Month: December 2019

Panchayat polls: A setback likely for BJD

first_imgAt the end of the fifth and last phase of panchayat polls on Tuesday, it became clear that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal has lost its supremacy in rural Odisha, suffering a severe jolt in the western region.In its fourth consecutive term in power, the BJD has for the first time faced serious challenge not from the Congress but from its one-time ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party. The shock to the ruling party has come while it was trying to strengthen its position by celebrating the birth centenary of late Biju Patnaik after whom the party has been named.Before enforcement of the model code of conduct, Mr. Patnaik had visited almost all the districts, announcing new schemes and laying foundation stones for new projects in an attempt to beat anti-incumbency. A number people from rival parties as well as popular actors were inducted into the BJD to exhibit the party’s growing popularity in the run-up to the polls.The ruling BJD had also tried to whip up popular sentiments by raising the Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh by organising protests and Jal Satyagraha.Although the results of the rural polls have not been formally announced, going by reports reaching the Capital city, it appears that the BJD had lost ground in over 100 Zilla Parishad constituencies. Top BJD leaders too have failed to prevent the BJP from winning in their strongholds. It seems that Mr. Patnaik’s pre-poll announcements and public mobilisation on the Mahanadi issue had had little impact on voters. The BJP, on the other hand, achieved spectacular success by intensifying its campaign when the BJD was bugged by anti-incumbency, and the Congress, the main opposition in State Assembly, remained a divided house.The saffron party is likely to cross the 300 mark by increasing its strength from a measly 36 of the total 851 Zilla Parishad seats in the last panchayat polls in 2012.The BJP has not only achieved substantial electoral gains in the western region of the State by defeating both the BJD and the Congress nominees, it has also been able to make inroads into the coastal region where the BJD was strong all these years.The BJD, which won 651 seats in 2012, is set to get restricted to 400-odd seats with the Congress suffering a major setback. The party, which has been pushed to the third position by the BJP, is set to win 50-odd seats this time as against 128 five years ago. Though the trend was not clear in all 30 districts, the BJD is likely to form Zilla Parishad in at least 14 districts, the BJP in eight and the Congress in two districts as happened in 2012. The BJP had not been able to form council in any district last time.The interior districts where the BJP performed unexpectedly well this time include Kalahandi, Balangir, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Malkangiri and Mayurbhanj. The party had strong presence in these areas during its nine-year-long partnership in the State government from 2000 to 2009.Voter turnout The final results will be declared by the State Election Commission on February 25. The initial outcome, however, have left the BJD shocked, the BJP euphoric and the Congress depressed. All these parties have already started contemplating about adopting new strategy to regain lost ground and consolidate their position in future polls. The highest voter turnout of 77% was recorded in the last phase of the polls on Tuesday, surpassing the turnout in the previous four phases. Giving details of the fifth phase polling held in 150 Zilla Parishad seats spread over 26 of the total 30 districts, the Election Commission said Subarnapur district recorded the highest turnout at 88% and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s home district Ganjam saw the lowest at 67%.The results of the elections for the posts of sarpanches and ward members, and results for panchayat samity members and Zilla Parishad members will be announced on February 23 and 25 respectively by the Block Development Officers-cum-Election Officers.last_img read more

Declare cow national animal: Hindu convention

first_imgPanaji: The sixth All India Hindu Convention, which kicked off at Ramnath temple in Ponda on Wednesday, passed a resolution demanding that the cow be declared the national animal. The topic for this year’s convention is ‘Need for unity of Hindu community and Saints for establishing the Hindu Nation’.Charudatta Pingale of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) said Hindus will never get justice in the present democratic set-up and establishing a Hindu nation is the only remedy to all their problems.With regard to demands for ban on Sanatan Sanstha, Sadhwi Saraswati, president of Sanatan Dharma Prachar Seva Samiti of Chhindwada, Madhya Pradesh, warned that if a ban was imposed on the HJS and the Sanatan Sanstha, several ‘sanatans’ would grow out of it. Another resolution demanded that the Centre constitute a national history committee to remove the portions of ‘deformed’ history from all textbooks. The convention also passed a resolution demanding that Hindus be taken as members in the fact-finding committees for religious riots. The convention is being attended by representatives of Hindu organisations from across the country and from Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Ramesh Shinde, national spokesperson of HJS, said,“Pseudo democracy imposed by the British on India will have to be done away with. Prior to the arrival of the Muslim invaders and the British, India was a capable Hindu nation. Then we had the economics of Koutilya, sciences of architecture, dance. Under these circumstance, why should we prepare a separate blue print for establishing the Hindu nation? Instead, we are making a blue print to remove the pseudo democracy imposed on us by the British.”last_img read more

IIT scholar alleges prof. assaulted her

first_imgDissatisfied with the findings of the Internal Complaints Committee of IIT-Bhubaneswar, a PhD scholar renewed her allegation of sexual harassment against a professor at the Insititute and demanded a re-investigation into the matter.The scholar, who belongs to West Bengal, got married while her husband and she were pursuing research under the same professor. She alleged that asshe had objected to the professor’s overtures, their PhDs were de-registered on feeble grounds. The scholar had first lodged a complaint in October 2016. The ICC of IIT, Bhubaneswar, heard the case and subsequently exonerated the accused professor in January this year. Responding to the allegation, the Odisha Skill Development and Technical Education Department (OSKTED) asked the IIT to furnish a detailed report.last_img read more

Arrest warrant issued against Bimal Gurung

first_imgIn yet another setback to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership, a court in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district has issued arrest warrants against eight leaders, including party president Bimal Gurung, for their alleged involvement in the violence that rocked the district in June.Violence had erupted in the Darjeeling hills when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a Cabinet meeting there on June 8. Several police personnel were injured and the Army was called in to control the situation.“The warrants have been issued by Chief Judicial Magistrate, Darjeeling, on a plea by the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) on Tuesday. The Court wanted to have a hearing in the day,” Ajay Prasad, Special Superintendent of Police, North CID, told The Hindu. Besides Mr. Gurung, warrants have been issued against his wife Asha Gurung, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri and five others.last_img read more

Center will work shoulder to shoulder with Nitish Kumar for Bihar’s development, says Narendra Modi

first_imgOn his first official visit to Bihar after Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar returned to the NDA fold, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday promised that the Centre would work shoulder-to-shoulder with him for the development of Bihar.The Prime Minister shared the stage with Mr Kumar at the centenary celebrations of the Patna University and later launched a slew of road and sewerage projects worth over ₹3,700 crore at Mokamah.Lamenting that no Indian university figures among the top 500 globally, Mr. Modi said the government intends to provide ₹10,000 crore to 20 varsities to ensure that they are counted among the best in the world.Bihar is blessed with both ‘Gyaan’ and ‘Ganga.’ This land has a legacy that is unique: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) October 14, 2017 Responding to Mr. Kumar’s fervent plea that central university status be granted to Patna University, Mr Modi said, “Issues like grant of central status have become a thing of the past. We will provide an assistance of ₹10,000 crore to 10 private universities and an equal number of government ones for a period of five years. All these universities have to do is to demonstrate their potential to become world class.”The universities will not be selected by the Prime Minister or a chief minister or any other political figure, he said ; their potential will be assessed by a professional, third party agency.Patna University should meet the challenge to become among the 10 best public universities to get a ₹10,000 crore grant in five years and an autonomous status, he said.Prominent Patna University alumni and local BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, former finance minister, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav were conspicuously absent from the dais.“Nitishji is committed to development of Bihar…the central government would work shoulder-to-shoulder with him for the development of Bihar and by 2022 when the country would celebrate 75 years of Independence, Bihar too will be among developed States,” Mr Modi said.“Patna University should also connect with its glorious list of alumna to regain its past glory,” he added further.However, reacting to the Prime Minister’s announcement, former professor of Patna University, Nawal Kishore Choudhury told The Hindu, “It triggered great disappointment and resentment not only among teachers and student community but society at large…It’s also a cause of great worry that the Prime Minister announced to hand over government universities into the hands of private players.”Taking a potshot at Mr Kumar’s demand being turned down, RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav said, “Bihar’s backstabber CM begged in front of his new almighty to accord central university status to Patna University but PM out-rightly rejected his demand while showing him his actual place and status…I feel bad for Nitish chacha (uncle)”.Though, other alumni like Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy in the cabinet Sushil Kumar Modi, union cabinet ministers Ram Vilas Paswan, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ashwani Choubey and Upendra Kushwaha shared stage with the Prime Minister.Later, after attending Patna University’s centenary celebration function, Mr. Modi left for Mokama, 100 km from Patna and launched several development projects of national highways to bridges and sewage treatment plants worth of over ₹3,700 crore. He also listed achievements of his government and its aspirations for the development of Bihar and the country as well.last_img read more

Patna University must compete among 10 best public varsities to get ₹ 10,000 cr. central grant, says Modi

first_imgShatrughan, Yashwant, Lalu absentProminent alumni of the university, local BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha; former Union Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad were conspicuously absent from the function.However, while welcoming Mr. Modi to the university, Mr. Shatrughan Sinha tweeted on Saturday “…even I got an invitation, alas very late and with a very short notice…delayed by the more loyal than the King’s people involved in the affair”. So, though “Muhabbat Karne waale kam na honge…Teri mehfil mein lekin hum na honge’… my best wishes”, he tweeted again.However, other prominent alumni of the varsity, Union Ministers Ram Vilas Paswan, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ashwani Choubey and Upendra Kushwaha, were present on the dais with the Prime Minister, Governor Satya Pal Malik, Mr. Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi.In bad shapeEstablished on October 1, 1917, Patna University, was once known as the “Oxford of The East”. But with the passage of time, al its past glory diminished and today it suffers from lack of teachers, staff, infrastructure and fund. “Its in pathetic situation today”, Mr. Shatrughan Sinha had said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the Patna University (PU) should compete among the 10 best public universities of the country to get a grant of ₹ 10,000 crore from the central government and become a fully autonomous institution.The Prime Minister was speaking at the university’s centenary celebration function in Patna.Earlier, amid a thunderous applause of the students, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar urged Mr. Modi to grant central university status to the university .Mr. Modi said, “India is nowhere among top 500 universities of the world…my government has put up a challenge to 10 private and 10 public universities to fulfil some criterions fixed by the government to get ₹ 10,000 crore grant in five years and become a fully autonomous institution…Patna University too should take up the challenge and compete for it…it will go beyond its demand for a status of a central university. Patna University should also connect with its glorious list of alumna to regain its past glory…it happens everywhere.”Calls for innovationAddressing the gathering of students, former students, staff and teachers, the Prime Minister also laid emphasis on prioritising “innovation” in universities for the country’s development.“I appeal to the Patna University to be innovative for the problems of your surrounding and compete for start-ups…India has no dearth of talent as it has vast lot of young people”, he said.After the function, the Prime Minister left for Mokama, 100 km from Patna to launch several development projects worth of over ₹ 3,700 crore.PM @narendramodi visiting the Bihar Museum in Patna pic.twitter.com/QfvEKiPlWY— PIB India (@PIB_India) October 14, 2017last_img read more

Don’t force Christmas festivities on students, Hindu Jagran Manch tells Agra schools

first_imgAfter Aligarh, the Hindu Jagran Manch in Agra has issued warnings to Christian schools against making Hindu students celebrate Christmas. The outfit said it planned to oppose Christmas celebrations throughout the country. The Agra unit chief of the Hindu Jagran Manch, Amit Chaudhary, told the media on Thursday that no Christian school should force Hindu students to celebrate Christmas. “We want to warn all Christian schools in the city that they should not even think of forcing a Christian festival on a student who is Hindu. If they do it and if we get any complaint, we will organise protests against that school,” he said just days before the celebrations. “Festival of a religion”“It is simple logic. Christian schools survive due to Hindu children. It would be unfair on their part to culturally convert them to Christianity by making them celebrate Christmas, which is a festival of a religion which is completely alien to Bharat,” he said.Mr. Chaudhary added that the HJM has chalked out a plan to monitor activities in all the schools in the city. He also said the HJM would hold protests across the city opposing celebration of Christmas by the people. “Hindus celebrating Christmas is like being converted to Christanity. We will raise awareness among Hindus against celebrating a festival which belongs to an alien culture,” he added. The threat from the HJM unit in Agra comes days after its Aligarh unit issued a similar warning to schools in Aligarh.last_img read more

Fifth body, a civilian, found near Shopian shootout site

first_imgFifth body of a civilian was found near the shootout site in Shopian on Monday morning, as the authorities imposed curfew-like restrictions in Shopian, Pulwama and Srinagar as a precautionary measure. “Another body has been found at a distance from the Sunday evening incident at Pahnoo Shopian,” said a Srinagar-based police spokesman.The police identified the deceased as Gowhar Ahmed Lone of Chitragam in Shopian. Lone, who was pursuing M.P.Ed at Nagpur University in Maharashtra, had four bullets on his body. The police said it has “initiated an investigation” into the incident.A total of five people, including a Lashkar-e-Taiba militant and four civilians, has been killed amid conflicting versions. The Army said a patrol came under fire around 8 p.m. and in the “retaliatory fire one militant and four of his accomplices in a car were killed.”The Army described the deceased as “over ground workers” of militants. However, the locals and the victim families claimed none of the “civilians” had any association with militants and were killed in “a cold blooded murder”.Shopian has remained tense this year as five civilians were killed in two separate firing incidents on January 10 and January 27. In both the incidents, locals accused the security forces of “indiscriminate fire”. The Army faces an FIR in the January 27 incident.Meanwhile, authorities imposed restrictions in parts of Srinagar, Pulwama and Shopian. Internet services have been barred in parts of south Kashmir as sporadic protests broke out there.All train services have been suspended. Kashmir University has cancelled all examinations. The exams of prestigious Kashmir Administrative Services were also postponed. Separatists have called for a shutdown against the incident.last_img read more

Vasundhara Raje to launch State-wide Vikas Yatra in April

first_imgRajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje will launch a Vikas Yatra next month covering all 200 assembly constituencies in the State.The decision to undertake the State-wide developmental tour from April 15 was taken in Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, said State minister Gajendra Singh Khimsar.“The yatra will kick-off from April 15 from the tribal- dominated division of Udaipur to highlight BJP government’s achievements in the State. Local MLAs, MPs and minister-in-charge of the districts would accompany the Chief Mnister during her tour that would culminate in July,” said Mr. sar. The party leaders are being apprised of the impending plans for the yatra, slated in the run-up to forthcoming assembly elections likely to be held by year end. This would be Ms. Raje’s third yatra since 2003 when she first took over BJP’s reins in the state. She had earlier undertaken Parivartan Yatra and Suraj Sankal Yatra.last_img read more

4 injured in Punjab clash

first_imgTension prevailed in Punjab’s Phagwara after two groups clashed on Friday night over an attempt to install a flex-banner bearing a photo of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar at the town’s ‘Goal Chowk’ (square) and to rename it as ‘Samvidhan Chowk’. Four people were injured in the clash.Following the incident, the Punjab government on Saturday ordered suspension of mobile internet and SMS services in four districts – Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar.last_img read more

Tripura to set up AIIMS-like facility

first_imgThe Tripura government would establish a high-tech hospital on the lines of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Delhi. Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Wednesday visited Bodhjungnagar at the outskirts of Agartala to check the availability of land and work out other modalities.The Vision Document of the BJP released ahead of the Assembly elections in Tripura in February had assured setting up of an adequate number of multi-speciality hospitals with trauma care and an AIIMS-like facility in the State.After his visit, Mr. Deb said the site, which has more than 250 acres of government land, seemed suitable for establishing such a facility. “This hospitalwould help patients from other places, specially from neighbouring Northeastern States,” he said, adding that once it is set up, people would not have to rush to Chennai and other major cities for critical treatment.last_img read more

In Rajasthan, dairy farmers live in fear

first_imgYet another instance of cow vigilantism, involving the alleged lynching of a Muslim dairy farmer, Rakbar Khan, 31, in Alwar district of Rajasthan on the night of July 20 led to nationwide outrage and prompted both the Central and State governments to take urgent measures to control the situation.What happened?Rakbar and his friend Aslam were herding two cows on foot through a forest area in Ramgarh’s Lalawandi village, when a group of villagers stopped and attacked them around midnight on the suspicion that they were smuggling the cows to their native village in Haryana. While Mr. Aslam managed to escape, Rakbar sustained severe injuries and died on the way to hospital.The incident comes just over a year after another dairy farmer, Pehlu Khan, was lynched by a mob near Behror in Alwar district on April 1, 2017. Pehlu Khan and four others were transporting cows in vehicles to Nuh district in Haryana when they were stopped and assaulted. In another incident, a mob killed Umar Khan near Govindgarh in November 2017.What did the govt. do?After the quick arrest of three accused, Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria visited the spot of the alleged lynching, met Rakbar’s family and promised a fair probe and an initial ex gratia of ₹1.25 lakh. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and the Waqf Board also announced assistance of ₹5 lakh and ₹3 lakh respectively to the victim’s family.Mr. Kataria admitted that Rakbar had died in police custody and there was a delay in taking him to hospital, as the policemen first made arrangements for taking the cows recovered from him to a ‘gaushala.’ For this “error of judgment,” an assistant sub-inspector was suspended and three policemen were sent to the Police Lines.Four inquiries were instituted in the case in four days, and the investigation was shifted from Alwar to Jaipur. The government’s swift response seems to have been guided by political compulsion and pressure from the Opposition, as the Assembly election is due later this year in Rajasthan.How is Rakbar’s village coping?There is a palpable fear and unease in Rakbar’s native village, Kolgaon, situated in the Ferozepur Jhirka region of Haryana. Rakbar’s family, comprising his wife and seven children, faces a bleak future with no permanent source of livelihood. The Meo community inhabiting the region, which has been rearing cows for dairy occupation for several generations, feels that it is being targeted. A huge panchayat held at Kolgaon on July 29 by the Rakbar Insaaf Committee, comprising about 40 prominent people from five villages, sought a Supreme Court judge-monitored investigation into the alleged lynching, ex-gratia of ₹50 lakh for the family of the victim and the arrest of BJP MLA from Ramgarh Gyan Dev Ahuja on charges of criminal conspiracy in the case. Activists and family members also believe that a “deliberate attempt” is being made to shift the blame on to the police and let the lynch mob escape.The accused arrested so far are reportedly affiliated to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).What lies ahead?With civil rights groups demanding that both the Rajasthan and Haryana governments chalk out a plan for protection of dairy farmers in the Mewat region, the ruling BJP in these States has a task cut out to deal with both alleged cow smugglers and mobs. The extortion rackets being run in the garb of cow vigilantism are now under the police radar. Besides making attempts at communal harmony, the police are finalising the chargesheet to be filed in Rakbar’s case. The police in Alwar district are also in the process of identifying miscreants after examining their criminal record. Jaipur range Inspector-General of Police V.K. Singh says this will be followed by preventive measures, including arrests, to stop the recurrence of violence.last_img read more

No sign of any let-up in lawyers’ strike

first_imgThere was no let-up in the lawyers’ strike in Odisha even as the Police Commissionerate here on Thursday took action against four policemen, who had allegedly assaulted a lawyer on Tuesday.Demanding arrests of the erring policemen, the agitating lawyers have decided to continue boycotting of courts indefinitely. “The situation will be reviewed on Monday,” said the High Court Bar.The day also witnessed picketing of lawyers at places in the vicinity of the High Court while lawyers across the State abstained from court works in response to a call given by the Bar Council.last_img read more

‘Save Ganga’ crusader Agarwal dead

first_imgG.D. Agarwal, 86, who was on a fast to save the Ganga, died following a heart attack on Thursday. Formerly a professor in the civil engineering department at IIT-Kanpur who had adopted the name Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, the environmentalist was vocal on disallowing hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand along the Ganga.In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June, he declared his intention to go on a fast as several of his demands had not been met.Agarwal’s key demands included a special law to deal with pollution and encroachment on the Ganga, and maintaining the environmental flow of the river to prevent pollution. He was subsisting on a diet of honey, lemon and water and, according to a senior official in the Water Ministry who was abreast of his activities, had given up water in the last week.“He was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, and succumbed to a heart attack,” the official told The Hindu.last_img read more

3 civilians injured in Kulgam blast

first_imgMilitants triggered a grenade blast in south Kashmir’s Kulgam on Wednesday morning, leaving three civilians injured.The police said militants made an abortive bid to throw a grenade towards the Police Station Dhamhal Hanjpora in Kulgam. “It missed the target and exploded on the roadside. Three civilians were injured,” said the police.The police said the injured, who suffered splinter wounds, were shifted to a hospital. The injured were identified as Ayaz Ahmad Bhat, Sabzar Ahmad Hajam and Bilal Ahmad Khatana.Meanwhile, the area was cordoned off after the attack. However, no militant was nabbed till last reports came in.last_img read more

Camel finds home in Assam after long legal battle

first_imgA camel rescued from smugglers on the Bangladesh border has found a home in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar after a six-month legal battle for ownership between the State police and the authorities of the Assam State Zoo. The camel, an adult male, left the zoo in Guwahati in a truck on Monday morning for an “animal home” in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district about 350 km away. His companion was Samiran Hatimuria, who runs the home called Aranyam.“The camel is a welcome addition to my family, whose members include emus, turkeys, guinea pigs, horses, 12 types of peafowls, five varieties of pigeons, and other animals. I hope the camel adapts to our 12-bigha home,” Mr. Hatimuria, 32, told The Hindu after reaching his village Talugaon, about 3 km from Sivasagar town.The police in western Assam’s Goalpara district had in mid-2018 rescued the camel while the animal was allegedly being transported for smuggling into Bangladesh.Like two more camels rescued from the same district in January that year, this camel, too, was shifted to the zoo.The first two camels were diagnosed as carriers of diseases that veterinarians said could put the caged animals in the zoo at risk. Zoo officials approached the Sessions Court in Goalpara after the two died six months ago.“We told the court that the zoo is not authorised to keep domestic animals and that the police should take back the third camel, which appeared healthy,” Tejas Marisamy, the zoo’s Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), said.In course of time, the local court asked the police to take the camel back. But the inability of the police to accommodate the animal left it in the zoo.In December, the zoo got in touch with Mr. Hatimuria, who had, since opening Aranyam in 2008, earned a reputation for letting his facility out to be used by the Sivasagar district wildlife officials to shelter rescued wild animals temporarily for treatment or rehabilitation in the wild.“The zoo paid for the camel’s transportation. Sustenance for the animal would be appreciated, but I can take care of him, like the others at Aranyam. My parents earn a decent living, I run a small business and we have some farm income, too,” he said.“The police should ideally provide for the camel’s fodder and care since they are legally its custodian. But we will try to work a way out,” Mr. Marisamy said.last_img read more

Anwar disapproves of Sidhu’s Muslim pitch

first_imgSenior Congress leader Tariq Anwar on Wednesday disapproved of Navjot Singh Sidhus appeal to Muslims to defeat BJP and said he would have stopped the Punjab Minister from doing so had he been present at the rally held in his Lok Sabha constituency of Katihar. “I have always held the view that votes must never be sought in the name of religion and caste. This has also been the policy of the Congress party. I do not approve of what Sidhu has uttered. I would request the party leadership to take note for suitable action,” Mr. Anwar said in a statement.Mr. Sidhu, against whom an FIR has been lodged at Katihar in Bihar for violating the model code of conduct, made the controversial statement at a rally in Barsoi police station area of the district on Monday. The matter came to light when a video footage of his utterances were beamed on TV news channels on Tuesday wherein he could be heard asking Muslims, who have a sizeable presence in Katihar, to be wary of Asaduddin Owaisis AIMIM alleging that it was being propped up by the BJP. He also urged the Muslim voters to unite in favor of the Congress candidate Tariq Anwar and drawing an analogy from cricket, remarked Modi will go for a six if you do so. “I was not present at the Barsoi rally. Had I been there, I would have immediately stood up and expressed my disapproval of the way he was canvassing for me,” Mr. Anwar clarified in his statement. The episode in Bihar came close on the heels of the Election Commission taking punitive action Yogi Adityanath and Mayawati for violating the poll code of conduct.last_img read more

29 years later, Kashmir Pandit returns to jubilant welcome

first_imgA Kashmiri Pandit’s homecoming to Srinagar, 29 years after he left the State, on Thursday was met with a rousing reception from locals, infusing hope for the peaceful return of the Hindu community that had to leave the Kashmir Valley in the 1990s in the face of raging militancy.Roshan Lal Mawa, in his 70s, on Thursday threw open a shop selling dates in the volatile old city’s Zanai Kadal area, from where he hails originally. That Mr. Mawa will sell a variety of dates is also symbolic since the Muslim holy month of Ramzan is a few days away.Jubilant localsTo his surprise, decision to reopen the shop, closed for 29 years, attracted jubilant locals and fellow shopkeepers. Mr. Mawa was welcomed with the tying of a white turban around his head, a Kashmiri tradition, and many hugs were exchanged. “I have set up a thriving dry fruit business outside [Kashmir]. I lived a happy life in Delhi. But I decided to return [to Kashmir] because I missed the affection I have here, the brotherhood, the hugs and the Kashmiriyat (cultural values of the Kashmiri people). You can’t find these values anywhere in the world,” said Mr. Mawa.He was among the hundreds of members of the Kashmiri Pandit community that was forced to migrate outside the Valley as militancy spread in the 1990s. Mr. Mawa’s decision to return was not easy, given the circumstances in which he had to leave.“It was October 13, 1990. A youth entered my shop and asked for dry fruit samples. In the meantime, he pulled out a pistol and shot me four times in my abdomen. I survived. I, along with my wife, moved outside the State,” he recalled.‘Yearning to return’He said his return to his roots “reflects the general yearning of my community to return home”. But, Mr. Mawa added, “I oppose the idea of having separate colonies for Pandits. It will make us soft targets. I want my [Muslim] neighbours to take care of my children.” Leaders of regional parties joined in welcoming Mr. Mawa. “Eventually, it will be this leap of faith taken by Roshan Lal and the warmth shown by his Muslim brethren that will strengthen ties and also encourage them [Kashmiri Pandits] to return home, where they truly belong,” said Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.last_img read more

Last phase of simultaneous polls in Odisha passes off peacefully

first_imgPolling passed off peacefully, barring a few hiccups in the initial hours, in six Lok Sabha and 41 Assembly constituencies in the fourth and the last phase of the simultaneous elections in Odisha on Monday.An average of 66% of voting was recorded in the Parliamentary seats of Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur till 5 p.m., according to Odisha Chief Electoral Officer Surendra Kumar.While Mayurbhanj recorded a voter turnout of 67% till 5 p.m., Balasore and Jagatsinghpur recorded 64% each, Bhadrak 68%, and Jajpur and Kendrapara 65% each. The percentage may increase since voting was still in progress.3 officials suspendedThree polling officials were suspended for dereliction of duty, Mr. Kumar told journalists. Adequate transport and security arrangements had been put in place to ensure safe return of polling parties to their respective headquarters, he added.Allegations of capturing of several booths by a particular party were also reported from Bari Assembly segment under Jajpur, while people boycotted voting at a few booths under Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituencies.EVMs’ safetyApart from ensuring security of electronic voting machines, steps were also taken for the safety of the voting machines in view of the impending Cyclone Fani, said Mr. Kumar.The CEO thanked the people of Odisha for the conduct of polling in four phases in the State without any major incident of violence.However, polling remains to be held in Patkura, one of the seven Assembly segments under Kendrapara, on May 19. Polling was adjourned following death of the BJD candidate.last_img read more

Wedding bells finally ring in newly-electrified Rajasthan village

first_imgWedding bells rang for 19-year-old Urmila in the nondescript Rajghat village of Rajasthan’s Dholpur district earlier this month, on the day the villagers cast their votes for Lok Sabha election, shortly after electricity reached the village. The small village with a population of 350 had been living in darkness since Independence.The village, which shares its name with Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat in Delhi, falls in the Chambal river basin region on the Rajashan-Madhya Pradesh border, which is a forest area. Because of the technical glitch of its location within the Municipal Council’s jurisdiction, the rural settlement was deprived of the benefits of schemes designed for panchayats.Electricity has arrived in Rajghat through a transformer installed by the State government after sustained efforts of a medical student and his friends, who have launched a campaign for improving the living conditions of villagers for the last four years with the help of donors and crowdfunding. The group also undertook a social media drive with hashtag #SaveRajghat.Urmila’s wedding took place after sunset on May 6 and a feast was given to the villagers and the baraat (marriage party), belonging to Agra district, for the first time in the midst of lights all around them. The poor villagers rejoiced at the ceremony, as the power discom officials promised to lay the lines to connect all the 39 households in the village with electricity supply.Crusader’s effortsSituated on the banks of Chambal river, barely five km away from Dholpur town, the small and dusty Rajghat village has no roads, water pipelines or basic medical facilities. The lone government primary school has only a few students. Ashwani Parashar, an MBBS student in Sawai Man Singh Government Medical College in Jaipur and a native of Dholpur, took up the task in 2015 along with his fellow students to provide basic amenities to the villagers.During the last four years, a kuchcha access road and community toilets were constructed, solar lamps supplied and reverse osmosis water filters installed with the help of donors. The power connection is the latest achievement of the group of students, who have also distributed utility items and clothes among the poor in the village.The villagers living in the vicinity of the river still have no access to clean drinking water. Urmila’s father Deendayal Nishad told The Hindu on Monday that the villagers bring polluted water directly from Chambal, where animal carcasses can be seen floating, and clean it with the help of filters. Though girls from Rajghat are married off to other places, the boys face difficulty in getting married, as no parents are willing to marry their daughters in the village because of its pathetic state. In May last year, when Pawan Kumar, 23, got married in Rajghat, the villagers were witnessing such a wedding after a gap of 22 years.last_img read more