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Two Malegaon blasts accused no more but falsely shown ‘alive’, claims suspended ATS cop

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sensational claim, a suspended Maharashtra ATS officer has told a Solapur court that two of the absconding accused in 2008 Malegaon blasts case are in fact dead but falsely shown as “alive” by high ranking police officers.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis described the allegation by Anti-Terrorism Squad’s(ATS) former senior inspector Mehmood Mujawar as “quite serious” and said the government will look into the matter.The application filed in August before a magistrate court in Solapur claimed that Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, who are among the accused in the Malegaon blasts case, are “no more”. The details of the application surfaced in public domain on Thursday. Notably, Mujawar was suspended after a case under Arms Act and criminal intimidation was filed against him in a Solapur court.”Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangra are in fact no more but are shown alive in Malegaon bomb blast case by high ranking police officers,” Mujawar alleged.The application was filed in the court by Mujawar on August 19 this year seeking early disposal of the case under Arms Act registered against him. Mujawar, in his application, alleged that the case was filed against him as a conspiracy and was a pressure tactic as he wanted to reveal the truth about the “death” of Dange and Kalsangra.When asked about Mujawar’s claim, former ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi rubbished it, saying, “I don’t even remember who this Mujawar is or if he was even part of the team that investigated the case.” “At least, in my tenure in ATS, nothing of this sort has happened,” Raghuvanshi said.A retired police official, who has worked in the ATS, questioned Mujawar’s claim, asking as to why the allegation is being made now after eight years. “Who had stopped this official from revealing these important facts before? We must not believe these claims,” the official, requesting anonymity, said.A bomb strapped to a motorcycle exploded in Malegaon on September 29, 2008, killing seven people and injuring around 100. “Although the allegations are quite serious, we will have to look into it because why since 2009 no action has been taken. The concerned person says that the letter was sent to DG(DGP) and still there is no action taken. So I think we need to verify whether what is stated in the letter is really true, whether it is really genuine. I think, as of now I can only say that we will have a serious look at the entire episode,” Fadnavis told reporters when asked to comment on the claim by Mujawar.NCP spokesman Nawab Malik demanded a probe into the allegation.According to the investigating agencies, the Malegaon blasts was carried out by right wing extremists and a total of 11 persons are presently in jail in the case, including Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.The state ATS, which was initially probing the case, had charged the accused under various sections of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Indian Penal Code, Indian Explosives Act and the Arms Act. However, when the case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the agency filed a supplementary chargesheet by which charges under MCOCA were dropped on the ground that there wasn’t sufficient material.The NIA chargesheet also dropped Sadhvi and five others from the list of the accused. Apart from Sadhvi, those given clean chit by NIA are Shivnarayan Kalsangra, Shyam Sahu, Praveen Takkalki, Lokesh Sharma and Dhan Singh.

Bollywood music composer duo Sajid-Wajid join BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Bollywood music composer duo Sajid and Wajid Ali joined BJP in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The two musician brothers joined the saffron party at a programme organised by BJP’s youth wing on the occasion of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday. “There is only one promise we can make ourselves on Atal-ji’s birthday, to make India corruption-free. Atal-ji worked hard all his life to enhance the nation’s capabilities and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is only fulfilling Atal-ji’s dreams,” Fadnavis said at the event. “I ask every youth present here to teach ten people how to conduct trade in cashless way and help fulfil Atal-ji’s dream of corruption-free nation,” Fadnavis said. “During his tenure (as the PM) Atal-ji brought immense repute to the country in the international arena,” he said and added that whatever BJP is today is because of Vajpayee.

Modi sounds poll bugle with remote control button

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eyeing ensuing elections, including the one to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday underlined the importance of development and warned that history would not forgive those who have destroyed the country for the last 70 years. With UP elections in mind, the Prime Minister also focused on the war against black money and development. The annual budget of the BMC is Rs 37,000 crore.Addressing a function to mark the foundation-laying ceremony of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial in Arabian Sea, Modi said that development is the only solution to many present-day problems.He also laid the foundation for Metro II B, Metro IV, Kalanagar flyover, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and the elevated corridors between Kurla and Vakola.The Prime Minister laid the foundation stones of all these projects by pressing a remote control button and told the audience that projects worth Rs 1.06 lakh crore have been kicked off with this one button.He said that increasing the pension of 3.5 million people to Rs 1,000, providing domestic gas connections, generic medicine shops and access to electricity to 18,000 villages showed that the focal point of his government was development.Stating that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was not only a great warrior but also a multi-faceted visionary, he cited the establishment of a strong navy during that era by Shivaji as an example. Shivaji Maharaj realised the importance of sea, coastal security, and provided a strong water supply system, which is inspiring to even present-day engineers, Modi said. The Prime Minister’s address lasted for 36 minutes.Earlier, Modi, along with Maharashtra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the proposed site of the Arabian sea memorial and performed the Bhoomipoojan and Jalpoojan at the site. He travelled to the site on a Coast Guard hovercraft.Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Subhash Bhamare, state ministers Chandrakant Patil and Vinod Tawde accompanied them.Later, Fadnavis took the cue from Modi and gave examples of his government’s development drive. He said that his government would create additional capacity to carry millions via metro and other projects. This is unprecedented, he claimed.Like the US, which is known for its statue of Liberty, India would be known for the proposed Shivaji Maharaj memorial, Fadnavis said. He said that the previous (Congress-NCP) government could not avail permissions for the project and only made announcements, but his government procured all permissions. Fadnavis said that his Government would createThackeray requested the Prime Minister to hand over the forts of Maharashtra to the state government, so that the state would not be required to approach the Archeological Survey of India for even small works.History comes aliveA cultural show depicting greatness of Shivaji Maharaj was performed before arrival of prime Minister. Descendants from almost 100 families from the lieutenants of Chhtarapati Shivaji Maharaj were invited for the function.The entire Maharashtra cabinet was present and audience chanted Modi, Modi time and again during the programme. Fadnavis had to intervene during Chandrakant Patil’s welcome speech to pacify the crowd and shouted “Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai”, which received a huge response.

PM Modi in Maharashtra for inauguration of Shivaji memorial, Mumbai and Pune metro

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.

He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”

Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.

The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.

The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

A rally was flagged off at Chembur on Saturday, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.

The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state. This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.

For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.

Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.

Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.

The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.

Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 09:02 IST

After CM Fadnavis, Maharashtra MLAs and bureaucrats to lose weight

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lawmakers and bureaucrats from Maharashtra will be walking into CM Devendra Fadnavis’ shoes in the new year. State MLAs and babus have been given the common goal of losing weight and becoming fitter, reported the Mumbai Mirror.This initiative was the result of medical check-ups of 55 MLAs and over 450 bureaucrats and other government staff during the state legislature’s winter session in Nagpur. High rate of obesity and other weight-related complications were found among the state’s decision-makers. 53 of the 55 legislators, from across party lines, and over 170 babus were found to be obese.Fadnavis, who himself lost 26 kilos earlier this year is keen to help others in the state machinery and power circles to get in shape. Pune-based bariatric surgeon Jayashree Todkar, who helped Fadnavis lose the weight has been roped in to help the others as well.“If the state has to fight the problem of obesity, we should start from the government and set an example. We are also conducting awareness campaigns at government colleges. This includes surveys for patients, their relatives and employees working there,” said Girish Mahajan, minister for medical education, water resources and command area development to Mirror.

State, Railways yet to form joint venture firm for rail projects

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>State, Railways yet to form joint venture firm for rail projectsOver a year after railway minister Suresh Prabhu and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met in New Delhi to discuss rail infrastructure and the modalities of forming a joint venture (JV) firm or special purpose vehicle (SPV) to fast-track Maharashtra’s rail projects, a Right to Information plea by DNA has shown that no such JV or SPV has as yet been formed.In its RTI reply signed by VS Dahiya, joint director (Works), Railway Board, the railway ministry stated, “The ministry of railways and the Government of Maharashtra are in process to form a joint venture company for the development of rail infrastructure in the State of Maharashtra. GoM has communicated their willingness to sign a JV with MoR. Neither any JV agreement has been signed, nor any SPV has been formed as yet.”According to railway officials, the SPV or JV will streamline the construction of rail infrastructure in the state as a dedicated team would work to carry out various legal processes to kick-start a project. “It would be like the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), a SPV between the state and the railways, that has been overseeing Mumbai’s rail projects and has been acting as a bridge between the state, the railway ministry, Western and Central railways, and the World Bank. It has increased the pace of work since the early 2000s,” explained an official.During the Delhi meeting between Prabhu and Fadnavis on November 4 last year, it was mutually agreed to form a SPV with Prabhu, even asking the state government to finalise a funding model for the SPV.According to officials, work on the SPV should be expedited as Maharashtra has got Rs 4767 crores for rail projects this year, a 206 per cent increase from the average of Rs 1171.4 crores received by the state between 2009-14. “When the funds are in, the work shouldn’t suffer,” said an official.Earlier, in a statement released on November 30 this year, the railway ministry had said that as of now five state governments — Chattisgarh, Haryana, Gujarat, Kerala, and Odisha — had formed joint venture firms with the railways. A total of 16 states had also decided to share costs in 43 projects, the total cost of the projects at current prices being Rs 62,379 crores.

Civic polls: BJP makes inroads in semi-urban, rural Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling BJP has emerged as the net gainer in the first two rounds of civic polls across Maharashtra as it made inroads into semi-urban and rural areas, giving leverage to the party to counter the opposition onslaught over the demonetization.As the counting of votes for the second phase of polls concluded last evening, BJP’s tally in two rounds went up to 974 seats in municipal council and nagar panchayats, dealing a grim blow to Congress and NCP which had for long held sway in rural and interior parts of the state. The decision to hold direct elections to the post of municipal council presidents brought handsome gains to the BJP which secured 56 positions.In the first phase, BJP put up an impressive show winning 893 council and nagar panchayat seats while it finished slightly behind the NCP with 81 seats in the second round. The NCP, which won 615 seats in the first phase, bettered its tally over the rival in the next round with 93 seats while the Congress, which won 727 seats in the first phase bagged 45 seats.Shiv Sena, the bickering partner in the ruling alliance, pocketed 529 and 23 seats respectively in two rounds.The polling to elect 324 councillors and 14 municipal council presidents in Latur and Pune districts was held on Wednesday. The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena drew a blank in all seats it contested.The outcome is also seen as a shot in the arm for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who led the campaign from the front.According to political observers, BJP’s success is more prominent in the Vidarbha region, once a stronghold of Congress. Fadnavis hails from Nagpur and that could be one of the reasons for BJP’s sterling performance in the region, they said.Difficulties caused by demonetization appear not to have gone against the BJP because people still feel it will yield positive results like eradication of black money at the end of the day, they said. Hailing the results, BJP state president Raosaheb Danve said, “Like in the first phase, the results of the second phase also showed that people have displayed their faith in PM Narendra Modi’s demonetization decision. People have endorsed the performance of Modi and Fadnavis governments,” he said, adding, the results show that BJP continues to be the “number one” party in Maharashtra.The outcome shows that Congress and NCP, which received a drubbing in the Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls in 2014, are yet to regain the trust of large sections of people, analysts say.Some of them, however, pointed out that these parties, who had ruled the state for long, recovered some of the lost ground, as compared to Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. In the 2014 Assembly polls, Congress and NCP were badly hit by the “Modi wave”, getting only 42 and 41 seats respectively, after ruling the state for 15 years.Congress leaders admit that the results of the civic polls fell short of their expectation. “We thought that Maratha agitation and demonetization would work against BJP. However, it may take some more time for the ill-effects of demonetization to be felt,” Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.Both Congress and NCP have alleged that BJP’s success in the polls was due to misuse of money and administrative machinery. “Old scrapped notes were distributed to get votes. Bundles of cash recovered from BJP legislators and ministers is enough indication. Even Shiv Sena, the BJP’s ally in government, has made this allegation,” Congress Mumbai unit chief Sanjay Nirupam and NCP spokesman Nawab Malik alleged.However, BJP has vehemently refuted such allegations, crediting the victory to organisational skills and good governance at the Centre and the state. “Our success is due to the meticulous organisational planning and leadership of Devendra Fadnavis. He led from the front and addressed election meetings in most parts of the state,” said Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil.Congress and NCP leaders, on the other hand, restricted themselves to particular districts, say observers.Congress leaders admit that the results is a wake up call to the party to get its act together at the taluka level and strengthen its grassroots base.They say the party has got more seats at the nagar panchayat level, which means the rural population was upset with the present state government. The third phase of elections for 20 municipal councils and two nagar panchayats will be held on December 18. On January 8, 2017, the elections for 11 municipal councils will be held. Besides, the elections for 50 gram panchayats in different districts will be held on December 28.

The influence of controversial preacher Zakir Naik

The BBC’s Zubair Ahmed went to Mumbai to find out more about him and the impact of his preaching.

Maratha reservation: Silent morcha in Nagpur sees a low turnout of 15,000 people

The poor turnout for the silent Maratha morcha in Nagpur on Wednesday failed to meet the expectations of its organisers.

While the previous marches generated massive responses with participants running in lakhs, the first march after demonetisation drew around only 15,000 people that according to organiser Sakal Maratha Samaj’s claims should have drawn 2.5 million, according to a report by Livemint.

Marathas are politically and numerically the strong community in the state, whose votes can swing the political fortunes of parties. The decision of the previous Congress-NCP government to provide 16 percent quota in government jobs and education to Marathas was put on hold by the Bombay High Court. The blame-game is on between the ruling and Opposition parties over the responsibility of the same.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Earlier touted as a historic march for having MLAs and MLCs from all parties united to participate and at a time corresponding with the Winter Session of the state legislature which is underway at present, the ‘mook’ morcha was organised in the state’s second capital in Nagpur for the reservation demands of seeking 16 percent reservation in government jobs and educational institutes, and to secure capital punishment for the rapists of a teenage girl in Ahmednagar district, and also the amendments to the SC/ST Atrocity (Prevention) Act, which they allege is being misused to target the community.

The march started at Yashwant Stadium in south Nagpur in noon and terminated near Vidhan Bhawan (legislature complex) after passing the main streets in Sitabuldi area. A string of politicians across party lines, including legislators, participated in the march that culminated into a rally at T-Point near Assembly Hall where the Winter Session is in progress. From the government, Revenue Minister Chandrakantdada Patil and Parliament Affairs Minister Vinod Tawde reached the venue, where they were apprised of the demands raised by Maratha community by the morcha organiser Madhukar Meherkar. The prominent legislators who participated include Ashish Shelar, Ashish Deshmukh (both BJP), Bharat Gogavale (Shiv Sena), Bhai Jagtap (Congress) and Vidya Chavan (NCP). BJP Rajya Sabha MP and a descendant of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji, Sambhaji Raje Bhosale, also joined the march.

The Maratha protests were low-profile for quite some time after demonetisation and first phase of local municipal bodies polls. In fact, funding for the march which involves arranging for transport and refreshments among other things, post demonistisation of higher currency notes was deemed to be one of the biggest problems, according to Mumbai Mirror.

But this may not be the only reason for the lukewarm response. The Livemint report quotes a BJP legislator as saying that Vidarbha is dominated more by OBCs and Kunbis who are apathetic to the Maratha demands. He went on to say that to involve them the march had even been renamed as Maratha-Kunbi Kranti Morcha.

Towards the end of the march, a delegation of five young girls called on Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, according to a report by The Times of India, making it the first time that the Marathas presented a memorandum directly to the CM, departing from the practice of handing it over to district collectors.

The chief minister has promised that his government will set up a high-profile panel to look into the issues raised by the Maratha community. The proposed panel will have experts and intellectuals to study the issues raised by the community and the services of retired higher and lower court judges from the community, professors and other intellectuals will be availed for preparing a detailed report.

A suggestion in this regard was made by  Vinod Tawde and Chandrakant Patil said the panel may include 10 or more members and will meet in Mumbai soon. Fadnavis said the issue of reservation for Marathas is pending before court and the government has roped in top lawyer Harish Salve to fight the case.

The government recently filed a 2500-page affidavit before the Bombay High Court, supporting the demand for 16 percent reservation for the community in jobs and education. Referring to the affidavit, the chief minister said he himself gave the final touch to it and it may come up for hearing on 30 December.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 11:59 IST

Shaina NC requests CM for fast track court for physiotherapist’s murder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a 24 year old physiotherapist was raped and murdered at her residence in Vile Parle on December 6, social activist and BJP spokesperson Shaina NC on Tuesday requested Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for a fast-track court for the case to bring relief to the traumatised family of the victim and ensure justice is delivered soon.She also led a delegation to the Vile Parle police station on Tuesday and interacted with the senior police inspector and other officers on the progress in the case.The victim’s parents had submitted a complaint to the Vile Parle police on Monday night asking for a probe into how the identity of the victim had become public.Several days after the gruesome crime, the police have failed to nail the culprit. They however claimed to be close to finding the guilty.The police have formed eight teams and questioned as many as 300-400 suspects, but are yet to make a breakthrough in the case.”We are investigating the case from all the angles and have questioned many people to zero in on the culprit,” said senior police inspector Mahadev Nimbalkar.The victim’s family has demanded a speedy probe and justice. Her father said, “It’s been a week now that we have only been getting assurances from the police, but the culprit has not been arrested yet. We are cooperating with the police and going whenever they calling us questioning. We have shared everything with the police, but they still say they do not have any strong evidence against anyone and are clueless.We want speedy justice and the culprit to be punished”.

Devendra Fadnavis unveils slew of measures for Marathas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Blaming the erstwhile Congress and NCP led government’s for failing to protect the interests of the Marathas, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a slew of measures aimed at placating the community, which along with the Kunbis is estimated to form around a third of Maharashtra’s population.He was speaking in the state legislative assembly on Friday. The Marathas have organised a series of silent protests across Maharashtra for demands like quota, amendments to the Atrocity act to prevent its misuse, and death sentence for youth who raped a girl from the community.Fadnavis questioned former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan who had participated in this discussion in the assembly on the decision to grant quotas (for Marathas and Muslims) only after the Congress- NCP lost 42 of Maharashtra’s 48 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. “While taking such an important decision a special session should have been convened and a law must have been framed… An ordinance can enforce the law but the court gives more importance to a law,” he said, referring to the high court striking down the quota decision.The BJP-led government will also present a strong case in the apex court to press for Maratha reservations. Fadnavis also praised the silent morchas being organised by the community and added that the state would seek the death sentence for the accused in the Kopardi rape, which had triggered off the protests.Pointing fingers at the erstwhile Congress and NCP governments for neglecting the Marathas, Fadnavis said the community was removed from the quota ambit in 1963 without sound reasoning. The state had also not contested the contention of the Mandal Commission which had ruled against classifying Marathas as other backwards. “I do not want to blame anyone. It is a question of giving justice to the community,” said Fadnavis, while pointing that while some were trying to give the issue a political twist, it was the opposition which was in power when these developments took place.

Committed to provide reservation to Maratha community: CM Devendra Fadnavis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Blaming the previous Congress and NCP led governments for failing to protect the interests of the Marathas, Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a slew of measures aimed at placating the community, which along with the Kunbis is estimated to form around a third of Maharashtra’s population. He was speaking in the state legislative assembly on Friday. The Marathas have organised a series of silent protests across Maharashtra for demands like quotas, amendments to the Atrocity Act to prevent its misuse and death sentence for the youth who raped a girl from the community. Fadnavis questioned former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for the decision to grant quotas (for Marathas and Muslims) only after the Congress-NCP lost 42 of Maharashtra’s 48 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. “While taking such an important decision, a special session should have been convened and a law must have been framed… An ordinance can enforce the law but the court gives more importance to a law,” he said, referring to the high court striking down the quota decision. The BJP-led government will also present a strong case in the apex court to press for Maratha reservations. Fadnavis also praised the silent marches being organised by the Maratha community and added that the state would seek the death sentence for the accused in the Kopardi rape case, which had triggered the protests. Pointing fingers at the erstwhile Congress and NCP governments for neglecting the Marathas, Fadnavis said the community was removed outside the quota ambit in 1965 without sound reasoning. The state had also not contested the contention of the Mandal Commission which had ruled against classifying Marathas as ‘other backwards’. “I do not want to blame anyone. It is a question of giving justice to the community,” said Fadnavis. He pointing that while some were trying to give the issue a political twist, it was the opposition which was in power when these developments took place. He also raised questions on the erstwhile Congress- NCP government’s move to include Dalit intellectual and author Raosaheb Kasbe in the backward classes commission just two months before it submitted a report ruling against classifying Marathas as backwards. Kasbe had opposed the demand in the commission. “I am not making an allegation against the government but an inquiry is needed into the design,” said Fadnavis, adding that the Congress-NCP had also failed to present before the court, the evidence gathered by the committee under then minister Narayan Rane. Fadnavis pointed to the scheme launched by the government which will provide financial aid to students studying for professional courses. Noting that Maharashtra had just 6,000 seats in government engineering and polytechnic colleges, he said that the number was as high as 1.5 lakh in the private sector. Hence, even if 15% quotas were provided to Marathas, they would account for just 900 seats, far less than the demand. “I will not go into whom these educational institutions belong to, whether they take donations and why the fees are steep,” said Fadnavis, in a reference to education barons from the Congress and NCP, adding that the state had dragged its feet on a fee regulatory authority for 15 years. The state has also announced a scheme in the name of ‘Bhausaheb’ Punjabrao Deshmukh to provide Rs 30,000 annually for Maratha students to finance their stay in large cities for education, and an amount of Rs 20,000 would be paid in smaller towns. “Hostels will be made available for the stay of youth in all districts. We are ready to help out organisations with funds and aid,” he declared. He noted that since one of the reasons behind Maratha backwardness was the condition of agriculture, it was necessary to mechanise it and boost productivity and investment. The state will also collect information about the misuse of the Atrocity act, Fadnavis said.

Gadkari’s office rubbishes reports of 50 chartered flights to ferry VIPs for daughter’s wedding

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The office of Union Road, Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday dubbed reports stating that 50 chartered flights will ferry VIPs for his daughter’s wedding as ‘mischievous and incorrect’.Gadkari’s office stated that only ten non-scheduled flights have landed at Nagpur Airport in the last 24 hours, according to the Air Traffic Control (ATC).It said that ten non-scheduled flights included at least three government flights of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan.Other non-schedules flights included those of yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Shiv Sena chief Udhhav Thackeray, media baron and veteran filmmaker Ramoji Rao and Rajya Sabha member and former non-executive chairman of ZEE TV Subhash Chandra.Earlier reports suggested that over 10,000 guests, most of them VVIPs, will be flown to the city in 50 charter flights on Sunday evening.Ketki, the youngest of Gadkari’s three children, is getting married to Aditya Kaskhedikar, a professional with Facebook in San Francisco.

Those linking BJP’s civic polls victory to demonetisation are fools, says ally Shiv Sena

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at the BJP over its impressive performance in the first round of civic polls in Maharashtra, ally Shiv Sena on Wednesday said those who link the saffron party’s victory to demonetization are “fools”.”Those who say that people have voted the BJP to power due to the decision of demonetization are fools. If that was the case, at least 100 candidates from that party would have been elected as council chiefs, which did not happen,” the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.The NDA partner also took a swipe at the BJP for having its campaign spearheaded by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, saying ,in contrast, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray or any of the party leaders did not engage in poll campaign.”We wanted to instill confidence in our workers that they can fight against the pressures of money-based campaign, which we succeeded in proving. Our win assumes significance as we, in a bid to get the required numbers, did not engage in any unholy alliance,” it said, adding this makes the party’s win “pure”.”We did not adopt the approach of dampening the morale of our party workers by allying with parties against whom we levelled charges of large scale corruption,” the Sena said.Had the Shiv Sena entered into “backdoor alliances” with parties like the Congress, NCP and the AIMIM, it too could have notched up larger numbers, Sena said.With the government introducing direct elections for the post of heads of municipal councils, the BJP emerged as the single largest gainer with 52 seats followed by Shiv Sena 23, Congress 19, NCP 16 and others 28.

Maharashtra civic polls: Several high profile leaders tasted defeat in their own backyard

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first phase of polls to 164 Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats in Maharashtra saw several leaders from different political parties tasting defeat in their own backyard. The results of the polls were declared on Monday.The BJP had to face defeat in Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde’s Parli municipality where her estranged cousin Dhananjay Munde led the NCP to a clear victory. State Water Supply Minister Babanrao Lonikar’s wife Manda was defeated in Partur municipal council president poll.Congress could retain only Shirdi municipality in Ahmednagar, the stronghold of Leader of Opposition in state Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. In Rahata municipality, BJP won the president’s post while the Congress got majority.BJP won the Karad municipal council presidentship in the constituency of former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, while Congress won the Bhokardan municipal council presidentship in BJP state chief Raosaheb Danve’s constituency.In Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar’s constituency Sawantwadi, Shiv Sena won the municipal president’s post but did not get majority, while in Vengurla, the council president’s post went to BJP. In NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal’s constituency Yeola, BJP bagged the municipal council president’s post while in his son Pankaj’s constituency Nandgaon, the Sena won the Nandgaon and Manmad municipalities.In Islampur, NCP leader Jayant Patil’s constituency, the BJP-led local outfit won the municipality president’s post. In Congress leader and Legislative Council deputy chairman Manikrao Thakre’s constituency Darwha in Yavatmal district, the Sena came to power and also won the council president’s post.In Khed, the constituency of Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam of Sena, the MNS candidate won the municipal council president’s post. According to political observers, BJP’s success is a “personal victory” for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who “led the party from the front”.They said the state government’s decision in October this year to extend fee waiver to all students whose family income limit is less than Rs 6 lakhs, for professional and higher education courses including medical, helped the BJP.The ‘Rajrishi Shahu Maharaj Fee Pratipurti Yojana’ was earlier implemented for SC/ST and OBC students. But, with the Fadnavis government extending the scheme to students of all castes, the Maratha youths’ grievances regarding opportunities in education was addressed, the observers felt.Similarly, after the November 8 demonetization move, Fadnavis allowed citizens in urban local bodies to pay their dues like property tax, water bill and other arrears in the scrapped notes and the local bodies received dues worth over Rs 1,000 crore in 15 days. “This move is also likely to have helped BJP in the semi-urban areas,” an observer said.

Maharashtra Municipal council polls: BJP makes massive gain, breaches NCP- Congress strongholds

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Ruling BJP on Monday emerged as a major gainer in the first phase of municipal council polls in Maharashtra, winning 851 seats across 164 urban local bodies, making inroads into the traditional strongholds of Congress and NCP.Elections were held for 3,705 seats spread over the 147 municipal councils and 17 nagar panchayats, of which results have been announced for the 3,510 seats so far. Counting for rest of the seats was still on. Of the 147 municipal councils, where municipal chiefs were elected directly, BJP nominees won at 52 places, compared to the around half a dozen places, where that party held the civic chief’s posts in these bodies. BJP made inroads into the Congress and NCP strongholds, winning 851 seats. Shiv Sena won 514, NCP 638, Congress 643, MNS 16, BSP 9, unrecognised parties 119, local coalitions 384, CPM 12 and Independents 324 seats.In the last elections, BJP tally was 298, Sena 264, Congress 771 and NCP 916 As results started pouring in BJP’s favour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the victory as a “win for pro-poor and development politics of BJP.” In the polling held yesterday across 25 districts, around 70 per cent of the electorate had exercised their franchise. The elections, held against the backdrop of demonetisation, were seen as ‘mini’ Assembly polls and a test of popularity of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who led the BJP’s campaign to extend his party’s influence in the rural areas, where Congress and NCP has held sway for long.Taking note of BJP’s performance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded Fadnavis and Maharashtra BJP president Raosaheb Danve for the “grassroot level work”. “I laud BJP Karyakartas, CM @Dev_Fadnavis & @raosahebdanve. Their grassroot level work ensured people place their valued trust in BJP,” Modi said. “I thank people of Maharashtra for placing their faith in BJP in local body polls. This is a win for pro-poor & development politics of BJP,” the PM tweeted.Talking about the party’s performance, Fadnavis said, “We won due to the blessings of Chhatrapati Shivaji and the people of Maharashtra.” Hailing the mandate for the BJP, he said it shows that people are with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of transparency. In response to Modi’s tweet on the poll outcome, Fadnavis tweeted, “Thanks Sir! You inspired confidence in people that our Nation is transforming.Mandate shows Maharashtra is with your vision of transparency.” The CM added that he was satisfied that people were trusting him to solve problems and challenges facing the state. He thanked the BJP leaders and ministers for working unitedly. Reacting to the results, Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan conceded that his party need to work harder, whereas NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged that BJP won due to money and the fact that it was in power. “We need to work harder and rework our strategy in the upcoming phases. BJP’s money power helped them win more seats. This is not the only reason for their success. We also need to work hard,” Chavan told reporters.In Parli municipal council in Beed district, Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde of the BJP was outsmarted by her cousin and NCP leader Dhananjay Munde. The panel backed by Dhananjay, who is the Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council, won 27 of the total 33 seats in Parli.”I accept the people’s verdict. I will analyse what went wrong and what led people to give this verdict,” Pankaja said. State Revenue minister Chandrakant Patil said, “BJP is expected to bag 50 municipal council president posts, while in another 50 councils the party will increase its tally considerably.”Terming the party’s performance as “overwhelming”, he said five years ago BJP was negligible in these areas and the outcome showed that people have accepted the demonetisation decision. Responding to a query senior Congress leader Narayan Rane’s criticism that sycophancy and not merit was the priority for selection of party candidates, Chavan said it was Rane’s personal view. “Rane is a member of the state parliamentary board, which selects candidates. If he says posts are sold, he is making a grave allegation and must substantiate it. I will take action,” the former Chief Minister added.The comments made by senior party leaders from Ahmednagar district Balasaheb Thorat and Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil blaming each other for the results were also unwarranted, Chavan said adding, “Making such allegations and counter-allegations publicly was wrong.” As to Rane’s demand that Congress and NCP should fight the polls in alliance, Chavan said the decision on alliance was left to district units and Rane was part of this decision made at the state level. If this decision has to be reconsidered it will be discussed at the party level, he said.NCP leader Nawab Malik said, “BJP won due to money and the fact that it was in power. However, it will bear the brunt of demonetisation in the next phase.” “BJP leaders Raosaheb Danve, Pankaja Munde and Babanrao Lonikar could not get their candidates elected,” Malik pointed out.In all, 212 civic bodies, comprising municipal councils and nagar panchayats, are going to polls in four phases. The next rounds of voting are scheduled on December 14, December 18, and January 8.

Maharashtra municipal council polls as it happened: BJP wins big in first phase; Modi, Shah say victory for demonetisation

Nov 28, 2016

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Counting of votes began on Monday morning in the election to 147 municipal councils and 17 nagar panchayats across 25 districts in Maharashtra, seen as a litmus test for the Devendra Fadnavis’ government.

As many as 15,826 candidates are in the fray for 3,705 seats spread over the municipal councils and nagar panchayats, where voting was held yesterday in the first phase with around 70 per cent of the electorate exercising its franchise.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

No nominations were received for Shirala Nagar Panchayat in Sangli district while 28 candidates were elected unopposed.

Counting of votes began at 10 am.

Polling was also held for municipal council presidents post in 147 places for which 1,013 candidates are in the race.

The polls are being viewed as ‘mini’ Assembly election sand a test of popularity of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who led the BJP campaign to make inroads in the rural areas where Congress and NCP hold sway.

This is for the first time that presidents of municipal councils will be elected directly by people. The second phase for elections to 14 municipal councils will be held on 14 December.

Demonetisation, farm distress, improvement in rural infrastructure and caste tensions due to morcha by various communities in the run up to the polls were the main issues apart from local matters.

While ruling alliance partners, BJP and Shiv Sena, had tied up for the polls, the opposition Congress and NCP didn’t formally announce any alliance.

While BJP projected development as its main plank, during the campaign Fadnavis hailed the demonetisation move as a major attack on black money. The Congress highlighted the hardships being faced by the poor and common man due to demonetisation among other issues.

In total, including Sunday’s phase, elections are being held for 212 civic bodies, comprising municipal councils and nagar panchayats, in four phases. The next rounds of voting are scheduled on 14 December, 18 December and 8 January.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 21:08 IST

Maharashtra municipal council polls LIVE: Results for 2,501 seats declared; BJP-Shiv Sena win 1,012

Nov 28, 2016

Highlights

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Counting of votes began on Monday morning in the election to 147 municipal councils and 17 nagar panchayats across 25 districts in Maharashtra, seen as a litmus test for the Devendra Fadnavis’ government.

As many as 15,826 candidates are in the fray for 3,705 seats spread over the municipal councils and nagar panchayats, where voting was held yesterday in the first phase with around 70 per cent of the electorate exercising its franchise.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

No nominations were received for Shirala Nagar Panchayat in Sangli district while 28 candidates were elected unopposed.

Counting of votes began at 10 am.

Polling was also held for municipal council presidents post in 147 places for which 1,013 candidates are in the race.

The polls are being viewed as ‘mini’ Assembly election sand a test of popularity of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who led the BJP campaign to make inroads in the rural areas where Congress and NCP hold sway.

This is for the first time that presidents of municipal councils will be elected directly by people. The second phase for elections to 14 municipal councils will be held on 14 December.

Demonetisation, farm distress, improvement in rural infrastructure and caste tensions due to morcha by various communities in the run up to the polls were the main issues apart from local matters.

While ruling alliance partners, BJP and Shiv Sena, had tied up for the polls, the opposition Congress and NCP didn’t formally announce any alliance.

While BJP projected development as its main plank, during the campaign Fadnavis hailed the demonetisation move as a major attack on black money. The Congress highlighted the hardships being faced by the poor and common man due to demonetisation among other issues.

In total, including Sunday’s phase, elections are being held for 212 civic bodies, comprising municipal councils and nagar panchayats, in four phases. The next rounds of voting are scheduled on 14 December, 18 December and 8 January.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 17:01 IST

70% polling in Maharashtra municipal council polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 70 per cent polling was reported in elections to 147 municipal councils and 17 nagar panchayats, which were held on Sunday in the backdrop of demonetization of higher value currency notes.The polls are being viewed as ‘mini’ Assembly elections and also a test for the Devendra Fadnavis’ government. This is for the first time that presidents of municipal councils will be elected directly by people. “Around 70 per cent voting was reported for the polls today,” State Election Commissioner, J S Saharia said. While ruling alliance partners, BJP and Shiv Sena had tied up for the polls, the opposition Congress and NCP didn’t formally announce any alliance.While BJP projected development as its main plank, during campaigns Fadnavis hailed the demonetization move a major attack on black money. On its part, the Congress, among other issues including development, had also highlighted the hardships being faced by the poor and common man due to demonetization. The voting which began at 7.30 AM and ended at 5.30 PM, witnessed sporadic incidents of group clashes, an official said.Voters of Raghuchiwadi village in Osmanabad district boycotted the election to protest against non-availability of basic amenities to the village, the official said.During polling for the Karad municipal council in Satara district, chairman of the Maharashtra State Cooperation Council, Shekhar Charegaonkar allegedly warned a woman police constable of suspension after she objected to him taking his vehicle near the polling booth. In Wardha district, Rs 3.5 lakh cash was seized from the vehicle of an NCP candidate. In Chandrapur district, an Independent candidate climbed atop a high power cable tower and tried to woo voters.In Parbhani district, three people were injured during quarrel between two groups, while polling for the Gangakged municipal council was on, police said. In Osmanabad district, police registered an offence under section 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC against 27 persons, after two policemen were injured in stone pelting near a police station during polling for the Murum municipal council. In Sangli district, a bandh call has been given for tomorrow after clashes between BJP and Congress activists during polling for the Tasgaon civic body. In coastal Ratnagiri district, more than 70 per cent voting was recorded. In Kolhapur district, more than 79 per cent voters exercised their franchise across nine municipalities. The polling percentage remained around 65 per cent across six municipal councils in Nashik district. According to police, in 41 cases during the campaign for the first phase of elections, Rs 26.04 crore cash was seized. As many as 15,827 candidates were in the fray for the 3,706 seats spread over the municipal councils and nagar panchayats, where the first phase of polling was held today.For the post of municipal council president in 147 places, there were 1,013 candidates in fray, Saharia said. Counting of votes will be taken up at 10 AM on Monday .In total, including today’s phase, elections are being held for 212 civic bodies, comprising municipal councils and nagar panchayats, in four phases. The next rounds of voting are scheduled on December 14, December 18, and January 8.

Mumbai remembers horrific 26/11 attack, pays homage to martyrs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the nation remembers the deadly 26/11 attack which enters into the eighth anniversary, the political fraternity thronged to the memorial to pay homage to the victims of the horrific terror attack.Floral tributes were paid to the martyrs who laid their lives while fighting terrorists who launched series of attacks at the southern Mumbai eight years ago.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was accompanied by Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao Police Commissioner Data Padsalgikar and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, paid visits to the 26/11 police memorial site at the Mumbai Police Gymkhana. “Paid humble tributes and salutes to the brave heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect several lives on 26/11 in Mumbai,” tweeted Fadnavis.”We remember and pay homage to all those who lost their lives in 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai and we resolve to fight Terror at every level,” tweeted Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh. Family members of the policemen, who lost their lives during the November 2008 attacks, were also present during the ceremony. Students of Mithibai College too organised a peace march to commemorate the memory of the martyrs of the 26/11 attack.On this day in 2008, 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists came to Mumbai via sea route from Pakistan and carried out series of coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across the city. The attacks lasted four days, killing 166 people and injuring over 300. Various events are today being organised in the business capital to pay tribute to the victims of 26/11.To pay tribute to the martyrs, Public Concern for Governance Trust(PCGT) an NGO, in association with the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), is organising an event, “Unity in diversity-together we remember 26/11”, at NCPA’s Jamshed Bhabha Theatre.

Tributes for Mumbai attack martyrs: Fadnavis, Thackeray, police chief Ribiero pay homage

Mumbai: Floral tributes were paid to those who laid down their lives while fighting terrorists who had attacked the metropolis on this day eight years ago. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saurday was among the dignitaries who paid homage at the 26/11 police memorial site at the Mumbai Police Gymkhana in south Mumbai.

“I pay homage to the brave policemen who fought for Mumbai’s safety and laid down their lives for us on 26/11. We are proud of them and we will strive hard for safety and security of our state,” Fadnavis said. “We will strengthen police force with better equipment. It is our priority,” he said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, former Mumbai police commissioners Julio Ribeiro, M N Singh and several senior present and former police officers were present. Maharashtra police chief Satish Mathur and Mumbai CP Datta Padsalgikar were away on official duty and could not attend the ceremony.

Family members of the policemen, who lost their lives during the November 2008 attacks, were also present during the ceremony. On 26 November, 2008, 10 Pakistani terrorists arrived by sea route and opened fire indiscriminately at people killing 166, including 18 security personnel, and injuring several others, besides damaging property worth crores.

The then ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Army Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Mumbai’s Additional Police Commissioner Ashok Kamte and Senior Police Inspector Vijay Salaskar were among those killed in the attack. The attack had begun on 26 November and lasted until 29 November. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, the Nariman House Jewish community centre were some of the places targeted by the terrorists. Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist who was captured alive. He was hanged four years later on 21 November, 2012.

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 11:05 IST

26/11 Mumbai attacks LIVE: Martyrs lost life to cowardice and terrorism, says VK Singh

Nov 26, 2016

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It has been eight years since 10 terrorists, trained in Pakistan, entered Mumbai and caused havoc across South Mumbai. The terrorists had entered into the heart of the financial capital of India marching unafraid with only one aim — to cause mayhem and death. At least 164 people were killed and 308 were injured. And they did so for three days, launching coordinated attacks that included hotels, a train station, a hospital and a Jewish community centre.

How it happened:

According to revelations made by Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley who turned approver in the case, 10 terrorists made two unsuccessful attempts to attack Mumbai before they landed on Mumbai shores on 26 November in 2008.

A file image of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during the 26/11 attacks. Courtesy: IBN

A file image of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during the 26/11 attacks. Courtesy: IBN

An India TV report offers a detailed account of how they reached Mumbai. According to the report, the terrorists set sail towards India on 23 November on a hijacked Indian trawler named the Kuber. Seven kilometres off Mumbai shores, the terrorists got on inflatable speedboats. Disguised as students, six of them got off at Macchimar Nagar, in Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade neighbourhood, while the rest four came ashore at Badhwar Park.

CST Station: The terrorists than headed to their respective targets, attacking anything that came their way. According to The Indian Express, four militants (one of them being Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist who was captured alive) started firing inside the CST station on the night of 26 November. “The attack had left 52 dead and injured over a 100 others. The firing ended at about 10:45 pm,” the report said.

Nariman House: Meanwhile, terrorists managed to enter Chabad House (a Jewish community centre) in Colaba. The militants exchanged fire for the next two days torturing the residents of the building. According to The Indian Express, which visited the site after the terrorists were killed, “the site resembled much like a global conflict zone. More than 30 grenades had been hurled. Small craters were all over the floor and bullet marks all across the walls. The stench of decomposed bodies was unbearable. The bodies of the two terrorists lay on the fourth floor.”

The Oberoi-Trident: The first victim to fall at the Oberoi-Trident attack was the gatekeeper of the Trident Hotel. According to reports, foreign nationals were the main target of the attack. By the end of the 40-hour seize, 143 hostages were rescued alive and 24 bodies were recovered.

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel: The burning dome of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel with dark smoke emanating from it has become one of the iconic images of the 26/11 attacks. The attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel made it clear that the terrorist knew about the place. This was further proven during the depositions by Headley, where he said that the terrorists had a mock of the hotel as well as GPS locations of their targets that he had provided. The terrorists were killed after 60 hours of fire exchange between them and the NSG commandos. Around 30 people died in the attack.

Leopold Cafe: On the evening of 26 November, two gunmen opened fire at Leopold Cafe, killing around 10 people and injuring many others.

Timed bombs: According to an India TV report, two taxis were also targeted in the city using time bombs — one at Vile Parle that killed a driver and a passenger and another at Wadi Bunder that killed three including the driver and injured 15.

Who was behind the attack:

Several investigations and statements given by Headley, have revealed that Hafiz Saeed, leader of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) was the mastermind behind the attacks. Headley also revealed the involvement of Pakistan’s Army and ISI. India has requested to name Saeed as a terrorist, a move which has been often blocked by China. Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist, caught alive was hanged after a special court found him guilty in November 2012. His hanging was carried out secretly by the Maharashtra government. According to reports, the government spent Rs 1.47 crore on Kasab when he was lodged at the Arthur Road jail for four years. Out of the total amount, Rs 1.46 crore was spent on security, Rs 39,000 on his medical expenses, Rs 42,000 on food and Rs 1,878 on clothes.

RPF continues to be ignored: The attacks highlighted how ill-prepared and ill-equipped Indian security forces were when it came to dealing with trained infiltrators like those who attacked Mumbai eight years ago. While frisking and metal detectors have become mandatory in all public places including railway and malls, and India now has its own elite force of commandos called Force One, the wait for a specialised commando training centre for the Railway Protection Force continues to be trapped in the files, reported DNA.

“The need for a commando training facility was felt after the nation was subjected to painful images of helplessness of RPF personnel during the 26/11 terror raid on Mumbai in 2008,” the report said, adding, “RPF constables, armed with British-vintage .303 rifles, first tried to ward off the two terrorists at CST that day. But when most of the British-vintage .303 rifles jammed, these personnel had little choice but to duck for cover from the assault rifle fire from the terrorists.”

According to the report, around Rs 26.70 crore was sanctioned and railway construction firm Ircon was appointed to construct a commando training facility for the RPF at Canning in the South Parganas district in West Bengal. But the plan was dropped in 2013 due to hassles in land acquisition.

Security remains a concern: However, security remains a major concern for India. This year alone we saw two attacks, one on an airport base and another in an army camp, both carried out by foreign militants.

Compensation not offered to the dead and their families: What is more saddening is that even after eight years, the Maharashtra state government has compensated only 102 families (of the 166 that died) with the Rs 3 lakh compensation that the government had promised, India Today reported.

That’s not all, though. The state government even failed to seek reports on victims who were not from the state of Maharashtra if they received the due compensation. The state has also not bothered to check whether or not kin of the officials from the police/NSG Commandos/Home Guard (it has no information on 15 officials) who died during the attacks received the promised compensation of Rs 25 lakhs.

According to Indian Express, the government has further stated that it is yet to receive information from embassies for disbursement of compensation to legal heirs of 26 foreigners who died in the attacks.

(With inputs from IANS)

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 10:13 IST

Maha civic polls: Caste tensions cause of worry for parties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ensuing elections to municipal councils and nagar panchayats across Maharashtra will be a major test for the two-year-old Devendra Fadnavis government, in the backdrop of caste polarisation triggered by campaigns of different communities, including influential Marathas in pursuance of their various demands.Political observers here are of the view that all parties may feel the heat of the Maratha campaign, pressing for reservations in jobs and education, and the counter movements by Dalits, OBCs and Muslims in the state.Even though these campaigns have so far refrained from targeting each other, undercurrents of caste tensions have been palpable, they point out. Some of them feel that the BJP-led government has not taken these morchas seriously and made efforts to defuse the caste tensions slowly building up. There is a distinct possibility that voters around the state, especially in rural areas, will take the civic polls as a referendum on the performance of the Fadnavis regime, they said.Law and order issue, spurt in crime against women and farmers’ distress and suicides are also to figure prominently in the elections, they said.The government is yet to declare Minimum Support Price for soyabean, cotton, paddy, sugarcane and has not taken a decision on starting procurement centres, they observed. While ruling partners BJP and Shiv Sena have struck a deal to contest the polls together, the Congress and NCP, who control majority of municipal bodies, have left the decision of alliance to their local leadership. NCP has 1,300 seats while Congress 1,293. BJP has 437, Sena 454 and MNS 61. There are over 400 independents as well.Dismissing suggestion that the Maratha campaign could hit the BJP, party spokesman Madhav Bhandari said Congress and NCP are to be blamed for the caste polarisation. “Maratha leadership of both these parties have ruled the state throughout. They did nothing for uplift of the community. It is only after Devendra Fadnavis became CM, the community feels it is backward,” he said.”If large morchas are taken out by the dominant community, naturally the non-Marathas will get insecure and the marches organised by them are a result of this insecurity,” Bhandari said.

Maharashtra governor empowers tribal mothers, kids with right to ‘nutritious food’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Devendra Fadnavis government is chalking out its strategies to get to the root cause of the severe malnutrition leading to high child mortality in the tribal area extended across 15 districts of Maharashtra, the governor of the state has initiated a crucial measure to empower tribal women and kids with the right to “nutritious food”.Governor of Maharashtra C Vidyasagar Rao, using his special powers, granted under Schedule 5 of the Constitution, has amended the National Food Security Act, 2013 for the Scheduled Areas of the state, replacing the word ‘Take Home Ration’ with ‘Hot Cooked Meal, including eggs’.The Amendment notified on November 5, 2016, makes a provision that along with the “hot cooked meal”, eggs shall be provided to children (aged 7 months to 6 years) in anganwadis in the Scheduled Areas of Maharashtra, at least 4 times a week. It further mandates that suitable alternatives may be provided to children who may not prefer eggs.
ALSO READ Tribal Development Dept: Rs 5,000 crore allocation, no accountabilityThe notification further states that the state government shall make adequate financial provisions to meet the additional expenditure to be incurred in scheduled areas while providing hot cooked meal to lactating and pregnant women. The government has already been running the APJ Abdul Kalam Amrut Ahar Yojana of “one hot cooked meal a day” for pregnant and lactating women since last year, which was extended to children in the age group of 7 months to 6 years recently.
ALSO READ 1077 kids died in Maharashtra’s tribal schools in 15 years, cause of death ‘unknown’ for 2/3 cases: Report“The Governor had further felt that the above schemes may be converted into rights-based entitlements to the above said beneficiary groups so that there shall be continuity and effectiveness in the implementation of these schemes which aim at improving the nutritional status of the beneficiaries,” reads a press communiqué of the Raj Bhavan.The FSA permits states to amend the Act to formulate other welfare schemes for higher benefits. The move aims to provide curb malnutrition, stunting, ill-health and child mortality, most common in tribal areas due to poverty and lack of livelihood resources. In Palghar district alone, which is barely 50 km from Mumbai, 124 kids have died of malnutrition between April and August of this. Over 600 kids were feared dead across Maharashtra in the same period due to malnutrition.
ALSO READ Palghar kids death: Human rights panel issues notice to stateIn a series of reports, DNA had highlighted the issue in the month of September, prompting even the National Human Rights Commission, the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court to come down heavily on the Fadnavis government. Tribals constitute nearly 9% of Maharashtra’s population.Eggs are considered the most natural and cost-effective nutritious food. One egg contains six grams of high-quality protein (build and repair body tissue, helps fight infections) and all nine essential amino acids that are considered as building blocks of the body. Eggs are an excellent source of iron (prevents anaemia), calcium (needed for bones, teeth development), selenium (anti-oxidant which prevents degeneration of tissues), and a good source of vitamin A (needed for good skin and prevent night blindness), D (needed for bone development), E (anti-oxidant), B12 (for healthy blood and nerve cells) and other crucial nutrients needed for the proper development of a growing child.

Tribal schools conduct pregnancy tests to curb sexual assault: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A report revealed that Maharashtra’s tribal residential schools, called ashramshalas, not only keep menstrual records of girls but also direct them to undergo urine tests if “dates are missed” to rule out pregnancy.Unfortunately, neither menstrual record nor pregnancy test can rule out sexual assault and exploitation.These startling revelations are part of the Dr Salunke committee report submitted to Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao over two weeks ago. Constituted by the Devendra Fadnavis government, following a lot of mysterious deaths in ashramshalas, the committee had expressed its fears that sexual assault and exploitation might have contributed to such a large number of death. Statistics show that there have been 1,077 deaths in ashramshalas, including 31 suicides, over the last decade. In 67% cases, the cause of death has been either missing or vague.On Friday, DNA spoke to three tribal school principals. All three confirmed that all students of menstruating age, who go home on vacation or even for two days, have to produce a medical certificate declaring “absence of pregnancy” when they return to the ashramshalas. “This is a common practice followed by almost every ashram school in Maharashtra,” a tribal school principal from Nandurbar said.Principals also said that if the girls residing in hostels miss their periods by 3-4 days, they are sent to a primary health centre for a medical check-up. “This primarily means a pregnancy test,” admits a principal from an ashramshala in Nashik district.When asked whether rules allow pregnancy test or mandate medical certificates after every vacation, principals claimed they are clueless but have been doing it for decades. “While most schools accept that they follow these practices, none could provide any document at the of inspection,” Dr Salunke said.”Urine pregnancy test and menstrual records are not the best response to sexual harassment. Pregnancy tests can also be an irritant for positive gender development and should not be undertaken without parental consent and proper counselling,” says the report.The report urged principals and the state administration to focus on the unsafe conditions of tribal schools. Taking serious cognisance of committee’s findings, the Governor has directed the Fadnavis government to take immediate steps to stop sexual assault and harassment of girls in tribal schools. He has also stipulated a three-week deadline for review.

BMC polls: Political leverage over Chhat festival to gather votes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With an eye on north Indian votes in the megalopolis which can tilt scales in upcoming high-stakes BMC polls, various political parties are trying to leverage the forthcoming Chhat festival, mainly celebrated by people from Bihar.While city unit of ruling BJP has organised Chhat puja at various places, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which thrives on the sons-of-soil agenda, feels the saffron party was trying to “woo” outsiders ahead of BMC polls through the festival.Country’s richest civic body the Brihanumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been ruled by Sena, with BJP as a junior partner. The 2017 BMC polls are crucial for Sena, which is facing aggressive BJP on its home turf.Mumbai BJP is actively involved in organising Chhat Puja at around a dozen locations including popular Juhu beach. “BJP is holding Chhat puja to attract ‘outsiders'”, an MNS leader said, in a veiled reference to north Indian voters in Mumbai.Chhat is performed in order to thank the Sun god for sustaining life on earth. The festival is mainly celebrated in Bihar, eastern UP and Jharkhand. City unit Congress president Sanjay Nirupam has said that “BJP only celebrates Chhat Puja when there is an election round the corner.”Nirupam, who originally hails from Bihar, today asked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to ensure that BJP does not politicise Chhat ahead of the BMC polls.”BJP is known to use religious rituals for political gains. I have been organising Chhath puja celebrations at Juhu beach for the last 18 years. As per the High Court guidelines, the celebrations should not take place under the banner of any political party and party flags should not be displayed at the venue,” Nirupam stated in a letter to Fadnavis on Friday.On Thursday, a delegation of some BJP leaders called on the CM and sought assistance of state government for celebrating Chhat puja at sea fronts in different parts of city on November 6. Shiv Sena, known for its aggressive ‘bhumiputra’ stance, said Chhat events are being organised with an eye on BMC polls and that they are a show of “political affection to people”.”Sena is not concerned about which party is doing what. Entire country knows Sena for its unwavering stand on Hindutva. It’s only Sena which never backtracked from its stand and even Biharis know that. All these events are being held in view of BMC polls, but it’s true love and affection that people require. People are fed up with political affection towards them,” said local Sena MP Arvind Sawant.

Mumbai: Congress turns party pooper, demands Coldplay concert be postponed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opposition Congress and NCP in Maharashtra alleged on Thursday that BJP-led state government was trying to derive a political mileage ahead of local bodies polls from forthcoming concert of British rock band Coldplay. Congress Mumbai unit president Sanjay Nirupam called upon State Election Commissioner JS Saharia and demanded that the concert either be postponed in the view of the election code of conduct being in force or given permission after the poll process is completed.He pointed out to Saharia that the state government is a strategic partner in the event, to be held at MMRDA ground in suburban Mumbai on November 19. The BJP has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the gig. “The election code of conduct is in force in most of the state as polls to municipal councils and nagar panchayats will be held in four phases starting later this month. “The government is an active participant and has invested in the event. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has issued invitations for the event and the Global Citizen India website also mentions Maharashtra government as a strategic partner,” Nirupam stated in a memorandum.He alleged that Fadnavis, who heads Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), has granted 75% concession for the gig for use of its ground in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) without any policy decision. “Entertainment tax has also been waived,” the Congress leader said. He said the government was investing in such events to “influence voters” during election time. “The government is likely to use the event as a political platform ahead of the elections,” Nirupam said.He recalled how the then Sena-BJP government had “wasted taxpayers’ money in a similar fashion for organising pop legend Michael Jackson’s show in Mumbai in the 1990s”. Nirupam urged the Election Commission to check if the concessions to the event were given by state government before the poll code came into force. “The Coldplay event (should) either be postponed in view of the election code of conduct or given permission after the election process is completed.”Otherwise, the Commission should ensure that there are no political speeches and that political leaders are not present on the dais,” he demanded. Echoing Congress’ views, NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said the NDA government was planning to use the event for launching the BJP’s campaign for Brihanmumbai Municipal Council (BMC) polls, due early next year, by inviting the PM. “Concessions being given by MMRDA for the event should be withdrawn since it (grating the concessions) was not a policy decision,” he said.

Maharashtra to become first state to launch cyber police stations in all districts

Mumbai: Maharashtra is converting 42 state-of-the-art cyber crime labs into cyber police stations, as part of the BJP-led government’s strategy to take on cyber criminals.

“Maharashtra is the first state in the country which will have a cyber police station in each district simultaneously,” a top Home Department official told PTI.

Cyber crime in Maharashtra has risen by a whopping 142.1 percent in the last few years, the official said.

These cyber police stations will also be set up at police commissionerate and Range IG offices.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTIMaharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. File photo. PTI

The Devendra Fadnavis-led government, which completed two years recently, will soon issue a notification in this regard, the senior IPS official said.

Fadnavis had inaugurated 34 well-equipped cyber labs in all districts, on the Independence Day this year.

The state government’s cyber crime wing is setting up 51 cyber crime labs in Maharashtra. These include the 34 labs at the district level, seven at Inspector General’s offices, nine at Commissioner of Police offices and one lab at the state police headquarters, the official said.

Maharashtra is facing increased cyber crime cases in tier-II cities and also in rural areas, the official said. Many such cases remain pending for investigation and the new initiative will take care of this shortcoming, he said.

For the normal local police stations, tackling cyber crimes is a daunting task owing to lack of proper training and technical knowledge. However, the cyber labs come with trained manpower and modern equipment to deal with the new-age crimes in the cyber world, the official said.

With this new initiative, any offence related to cyber crime will be registered in these police stations at the district level. Additional cyber police stations will also be set up in some cities, the official said.

While 907 cases of cyber crime were registered in 2013, as many as 2,195 such cases were filed in 2015. There was conviction in just five of the 4,981 cases filed in three years, the official added.

Rakesh Maria had said that Peter Mukherjee was not guilty: Maha CM Fadnavis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant revelation in the wake of CBI questioning the senior IPS officer Rakesh Maria in the Sheena Bora murder case, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, on Saturday, said the former Mumbai police commissioner had stated that the media baron Peter Mukerjea was not guilty.Maria was shunted out as Mumbai police chief last year in the middle of Sheena murder probe which he was supervising personally. It was speculated that the government was not happy that he was taking so much interest in the case. CBI later took over the case and arrested Peter Mukerjea. According to the charge sheets filed in the case, Peter’s wife Indrani Mukerjea, her former spouse Sanjeev Khanna and her ex-driver Shyamvar Rai strangled Sheena, her daughter from another relationship, in April 2012. All three were arrested by police; Peter was arrested by CBI later. “During a police briefing, Maria came to us and said Peter is not guilty. And now we find CBI has made him an accused.CBI is investigating on the lines that Peter is part of the conspiracy,” Fadnavis, who handles the home portfolio himself, said. “It is something to think about as to how a police officer who was deeply involved in the case thought this way,” Fadnavis said, speaking to reporters at his official residence ‘Varsha’ here. CBI earlier this week questioned Maria, now Maharashtra’s Director General (Home Guards); Deven Bharti, Joint Commissioner (Law and Order); and Satya Narayan Choudhary, Deputy Commissioner of Police, because they were part of the initial probe team.

Farhan Akhtar after Karan Johar: The MNS challenge gets bigger for Fadnavis govt

Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has received good audience response on the first day of its release, and there’s a message in it for the patriots of the gutter variety. In fact, it is the second tight slap on the face of the latter after the Army refused Rs 5 crore donation extracted from Johar for having Pakistani actors in his movie and senior ministers slamming such extortionist tactic. Now the audience has delivered their response.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTIMaharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

The movie, according to media reports, has done about Rs 18 crore business in the domestic circuit on day one – combined with overseas collection total earnings come to about Rs 22.5 crore. This despite another biggie, Ajay Devgn-starred Shivaay, being in the race for the Diwali audience. The rather impressive advance bookings in multiplexes reflect no collective faux patriotism-driven ill-will against the movie, which has Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in it.

The message? Leave it to people to decide what they want to watch or read or enjoy. They understand what patriotism is; don’t force on them your version of it. They are intelligent enough — at least more intelligent than the street thugs — to understand that the mere presence of an actor from a hostile country in a film does not constitute an offence to India. They also know the idea of patriotism is too precious to be left to the interpretation of the street and idiots. If they find something repulsive to their sentiments they would reject it on their own.

Political parties in India have always treated the power of the street with the certain degree of reverence, at the cost of civil liberties of the ordinary citizenry. Governments could act against the outfits threatening violence if they wanted. After all, the might of the state is too big for the lumpen elements to handle, never mind whether they carry any political weight. But they desist from taking action; more often than not it’s sheer opportunism. If there’s a ‘cause’ on display on the streets their resistance gets weaker. All this is well-known and need no elaboration.

The point here is where does it leave the rights of individuals as citizens of the country? The instruments of the state in cahoots with criminal forces can make a mess of these. As an expose in a television channel a couple days ago said some members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have been in the practice of taking money to engineer protests, including violent ones, in the city. With the police ‘managed’ they can organise protests of any size and intensity. Those caught on camera were also aware of making the manufactured agitation television worthy. Obviously, all of this happens in the knowledge, if not patronage, of the state.

Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister in Nazi Germany, believed in the power of the street. “Whoever can conquer the street will one day conquer the state, for every form of power politics has its roots in the street,” he said. Our governments, it includes those of all parties, obviously carry the same conviction but won’t spell it out openly. Such an arrangement has to come at the cost of those who cannot fight back. It includes all of us who have other interests in life than the politics of power. It chips away at our freedom to live freely in a free country.

As this piece is being written there’s news that filmmaker-actor and the maker of film Raees Farhan Akhtar has been threatened by the MNS for refusing to pay Rs 5 crore to the Army Welfare Fund. Obviously, nothing has changed on the ground after the controversy over Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. The slaps from the audience and the Army have not worked.

The Devendra Fadnavis government has a challenge on its hands. Tackling the MNS for the second time will require the will of the state more than its might. Will it allow people to decide on the movie and come down hard on street power? Let’s wait and watch.

Ban on Pakistani artists: Congress hits out at Naidu; says Centre lacks courage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday lambasted Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu for his remarks on ban on Pakistani artistes, and alleged the Centre lacked courage and patience.”Venkaiah Naidu’s statement is double-edged; on one end, he wants the producers to solve the matter, while on the other end, as a government, he doesn’t want to ban the Pakistani artistes performing in India. His stand should be fixed. He should say that as a government they will not tolerate such extremity,” he said.”Chief Minister is doing settlement of Rs 5 crore with MNS and the money would be submitted to army relief fund. They don’t have any commitment for the nation as they say, but don’t act,” he added.
ALSO READ ADHM row: Venkaiah Naidu says MNS demand for Rs 5 crore is ‘wrong’Kharge alleged that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is under the control of the BJP and the RSS, who can direct give directions to him on how he should act on MNS filmmakers’ deal. “Either they lack courage or patience. They should make their stand clear and what to be done for nation’s benefit,” Kharge said.Naidu on Tuesday said the government does not subscribe to the “wrong proposal” of MNS leader Raj Thackeray asking filmmakers to donate Rs 5 crore to the army for casting Pakistani actors.
ALSO READ No restrictions imposed on Pakistani artistes working in India, says govtThe Government has not imposed any restrictions on the Pakistani artistes working in India, but filmmakers should respect the sentiments of people while engaging them, said Naidu.He also felt that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who had mediated between the producers of Ae Dil Hai Muskhil and MNS, did no wrong or had any role in asking the producers to pay Rs 5 crore to army welfare fund.In principle, Naidu said he is not in favour of imposing any ban on artistes from other countries to work in India but at a time when “a proxy war” was going on with the neighbouring country, filmmakers should keep the situation in mind.

There is no govt restriction on Pakistani artistes: Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi: Government has not imposed any restrictions on Pakistani artistes working in India but filmmakers should respect the sentiments of people while engaging them, said Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.

M Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

M Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

He also felt that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who had mediated between the producers of Ae Dil Hai Muskhil and MNS, did no wrong or had any role in asking the producers to pay Rs 5 crore to army welfare fund.

In principle, Naidu said he is not in favour of imposing any ban on artistes from other countries to work in India but at a time when “a proxy war” was going on with the neighbouring country, filmmakers should keep the situation in mind.

“People say art has no boundaries. Yes, art has no boundaries but countries have boundaries. That has to be kept in mind,” Naidu told PTI.

He said that artistes also have responsibility that they do not hurt sentiments of people.

“You have to understand the situation in mind. In normal times, yes.”

“But in a situation where there is practically a proxy war going on and your neighbour is provoking you by encouraging and funding terrorists on a regular basis and killing thousands of people and your jawans, in such a situation if you engage in a debate that art is our right, then that will upset people. But government has not imposed restrictions on anyone.”

Naidu felt it was the “correct” thing on Fadnavis’ part to defuse the Ae Dil hai Mushkil release row after Producers Guild approached the Chief Minister in the wake of threats from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

“Devendra Fadnavis has done the correct thing, right thing. He is responsible for law and order situation in the state. So, he worked for resolving the issue amicably.”

Naidu said Fadnavis told him in clear terms that he had not given his consent to the producers contributing to the army fund.

“Fadnavis is not part of it… it is against the ethos, against the principles of the government (to seek funds in this manner),” the Minister said, disapproving the Raj Thackeray-led MNS’s demand that the producers contribute to the fund.

Dismissing the Congress’ demand for the resignation of Fadnavis alleging that he had helped in “extortion” from the film industry, Naidu took a dig at the party saying there is “no lack” of demands on its part.

While Congress had demanded the resignation of Fadnavis, the CPI(M) had also accused him of “facilitating extortion” while resolving the row.

The Left party had asked Centre to take “serious note” of Fadnavis, who is also the Home Minister of Maharashtra, of not upholding his Constitutional duty as the Chief Minister by taking action against those who threatened to disrupt release of the film.

Asked about the industry’s complaint that it was a “soft target”, he shot back, “What is soft target? They are powerful and they have more voices. I don’t think they are soft target. People have a right to protest but it’s the responsibility of the local authority to maintain law and order.”

The film was embroiled in a controversy recently after the MNS opposed the screening of movies featuring Pakistani actors in the wake of Uri terror attack.

The movie, featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, will release on 28 October, just two days before Diwali.

ADHM row: Venkaiah Naidu says MNS demand for Rs 5 crore is ‘wrong’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday termed as “wrong” the MNS demand of Rs 5 crore from film director Karan Johar for resolving the controversy over his movie ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ (ADHM) and said the government had nothing to do with it. “That was a wrong proposal. We don’t agree with their proposal. The Maharashtra Chief Minister has also clarified that he was not a part of the proposal that was made by some other party…,” Naidu told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Delhi.Stressing that the matter was between “some party” and the “producer”, he said the government do not “subscribe to that thinking at all and has no role to play”. The minister was reacting to Raj Thackeray-led MNS asking Johar to donate Rs 5 crore to the army for casting Pakistani actor in his movie ADHM.He also underscored that it was the state government’s duty to provide security as the law and order was a state subject. Maharashtra Chief Minister Fadnavis has taken the initiative to amicably resolve the problem through discussion, he added.The government wants good relations with all including the neighbours but the “neighbour too has to behave like a good neighbour,” he said while hitting out at Pakistan without naming it. “Aiding, abetting, funding and training terrorists is not acceptable at all. They want to subvert the country. Why are you doing this? This will be ruinous for you also. Let us join together…why this kind of activity? Terrorism is the enemy of humanity,” Naidu said.

ADHM row: Had opposed MNS’ demand of Rs 5 crore for Army fund, says Maha CM Fadnavis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing heat over “brokering” a deal between producers of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis maintained that he had opposed the offer of Rs 5 crore contribution from the film makers to the Army welfare fund. Fadnavis, however, defended his intervention to resolve the issue, saying democratic governments at times would even talk to separatists and left ultras for the sake of peace.Karan Johar’s film faced protests by MNS workers for casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. The film’s smooth release, later this week, was ensured at a meeting of Film Producers’ Guild, producers and MNS leader Raj Thackeray, mediated by Fadnavis last week. A key demand conceded at the meeting was Rs 5 crore contribution from makers for the army welfare, which sparked strong reactions from opposition parties and some army veterans.”Thackeray had put three demands, out of which there was no objections to the other two. When the issue of Rs 5 crore came up, I intervened and made it clear to the Film Producers’ Guild that they need not have to agree to it. I also told them that the contribution has to be made voluntarily. However, it was producers’ decision to accept it,” Fadnavis said on Monday evening at his residence ‘Varsha’.”I categorically told that although it is nice that the Guild has decided to stand by the families of our martyrs but it is not a compulsion. Still if they wish to do, they may contribute whatever amount they feel (is) appropriate. This figure of (Rs) 5 crore came from MNS but was not agreed in the meeting and turned down then and there only,” he said.Asked about the opposition allegations of “brokering” the deal shirking his prime duty of ensuring land and order, he said, “Another choice was deploying thousands of police staff outside theatres (when film releases). I would then face allegations like I have spoiled Diwali holiday of police staff. Issues should be solved by talking, and we are a democratic government,” he said.Before the intervention, Mumbai Police had arrested MNS activists who demonstrated over the issue, hence there should not be any doubts about the government’s intentions. Some even called that the government is playing both sides, which is not true, he added.Apart from the opposition, ruling partner Shiv Sena has slammed Fadnavis’s intervention in the matter and had termed it as an act of “siding with Pakistani personalities.”On this, the CM said, “Did our governments not talk with separatists like Hurriyat (Conference) or negotiate with Naxal groups for peace? Then holding discussions with a political party, though this is a comparatively a minor issue, should not be criticised so bitterly. I think, successful mediation has disappointed some people,” he said.He also refuted charges of going soft on MNS and emphasised that there was “no political motive” behind such negotiations.

ADHM row: Had opposed MNS’s Rs 5 crore demand right there in meeting, says Fadnavis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under fire over “brokering” a deal between producers of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has maintained that he had opposed the offer of Rs 5 crore contribution from makers to the Army welfare fund.Karan Johar’s film faced protests by MNS workers for casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Film’s smooth release, scheduled to open on October 28, was ensured at a meeting Film Producers’ Guild, producers and MNS Thackeray, mediated by Fadnavis last week. A key demand conceded in the meeting was Rs 5 crore contribution from makers for the army welfare.”Thackeray had put three demands, out of which there was no objections to the other two. When the issue of Rs 5 crore came up, I intervened and made it clear to the Film Producers’ Guild that they need not have to agree to it. I also told them that the contribution has to be made voluntarily. However, it was producers’ decision to accept it,” Fadnavis said last evening at his residence ‘Varsha’.”I categorically told that although it is nice that the Guild has decided to stand by the families of our martyrs but it is not a compulsion. Still if they wish to do, they may contribute whatever amount they feel (is) appropriate. This figure of (Rs) 5 crore came from MNS but was not agreed in the meeting and turned down then and there only,” he said.When asked about allegations of “brokering” the deal, Fadnavis said, “Another choice was deploying thousands of police staff outside theatres (when film releases). I would then faced allegations like I have spoiled Diwali holiday mood of police staff. Issues should be solved by talking, and we are a democratic government,” he said.Before intervention, Mumbai Police had already arrested MNS activists, hence there should not be any doubts about government’s intentions. Some even called that state government is playing both sides, which is not true, he added.BJP’s ally Shiv Sena has slammed the CM’s intervention in the matter and had termed Fadnavis’s act as “siding with Pakistani personalities.”On this, the CM said, “Did our governments not talk with separatists like Hurriyat (Conference) or negotiate with Naxal groups for peace? Then holding discussions with a political party, though this is comparatively a minor one (issue), should not be criticised so bitterly. I think, successful mediation has disappointed some people,” he said.He also refuted charges of going soft on MNS and emphasised that there was “no political motive” behind such negotiations.

Glad Karan Johar’s film is out of ‘mushkil’, says Pak envoy Abdul Basit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ finally being cleared for release after the movie underwent a massive onslaught for having Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in it, Islamabad envoy Abdul Basit on Monday said that he was glad the movie was out of hot waters.Speaking here at the Institute of Peace and Conflict, the Pakistani envoy made a pun saying, ‘Glad to know Karan Johar’s film is out of ‘mushkil’,” and wished the audience a happy Diwali.Asserting that Pakistan has never tried to snap cultural relations with India, Basit further said that artistes from his country have been facing a range of issues in India.He also said that for more than a decade, Pakistani has been enjoying Indian entertainment channels like Zee and Star.Talking about the ban on Indian channels, he added, ‘I just think this is short lived.’On October 1st, two days after India’s movie industry body banned Pakistani artists and technicians from working in India, Islamabad banned the broadcast of all Indian television channels in Pakistan.Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said strict action would be taken if TV channels and distribution networks failed to implement the ban after October 15. It said it has been receiving complaints that several local private channels were showing Indian talk shows, reality programmes and dramas without permission.Earlier, decks were cleared for the release of ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ on Saturday after a meeting of film producer Karan Johar with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and MNS chief Raj Thackeray in Mumbai.”Every producer who has cast a Pakistani actor must contribute Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund,” MNS chief Raj Thackeray said after the meeting.Thackeray further said that producers will have to give in writing that they will not take Pakistani actors in their films in future.Speaking to the reporters after the meeting, Mukesh Bhatt said that it was “positive and constructive and ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ will release as per the schedule.””We discussed the unfortunate events related to the film’s release. I shared the film industry’s emotions regarding the entire issue. We are Indians first and then comes our business,” he said.Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma who are starring in the film, will also contribute a portion of its revenue to the Army welfare fund, Bhatt said, adding “We owe this to the Army.”Bhatt also said that they have assured Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that neither the Producers’ Guild nor any filmmaker will work with any Pakistani artiste or technician in the future.Also, the Producers’ Guild will call a meeting to pass a resolution on not working with Pakistani artists and a copy of the same would be sent to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry as well as the chief minister, he said.However, taking on his cousin and Raj Thackeray for asking filmmakers to donate Rs 5 crore to the Army, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said the Indian armed forces do not need ransom money.

BJP will ruin country: Kejriwal on Fadnavis’ role in ADHM row

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday lashed out at the BJP over his Maharashtra counterpart Devendra Fadnavis’ role in mediating talks between the MNS and fimmakers in ensuring release of ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. “BJP will ruin the country,” Kejriwal tweeted, agreeing to another post that described the solutions arrived at as “extortionist”. MNS chief Raj Thackeray has faced flak from various quarters, including the Army, over his conditions that filmmakers who worked with Pakistani actors have to comply with including a contribution of Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund. Fadnavis has also been facing criticism from the Opposition parties for “bowing” to the highhanded tactics of the MNS and “failing” to ensure rule of law in Maharashtra. Under pressure from political and other outfits, Bollywood film producers had yesterday announced that they will not engage with Pakistani artistes, clearing decks for the smooth release of Karan Johar’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”.MNS had threatened to disrupt the screening of the film as it features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Johar has agreed to put a special mention in the beginning of the film paying homage to martyrs, a move to assuage sentiments in the country triggered by the terror attack on an army base in Uri that claimed the lives of 19 security personnel. Thackeray said MNS laid down three conditions that filmmakers who worked with Pakistani actors have to comply with. These include a contribution of Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund.

Bollywood ‘buys’ peace with MNS; party agrees to releasing ADHM, but with three riders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bollywood seems to have bought peace with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray. Decks were cleared for the release of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, after a deal was brokered between Thackeray, the Producers’ Guild and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday.Thackeray declared that the Guild had agreed that Pakistani actors won’t be cast in Indian films any more. It was also agreed that producers who have already cast Pakistani actors will pay Rs 5 crore to the Army Welfare Fund and a special mention in the beginning of the film paying homage to the martyrs killed in the Uri attack. He was quick to add that the public themselves won’t go to watch movie with Pakistani actors.MNS had threatened to disrupt the screening of the film as it features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Film and TV Producers Guild of India President Mukesh Bhatt told reporters that the meeting was “positive and constructive and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil will release as per schedule”.”We discussed the unfortunate events related to the film’s release. I shared the film industry’s emotions. We are Indians first and our business comes later,” he said.The Guild will call a meeting to pass a resolution on not working with Pakistani artistes. A copy of the same would be sent to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry as well as the Chief Minister, he said.The makers of the film, slated to release on October 28, with Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma in the lead roles, will also contribute a portion of its revenue to the Army Welfare Fund as demanded by MNS.Soon after the ‘deal’ was made public, there was outrage in the social over the ‘extortion’. Questions were also raised about the Chief Minister’s role in ‘buying peace’, pointing that as head of state, it was his duty to ensure that threats were dealt with a firm hand. In a similar case, the Ashok Chavan-led Congress government had dealt with the Shiv Sena in a stern manner when it had resisted the release of Johar’s My Name Is Khan in 2010.Political observers pointed out that by ‘accommodating’ the MNS, Fadnavis is sending a subtle message to the Sena, the BJP’s alliance partner in the state, both of which are at loggerheads. Speculations are rife that they may not join hands for the upcoming Mumbai civic elections. The Sena is also trying to get back at the BJP by strengthening the hands of Subhash Velingkar, a rebel RSS leader from Goa, who has vowed to hand defeat to the BJP in Goa.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: Raj Thackeray ‘raising’ money from film producers for army is dubious patriotism

From making Marathis fight against Biharis, bullying actors, writers, and artistes, digging cricket pitches to turning into a self-anointed fundraiser for the Indian Army, Raj Thackeray has indeed come a long way.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Raj Thackeray. APMaharashtra Navnirman Sena Raj Thackeray. AP

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Raj Thackeray. AP

From a patriotic Marathi manus fighting against immigrants, taxi drivers, and daily-wage earners, Thackeray has made the ultimate transition a modern Indian deshbhakt dreams of: He has put the gun to the film industry’s head for the Indian Army; become a real Sainik for the real Sena.

If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, extortion in the name of the Army must be its defining trait. Thackeray’s Money Navnirman Sena (MNS) has just proved it.

On Saturday, after a meeting with the democratically-elected chief minister of Maharashtra, the leader of the party with just one legislator in the 288-member Assembly, agreed to allow the screening of Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

It says a lot about the clout of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis when he has to seek the approval of MNS, a party that was dumped by people with just three percent votes in the Assembly polls, for allowing the screening of a film cleared by every legitimate Indian institution. Raj Thackeray, it is evident, is the de-facto extra-constitutional Boss of the state and Fadnavis has been chosen just to act as an interlocutor between the MNS and the people it bullies.

Fadnavis has not only been forced to keep Thackeray in good humour but also been arm twisted into letting Thackeray set conditions for the film’s release. According to reports, Thackeray has insisted that producers of films that have Pakistani actors in the star cast will donate “Rs 5 crore” to the Army’s fund as penalty for working with the enemy and run an ode to our security forces at the start of the film. The MNS chief, after imposing a penitence penalty on Johar, also hoped that Indians would boycott the film.

Only Thackeray can answer how he arrived at the deshbhakti cess for the Army. If Thackeray’s logic that having Pakistani actors in a film insults our soldiers, is Rs 5 crore then the price of getting away with it? Once Johar pays that price, will the audience — the ones who watch Ae Dil Hai Mushkil in theatres instead of downloading pirated versions — be relieved of their moral burden and allowed to gleefully dance to the tune of the Breakup song, aware that the deshbhakti cess paid from the sale of tickets mitigates the pain of Uri? Almost like what we Indians habitually do: Offer a gift to God to seek pardon for a sin!

By any chance, did Thackeray, being such a fan of Bollywood, get inspired by Yash Chopra’s Lamhe? In that film, when Anil Kapoor is asked to pay a lakh for slapping Sridevi’s cousin over a property dispute, he hits them again five times and throws a few more bundles of money at them. Everything has a price, no?

Filmi comparisons apart, the serious question here is this: Is the Army willing to allow Thackeray and his party extract money in its name? If that be the case, will it legitimate henceforth for anybody to act as a fund-raiser for our soldiers by bullying businesses and businessmen? And since the deal was reportedly brokered in the presence of the Maharashtra CM, will our governments now get involved in such extra-constitutional deals?

If yes, we should be grateful to Fawad Khan and other Pakistani artistes. They have helped us figure out how to turn patriotism into a profitable enterprise.

ADHM row: MNS ends protests against film after producers meet Thackeray’s 3 demands

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which staged high-voltage protests against the release of Karan Johar’s movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, on Saturday withdrew its agitation after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis mediated talks between the MNS chief and the filmmakers here. The move to officially call off the protests came after Johar, Producers’ Guild President Mukesh Bhatt and Thackeray met the Chief Minister at his residence ‘Varsha’ in the morning.Thackeray said MNS laid down three conditions that filmmakers who worked with Pakistani actors have to comply with. These include a contribution of Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund. The Producers’ Guild has agreed to the demand, Bhatt said after the meeting.Speaking to reporters, Thackeray said, “I am told that all the three demands of MNS have been accepted by the producers. Before the beginning of the movie, a tribute should be offered at every screening to the jawans who were martyred in various terror strikes including recent Uri and Pathankot attacks. The producers should also put a blanket ban on Pakistani artistes, singers and technicians henceforth. Every producer, who has so far casted Pakistani actors, should give Rs 5 crore to the Army welfare fund as an atonement. The producers should handover the cheque to the Defence Minister and make the photo public.”
ALSO READ ADHM row: MNS claims ‘victory’, film producers give in to Raj Thackeray’s 3 demandsEarlier too, Johar had assured that a portion of the earning from ADHM would go for the welfare of the family members of the jawans killed in the Uri attack. Thackeray also sought to know why our film industry is entertaining Pakistani artistes in an atmosphere of conflict. “The Pakistan government flatly bans broadcasting of Indian news and entertainment channels without any valid reasons. In such a situation, I do not find (a reason) why we should entertain their artistes here,” Thackeray said. MNS had been vociferously demanding a ban on Pakistani actors and artistes in the Indian film industry after the Uri terror attack, which claimed the lives of 19 soldiers. It vehemently opposed the release of the upcoming movie as Pakistani actor Fawad Khan features in it in a cameo. The party’s continued protests here led to the arrest of 12 of its activists. It also found support from several quarters of the society including some nationalist groups.
ALSO READ Aamir Khan, Zoya Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, who said what on ADHM row and Indo-Pak tensionThough MNS’ agitation was restricted to screening of the movie in Mumbai and other major cities in the state, the party’s stand could have incurred huge losses to makers in the country’s entertainment capital, with a huge network of multiplexes, prompting them to approach Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Fadnavis, seeking smooth release for the movie, slated to hit theaters on October 28.

ADHM row: Karan Johar, Raj Thackeray meet CM Fadnavis; film to show tribute to martyrs before screening

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray and filmmakers Karan Johar and Mukesh Bhatt met with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday morning to discuss the row over the release of Johar’s latest film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Johar’s multi- starrer film has been at the centre of a controversy since the Uri terror attack last month. In the aftermath of the terror strike, various sectors demanded a ban on Pakistani artistes from the film industry.The MNS had objected to Indian films featuring Pakistani actors and had threatened to stop the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil which features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a cameo.In the meeting with Fadnavis, it was decided that the film industry would not work with any Pakistani artist. Producer Mukesh Bhatt said, “I assured Mr.Fadnavis that the Producer’s Guild has decided that we will not work with Pakistani artists in the future.”Bhatt added, ” Also, Karan Johar has said he will run a slate before the movie starts which honours the martyrs, its a tribute.”Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had extended the Centre’s support to makers of ADHM and assured security to exhibitors amid threats by MNS. Last week, Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India announced it would not release movies featuring Pakistani artistes in four states of Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka.In response to the controversy and the calls for a ban on his film, Johar had released a video statement earlier this week.In previous meeting, Fadnavis had assured Johar that the Maharashtra government would not allow anyone to disturb law and order. “The state government would like to reaffirm that the government will not allow anyone to disturb law and order and stern action will be taken. Democratic protest is fine but unlawful activity will not be tolerated,” Fadnavis said.Police had also taken strict action against MNS workers on Thursday for protesting and raising slogans outside Metro Cinema in South Mumbai. Twelve activists of the MNS who had gone to Metro theatre to threaten them were arrested and sent to judicial custody till November 4.With agency inputs

ADHM row: After Rajnath Singh, Centre, CM Fadnavis assures support to Karan Johar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The makers of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” including Karan Johar were assured both by the Centre and Maharashtra government on Thursday that no one will be allowed to stall the upcoming release of the Bollywood film that is facing threat from the MNS for featuring a Pakistani actor.The assurance was given by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis during separate meetings with Johar and a delegation of the film fraternity that included its producer.The film, that features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a cameo role, ran into trouble after Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) said they won’t allow release of any movie in India that featured Pakistani artistes. It is due for release on October 28, ahead of Diwali.
ALSO READ ADHM row: HM Rajnath Singh assured support for film’s release without any violence, says Mukesh BhattFilm & Television Producers Guild of India president Mukesh Bhatt and Apoorva Mehta from Dharma Productions, which is behind “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, led a film fraternity delegation and met Singh in Delhi to discuss the smooth release of the film. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Bhatt said they decided to meet the Home Minister as there is a sense of “fear” and the law and order situation especially in Mumbai is going out of control. “We requested him to give us assurance along with the chief minister of the state that law and order will be intact and our movie ‘ADHM’ which is releasing on October 28 should not face any difficulty.”They have assured us whatever support we want he will provide to us. He said that he will talk to chief ministers of the states so that the law and order remains in place and violence does not take place near theatres. Full security will be given to all exhibitors. The way we celebrate Diwali, (We want) everyone get entertained and celebrate it with happiness,” Bhatt added.
ALSO READ ‘Ae Dil…’ gets police cover, MNS says ‘Hai MushkilUnion minister Babul Supriyo, who was also part of the delegation, said, “MNS is a party of goons. They should not be allowed to take law and order in their hands.” Bhatt said that he is not worried about MNS threats after the Home Minister’s assurance and he is confident that “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” will have a smooth release.Fadnavis assured Johar that the Maharashtra government will not allow anyone to disturb law and order. “The state government would like to reaffirm that the government will not allow anyone to disturb law and order and stern action will be taken. Democratic protest is fine but unlawful activity will not be tolerated,” Fadnavis assured Johar, who called on him in Mumbai.
ALSO READ MNS cannot take law and order in their own hands: Babul Supriyo Police had taken strict action against MNS workers on Thursday for protesting and raising slogans outside Metro Cinema in South Mumbai. Twelve activists of the MNS who had gone to Metro theatre to threaten them were arrested and sent in judicial custody till November 4.Meanwhile, continuing with their agitation, the MNS shifted the scene to Maharashtra’s Nagpur city where some party workers this afternoon demonstrated in front of cinema hall at the main business locality in Sitabuldi against the release of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” . They later submitted a memorandum to the theatre manager not to screen the film.

Maharashtra: Lawmakers mess up their own salary, unlikely to get pay

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra’s lawmakers are unlikely to get their salary – which was held up ever since it was revised in August – before January next year, thanks to the mistakes that have creeped into the Bill.The Maharashtra Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly Salaries and Allowances Bill, raising the salary of the lawmakers, was passed in the last day of the monsoon session. “While passing the Bill in a hurry, a few errors were left unattended which are are now causing obstructions in releasing their salary,” said a senior finance official, requesting anonymity. DNA has a copy of the Act.Explaining one such error, the official said in the words ‘basic pay and dearness allowances and other allowances…’ – mentioned in all six chapters of the Act – ‘other allowances’ were wrongly included in some contexts and should have been deleted.A senior official said that the government will now have to present the corrected Bill in the upcoming winter session in Nagpur, scheduled on December 5. “Other option is to issue an ordinance and subsequently approve the changes in the winter session. We have given our suggestions. Now, the chief minister has to take a call,” he said.Kapil Patil, MLC, belonging to Lok Bharati, who had opposed the decision to hike the salary of the lawmakers, said they did not even get a copy of the Bill to read, the reason why the government is now in an embarrassing situation. “We fail to understand the need to pass this error-ridden Bill in such a hurry. We alone are responsible for this goof-up,” he said.Patil pointed out that Maharashtra is already neck deep in debt. It has to pay back Rs 3.5 lakh-crore loans, for which the annual interest alone comes to almost Rs 28,000 crore. “The move to hike the salary of lawmakers will put an additional annual burden of Rs 60 crore over the cash-strapped state exchequer. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should not amend this Bill again. It should be completely dropped. The lawmakers do not need to be paid this big a salary. They are there for serving the people and not to make money,” Patil said.As per the revised pay structure, the ministers will draw a salary of Rs 1.92 lakh every month as against the earlier salary of Rs 57,000 while the MLAs and MLCs will earn Rs 1.68 lakh every month as against the previous Rs75,000. The ministers’ salary will be equivalent to the state chief secretary and that of MLAs/MLCs to that of principal secretaries.

Maharashtra: Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil attacks Fadnavis over ‘inability’ to sack Vishnu Savara

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil castigated Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ​on Friday for his “inability” to sack Tribal Welfare Minister Vishnu Savara despite the Bombay High Court’s observations regarding the government’s handling of malnutrition and infant deaths.Talking to reporters in Mumbai, the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly said, Fadnavis is incapable of acting against “inefficient and corrupt” ministers. “Death of tribals is the policy of this government,” he said, adding the BJP-led government has failed to control malnutrition and infant deaths. “Due to corruption and inefficiency of the minister concerned, the issue has assumed serious proportions,” he said.The Supreme Court and now the Bombay High Court have taken the government to task on this matter, he said. “Fadnavis should have shown Savara the door owning moral responsibility…The responsibility should also have been fixed on bureaucrats and officials of the department concerned. It is unfortunate that Fadnavis is shielding the corrupt and inefficient authorities,” he said.In the Supreme Court, government did not direct the prosecution to put forth its stand. In the high court, the government tried to mislead the court with figures, he alleged. “Had the government been sensitive, it would have sacked Savara by now,” he said. “Irate tribals have barred Savara from entering Palghar, his home district. There are agitations outside his home and still Fadnavis has not acted against the minister,” Vikhe Patil said.

Final hearing on Maratha reservation on Dec 7: Bombay High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Was Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis misinformed that the Bombay High Court had adjourned the issue of Maratha reservation till December 7, only since various other petitioners had not pleaded their case? The Bombay High Court has voiced its discontent by saying, “we have already given enough time to the government to file an affidavit, and this is the last chance we are granting to them.”A division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and GS Kulkarni had in September directed the government and all the respondents to file affidavits, replies, and written submissions in support of their arguments till Thursday, to be able to fix the date for final hearing on the matter before deciding upon it. It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had stated that the matter should be heard before the High Court and to a decision to be taken as expeditiously as possible.The state government through its Senior Counsel VA Thorat told the Court on Thursday, that while the affidavit was ready, the government needed time to collect data and other corroborative information. It told the Court that since the country does not conduct caste-based census anymore, it was proving difficult to get the requisite data.On the contrary, Fadnavis while addressing the media at Mantralaya on Thursday, refuted that the state government had faced any resentment from the High Court. He also pleaded that the government had filed an affidavit before the Court, but since there were many petitioners, who had intervened in the subject, the Court wanted to listen to them and decide upon the case on December 7, after their pleading.When the petitioners objected to the adjournment by saying that the state government was employing tricks to delay the matter, the High Court bench said, “It had no choice but to believe the government at this stage.” The Bench, at the same time also said, “let them take time to complete all pleading and file their additional affidavit. We will verify their claims once the arguments begin.”The Court is hearing two PILs opposing the previous government’s (Congress-NCP) 2014 decision to grant 16 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. It is also hearing a bunch of applications in favour of the reservation.

Atrocity Act will stay despite demands from Maratha community to repeal it: Fadnavis assures Dalits

Nagpur: On Tuesday Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the Dalit community that notwithstanding the demand from a section of the society, a legislation on prevention of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Tribes will not be abolished.

Addressing a huge gathering at ‘Deekshabhoomi’ on 60th Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Day, which marks the mass conversion to Buddhism by B R Ambedkar and his followers in 1956, he said there was a strong demand from a section of the Maratha community to repeal the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as it is allegedly being misused, but the act will stay.

A true follower of Ambedkar will not indulge in such misuse and hence there was no need for the Maratha community or any other community to fear its misuse, he said.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind and Dalit leader and Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale were also present.

One of the major demands of the politically dominant Maratha community, which is taking out huge silent marches in Maharashtra, is abolition of the Atrocities Act.

A file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. AFPA file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. AFP

A file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. AFP

Fadnavis also said the plan of the memorial of Ambedkar at Indu Mill land in Mumbai would be soon finalised.

The government had detailed discussions with top Dalit leaders including Prakash Ambedkar, Jogendra Kawade, Sulekha Kumbhare, Anand Ambedkar and others to avoid any controversy and the design of the memorial was nearing completion, he said.

He also lauded the contribution of former Governor of Bihar and Kerala R S Gavai, who headed the memorial committee till his death, and said a memorial for Gavai would be constructed in his hometown Amravati with a budget of Rs 25 crore.

Gadkari in his speech assured all necessary help from the Centre to turn Deekshabhoomi into a world-class monument.

A proposal from the state government to create a Buddhist circuit connecting important Buddhist sites was pending, and now the Centre has sanctioned Rs 100 crore for it, he said.

The Chief Minister also said the plan of the memorial of Dr Ambedkar at Indu Mill land in Mumbai would be soon finalised.

The government had had detailed discussions with top Dalit leaders including Prakash Ambedkar, Jogendra Kawade, Sulekha Kumbhare, Anand Ambedkar and others to avoid any controversy and the design of the memorial was nearing completion, he said.

He also lauded the contribution of former Governor of Bihar and Kerala R S Gavai, who headed the memorial committee till his death, and said a memorial for Gavai would be constructed in his hometown Amravati with a budget of Rs 25 crore.

Gadkari in his speech assured all necessary help from the Centre to turn the Deekshabhoomi into a world-class monument.

A proposal from the state government to create a Buddhist circuit connecting important Buddhist sites had been pending, and now the Centre had sanctioned Rs 100 crore for it, he said.

Maharashtra: Uddhav Thackeray mum on Somaiya’s remarks to contest BMC polls solo

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has declined to comment on BJP MP Kirit Somaiya’s reported statement that his party was prepared to contest all 227 seats in upcoming BMC polls on its own strength.”Somaiya’s statement has not reached me yet and I don’t want to comment over it. Shiv sainiks have already reacted to his remarks,” Thackeray said.The Sena chief, however, added that he would speak on many issues at his party’s annual Dussehra rally at Dadar in Central Mumbai on October 11.In a statement that riled Sena, Somaiya yesterday said that “BJP is prepared to contest all 227 wards for BMC elections alone, along with small parties to end the mafia raj in BMC.”BJP and Sena are alliance partners in Centre and state governments, besides in BMC.The country’s richest civic body will go to polls next year.Meanwhile, Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said that her party was positive about the alliance.”Uddhav Thackeray shares a very good rapport with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. They have a good understanding about issues between them. If their (BJP’s) proposal is reasonable then we shall have an alliance. Uddhav ji will take a final call on the issue,” she said.Meanwhile, state unit BJP president Raosaheb Danve told reporters that the issue of forging any tie-up with the like-minded political parties has been left to the respective district level units.”If there is any deadlock then they can report it to the state BJP unit which shall take the final call,” he said.Danve added that the stage for holding talks about alliance has not arrived yet.When asked about Somaiya’s comments, he termed them as the “personal views” of the MP.Somaiya has been targeting the Sena-ruled BMC on the issues of corruption in Deonar garbage dump, potholes on roads and other civic issues.

Mumbai potholes: BMC claims only 36 of them remain, political parties calls it a joke

Mumbai: Until the potholes became the unannounced navigational tool on how you drive on the roads of India’s financial capital, monsoon was a bliss for a parched Mumbai taking care of its water woes. So severe has the issue become that the potholes soon turned out to be a number game among the political parties, civic body and citizens depending on their appearance, disappearance and reappearance.

Image of a Mumbai road filled wih potholes. Screengrab from IBN-Live videoImage of a Mumbai road filled wih potholes. Screengrab from IBN-Live video

Image of a Mumbai road filled wih potholes. Screengrab from IBN-Live video

The irony is although the monsoon is now at its ebb, the potholes still remain despite a bold claim by a senior official of The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that only 36 of them exists in 24 wards. A little math on the number would show that only one or one and a half potholes in each of the 24 wards now are left to be filled up.

Potholes on Mumbai roads took such a political magnitude that even the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had to step in. A couple of weeks back he directed BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to get them repaired and report back. Even if the Shiv Sena and the BJP are ruling the BMC together for the last 20 years, the potholed roads managed to even crack the trust they have in each other. Ahead of the BMC polls, which are scheduled in February next year, the BJP fearing a political backlash because of the potholed roads squarely blamed its partner Shiv Sena for the mess. Both the parties are however facing each other this time instead of tying up. Notwithstanding the political fallout, both the parties have jointly spent a whopping Rs 15,000 crore from the exchequer in the last 20 years for concretising roads and treating potholes.

The Shiv Sena-controlled standing committee, which clears the majority of the road tenders worth crores, is still to find a permanent solution to the pothole menace. The BMC boasts of a massive Rs 32,000 annual budget, the largest in the country for a civic body. Despite the dizzying figure in its yearly budget, the truth is out the total road length 1,940 km only 50 percent are concrete.

According to a BMC report on pothole status released on 29 September, out of 4,599 potholes, 4,563 of them were already attended to while only 36 of them remain to be addressed. When additional municipal commissioner IS Kundan read out the report in the standing committee meeting, parties reacted angrily with some even calling it ludicrous.

Samajwadi Party leader Rais Shaikh told Firstpost that it was absolutely shameless on the part of the senior official. “How can she read out such a false report in the meeting? Most of the stretches on any road are filled up with potholes. One can see a minimum of 36 potholes even in one road,” Shaikh said.

Shiv Sena corporator Surendra Bagalkar was also shocked by the 36 potholes statistics.

“BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta instructed each of the additional municipal commissioners to go on the field and inspect the condition of the roads in their respective areas — City, Western and Eastern suburb. Following this instruction if any additional commissioner comes out from his or her car and walk for five minutes below the BMC headquarters, he or she can see more than 36 potholes,” Bagalkar said.

Opposition leader Pravin Chheda also expressed ire on the astounding statistics on the status of potholes on Mumbai roads.

“Even after opposition parties including the Congress, NCP and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena staged walkouts and agitated on the potholes no results came out. The situation of the roads did not improve and now the administration is saying there are only 36 potholes. It is a joke of the day,” Chheda told Firstpost.

Corporators allege that the contractors are using substandard material to fill up the potholes and as soon as it rains it gets washed away.

“We know the potholes are increasing and the engineers are trying their best to fill them up. But the definition of potholes is not the same among all engineers,” a senior BMC official told Firstpost on the condition of anonymity.

Talking to Firstpost, chief engineer (road), Sanjay Darade told that the potholes counting by every ward engineer. “They send us a report of every ward and we compiled of 24 wards. It is true that compiling the report till 29th September only 36 potholes are remaining from ward wise report. But we once again asked them to recheck and send the report within a week,” he said.

RTI activist Anil Galgali also expressed unhappiness with the manner the potholes issue is being tackled by the authorities.

“The Chief Minister interfered late in this issue.  Both BMC and MMRDA are responsible for the potholes in Mumbai,” said Galgali.

BJP to back Maratha reservation demand: Raosaheb Danve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra BJP would support the demand of Maratha reservations without changing the existing quota for other communities, the party said on Wednesday.Talking to reporters at the end of the first day of BJP’s state executive meeting Mumbai, state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve said a resolution supporting the demand of Maratha reservations would be discussed and adopted at the meeting.The previous Congress-NCP government issued the ordinance giving reservations to Marathas and Muslims with an eye on the Assembly polls, and that was the reason the ordinance did not stand up to the court’s scrutiny, he claimed. He rejected the allegation of Congress and NCP that BJP government could not present its stand on the Maratha quota before the High Court adequately.”We came to power on October 31, 2014. It is just that the court order came during our tenure,” he added.The ordinance issued by the previous government was challenged before the High Court which stayed it. Danve said all stake-holders should discuss with the government how best to put the stand before the court (in the ongoing hearing). “We are ready for discussion,” he said.The state BJP chief also said that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced formation of a ministerial group which will hold meetings at the district level regarding the demands of Maratha organisations. The politically dominant Maratha community has been taking out huge silent marches to press its demands, which has shaken up the politics in Maharashtra.

Maharashtra CM Fadnavis announces Rs 49,248 cr development package for Marathwada

Mumbai: On Tuesday Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a Rs 49,248 crore development ‘package’ for Marathwada region, under which important projects, including irrigation and infrastructure, will be completed in a time-bound manner.

“Funds have been allocated for these projects and these will be completed within four years,” Fadnavis said, after a meeting of the state Cabinet in Aurangabad.

This is the first time in eight years that the state Cabinet meeting was held at Aurangabad.

The region, which was reeling under acute drought till recently, has witnessed heavy rains in the last few days, leading to crop damage and loss of life and property.

Under the plan announced by the Chief Minister, Rs 9,291 crore will be spent on irrigation, Rs 5,326 crore on railway network in the region, Rs 3,000 crore for road projects, Rs 250 crore for airport expansion, Rs 450 crore for micro-irrigation, and Rs 1,885 for water conservation works.

Funds for these projects will be raised through bonds, Fadnavis said.

He assured people of Marathwada region that train service to Beed will commence in 2018. A Bal Thackeray memorial will be set up in Aurangabad.

A file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. PTIA file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

A file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

A rural development institute, named after late Gopinath Munde, former Union rural development minister, will be set up in Aurangabad, Fadnavis said, adding efforts will be made to get Unesco heritage tag for the historic Aurangabad city.

The procedure of completing ‘panchnama’ to assess damage will be bypassed for areas which have witnessed heavy rains so that farmers get compensation for crop damage quickly, he said.

Criticising Fadnavis over the ‘Marathwada package’ announced today, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the Chief Minister, instead of just mouthing hollow promises, should have done something concrete for the people of the region.

“Had Fadnavis declared loan waiver for the farmers, instead of making hollow promises, they would have been relieved,” the Congress leader said.

Meanwhile, police used tear gas and resorted to lathicharge to control a rally of teachers from non-aided educational institutes, which was organised in Aurangabad.

ACP Khushalchand Baheti of Aurangabad Police said the Maharashtra Rajya (Kayam) Vina Anudaanit Shala Kruti Samithi took out a procession this afternoon to press for their various demands.

The participants of the procession went on rampage and starting pelting stones at other pedestrians. Nine policemen and a few pedestrians sustained injuries, he said.

Police resorted to mild cane charge to disperse the mob and the situation is under control, the officer said, adding the injured pedestrians were discharged after primary treatment.

Among other things, the Chief Minister told reporters that 45,000 km of roads would be constructed in the region in the next three years.

Chikalthana Airport in Aurangabad would be given a facelift and its runway would be extended.

Water Conservation Commissionerate would be established in Aurangabad, the CM said.

One lakh houses would be constructed in Marathwada under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojna.

Polytechnic colleges in Latur and Jalna would be elevated to the engineering colleges.

An administrative building to house 25 government offices would be built in Aurangabad.

Cancer Institute at Aurangabad would be given Rs 120 crore and upgraded as a state level cancel hospital, Fadnavis said. Of the amount, Centre would pay Rs 80 crore.

Family courts would be established at Beed, Jalna, Parbhani and Osmanabad while textile parks would be developed at Parbhani, Beed and Nanded.

Maratha morchas: Challenge for Devendra Fadnavis as lawyer vows to defend activist Sanjiv Bhor

Mumbai: Even as tension is quietly brewing in Maharashtra over the Maratha silent morchas, a show cause notice to the movement’s leader Sanjiv Bhor from the Ahmednagar police might push the state into a complicated law and order situation.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

After around two months since the Maratha Kranti silent morchas were successfully carried out across 24 districts in the state, the government is now gearing up to prevent a similar march in the future.

What could worry the state government is that the Marathas are not willing to give up the agitation anytime soon unless their demands are fulfilled.

An engineer by training, Bhor (42) left his job in 2009 and embarked on a social mission to educate his community on the alleged misuse of the Atrocity Act against them. A former member of the Sambhaji Brigade, he later went on to found the Shivprahar Sanghtan as became its founder president.

Bhor is already in the headlines by naming all the four alleged rape accused suspected to be behind the heinous crime that happened on 13 July at Kopardi in Ahmednagar. The incident was so barbaric that a Firstpost piece quoting The Asian Age said the victim was a ninth standard girl and her body was badly mutilated.

In the show cause sent to Bhor, the police sought to know why the Shivprahar Sanghtan president should not be banned from the six districts of Ahmednagar, Pune, Solapur, Beed, Aurangabad and Nashik. The notice has put a huge question mark on the silent morchas.

The notice stated that his presence in these districts could create a serious “law-and-order problem”, “threaten communal harmony and national integration”. Bhor, who is a strong advocate seeking reservation for Marathas has sought capital punishment for the accused in the Kopardi gangrape and murder case.

Talking to Firstpost, Bhor confirmed that he received the show cause notice signed by Ahmednagar, assistant police superintendent, Chinmay Patil.

“Despite such notice, the state government cannot end the Maratha silent March. I am ready to face anything for my community. I already replied to the notice and I will challenge it,” Bhor said. “The next hearing before the magistrate is on 17 October. Police fear that if I stayed in any of these six districts then there might be law and order problem,” he said.

The Shivprahar Sanghtan president said that all the offences which the police labelled against him are two years old and two offences were registered in last three months. All these offences are related to agitation and damage to public property.

The notice pointed out that Bhor had organised meetings without the consent of the authority and blamed him for causing social disharmony by creating a rift between the SC/ST and upper caste community.

Bhor also criticised the role of the mainstream media while covering the Maratha agitation.

Well known lawyer Satish Maneshinde has even threatened to challenge the government in the courts and is ready to fight for Bhor and other activists who find themselves in similar circumstances without charging any fee.

Talking to Firstpost, Maneshinde said that there was neither violence and nor any issue related to public hygiene as mentioned in the show cause.

“There was no traffic problem as well. But I heard that Ahmednagar police sent a show cause notice to Bhor. This is illegal. How can the police send a notice?” Maneshinde questioned. “Is he a criminal or doing any criminal activity? So I decided that whenever the cases on such brave activists will come I will fight against the government free of cost across the state. Even I am from the same community. Does the Devendra Fadnavis government want to rule the state like Gujarat?” he asked.

To calm down tempers, Chief Minister Fadnavis has decided to call a one-day special session to discuss reservation for the Maratha community and review the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Meanwhile, the next morcha is scheduled on 15 October in Kolhapur while the Mumbai one is planned after Diwali and before the commencement of the Winter Session of the Assembly.

“The government is under immense pressure to handle the demands of Maratha community,” said a senior IAS official unwilling to be named.

26 people saved from Latur flood

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The situation in Latur has finally come under control after the NDRF rescued 26 people trapped in the flash flood in Latur due to heavy rainfall in the last two days. CM Devendra Fadnavis says that the Government is monitoring the situation and is making every possible effort to return life to normal to the tourist hub.Marathwada which had been hit by a terrible drought has been receiving heavy rainfalls for the past one week which has resulted in water logging in the neighbouring regions.The state Government has asked the NDRF to keep a team ready at Beed, Nanded and Latur for precautionary measures. The IAF choppers which were not required to be deployed on Friday evening, the time of the flash flood, are kept ready at Bidar for emergency.NDRF teams were called for rescue and relief operations on Saturday after almost 200 people were caught in the flood from Ahmedpur Taluka, Selu Jevadga village in Renapur, Beed district. Another 125 people were stranded in the Belsangvi village in Jalkot Taluka.In addition to NDRF, the Indian Air Force choppers were also deployed in some parts for rescue and relief operations. The choppers could not take off since the light was insufficient. Suhas Divse, the in-charge of state disaster management unit at Mantralaya has said that there is no one stranded anymore. A total of 1265 persons were evacuated by the district administration.

Maratha Kranti Morcha: Parties adopt wait and watch approach

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ‘silent marches’ taken out by Maratha Kranti Morcha around Maharashtra to highlight demands like reservation in jobs and education have created ripples in state politics, with major players adopting a “wait and watch” approach to see if the massive mobilisation will eventually assume electoral dimensions.Observers say that all main parties — BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP – are unnerved by the huge success of the rallies, highlighting demands like reservation in job and education, though the immediate trigger being the rape and murder of a girl from the community at Kopardi in Ahmednagar. They, however, feel it is too early to jump to the conclusion that the movement will lead to political changes.According to Venkatesh Patil, journalist and author of “Maratha reservation- role and reality”, the campaign is an opportunity for BJP to consolidate its Maratha vote base by bringing the community under the ambit of reservation.”It is not to say Maratha leaders of congress or NCP have not done anything. The present ruling leadership cannot wash off its hands. The BJP is wasting the opportunity if it fails to turn the situation in its advantage,” Patil told PTI.”A Brahmin Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) addressing the grievances of the Maratha community is a good message in the long run. BJP should also groom a Maratha leader with a good mass base,” he said.Patil observes that the “silent and disciplined agitation” has given a new model for the state about how a non-violent morcha can be mobilised. Instead of dismissing it as politically-motivated, the government should see the wider social issues raised by the movement, he said.The issue will not be resolved until there is a constitutional amendment (to the quota regime) and Marathas are included as OBCs.”Right now, political parties cannot touch SC/ST/OBC quota and the government is unlikely to consider the demand going by the constitutional provisions,” Patil said.As per the Supreme Court ruling, reservation cannot exceed 50 per cent and at present the state has 52 per cent reservation, he said. Shiv Sena’s stand of economic reservation has incensed the Maratha Kranti Morcha, Patil said.”There is a feeling that the Sena’s stand is to ensure Marathas do not get reservations. There is no constitutional provision for economic reservation and even if it is given it will not the legal scrutiny,” he said, adding this approach can cost it politically.Shiv Sena, however, has demanded a special sitting of the state legislature to seriously look into the issues raised by the Maratha morcha. Party chief Uddhav Thackeray had called on the chief minister and put across the demand.Balasaheb Sarate, scholar and researcher of Maratha issues, said the predominantly agricultural community has been hit by liberalisation and globalisation with the adverse effects they bought on the farm sector in the last 25 years. This has pushed the Marathas to a sense of social insecurity and isolation, he said.On the economic, social, educational and emotional state of the community, another observer said even though some Marathas are landlords, 70 per cent of the members of that community own maximum 1 hectare and 20 per cent are landless. Education of children of Marathas in rural areas had suffered and there is no opportunity to come up on merit and the fees in private institutions are too high, while certain section of the society get a fee waiver as well as opportunities to gain admission in quota as well as merit. Sarata says the Marathas are worst affected in Marathwada region, where they comprise 45 per cent of the population.In North Maharashtra, subcastes like Leva Patils and Leva Patidars while Kunbis in Vidarbha are included as OBCs and get reservation benefits. But, in Marathwada, the Maratha community has no benefit. In Vidarbha, North Maharashtra and Western Maharashtra, sections of the Marathas come under OBC category, since the communities eligible for reservation are often identified on the basis of traditional occupations, like farm work.Marathwada was in the past ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad and so the land records describe them as only Marathas. Political and administrative machinery have proved inadequate to address these issues, forcing the Marathas to highlight these issues and find out ways to pursue them. However, the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl from the community at Kopardi, became the trigger for the silent morchas all over the state.According to Maratha community leaders in Kopardi, when the family of the victim went to the police station to file an FIR, police were not ready, saying that since the accused allegedly belong to a Dalit community, the (SC-ST) Atrocity Act could be invoked against the family.Sarate said Marathas are not against any community or individuals. Politics is not the target of this Maratha movement. It has evolved and intend to achieve qualitative change in the Maratha community as a whole.”Social, educational and economic development is the sole concern of this movement. The inference that the movement is organised against Fadnavis is baseless,” he said. It is a natural expectation from the head of the state that he or she should to look into genuine issues of this movement.Significantly, political leaders are also participating in the rallies though their organisers have claimed that they had not sought the backing of any of them. On the perception that Marathas are a politically strong segment, he said though many of the MPs and MLAs are from the community it does not mean the community is socially and economically developed.”The administrative machinery and policy makers at the Centre are not Marathas. Maratha leaders who have ruled the state talk only about tribals, Dalits, OBCs and minorities,” he said, adding that the agitation should be seen from the mirror of social justice.Some of the observers, however, say political parties are now looking which way the community will go, whose vote share is equally distributed among all the main parties.

India ups efforts to get soldier back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) soldier was captured by the Pakistan Army, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday that the government would make all possible efforts to get him back.There appeared to be a serious flip flop on the issue, when sources in the security establishment initially called Chandu Babulal Chauhan, the soldier from RR, a deserter. However, later in the day, the Army Headquarters clarified its earlier stand and owned up to the fact that he was their missing soldier.”One soldier from 37 RR with weapon has inadvertently crossed over to the other side of the Line of Control. Pakistan has been informed by the DGMO on the hotline. Such inadvertent crossing by Army and civilians are not unusual on either side. They are returned through existing mechanisms,” said an official Army statement.Earlier in the day, the Home Minister had met NSA Ajit Doval and said the government, through the Ministry of External Affairs, would take all possible efforts to get the soldier back. “The soldier had inadvertently crossed the border. All attempts are being made to secure his release,” Singh told reporters.Chauhan, a native of Dhule in Maharashtra, has been captured by the Pakistan Army. Army sources say that Chauhan was not a part of the Special Forces (SF) team that conducted a surgical strike on the Line of Control and add that he could have been part of a discreet mission or been kept on standby.On Friday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met Singh in Delhi, requesting the Home Minister to do all he could to bring back the missing soldier. “I don’t know much about the incident but I do know that the soldier belongs to Maharashtra. I have spoken to the Home Minister and he has assured me that he will do the needful,” said Fadnavis.The protocol in the services to declare an officer or a soldier as a deserter is that first an internal inquiry has to be conducted with efforts to trace the missing man for a month. “Over this month, a search operation is conducted within the unit and in all posts that the man has been associated with in the past,” explained an army source. After a month, the army then informs the family of the soldier, the local unit police station and the police station at the home town of the soldier. When this due protocol is followed, the army then declares the person a deserter.

Fadnavis fights like women squabbling over water at community taps: MP Supriya Sule makes jibe at CM’s ‘short temper’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a jibe at Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for being “short-tempered”, NCP MP Supriya Sule has said that he “fights like the way women squabble over water at community taps”.Addressing women workers of NCP in Maval tehsil of Pune district last evening, Sule, the daughter of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, said “she would prefer to wear a helmet when meeting him because he might throw something at her in anger.””The Chief Minister is short-tempered and does not listen to anyone as his temper is always high, and he fights like women, the way they do over water taps,” the Baramati MP said.”I have seen so many Chief Ministers, but never such a short-tempered Chief Minister. I will wear a helmet when I go to meet him because I am scared that he might throw something in anger at me,”said Sule, herself a former chief minister’s daughter.She also asked the journalists present at the programme to convey her message to Fadnavis that he should control his temper.

50 youths held for protesting against Palghar malnourishment deaths

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Thane police department arrested 50 individuals for protesting against the increase in number of malnutrition deaths in Palghar, outside the collectorate where CM Fadnavis was present for discussions on development projects in the Konkan region. The protest led by activist Pramod Pawar, the district youth wing president of Shramjeevi Sanghatna along with children, women and youths staged a protest outside the Thane Collector’s office when the Chief Minister arrived at the venue.Earlier, advocate Vishnu Savara, the tribal development minister and the guardian minister of Palghar district were cornered by the protesters after the death of a child in the Palghar district as the activists alleged corruption in the schemes for the tribal development.”We need permanent solutions to these problems instead of just assurances which has led to more deaths due to malnutrition”, said Vivek Pandit, president of Shramjeevi Sanghatna.”The Governor of Maharashtra applauded our fight for justice for the poor tribals but the politicians are unable to hear the cries of the poor tribals,” added Pandit. PRO Police (Thane) Sukhada Narkar said, “We have arrested 50 protesters including the district youth president for sloganeering and protesting without adequate permissions.”He further added, “The case has been investigated by the Thane Nagar police station and further actions would be initiated as per legal procedures.”

Pune International Airport to come up in Purandar, says Fadnavis

Pune International Airport to come up in Purandar, says Fadnavis

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Pune: On Friday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that a team of Airports Authority of India has given final approval to a proposed site for the Pune International Airport in Purandar tehsil of the district.

“The team of AAI, which had conducted feasibility survey of proposed land in Purandar tehsil, has given its approval and AAI has agreed that the land is suitable. Since the approval has come, we will now start the further process and we are happy that the local people too are positive about the airport,” he said.

The government will now hold a meeting with Maharashtra Airport Development Authority, Fadnavis said.

Initially, the state government was considering Khed teshil for the airport and AAI had carried out survey of two sites there. However, later the focus shifted to Purandar tehsil.

Uran alert: CM Fadnavis asks people not to worry, Navi Mumbai cops release sketch of suspect

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday appealed to citizens not to panic and said all precautions are being taken after a high alert was sounded along the Mumbai coast and adjoining areas on Thursday after a group of men were spotted moving suspiciously near a naval base at Uran in Raigad district.

Fadnavis who is enroute to Mumbai from United States, spoke to the state Director General of Police Satish Mathur, Mumbai Police Commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar and Intelligence Commissioner.

The Maharashtra CMO tweeted:

A high alert was sounded along the Mumbai coast and adjoining areas on Thursday after a group of men were spotted moving suspiciously near a naval base at Uran in Raigad district, leading to multi-agency search operations by multiple agencies.

Navi Mumbai Police released a sketch of the person linked with the Uran high alert. Image procured by Sanjay Sawant/Firstpost

Navi Mumbai Police released a sketch of the person linked with the Uran high alert. Image procured by Sanjay Sawant/Firstpost

The Navi Mumbai Police also released the sketch of one of the five suspects linked with the high alert.

According to India Today, a girl studying in Class X and a boy in Class IX in Uran had reported seeing masked men and had helped the Navi Mumbai Police come up with a sketch of one of the suspects.

The sketch was circulated to all investigating agencies and local informers are now trying to find the person in the sketch.

The CMO Maharashtra also appealed to citizens not to believe in rumours. At the same time, it advised them to inform police if they found “something unusual”.

With inputs from PTI

Google extends support to make Mumbai ‘WiFi city’

Thu, 22 Sep 2016-08:37pm , Mumbai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Google has extended its support to the Maharashtra government to make Mumbai a ‘WiFi city’. “A team of Google led by Vinay Goel met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in San Francisco and extended their support to make Mumbai a Wifi city,” a statement from Chief Minister’s office said.Fadnavis concluded his two-day visit to the US on Thursday after meeting APCO CEO and President Evan Kraus and Sabse Technologies CEO Sabeer Bhatia. He also met California Governor Jerry Brown and discussed issues related to clean energy, environment and urbanisation. Both discussed possible ways to collaborate between state of California and Maharashtra government for clean energy, the statement said.

Here’s the reason behind the massive Maratha morchas in Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maratha community’s mukh morcha (silent rallies) against the Kopardi rape and murder case in Nanded, on Sunday, witnessed a crowd of over 25 lakh people. The community is hoping for a target of over one crore in the Mumbai morcha that is likely to happen in October.So why is the un-organised Maratha community mobilising against the BJP-led government? The Maratha community is the majority caste in Maharashtra, having never taken to the streets to fight for its own rights in several years. This kind of mobilisation is happening after 250 years. The Kopardi rape and murder of a minor Maratha girl was the trigger that led to the morchas against their suppression. The unrest among the community has been present for a long time. Various demands were placed through these rallies such as reservation for Marathas, amendment in the Atrocity Act etc.The Maratha community is mostly the agrarian community, whose livelihood is based on agricultural activities. In the last two years, due to scanty rainfall, farmers faced huge financial crisis, leading to more farmers suicides. Also, less opportunities in government service for the youth, due to various reasons has led to unemployment.
ALSO READ Maharashtra: Kopardi rape and murder case awaits charge sheet after 67 daysMoreover, whatever the farmer produced, the rates of their crops started falling. This year, ahead of the harvest, the green gram rate was Rs9,000 per quintal. Now, the rates have suddenly crashed and come down to Rs 4,500 per quintal.It was the same in the case of onions. In the last two years, not a single crop’s rate went up. Farmers had no government support which caused more anger against the government and its wrong policies.The BJP government, after coming to power, immediately awarded the ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ award to Babasaheb Purandhare despite Maratha community opposition. They said that Mr Purandhare had painted Chhatrapati Shivaji’s history in Brahaminical angle. Even after the Sambhaji Brigade, youth organisation of the Maratha community, protested against the government’s decision. Fadnavis went ahead and awarded Mr Purandhare recently.Moreover, the Congress-NCP was ruling Maharashstra for 15 years, and both parties are dominated by Maratha leadership. Now, the BJP government is led by a Brahamin chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis so the Maratha leaders and community are feeling out of power suddenly.Moreover, most of the Bahujan leaders in BJP, like Eknath Khadse, Pankaja Munde, Vinod Tawde who were aspirants for the chief minister’s post are systematically downsized by the incumbent chief minister. So, these leaders and their workers are directly and indirectly supporting the Maratha community’s morchas to make history. No one, including NCP chief and Maratha leader, Sharad Pawar knows what the conclusion of this silent revolution will be, and where it will end.

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