Despite retiring as a teacher 20 years ago, Vimla Kaul continues to educate under-privileged children in India’s capital, Delhi.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi was reportedly hospitalised on Saturday after he complained of pain in his stomach and abdomen. Guwahati Medical College Hospital, where Gogoi is admitted, said he was out of danger. According to a report in The Indian Express, Gogoi was admitted to the hospital at around 8 pm on SAturday and was put under observation, however his condition is now stable. Gogoi, 82, has been the Assam chief minister for three consecutive terms since 2001. Assam recently finished conducting polls for the Assembly elections.
Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal(U) on Saturday said it will forge an alliance in Uttar Pradesh to contest the 2017 assembly elections and disclose its partners in the coming months.”JD(U) will form a coalition in Uttar Pradesh to contest the 2017 assembly elections. The names of the coalition partners would be disclosed in coming some months,” JD(U) National General Secretary and Rajya Sabha MP, K C Tyagi told a press conference on Saturday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also said Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal(U) president Nitish Kumar will be visiting Varanasi on May 12 to address the party’s workers convention and exhort party workers to prepare themselves for the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.Earlier, the Bihar CM was to visit on May 4 and address the workers’ convention at Cutting memorial school ground but it has now been shifted to a college in Pindra area.
With Jat leaders threatening to hold ‘jail bharo’ movement from on Sunday demanding the release of those arrested during the quota stir, district administration clamped prohibitory orders in Jind for two days.District Magistrate Vinay Singh on Saturday said they have imposed section 144 of CrPC for two days in the Jind municipality area to prevent any untoward incident during the ‘jail bharo’ movement. He also said that adequate security arrangements have been made and senior district officials appointed as duty magistrate to control the situation on Sunday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The guesthouse owners have been instructed to not allow gathering of people in Dharamshalas, the District Magistrate said.Meanwhile, Akhil Bhartiya Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (ABJASS), which spearheaded the quota stir in February, extended their support to the ‘jail bharo’ movement being organised by Jat Yuva Ekta Manch.ABJASS district president Captain Bhoop Singh claimed that the police have been arresting innocent youths and the families of those who were killed in the stir have also not received adequate compensation yet. That is why the Samiti decided to support the ‘jail bharo’ movement and ABJASS members would on Sunday take part in it at Ikkis Chungi in Jind, Singh said.
Firing a fresh salvo at Sonia Gandhi over the VVIP chopper scam, BJP on Saturday claimed the then Defence Minister A K Antony had objected to relaxations extended to AgustaWestland regarding field trials but was “overridden”, and suggested that the Congress chief was behind it.Party spokesperson G V L Narsimha Rao told a press conference that Antony had questioned the rationale behind allowing the firm to conduct the field trial of choppers in its premises and not in India, an initial condition in the RFP, asking what is the guarantee it will remain above board.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A K Antony had questioned the proposal to have the field trial abroad. This is what the CAG report also cites. This is what Anotny had stated: What is the guarantee that credibility of this trial will remain above board if they do not take place in this country. He had recorded on file that this cannot be allowed. The Defence Minister wants RFP (request for proposals) conditions to be imposed. Who in the UPA government or who in the Congress other than Sonia Gandhi and her adviser Ahmad Patel has the authority to override Antony, his objections. Only one who could tell him to keep quiet, who could silence him was Sonia Gandhi,” he said.There is so much circumstantial evidence to show that the role of Congress bigwigs was there in the approval of contract and its operationalisation, Rao said. He said the benchmark price decided for a chopper by the UPA government was much higher than the price offered by AgustaWestland, allowing no room for negotiation and added that CAG too had pointed it out.”Sonia Gandhi and Ahmad Patel are in the dock. They are architects of the scam,” he alleged.He said the real size of the scam is much bigger that what has been reported so far, which is just the tip of the iceberg.Hitting out at the UPA government’s decision allowing AgustaWestland to carry out the field trial outside India in its premises, Rao said the likes of Sonia Gandhi and the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were not going to use it for flying in Pakistan.Taking a dig at Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad after he dared the government to bring out the truth in the next two months, he said Azad was showing such bravado as his party had no defence left.”Accused cannot decide time frame,” he said.Sonia Gandhi and Ahmad Patel have been “forced” to answer questions to the media and “this is not without reason”.”Gandhi fears, rightly so, that the scam is directly reaching doorsteps of 10 Janpath (her residence) and 24 Akbar Road (Congress headquarters),” he said.Congress, the BJP spokesperson said, was telling “repeated lies, half-truths to deflect attention” from the case. The UPA was “in cahoots” with AgustaWestland and middlemen like Christian Michel, an accused, and the whose deal was fixed from day one, he alleged, adding that a “gigantic” fraud has been committed on the nation.Tender was tweaked in a way that only AgustaWestland could qualify, he alleged. The deal was scrapped in January 2014 only after corruption was “proved”. The UPA government let the deal to be concluded earlier even though reports of graft in it were all over in the Italian media, he said.Accused Michel was allowed to leave India soon before the CBI took up the case, he alleged.
Trinamool Congress MP and former Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi on Saturday alleged that honesty is being punished and dishonesty rewarded in his party.When asked why he didn’t campaign for the party in the assembly polls, Trivedi told a news channel, “Honesty is being punished and dishonesty is being rewarded. Please ask my party why I was kept out of campaigning. I won’t say anything (regarding it),”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier in March when the Narada Sting footage, purportedly showing some high-profile leaders taking cash, came out in open, Trivedi had caused embarrassment to his party by suggesting those shown in the footage should “sit at home till the time they come out clean” from charges levelled against them.”They (the MPs) should, let’s say if I were the President of the party, I would have just said you come out clean and tell us what it is. And till time you are clear, you sit at home,” Trivedi had then said when asked if the TMC MPs accused of accepting money be thrown out of party.The TMC had termed those videos as concocted and engineered to malign the party leadership ahead of the assembly polls.
Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik on Saturday conveyed his anguish to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav over the remarks by parliamentary affairs minister Azam Khan who had accused him of stalling bills “under influence of a party”.Yadav met the Governor at the Raj Bhawan and during the meeting Naik expressed his anguish over Khan’s statement, a Raj Bhawan release said. Yadav told Naik that he will talk to Khan in this connection, the release said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The two discussed in detail the seven bills pending with the Governor for approval, the release said, adding the chief minister also apprised the Governor of the ongoing development works and welfare schemes.A remark in the the state Assembly by Khan accusing the Governor of “stalling several bills” by not giving his assent and that it was giving an impression that he was working under the “influence of a party” had triggered a war of words between him and Naik.”A Bill (UP Nagar Nigam Amendment Bill 2015) is pending with the Governor for over one year through which Mayors could be removed for financial irregularities. The Governor has stalled the Bill giving an impression that he is working under influence of a party,” Khan had said in the House on March 8.Taking exception to it, Naik had called for a CD of Khan’s speech and questioned his abilities as the state’s Parliamentary Affairs minister. The Governor also asked Yadav to send two more names for nomination on the vacant seats of members to the Legislative Council.
Four persons were on Saturday arrested for allegedly demanding money from the organiser of Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s concert in Gandhinanagar to ensure the event went off “peacefully”, police said.In another development, 35 activists of Shiv Sena and Vishwa Hindu Parishad were detained when they tried to protest at the venue of the concert this evening in the state capital.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Four persons have been arrested. They were demanding Rs 50,000 to ensure that the programme went off peacefully,” Superintendent of Police, Gandhinagar, Virendrasinh Yadav said.”These accused, claiming to be associated with a little- known outfit ‘Hindu Seva Sangathan’, had made phone calls to the organisers on several occasions before, and this morning they arrived at the venue seeking money,” Yadav said.”So far we have arrested four persons. We don’t know when this outfit was formed. It was probably formed to extort money,” Yadav said.Police lodged an FIR under IPC section 384 (extortion) on the complaint of the organiser Shanku’s Water Park’s employee, Hitendra Kumar. Meanwhile, VHP and Shiv Sena activist tried to protest at Khan’s concert at Shantigram in Adalaj town of Gandhinagar district this evening.Police said they detained 35 activists, who would be released after the programme is over. On Monday, Shiv Sena activists had torn up a large banner announcing the programme.Sena members said they will not allow Pakistani singers to make money in India when Indian soldiers and citizens were getting killed by Pakistan-backed terrorists.On April 22, Sena had staged protest against Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali at Mahuva town in Bhavnagar when he came to collect an award.
Delhi government has decided to organise the next ‘Car-free Day’ in North-West Delhi on May 22 but the venue is yet to be decided.The government has been organising car-free day on 22nd of every month on different road stretches with an aim to encourage people to use public transport and reduce rising pollution level in the national capital.”We will organise next car-free day in North-West Delhi on May 22,” Transport Minister Gopal Rai said. However, location of the event is yet to be identified, he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The event, promoted by the Transport department, could not be held on April 22 as all the officials were busy with implementation of second phase of odd-even car rationing scheme, which ended today.
The River Ganges is drying up in Allahabad as temperatures continue to rise across the country. Locals expressed their concern over the falling water-level of the river amid worsening heat wave conditions.”Today, the condition is such that there is no water in the river. People can easily walk and cross the river from one end to another. The water level has become so less that it is a matter of concern for all of us. We are extremely worried as Prayag is losing is importance. On seeing such a condition, people too are worried,” said a local, Mohan Lal.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The nation is reeling under severe summers with temperature touching almost 45 degree Celsius in many parts of the country. At least 150 deaths have been recorded in Telangana and Odisha in the recent days.Meanwhile, school children in Moradabad took out a rally to create awareness about water conservation. They held banners and raised slogans urging people to stop wastage of water.”I think this is the most important issue because water is life. And, we want to save water and we want to generate awareness about it among people,” said a participating student, Rashmi.India’s hottest months are May and June, but many states have already registered temperatures above normal level.Winter this year was also lighter than before with comparatively higher temperatures. The Ministry of Earth Sciences attributes the overall hotter climate to the El Nino effect. El Nino is a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific. It can lead to scorching weather across Asia and east Africa, but cause heavy rains and floods in South America.
In what may trigger a fresh controversy, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Saturday said that India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru died due to ‘shock’ he suffered after 1962 India-China war, and not due to any disease.”Pandit Nehru did not have any disease. In 1962, China attacked us. Our army had no arms and ammunitions, even then they fought valiantly. Pandit Nehru did not live long after the 1962 debacle. It was not any ailment, but he died due to shock he suffered that China had attacked India,” said Yadav.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His comments came during the inauguration of the Central medicine supply depot building in UP Rural Institute of Post Graduate Medical Sciences. Pt. Nehru died on May 27, 1964. His health began declining steadily after 1962, and he spent months recuperating in Kashmir through 1963.Some historians attribute this dramatic decline to his surprise and chagrin over the Sino-India War, which he perceived as a betrayal of trust.
With major fires blighting around 1,900 hectares of forests in Uttarakhand, the government on Saturday decided to press two MI-17 helicopters into service as NDRF, SDRF and Army personnel struggled to douse the flames which have claimed six lives till now.A total of 1890.79 hectares of green cover have been destroyed this fire season which had an early start on February 2 due to a dry winter. Chamoli, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Almora, Pithoragarh and Nainital are the worst-affected districts.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While three NDRF teams and one SDRF company are busy dousing the flames in different parts of the state, two IAF choppers have been sent to Nainital and Pauri districts, among the worst hit, to spray water over the burning jungles, Raj Bhawan officials here said.Enough funds have been made available to all affected districts besides required personnel and equipment to deal with any situation, they said.”One MI-17 chopper has been stationed at Bhimtal near Nainital right which is being loaded with water collected from the waterbodies in the area and begin spraying water over affected areas from tomorrow,” Chief Secretary Shatrughna Singh said.Another IAF chopper sent to Pauri will operate in similar fashion, a Raj Bhawan official said. With forest fires still raging three NDRF teams have been deployed in Almora, Gauchar and Pauri and one team of SDRF in Nainital to extinguish the flames, Principal Conservator of Forest B P Gupta said.Rudraprayag forest division is also taking help from the army for fire fighting operations especially along the highway, he said.The casualties due to forest fires, which have spread to sparsely populated remote hill areas, have risen to six with another life claimed in Nainital district on Friday evening. The deceased include three women and a child.Since the beginning of forest fire season in the state in February, 922 incidents have occurred so far in which seven were injured and 1890.79 hectares of green cover being affected, Gupta told PTI.Worried over forest fires which are still raging in different parts of the state, Governor K K Paul reviewed the rescue efforts underway via videoconferencing with officials in the field and asked them to speed up their efforts.NDRF companies assisted by expert teams and locals are conducting fire extinguishing and rescue operations in affected areas of Garhwal and Kumaon regions. IG Sanjay Gunjyal is coordinating with the NDRF, the district magistrates concerned and Principal Conservator of Forest to supervise the rescue operations.Locals are being encouraged to report a fire incident to the district magistrate concerned as soon as they sight it so that it can be controlled in time.The governor has doubled the number of personnel deployed to control the fires from 3000 to 6000 and asked all agencies including the SDRF, district administration and the rural population to contribute their bit in the exercise saying the forest department alone cannot accomplish the onerous task, Gupta said.Forest fires are natural during summer but this time they have occurred on a bigger scale as the fire season which normally begins by February 15 and ends by June 15, began on February 2. Former chief minister Harish Rawat has asked the governor to declare Uttarakhand as a fire disaster struck state and involve locals as much as possible in fire extinguishing efforts.Pradesh Congress president Kishore Upadhyay also wrote to party workers asking them to work unitedly to pull the state out of the crisis. The PCF said the scale of forest fires in Uttarakhand this time has been bigger due to little or no rain during winter at most places.Pre-fire alerts listing possible fire points over the next seven days in forest areas is being made available on forest department’s website www.forest.uk.govt. an official release here said. The governor today held a meeting held via video- conferencing at the secretariat with regard to forest fires and the preparations of char dham yatra. He said the DMs must gather all resources required. The administration would provide the funds.A system should be made in which the information about forest fires is obtained immediately and action taken immediately. An incident response system should be activated. Control rooms in districts must work round the clock. DMs must ensure coordination among all departments.Mass awareness campaigns be launched and gram panchayats, yuval mangal dals, mahila mangal dals and local people should be involved to ensure the control of the fires.
A voter turnout of over 78.25 % marked the fifth and penultimate phase of assembly polls in West Bengal where 186 people were arrested in incidents of electoral malpractice and sporadic violence that left at least 15 injured.Deputy Election Commissioner incharge of West Bengal, Sandeep Saxena, told the media in New Delhi that “based on SMS-based information from polling officers, at 5 PM the voter turnout in 5th phase was 78.25 %.” This is against 82.77 % voting recorded during 2011 assembly elections in the three districts of Hoogly, Kolkata South district and South 24-Parganas that went to polls today.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the same area had recorded a polling percentage of 80.22 %, he said. The final figures of turnout on Saturday will be known on Sunday after data compilation.PTIFIR against TMC Candidate Sonali GuhaAn FIR was registered against Sonali Guha, the Trinamool Congress candidate from Satgachhia assembly constituency, for allegedly intimidating voters by instructing her polling agents to shoo away the voters of opposite candidate.In the morning, Guha, who is the Deputy Speaker, was caught on camera allegedly ordering party workers over phone to beat up and drive away CPI-M polling agents in her constituency. She was also seen involved in a heated exchange of words with central force personnel when asked not to enter booth.Charges against her include interfering in electoral process, disobeying orders of a public servant and criminal intimidation. FIRs have also been lodged against two presiding officers at Arambag and Tarkeshwar after they were found aiding voters in casting ballots and even allowing unauthorised entry into their booths, state chief electoral officer Sunil Gupta said.Mamata’s constituency had the lowest turnoutTotal complaints received during the day by EC was 2970, out of which 2846 were disposed off till 6 PM, election office sources said. Today, voter turnout of 78.98 % was recorded in Hooghly district, 79.69 % in South 24 Parganas while Kolkata South, where chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is in fray in Bhowanipur constituency, had the lowest turnout of 63.10 %.PTIBesides Mamata, prominent contestants in today’s phase included her key ministerial colleagues Firhad Hakim, Partha Chattopadhyay, Subrata Mukherjee and Kolkata Mayor Shobhan Chatterjee. Out of the 186 arrests, nine were in specific cases while the rest were preventive arrests by police, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma said. Six crude bombs were found in Kolkata’s Keyatala and Iqbalpur areas, he said.CPI (MP) polling agents not allowed to enter booths by TMC workersDuring the day, 192 EVMs and 19 VVPATs were replaced due to malfunctioning. In Arambagh constituency, there were complaints that CPI-M polling agents were not allowed to enter three booths in Kodoi High School by Trinamool workers.The situation was normalised after sector officer was sent along with quick response teams. EC Officials said polling went on smoothly later on. In Khanakul, one person was detained by the police for allegedly obstructing the entry of 50 female voters in the booth. In Metiabruz, a clash was reported between CPI-M and TMC supporters after which a flying squad was sent to the spot. No injuries were, however, reported in the incident. In Baruipur, five Trinamool workers were injured in a clash in which two of them received gunshot injuries in their hand and waist, police said adding six persons have been detained in the case.PTITwo clashes were reported from Bhangar in South 24 Parganas in which five persons were injured.Four RSP workers were injured in a clash with TMC supporters at a booth at Bhangonkhali village in Basanti constituency after TMC activists allegedly prevented them from casting votes, police said. In Kathalberia in the constituency, which is also in the same district, a six-year old child was injured in a lathicharge by paramilitary forces near a polling booth where his father was hawking drinking water. As the people protested, the paramilitary personnel fired in the air and disperse them.PTIA report from Chinsurah in Hooghly district said a villager sustained head injury when he was attacked allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters at Puin village in Arambag constituency for casting his vote. One person was arrested in this connection. Congress has demanded repoll in 15 booths of Basanti alleging malpractices.Altogether, 349 candidates, including 43 women, are trying their luck in today’s election across three districts. About 1.2 crore voters were eligible to cast their votes at over 14,500 polling booths.The centre of attraction in this phase was Bhawanipur constituency where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is pitted against former union minister Deepa Dasmunshi of the Congress. The other prominent candidate in Bhawanipur is Chandra Kumar Bose, grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a BJP candidate.Other political heavyweights and key ministers like Manish Gupta and Javed Ahmed Khan tested their luck in this phase of poll.
The second phase of odd-even scheme saw slight drop in number of challans issued for violating the rule with government agencies penalising a total of 9576 people this time, 482 less than that reported during the first leg.The Transport department of Delhi Government and traffic police recovered a penalty of Rs 1.91 crore from violators during the 15-day period of implementation of the scheme which ended today.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the first phase, implemented from January 1 to January 15, the Government, sub-divisional magistrates and traffic wing had collected Rs 2.01 crore in the form of penalty.According to Delhi Government, a total of 5514 motorists were penalised by its transport department during the second phase, while the traffic police acted against 4062 violators.The figures include 402 and 186 motorists against whom the state transport department and traffic police acted for violating the rule today.Meanwhile, the transport department received 13476 calls on its helpline number 42400400. Out of these, 12250 pertained to enquiry, while 978 were made for making complaints. The department received 248 suggestion calls.Out of the total complaints, 593 were related to auto rickshaws, while 240 were about buses, the government said.On the DTC helpline number 41400400, a total of 2217 calls including 327 complaints were received.The odd-even rule, violation of which attracted a penalty of Rs 2,000 under provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, was applicable between 8 AM and 8 PM except on Sundays during the period.
Protesting the punishment awarded to him by JNU in connection with controversial February 9 event, ABVP member Saurabh Sharma on Saturday appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee to “protect nationalist and responsible students”.Sharma, who was complainant of the event on JNU campus during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised, has been slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 by the university after the probe panel found him “guilty” of blocking traffic.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I along with the other responsible citizens and nationalist students of JNU had submitted an objection opposing the anti-national and seditious activity on February 9 to JNU administration. It withdrew permission accordingly. However, the organisers along with support of some student leaders continued with the event,” Saurabh said in a letter to the President.”I have been punished for opposing the procession and assisting the process of law in arrest of the accused who were organising the anti-India event. The JNU administration has failed to distinguish between the anti-India students and nationalist students. The office-order of the Chief Proctor warns me not to oppose any such event/procession in future,” he said.Alleging the action against him is an act of criminalising patriotism and nation-service, the student leader further said,” this shall create a dangerous precedent for the nationalist and responsible citizen-students of India whereby they shall fear to oppose such the anti-national event and slogans for balkanisation of India”.”I request you to protect us and strengthen our confidence in nation-service and patriotism. I wish to ask to your esteemed authority whether opposing such anti-national seditious slogans and chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ will be crime in this country,” added Saurabh who is lone ABVP member in JNU students union.Saurabh along with 4 ABVP members, are on indefinite hunger strike since Wednesday demanding withdrawal of punishment against him. He also claimed that his glucose level has dipped according to the tests conducted at the university’s health centre and he has been advised to call off the fast.
The Himachal Pradesh capital is a “fit case” for car-rationing odd-even scheme on the pattern of Delhi because emission of carbon dioxide and other green house gasses accounted for 35.91 % of total emission, Deputy Mayor of Shimla Municipal Corporation Tikender Singh Panwar on Saturday said.An European Commission-sponsored study conducted for evaluating green house gas emissions in Shimla town has come handy to Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC)authorities to bat for introducing the odd/even system for plying vehicles within municipal limits. The study report was released by Panwar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Panwar said that SMC would write to National Green Tribunal (NGT) about it as odd/even system, coupled with use of battery-operated and CNG vehicles and tax on diesel vehicles entering the city could go a long way in reducing the carbon emissions besides decongesting the town. He said that as per the green house gas emissions inventory prepared for Shimla under urban LEDs project funded by European Union commission and United Nations Habitat, Shimla city has a total energy consumption of 16,07,996 Giga Joules and the total GHG emission is 218,898 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of which electricity amounts to 59 percent, petrol 12 percent and diesel 28 percent.The inventory would help in developing a comprehensive methodological framework to integrate low carbon strategies into all sectors of urban planning and development in order to make the city more livable with a major focus on reducing the GHG emission from stationary fuel combustion in residential sector which is 1,81,473 tonnes of carbon dioxide, Panwar said adding emissions from commercial sector is 5,876 tonnes of CO2 which is quite less as compared to residential sector.Stressing that there is a need to switchover completely to renewable energy like use of solar panel for water heating, cooking and lighting in the commercial and residential sectors, he said what is needed is Analyse, Act and Accelerate for climate change mitigation.The Deputy Mayor said that it was matter of concern that people are using less LPG and shifting to electric appliances due to higher cost of cooking gas but it was resulting in emission of green house gases.
A red and blue ring around the sun, popularly known as ’22 degree circular halo’ was sighted this afternoon in the city. The phenomenon was observed between 12.10pm and 12.40pm when the fifth and penultimate phase of Assembly elections was underway in parts of the city. The phenomenon popularly known as the 22 degree circular halo of the sun or occasionally the Moon (also called a moon ring or winter halo), occurs when the sun’s or moon’s rays get deflected/ refracted through the hexagonal ice crystals present in cirrus clouds, a senior researcher with the MP Birla Planetarium told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”These kind of cirrus clouds are generally formed when water vapour freezes into ice crystals at altitudes five to ten kilometres above the earth’s surface,” the researcher said. “It’s a very common phenomenon in the cold countries. But in our countries it’s occurrence is rare and cannot be predicted… The red and blue ring around the sun was seen for around 30 minutes,” he added.
ALSO READ ‘Mysterious’ rainbow halo seen around the sun in Kolkata, here’s what it wasThe 22 degree halo was last observed in April 2013 in the suburbs of the city, the meteorologist said, adding, the phenomenon takes place before an impending storm. According to Earthsky.org, “Halos around the sun or moon happen when high, thin cirrus clouds are drifting high above your head. Tiny ice crystals in Earth’s atmosphere cause the halos. They do this by refracting and reflecting the light”. Clouds contain millions of tiny ice crystals. The halos are often due to refraction or splitting of light or when light falls on those crystals. However, they have to be aligned with respect to the viewer’s eye for the halo to appear.
Hyderabad: An official in Andhra Pradesh has been arrested and sent to jail for amassing wealth said to be around Rs 800 crore, allegedly through corruption.
Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials continued their searches on Friday to unearth the assets of Mohan, a deputy commissioner in the transport department.
The simultaneous searches, which began on Thursday, were conducted at nine places in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
ACB officials recovered gold and silver jewellery and cash from the officer’s house in Kakinada town in East Godavari district. Documents of several lands and flats owned by him and his family members in Nelore, Prakasam and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad in Telangana and Bellary in Karnataka were also found.
The market value of the assets could be around Rs 800 crore. Some bank lockers of the officers are yet to be opened.
ACB officials said Mohan, 52, and his family members own as many as eight plots sft 450-500 square yards each at Kompally in Hyderabad. They also have four plots in Madhapur, the information technology hub. Other prime property in Hyderabad include a four-storey building in posh Jubliee Hills and a flat in commercial centre Panjagutta.
ACB official A Ramadevi, who led the raids, said there were 10 house sites and seven acre agriculture land in Bellary, Karnataka in the name of Mohan’s son-in-law.
The transport official owns 45 acres in Prakasam district while 9.5 acre land is registered in the name of his daughter in Nellore.
Mohan had also invested in five companies he had set up in the name of his elder daughter. Officials suspect the firms could have been used for money laundering.
The ACB took action following complaints against Mohan, a Group I officer in the state. A case of disproportionate assets was booked against him.
The officer had been serving as deputy commissioner at Kakinada since 2014. He had earlier served at various places in then united Andhra Pradesh.
Lauding the role of the Election Commission, the security and police in ensuring “free and fair” polls in Bengal, alliance partners Congress and CPI(M) said the people have already said no to the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC regime in the state.”There have been certain attempts to unleash terror and rig few booths of certain constituencies. But people along with the security forces have resisted it. We salute the role of the Election Commission, security forces and police forces in ensuring free and fair polls,” CPI(M) Politburo member Mohammed Salim said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”People have resisted the attempts of violence that TMC had tried to unleash, although in certain places they succeeded. Actually TMC knows very well that the mandate is against them and that is why they are using violence and intimidation as tools,” he said.Salim said the days of TMC are “numbered” and the police have shown that they too can work impartially. “After the fifth phase of polls, we can easily say that people have already said a big no to the TMC regime. The people have voted and have ensured that Mamata Banerjee doesn’t enter the state assembly,” he added.Reacting to the poll panel ordering filing of an FIR against sitting Trinamool Congress candidate Sonali Guha after she was caught on camera allegedly ordering party workers to beat up CPI-M polling agents in her constituency, Salim said the incident showed the mindset of TMC.”It showed the mindset of violence and intimidation (of TMC). But the anti-TMC wave is so strong that people can’t be cowed down by those threats.” West Bengal PCC president Adhir Chowdhury said, “The Election Commission had played a brilliant role in ensuring free and fair polls. We have already achieved the majority and the momentum in favour of alliance is getting much stronger with every passing phase. The days of TMC are numbered.”
New Delhi: The ban on registration of diesel-run SUVs and high-end cars with engine capacity of 2000 cc and above in Delhi and NCR will continue as the Supreme Court on Saturday did not modify its earlier order which said the ban would remain in effect till further orders.
A bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices AK Sikri and R Banumathi will now resume on 9 May the hearing on various pleas including those of automobile giants like Mercedes, Toyota, Mahindra and General Motors for allowing registration of big diesel cars and SUVs.
The apex court, on 16 December last year, had barred registration of cars and vehicles with engine capacity of 2000 cc and above till 31 March.
“Interim order dated 16th December, 2015 passed by us restraining registration of diesel cars with a capacity of 2000 cc and above, shall continue pending further orders from this Court,” it said on 31 March.
As the court on Saturday did not pass any direction with regard to the registration of these vehicles, the order banning it would now continue till further orders.
During the hearing on Saturday, senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for three minors, who had moved the apex court, seeking direction to curb Delhi’s spiralling pollution graph cited the example of California and said that the corrective steps taken there can be taken here also to reduce pollution.
He said that both diesel and petrol vehicles ply in California.
If diesel vehicles use “catalytic converter or retro-fitted”, the pollution can substantially be reduced, he said.
Venugopal said that when CNG was introduced, some people said that it is not possible and others said it is too expensive but ultimately people started using it.
“Earlier, it took more than three months to convert a vehicle into CNG but now it takes around two-three days and costs just Rs 40,000 to Rs 80,000,” he said, adding that similarly if diesel vehicle “retrofit themselves” then it would help in reducing the emission of particulate matter substantially.
To this, the bench said no one has made this argument before it and asked Venugopal whether the efficacy of the research or such retrofit engines have been checked.
Venugopal said the efficacy of research could be checked by the government, but the point is that it could be a solution to the vehicular pollution.
He said that the cost on “retrofit engines” comes at around Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 and it would help the older vehicles reduce emissions.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for an automobile manufacturer, sought modification of the earlier order of the apex court banning registration of diesel vehicles and said that although diesel vehicles pollute more than petrol vehicles, the percentage is not that huge.
“Diesel vehicles contribute to the pollution only 25 per cent but 75 per cent is contributed by non-diesel vehicles. Four-wheel passenger vehicles contribute only 1.5 per cent,” Singhvi said while referring to the data of pollution.
To this, the bench said that it was earlier looking forward to doing something like adopting ‘polluters pay’ principle and ask the polluters to pay compensation but now several others suggestions have come on record which need to be considered.
Singhvi said that BS IV vehicles are 96 per cent less polluting and complete ban on diesel vehicles is ban on BS IV compliance vehicles.
He further said, “to say diesel cars cause more pollution and therefore we should ban them will solve no problem.”
The matter was fixed for further hearing on 9 May.
The bench which is hearing a PIL filed by M C Mehta in 1985 on reducing pollution had earlier asked the reputed car makers not to treat the petition as an “adversarial litigation” and “treat it in public interest”.
Earlier, the court had come out with harsh measures including specifying four more entry points through which no heavy commercial vehicle, unless bound for Delhi, will be allowed entry.
Congress on Saturday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue of his educational qualification saying his government was a “habitual offender” on the matter.”If the Prime Minister himself is seeking to hide his educational qualifications, then how could common man have the confidence to use the RTI as a tool to fight corruption,” party’s chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said when asked about the CIC’s direction to universities in Delhi and Gujarat to provide proper responses to RTI applications seeking details of education qualification of the Prime Minister.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recalling the degree row in which HRD Minister Smriti Irani was involved, he noted that a court case is also on in the matter. He said there is also controversy over the degree of Minister of State of HRD Ram Shankar Katheria.Insisting that the Congress respected the Prime Minister despite being his opponent, Surjewala, however, said if the Prime Minister “himself hides his degrees, then how could be the Right to Information be defended”. He said that not only should the Prime Minister make public his educational qualifications, but he should also “act against those in the PMO who attempted to malign him by not giving the information”. He alleged that other BJP leaders too have “misled” on their educational qualifications and that they were “habitual offenders”.Surjewala’s remarks came close on the heels of the Central Information Commission giving direction to the universities of Delhi and Gujarat to provide proper responses to RTI applications seeking details of education qualification of the Prime Minister.The CIC’s order came a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote a letter to CIC saying he does not object to government records about him being made public and wondered why the Commission wants to “hide” information on Modi’s educational qualification.
Accusing Central Paramilitary forces of “misbehaving and unleashing a reign of terror” during the fifth and penultimate phase of West Bengal assembly election, the Trinamool Congress on Saturday claimed that irrespective of it the party has already reached comfortable majority to form the next government.”The Central paramilitary forces has unleashed a reign of terror. They have locked up clubs in various constituencies. The way they have been unleashing terror it seemed that they have been working under the instruction of someone else. They even misbehaved with voters,” TMC vice-president Mukul Roy told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Roy, however, exuded confidence and claimed that TMC had already crossed the majority mark after the fourth phase of polls and will get a “comfortable majority” after fifth phase of polls.”As we had said that we had already got the majority after the fourth phase of polls. But in spite of so much of terror we have achieved a comfortable majority after this phase,” Roy said.Earlier in the day senior Trinamool Congress ministers accused Central paramilitary forces of misbehaving with voters “in the name of maintaining law and order”.”The Central paramilitary forces in the name of maintaining law and order are misbehaving with voters and the common people. They are frisking people without any reason, beating voters. We condemn this. But irrespective of such intimidation, we will win the polls,” senior TMC leader and state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said.”The paramilitary forces have a language barrier. But local police is there to help them overcome that. We are 100 per cent sure about winning the polls after the results are announced,” senior TMC leader and state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said after casting his vote in Behala West Constituency.West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had during her election campaign few days back lashed out at Central forces for imposing “curfew” in areas where polls are on.A heavy voter turnout of 78.25 per cent was registered till 5 PM today in the fifth and penultimate phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal, which saw sporadic incidents of violence that left at least 15 injured.
Close on the heels of CM Ommen Chandy, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala on Saturday filed a petition before Chief Electoral Officer seeking action against CPI-M veteran V S Achuthanandan for making “false and defamatory” statements against him during the ongoing campaigning for the May 16 Assembly elections.Chennithala in his petition submitted that the CPI-M leader’s “baseless” allegation about corruption cases against him amounted to breach of code of conduct, election officials said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There was no basis for the allegation, he claimed, adding the charge had been made to create misunderstanding among voters and also amounted to character assassination by Achuthanandan, who is contesting from Malampuzha segment.Chennithala sought action as per law against the CPI(M) leader for making “false” statements. Chandy had earlier this week filed a complaint with the Election Commission seeking action against Achuthanandan for his “defamatory remark” against him over corruption cases.Besides, Chandy has also moved a court here by filing a defamation suit against the leader, seeking Rs one lakh compensation.
Venkaiah Naidu took to Twitter to sound the election gong for Tamil Nadu as he urged voters to cast their lot for BJP. He wrote: “You have seen AMMA (Jaya), You have seen AYYA(Karuna). Now its time for Bhayya (MODI). Vote for BJP. AIDMK and DMK are like both sides of a same coin, with same ideology. Tamil Nadu wants a National Party and a Nationalists party. BJP is the only alternative.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing both AIADMK and DMK of being corrupt, Union Minister and senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu asked the people in Tamil Nadu not to be swayed by “cash or caste” in the May 16 Assembly elections. Addressing an election meeting in support of BJP candidates here, he asked the voters to think and vote for eligible and meritorious candidates.”Do not vote for cash and caste,” he said. He charged that both DMK and AIADMK were corrupt parties. “In all departments, there is corruption,” he said. Attacking the Congress-DMK combine, he said they were opportunist parties.They had snapped their alliance earlier but again joined together for the coming Assembly polls, he said. He added that Congress and Communist parties were blocking several good initiatives of the NDA government in Parliament.”When good schemes are announced all parties should cooperate for the welfare of people but Congress was blocking them,” he alleged. With inputs from agencies
In the backdrop of Supreme Court clearing the decks for National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) as a single common entrance test for admission to MBBS and BDS courses, Karnataka government has advised the students to appear for both NEET and the Common Entrance Test, conducted by it.The government was seeking legal opinion and is likely to decide by Sunday on filing of an appeal, suggesting NEET as a single common entrance test, be considered from next year, Higher Education Minister Jayachandra said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There is ambiguity among students and parents whether to appear for exam on May 1…we advise students to appear for exam tomorrow,” he told reporters here.”Those who have applied should appear tomorrow, those who have applied for CET on May 4th should also appear for the exam, and those who have not applied for NEET now have to utilise the opportunity by applying for NEET 2 exam to be held on July 24,” he added.The apex court in its decision had approved the schedule put before it by the Centre, CBSE and the Medical Council of India (MCI) for treating All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) fixed for May 1 as NEET-1 and holding NEET-II on July 24 for those who have not applied for AIPMT.The combined result would be declared on August 17 so that the admission process can be completed by September 30.Jayachandra said: “We are not clear about the judgement yet as within two days after the judgement exam has approached.”He said: “Different states are party to the case that is coming up on May 3rd… Advocate General is not in town, he will be coming tomorrow, we will have discussion on this and decide about the appeal. We are saying let’s have NEET from next year, I think other states are also of the same opinion.” Responding to a question about CET conducted by the state government, Minister of State for Medical Education Sharan Prakash Patil said,”Whether to derive merit from CET or not, we will decide as per the Supreme Court judgement on the date of counselling.”On reservation that is given for students from Hyderabad- Karnataka and other backward regions of the state, he said, “The state’s reservation policy will prevail, NEET judgement has nothing to do with quota, to derive merit they are conducting NEET.”
Around 300 passengers were on board for their first trip of Bengaluru’s Namma Metro that was flagged off from Baiyappanahalli to Mysuru Road at 6am on Saturday.
Excited passengers were sharing experiences of other Metro trains they had been on. “I have travelled on the London Underground,” said one, “and I have been on the Kuala Lumpur one,” said another, while yet another passenger piped in, “ I have been on the Delhi metro and the Kolkata metro.”
It was a family outing for some who had brought their children for their first underground Metro ride.
As the train chugged into the first underground station at Cubbon park, the thrilled passengers let out a whoop.
Pavithran, the loco pilot, who had driven the inaugural train on Friday was there with his children and other staff who had ridden the inaugural train yesterday.
“I was in the army before, and I am now serving BMRCL as a loco pilot. I was very happy to be driving the inaugural train that was flagged off by the Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah. Today, I brought my children to experience the first commercial trip,” he said smiling proudly.
All the underground stations were decked up with festoons and balloons as was the inaugural train on the East West corridor or the Purple line.
Navjot Kaur Sidhu, BJP MLA and wife of cricketer-turned-MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, on Saturday articulated her anger against her party’s ally Akali Dal and said she will not contest the next Assembly polls on BJP ticket if the alliance continues.Kaur said she had joined politics with high dreams of serving the state and the poor but her hopes stand shattered because of the “humiliation” and “step-motherly” treatment meted out to her by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I will not be contesting (on BJP ticket) if there is an alliance with the SAD,” said the Amritsar-East MLA.She alleged that she was always “humiliated” by the Chief Minister and his son, who is the Deputy Chief Minister.”Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal has been publicly saying that I am like his daughter, but the truth is that I have always received treatment given to a step daughter,” she told reporters.Kaur said she had never been accommodated whenever she approached the state government for any project.Replying to a question, she said, “we (she and her husband) love Punjab and want to serve it”. Her husband, a three-time Lok Sabha member, was recently nominated by the Modi government to Rajya Sabha and he took oath as the first-time member of the Upper House on Thursday.Kaur was in Ludhiana to meet the parents of 25-year-old Inderpal Singh Ahuja, who had allegedly committed suicide due to alleged police torture and harassment here on Friday. She strongly condemned the alleged police harassment and criticised the state government for failing to maintain law and order and save precious lives.She suggested that all investigations and questioning by the police in the state should be recorded by CCTV cameras.Kaur appreciated and hailed the approach of newly-appointed Punjab BJP President Vijay Sampla in taking the party workers’ case to the government and hearing their grievances.
Actor-turned-politician Hema Malini on Saturday had a narrow escape as two vehicles in her cavalcade collided with each other under Highway police station area here, police said.”MP Hema Malini is safe,” SP City, Mukul Dwivedi said.The accident took place when the BJP MP was going to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Veterinary University and Gau Anusandhan Kendra to inaugurate a function.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”One of the vehicles in the MP’s cavalcade suddenly applied the brakes, halting the movement of the other vehicles. Meanwhile, a speeding car entered into the fleet and brushed past the vehicle carrying the MP,” Sanjai Govil, BJP leader, said.The stray vehicle fled the spot thereafter, he added. The Bollywood actor had met with an accident in Rajasthan last year, in which a four-year-old girl was killed and five others were injured, including Hema Malini.
Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai on Saturday said that government will organise a ‘thanksgiving event’ at Chhatrasal Stadium on May 4 to thank all those who participated in making the second phase of odd-even scheme a “success”.Rai said the credit of the success of the scheme goes to civil defence volunteers, traffic police personnel who were deployed on roads during the road-road rationing plan.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We will organise thanksgiving event on May 4 at Chhatrasal Stadium where civil defence and Delhi Police personnel, officials from DTC, transport department, metro will be thanked for making the odd-even scheme a success,” the Transport minister told reporters here.He also said the entire Delhi Cabinet, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, will also be present during the event, adding that people, who followed the scheme, are also invited to attend the event.After the first phase of odd-even scheme, the Arvind Kejriwal government had also organised the same event at Chhatrasal Stadium.
It was Trinamool vs Trinamool on a day the Election Commission cracked yet another almost blemish-less century and ensured free and fair voting in the fifth phase of West Bengal Assembly polls.
If Mamata Banerjee had the sounded the war bugle against EC and its “heavy-handed tactics”, Saturday saw the reason why the ruling party has been feeling increasingly nervous. Using muscle power to subvert polling process is a blueprint created over decades by the Left and perfected in the last five years by Trinamool Congress. Last year’s civic polls showed to what extent can violence decide the outcome of a democratic procedure.
This time, however, the EC under Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi has proved a very tough nut to crack.
From the minute fourth-phase voting ended on 25 April up until the morning of Saturday, the EC and Kolkata police took a series of well-planned, calibrated and stringent steps that ensured Phase 5 remains almost as incident free as Phase 4, notwithstanding a few stray incidents of violence and rigging that is unavoidable in an exercise involving 14,500 booths for a 1.2 crore electorate.
The 349 candidates across 53 seats in Kolkata, South 24 Parganas and Hooghly that went to vote on Saturday included the who’s who of Bengal politics: the Chief Minister, mayor of Kolkata and members of Mamata Banerjee‘s core team — many of whom have found it difficult to erase the indelible ink of Sarada and Narada scams.
To contain trouble and ensure that outsiders do not queer the pitch on Saturday, the EC had a clear plan.
They started by liberally using Section 107 of IPC which ensured history sheeters were either put inside bars or had to fly their area of operation. The cops kept a close eye on all tainted criminals of port, Tiljala-Topsia, Tollygunge and Jadavpur area. The Kolkata police, under new Police Commissioner Soumen Mitra, prepared 43 quick response team. The EC also had at its disposal a 90000-strong security force (including state police) which was used to comb search for troublemakers.
Another significant step was to shut down all local clubs in every mohalla. This unprecedented step was triggered by an apprehension that clubs — hangout joints for local youths — were TMC strongholds and could be used as base to create trouble or rig the polls.
As a final step, the poll panel ordered imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPc in all the constituencies on polling day. Taken together, these steps ensured that violence was kept at a minimum.
Some incidents did take place though till about 5pm in the evening, an hour before official end of voting, sporadic violence in different parts of the state left 7 people injured while 27 so far have been arrested. The EC received nearly 3000 complaints and the biggest one came from Baruipur, a municipality in South 24 Paragans district.
In booth No 162 of Nabagram area under Baruipur constituency, four Trinamool Congress workers were injured in firing during a clash with CPIM activists. One 14-year-old, Ahmed Mollah, reportedly took a bullet in his hand while three others including a differently-abled individual were also hurt in firing. The injured have been admitted to the Baruipur Mahakuma Hospital. The Election Commission took suo motu cognizance of the incident and has sought an urgent report on the incident.
In the dock is one Rafikul Mollah though Sujoy Mistry, CPIM candidate in the area, has denied all charges. However, Kolkata mayor Sovon Chatterjee, the president of South-24 Parganas district TMC, blamed the CPIM for launching a calculated attack and accused the EC of inaction. Cops have so far arrested six, according to latest reports.
Other incidents of violence were reported from Goghat and Arambagh in Hooghly district. In Goghat, Forward Bloc candidate Biswanath Karak and his bodyguard were beaten up with the butt of a rifle by TMC-linked hooligans sparking off a massive search operation by central forces. Karak, who was on his way to visit some booths after getting reports of rigging, was waylaid by a biker gang. Police have arrested 5 TMC workers.
Sonali Guha, the new Didi in town
Mamata Banerjee isn’t the only firebrand female leader in Bengal. Other women leaders have shown during this election that they can be quite incendiary as well. If it was BJP’s Roopa Ganguly and Locket Chatterjee in earlier phases, this time it was Didi’s colleague Sonali Guha’s turn.
The TMC leader and candidate from Satgachia constituency landed in trouble after TV channels caught her inciting party workers over the phone. Guha, TMC candidate from South 24 Pargana’s Satgachia constituency, was seen instructing party activists to “thrash and drive out CPM agents from booths”. A malfunctioning EVM, which paused voting for over an hour in Kashibati Hindumoyee School (booth No 108), drew Guha’s ire as she accused the CPM of damaging the EVMs and asked party members to drive them out. She also engaged in confrontation with paramilitary jawans when they prevented her from entering the booths.
The EC subsequently filed an FIR against her.
Trinamool vs Trinamool
As cops kept things under tight control, Trinamool’s infighting came to the fore. Marxist-turned TMC leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah, who joined Mamata Banerjee’s party in February this year, brought charges of sabotage against party colleague Arabul Islam.
Back when Mollah was a CPIM leader, Islam was his bitterest rival. That the relationship hasn’t changed for the better despite a desperate attempt by TMC supremo to make Islam the ‘poll manager’ for Mollah’s campaign became clear on Saturday. Amid reports that Mollah’s men have been targeted in many places by Islam’s followers, the veteran TMC candidate from Bhangar constituency told local TV channels that “there is 100% chance of sabotage”.
CPIM rebel Mollah joined TMC in February this year. Mamata Banerjee’s decision to field him as a candidate in Bhangar didn’t go down well with firebrand leader Arabul and his men who have, for a long time, been at the receiving end of violence from CPIM under the veteran Marxist leader.
If Mamata calculated that Mollah’s inclusion may consolidate the minority votes, it seemed to have backfired as Saturday saw prolonged clashes and infighting between TMC workers. In many places, Mollah’s followers were beaten up those close to Islam. An irritated Mollah kept his temper in check all throughout the day until the final hours when it became clear that friendly fire may ruin his chances.
On being asked whether his poll manager Islam’s action will be the deciding factor in this seat, Mollah quipped: “He was a factor. Now he is a tractor.”
Thundershowers in few parts of Jharkhand on Saturday brought some relief to people reeling under heat with Ranchi recording a maximum temperature of 40.2 degree C during the day.Latehar and Lohardagga too experienced showers in the afternoon and their maximum temperature dropped to 39 and 40 degrees C respectively.Heat, however, continued unabated in other places.Met office sources said Dumka in Jharkhand’s Santhal Pargana recorded 44 degrees C, Garhwa 42 degrees C, Chaibasa 43.9 degrees C, Giridih 42 degrees C.
Starting a fresh round of questioning after a recent order of an Italian court in Agusta Westland alleged corruption case, CBI on Saturday quizzed former IAF Deputy Chief JS Gujral for over eight hours in the case. He will be called again for questioning, CBI sources said, adding that three Tyagi brothers–cousins of former IAF Chief S P Tyagi–have also been asked to appear before the investigation team next week.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The former IAF Chief will be appearing before CBI on Monday, CBI sources said.CBI has so far maintained that Gujral, who was procurement chief in IAF in 2005, was questioned as a witness in 2013 but was tightlipped on whether he retains the same status. The agency, so far, has not levelled any allegation against him.”He is cooperating with us. We may call him again soon for another round,” an official said.Tyagi and Gujral have been questioned at length in 2013 but the fresh round of questioning was necessitated after April 7 order of Milan Court of Appeals–equivalent of Indian High Courts which indicated corruption in the deal.The sources said CBI has examined over 100 people in connection with the case including all the Indian accused as it needs to examine five foreign nationals. They said the agency has received response of Letter Rogatory from Italy while partial responses have been received from British Virgin Islands, the United Kingdom and Tunisia. However, to arrive at any conlcusion CBI needs responses from other countries as well.CBI has sent judicial requests to eight countries with an aim to unravel the money trail of the alleged bribe of around Rs 400 crore which was paid to clinch the deal, they said. The agency had registered a case against former IAF Chief S P Tyagi and 12 others including his three cousins and five foreign nationals in the case. Tyagi has denied the allegations.In addition, six companies including Italy-based Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, Mohali-based IDS Infotech, Chandigarh based Aeromatrix, IDS Tunisia and IDS Mauritius have also been booked by the CBI in its FIR.The allegation against the former Air Chief was that he had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from altitude ceiling requirement from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft) so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids. However, this decision was taken in consultation with the officials of SPG and the Prime Minister’s Office.CBI has alleged reduction of the service ceiling–maximum height at which a helicopter can perform normally–allowed the UK-based firm to get into the fray as, otherwise, its helicopters were not even qualified for submission of bids.
The Supreme Court on Saturday wondered why Arvind Kejriwal-led government’s much hyped Odd-Even scheme has not been able to reduce pollution level and steps taken to achieve ambient air quality standards seemed not to be working.”Why no difference is made out in pollution level in Delhi, even after steps have been taken like odd-even scheme, diversion of trucks from the national capital. What are the solutions,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked while hearing a PIL filed in 1985 to check pollution levels.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench also comprising Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, which gave a special hearing on Saturday, said that earlier, the trucks used to ply through the centre of the national capital but now they have been diverted but still no difference seems to have been made in improving the ambient air quality.Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for the automobile manufacturers said that there are several other factors which contribute to pollution which include road dust which is 38 per cent and industries which contribute 11 per cent.”Unless we look and address the issue of real pollutant, nothing will seem to improve,” Singhvi said without commenting on the Odd-Even scheme whose second phase will end on Saturday.Singhvi further said, “to say diesel cars cause more pollution and therefore we should ban them will solve no problem.”The second phase of Odd-Even scheme started on April 15 under which vehicles with odd or even registration numbers ply on alternate days ended today. The first phase of Odd-Even scheme was first launched on January 1 to January 15.Chief Justice of India T S Thakur, earlier in December, had virtually endorsed the Delhi government’s decision to allow plying of private vehicles bearing odd and even registration numbers on alternate days to lower pollution levels, saying it can be followed “if it helps in reducing” the problem. He had said that he was not averse to pooling vehicle with brother judges.
JNU student union president Kanhaiya Kumar who is out on bail in a sedition case on Saturday claimed that contractual labourers of Mumbai Municipal Corporation have volunteered to pay the fine slapped on him by the varsity in connection with the February 9 event.”Contract labourers of Mumbai Municipal Corporation have collected 10K to pay my fine. We will not pay the fine and fight the unfair HLEC of JNU. But our solidarity long live! Chatra, Mazdoor, Kisaan ekta Zindabad!,” he said in a series of tweets.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 29-year-old research scholar, who is among those on an indefinite hunger strike in protest against punishments awarded by JNU for involvement in the event, is in Patna on Saturday for a student meeting.
ALSO READ JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar gets red carpet welcome in BiharHe also visited his family in Begusarai. Following the Patna visit he has plans to go to Kerala to campaign for a fellow JNU student who is in the fray for May 16 elections.Kanhaiya along with Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were arrested in connection with an event on campus against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised. They are now out on bail.On the basis of the recommendations of a university probe panel, JNU had earlier this week announced punishments against several students in connection with the event.While Kanhaiya has been slapped with a penalty of Rs 10,000 on grounds of “indiscipline and misconduct”, Umar, Anirban and Kashmiri student Mujeeb Gatoo have been rusticated for varying durations.Financial penalty has been imposed on 14 students. Hostel facilities of two students have been withdrawn and the university has declared the campus out of bounds for two former students.ABVP member Saurabh Sharma, who was complainant of the event, has also been slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 for blocking traffic.25 students including 5 ABVP members are sitting on indefinite hunger strike since Thursday in protest against the punishments.Bollywood director Vivek Agnihotri, who has claimed the plot of his film Buddha In A Traffic Jam is similar to the ongoing controversy at JNU, had also offered to pay fine of Saurabh.
Dehradun: Major forest fires raged on Saturday across Uttarakhand even as three teams of NDRF were deployed in Almora, Gauchar and Pauri and one team of SDRF in Nainital to extinguish the flames.
Since the beginning of forest fire incidents in the state in early February this year, 922 incidents have occurred so far killing six people including three women and a child, in separate incidents, injuring seven and blighting 1890.79 hectares of green cover, Principal Conservator of Forest (Research) B P Gupta told PTI.
Rudraprayag forest division is taking the army’s help for fire-fighting operations especially along the highways, Gupta said.
Chamoli, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Almora and Nainital are the worst-affected districts, he said.
The casualties due to forest fires which have spread to sparsely-populated remote hill areas, rose to six with another life lost in Nainital district on Friday evening.
1890.79 hectares of green cover have been destroyed by the fires which had an early start on February 2 this year due to a dry winter.
Governor K K Paul reviewed the rescue efforts underway via videoconferencing with officials in the field and asked them to speed up their efforts.
NDRF companies, assisted by expert teams and locals, are conducting fire-fighting and rescue operations in Garhwal and Kumaon regions.
IG Sanjay Gunjyal is cordinating with NDRF, District Magistrates concerned and the Principal Conservator of Forest to supervise the rescue operations.
Locals are being encouraged to report a fire incident to the District Magistrate concerned as soon as they see it so that it can be controlled in time.
The Governor has doubled the number of personnel deployed to control the fires from 3000 to 6000 and asked all agencies including SDRF, district administration and the rural population to contribute their bits in the exercise saying the forest department alone cannot accomplish the onerous task, Gupta said.
Forest fires are a natural phenomena in summer but this time they have occurred on a bigger scale as the fire season which normally begins by February 15 and ends by June 15 began on February 2 itself.
Former chief minister Harish Rawat has asked the Governor to declare Uttarakhand as a fire disaster struck state and involve locals as much as possible in fire-extinguishing efforts.
Pradesh Congress president Kishore Upadhyay has also written to party workers asking them to work unitedly to pull the state out of the “crisis.”
The PCF said the scale of forest fires in Uttarakhand this time has been bigger due to little or no rain during winter at most places.
Pre-fire alerts listing possible fire points over the next seven days in forest areas is being made available on forest department’s website www.forest.uk. govt, an official release here said.
With the Modi government close to completing its two years in office, a new survey on Saturday said nearly half of the respondents (49 %) feel “no change” in their living standards while another 15 % feel the situation has actually worsened.The survey, conducted by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), further claimed that “a significant percentage (43 %) feels that poor people are not benefitting from programmes and schemes under the Modi government.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the same time, the ‘performance appraisal’ of the two years of the Modi government also found that Narendra Modi’s performance as Prime Minister was being liked by a vast majority (62 %) and as many as 70 % wanted him to continue as Prime Minister beyond the first five years.The survey, of around 4,000 respondents across rural and urban areas of 15 states, still observed that less than one third feel the Prime Minister has fulfilled promises while around 48 % felt the promises have been met partially.”On whether living and life of people is any better today than two years ago, nearly half (49 %) feel ‘no change’ in scenario while 15 % feel that situation or conditions has worsened,” the survey said.Modi’s efforts for India’s stand glabally gets a thumbs upAnnouncing the survey results at a press conference here, former Secretary General of Lok Sabha Subhash C Kashyap said the personal image of the Prime Minister remains very bright and his performance is being liked by a majority. Modi’s efforts to improve India’s stand globally as well as improving administration at home got a thumbs up from a majority in the survey.”While NDA government’s initiatives are generally appreciated, concern for increasing prices and unemployment at grass root continues,” CMS Director General P N Vasanti said.Inflation, Unemployment and Black money issues: Major failuresAmong major failures of the Union government, inflation was cited by 32 % of the respondents, followed by inability to provide employment (29 %) and inability to bring much talked about black money (26 %) — one of the key promises made in the 2014 election manifesto.The major achievements cited in the survey included Jan Dhan Yojna (36 %), Swachh Bharat Mission (32 %) and efforts to bring foreign direct investment (23 %). In the assessment of individual union ministries, Railways scored the best, followed by Finance and External Affairs Ministries.The low-performing ministries included Labour and Employment, Law, Rural Development, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Social Justice and Empowerment. The ranking of the Union ministers was topped by Sushma Swaraj, followed by Rajnath Singh, Suresh Prabhu, Manohar Parrikar and Arun Jaitley in the top five. The low-ranked ministers in the survey were Ram Vilas Paswan, Bandaru Dattatreya, Radha Mohan Singh, J P Nadda and Prakash Javadekar.”Important ministers like Venkaiah Naidu (Urban Development) and Smriti Irani (HRD) stood as ‘average’ performers in their overall standing as the expecations were much higher,” the report said. The assessment of ministries and Union Ministers was done based on four parameters – media presence, extent of activity on social media uilisation of MPLAD fund and people’s opinion, it added.
Pushed to the corner on the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, the Congress has made a strong retaliatory strike against the ruling BJP, particularly against its president Amit Shah, who a day ago had put some straight questions to Sonia Gandhi.
The Congress president, of course, would not respond to it but fielded Randeep Singh Surjewala, in-charge of party’s communication department to take on the BJP president.
Sample his statement: “Amit Shah and BJP leaders have become masters in pursuing politics of deceit and deliberate lies. No wonder, empty vessels make the loudest sound. BJP government and its leaders need to introspect, whether mudslinging and muckraking can ever replace the truth?”
His statement runs into a few pages and some annexure attached claim that it was actually the Modi government which was at fault in shielding the bribe givers and bribe takers. One can make one’s own judgment on the Congress leader’s words that the chopper scam and the subsequent revelation originating through the Milan Court of Appeal’s judgement papers is just a part of the “smear campaign and hatchet job of the BJP’s dirty tricks department defend the ‘Operation Cover-up’ of BJP government in helping AgustaWestland.”
In his enthusiasm to ring fence his leader Sonia Gandhi and some others, the Congress leader tends to forget to answer simple questions: When did the scam take place? Did the Congress-led UPA government, despite an admission made by then Defence Minister AK Antony that bribe was paid to people in the Indian establishment, bring the guilty to book? Also, who was the force behind the decision the on Rs 3,600-crore deal for 12 helicopters to be used by the VVIPs.
Two days ago, in one of his rare appearances on a television show, Ahmad Patel, the all powerful political secretary of Sonia Gandhi, told Times Now that he was there to defend himself, his leader (Sonia Gandhi) and his party. What this actually meant that blame Manmohan Singh government as much as you want but spare the Congress president. The BJP is not falling into that trap.
On Friday, the BJP mounted a concerted attack and fired at the Congress from all possible quarters. In the morning, the irrepressible Subramanian Swamy filed a notice of breach of privilege against Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad “for willfully telling a lie” in Rajya Sabha that AgustaWestland was blacklisted by the UPA regime, as also filing another notice challenging expunging of his words by the Deputy Chairman, which the BJP leader felt was “arbitrary, unreasonable and against Rajya Sabha Rules”. Outside, he can use the words, Sonia Gandhi and Italian Constitution, but not inside, not in Rajya Sabha.
Few hours later, Amit Shah issued a statement from Ahmedabad asking some biting questions to Sonia on Agusta scam. By night two more developments happened – first, Modi government issued an around 1500-word statement, a point-by-point rebuttal to the Congress’s retaliatory strike. Second, the CBI and ED issued summons to the disgraced former Air Force chief SP Tyagi and another senior officer to appear before it for inquiry.
Interestingly, the official government statement on Agusta scam issued by the Information and Broadcasting ministry referred to charges made from quarters that Tyagi was part of Vivekanand foundation established and headed by Ajit Doval in his independent capacity. It didn’t matter that the Foundation had through a tweet denied to this charge on 27 April: “Ever since 2013, Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi is not associated with the Vivekananda International Foundation @vifindia in any capacity.” The Congress and its sympathisers had continued making this charge to suggest that the tainted ex-air chief was close to the NDA regime not to the UPA.
“A few have even sought to link one of the accused with Shri Ajit Doval, present NSA, as also Shri Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. This is a totally baseless assertion, devoid of reason and logic, and indicative of malicious intent. In reality, there is no such connection,” the government statement said.
The statement does not name the Congress because an official statement of Government of India can’t respond to a political party’s counter charges per se. But what’s interesting that it refers to the Congress as a “small section of Indian polity”. The Congress which till recently ruled at the centre and in most Indian states surely would not take it kindly but has surprisingly not responded to it. It is perhaps waiting for its turn in Rajya Sabha when it opens on Monday to prove that it is still the biggest party.
“It is indeed tragic that a small section of the Indian polity has attempted, unsuccessfully, to divert and diffuse the public discourse on this matter. They question the speed of the government processes, especially the investigation. But, they do not ask how the corrupt influenced the process of acquisition in the first place and bled the nation. They do not admit corruption; they instead boldly proclaim, catch us if you can,” the statement said.
“In the matter pertaining to acquisition of AgustaWestland helicopters, the undisputed central issue that stands out is corruption, especially bribery. Any other line of assumption, approach and effort, as is being attempted in some quarters, is misleading, tries to hide the wrong-doers and is driven by instincts of self preservation,” it added.
Amit Shah has levelled some serious allegations on changing several clauses of the original tender to favour AgustaWestland and signing a deal with it even as it was not original manufacturer of the chopper. Chapter two, para two of the tender had clearly said that only original equipment manufacturers could participate on the bid, how come then AgustaWestland, which was not its manufacturer, was allowed to bid and even cleared for technical bid. His contention would mean that the deal signed was fraudulent.
To the charge that Modi government did nothing to pursue this case since it came to power two years ago, the ministry goes at length at action taken, beginning 3 July 2014 when it put on hold all procurement/acquisitions from AgustaWestland, Finmeccanica and its other subsidiaries.
To another charge made by the Congress and some others that Modi government permitted AugustaWestland to bid for 100 Naval Utility Helicopters in April, 2015, the facts suggest otherwise — a techno-commercial Request for Proposal (RFP) for Naval Utility Helicopters was issued to eight vendors on 4 August 2012. In response to the RFP, M/S Eurocopters, France and M/S Agusta Westland SPA, Italy submitted their techno-commercial proposals on 4 March 2013. RFP of the procurement case was retracted by the government on 13 October 2014. Remember, by early 2013 UPA had claimed to have blacklisted AgustaWestland.
In October 2014, Indian Navy had hosted on the website a Request for Information for more than 100 Naval Utility Helicopter in October 2014. “No Request for Proposal has been issued, therefore the question of permitting AgustaWestland to bid for the Naval Utility Helicopter in April 2015 does not arise. In their drive to divert the public attention from their own corruption, these charges were being made,” the ministry said. It however, admitted that “the government is exploring whether their manufacturing can be pursued under Make in India. By now the Modi government would have realized that the political cost of any such consideration would be too big for it.
Whatever the CBI had been doing for the last two years in this case have not yet led to any conclusion, or finding of any substantive leads. The Milan High Court order in Italy has given a chance to push CBI and ED harder to find the money trail and unearth other relevant documents.
Will Modi government and CBI succeed? Well no one knows. Will it remain inconclusive like Bofors? The broad pattern of AgustaWestland and Bofors are the same but what makes the two cases different is the fact that for some reasons Vajpayee government didn’t have the political will to actively pursue Bofors investigations and court proceedings, the Modi government may not be found lacking on that score. Modi and Amit Shah would not like to let go an opportunity where they could keep on targeting Sonia Gandhi for long, with some valid reasons.
Major forest fires raged on Saturday across Uttarakhand even as three teams of NDRF were deployed in Almora, Gauchar and Pauri and one team of SDRF in Nainital to extinguish the flames.Since the beginning of forest fire incidents in the state in early February this year, 922 incidents have occurred so far killing six people including three women and a child, in separate incidents, injuring seven and blighting 1890.79 hectares of green cover, Principal Conservator of Forest (Research) B P Gupta told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rudraprayag forest division is taking the army’s help for fire-fighting operations especially along the highways, Gupta said. Chamoli, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Almora and Nainital are the worst-affected districts, he said.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Guv Paul on Saturday and assured full assistance from the Centre to control forest fires and help in containing the damage. The casualties due to forest fires which have spread to sparsely-populated remote hill areas, rose to six with another life lost in Nainital district on Friday evening. 1890.79 hectares of green cover have been destroyed by the fires which had an early start on February 2 this year due to a dry winter.Governor K K Paul reviewed the rescue efforts underway via videoconferencing with officials in the field and asked them to speed up their efforts. NDRF companies, assisted by expert teams and locals, are conducting fire-fighting and rescue operations in Garhwal and Kumaon regions.IG Sanjay Gunjyal is cordinating with NDRF, District Magistrates concerned and the Principal Conservator of Forest to supervise the rescue operations.Locals are being encouraged to report a fire incident to the District Magistrate concerned as soon as they see it so that it can be controlled in time.The Governor has doubled the number of personnel deployed to control the fires from 3000 to 6000 and asked all agencies including SDRF, district administration and the rural population to contribute their bits in the exercise saying the forest department alone cannot accomplish the onerous task, Gupta said.Forest fires are a natural phenomena in summer but this time they have occurred on a bigger scale as the fire season which normally begins by February 15 and ends by June 15 began on February 2 itself. Deposed chief minister Harish Rawat has asked the Governor to declare Uttarakhand as a fire disaster struck state and involve locals as much as possible in fire-extinguishing efforts.Pradesh Congress president Kishore Upadhyay has also written to party workers asking them to work unitedly to pull the state out of the “crisis.” The PCF said the scale of forest fires in Uttarakhand this time has been bigger due to little or no rain during winter at most places.Pre-fire alerts listing possible fire points over the next seven days in forest areas is being made available on forest department’s website www.forest.uk. govt, an official release here said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate action to secure the release of 34 fishermen from the state and 88 fishing boats, including 21 fishermen and three traditional fishing boats, apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy on April 27.”I write to bring to your personal attention that 22 fishermen in three traditional fishing boats from Tamil Nadu set out for fishing from the Rameswaram fishing base of Ramanathapuram District on 27.4.2016 and have been apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy and taken to Thalaimannar, Sri Lanka. They were engaged in fishing in their traditional waters of Palk Bay when the Sri Lankan Navy apprehended them,” Jayalalithaa stated in a letter to the Prime Minister.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pointing out that India should not treat the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka as a settled question, the chief minister said, “Once again, I reiterate the Government of Tamil Nadu’s stand that the Government of India should not treat the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka as a settled question, as the constitutionality of the 1974 and 1976 agreements have been challenged on extremely valid and legal grounds in the Honble Supreme Court of India.”Saying that 85 fishing boats and 13 Tamil fishermen were still languishing in Sri Lankan custody, she added, “The prolonged detention and disuse of the boats would have damaged them, thereby causing immeasurable loss of livelihood to the poor fishermen.””I once again request the Government of India to secure the release of the fishing boats and restore them in a refurbished condition to the fishermen at the earliest,” she urged.
Nitish Kumar government in Bihar on Saturday rolled out the red carpet for JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar who is on his first visit to his home state after release from jail on charge of sedition.Kanhaiya was escorted by the policemen at the airport on his arrival from New Delhi and the JNUSU president moved with a convoy of security personnel in the capital.Kanhaiya hails from Begusarai district of Bihar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He is on a two-day tour of his home state and met both Nitish Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav.The two leaders had supported him when he was sent to Tihar jail on sedition charge and the JNUSU president met them at their residences.The high-profile welcome to JNUSU president triggered reaction from political parties.Questioning the welcome accorded by the Nitish Kumar government to a person charged with sedition, opposition BJP said it was a day of shame for the state.Defending the welcome, state minister and Bihar PCC president Ashok Choudhary said Kanhaiya was a native of the state and since he was attacked earlier in Delhi and elsewhere it was proper to provide him fulproof security to avoid any such recurrence.His party colleague and minister Madan Jha also echoed similar views.JD(U) spokesman Neeraj Kumar cited attack on Kanhaiya in Patiala court for the security cover provided to him.Later, the JNUSU president attacked the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for growing intolerance in the country.”Intolerance has increased in the country in the past two years under BJP government.”On total ban on liquor in Bihar, he said ideally it would have been left to individual freedom whether to drink or not.”But in larger context considering domestic violence due to alcohol in households in a state like Bihar ban is right.”
Deposed Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Saturday asked Uttarakhand Governor K K Paul to take cognisance of a sting operation video against him, claiming it carries enough evidence to prove there was a “criminal conspiracy” by BJP and Congress “backstabbers” to topple an elected government.Rawat said he has been ready for any probe from day one as he knows he is innocent but the “so-called sting CD should be investigated in entirety and not in bits and pieces.” The CBI has initiated its preliminary investigations into the sting operation in which Rawat was purportedly seen talking to middlemen in a bid to strike a deal with rebel Congress MLAs.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The agency questioned the journalist allegedly involved in the sting operation at its headquarters in New Delhi yesterday as part of its preliminary enquiry. Alleging that the reputation of the journalist who made the CD has always been under suspicion, Rawat said a close analysis of the content of the CD in totality puts it beyond doubt that there was a “criminal conspiracy jointly hatched by BJP and Congress backstabbers” to topple an elected government in Uttarakhand.Reading out transcripts of the CD as it appeared on social media at a press conference here, Rawat said names of Vijay Bahuguna, Saket Bahuguna and Kailash Vijayvargiya had been mentioned in the CD as people involved in the plot to throw him out of power.Questioning the antecedents of the journalist who had made the CD, Rawat alleged dozens of cases had been lodged against him during the tenure of a former BJP chief minister on the basis of which a red corner notice had also been issued against him.”Why doesn’t the BJP show the courage of instituting a probe against the man who made the CD. His reputation has always been under a cloud of suspicion,” he said.Claiming that he was innocent, he said the CD was made to “malign him – a fact corroborated by its timing exactly six months before the state was to go to polls.” However, he said he was ready for any probe and will cooperate with any impartial inquiry into the sting CD.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday questioned the seriousness of NDA government in probing the AgustaWestland helicopter deal and said an “impartial” investigation should be held so that the guilty are punished.”Why so much time is being taken for the inquiry into the deal of AgustaWestland chopper? Why has not the Centre completed the probe into the deal so far?” Kumar told reporters while replying to a query on the chopper deal.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The present government is not serious regarding probe into the chopper deal…they are only looking for excuses for making speeches on the issue,” the JD(U) President said, virtually echoing the stand of the Congress which is facing heat in Parliament over the matter.Earlier, senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had questioned Kumar’s “silence” over the chopper deal in which Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is under attack from ruling party.The erstwhile UPA government had said that the deal was cancelled when allegation of irregularities came into picture and a probe team was constituted into it, Kumar said adding “why the probe is going on for past two years (under present government)?”. He said an impartial inquiry should be held into the alleged irregularities in the Rs 3600 VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland.”Whosoever is guilty should be punished,” he added.
After releasing the Vision Document of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for Kerala assembly elections, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, on Saturday, said the BJP-led alliance has emerged as a prominent alternative in the southern state, while asserting that the electoral contest in the state has shifted from being ‘bi-polar’ to ‘tri-polar’.Asserting that the economic policies followed by the Congress-led UDF and the Left-led LDF were more or less similar, Jaitley slammed both the fronts for adopting a flawed ‘economic model’, which did not let Kerala prosper despite advantages.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Historically Kerala should have been the most prosperous state in the country, but despite all advantages this did not happen. This did not happen because of two reasons, economic model created by the Left, which was not a developmental model,” he said at a gathering of party workers after releasing the vision document.”The alternative model did not exist. The Congress or the UDF broadly followed the same line. There is a lot of debate both nationally and in the state as to whether days of bipolar politics in Kerala are over, they indeed are. The NDA has to give an alternative politics to the state of Kerala. This is really Kerala’s first tripolar election,” he added.The NDA, which has completed two phases of campaigning, is going to field prominent national leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah, for the last leg of electioneering.Prime Minister Modi would address five rallies from May 6 to May 11, while Amit Shah would address five rallies starting from May 1. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh would campaign in the state on May 6 and 7, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu on May 8 and 9 and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on May 8.
Welcoming the Bombay High Court’s order in the Adarsh Society scam, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar on Saturday demanded that Maharashtra government should lodge an FIR in the case. Some people had benefited in the scam and hence we want registration of an FIR first and not just re-inquiry, he said.The Bombay High Court had on Friday ordered demolition of the 31-storey scam-tainted Adarsh apartments in the heart of Mumbai and sought criminal proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats for “misuse” of powers, holding that the tower was illegally constructed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The ramifications of the case which involves cheating are wide. The role of politicians who helped their relatives obtain flats in the controversial Adarsh society needs to be probed,” Shelar told reporters.During the previous Congress-NCP regime, the then Governor denied permission to the CBI to prosecute the Chief Minister (Ashok Chavan) in the case, he said. After the BJP-led state government took over in 2014, the present Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao granted CBI the permission to prosecute the guilty, Shelar said. The role of the officials of Mumbai civic body (MCGM) and those in the state government should also to be investigated, he said.”An inquiry will reveal everything but we demand that the government first file an FIR,” Shelar added.The posh 31-storey Adarsh Housing Society is constructed on a prime plot of land in Colaba here. It was meant for Kargil war widows and defence personnels. However, politicians, bureaucrats and military officers allegedly conspired to bend rules and obtained flats for themselves or for relatives at below-the-market rates.The scam that came to light in November 2010 had forced the then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to resign.
Contending that the Gujarat government’s move to provide 10% quota to EBCs would adversely affect the backward classes, Congress Rajya Sabha member V Hanumantha Rao on Saturday announced to undertake a fast on May 5 in Delhi against the move.Rao, who is the convener of OBC MPs forum, said here that extending reservation to new communities would lead to reduction of the quota for backward classes. He alleged that the governments are accepting the demands for quota by “some upper castes” as they turned violent.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”What would happen if the backward communities, who are more in numbers, also hit the streets?” he asked.Rao said he would invite leaders of other parties, including CPI, CPI(M), to his protest. The Gujarat government on Friday announced 10% reservation for economically backward classes among upper castes.
“There was 99.6% compliance of the second phase of the Odd-Even rule in the national capital,” said Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai on Saturday.Speaking on the last day of the second phase of the car rationing formula, Rai, quoting the data, said, “8,988 vehicles were fined for violating the odd-even rule in the second round and considering the number of vehicles which ply on roads daily in the capital, it shows 99.6% people complied with the odd-even rule in the second phase.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However 10,058 vehicles were fined during first round of the ‘Odd-Even’.While replying on the impact on pollution level of the car rationing formula, Rai said, “DPCC data shows less pollution was observed in inner circle of Delhi. However, the borders areas remained high on the level of air pollution.”He also said that the comprehensive data of pollution will be released on May 9.”The world is comparing the two phases of odd-even rule and after this now America, Mexico, Beijing and Moscow have shown curiosity to implement the car rationing formula in their respective countries. Subsequently the states like Haryana, Maharashtra and others also planning to implement odd even,” the Transport Minister added.While speaking to media on the questions of success of the Odd-Even part two, he said, “The odd even round two was tough than part one but Delhi followed it wholeheartedly. But now we have two models of odd even implemented in two weather winters and summers to study and after reading the comprehensive result of study we will announce odd even part three.”The Delhi Government had called for program on May 4 to thank the people of Delhi and all the departments who were part of the ‘Odd-Even’. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the entire Delhi Cabinet would be a part of this event.”Delhi adjusted and cooperated despite chilling heat and when schools are open”, said the Transport Minister.”Odd-Even rule has changed the mindset. New generation has learned the importance of reducing private transportation. There was an increase in percentage of commuters in metro by 2.5 to three percent during the Odd-Even,” he said.The Delhi Government has also formed a committee headed by transport commissioner to increase metro frequency from its present capacity in the national capital.”The delegation of Moscow shared their experience of public transport where metro frequency is around 1 to 1.5 minute hence we have formed a committee headed by Transport commissioner to study it and increase frequency of metro from its usual frequency of 2 to 2.5 minute”, said Rai.While addressing the PhD chamber of commerce city, the Transport Minister spoke on common mobility card for metro and buses.”Electronic ticketing process to be completed machines by end of July and Common mobility card for metro and buses to go under trail from July this year and CCTV cameras for DTC buses are under tendering process”, said Rai.The Delhi Government has already announced premium bus aggregator scheme.
Amid escalating confrontation with the government, Congress on Saturday announced a gherao of Parliament on May 6 to highlight issues like Uttarakhand, drought and the campaign of “deceit and deliberate lies” against opposition.Party chief Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Rahul Gandhi and a host of other leaders and party workers would march from Jantar Mantar early morning on next Friday to gherao Parliament. Last year, the Congress had organised a rally at Ram Lila grounds on April 19 to protest the controversial Land acquisition bill which it had dubbed as “anti-farmer and pro-corporate”. Before that Sonia Gandhi had led a march of opposition leaders to Rashtrapati Bhawan on the issue. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The announcement was made by party’s chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala, who said the gherao would be the culmination of a “save democracy” march. He said it is being undertaken in the wake of attempts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to “topple” duly elected governments as was witnessed in the “conspiracies” in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.In an obvious reference to the AgustaWestland issue, he said the march was also against the “drama” being enacted by the BJP and the government and the campaign of “deceit and deliberate lies” launched by it. Surjewala said that the march was also to highlight the drought and the agrarian crisis that has forced a spate of suicides by farmers and has affected 40 crore people spread over large number of states.A party leader said workers from adjoining states of Delhi like Haryana, Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh would participate in the protest action. In Jaipur, PCC President Sachin Pilot said the Rajasthan unit of the party will participate in the march.”We have seen the undemocratic face of the Modi government in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” he said.Sonia Gandhi, who took over as party chief in March 1998, had that year led a march of party workers in Delhi on the issue of price rise. That time the A B Vajpayee government was at the helm.
Hitting back at BJP for targeting Congress leadership over the AgustaWestland chopper deal, former defence minister A K Antony on Saturday dared the Narendra Modi government to take “strong” action against “bribe givers and takers” if there was any evidence.Asserting that no names were revealed in the Italian court which convicted former employees of AgustaWestland for giving bribes in the deal, he said, “At every stage in the Italian court, our lawyer represented the case. They cross examined all witnesses. At no stage, names were revealed. My question is now -CBI is with present government, ED (Enforcement Directorate) is with present government. Why delay, if there is evidence?” he told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When asked about BJP launching an all-out attack against Congress on the issue, he said, “Take strong action against bribe givers and bribe takers.”Antony, who is in Kerala to launch the party’s election campaign for the May 16 Assembly poll, said, “The Italian court has convicted the bribe giver. Please take action against the bribe taker. CBI, ED are all with them.”Seeking to turn the tables, the Congress Working Committee member said “the bribe giver– the company, is part of the ‘Make in India campaign’ of the NDA government.” BJP has been targeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other leaders on the chopper deal during the UPA II regime.Congress has alleged that it was a political conspiracy to malign the party leadership in the chopper deal.
A suicide bomber driving a car killed at least 19 people and wounded 48 others on Saturday in an attack claimed by Islamic State on a group of Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims in a southeastern suburb of Baghdad, Iraqi police sources said.A second explosion near a Shi’ite militia checkpoint in the capital’s Dora district killed two and wounded three others, police sources said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for that blast.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amaq news agency, which supports Islamic State, said a fighter in the Nahrawan district had driven a truck loaded with three tonnes of explosives into the gathering of Shi’ite pilgrims. They had been heading to Baghdad’s Imam Kadhim shrine to commemorate the 8th century death of one of Shi’ite Islam’s senior figures.Security has gradually improved in Baghdad, which was the target of daily bombings a decade ago, but attacks against both the security forces and civilians are still frequent.The rise of Islamic State, which is fighting government forces for control of swathes of northern and western Iraq, has exacerbated the country’s sectarian conflict, mostly between Shi’ites and Sunnis, which emerged after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.Also on Saturday Islamic State militants launched an offensive near the northern town of Baiji, which Iraqi forces and Shi’ite militia fighters recaptured months ago along with a large oil refinery devastated by the conflict.In the first set of attacks on Friday evening near Siniya west of Baiji, Islamic State seized four security checkpoints, according to sources in Salahuddin operations command. The militants used car bombs, killing 11 members of the security forces and wounding 12 others.From the eastern side of Baiji, the militants attacked security forces near Makhoul, killing three police officers and wounding two others in fighting that continued on Saturday, the sources said.
The Election Commission on Saturday ordered filing of an FIR against Trinamool Congress MLA Sonali Guha after she was caught on camera allegedly ordering party workers to beat CPI-M polling agents.”Mere baar kore dis CPM agent der ekdom, ora EVM kharap kore rekhe diyeche. (Drive out the CPI-M agents by beating them, they have damaged the EVM),” Guha was heard as telling someone over phone. The conversation was recorded by TV channels. Guha, also the deputy speaker in the outgoing West Bengal Assembly, is the Trinamool candidate from South 24 Parganas district’s Satgachia constituency.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission officials said after hearing her comments on TV they have asked the district authorities to file an FIR against her in this case. In one of the booths in her constituency, voting was halted for sometime after an EVM was found to be malfunctioning.Hearing this, Guha went to the booth and tried to check the EVM herself but was stopped by the central armed forces. “Polling has stopped here for more than an hour but the EC has taken no action,” the Trinamool leader said.The fifth phase of the state Assembly polls began today.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who has been batting for full statehood for Delhi has said that the draft bill for statehood is ready.Kejriwal has been demanding full statehood of Delhi since he came to power in 2015. The full statehood demand also includes control over Delhi Police.In its manifesto, AAP had promised to push for full statehood for Delhi if it came to power. The NDA government in 2003 had brought a bill to grant full statehood to Delhi and it was tabled in Parliament.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bill was referred to a Parliamentary Committee. But no further attempt was made to grant Delhi full statehood.The BJP-ruled Delhi government had passed a resolution in Delhi assembly seeking full statehood for Delhi in 1993. The Congress government headed by Sheila Dikshit had also placed resolution in the Delhi assembly twice for grant of full statehood which was passed.
Well-known journalist Rajdeep Sardesai has deleted his Twitter account after his account was reportedly hacked. His last tweet read: “Time to disable account. Enough is enough.”When asked about returning to Twitter, he told The NewsMinute: “I have disabled my account temporarily. Changing password and getting account checked. Plus, happy to take a break. Let’s see.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His decision reportedly came after accusations that he was sending out abusive direct messages to users. Sardesai is the Consulting Editor at India Today Network.
They cannot carry mobile phones, earphones, microphones, pagers, health bands, wallets, goggles, hand bags, hair pins, hair bands, belts and caps. The first edition of the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) will be held on May 1 and CBSE has issued the dress code for exam along with other instructions. Students cannot wear shoes but wear sandals or slippers. All accessories like earrings, nose pins, chains and necklaces will also be checked by officials. The security for this exam has been upped and as a result stringent measures are being taken. Students have been asked to wear open shoes so that they won’t be able to hide any chits and notes. This year, according to Bangalore Mirror, students’ ears will be specifically checked so as to ensure there are no Bluetooth devices being carried by them. They cannot carry mobile phones, earphones, microphones, pagers, health bands, wallets, goggles, hand bags, hair pins, hair bands, belts and caps. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Students also can’t take in any stationery materials like texts (printed or written), bits of papers, geometry/ pencil boxes, plastic pouch, calculator, pen, scale, writing pad, pen drives, eraser, calculator, log table, electronic pens or scanners will also not be allowed. Students cannot wear wrist watches, carry cameras, metallic items, eatables – opened or packed, water bottles and so on.The prescribed clothing for the exam is light clothes so that they won’t be able to hide any instruments or communication devices. The ideal outfit is half sleeves with small buttons, and no badges or brooches. Those who are wearing any religion-mandated clothing have to report at 8:30 am so that they can be checked thoroughly.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday said the previous UPA dispensation will have to answer who received the alleged kickbacks in the AgustaWestland chopper deal. “The moot question is who took the money in Agusta deal. Those who were at the helm at the time when the deal was struck owe an explanation. The Italian court has clearly said that an amount of Rs 125 crore was paid. It has even disclosed some names. The government of that day needs to answer,” he said on the sidelines of foundation laying ceremony in Dehradun.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Investigations will make it clear how much in kickbacks was paid and to whom but the manner in which the deal was inked and efforts were made to favour a particular company will have to be explained by those in power at the time,” the Union Minister said.
ALSO READ Does AgustaWestland still owe money to India for three choppers?However, he said he would not speak much on the issue as the matter is to be sorted out out in Parliament Parrikar was talking after laying the foundation stone of a memorial of martyrs (Shaheed Smarak) at Cheedbagh in the city.The deal for the choppers went off track in 2013 when Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica, which owns AgustaWestland, for paying bribes to secure the deal. An Italian court, which convicted AgustaWestland chief Giuseppe Orsi, had reportedly described how the firm paid bribes to top Congress leaders to bag the Rs 3,600 crore deal.
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: Kejriwal steps up attack, dares BJP to arrest Sonia Gandhi
President Pranab Mukherjee who arrived in Auckland early on Saturday morning met Jerry Mateparae, Governor, General of New Zealand and was accorded ceremonial reception.Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders Live Cricket Score, 26th T20, Indian Premier League 2016, April 30, 2016The Indian President is on a three-day visit to New Zealand after completing his landmark visit to Papua New Guinea.The President inspected the Guard of Honour and witnessed cultural performance by the Maori men and women.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Source: AFPThis is for the first time that an Indian President is visiting a country in the Southern Hemisphere.Prime Minister John Key and the leader of Opposition Andrew Little will call on him.The President will lay a wreath at the Auckland War Memorial and address the students of Auckland University of Technology.He will also address a Business Forum and Indian Diaspora. With a population of about 4.5 million, New Zealand historically shares close and cordial ties with India.As many as 175, 000 persons of Indian origin have made New Zealand their permanent home.There are about 23, 000 Indian students in New Zealand. The country has become a favourite destination for location shooting by Indian Film producers.The Wellington City Council has submitted a proposal for establishing a sister-city relationship between Wellington and New Delhi.To improve connectivity between the two countries, a bilateral Air Services Agreement is likely to be signed during this visit of the President.The New Zealand Government is also keen to enhance defence cooperation with India.
BJP has alleged that a state minister and Trinamool Congress leader Firhad Hakim has described a part of Kolkata port area as “mini Pakistan” in an interview to Pakistan daily ‘Dawn’ and demanded an explanation, even as Hakim denied having made such comment.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”How can a minister say such things? We demand an explanation from both Mr Firhad Hakim and also Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said. When contacted Hakim told PTI he never made such comment.”The Pakistani journalist came along with a journalist of a local Bengali daily. She only asked me that this place looks like Karachi of Pakistan. I did not make any comment. She spoke to me about my election campaign. I answered those questions. That’s all,” he said.According to an article in Dawn, a journalist of the newspaper who was in Kolkata few days back, spoke to Hakim during his campaign trail in Muslim-dominated Kolkata port area and it was during this interview that he termed the part of Kolkata port area as “Mini Pakistan”.
A day after Gujarat government announced 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward among upper castes, jailed Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel on Saturday said he will study the decision before reaching a compromise to end the impasse over quota.Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders Live Cricket Score, 26th T20, Indian Premier League 2016, April 30, 2016However, community leaders involved in talks with the government are pushing for an end to the Patel stir, saying the community’s two main demands have been fulfilled. “I will first study the decision taken by the government and surely go for compromise (with the government over quota impasse) if it is in favour of the community,” he told reporters outside a Court in Visnagar, Mehsana district, around 90 km from here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 22-year-old, who is in judicial custody and facing a slew of charges, including sedition, was brought to the Court in connection with a case lodged against him in the neighbouring district. “I will take the matter of 10 per cent reservation to the (Patel) community after studying it properly. Solution to the issue is required for peace … and it is important for both the sides they compromise on the issue,” he said.
ALSO READ Quota row: Gujarat announces 10% reservation for EBCs to placate agitating PatelsThis was Hardik’s first reaction to the reservation for EBCs (economically backward classes) announced by the BJP government for the poor among upper castes (up to annual family income of Rs 6 lakh), which also include Patidars, in jobs and education. Yesterday, spokespersons of the Hardik-floated Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) had rejected the move as another “lollipop” extended by the BJP and the state government to “mislead” their community.PAAS has been leading the stir for inclusion of Patidars, a dominant agrarian community, as OBCs. Meanwhile, leaders mediating between agitating Patels and government today met Chief Minister Anandiben Patel. Later, they said the agitation should come to an end now as two main demands of the community, reservation and releasing youths jailed in sedition case, have been fulfilled.
ALSO READ EBC quota in Gujarat: Lawyers say it may survive if SC reviews ’92 rulingMahesh Savani, a member of the Committee mediating between the two sides, said the government was moving in the right direction. After releasing five of the six Patidar youths (who were behind bars and got bail from Courts), it has announced 10 per cent EBC reservation. “I believe the 10 per cent reservation is a big step.Now, we are waiting for details on the EBC reservation. Once we get them, we will reach out to members of the community and explain them what this is all about,” Savani told reporters after meeting the Chief Minister. Savani said “two of our demands — that leaders jailed under sedition charges be released and government provide reservation to Patel youths — have received positive response from the government.””About Hardik’s release, the CM asked us to keep faith in the legal system. So we feel government’s positive attitude towards Hardik’s release and 10 per cent reservation show that the agitation is now nearing its end,” he said. Hardik is behind bars in the two sedition cases. Yesterday’s decision was taken at a meeting of Gujarat BJP’s core group, where party’s National President Amit Shah was also present.
At least three people were killed and seven others injured after a ground plus three-storied commercial building in Kamathipura collapsed on Saturday afternoon. Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders Live Cricket Score, 26th T20, Indian Premier League 2016, April 30, 2016The incident took place at 2:10 pm at 14th Road, Kamathipura.According to initial reports, several people are trapped under the debris. So far, nine injured people have been shifted to a hospital, out of which three are in critical condition.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“The rescue operation is still going on. There are possibilities of a few more people being trapped inside. While seven people were shifted to JJ Hospital, two people have been taken to Nair Hospital,” said a BMC disaster management official.Five fire engines have rushed to the spot. Zone three DCP S Jaykumar is supervising the rescue operation.More details are awaited.
Mumbai: A three-storey building collapsed on Saturday afternoon, killing three persons and trapping many others, civic officials said.
Five persons were rescued from the debris of the building in Kamathipura area of Grant Road, which caved in at around 2 pm, a Fire Brigade official said. However, two of the injured succumbed to injures at J J
Hospital and Nair Hospital, according to BMC Disaster Control Room officials.
The condition of the other injured is said to be critical. Many people are still feared trapped under the rubble, the Fire Brigade official said, adding the structure housed a beer bar and a factory, among others.
Eight fire engines and three ambulances were pressed into rescue operation, the official said.
Mumbai: A three-storey building collapsed on Saturday afternoon, killing two persons and trapping many others, civic officials said.
Five persons were rescued from the debris of the building in Kamathipura area of Grant Road, which caved in at around 2 pm, a Fire Brigade official said. However, two of the injured succumbed to injures at J J
Hospital and Nair Hospital, according to BMC Disaster Control Room officials.
The condition of the other injured is said to be critical. Many people are still feared trapped under the rubble, the Fire Brigade official said, adding the structure housed a beer bar and a factory, among others.
Eight fire engines and three ambulances were pressed into rescue operation, the official said.