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PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech: Mamata says PM took over FM’s job, Kejriwal calls it ‘disappointing’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Describing Narendra Modi’s address to the nation tonight as a “pre-budget speech”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the Prime Minister deviated from the actual agenda of black money and demonetization. “PM deviated from actual agenda of black money & #DeMonetisation PM just took over post of Finance Minister and made pre-Budget speech (sic),” Banerjee said in a series of tweets.”So the FM was missing from this advance Budget Speech made by PM. Modi babu, empty vessels make the most noise,” she said claiming it was a “heartless, baseless speech”.Banerjee reminded the Prime Minister that he forgot to even pay respect to more than 112 citizens who died in queues to get cash.”Saying Nation Address & doing political vendetta. In the name of addressing the nation, Modi Babu is serving his selfish personal agenda,” she tweeted.”The Nation Address became the Budget Address.Financial Emergency continues in the name of black money cleanup. Money not available in banks. Still no concrete solutions to problems,” Banerjee said.Attacking Modi she said he wanted 50 days to deliver promises but “badly failed”.”PM who runs nation in the name of ‘Suddhikaran’ just underwent ‘Buddhiharan’,” she said adding promises were broken and he has snatched common man’s financial rights.She also asked where are the figures of demonetisation and how much of black money was recovered? “What did the nation gain after 50 days of excruciating pain,” the West Bengal CM asked while claiming that 2017 will mark the end of demonetisation and start of “DeModitisation”.”This will be the New Year Resolution of all 125 crore people of this great country,” she said. Questioning the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawal she said the government cannot simply “snatch away” economic rights of the people. “Modi Babu, public are not beggars. Why are there still restrictions on cash withdrawal?. 50 days are now over. How can you take away the rights of citizens to withdraw their own hard-earned money ? A government just cannot snatch away people’s economic rights,” she said. The Reserve Bank of India said last night that cash withdrawal limit from ATMs would be increased to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from January 1. However, there has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals and Rs 50,000 for small traders. Kejriwal calls speech ‘disappointing’ Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address as “disappointing”, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today accused him of “cheating” people and claimed that “not a single penny” of black money was recovered and there was no reduction in corruption due to demonetization. He also hit out at the prime minister for “not offering any relief” to the people suffering due to demonetization. In a series of tweets, Kejriwal said, “Modiji sounds so hollow now. People have stopped believing anything that he says. He has become a subject of ridicule internationally.”Modiji has cheated the entire nation. Neither a single penny of black money has been recovered nor has corruption come down. He has lost all credibility.”Prime Minister’s boring speech was heard patiently by the people in the hope that he will announce when can they withdraw their own money without restriction. In the end, they were disappointed.”Senior AAP leader Ashutosh also accused the prime minister of trying to “bribe” the people hit by the currency ban “by offering them sops” and termed his address as an “election speech”.”Modi’s speech was not about demonetization, but about election. He tried to bribe the people of India who are angry with him by giving them sops,” he said. Taking a dig at the prime minister’s address, Delhiminister Kapil Mishra said Modi sounded like “a doctor who has not understood his patient’s ailment”.Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav said the speech had no reference to the number of new currency notes printed or steps taken to curb black money. He described it as “below expectation”.”What happened to black money? How much black money (was) recovered? What are the future plans against black money? What about black money in politics?,” Yadav tweeted.

TMC MP Tapas Paul’s bail denied, sent to 3-day CBI custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A special court here today rejected the bail plea of Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Paul, arrested for his alleged involvement in Rose Valley Chit Fund scam, and sent him to three-day CBI custody.Paul was produced in the court of Special CJM, CBI, P K Mishra.Against it plea for a five-day remand of Paul, the court allowed CBI to take him into custody for three days. The cine star-turned politician was one of the directors of the tainted chit fund group that allegedly duped investors in Odisha, West Bengal and some other states.Paul is also accused of promoting the company and “misleading” people to deposit money in the firm. He was also charged with giving senior posts to his family members in the company, a senior CBI official said.In its charge sheet submitted in the court on January 7, CBI had accused the ponzi firm of duping investors of Rs 17,000 crore, of which Rs 450 crore is from Odisha alone. The company was active in Odisha and had 28 branches in the state.Paul was brought from Kolkata in the morning and taken to the CBI state headquarters. From there, he was sent to the Capital Hospital for medical examination before being produced in the court.CBI sources said a special investigation team led by DIG N K Singh, CBI Superintendent of Police, Bhubaneswar, Rajeev Ranjan and investigating officer will interrogate Paul.

Demonetization: Why are there restrictions on cash withdrawal? Mamata to Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questioning the restrictions imposed on cash withdrawal, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the government cannot simply “snatch away” economic rights of the people.”Modi Babu, public are not beggars. Why are there still restrictions on cash withdrawal?,” Banerjee asked in a statement. “Fifty days are now over. How can you take away the rights of citizens to withdraw their own hard-earned money? A government just cannot snatch away people’s economic rights,” she said. The Reserve Bank of India said last night that cash withdrawal limit from ATMs would be increased to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from January 1.There has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals and Rs 50,000 for small traders.

Living in denial? Mamata Banerjee says no communal clashes in Dhulagarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said no communal clash took place at Dhulagarh in Howrah district and termed it as “local problem”. “It is a small matter. It is a local problem. That was not a communal problem. I will stick to police’s version,” she told mediapersons at the state secretariat. Earlier in the day the Chief Minister denied any incident of rioting at Dhulagarh and alleged that “wrong information” was being given on social media. “In the last 15 days, social media is running wrong information on an incident which did not take place at all,” Banerjee said at a programme here in an apparent reference to reports of violence earlier this month at Dhulagarh, which is barely 20 km from the state secretariat.”In order to break news one must not act irresponsibly. If something has really happened then you (media) have every right to report it but I think a field survey must be done,” she said.Her remarks came even as a senior government official had yesterday said strict actions were taken against those involved in the Dhulagarh violence and the process of giving compensation to the affected has started.The state government, Banerjee said today, is the first to help a family when their home is damaged or they are affected.”If there is an accident, we immediately take steps to help the family…. We do it on humanitarian grounds but we do not do any publicity,” she said.District police said inhabitants are wary of returning to their homes at Dhulagarh. Delegations of BJP, CPI(M) and Congress were stopped from visiting the troubled areas of the district and police superintendent of Howrah (Rural) Sabyasachi Raman Mishra was transferred in the wake of violence within less than a fortnight of his appointment.BJP has hit out at Banerjee over the Dhulagarh incident.”This is height of politics of appeasement. I want to ask those intellectuals, who cried over 2002 riots in Gujarat and then intolerant India, that when are they going to Kolkata,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said yesterday. Earlier, a non-bailable warrant was filed against Zee News reporters by the government of West Bengal for covering the Dhulagarh riots, claimed Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhury.. He had written on Twitter: “@MamataOfficial Govt files FIR against me& @ZeeNews reporter for covering #DhulagarhRiots with Non Bailable sections. FIR for showing truth?”Zee News Chief Editor Sudhir Chaudhary wrote on Facebook: “ Just to inform all of you Mamta Banerjee Govt has filed an FIR against me and ZeeNews reporter Pooja Mehta and cameraperson Tanmay Mukherjee for covering Dhulagarh Riots on Zee News.The FIR has non bailable sections which is enough to gauge their intentions to arrest me and my colleagues. Pooja Mehta is just 25 and got the taste of Mamta’s intolerance so early in life in the form of a non bailable FIR.This is what a young girl reporter getting to learn from a woman chief minister who claims to be the champion of democracy.It’s another low point in our democracy to see a democratically elected govt using police force to curb media in an effort to suppress uncomfortable facts and reality.When you can’t manage media,use the state machinery to conquer the media only to conceal the failures of your administration. It shows the intolerance of a chief minister who is using the state machinery as her personal fiefdom and acting like a feudal lord. I see the positive side of this blunder as a window for all free minds of this nation to act and show fascist forces their actual place. Or once again Selfish Politics will prevail? That’s my fear. #IntolerantMamta”On December 13, clashes between two communities erupted following the Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations in Dhulagarh. Locals in the village alleged that ‘unprovoked’ clashes erupted after an infuriated mob in a procession of Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations started charging bombs at the houses. However, members in the procession allege that they were prevented from taking out the procession, following which violent clashes broke out.A week after clashes erupted in Howrah district’s Dhulagarh, the Bengal governor Keshari Nath Trpathi summoned Bengal Director General of Police (DGP), Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday. This comes a day after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly led a delegation and met the victims of Dhulagarh incident.Disclaimer: Zee News is DNA’s sister organisation.

After CBI summons TMC MPs, Mamata alleges Modi govt of doing ‘politics of vendetta’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting sharply to the CBI issuing summons to two TMC MPs in connection with the alleged Rose Valley chit fund scam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday alleged that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was resorting to “politics of vendetta”, but asserted that her party could not be stopped in this manner.”This is politics of vendetta. Trinamool Congress cannot be stopped in this way,” the TMC chief said. TMC parliamentary party leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay and party MP Tapas Pal have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on December 30. Banerjee had stated in Delhi yesterday that the country was witnessing a “super emergency” under Modi’s rule without its formal declaration.All sections of the society are being frightened by “Gabbar is coming, Gabbar is coming”, she had said and added that the country could not be run through such threats. She had also accused the prime minister of taking away the people’s rights. On demonetization, Banerjee said, “Let us wait for two more days and then, the 50 days would be over. We will decide accordingly.”

Mamata vs Centre: WB Police asked not to send report directly to Home Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The West Bengal government has instructed the police not to send any report directly to the Union Home Ministry on the law-and-order situation in the state without getting it vetted by the state secretariat.”This is a practise where the Home Ministry sends a letter to the state police headquarters seeking a report on the law-and-order situation every year and replies are sent directly to it without seeking the opinion of the secretariat,” a highly-placed source at the state secretariat told PTI. But this year, the report from the police headquarters requires a nod from the secretariat, before being sent to the Centre, he added. The source said the letter from the Centre, which was sent recently to the state police headquarters (Bhawani Bhawan), sought information on law-and-order in the backdrop of the arrest of several persons having links with terror outfits such as the JMB and IS, unearthing of an international child-trafficking racket and seizure of fake currency notes.He said an “internal circular” was issued from the top echelons of the state police that “no statistics would be sent to the Home Ministry without the consent of the state secretariat”. The circular stated that henceforth such queries from the Home Ministry, seeking any report on law-and-order, should be forwarded to the state Director General of Police. From now on, no official at the police directorate will be allowed to send any report to the Home Ministry directly. The DGP will go through the Centre’s queries following which top officials of the administration will meet to decide whether to answer them or not. In certain cases, the chief minister’s opinion could also be sought, the source said.In 2013, the state had not sent any statistics to the National Crime Bureau (NCB). The decision of the state government came in the wake of deterioration in the Centre-state ties over a number of issues such as the deployment of army at toll plazas “without taking the state’s permission” and CRPF personnel accompanying income tax officers during a search operation in the state. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had described the two developments as a move against the spirit of the federal structure.

Mamata govt filed FIR against Zee News reporters for covering Dhulagarh riots, says Sudhir Chaudhury

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a case of crackdown on press freedom, a non-bailable warrant was filed against Zee News reporters by the government of West Bengal for covering the Dhulagarh riots, claims Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhury.. He wrote on Twitter: “@MamataOfficial Govt files FIR against me& @ZeeNews reporter for covering #DhulagarhRiots with Non Bailable sections. FIR for showing truth?”Zee News Chief Editor Sudhir Chaudhary wrote on Facebook: “ Just to inform all of you Mamta Banerjee Govt has filed an FIR against me and ZeeNews reporter Pooja Mehta and cameraperson Tanmay Mukherjee for covering Dhulagarh Riots on Zee News.The FIR has non bailable sections which is enough to gauge their intentions to arrest me and my colleagues. Pooja Mehta is just 25 and got the taste of Mamta’s intolerance so early in life in the form of a non bailable FIR.This is what a young girl reporter getting to learn from a woman chief minister who claims to be the champion of democracy.It’s another low point in our democracy to see a democratically elected govt using police force to curb media in an effort to suppress uncomfortable facts and reality.When you can’t manage media,use the state machinery to conquer the media only to conceal the failures of your administration. It shows the intolerance of a chief minister who is using the state machinery as her personal fiefdom and acting like a feudal lord. I see the positive side of this blunder as a window for all free minds of this nation to act and show fascist forces their actual place. Or once again Selfish Politics will prevail? That’s my fear. #IntolerantMamta”On December 13, clashes between two communities erupted following the Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations in Dhulagarh. Locals in the village alleged that ‘unprovoked’ clashes erupted after an infuriated mob in a procession of Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations started charging bombs at the houses. However, members in the procession allege that they were prevented from taking out the procession, following which violent clashes broke out.A week after clashes erupted in Howrah district’s Dhulagarh, the Bengal governor Keshari Nath Trpathi summoned Bengal Director General of Police (DGP), Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday. This comes a day after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly led a delegation and met the victims of Dhulagarh incident.Disclaimer: Zee News is DNA’s sister organisation.

Bengal turns communal tinderbox, thanks to CM Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal is slowly, but steadily, heading back to its gory past when Hindus and Muslims were at daggers drawn and communal clashes and riots were frequent.Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee’s blatant minority appeasement is not only causing acute heartburn among Hindus, but has also emboldened attacks against them at many places. These have been mostly unprovoked with the motive of driving away Hindus from their hearth and homes.Her administration has been playing the role of a passive onlooker and the state police have been venturing into riot-torn areas only after the damage is done.In the latest such riot that broke out in a village at Howrah’s Dhulagarh area last week, according to reports, a procession complete with loudspeakers blaring Hindi film music was taken out on 13 December to celebrate Eid-e-Milad (the birthday of Prophet Mohammed), which fell on 12 December, a public holiday. On 13 December, Hindus at Dhulagarh village were observing Margashirsha Purnima.Hindus requested that the volume be lowered since the music was interfering with some rituals. This incensed a section of those in the procession and they started attacking Hindu homes and shops. According to local people, the attackers were non-locals. Hindu houses and shops were looted and then set ablaze while, as the Zee News report says, police who reached the village were attacked by bombs and prevented from stopping the rioters.Locals and leaders of Hindu Samhati (a Hindu social organisation) claim the attack on Hindus at Dhulagarh, like many others are increasing with regularity all over Bengal and were pre-planned. “Why would people participating in a procession to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet carry sticks, choppers and other lethal weapons as well as bottles filled with acid (which they hurled at shops), kerosene and diesel (which were used to set Hindu houses and shops ablaze after they were looted) and country-made bombs (that were hurled at the police)? Why was the procession taken out a day after Eid-e-Milad? And why were non-locals in the procession?” asked Hindu Samhati leader Prashanta Sen.In October this year, communal riots broke out in 12 places all over the state over Durga Puja immersions and Muharram tazia processions. The seed was sown by Banerjee when she banned immersion of idols of Goddess Durga on Dashami on the ground that the immersion processions would coincide with Muharram processions. She wanted immersions to take place before 4 pm on the day of Dashami or two days after that.The Calcutta High Court came down heavily on this and said: “There has been a clear endeavour on the part of the state government to pamper and appease the minority section of the public at the cost of the majority section without there being any plausible justification… the state government has been irresponsibly brazen in its conduct of being partial to one community, thereby infringing on the fundamental rights of people worshipping Ma Durga.” The High Court also warned the state that it would be dangerous to mix politics with religion.But by the time the Calcutta High Court delivered its stinging criticism, the damage had already been done. The state government’s restrictions ignited anger among the Hindus of the state and triggered tension between the two communities. This ignited into full-scale riots when those in the Muharram processions attacked the Durga immersion processions.“At all the places, the immersion processions or Durga Puja mandaps were attacked by those taking part in the Muharram processions. And there seemed to be a clear intention to create trouble. Some mischief makers burst a firecracker in the midst of a Muharram procession at Malda and shouted that the procession had been attacked with bombs. In no time, swords, daggers, choppers and lathis came out and Hindu homes, shops and temples were attacked. It was pre-planned,” a state home department officer who did not want to be named said.Hindus were angry because of unreasonable restrictions on Durga Puja immersions, and also over other such anti-Hindu and pro-minority actions of the government. For four years, her government has been denying permission to 300 Hindu families of a village in the state’s Birbhum district to organise a Durga Puja because 25 families would be offended.In 2012, she started giving monthly stipends of Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,000 to imams and muezzins of the 32,000-odd mosques in the state. This is perceived as blatant minority appeasement. She has also allowed hardline Muslim organisations a free hand. The hanging of 1971 war criminals in Bangladesh triggered massive protests in Kolkata and rallies calling for Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina’s death.Last month, a massive rally that brought Kolkata to a halt demanded a steep hike in the stipends to the imams and muezzins to Rs 20,000 and Rs 10,000 per month respectively. A few months ago, another massive protest rally against preacher Zakir Naik brought the city to its knees. Another against the Uniform Civil Code (the biggest such in the country till date) was held last month in Kolkata. Kolkata is emerging as the hub of hardline Muslim activism.West Bengal has also become a safe haven for Islamists hounded out of Bangladesh. “Hundreds of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists accused of heinous crimes like killings of secularists and bloggers have taken shelter in West Bengal. The Mamata Banerjee administration has turned a blind eye to their presence. The Khagragarh blast was an eye-opener. Many such Bangladeshi criminals and terrorists sheltered in West Bengal have been planning attacks on targets in Bangladesh,” said a Central Intelligence Officer.The fallout is steady Hindu-Muslim polarisation. “This polarisation has been triggered by what Hindus perceive is the blatant appeasement of minorities… anger has reached tipping point,” warns sociologist Dibyajyoti Goswami.West Bengal is no stranger to communal riots: more than 5,000 were killed and tens of thousands displaced in the Calcutta riots of 1946. The 1964 riots were a reaction to the pogrom against Hindus in erstwhile East Pakistan, the 1992 riots, the 2013 riots in Canning, and many more.Whatever be the failing of the erstwhile Left Front government, the lid was kept firmly on communal tensions.This article is reprinted with permission from Swarajya magazine.

People of West Bengal and Karnataka share a deep bond: Pranab Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday the people of West Bengal and Karnataka share a deep bonding by way of many things, including the literature of the two states. “People of West Bengal and Karnataka share a deep bonding by way of many things, including Kannada and Bengali literature,” he said at the inauguration of the 89th annual conference of Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan here. Tracing the roots of Bengali literature, he said it has a rich heritage and is a part of India’s culture.Bengali-speaking people are spread across the country, he said. “Language binds the people of society and it is the basic foundation of unity in diversity. One should rise above the boundaries of language to contribute and enrich culture,” he said.Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Kannada and Bengali literatures have a history of long connect as eminent Kannada poets Kuvempu and Da Ra Bendra were deeply influenced by the concept of Rabindranath Tagore’s cosmic consciousness. “Eminent Kannada poets Kuvempu and Da Ra Bendra were deeply influenced by the concept of Gurudev’s cosmic consciousness. There are 28 translations in Kannada of the magnum opus of Gurudev, Gitanjali,” he said.Siddaramaiah said another Jnanpith awardee Dr UR Anantha Murthy, who headed the Tagore Chair till his death, was profoundly impressed by the propagation of the ideal of national integration espoused in Gurudev’s all-time classic. The Chief Minister said that in these times of international strife, both Gurudev and Gandhi advocated the concept of plurality, while denouncing competition and violence in civilised world.

ISIS suspect Musa planned to attack Mother House in Kolkata to target US nationals: NIA chargesheet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>ISIS suspect Mohammad Masiuddin alias Musa had planned to attack Mother House in Kolkata to target US nationals according to the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday at NIA special court. The chargesheet filed by NIA mentions that ISIS suspect had planned to attack Mother House as a lot of US nationals would frequent this place to pay homage to Sister Teresa of Calcutta. A month ago, a seven-member team of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) interrogated Musa in Kolkata.
ALSO READ FBI warns of possible Islamic State-inspired attacks in USThe 25-year-old Musa was arrested from the Burdwan railway station by CID on July 4 on charges of radicalising youths to join ISIS.Later, the probe was taken over by National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the agency is currently probing his links to Jamaat-Ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and also the Dhaka attacks.
ALSO READ ISIS offers $1 million for murder of Kurdish woman who fought themSources in the NIA reveal, Musa had agreed to take on the assignment from a JMB leader Abu Suleiman to target foreigners and US nationals in India and behead them.In March 2015, Musa had met Abu Suleiman in India’s eastern state of West Bengal during his sister’s wedding.
ALSO READ Bengaluru man with alleged ISIS links held in KulluMusa had been in touch with Suleiman over Facebook, but Suleiman had expressed his wish to meet Musa in person. Later, Musa invited him to attend his sister’s wedding, held in Bengal.Meanwhile, Suleiman is on the run and both – Indian and Bangladeshi governments are looking for him.Musa came under the scanner of CID and NIA after his e-mails and calls were traced to Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Syria. Officials in the investigating agency highlight that he had been touch with several ISIS operatives in Syria through the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Initial investigation revealed that he had also been in touch with several JMB operatives in Bangladesh.

23-year-old techie from West Bengal hacked to death in Pune

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 23-year-old woman from West Bengal, who was working with an IT firm here, was allegedly hacked to death by an unidentified person on the outskirts of the city, police said on Saturday.Antara Das was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon at around 8 PM yesterday when she was returning home from work near Tathwade area, a senior police official of Dehuroad Police Station said.”Das was rushed to a nearby hospital. However, she was declared dead on arrival,” he said.According to the officer, robbery angle has been ruled out as the valuables the woman was carrying were intact.A case was registered in this regard, police said, adding a probe was underway.

In less-cash mode, govt mulls tighter cheque bouncing law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After demonetization, the government is now trying to fight the ‘demons’ that could come in the way of ensuring a less-cash economy. As part of this exercise, the government is examining a proposal that could lead to sterner action in cheque bouncing cases.With more people using non-cash modes for transactions, the government is facing demands, particularly from traders’ bodies, for a legal system that makes payments made through cheques more secure, according to sources.If the proposal is accepted, the government could come out with a legislation to amend the law pertaining to cheque bounce cases. Among the measures that government is examining is that the defaulter will be given a month’s time, after which, if the matter is not settled, it would attract arrest even before the case is settled, the sources said.At present, dishonour of a cheque, in view of inadequate funds in account, is a criminal offence under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act, 1881, and can be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine of twice the amount of the cheque or both.Sources said that despite the law, there were several instances when the payee was made to wait to get the money for years after a cheque bounced. There were 18 lakh cases of cheque dishonour pending in courts across the country till 2014 end, according to a reply in Lok Sabha. While Maharashtra topped the list of such pending cases, it was followed by Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal.The proposed amendments to deal with this issue, which are yet to get the final stamp of approval, could be brought in the budget session of Parliament in February. The objective is to cut down litigation and act as deterrent to defaulters.The traders, who traditionally have been BJP supporters, have expressed concerns about the problems of cheque bouncing, particularly at a time when more and more people were adopting non-cash mode of payments, the sources said.Ghanshyam Aggarwal, former co-convenor of the BJP’s traders cell, said traders’ apprehensions on various issues after demonetization, like the problems they faced due to the limit on cash withdrawal have been conveyed to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.Earlier this year, the government had notified the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015, to allow filing of cheque bounce cases in a court at the place where it was presented for clearance and not the place of issue. Litigants had to sometimes travel long distances to different places from where cheques were issued and not honoured.

Mamata writes to Centre on deploying CRPF, calls action unconstitutional

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shot off a letter on Friday to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, following the deployment of central forces to assist Income-Tax (I-T) officials during their raids in the city.In the letter, Mamata said that the state was kept in the dark about the deployment of 15 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. “The state government objects strongly to this decision, which is blatantly unconstitutional, illegal and against all principles of cooperative federalism,” the letter read.It said that the deployment of any central police force to any state could only be done at the request of the state government. “The decision must be immediately revoked,” she demanded. Mamata assured that the state would provide all necessary help, if requested by any central government agency.The letter by Mamata had been forwarded to all chief ministers as well.The West Bengal Chief Minister’s letter comes after a letter dated December 20, where the Department of Revenue and the Ministry of Finance requested the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide 15 armed personnel to I-T officials for assistance in their seizure operations in Kolkata.Sources at the I-T department said that during search operations at several places in the city, they had been outnumbered even while being accompanied by state police personnel. Thus they had requested for central forces, which would be used only if there was any lack of cooperation from the part of the state police.”It is, by no means, a step to demean or insult the efforts of the state police. They have been kept as an additional means of precaution. Besides it is not unprecedented. Central forces have been used during recent operations in Tamil Nadu as well,” an investigating official said.Earlier this month, Mamata had protested against the deployment of army personnel at toll plazas calling it a “political vendetta.”

Income Tax Department’s investigation wing: Deployment of CRPF personnel during search operations are as per law

Kolkata: The investigation wing of the Income Tax (IT) Department on Friday said the deployment of CRPF personnel during searches is as per the law, which West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has termed as “unconstitutional and illegal”.

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee addresses media after her party's win in the Assembly elections at her Kalighat residence in Kolkata on Thursday. PTI Photo by Swapan Mahapatra(PTI5_19_2016_000262B)

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“The number of search operations being carried out now have increased manifold and this is why we are taking help of CRPF personnel,” a senior official of the IT investigation wing told PTI.

To a query, he said the investigation wing was also getting cooperation of West Bengal Police.

“As per law, we are authorised to seek the help of paramilitary forces, Customs, PSU banks and CISF personnel during search operations,” the official said.

“This is nothing new and we are doing it everytime.

“It is well known that we are carrying out such action day-in and day-out. So it is necessary to take the help of other central agencies besides the state police,” he said.

Mamata Banerjee on Friday objected to the Centre’s move to deploy CRPF personnel for providing security to Income Tax officials during search operations in the state and has also shot off a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding withdrawal of the decision.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 22:35 IST

ED conducts inquiries against co-op banks, jewellers in WB, irregularities detected

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Enforcement Directorate on Friday conducted multiple enquiry operations at cooperative banks in three districts of West Bengal and detected alleged irregularities in deposits worth crores.In the first instance in the Hooghly district, a four-member team of the agency visited the Chinsurah Central Cooperative Bank and asked bank authorities to send them the identities of some account holders.Official sources said the agency suspects irregularities in various accounts and it also examined papers of the bank’s 19 branches in the said district. Later, the officials asked the bank to send them the Know Your Customer (KYC) details of account holders, who had deposited at least Rs 49 crore.The Chinsurah Central Cooperative Bank has no elected chairman for the past two years. Similar operations were carried out by the agency in the Howrah and Nadia districts in order to check activities in suspected accounts including those which have been dormant for sometime now. The sleuths also also visited at least half-a-dozen jewellers in the state capital yesterday and recovered some documents from these traders, especially of sales just before and after November 8 when the note scrap was announced by the government.”Records of the jewellers show some back dated sales were made and even entries of sale and purchase was made in the name of fictitious customers. The investigations are going on,” they said.The Enforcement Directorate (ED) along with the I-T department and other agencies has been carrying out operations against black money hoarders in the wake of the demonetization of two high value currencies of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500.

Centre vs Mamata: Now, Bengal CM calls CRPF deployment for IT raids unconstitutional & illegal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Weeks after West Bengal Chief Minister termed the army exercise in the state as an attack on federal structure, Mamata Banerjee on Friday said that the deployment of 15 CRPF personnel to provide security to income tax officers during raids is unconstitutional and illegal.Banerjee, in a letter addressed to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “It has come to our notice that the Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to make available 15 personnel of the CRPF for apparently providing ‘security’ to Income Tax officials and staff deputed for operations in West Bengal. No communication in this regard has been received by the state government.””The State Government objects strongly to this decision, which is blatantly unconstitutional, illegal and against all principles of cooperative federalism,” the letter reads.Stating that the deployment of any Central Police Force of the Union to any State can only be done at the request of the state government, letter said, “The decision must be immediately revoked. The Chief Minister also said that the state government at its police forces will provide all necessary help and protection.”On the other hand, an advisory by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the CBDT, dated December 20, mentioned that 15 CRPF personnel would be deployed in the state.“The matter has been considered in this Ministry and it has been decided that CRPF shall make available 15 personnel to Income Tax Department, Kolkata for providing security to officers and staff deputed for search and seizure operations to be carried out by the Income Tax Directorate,” the advisory read.However, when contacted, CRPF officials remained tight lipped. They refused to give information whether the deployment plan was shared with the state government or not.

West Bengal: BJP sends delegation to violence-hit Dhulagarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A three-MP delegation of BJP will visit Dhulagarh in West Bengal on Saturday to look into incidents of violence, the party said on Friday claiming that its supporters and members of a particular community have been targeted.The delegation includes Satyapal Singh, a Lok Sabha member and former Mumbai Police Commissioner; Jagdambika Pal, also a Lok Sabha member, and Roopa Ganguly, a Rajya Sabha member from West Bengal. West Bengal BJP President Dilip Ghosh will join the delegation once it reaches the state, party leaders said.BJP has alleged that the minority wing of the ruling Trinamool Congress has targeted Hindus in the area in Howrah district for their support to the saffron party. West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Thursday enquired from the state Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purakayastha about the law and order situation there.According to information received from the Governor’s residence, Purakayastha briefed Tripathi on the matter. “The governor asked the DGP to ensure peace and law and order in the area and to take strict action against the culprits,” a release issued by the Raj Bhavan said on Thursday.Tension erupted in Dhulagarh when two groups reportedly clashed as a procession was brought out in the area last week.As per a senior officer at the Howrah Commissionerate, police had to use tear gas to bring the situation under control when the groups hurled bombs at each other.

Dhulagarh riot: Pressure mounts on Bengal govt as Governor summons DGP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A week after clashes erupted in Howrah district’s Dhulagarh, the Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi summoned Bengal Director General of Police (DGP), Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday. This comes a day after BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly led a delegation and met the victims of Dhulagarh incident.On the same day, the Bengal government removed the district Superintendent of Police, Sabyasachi Raman Mishra and posted him as SRP Sealdah, a post considered less significant. The Deputy Commissioner of Howrah Police Commissionerate (Traffic), Sumit Kumar was posted as the new Superintendent of Police, Howrah (rural) district.Meanwhile, a team comprising central leaders of the BJP are all set to visit Dhulagarh next week.On December 13, clashes between two communities erupted following the Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations in Dhulagarh. Locals in the village alleged that ‘unprovoked’ clashes erupted after an infuriated mob in a procession of Milad-ul-Nabi celebrations started charging bombs at the houses. However, members in the procession allege that they were prevented from taking out the procession, following which violent clashes broke out.Local residents claim that they had to flee with their children and elderly as soon as the mob hurled country-made bombs at their houses. Later, the mob allegedly looted the houses and fled with the money and jewellery, later, setting it on fire.“Nothing is left. We are looted of all our belongings. They ransacked and vandalised our houses and eventually set them on fire. We could not save a single penny from our houses, only managed to save our children and ran for life,” said a local, Lakshmi Mallya.

Mumbai police bust baby trafficking racket amid fears more children at risk | Reuters

By Roli Srivastava

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Mumbai police have arrested a gang of six people accused of stealing babies or convincing single women to sell their children in the latest bust in a series of baby trafficking rackets.A police spokesman said the group, which included five women, sold the infants to childless couples in various states across India.The arrests followed the rescue of five children – four boys and one girl – aged between four months and one year in the states of Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka, and came less than a month after a similar trafficking racket was busted in West Bengal.Officers are now investigating if the couples that purchased the babies, for between 200,000 to 400,000 rupees ($3,000-6,000), were aware that the children had been kidnapped or bought from their biological parents.”The gang was operating for the last two to three years. We are still investigating the number of children they may have kidnapped and sold,” senior police inspector Naresh Kasale told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”We suspect more people are involved in the racket.”The police spokesman said one child has been reunited with its biological parent but the others were at a rescue home.Local media reported that police were looking into whether the group was linked to cases of kidnapping in hospitals.

‘ALARMING TREND’
Kasale said police first uncovered the racket in early December while investigating the case of a missing child in Sathe Nagar slum in Mankhurd, eastern Mumbai.They found a woman from that slum was also missing and tracked her by her mobile phone to Goa where she was detained.

She told police she had sold the child and gave them details of the racket.”She had told the couple that it was her own child and that her husband was dead and she wanted to remarry. We rescued the child and have reunited him with his parents,” Kasale said.Last month, 13 babies were rescued and the remains of two other infants discovered in a series of raids in West Bengal in what police suspect is an international child trafficking racket.Eighteen people, including doctors, midwives and the owners of charities and clinics, were arrested, suspected of taking babies from women immediately after they had given birth and telling them their children were stillborn.

Adoption experts said that two gangs busted in quick succession is indicative that baby trafficking is becoming a widespread and organised crime in India.”This is an alarming trend,” said Sunil Arora, president of Federation of Adoptive Agencies. Arora said there are laws in place for women to give up their children if they are unable to keep them but single mothers are often unaware of these processes and, fearing social stigma, may hand over children to trafficking gangs.Reports of human trafficking in India increased by 25 percent in 2015 to about 6,877 compared to the previous year. More than 40 percent of cases involved children being bought, sold and exploited as slaves, according to government data.($1=68.0181 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Roli Srivastava, Editing by Ed Upright.; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 18:44 IST

From ATM to Paytm, government must stop taking commission: Mamata hits out at Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday the Modi government did not understand the hardship faced by the people who were made “fakir” after demonetization. “Realising the people’s difficulties, Venezuala withdrew the decision on demonetization, but the Modi government doesn’t listen to anyone. It is a deaf and dumb government,” she told a public meeting here. “The common people understand the problem, but the Prime Minister does not. We don’t know when he will realise. By that time the country will be in the grip of a femine,” she added.”The people can’t withdraw their own money. We don’t know whether that is safe”, Banerjee said. Slamming the Centre for promoting a digital economy, the TMC chief said, “they are saying buy this app, buy this mobile. Don’t listen to them. Else you will become fakir”.She further hit out at Modi for dubbing himself a “fakir” and said that the Prime Minister used to describe himself as a “chaiwala” the before the Lok Sabha elections and claimed that now he has turned into a crorepati. “What is the definition of fakir,” Banerjee asked.”Money for the 100 days work should not be paid through Paytm in lieu of commission. From ATM to Paytm, govt must stop taking commission. Centre cannot dictate people where to keep their money,” she said.In an apparent reference to BJP, the chief minister alleged, “they are trying to divide the people in the name of religion when they cannot provide food to them. This will not be tolerated”. She also instructed the state administration to deal with such attempts firmly.”As long as I am alive, I’ll continue to work for the people. Political parties exist because of the people. Without them we are nothing,” Banerjee said.She said a water supply project “Jal Tirtha” worth Rs 1,100 crore had been taken up to irrigate 32,000 hectares of farmland in the district. “We started a university in Bankura. We have launched health centres, polytechnic colleges and Karma Tirthas here,” she added.

BJP-ruled Rajasthan tops list of states with highest atrocities against SC/ST; UP close second

New Delhi: BJP-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, a new government report said, even as the Centre on Monday flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases.

Rajasthan has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively, according to the agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 held in New Delhi on Monday.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Reuters

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. Reuters

Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3 percent of the total cases registered (13,8077) were disposed of by courts and 25.7 percent of total cases disposed of by courts (59,779), ended in conviction.

“In certain states, i.e. Andhra Pradesh (6.3 percent), Gujarat (3.1 percent), Karnataka (3.5 percent), Maharashtra (7.6 percent), Odisha (4.3 per cent), Tamil Nadu (7.5 percent), Telangana (7.5 percent) and West Bengal (3 percent), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.

The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought action taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases.

During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act.

However, he rued there was no information about formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc and urged them to do the needful.

Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for establishing of exclusive special courts for one or more districts and where number of cases under this Act is less, specification of Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of the offences under the PoA Act.

The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised and made between Rs 85,000 to Rs 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being given within seven days to the concerned persons as specified in the PoA Rules amended on April 14, 2016.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 15:44 IST

A miracle rice that saved India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Today Indians are forcibly standing in queues as cash is rationed; 60 years ago Indians were also standing in queues as food was rationed.Staple food like rice and wheat was in short supply; people had to stand in serpentine queues to buy a few kilograms of food grains. Life indeed was tough.In fact most of Asia was on the brink of starvation in the 1950s, then came a miracle plant developed by scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines that experts say “changed the world”.This small rice plant called IR-8 doubled the yields and it led to a farming revolution that saved millions of lives.After the World War II and the horrible great Bengal famine that killed nearly 2-3 million people, a miracle was required to save the lives of starving Indians. Then came this blade of new grass that helped slowly propel India into a new era of food self-sufficiency.Rice in the 1950s was a tall plant that gave few grains and was very prone to lodging or falling over and hence a lot of grain used to get spoilt. The need was to have a short robust plant that had many tillers or grain bearing stems.Scientists at IRRI married two strains of rice one from Indonesia and one from Taiwan and thus was born a plant that saved the world called ‘IR-8’.Gurdev Khush, a plant geneticist and till recently the chief rice breeder at IRRI, who played a huge role in making IR-8 the ‘miracle plant’ says usual plant breeding offered incremental small one to two per cent increases in yield but IR-8 offered an astronomical doubling of the yield.According to IRRI, “The IR8 was the first offspring of these intense breeding efforts. It was a semi-dwarf rice and was the result of a cross between Peta, a tall vigorous variety, and Dee-geo-woo-gen, a dwarf variety.”M S Swaminathan, dubbed as the father of the Indian green revolution and former director general of IRRI, says, “IR made global history as the yield ceiling was broken,” adding it is the Indian farmers who were the real saviour as they were always willing to learn and adapt to new technologies.This ‘miracle rice’ were widely distributed free of cost. The plant was immediately lapped up by the farmers in East Asia.PTI

CPM veteran to give Modi’s digital economy campaign a hand up

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial politician and former CPM strongman from East Midnapore, Lakshman Chandra Seth, 70, has raised eyebrows as he has jumped ship to become the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a digital and cashless economy in West Bengal.”Our PM has given a call for going cashless and I’m trying to follow it. I have got a new smart phone which I am learning to use effectively. I will take the help of my younger son who is a computer engineer to help me with mobile banking and pay for my expenses through various apps,” he told DNA.Asked about his aligning with the BJP, Seth said no party is ‘untouchable’ in today’s world and there was no such thing as Left or Right.”Parliamentary democracy has broken the wall between what was previously called the Left and Right groupings. What matters is your contribution towards addressing key issues such as development, unemployment, health, education and inflation, and helping weaker sections of the society,” he said.Seth, an MP for 13 years—from 1996 to 2009—is also alleged to have been the mastermind of the infamous Nandigram violence in March 14, 2007, which had led to the death of 14 persons in police firing.The stain has led some state BJP leaders to question his induction into the party. A senior state BJP leader on condition of anonymity said, “Seth would be a liability to the party.” However, others seem to have welcomed the veteran politician with open arms. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh and vice-president Jayprakash Majumder claim that Seth’s name had not been mentioned in the charge-sheet filed by CBI regarding the Nandigram violence.”The BJP’s network is not very strong in East Midnapore and his (Seth’s) resources could be used to make inroads in the district,” said Majumder.A look into Seth’s past shows that the veteran’s career has been marked by controversies. Reportedly expelled from CPM in 2014 for ‘anti-party activities’ he maintained that he had quit the party. “CPM has become a party of sycophants. Party leaders have an authoritarian attitude and overlook the issue of development. That is why I had quit,” he added.After severing ties with CPM, Seth tried to float his own political party—Bharat Nirman Party (BNP), in August 2014—without much success. In 2015, BNP had contested the civic elections in East Midnapore district. It fielded six candidates from Tamluk, three from Egra, and one from Contai, but managed to win in only two from Tamluk. Later in the 2016 Assembly elections BNP had pitched about 20 candidates, including 16 from East Midnapore, but failed to win any.Seth later admitted that floating BNP was not a good idea and said it would be a wiser option to join one of the two national parties—BJP and Congress—and wiser still to join the one which was in power. Predicting doom for the Congress, he said the party has lost its foundation in Bengal.

Mamata Banerjee questions I-T exemption on deposits in old notes by political parties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday questioned the government’s decision to give income tax exemption on deposits by political parties in old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, saying the timing of the announcement shows that there may be “an ulterior motive”.Her statement came a day after Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia stated that political parties depositing old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in their accounts will be exempt from income tax provided the donations taken are below Rs 20,000 per individual and properly documented. “They need to clarify that #DeMonetisation means it is #DeMonetisation for all. Same rules for everyone. If 500/1000 are illegal tender, then how are they trying to show that there is a division btwn common people & political parties?” Banerjee said in a series of tweets.”Even the timing of these statements show that there may be an ulterior motive. Is there a motive? Are they trying to give a hidden message to cadre of one political party? Why these confusing and misleading statements now? They must clarify,” she said. “It is most unfortunate how there are confusing and misleading statements coming from senior govt officials,” said the Trinamool Congress chief, who has been vociferous in her opposition to the Centre’s demonetisation move.In a press conference yesterday, Adhia had said the government is not tinkering with the tax exemption available to political parties and they are free to deposit old 500 and 1000 rupee notes in their bank accounts. But these deposits will, however, be subject to the condition that individual donations taken in cash do not exceed Rs 20,000 and are properly documented with full identity of the donor.”If it is a deposit in the account of a political party, they are exempt. But if it is deposited in individual’s account then that information will come into our radar. If the individual is putting money in his own account, then we will get information,” he had said.

BJP leaders arrested forts against fatwa by Muslim cleric

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Protesting against the ‘fatwa’ issued by Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid Syed Md Nurur Rahman Barkati, state BJP leaders had organised a protest rally from party state headquarters at 6 Muralidhar Sen Lane in north Kolkata to Tipu Sultan Masjid in Esplanade area of Central Kolkata but police stopped protestors near their party office itself.There had been a huge police posting since morning near the BJP office and the entire proposed length of the rally. Protestors tried to break police barricade and a scuffle between them and police officials followed. When BJP workers tried to put up a blockade on the second lane of CR Avenue where they were stopped, police opened a lathi charge to disperse protestors.As many as 48 BJP supporters including party MLA Swadhin Sarkar and senior state party leaders such as Krishna Bhattacharya, Locket Chatterjee and Amitava Roy were arrested. An effigy of Barkati was also burnt.”Police are acting as the cadre of TMC. On the behest of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, police had hit our people who were protesting peacefully. We will fight it to the finish,” Chatterjee said as she was taken to the prison van.State BJP vice president Jayprakash Majumder said, “Mamata is the Chief Minister of a state which comprises 72 per cent Hindus and yet it is sad to see that she has to take refuge behind a Muslim cleric.”Later at a press conference, party state president Dilip Ghosh said that what police had done was undemocratic. “Section 144 has been imposed at the Reserve Bank of India area and TMC leaders have been protesting there for the last two days. No police action has been taken there. Our supporters had taken out a peaceful rally police rained sticks on them injuring at least eight who had been sent to the hospital. It is highly undemocratic,” Ghosh said.Coming down on Mamata he said, “She is the Chief Minister of West Bengal but it seems Barkati is calling the shots. What authority does he have to issue a ‘fatwa’ against me?”On December 12, Barkati had said that he had issued a fatwa according to which stones should be pelted at Ghosh wherever he is sighted and that he should be thrown out of Bengal.It was found out that state BJP would put up protest demonstrations across the state till December 21 when it culminate into a bigger protest movement. “On December 21 we will put up sit in demonstrations in front of all district magistrate and superintendent of police’s offices across the state,” he said.

Mamata Banerjee meets RBI Governor Urjit Patel, expresses concern over note ban

Kolkata: Amid protests by Trinamool Congress against demonetisation, RBI Governor Urjit Patel on Thursday met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during which she expressed concern over hardship faced by people and “political discrimination among states”.

“The meeting was good,” Patel told reporters at the state secretariat after meeting Banerjee.

Earlier, Patel attended a meeting of RBI central board at the apex bank’s office here where TMC and CPM staged demonstrations.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

When asked about the meeting, Banerjee told reporters, “I am satisfied with the meeting (with Patel)”. “I availed the opportunity to express views of the common people of the country who are facing immense hardships (due to demonetisation)… The prime minister, Parliament, nothing is available. No one is responding. He (Patel) is a direct man,” she said.

“RBI is a big institution. We respect it. It should not be politically misused,” Banerjee said.

The TMC chief also handed over a letter to Patel in which she said, “As the governor of RBI, an autonomous institution with a great history, which issues currencies to the nation, we expect you to stand up against this demonetisation onslaught against the common people of the nation at this moment of crisis, rather than falling silent and remaining opaque”.

“We would also like to know from you the nature of allocation of new currency to each of the states in a spirit of transparency and accountability, since there are serious concerns of political discrimination among states,” the letter said.

The whole country, she said, is going through “unprecedented misery and suffering” due to the “cruel
misadventure” of demonetisation which has not been seen in any modern democracy.

“You are perhaps aware that already five crore workers across the country and across the sectors are facing
unemployment and hunger. Unorganised sector of the country which provides 2/3rd jobs in the country has literally collapsed,” Banerjee said in the letter.

“The small and medium enterprises are shutting down shops in lakhs. The massive trading sector of the economy has been brought down to its knees due to cash crunch, unable to conduct its business.”

The farmers of our nation are going through a trauma never seen before and that too not due to natural calamity but due to a man-made disaster of massive demonetisation. Even the middle and large industries have dropped their production by at least 50 per cent,” she added.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 19:45 IST

International Tea Day: Mamata urges Centre to help tea workers hit by demonetisation

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday yet again urged the Centre and RBI to “extend a helping hand to tea garden workers”, who she alleged were “dying” in the aftermath of demonetisation.

Her comments came on a day when RBI Governor Urjit Patel was in the city to attend the apex bank’s central board meet.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

On the occasion of the International Tea Day, Banerjee said in her tweet that the tea garden workers were hungry and dying due to demonetisation.

“RBI must immediately restore payments by our government through DMs (district magistrates),” Banerjee said.

She said as many as 97 people died following the 8 November decision.

The Trinamool Congress supremo had on Wednesday demanded that the RBI restore and continue payments by the state government till March 2017.

TMC legislators and senior state ministers organised a sit-in in front of the Reserve Bank of India office in Kolkata on Wednesday to protest against the insufficient supply of new currency notes in the state.

Banerjee also accused the central government of discriminating between states with regard to disbursement of cash from the RBI.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 15:23 IST

Cyclone batters south India coast killing four | Reuters

CHENNAI, India A cyclone barreled into the southeast coast of India on Monday, killing at least four people and bringing down trees and power lines as authorities moved tens of thousands of people from low-lying areas.Cyclone Vardah moved west over the Bay of Bengal before hitting Chennai, capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, as well as neighboring Andhra Pradesh, the Indian Meteorological Department said, describing it as a “very severe storm”.Strong wind of up to 140 kph (87 mph) battered the densely populated coast, uprooting trees and bringing down electricity pylons. Flights at Chennai airport were canceled, railway services in the area suspended and schools and colleges were closed.Chennai is home to Indian operations of major auto firms such as Ford Motor, Daimler, Hyundai and Nissan. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said Vardah is passing over Chennai, drenching the city in heavy rain, but is expected to ease in intensity later.

“Winds and rains might still intensify. Do not venture out,” the NDMA said on Twitter, adding that four people had been killed. More than 23,000 people in Tamil Nadu have been moved to relief centers, with plans for tens of thousands more to be evacuated if needed, a senior state official, K. Satyagopal, told Reuters.

More than 10,000 people from two districts in Andhra Pradesh state had also been moved, its disaster management commissioner, M.V. Seshagiri Babu, said.The NDMA warned fishermen not to venture out to sea for the next 36 hours, and urged residents to stay in safe places.Navy ships and aircraft, as well as 30 diving teams, were on standby to help move people and deliver aid if needed, a navy spokesman said.

India’s cyclone season usually runs from April to December, with storms often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people and widespread damage to crops and property.Wind speeds topped 300 km per hour (186 mph) in an Indian “super-cyclone” that killed 10,000 people in 1999, while a cyclone packing speeds of more than 200 kph (124 mph) lashed the east coast in 2013. (Reporting by Jatindra Dash, Tommy Wilkes and Anuradha Nagaraj; Editing by Catherine Evans)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 21:10 IST

This is not Pakistan: Dilip Ghosh on Fatwa against him for Mamata remarks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The war of words between TMC and BJP in West Bengal escalated further with a Muslim cleric issuing a Fatwa against BJP state president Dilip Ghosh. Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque Maulana Noor-ur Rahman Barkati told a press conference that he has issued the fatwa against Ghosh for “making filthy comments against the chief minister”.”From where does he get such audacity to make filthy comments against our beloved chief minister who is the most secular leader of our country’ I issued the fatwa which states that he should be pelted with stones and then kicked out of Bengal. He does not deserve to stay in Bengal,” Barkati said.Barkati was accompanied by TMC MP Idris Ali, who too condemned Ghosh for his comments. Reacting to the Barkati’s charges, Ghosh lashed out at him and said this country is neither Pakistan nor Bangladesh that he could issue fatwa and would go scot-free.”What does Barkati think, is this Bangladesh or Pakistan that he will issue fatwa against me’ He can issue fatwa against TMC, they will listen to him, but not BJP. It seems that Barkati no longer wishes to stay in Bengal or India. I think he is planning to migrate to Pakistan or Bangladesh,” Ghosh told PTI. Earlier, the Trinamool Congress had condemned Ghosh for using “abusive and goonda-like” language against Banerjee, while announcing a three-day protest the Centre’s demonetization of high-value notes. Tearing into West Bengal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Dilip Ghosh for his remark on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday said the former has stooped to a ‘new low’ of politics. ‘The BJP are desperate to silence the voice of opposition. So, they are indulging in cheap low level politics. This is a new low in politics,’ said TMC leader Derek O’Brien.He further said that Ghosh has spewed deeply dangerous, threatening, abusive and completely false personal allegation against Mamata. ‘The BJP cannot fight Mamata on policy, good governance and principle and her stand on demonetization on behalf of millions of people who have been affected by the government’s policy,’ he said.Ghosh on Sunday said that TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, has lost her mind after the demonetization drive and that was why she recently visited Delhi and Patna. “During the last elections also, she had said she would tie Prime Minister Modi with a rope. When she was staging protests in Delhi, if we wanted we could have thrown her out of Delhi by grabbing her hair as we have our police deployed there, but we didn’t do so. How can a Chief Minister use such words for the prime minister, it’s not right,’ he said.

‘New low in politics’: TMC slams BJP’s Dilip Ghosh’s ‘dragged Mamata by hair’ remark

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tearing into West Bengal, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Dilip Ghosh for his remark on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday said the former has stooped to a ‘new low’ of politics. ‘The BJP are desperate to silence the voice of opposition. So, they are indulging in cheap low level politics. This is a new low in politics,’ said TMC leader Derek O’Brien. He further said that Ghosh has spewed deeply dangerous, threatening, abusive and completely false personal allegation against Mamata. ‘The BJP cannot fight Mamata on policy, good governance and principle and her stand on demonetizationon behalf of millions of people who have been affected by the government’s policy,’ he said. Ghosh on Sunday said that TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, has lost her mind after the demonetizationdrive and that was why she recently visited Delhi and Patna. “During the last elections also, she had said she would tie Prime Minister Modi with a rope. When she was staging protests in Delhi, if we wanted we could have thrown her out of Delhi by grabbing her hair as we have our police deployed there, but we didn’t do so. How can a Chief Minister use such words for the prime minister, it’s not right,’ he said.Speaking at a meeting of the party’s youth wing held at Paschim Medinipore district’s Jhargram, Ghosh said Banerjee has lost her mind and is crying for losing thousand of crores of rupees in the recent demonetization of higher currency notes.”…That was why she (Banerjee) is visiting New Delhi and Patna. And failing to achieve anything, she is sitting in Nabanna (Secretariat). We had thought that she will ultimately jump in the Ganges… this person (Banerjee) has lost her mind and we are not ready to see her insanity… the state’s people have realised their mistake of bringing in the change in West Bengal,” Ghosh said.Earlier, Mamata Banerjee had claimed that PM Modi had no solution for the hardships of people due to demonetization. ‘Modi babu knows that #demonetizationnow derailed. Except giving bhashan, he has no solution,’ Mamata tweeted.Prime Minister Modi had made an appeal to the opposition to help inform the masses that they do not need to stand in queue and can use mobile banking for cash transactions.”From the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel I want to share something with my friends in the opposition. Yes, during elections we have a lot of heated debates. But we all call for increased voter turnout. Likewise, yes, you can oppose me but do teach people about banking, using technology for financial transactions,” he said while addressing the farmers at a rally in Gujarat’s Deesa.The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo who from the beginning opposed the demonetization and demanded its roll back, earlier on Thursday sharpened her attack on the Prime Minister and said the latter must resign because the move has led to “economic disaster” in the country and he has “no moral right” to continue.Alleging the country’s growth and business have been hit due to demonetization, she said the Prime Minister “doesn’t trust” anyone and he “doesn’t understand” what is good for the country.She has also questioned the motives behind the government’s move, alleging that nobody but the Prime Minister and his aides have benefited from the scheme.With inputs from agencies

Cyclone Vardah: Two people killed in Tamil Nadu as landfall process begins

Chennai: Two persons were killed as heavy rains accompanied by high velocity winds on Monday pounded the city and coastal districts of north Tamil Nadu due to severe cyclonic storm “Vardah” which began making landfall near Chennai, uprooting hundreds of trees, disrupting land and air transport and throwing normal life out of gear.

“The landfall process of cyclone Vardah has begun,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

According to M Mohapatra, Additional Director General (Services) of IMD, the “eye” of the Cyclone is 20 kms off Chennai.

“The wind speed near Chennai 90-100 kmph. Heavy rains and storm surge is expected. Landfall process has commenced at 2 pm. The cyclone will cross between 2-5 pm,” Mohapatra said.

Power supply was suspended in many parts of these regions as a precautionary measure. About 8,000 people from low lying areas in north Chennai, Pazhaverkadu in Tiruvallur district and villages off Mamallapuram, in Kanchipuram district were safely evacuated to 95 relief shelters, officials said.

Flight operations at the airport in Chennai have been suspended till 5 pm.

Long distance buses have been stalled and traffic came to a grinding halt in most areas with uprooted trees and electric poles blocking the roads.

All suburban train services have also been suspended.

Representational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

Southern Railway announced cancellation of all 17 trains originating from Chennai central, as well as Egmore.

State Principal Secretary (Revenue Administration) K Satyagopal said “human loss is two”, without elaborating.

In a statement, he said 260 trees and 37 electric poles had fallen and 190 tress removed. As many 224 roads were blocked and 24 huts damaged.

Trains to various destinations, including Bangalore, Hyderabad, Madurai, Coimbatore were all cancelled, Southern Railway said.

At Kalpakkam, all safety measures have been taken in view of the atomic energy centre there, they said.

Over 15 teams of NDRF have been deployed in various coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, where over 9,400 people living along the Bay of Bengal coast were evacuated to relief camps amid heavy rains.

Seven army columns comprising around 70-80 personnel each are on standby and one has already been requisitioned in Tiruvallur.

Vardah is expected to later move towards Andhra Pradesh.

In Chennai, only a minuscule number of vehicles plied as heavy winds and rains posed serious obstacles to movement.

In Chennai, traffic on arterial GST Road was affected with some trees falling near the Officers Training Academy point at St Thomas Mount.

A tree fell on a car at Ekkatuthangal near Metro Railway Station. Similarly, instances of trees getting uprooted were reported in many areas in all three coastal districts, even as Corporation workers in Chennai and municipal staffers in other districts were working to clear them amidst heavy rain and gusty winds.

Vehicular movement on the Ashok Pillar-Kodambakkam main road was affected with fallen tree branches.

Heavy winds also snapped electricity wires, flung barricades put up for traffic regulation in several points of the city, including Kathipara.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government said all measures are in place to tackle Vardah with Chief Minister O Panneerselvam holding a high-level meeting of top officials at the Secretariat.

The state government in an official release asked residents of Chennai to not venture out of their homes till about 4 pm when the cyclone will cross the coast.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 15:56 IST

Demonetization: How many more lives will be lost? Mamata to PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi about how many more lives would be lost in the country in the wake of the demonetization move.”How many more lives will be lost for Modi babu?” Banerjee said on a social media website while retweeting a post by Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O’ Brien.Earlier, TMC national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien had tweeted a list of 95 people who he said had died while standing either in queues at banks or ATMs or allegedly committed suicide due to cash crunch after demonetization.

Cyclone Vardah: NDMA shares do’s and don’ts, safety tips

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are on high alert as the severe cyclonic storm Vardah over west central and adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal moved further nearly west-southwest-wards and lay centred at about 180 km east-northeast of Chennai and 250 km east-southeast of Nellore according to Cyclone Warning Centre in Visakhapatnam. As the cyclone advances, people have been asked to stay indoors as a precautionary measure. Educational institutions in four districts will remain closed for today.The system is very likely to move nearly westwards and weaken gradually while moving towards north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts. It is very likely to cross north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts, close to Chennai as a cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 80 to 90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph by Monday afternoon. The National Disaster Management Authority has issued the following guidelines to help people get through the cyclone.NDMA’s cyclone advisoryHelplines

Pawan Ruia remanded to 14-day police custody, fresh charges slapped

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruia Group chairman Pawan Ruia was remanded in 14 days’ police custody on Sunday and fresh charges including of criminal conspiracy slapped on him, a day after he was arrested by the West Bengal CID in connection with a complaint of theft lodged by the railways. A Barrackpore court in North 24-Parganas district passed the order when the industrialist was produced in the court this afternoon.Submitting that it required sufficient time to question the industrialist, the CID had appealed for a full-term custody, which was granted by the court. Ruia, arrested by the CID from his New Delhi residence on Saturday, was booked under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 406 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant).
ALSO READ West Bengal: CID arrests Pawan Ruia in connection with Railway complaintOn Sunday, fresh charges under IPC 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc) 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) and 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) were slapped on Ruia. The railways had filed an FIR with the Dum Dum police station after an inspection team found several equipment and coaches worth Rs 50 crore missing from the Jessop factory at Dum Dum where a fire had broken out on October 17.The Ruia Group chairman was summoned by the CID four times in the past in connection with its probe into the theft and fires at the Jessop factory, but each time he had failed to appear.A Special Investigating Team was formed by the CID to probe the theft. Ruia had moved the Calcutta High Court, which refused to stay proceedings against him in connection with the case filed by the CID following the fire and directed him to cooperate in the investigation.Ruia had moved the high court seeking quashing of the case filed against him by CID, claiming he is not the chairman of Jessop and he is neither the director nor a shareholder, or an occupier of Jessop and Co Ltd or any of its premises. Former workers of the factory had alleged that the fire was part of a “conspiracy by a third party” following which the West Bengal government ordered a CID probe into the incident.

Cyclone Vardah to cross south coast of Andhra, Met dept issues alert for fishermen

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Meteorological Department has issued a cyclone alert for fishermen and advised them not to venture into Andhra Coast. According to the alert, the severe cyclonic storm Vardah over Bay of Bengal is south-east about 580 km south east of Nellore, 550 km east-southeast of Machilipatnam and 540 km east-northeast of Chennai. It is likely to move northwest and cross the coast between Nellore and Machilipatnam by Monday. It is likely to maintain its intensity till Sunday evening and thereafter, likely to weaken gradually while moving towards south Andhra Pradesh and adjoining north Tamil Nadu coasts.The cyclone alert said that squally winds and rough to very rough sea conditions are expected along and off Andhra Pradesh and North Tamil Nadu coasts.Under its influence, light to moderate rainfall at many places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over south coastal Andhra and adjoining areas of north coastal Tamil Nadu likely to commence from today evening, with squally winds speed reaching 40-50 kmph and gusting to 60 kmph prevailing along and off Andhra Pradesh and adjoining Tamil Nadu coasts beginning tonight.Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu cancelling his visit to Dubai got into disaster management mode to monitor the situation. After assessing the situation he appointed four special officers to handle the cyclone effect each in Nellore, Chittoor, Prakasam and Kadapa districts, which are under threat to alert people and mobilise them in the areas where the impact would be high.The State government has set up a control room at the Command Communication Centre in Vijayawada under NDMA with helpline number 0866-2488000. The district administrations along the south coastal Andhra have asked the Revenue, Panchayat Raj and Irrigation department officials to remain in the headquarters and prepare for contingency measures.

Cyclone Vardah to cross Bay of Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on alert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With severe cyclone Vardah expected to cross the Bay of Bengal coast in the next two days, the Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday placed the administrative machinery in SPS Nellore, Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts on high alert to meet any eventuality. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu conducted a teleconference with officials of different departments this morning and directed them to take all precautionary measures. “I have cancelled my trip to the Gulf (scheduled to begin tomorrow). I will constantly monitor the situation,” he told the officials.The cyclone is currently 840 km south-southeast of Vishakhapatnam. The sea continued to be very rough around the Andhra coast, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. It moved west-northwestwards in the past few hours at the speed of 17 kmph. The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards and intensify further during the next 24 hours, the NDMA said. “The cyclonic storm is very likely to maintain its peak intensity up to evening of December 11, 2016,” NDMA added.According to the weather forecast, the cyclone may make a landfall somewhere between Kavali and Machilipatnam and under its impact rainfall is likely in the south coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. “Keep adequate stocks of food and also cash. Electricity poles and cement should also be kept ready for any emergency,” the Chief Minister directed the officials. The Tamil Nadu Meteorological Department has predicted that it will make a landfall between Nellore and Machilipatnam on the evening of December 12. As a result, Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvannamalai are expected to receive heavy rainfall.

Mamata Banerjee has crossed all limits by questioning Indian Army: BJP leader

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shrikant Sharma on Saturday said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had crossed all limits by criticising the government and questioning the Indian Army.”She has crossed all the limits. While condemning Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she didn’t even bother that she is criticising the Indian Army and questioning their routine exercise,” he said adding that the TMC leader is adopting dictatorial style of leadership.Sharma’s statement came in the backdrop of the controversy surrounding the deployment of the Indian Army at two toll plazas near the new state government secretariat in Kolkata. He further said that Mamata was levelling baseless and false allegations at the Centre and should apologise for the same.
ALSO READ Mamata politicising everything in wake of demonetization: BJPDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar wrote a letter to Banerjee on Friday, saying her allegations could “adversely” impact the morale of the armed forces.Banerjee hit back over his “wild assertion”. She maintained that the Ministry of Defence had not taken prior permission of the state government for the large deployment of army personnel in civilian areas.On December 1, as part of exercises across Bengal and several northeast states, the army had deployed unarmed soldiers at check points and toll plazas to note the movement of vehicles which could be diverted in case of a major disaster, military operation or war. Seeing soldiers at a toll plaza just 500 metres away from her new secretariat in Kolkata, left Mamata infuriated and she refused to leave her office until the army moved its troops out. She left her office 30 hours later.The West Bengal government said the army was denied permission to hold the exercises. The army, however, produced correspondence with the state’s police and civil administration, and also asserted that the exercises are held annually.

West Bengal CID arrests chairman Pawan Ruia in connection with Railway complaint

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruia Group Chairman Pawan Ruia was on Saturday arrested by West Bengal CID from his New Delhi residence in connection with a complaint of theft lodged by railways last month.Ruia was arrested from his residence in Sundar Nagar area in the national capital on Saturday morning, a senior CID officer said.Ruia was arrested on the basis of complaint of Railways ministry regarding theft of its goods worth Rs 50 crore which went missing from the Jessop factory premises in Dum Dum in the city, the officer said. He has been booked under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 406 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), the officer said.The Railways had filed an FIR with the Dum Dum Police Station after an inspection team found several equipment and coaches worth Rs 50 crore were missing from the factory premises at Dum Dum.The CID had summoned Ruia four times in the past in connection with its probe into a theft case in the Jessop factory in Dum Dum where a fire had broken out on October 17. A Special Investigating Team was formed by the CID to probe the theft at the factory premises.Ruia had moved Calcutta High Court which refused to stay proceedings against him in connection with the case filed by the CID following the fire and directed him to cooperate in the investigation.Ruia had moved the High Court seeking quashing of the case filed against him by CID, claiming he is not the chairman of Jessop and he is neither the director nor a shareholder, or an occupier of Jessop and Co Ltd or any of its premises. Former workers of the factory had alleged that the fire was part of a “conspiracy by a third party” following which the West Bengal government ordered a CID probe into the incident.

Stone causeway of Grand Trunk road discovered in Bihar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials have discovered a 4km long and 20ft wide stone causeway built over Sone river in Bihar, which they say is a part of the Grand Trunk (GT) road built by Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri.”The ASI is currently mapping the GT road or Uttarpath, as it was known in the ancient times, across the country, and the causeway has been discovered during this exercise,” a senior ASI official said. The project of tracing the Uttarpath is being headed by ASI DG Rakesh Tewari, who is currently out of India and was unavailable for comment.According to historians, the Uttarpath was reconstructed during Sher Shah Suri’s reign in the 16th century from present-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh and was renamed GT road by the Britishers in the 17th century. It was one of Asia’s oldest and longest road and promoted trade and commerce in the southern and central parts of the continent.The ASI official termed it one of the most important discoveries of recent times and added, “In fact, this is the first time that we have actually discovered an original part of the ancient or medieval GT road,” he said.Located between Kanbaheli in Aurangabad district and Bansa in Rohtas district, the discovered causeway (a raised road or track across a water body) is built out of 10ft long dressed sandstone slabs, and parts of it are still undamaged. “The structure and style indicate that the causeway was built in the medieval times. So far as we know, its last mention is found in Sir William Wilson Hunter’s A Statistical Account of Bengal in 1876,” another archaeologist said.Officials attributed the discovery to heavy monsoon rains in Bihar and discharge of lakhs of cusecs of water on Sone river from the Indrapuri barrage that likely washed away the sand and silt deposits on the causeway and revealed its surface.”The causeway is around one kilometre away (to the west) from the current alignment of the GT road, which may be because of the British slightly changing the alignments of the road in the late 1800s,” he said.

Mamata Banerjee-Manohar Parrikar war of words over army deployment in Bengal intensifies

The political row over the recent army drill at toll plazas in West Bengal flared up again on Friday, with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dashing off a stinging letter to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, saying her allegations can “adversely” impact the morale of the force, and Banerjee hitting back over his “wild assertion”.

In the two-page letter, Parrikar told her that he was “deeply pained” over the allegations regarding the deployment of army personnel and the same was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life. Parrikar said that while political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making “wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other”, one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.

Mamata Banerjee. PTI file imageMamata Banerjee. PTI file image

Mamata Banerjee. PTI file image

“Your allegations in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” he said.

Banerjee, who is a strident opponent of the Centre’s demonetisation move, had accused it of deploying the army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation, worse than Emergency”.

The Trinamool Congress stayed put in her office in Kolkata overnight on 1 December in protest against the deployment and had asked whether it was an “army coup”.

Terming it as “avoidable controversy” over the exercise carried out by the Eastern Command in West Bengal and other states under the jurisdiction to collect information about the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates, Parrikar, in his letter dated 8 December, said it is carried out by all formations of the army all across the country for many years. He said the exercises are held as per the dates convenient to the army in consultation with agencies of the state government.

“I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and state agencies, including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said.

Hitting back, Banerjee said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces. Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply.

The chief minister also maintained that the Ministry of Defence has not taken prior permission of the state government for large deployment of army personnel in civilian areas. Parrikar said the army authorities were forced to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the state agencies concerned including rescheduling of the data collection operations on their response.

TMC MP Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue. “Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 20:05 IST

Manohar Parrikar’s letter to Mamata rubbish: TMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to a letter written by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee regarding the his expression of pain about painting the army in poor light recently, Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy urged the Centre not to politicise the issue.”We have all the respect for the Indian Army as they are safeguarding the territory and integrity of our country. It is better on the part of government not to politicise the army in political interest. “We have also submitted the details as to how, without the concurrence of the state government, the army was deployed on December 1. What the defence minister has stated is rubbish,” he said.Member of Parliament Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue.”Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi.”Promising a befitting reply from his party, O’ Brien said, “When the letter does reach Bengal, we will give him a befitting reply. Mamata Di will give a strong reply to the defence minister, because, we have a strong case.”Parrikar, in a letter written to Mamata Banerjee expressed his pain over dragging the army into politics and doubting its intentions.Parrikar said had Mamata enquired about it with the state agencies, she would have come to know about the communication that took place between the army and the concerned authorities regarding the exercise carried out by them. “I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the concerned agencies of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and the state agencies, including the joint inspection of the sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said.Hinting at the impact it would have on the morale of the armed forces, Parrikar said that such a thing was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life.He further said that political parties may take digs at each other, but one needs to be careful while referring to armed forces.On December 1, when the army was deployed at two toll plazas in West Bengal for carrying out a routine exercise, Mamata alleged that the deployment was made without any prior information to the state government.The army, however, in a series of letters, clarified that it was only a routine exercise and that it was in continuous communication with the Kolkata Police.

Demonetization: One month of harassment & financial insecurity, Modi must clarify situation, says Mamata

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Claiming that people have been subjected to harassment and financial insecurity in the one month since demonetization, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said the Prime Minister must clarify the situation to the nation and take entire responsibility for it.She also claimed that 90 people have died due to hardships following demonetization of high value notes.”One month of harassment, pain, hopelessness, financial insecurity and utter chaos,” Banerjee said in a statement.”That is all that the common people has got after the black decision on demonetization announced a month back on November eight,” Banerjee, who has been the most vocal against demonetization of high value notes, said.”PM must clarify the situation to the nation and take entire responsibility,” Banerjee said.Claiming that no black money has been recovered, the Trinamool Congress supremo said, “Only white money of the common people has been snatched away.”The TMC MPs have been staging protests in both houses of Parliament since the winter session began.”Even no black money has been recovered from foreign countries. In the name of recovery of so called black money, the ruling party at the Centre has created assets in the form of land, bank deposits, gold, diamonds and has become more and more capitalist,” Banerjee, who has led an unrelenting attack on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetization, said.”One month since demonetization was announced. More than 90 lives lost. How many more Modi babu?” Banerjee said on twitter.She said in her statement, “Production has nosedived, agricultural activities have been shattered, buying and selling is down drastically, the economy is in shambles – the entire country is passing through an unprecedented financial emergency.”Untold sufferings have come down in the lives of farmers, labourers, workers of unorganised sectors, tea garden, beedi and jute workers, employed class, students, sick, old and infirm people,” the chief minister said in her statement.”The common man is helpless. Mothers and sisters have been forced to give away their small personal savings to run the family in the face of serious cash crunch.” “No one knows when this unfortunate ordeal will end.No one knows when good senses will prevail to stop this mindless harassment and sufferings of common people. No one knows what good has happened to the country and its people with this big, black decision,” the chief minister said.Calling for immediate action to restore trust and confidence of the people on banking and financial sectors, Banerjee said, “People must have hassle-free access to their own money and feel secure that their money is safe with banks and financial institutions.””We have raised the issue repeatedly in Parliament and in different other platforms. Leading economists have criticized this mindless demonetization. But there is no response yet,” she added.

Andaman and Nicobar: Rajnath Singh says tourists safe in Havelock island, efforts on for evacuation

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said all tourists at Havelock Island in the Andamans, who are stuck due to cyclonic conditions, are safe and efforts are on for their early evacuation.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Singh on Thursday called up Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Jagdish Mukhi and enquired about the status of the stranded tourists.

Mukhi briefed the Home Minister about the situation and the steps taken for rescue of the stranded tourists.

“All the tourists in Havelock Island are safe and the government has made all preparation to evacuate them.Government will launch rescue operations after the intensity of cyclone reduces,” Singh said in a statement.

The Home Minister said that rescue teams are ready at Port Blair and appealed to family members of the stranded tourists not to panic as all in the Havleock Island are reported to be safe.

Havelock and Neil islands, approximately 40 kms from Port Blair, have been hit the most by the cyclonic weather conditions caused by a severe depression over southeast Bay of Bengal which led to heavy rainfall, strong wind and rough sea conditions, officials said.

Neil and Havelock are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Andamans and the only means of transportation from them are vessels and choppers which have stopped operation since Monday last due to bad weather.

South Andaman’s deputy commissioner Udit Prakash Rai had said on Wednesday, “About 1,400 tourists, who had visited the islands, are now stranded and unable to return to Port Blair to fly back home.”

The local populace of 10 villages of Havelock and Neil islands have also been hit severely by the cyclone which has hampered the movement of essential supplies.

Indian naval ships Bitra, Bangaram, Kumbhir and LCU 38 have been deployed for evacuation.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 11:39 IST

No confidence against TMC government admitted in Bengal assembly

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A no confidence motion brought by Congress and Left Front against the Trinamool Congress government was admitted in the West Bengal Assembly on Wednesday.Speaker Biman Banerjee admitted the motion in the first session.Leader of Opposition and state Congress leader Abdul Mannan had last month announced the party’s decision to bring the motion against the government and had accused it of being “undemocratic”.He had alleged that the ruling party had poached Congress’ MLAs and other elected representatives and had also raised the issue of baby trafficking, swindling of money by chit funds among others.The number of Congress legislators have come down to 39 after five of its MLAs switched to Trinamool Congress.The Left front has 31 MLAs. TMC had won 211 seats in the last state Assembly poll defeating the Left-Congress combine. The house has 294 seats

Andaman: 800 tourists stranded in storm at Havelock Island, Navy deploys ships for evacuation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Navy has deployed four ships to evacuate as many as 800 tourists stranded at Andaman and Nicobar’s Havelock Island due to torrential rains.”Civil administration requested the Indian Navy to assist them in evacuating 800 tourists stranded due to torrential rains and rough sea,” said a statement from the Indian Navy.Four Indian Navy ships – INS Bitra, Bangaram, Kumbhir and LCU 38 have been deployed at the Havelock Island to undertake evacuation of the stranded tourists. Many tourists have been stranded with no flights and ships due to rough weather. In several areas, there is no mobile phone or internet connectivity.Some tourists even sought help from the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter. One such stranded tourists wrote, “@PMOIndia Sir! We are stuck in Havelock Island due to cyclone effect from last 2 days. Please help us to reach Port Blair.”A deep depression over Bay of Bengal is bringing heavy rains to the Havelock Island since the last two days. According to the Met office, this deep depression will turn into a cyclonic storm over the next 48 hours over Andaman Nicobar. Meanwhile, fishermen have been advised not to venture into the deep sea following the rough weather. On the other hand, ferry services Port Blair to Havelock Island and Neil Island have been stalled till the weather improves.

DNA Morning Must Reads: TN’s political future without Jaya, train derailment in WB, RBI policy review & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Post Jayalalithaa, where does Tamil Nadu’s political future lie?Jayalalithaa’s death has brought Tamil Nadu’s political arena to the crossroads. While the ruling AIADMK was generally at least five per cent ahead of its main rival DMK during MGR’s rule, and later during her reign as well, the death of the AIADMK supremo is now being seen as a great leveller. Analysts believe it could bring unexpected, windfall gains for the DMK, and bring it closer to the strength of the ruling party. Read in detailAll eyes on remonetization in RBI policy review todayThe roadmap for remonetization is what the markets are anxiously waiting to hear from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel, who has barely spoken on the subject. While the markets have factored in a 0.25% cut in repo rate, it’s the roadmap for the currency management that will be of greater interest. Read moreWest Bengal: Two dead & 6 injured in Capital Express train derailmentThe engine and two coaches of Rajendra Nagar-Guwahati Capital Express derailed at Samuktala Road near Assam-West Bengal border on Tuesday night. The Capital Express train derailment left two passengers dead and six injured, according to a statement issued by the Northeast Frontier Railway. The accident that took place around 9.15 pm. Read full storyIndonesia: Earthquake of 6.4 magnitude near Banda Aceh, several buildings collapseDozens of buildings collapsed on Wednesday in Indonesia’s northern province of Aceh, when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck in the early hours. Social media images showed buildings reduced to rubble, fallen electricity poles, and people gathering outside at street corners. Read detailsDense fog cripples Delhi: 81 trains running late, 8 international flights delayedThe national capital woke up to a chilly Wednesday and witnessed a thick, dense blanket of fog, rendering them almost blind as visibility levels were severe, taking a toll on the morning traffic. The Met has predicted that New Delhi will continue to reel under dense fog this week. Read more

Jayalalithaa buried, Panneerselvam named successor to unite AIADMK | Reuters

By Anuradha Nagaraj
| CHENNAI

CHENNAI Masses of grieving supporters wailed, beat their chests and cast flowers on Tuesday as actress-turned-politician Jayaram Jayalalithaa, one of India’s most powerful leaders, was buried on the shorefront in Chennai.(See pictures here)Tens of thousands followed the coffin as it was brought through the streets of the Tamil Nadu capital for burial at a beachside memorial to the late M.G. Ramachandran, another former cinema star who brought her into politics.Thousands of police were deployed to keep supporters from causing havoc or harming themselves in grief as in the past when the state’s longtime chief minister fell ill or faced political turmoil. Giant screens gave the crowds views of the last rites. “She was not only our leader, she was our god,” said Paasarai Jeeva, who said she had camped outside the hospital for a week as the revered leader lay inside dying. Jayalalithaa, widely known as “Amma” or “Mother”, died on Monday following a cardiac arrest the previous day. She was 68.

Her AIADMK party quickly named a loyalist to succeed her as chief minister and keep unity in the regional movement built entirely around the cult of Jayalalithaa. The AIADMK and rival DMK party long dominated Tamil Nadu politics, leaving little room for India’s national parties to operate, but Jayalalithaa’s death has provided an opening for them to try to gain influence.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, head of the northern-based Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), flew to Chennai for the funeral and said her death left a huge void in the state’s politics.

“Definitely there is a vacuum now and there is scope for national political parties like the BJP and the Congress to play a role,” said political commentator S. Murari. State Finance Minister O.P. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new chief minister an hour after her death was announced. Tamil Nadu is an important economic centre in India and a base for auto firms Ford Motor Daimler, Hyundai and Nissan and IT firm Cognizant.Panneerselvam had stood in for Jayalalithaa in the past, but made clear he was not replacing her. He declined to take her place at the head of the cabinet table while she was ill and instead had her picture placed there.

His rise to the top job in Tamil Nadu was aimed at allaying fears of a power struggle in the AIADMK, which Jayalalithaa had ruled with an iron hand. Jayalalithaa’s cult status in Tamil Nadu, which began with her dozens of star performances on the silver screen, was fuelled among the masses by occasional giveaways of laptops, mobile phones and food rations to the poor.As her hearse made its way to the Bay of Bengal shorefront, flanked by party workers clad in traditional white garments, crowds behind the barricades jostled to get a better view of “Amma”. Many scaled the walls of nearby building and parapets to get a better view. (Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 20:17 IST

Congress,TMC in ‘competitive obstructionism’ in Parliament: Arun Jaitley

Mon, 5 Dec 2016-08:25pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Parliament getting stalled over demonetization for the 13th consecutive day, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said that Congress and Trinamool Congress are indulging in “competitive obstructionism”.”It is now competitive obstructionism between the Congress and the Trinamool which is holding up the debate in Parliament,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post. The ongoing Winter session of Parliament has virtually been a washout with opposition Congress and Trinamool staging vociferous protest against demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.Besides demonetization, Trinamool Congress has been targeting the government over presence of army at toll plazas in West Bengal. Congress and some other opposition parties have been demanding apology from Modi for his remarks against those criticising the demonetization move.

Kolkata: Car runs over pedestrians killing 3, injuring 7

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A car ran over pedestrians near Police Training School in Kolkata killing three and injuring seven on Monday afternoon.The car jumped signal when it was coming from Hastings near the Police Training School turning and hit a motorcycle. It then hit two other vehicles and 10 pedestrians.Three pedestrians died on the spot and others continue to be in a critical condition at a state-run hospital.Meanwhile, two Bengal ministers Sovan Chatterjee and Bobby Hakim have rushed to the spots.While the driver of the offending vehicle tried to flee from the spot, he was nabbed by the locals and handed over to the police.

Demonetization has hit those involved in chit fund scams: Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday claimed that those involved in chit fund scams were now in trouble due to the Centre’s demonetization decision.”Many people were thinking what will happen to BJP’s plan to hold (Vijay Sankalp) rallies (in Goa) after demonetisation.But we don’t gather people for rallies by paying money,” Parrikar said at Siolim here.Ruling BJP is holding ‘Vijay Sankalp’ rallies in Goa ahead of next year’s Assembly polls.”Mayawati, Mamata, Mulayam might have been in grief but not BJP. Those who have looted crores of rupees through chit funds are feeling the heat of demonetisation,” Parrikar said, hitting out at former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.”One Chief Minister was so much hurt by the demonetisation that she started accusing Army of taking over the state,” he said, without naming West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.Some members of Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress have faced cases in a chit fund scam case.”My sleep was disturbed (following her allegations). I enquired with Army, they told me that they have communicated with them (West Bengal government). They only recommended where they (Army) should be stationed. Only after that I slept in peace,” Parrikar said.

Tagore Nobel theft: CID gets vital leads, another person detained

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CID has started combing operation at Bolpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal in connection with its probe into the theft of Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize medal in 2004.After interrogation of baul singer Pradip Bauri, arrested for his alleged involvement in the theft of the Nobel Prize medal, the CID has detained Bolpur-resident Sanjay Hazra, a senior officer said.”Bauri has given us many leads including the name of this person. He was picked up from his residence in Bolpur this Friday and detained. We have already started questioning him,” the senior officer said.In fact, the CID has started “combing” Bolpur for those named by Bauri, he added.”We will also summon those who were earlier questioned by the CBI in connection with the investigation of the Nobel theft,” the IPS officer said. It was also learnt, that the CID has gathered finger prints of both Bauri and Hazra as part of their probe into the matter. Bauri was detained for nearly two weeks by the CBI during its investigation into the case.Bauri, who was the gram panchayat pradhan of Ruppur from 1998 to 2003, had allegedly given shelter to the culprits involved in stealing the medal and helped them flee the state. The CID has also got the name of a Bangladeshi national, Mohammed Hossain Shipul, supposedly the mastermind of the plot and two Europeans also involved in it. “We have planned for step by step approach to get hold of these people,” the officer said.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said in August that if the state government was given the responsibility, it could try to retrieve the Nobel medallion stolen from a museum of Visva Bharati University.The SIT formed thereafter consists of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, ADG of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Rajesh Kumar and IG of CID (II) Javed Shamim.The Nobel medal and the citation, bestowed to Tagore in 1913, were stolen from Visva Bharati University’s museum. The CBI had taken over the case soon after, but failed to recover it and closed the case in 2007. However, under political pressure, the case was reopened in 2008 and closed again in 2009.

Man dies in ATM line, family blames it on ignorance of onlookers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The family of Kallol Ray Chowdhury, who on Saturday died while standing in an ATM queue near Bandel station in Hooghly district, has expressed its disgust over the ignorance of the people preferring money over life as none came to his rescue.”How can they be so heartless when someone is lying for 30 minutes and no one noticing that. People were crossing over the dead body,” said Shushoban Ray Chowdhury, the deceased’s son.”People realised importance of money before saving a life. He was under tension regarding the cash crunch. He died not due to lack of money but ignorance of the people,” he added.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also vented her anger on Twitter. “Unfortunate death toll continues… This morning Kallol Roy Chowdhury collapsed and died in front of SBI ATM at Bandel station,” she tweeted. “My condolences to the bereaved family. Is Modi babu listening?” she said in a series of tweets while hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Kallol Ray Chowdhury, an employee with the state government, died while standing in an ATM queue near Bandel station in Hooghly district on Saturday. He was standing in an ATM queue when the incident took place at 10.15 am.This was the third such incident in the state in the last 48 hours.

A nation of believers: Nilanjan Ray captures several facets of faith in Indian society

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three years after he picked up his camera and set off across India to capture ‘Faith’ in all its dimensions, award winning photographer Nilanjan Ray took a break to exhibit his work in Delhi. The black-and-white photographs he has shot are confirmation that India, for all its modernity, remains fundamentally a society anchored firmly to faith.Ray travelled through his native West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to bring to life a telling narrative of people and communities held together in body and soul by their faith in beliefs that may even border on superstition.In Hajipur in Bihar, Ray came across a group of men brutally beating a woman. “I stopped by to wonder what was happening. The kind of assault she was subjected to would have killed me. I was scared but I went closer. This was their way of dealing with a ‘possessed’ woman. When she lost consciousness, a priest came forward, put his feet on her head, and commanded the evil spirit to leave the woman’s body. Then she was dragged to a nearby river and given a bath. The men went home believing the spirit had fled the woman’s body,” says Ray. “Even more incredible was the fact that none of them were aware of my presence or me photographing them. They were all so engrossed in exorcising the so called possessed woman.” The photograph of the priest commanding the spirit to leave accompanied by the beating of drums has made it to the exhibition currently on at the India International Centre in Delhi.But not all the photographs evoke fear like this one. There are also poignant frames of men and women involved in the intensely personal and communal aspect of prayer. Ray’s keen eye for detail and contrast also reveals the vast social and cultural mosaic that India is. From Agra, with the Taj Mahal as the backdrop, a woman shrouded in a white cloth is about to immerse herself in the waters of the Yamuna on Chhath Puja.In an adjacent frame, three women, all with their heads covered in immaculate white, are about to immerse themselves in the holy, but polluted, waters of the Ganga at Varanasi. The visual effect of the darkness of the water into which the women will momentarily immerse themselves and the white covering their bodies is evocative of the river’s present pitiable state and the fervor of the devotee who cannot be deterred by such considerations.One of the most intriguing moments captured by Ray is one of two babies laid on a wet stone floor with a leg moving over them. For an instant it would evoke horror but like many of Ray’s photographs it essentially captures the idiosyncratic practices that mark faith in India.“It is from a temple in Kolkata on the banks of the Ganga. A woman who has taken a dip in the river is treated as a devi. The belief is that if the devi stretches over an infant, the child will be blessed,” says Ray. During Muharram, Ray came across two men flogging themselves in the back with sharp knives tied at the end of a rope. “The lacerations were deep and I was also splattered with their blood while getting close to them,” Ray says. After the exhibition closes on December 6, Ray will travel to Punjab and then Kerala to take forward his photographic project.

Mamata is symbol of honesty and simplicity, has credential to become PM: Ramdev

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, considered a close confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday lauded West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying that she had enough credential to become Prime Minister.”There should not be any question regarding her credibility in politics. If son of a chai-wala could become Prime Minister, Mamataji could also become Prime Minister,” Ramdev told reporters.”In politics, Mamataji is the symbol of honesty and simplicity. I love her simplicity. She wears chappals and ordinary saris. I believe she does not have black money,” he said. “Once during my visit to West Bengal, when Left Front was in power, I had said the Leftists should go and Mamataji should come to power. And exactly it happened thereafter,” he said.Despite Banerjee’s staunch opposition to demonetization, which he supports, Ramdev appeared soft on her when he said the TMC supremo was actually against the procedure by which the move was being implemented.”I think she is not opposed to the demonetization move per se. But I feel she is not happy the way it was implemented”, Ramdev said at the Infocom seminar here.The yoga guru-cum-entrepreneur said, “I had planted the seeds of demonetization. I continued the movement from 2009 to 2014 and asked the government to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes as it was root cause of corruption, black money generation and terror and militant funding”. Now with demonetization, black money generation, corruption and terror funding had stopped totally, he said at the seminar.”The common people is getting inconvenienced due to cash crisis. But none is complaining against this,” he said. However, Ramdev said he believed that total cashless system could not be possible immediately and it would take time i.e. atleast six months.Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the move, he sarcastically said that former PM Manmohan Singh, who had never spoken a word on any issue, had actually spoken now on the issue.”This is the effect of demonetization you see,” he quipped. Ramdev called on West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi at Raj Bhavan and termed it as ‘a courtesy call’.

Didi v/s Army: Mamata dubs Bengal governor ‘voice of Centre’ for criticism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi on Saturday virtually disapproved of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s remarks on the deployment of army at toll plazas, saying one should be careful while making allegations against a responsible organisation like the army.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dubbed Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi’s statement that one should be careful while making any allegation against the Army as ‘unfortunate’ and said he was speaking in the “voice of Central Government”. “The Governor is speaking in the voice of Central Government! He was not in the city for about 8 days,” she said in a statement. “Before making statements, all details should have been checked. It is very unfortunate”, she said.”Every person should be careful while making allegations against a responsible organisation like army,” Tripathi earlier told reporters. Trinamool Congress legislators and ministers had yesterday staged a protest outside the Raj Bhavan here, demanding immediate withdrawal of army from toll plazas but could not meet the Governor as he was away. TMC leaders are scheduled to meet Tripathi today. The presence of army personnel at toll plazas had triggered a row with Banerjee questioning if it was an “army coup”, drawing a stinging condemnation from the Centre which said the remark showed her “political frustration”.Banerjee had claimed that the army personnel were taking money from the vehicles which they are not supposed to do. The army had rebutted her allegations that its personnel were deployed at toll plazas without informing the state government and were collecting money, saying the exercise was being carried out in coordination with Kolkata Police.

TMC hits back at govt, says show us documents proving WB govt invited army

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting back at BJP for its claim that army presence at toll plazas in West Bengal was routine exercise conducted in full knowledge of local authorities, TMC leader Derek O’Brien has asked the Centre to “show the document” which proves that the state had “invited” or given “permission” for it.Kolkata Police had in fact written a letter stating that Army should “not be sent” to the state, O’Brein said, adding that he would place that letter before Parliament on Monday.”The central government should show us a single letter which proves that the West Bengal government had invited army to the state. There is no such letter. There is only one letter written by Kolkata Police Additional Commissioner…I will table that letter on Monday morning (in Parliament)…it says that the army should not be sent there. Show us a letter or document which says the army was given permission,” he said outside Parliament.O’Brein claimed he had also spoken to some of the former chief ministers to know if state government’s permission was required for army deployment in a state. “They all said, yes”.”Without the permission of the state, the army cannot go in. Where is the letter? I challenge…show us the letter,” he said.Earlier, the row over Army taking over road toll plazas in West Bengal echoed in Parliament with TMC seeing “sinister” designs behind the move and the government vehemently denying the charge, saying it was a routine exercise conducted in full knowledge of the local authorities.BJP claimed that Army’s presence at toll plazas was an “annual exercise” which was projected in a “wrong way” and charged Banerjee with “stalling” Parliament proceedings by such “diversionary” tactics.Banerjee, yesterday, decided to stay at the state secretariat ‘Nabanna’ for the night, even after the force was removed from a toll plaza near it as per her demand.

Make in Odisha receives Rs 2 lakh crore investment intent

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government today said it has received investment intent of Rs 2,03,270 crore in ten diversified sectors during ‘Make in Odisha Conclave’, which has the potential to generate more than 1.38 lakh additional jobs in the state.

File photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTIFile photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTI

File photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTI

“We are delighted with the response for this first ever conclave that we have organised. I hope to have continued support of industry for the overall socio-economic development of our citizens and position Odisha as the manufacturing hub of the East.

“The state government has decided to organise this conclave biannually as a stepping stone towards realising our Vision 2025 for the industrial development of the state,” Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.

The state has received investment intent worth Rs 2,03,270 crore in sectors including fertiliser, petro chemicals, food processing, health, infrastructure, IT and ESDM,, metal and minerals, manufacturing, textiles and tourism, during the event that concluded today.

The major investors in the state are NTPC, MCL, SAIL, Tata Steel, Adani, JSPL, PPL and IOCL.

“Odisha should look to becoming a manufacturing hub by producing value added products instead of supplying raw materials and it (will) generate employment,” Union Minister of state for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal said.

“When I took over as a minister, one of the first instructions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to look east. The focus of development has to be on eastern states
including Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, North East and Bihar.

“It is the considered view of the government that unless the eastern part of the country progress we cannot visualise a better India. It is very important that eastern states take rapid steps to make up for lost space in development,” Goyal added.

He further said that by 2018, every village in Odisha will have electricity.

“By May 2018, every village in Odisha will be connected with electricity. I am happy to say that things are in progress,” the minister said, adding that state will use coal cess to expand renewable energy.

“We will help Odisha to come in the map of major states to have renewable energy,” Goyal said.

Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said Eastern India, including Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal will be connected with natural gas pipeline.

The Centre is also planning an investment of Rs 13,000 crore in Odisha, he added.

Meanwhile, Odisha is expecting an overall investment of over Rs 30,000 crore in the urban development sector in next 5-7 years.

The state is planning to develop 86 projects, with a total investment of Rs 77,108 crore, over the next five years under the national smart city challenge for Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, G Mathi Vathanan, Commissioner-cum-Secretary said.

The Bhubaneswar Plan has 50 projects worth Rs 4,537 crore, of which Rs 2,725 crore are likely to be invested through PPP mode, while Rourkela Plan has 30 projects worth Rs 2,571 crore of which Rs 334 crore is expected to be invested through the PPP mode.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 20:24 IST

Parliament adjourned till December 5 amid uproar over army deployment in West Bengal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both houses of Parliament were adjourned till Monday, as the opposition continued to create a ruckus over the army’s deployment in West Bengal. The opposition raised the slogan “Tana Shahi nahi chalegi” on the floor of the house.Trinamool Congress and other opposition members raised the issue of the state government not being informed about the army’s presence. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Supremo Mayawati had earlier in the day dubbed the military deployment in West Bengal as a deliberate move by the Centre to humiliate Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.Condemning the act, Mayawati said that the ruling dispensation is targeting the West Bengal chief minister as she had raised her voice against the recently launched demonetization drive. “It seems out of the way. Army doesn’t collect toll? There is no law and order issue in West Bengal for Army to be deployed? The centre must clarify it, in fact PM must clarify as to why state’s rights are being impinged on,” Azad saidAfter Opposition allegation, MoS Defence Subhash Ramrao Bhamre said that the information that this House has is “factually incorrect.” “Army was in Bengal for a routine exercise,” adding that the Opposition raised a ruckus. Meanwhile, to prove that it had not made any deployment without informing the West Bengal Police and the state government about the routine exercises it is taking at some toll plazas, including the one off the second Hooghly Bridge near state secretariat Nabanna in Howrah, the Army released a series of letters. The Army letters show that it was in communication with the West Bengal police on the annual exercise to “gather statistical data about load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.”

Cheap political stunt to defame Govt and Indian Army: BJP hits back at Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleging that the army has been deployed at two toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday dubbed it as a ‘cheap political stunt’ done to defame the government and drag the army into an ‘unnecessary controversy’. Talking to the media, Naidu said it is a mischievous and a dirty campaign launched by some political opponents about a routine army drill in different states of the country. ‘This is an ongoing exercise, collecting data in all the north-eastern states, including Assam, Arunachal, West Bengal, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. This is by eastern command of the army….this is an annual exercise carried out every year. In the same location, and in the same state, last year the exercise was carried out between 19 and 21 November,’ he said.‘Similar exercise is being carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and in Bihar from 26 October to November 1 under the south western command……… It is a cheap political stunt to defame the govt & drag army into unnecessary controversy with does not exist,’ he added. Launching attack at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his ‘TRP politics’ comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naidu said the grand old party is themselves doing politics as they are becoming ‘irrelevant’. ‘What is TRP’ You people are doing TRPs because you are becoming irrelevant. People have rejected your Bandh call, they have rejected your Akhrosh rally, you are divided badly, you don’t have a common strategy, you have n argument to put forth to the country. That is why you are not allowing the house,’ he added.He said that the Congress Party is held band upon committing contempt of democracy. ‘The Prime Minister is the darling of the masses. He has taken a historic and a bold decision, the entire world is appreciating his movement towards digital transfer….they are making unnecessary absurd allegation. The congress is not constructive they are obstructive,’ he added.Army reject Mamata’s claims Army strongly rebutted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that its personnel were deployed at toll plazas without informing the state government and were collecting money, saying the exercise was being carried out in coordination with Kolkata Police. “This is being done in coordination with local police authorities. The exercise was earlier planned for November 27 and 28. The dates were changed to November 30 to December 2 on a specific request by Kolkata Police due to Bharat Bandh called on November 28,” said GOC Bengal area (officiating) Maj Gen Sunil Yadav.Reacting to the Chief Minister’s allegations he said, “We deny all charges with all contempt.” “Allegations of collection of money by Army personnel are also totally baseless,” the officiating GOC Bengal Area said.Mamata had yesterday alleged that the army had been deployed without informing the state government. “This is unprecedented and a very serious matter”, she had said.She had also claimed that the army personnel were collecting money from vehicles, which they were not supposed to. Maj Gen Yadav said a similar exercise in Eastern Command was carried out in November 2015 at the same places. The Maj Gen said that a recce was conducted with two inspectors of the Kolkata Police at toll plaza on November 27 last.”The issues raised by the police were addressed and were telephonically informed to the police,” he said. The exercise will continue as planned earlier and will end tonight, he said.Army tonight said they are conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal police. “Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect,” a statement by the Eastern command said on Twitter.”Routine exercise in all NE states. In [email protected] places, Arunanchal @13, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], Tripura & [email protected]″, it said. Kolkata Police, however, said they have raised objection to this Army exercise due to security reasons and traffic problem. “Army exercise at Toll Plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience,” the city police said in a twitter message tonight.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Army was deployed at toll plazas in different places in the state without informing the state government and termed it as “unprecedented and a very serious matter”. She further said “Whatever reason they are giving is not correct. They are lying. They are changing their reasons time to time. The MHA has the complete data of the vehicles moving in different states in the country”. Earlier, a defence spokesperson said that the Army conducts bi-ennial exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.”There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander S S Birdi said. The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.With inputs from agencies

Army carrying out annual data collection exercise in Bengal, says Maj Gen Sunil Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Army formations in Bengal, GOC (Headquarters), Bengal Area, Major General Sunil YadavNot withstanding Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that army was deployed at two toll plazas on National Highway 2 in West Bengal without informing the state government which is unprecedented and a serious matter, General Officer Commanding (GOC), (Headquarters), Bengal Area, Major General Sunil Yadav said army formations in Eastern Command at local levels are carrying out routine annual data collection exercises on availability of load carriers at all major entry points in various states in coordination with local police authorities.”This is an exercise carried out for our operational purposes, which will terminate to its logical end tonight. They are only collecting data of heavy vehicles, which is an annual exercise being carried out every year. Similar exercises are also being carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from September 26 to October 1 this year”, said Maj. Gen. Yadav.Terming the allegations of money collection from commuters at the toll counters at at Dankuni toll plaza in Hooghly district and Pallsit toll plaza in Burdwan district ‘baseless’, the GoC said, “You must be aware that we have specific targets, specific information and data to be collected. On the completion of data collection at Nabanno, the Bengal State Secretariat, the team was withdrawn last night around 12 o’clock. We were there for almost for 36 hours.””Since it is a major point, we achieved our data and we withdrew. In the entire northeast, 80 search points have been established, and as I said the exercise continuing most of the places including the toll plazas here and Nabanno”, he added.Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegation that the state’s rights are being impinged upon by the Centre was a clear sign of her political frustration, and added that it is saddening to see her and other opposition parties questioning the credibility of the Indian Army while it was performing a routine annual military exercise.Addressing the lower house of the Parliament, Parrkiar asserted that the deployment of army is a routine exercise being carried out since many years. “It is army’s routine exercise being carried out since many years. It also took place on 19th and 21st November last year too. Saddening that a routine exercise has been made a controversy now”, he said. “Concerned officials were intimated by Army this year too. Original dates were 28, 29 and 30 December but were changed to 1st and 2nd December later”, he added.Echoing similar sentiments Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told the Rajya Sabha that West Bengal government was informed about the drill, while urging the Upper House to not drag the Indian Army in to an unwarranted controversy. “It is a sensitive matter as it pertains to the Army, let us not derail from important issues. Bengal was taken into confidence, it happened last year as well and last to last year. Let’s not drag Army into controversy”, said Naidu.Hysteria gripped West Bengal yesterday night after chief minister Mamata Banerjee decided not to go home and instead stayed put at the state secretariat Nabanna to protest against the ‘sudden deployment’ of the army in the area. Banerjee camped overnight at her office in the secretariat in Kolkata, objecting to the presence of Army jawans at toll booths, one just 500 metres from where she was.”Is this a military coup?” the Banerjee asked, alleging that the state government had been had not been informed about what the Army said was a routine exercise that it was conducting across eastern states.

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