully prepared, but there was no, what you may say, resistance anywhere. 0n the contrary, people used to crowd in front of them to welcome them.
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without even any shots being fired, without any persons being killed, huh? the armyjust walked through. it was a cakewalk. the portuguese abandoned theirarms, knowing they could not make any show against the 30,000 invading troops. the chief of staff very jubilantly told me, do you know, lobo, the portuguese have surrendered now, goa is free. oh, i just jumped with joy. and i said, i would like to go up in the skies now so that everybody hears me announce that goa is free. the chief of staff said, i think we will send you there and we'll put in autoplane with loudspeakers on its belly. for two hours, we roamed
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over the whole of goa to inform all the people. we told them to rejoice because goa has now been reunited with the motherland after 450 years. freedom is a thing that can intoxicate you. i was completely intoxicated. libya lobo sardesai on the struggle for goa. remember, you can watch witness history every month on bbc world news, or you can catch up on all our films, along with more than a thousand radio programmes in our online archive. just search for bbc witness history. our next story is one that few could forget. as india has grown and modernised, it has also faced the challenges of industrial and environmental pollution. in 1984, an industrial disaster in the city of bhopal shocked the country and the world. farah edwards khan was there that day.
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we could see the union carbide factory from the topmost part of our house. it was making pesticides and it was a source of income for poor people. it was a normal evening, we we went to bed and then about11:30, 11:45, we heard a big banging on the door. my father, he opened the door and my cousin was standing outside there and he said there's been a gas accident. we didn't realise what exactly was happening. we shut the doors and we went off to sleep. the next morning, my family woke up and my father drove me down to the school, everything was very quiet. there was a silence. we saw some people just lying,
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and my fathersaid, "0h, wedding season, must be drunk." we drove on, we went to my school, then the gatekeeper came out and he said, "what are you doing here? "there's been a terrible accident. "go back to your house, please." and at that moment, we realised that those people we had seen lying down on the pavements weren't drunk, they were dead. i had never seen death before. tonnes of poisonous gas leaked from a storage tank at the union carbide factory, the chemical methanol isocyanate was being used to make pesticides. and as the cloud spread through the city, the effects were immediate. 200,000 people, a third of the population found themselves enveloped in a dense, choking fog.
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we drove past the hospital, the hospital is on a slope. you have to drive up to the hospital. and there were just bodies. the hospital mortuary can't cope with the dead bodies. | many are lined up outside waiting for relatives - to come and claim them. some people were in pain and some people were their eyes were being treated. many complained of suffocation. they need oxygen - to help them breathe, and it's in short supply. imagine that suddenly your city where you live has lost 8,000 people, 8,000 in one night. but that wasn't the end. doctors are studying 86,000 affected families in bhopal, at least 10,000 people have chronic lung problems.
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the disease is only now becoming apparent and nothing can stop it. 0n the night of the tragedy, my aunt went into the city and she inhaled a lot of gas. and in 1987, she died. she died of fibrosis of the lungs. hundreds of unemployed gas victims now gather every day in mute protest outside the work sheds in an effort to shame the government. people are still suffering. people are still dying as the consequences of the gas. farah edwards khan on the legacy of bhopal. but we end today with the story of someone who overcame the odds to create a real indian success story in the 1990s, the tech pioneer pramod bhasin had an idea. why couldn't english—speaking indians answer the customer service calls of us businesses
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on the other side of the world and do it at a fraction of the price? it would be the start of india's international call centre industry. you know, i wish i could tell you there was a eureka moment. there wasn't. it seemed so obvious that it was almost surprising that nobody had thought of it earlier. we were the ones who first started the call centre business in india. its economics was so compelling. the scale and the costs at which you could hire people were incredibly low compared to international salaries for the same qualifications. you could hire a chartered accountant for $14,000. you could hire a masters degree for 5,000, 6,000. but, you know, it'sjust like being able to walk around the streets and find goldust. it was very difficult to convince people initially for the very simple reason that our phone lines didn't work. so in those days, we all had three phone lines at home
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or two phone lines because one was down all the time. when we went to the telecom authority, of course, they laughed at us and said, "are you kidding?" "we're going to let you put phone lines so that you can "dial people all over the world? "are you trying to set up a phone company? "it's not going to happen." but i'm by nature an optimist. and that's what gave me the confidence, also foolishness, fundamental foolishness, of which i'm very proud! slowly, doggedly, we got the phone line. 0utside this building, if you go, is a true landmark of india. it's a giant satellite dish. getting that big satellite dish in place was the start in some respects of the entire revolution. the first call centre, we didn't have soundproof stuff, we didn't know how to do that, so we brought saris and curtains and so we went there. it was shambled, wires everywhere, the sari there's calls going on.
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and we had about 18 people doing calls. there was an air of excitement and adventure. men and women working together in a way that doesn't happen in india that much. you know, it was quite liberating, i think, at some level. and people were willing to try. so the calls wouldn't go through, you try again, they would hang up, customers would get mad with us. appliance owners would call us in with a broken down appliance. and our people had never seen a washing machine before. and so they calling them say, "my washing machine, "you know that thing at the back, it's leaking." and what the customer was kind of wondering where the hell this call is coming from or what is this funny accent that people are talking to me in? lots of hostility, lots of hostility, and then teaching people how to manage that. don't let them be hostile. if they are hostile, push back after a while. don't get upset yourself. but if somebody gets too rude, feel free to push back. lots of cultural assimilation and training and handholding. we had accent correction
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training going on, right, and then figuring out what do we call ourselves. if i say, hello, this is pramod, they don't know who the hell that is. if i say hello, this is pete, it's better, right? so not only did we manage, but we obviously thrived. you know, i think when you're in the throes of it, you don't realise what you've got. and what we had was a tiger by the tail. many cities have been built around this industry because these are young kids. and you look at them, they have money, they're going to spend it. there are kids here who financed homes, colleges, tuition for their relatives. it's changed people's lives. i don't know of anything else that could be a greater thrill. you look at it every day and say, my god, what did we spawn here? pramod bhasin making history and some money, too. that's all from this edition of witness history from here in delhi. we'll be back next time with more first—hand accounts of extraordinary
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moments in history. but for now, from me and the rest of the witness history team, goodbye. hello. it's certainly not completely sunny out there. we've got some areas of cloud, we've got some showery rain in places, but it is warmer than it has been, with the highest temperatures through today across eastern parts of england. up to 20 or 21 degrees. now, through this evening and tonight, it is across this south—eastern corner where we will see some heavy thundery downpours drifting up from the near continent. some showers continuing further west as well, some clear spells in between, and it is pretty much frost—free, with temperatures between 7 and 11, maybe 12 degrees across parts of eastern england. tomorrow we will see an area
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of heavy rain clipping in to the far north—east of scotland. elsewhere, it is a sunshine and showers day. some of those showers will be heavy and thundery and it will be quite windy as well. could well see wind gusts in excess of 40 mph for parts of england and wales. not as warm as today, but still getting up to between 14 and 17 degrees. for the week ahead, we will see some heavy downpours, but some drier interludes too, and the nights should stay frost free.
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this is bbc news. the headlines at four: scotland's first minister, nicola sturgeon, warns it would be "completely outrageous" for the westminster government to block a second independence referendum. the people of scotland have voted for the snp on the strength of offering, when the time is right, an independence referendum. the labour leader sir keir starmer prepares to reshuffle his team after the party's disappointing performance in the elections — he's already removed his deputy, angela rayner, as campaigns chief. police in kent are granted more time to question a man arrested in connection with the murder of community support officerjulia james. the government is expected to end the advice against hugging each other, as part of the relaxation of lockdown rules in england. and disruption continues on some of britain's busiest rail lines,
4:01 pm
after small cracks are found in some high—speed trains.

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