Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister is allowed back into his party – a day after his father expelled him.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Extending her support to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee has wished him well and asked him to stay strong. Sources said, Mamata spoke to Akhilesh last evening for about three minutes.The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo’s support comes in the wake of Akhilesh’s suspension from the Samajwadi Party for six years. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav yesterday expelled Akhilesh and national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years over indiscipline.This move comes after Akhilesh had released a list of 235 candidates out of the total 403 seats for upcoming state assembly elections on Thursday, rejecting the list announced by Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday. Akhilesh’s name did not figure in the first list. Mulayam said his son being the Chief Minister, can contest from any assembly seat he wishes to.
By Rupam Jain
| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Cash shortages weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s decision to abolish large currency notes are making allies and members of his ruling party anxious, with some distancing themselves from the move ahead of a series of state elections.Modi removed 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, worth around $7.50 and $15 respectively, on Nov. 8, billing it as an attempt to root out corruption, end terror financing and move the country into the age of digital payments.He promised to replace all old bills with enough new currency notes by the end of this month. But his government has struggled to do that, leading to long lines at banks and a slump in economy activity. Nearly 90 percent of transactions in India used to be in cash.Interviews with six lawmakers from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a senior leader of the party’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), show his party cadre is starting to worry that the cash crunch could hurt their prospects in several states that go to the polls next year.Some parliamentarians said that while they thought Modi’s decision was good, its execution had been botched and they were faced with constituents who were increasingly upset.”There is no doubt that it is difficult to convince voters that everything will be fine,” said Santosh Gangwar, the junior finance minister who is leading the BJP campaign in Uttar Pradesh. “Every candidate who will be contesting polls is nervous because they feel people may not vote for the BJP … There is tension and we cannot deny it,” he said. Of the BJP’s 71 MPs from Uttar Pradesh, 28 have been to BJP President Amit Shah and the finance minister’s office to seek solutions for the cash crunch, said a senior finance ministry official.BJP EXPECTS “BIG VICTORY”
BJP spokesman G.V.L. Narasimha Rao said that despite temporary difficulties, the prime minister continued to enjoy overwhelming support.”Party cadres are highly enthused about a big victory in upcoming elections, and if a few are apprehensive, they will realise the reality soon,” Rao said. Disquiet within the BJP underscores how Modi’s unprecedented bet is turning into a test of popularity, and could go some way to determining his political future.It has become a central issue in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, where the outcome of elections early next year will be key for Modi’s expected bid for a second term in 2019. The opposition, led by the Congress party, has joined forces, mocking the government for being ill-prepared for so-called “demonetisation” and blaming it for hardships faced by the poor as a result. It has called for Modi’s resignation. The senior RSS official said they had counselled Modi days before the move to take time to prepare the ground for such a massive exercise, including setting up two new mints and expanding the banking network, and to roll it out in phases.
But the prime minister decided to press ahead, and he alone would bear responsibility for its failure or success, the official added. Earlier this month, N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and a political ally of Modi, abruptly distanced himself from the move. Modi and senior members of his cabinet defend demonetisation. In an interview with India Today magazine on Thursday, Modi said it would give the economy a boost and provide long-term benefits, including forcing the country’s vast shadow economy into the open.”GRIM SITUATION”
Modi’s announcement enjoyed popular support at first, with many people prepared to endure hardship as long as others were forced to give up ill-gotten wealth or pay tax.But shortages of new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes have caused tempers to rise as millions queue at banks and ATMs to draw money. Last week, more than three dozen BJP lawmakers, many of whom came from states that go to polls next year, met with Shah to demand that the government sends more cash to their constituencies, and quickly. The MPs told Shah about severe cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people, according to several lawmakers who attended the meeting.They told the BJP president that they did not have the courage to hold election rallies at a time when people still had to stand in line, sometimes for hours, to get money. Some said they had not started door-to-door campaigning. “The situation is grim, and we cannot ignore it,” Jagdambika Pal, a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh who attended the meeting, told Reuters. “It is a challenge for every BJP lawmaker to manage the situation, but we cannot do anything if there is no money in the banks.”($1 = 67.9550 rupees) (Additional reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh and Manoj Kumar; Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Mike Collett-White)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:20 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cash shortages weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to abolish large currency notes is making allies and members of his ruling party anxious, with some distancing themselves from the move ahead of a series of state elections.Modi removed 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, worth around $7.50 and $15 respectively, on Nov. 8, billing it as an attempt to root out corruption, end terror financing and move the country into the age of digital payments.He promised to replace all old bills with enough new currency notes by the end of this month. But his government has struggled to do that, leading to long lines at banks and a slump in economy activity. Nearly 90 percent of transactions in India used to be in cash.
ALSO READ Demonetization broke the myth that powerful can’t be harmed: Shivraj Singh ChouhanInterviews with six lawmakers from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a senior leader of the party’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), show his party cadre is starting to worry that the cash crunch could hurt their prospects in several states that go to the polls next year.Some parliamentarians said that while they thought Modi’s decision was good, its execution had been botched and they were faced with constituents who were increasingly upset.
ALSO READ Demonetization: Jaitley misleading people with his statements, says Congress”There is no doubt that it is difficult to convince voters that everything will be fine,” said Santosh Gangwar, the junior finance minister who is leading the BJP campaign in western Uttar Pradesh.”Every candidate who will be contesting polls is nervous because they feel people may not vote for the BJP … There is tension and we cannot deny it,” he said.
ALSO READ Demonetization: PM Modi criticises opposition for ‘openly protecting the dishonest’, slams Manmohan SinghOf the BJP’s 71 MPs from Uttar Pradesh, 28 have been to BJP President Amit Shah and the finance minister’s office to seek solutions for the cash crunch, said a senior finance ministry official.BJP EXPECTS “BIG VICTORY”BJP spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao said that despite temporary difficulties, the prime minister continued to enjoy overwhelming support.”Party cadres are highly enthused about a big victory in upcoming elections, and if a few are apprehensive, they will realise the reality soon,” Rao said.Disquiet within the BJP underscores how Modi’s unprecedented bet is turning into a test of popularity, and could go some way to determining his political future.It has become a central issue in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, where the outcome of elections early next year will be key for Modi’s expected bid for a second term in 2019.The opposition, led by the Congress party, has joined forces, mocking the government for being ill-prepared for so-called “demonetization” and blaming it for hardships faced by the poor as a result. It has called for Modi’s resignation.The senior RSS official said they had counselled Modi days before the move to take time to prepare the ground for such a massive exercise, including setting up two new mints and expanding the banking network, and to roll it out in phases.But the prime minister decided to press ahead, and he alone would bear responsibility for its failure or success, the official added.Earlier this month, N. Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of the southern state Andhra Pradesh and a political ally of Modi, abruptly distanced himself from the move.Modi and senior members of his cabinet defend demonetization. In an interview with India Today magazine on Thursday, Modi said it would give the economy a boost and provide long-term benefits, including forcing the country’s vast shadow economy into the open.”GRIM SITUATION”Modi’s announcement enjoyed popular support at first, with many people prepared to endure hardship as long as others were forced to give up ill-gotten wealth or pay tax.But shortages of new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes have caused tempers to rise as millions queue at banks and ATMs to draw money.Last week, more than three dozen BJP lawmakers, many of whom came from states that go to polls next year, met with Shah to demand that the government sends more cash to their constituencies, and quickly.The MPs told Shah about severe cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people, according to several lawmakers who attended the meeting.They told the BJP president that they did not have the courage to hold election rallies at a time when people still had to stand in line, sometimes for hours, to get money. Some said they had not started door-to-door campaigning.”The situation is grim, and we cannot ignore it,” Jagdambika Pal, a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh who attended the meeting, told Reuters. “It is a challenge for every BJP lawmaker to manage the situation, but we cannot do anything if there is no money in the banks.”
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday confirmed the list announced by him as the final one.Akhilesh asked the candidates to go to their constituencies, prepare for the upcoming elections and mark their victory.The decision was announced at the Samajwadi Party core group meet held at Akhilesh’s residence earlier on Friday.On Thursday, Akhilesh released a list of 235 candidates out of a total of 403 seats for the upcoming state assembly elections, a day after his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had released the official list, hinting at a deepening crisis within the party.Intense political activities continued at the Samajwadi Party headquarters and at the official residence of the chief minister yesterday.Akhilesh met Mulayam Singh, but as per sources, the party chief refused to make changes in the list of 325 candidates issued by him on Wednesday.According to reports, Akhilesh has removed the name of his sister-in-law Aparna Yadav from the list of candidates that will contest next year?s state assembly polls.She was earlier given a ticket by Mulayam Singh Yadav to contest from the Lucknow Cantt seat.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The feud in Uttar Pradesh’s first family appeared to be worsening, with an unhappy Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday meeting legislators who have not found place in the list of 325 declared candidates and then conveying his objections to his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav who had announced the nominees yesterday. After the meeting, SP MLA Indal Singh said that UP CM is likely to come up with his own list of candidates for the upcoming UP elections. Hectic political activities began in the morning with party leaders gathering outside the residences of Akhilesh and Mulayam. A big crowd assembled outside Shivpal’s residence also. Akhilesh, clearly upset over being apparently kept out of the process to select candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls, met at his 5-Kalidas Marg residence here his supporters, including legislators and office bearers who do not figure in the list, party sources said. Later, he spoke to Mulayam to convey his displeasure over the list of candidates from which names of his close confidants are missing, the sources said.Mulayam, along with his brother and state party chief Shivpal Yadav, yesterday declared candidates for 325 of the 403 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and ruled out projecting Akhilesh as the Chief Ministerial candidate.Akhilesh was away on Bundelkhand tour when the list was released at a hurriedly-convened press conference. The Chief Minister and Shivpal have been involved in a power struggle for several months now. The list, which includes 176 sitting MLAs, announced by Mulayam and Shivpal in the absence of Akhilesh, has left out several pro-Akhilesh ministers, including Ram Govind Chaudhary, Pawan Pandey and Arvind Singh Gope, and does not carry names of over 50 sitting MLAs.Besides, 10 ministers, including Shivpal, sacked by the chief minister over the past few months have got tickets. These former ministers were in open defiance of Akhilesh and it paid off. Within hours after release of the list, which clearly bore the stamp of Mulayam and Shivpal, Akhilesh had said he would take up the choice of candidates with the party chief.”The list does not include names of certain candidates who are sure to win. I will take it up with the SP chief and tell him that some of them have done really good work and they should be given tickets,” an upset Akhilesh had said last night. In a late night tit-for-tat action, the Chief Minister struck back sacking two Shivpal loyalists — Surabhi Shukla, vice-chairperson of UP Awas Vikas Parishad and her husband Sandeep Shukla from the post of advisor of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam. Sandeep has been fielded from Sultanpur Sadar seat.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Most of the opposition parties who have responded to the Law Commission questionnaire on the contentious uniform civil code have dubbed the move to refer the matter to it as part of the BJP government’s “political agenda” with some of them even questioning the timing ahead of Uttar Pradesh polls.Responding to the questionnaire, parties such as Congress, BSP and TMC are learnt to have refrained from saying as to whether they support to a common code or not. They have, however, dubbed the decision of the government to refer the matter to the law panel as part of its political agenda to further its political interests, sources said.Some parties have also questioned the timing of the decision to refer the matter to the Commission ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls due early next year.The BSP, which was perhaps the first party to respond to the law panel, has slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly imposing the agenda of the RSS on the people.Responding to the law panel’s request to answer the questionnaire, BSP said the party is attaching a press statement issued by Mayawati on October 25 in Lucknow.Instead of answering the 16 questions put out by the law panel, the BSP said the press statement is its response to the questionnaire.The BSP statement said the BJP has been trying to impose the agenda of the RSS on the people ever since it came to power at the Centre.Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is learnt to have opposed a common code and has supported its stand through certain court orders.The NCP is learnt to have opposed the practice of “instant triple talaq” but has by and large supported separate personal laws.Highly-placed sources in the panel said the questionnaire has so far received over 40,000 responses which continue to pour in even after the expiry of the deadline.While the deadline to send the responses ended on December 21, the law panel said it would continue to entertain responses received after the deadline.”Uniform Civil Code is one of the important projects before the Law Commission. The responses/replies received by the Commission are being processed. The response/replies received, if any, after the date may also be considered,” it said in a brief statement.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished and whether a uniform civil code should be optional, the Law Commission had on October 7 asked the public seeking response on these sensitive issues. The All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had slammed the questionnaire, saying it was uncalled for.Amid a raging debate on uniform civil code, the law panel had sought public views on the subject to revise and reform family laws, saying the aim is to address social injustice and its not against plurality of laws.The Commission said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.In an accompanying questionnaire, the Commission had asked whether the existing personal laws and customary practices need codification and whether it would benefit people.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished, retained or retained with suitable amendments; and whether a uniform civil code should be optional are among 16 queries by the commission.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Within a fortnight of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to ban high currency notes, several ministries in his government went into a tizzy tackling problems, particularly in labour-intensive sectors.However, the government now feels the storm has passed. The string of complaints and representations that came last month owing to cash crunch from various trade and industry bodies have slowed to a trickle, a senior union minister said. As the 50-day timeline sought by the Prime Minister, who had promised a “new India in the new year” nears its end, the central government and BJP are heaving a sigh of relief saying the “worst is over”.The BJP was hoping to cash in politically on demonetization and the Prime Minister’s assurance to fight black money. Some party MPs had expressed apprehensions about the impact of the inconvenience faced by people because of the cash crunch on the party in the forthcoming elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. Internal ground reports also indicated that demonetization would give the BJP an advantage. The party national executive is holding its meet, the last before assembly elections in five states, next week in the Capital. Ahead of the meet, Modi will be holding a rally in Lucknow.The government has indicated that various departments have received reports from the ground showing that things had started improving over the past fortnight and the story of demonetization woes was nearly over. While it was not entirely ruling out the flip side of its impact on the economy, it saw it as a temporary phase that was waning faster than expected, the sources said.One by one, the woes of various sectors because of cash crunch in the aftermath of demonetization had to be addressed, but the situation is now returning to normal, sources said, adding that the labour force which had migrated was getting back and the use of digital mode for transactions was picking up.The worst affected were around half a dozen labour intensive sectors including handloom, carpet weavers and metal pickers, where payments were made in cash.Worried that the cash crunch would hit farmers in the northern states, including poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, where the sowing of the rabi crop was just starting, the government had asked NABARD to ensure credit flow in rural areas in the end of November, sources said. The money flow into metropolitans was cut down to increase availability in rural areas.The government had also faced demands from the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) to withdraw the decision to scrap import duty on wheat or give an assurance that the rabi crop would be bought at the prevailing MSP. Government sources said the move was aimed at avoiding any knee-jerk reaction in case of shortage of wheat and that import was not mandatory. It is understood that the government has given an assurance that the concerns would be kept in mind.
New Delhi: In an indication that assembly elections to five states could be announced anytime now, the Election Commission has asked the Centre and the state governments to implement the model code of conduct as soon as the schedule is out.
In a letter sent to the cabinet secretary and chief secretaries of the poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh,
Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab, the Commission has compiled a set of instructions issued in the past to drive home the point that model code should be implemented effectively with the announcement of poll schedule.
The list of dos and don’ts issued by the Commission includes prevention of misuse of public place, avoiding use of official vehicles for campaigning, removing pictures of political functionaries from state government websites and bar on use of public money for advertisements to help the ruling party.
The poll panel has also reminded political parties to approach the Media Certification and Monitoring Committees at district and state level, for pre-certification of their political advertisements proposed to be issued in the
Sources in the Commission said assembly polls could be announced by 4 January to the five states.
Except Uttar Pradesh, which may go for a seven-phased election, the other states could have elections on a single day.
While the term of the Uttar Pradesh assembly expires on 27 May next, the terms of four state assemblies end in March next.
First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:09 IST
At least two people are dead after a train derailed near Kanpur in India’s Uttar Pradesh state.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after ED detected huge cash deposits in an account belonging to BSP, BJP on Tuesday took a dig at Mayawati saying now it is clear why she was protesting against the demonetization move.”It is now clear why Mayawati was protesting against it (demonetization) and why she was angry with the Centre,” party’s national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters before addressing a rally of BJP’s minroty cell in Mukerian of Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district. “Mayawati has been protesting against demonetization in the name of the poor but now the common man knows why she was against the drive,” he said.The ED yesterday detected cash deposits totaling over Rs 104 crore in an account belonging to the BSP and Rs 1.43 crore in an account belonging to party Supremo Mayawati’s brother Anand in a branch of United Bank of India in New Delhi. Hussain said many politicians are protesting against the note ban in the name of the common man but the truth is they are creating ruckus for their vested interests, Hussain said. “A drive is on against black money. In the manner we have made India Congress free, similarly we will make black money-free India. That is why the government is stressing on a cashless society,” he said.The government is working towards a cashless economy and it will help in checking black money, Hussain said.On Uttar Pradesh elections, he said there is a wave in BJP’s support and the party is fighting against corruption and nepotism. When asked if there is nepotism in Punjab, Hussain said, “They (Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family) have achieved this with their hardwork.” Over seat distribution between SAD and BJP, he said the election will be fought as per the coalition system only.On being asked when BJP will declare candidates for Punjab polls, he said in other parties candidates contest the polls but in BJP the party itself competes in the elections. Strategies are being formed and soon candidates will be declared. “BJP has strong ties with SAD that is why the coalition is continuing but such was not the case in Odisha,” he said replying to a question on why the alliance of BJP and BJD was broken in the state.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Toeing the party line, Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi wondering why he was shying away from an independent probe into the ‘Sahara-Birla’ papers relating to pay-offs, days after her comments questioning autheticity of the documents put Congress on the backfoot.The Congress’ CM candidate in Uttar Pradesh also debunked speculation that she was distancing herself from the campaigning in the poll-bound state in the wake of the controversy.”Why is @PMOIndia shying from an independent and a thorough probe into the #BirlaSaharaPapers?,” Dikshit tweeted.Dikshit, whose name allegedly figured in the ‘Sahara diaries’ along with many other politicians, had trashed it, putting party Vice President Rahul Gandhi in a tight spot as he had charged Modi with taking money from corporate houses based on the document.”I have said what I had to. The ball is in the court of the @PMOIndia & others now. Will he respond and come out clean? #SaharaBirlaDiaries (sic),” Dikshit said in another tweet.With BJP targeting it following Dikshit’s comments, Congress maintained that it wanted an independent and thorough probe into the “Sahara diaries” corruption issue.There was speculation that Dikshit may not remain Congress’ chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh following the controversy.Rejecting the speculations, Dikshit also junked reports that she has suspended her scheduled programmes in Aligarh.”I am amused to see ‘Sheila distances herself from UP’ speculation in media. Aligarh was not on my schedule. I will be in Barabanki tomorrow,” she said.The former Delhi Chief Minister’s name purportedly figured in the list that Congress had put out in a tweet two days back as proof of its allegations against Modi which upset her.On Sunday reacting strongly to the allegations, Dikshit had vehemently denied any wrongdoings calling the charges “all hearsay”. He had said the Supreme Court had already made observations on the diaries, comments that appeared similar to BJP’s argument in defending Modi.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday rubbished reports suggesting that she has withdrawn her name as the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.The former Delhi chief minister said that she was amused to see speculations that she has distanced herself from the Uttar Pradesh polls.Meanwhile, Dikshit also threw light on her upcoming visits to various places in the politically crucial state in the run up to the assembly polls. “Aligarh was not on my schedule. I will be in Barabanki tomorrow,” Dikshit tweeted.Earlier, it was reported that the former Delhi chief minister may withdraw her candidature after her name appeared on the Sahara list.The report said that Dikshit is unhappy with her name being surfaced in the recent Sahara diary leaks and Twitter fiasco following the same.With Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over ‘ Sahara diaries’ bribery issue, a controversy erupted after the grand old party put out a list linked to it on Twitter in which a reference to Dikshit also allegedly figured.ikshit strongly denied the charges and trashed the documents, saying the Supreme Court has already made its observations on them.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday taunted the ongoing feud between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his b’te noire uncle Shivpal Yadav, saying the first family of the Samajwadi Party should resolve the ‘mahabharat’ and focus on law and order, corruption and lack of administration in the politically crucial state.BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli also used the occasion to take a jibe at reports suggesting about the possibility of a ‘mahagathbandhan’ in the run up to next year’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.”However, in the first family of the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh a ‘mahabharat’ is already on for quite some time. Now, it appears that there are multiple lists – one by the uncle, one by the nephew who is the Chief Minister and there are all sorts of disputes. They should resolve that,” Kohli told ANI.”As far as the people of Uttar Pradesh are concerned, they are obviously going to vote on the track record of the Samajwadi Party. The substantial issues are law and order, corruption and the lack of administration,” he added.The tussle in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling family reignited yesterday after Akhilesh drew up his own list of poll candidates and submitted it to Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, bypassing his uncle and state president Shivpal Yadav.The Chief Minister’s surprise move angered Shivpal, who is officially in-charge of ticket distribution in consultation with the party president.Shivpal tweeted that ticket distribution would be decided by ‘victory potential'”The party will not tolerate any indiscipline that might hurt the party’s image,” he tweeted.According to sources, Akhilesh while reviewing the list of candidates for 403 assembly seats expressed concern over the party giving 181 tickets to ‘tainted’ persons.This is not the first time that Akhilesh and his uncle have clashed over tickets distribution. The Chief Minister, who is of the view that his image and record is party’s strength, had earlier this month expressed displeasure over the decision to field don-turned politicians Atiq Ahmed and Mukhtar Ansari’s brother Sibaqtullah Ansari for next year’s elections.The Ansari brothers belong to Quami Ekta Dal, which recently merged with the party despite opposition from Akhilesh.Mulayam has so far made all attempts to engineer a truce between his son and brother, but seat allotment has remained a thorny issue in the Samajwadi Party.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday questioned Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s intent after former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit junked the documents related to ‘Sahara diaries’ bribery issue and said this clearly indicates that whatever he speaks is lie and fabricated.”Everyone knows that Sheila Dikshit is a trusted person of the Gandhi family and if she has refuted and she has very clearly stated that there is no truth in it the fact is now open to everyone to see that what the intent of Mr Rahul Gandhi was and what he is up to,” BJP leader Zafar Islam said. “That is why I am saying again and again that people of India do not pay attention to Rahul Gandhi because it is all lie and all fabricated and always far far away from truth,” he added.With the Congress vice-president targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over ‘Sahara diaries’ bribery issue, a controversy erupted after the grand old party put out a list linked to it on Twitter in which a reference to Dikshit also allegedly figured. Dikshit, who is the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, strongly denied the charges and trashed the documents, saying the Supreme Court has already made its observations on them.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday taunted the ongoing feud between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his bete noire uncle Shivpal Yadav, saying the first family of the Samajwadi Party should resolve the ‘mahabharat’ and focus on law and order, corruption and lack of administration in the politically crucial state.BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli also used the occasion to take a jibe at reports suggesting about the possibility of a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in the run up to next year’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. “However, in the first family of the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh a ‘Mahabharat’ is already on for quite some time. Now, it appears that there are multiple lists – one by the uncle, one by the nephew who is the Chief Minister and there are all sorts of disputes. They should resolve that,” Kohli said.”As far as the people of Uttar Pradesh are concerned, they are obviously going to vote on the track record of the Samajwadi Party. The substantial issues are law and order, corruption and the lack of administration,” he added.The tussle in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling family reignited yesterday after Akhilesh drew up his own list of poll candidates and submitted it to Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, bypassing his uncle and state president Shivpal Yadav.The Chief Minister’s surprise move angered Shivpal, who is officially in-charge of ticket distribution in consultation with the party president.Shivpal tweeted that ticket distribution would be decided by ‘victory potential’. “The party will not tolerate any indiscipline that might hurt the party’s image,” he tweeted.According to sources, Akhilesh while reviewing the list of candidates for 403 assembly seats expressed concern over the party giving 181 tickets to ‘tainted’ persons.This is not the first time that Akhilesh and his uncle have clashed over tickets distribution. The Chief Minister, who is of the view that his image and record is party’s strength, had earlier this month expressed displeasure over the decision to field don-turned politicians Atiq Ahmed and Mukhtar Ansari’s brother Sibaqtullah Ansari for next year’s elections.The Ansari brothers belong to Quami Ekta Dal, which recently merged with the party despite opposition from Akhilesh.Mulayam has so far made all attempts to engineer a truce between his son and brother, but seat allotment has remained a thorny issue in the Samajwadi Party.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If BJP retrieved some momentum back in its favour in 2016 with a maiden assembly election win in Assam, the biggest question on the minds of its top brass was whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization gamble will pay off in the new year in a series of assembly polls, especially in Uttar Pradesh. BJP President Amit Shah will look back at the passing year with fondness as it presented him with some promising rewards and shored up his authority after back-to-back massive defeats in Delhi and Bihar in the preceding year had prompted leaders within the party, including veterans like LK Advani, to point fingers at him.The saffron party put up a creditable show in Kerala and West Bengal, two states where it has been traditionally weak, pulled off wins in bypolls held across the country, including in Assam and Madhya Pradesh, besides in local polls in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Its impressive show in Maharashtra and the tiny municipal corporation of Chandigarh was held by the party as an evidence of people’s support to demonetization at a time it has come under intense attack from a united Opposition over the decision, cited by the government as a measure against black money and corruption.While economic fallout of the radical exercise will take some time to be evaluated, there won’t be a long wait before its political implications are out in the open. Five states, including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, are going to the assembly polls early next year and demonetization has clearly emerged as the war cry of not only the saffron party but also its rivals, who have latched onto the hardships facing people in form of long queues outside banks and ATMs to term the measure anti-people.Besides Uttar Pradesh, it has a lot at stake in polls to three other state assemblies, including Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa. In Manipur, it has never been in power but has forged a strong regional alliance to have a realistic shot at power. In Punjab and Goa, the presence of AAP has upset the conventional poll dynamics and BJP, which is in power in both the states is trying hard to keep the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit at bay while battling its traditional rival Congress.However, it is capturing the big prize of Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha compared to 22 of four other states together, that is at the heart of BJP’s poll strategy in the fag end of the outgoing year. After taking over as the party chief in January for the second time, Shah continued with his efforts to build the organisation in states which he has identified as important for BJP’s poll prospects in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He believes that it is imperative for the party to put up a decent performance in states like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Telangana and Kerala– the coromandal region– besides northeastern states if it is to repeat its strong show in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.It will be hard for the party to repeat let alone better its landslide win in the western India besides the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and any loss in these regions can be made up by better shows in the coastal and northeastern states, BJP leaders believe. A win in Assam and vote share of more than 15 and 10% in Kerala and West Bengal were seen by the party as a big step to this direction.Though its performance in Tamil Nadu was disappointing it looks at ruling AIADMK as a friendly outfit with which it can have a political understanding. The untimely death of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has brought the leadership of two parties closer as the state government leans on the central government for support.Appointments of a number of state chiefs, including in Punjab and Bihar, underlined efforts of the saffron outfit, which has for decades been identified with Brahmin-bania support base, to broaden its appeal among the backward castes and Dalits, two Hindu groups which may have supported it in the past but never embraced it.Shah surprised many within the party by appointing Manoj Tiwari as Delhi BJP president as he is seen as an outsider with no ideological upbringing of the sort its regional satraps are expected to have. It was a clear indication that he was willing to move on from the city’s entrenched leadership which has failed to deliver in polls.If 2014 was the milestone year in the BJP’s history as it emerged stronger than ever before, 2015 exposed it to the limits of solely banking on Modi’s charisma. This year, BJP used its organisational heft and credible local leadership, as in the case of Assam where Sarbananda Sonowal turned out to be its lucky mascot, to expand into newer territory. However, it will be the new year that can provide the strongest signal yet of whether its hope of a repeat of 2014 landslide in the next Lok Sabha polls will ride on firm foundations or not. Uttar Pradesh will decide.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Sunday alleged the Narendra Modi government of double standards, saying that at one end Shivaji statue is getting worth Rs. 3,600 whereas statues of schedule caste and OBC are being criticised for being waste of expenditure. BSP supremo Mayawati in a statement said the double standards of the saffron party exposes the caste discriminatory attitude ‘Not against Shivaji Memorial worth Rs. 3,600 crore, but why are memorials of great OBC and Dalit leaders constructed by us being criticised” it added. According to the statement, the work done by the BSP government for great poets and writers have always been criticised by the past governments including Congress, BJP and Samajwadi Party.’These tactics used by BJP and Samajwadi Party will not be able to woo the people of Uttar Pradesh as they have exposed themselves,’ the statement added.This comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday laid the foundation stone for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on board a hovercraft in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast.The main feature of the Shivaji memorial is that it costs Rs. 3,600 crore.The Maharashtra Government will fund the entire project and has already set aside Rs. 2,300 crore for the first phase of construction.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Five persons have been arrested here and over 700 kg of ganja along with around Rs 9 lakh in cash were seized from them, police said.An ambulance was intercepted at Chaubeypur Police Station area. During the checking, 737 kg of ganja, in 134 packets, worth around Rs one crore in domestic market was recovered from the vehicle, police’s Special Task Force Inspector S K Singh said.Rs 9.42 lakh in cash, of which nearly Rs eight lakh was in new currency notes was also seized from the vehicle, the officer said.The five arrested have been identified as Triveni Gupta, Srinath Yadav, Bunty Gupta all from Azamgarh, and Jakir Hussain and Altaf Hussain both native of Assam, he said.They used to transport ganja from Assam to Uttar Pradesh and other states in the vehicle, Singh said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav‘s ambitious new Agra-Lucknow Expressway, which was inaugurated in November, will open for commuters on Friday. Akhilesh, who plans to contest the upcoming Assembly elections in the state on the plank of development, on Thursday also laid the foundation of Purvanchal Expressway project which will connect Lucknow to Ghazipur. With Assembly polls likely to be announced any time now, Akhilesh has been on a ribbon cutting spree since the start of the week and set a record of sorts.
The 302-kilometre-long six-lane expressway, which is India’s longest, is expected to considerably reduce the travel time between Lucknow and Delhi which usually takes 12 to 14 hours. The dream project of Akhilesh was inaugurated in Bangarmau by his father and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on the eve of latter’s birthday at least a month ago.In a first for any road launch, six fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday made a touchdown barely skimming the road before taking off to mark the opening of the Agra-Lucknow Expressway which can be also used for war-like emergency situations.
The Agra-Lucknow Expressway, which was built in a record time of 23 months, is expected to reduce the road travel time between Delhi and Lucknow by five to six hours. According to The Financial Express, the Agra-Lucknow Expressway has a design speed of up to 120 kms per hour and will have automatic traffic management systems aimed at reducing road accidents and helping even at the time of fog. The report added that the six-lane expressway is expandable to eight lanes.
At a prepatory meeting, states chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar met with UP Expressways Industrial Development (UPEIDA) and police officials earlier this week to ensure that the necessary traffic management system, road safety and emergency services are in place. Quoting Bhatnagar, Hindustan Times reported, “Police officers have been told to provide one police van (Dial 100) and one ambulance (108 service) on every 30 kilometre stretch of the expressway and also set up requisite check posts.”
At the time of inauguration, three Mirage 2000 and three Sukhoi-30 jets of the IAF carried out the ‘touch and go’ on a portion of the newly constructed Expressway which has an RCC construction and reinforced and appropriately marked to facilitate aircraft landings. The portion used for the operations is located at Ganj Moradabad in Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh. The expressway has an 8-lane bridge across the river Ganga. This will connect Kanpur and Unnao.
The aim of the exercise is to check feasibility of Expressways being used as alternate airstrips in case of dire emergencies or non-availability of runways for any reason, a defence official said.
Reports said that the Expressway includes 4 rail over bridges, 13 major bridges, 57 minor bridges, 74 vehicular underpasses, 148 pedestrian underpasses and 9 flyovers. It also stretches across 10 districts, 236 villages and 3,500 hectares of land.
The Agra-Lucknow Expressway is considered to be a Greenfield project as there were no work constraints of existing buildings or infrastructure. Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) purchased almost 3,127 hectares of land without a murmur of dissent and decided to pay four times the circle rates (CR) to the land owners in rural areas and twice the CR in urban parts, as purchase cost. The rest of land was acquired through land acquisition method.
Mulayam, at the time of inauguration, congratulated officials for completing the Expressway in a record two years time along with the chief minister who took personal interest in it.
“At the time of laying of foundation stone of the Expressway, I had asked as to when it will be completed and when four years were asked for its completion I had refused to lay the foundation stone. Later, however, it was done giving 22 months for completing it. The result is before everyone to see that today the road is ready in two years. Earlier, it used to take 12 to 14 hours to reach Delhi and now the distance will be covered in far less time. It will be very beneficial for the people,” he said. Akhilesh said the project would prove to be an example before the country as no other state had such a vast expressway. “Samajwadis will go to the polls on the back of such great work,” the SP chief said.
“When roads are laid they lead to development, this road will connect capitals like New Delhi and Lucknow, it will have industries, petrol pumps and mandis along the route and on returning to power in Uttar Pradesh, the SP government will take this expressway further till Ghazipur and Ballia in record time, it will connect one end of the state to the other,” he said.
A high-level meeting held in November, which was presided over by the chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar, it was decided that every 30 km, on both sides of the 302-km long Expressway, a Dial-100 police vehicle and 108 Ambulance would be stationed for any emergencies. It was also instructed that signages and milestones be put up before the route is thrown open for public use. The chief secretary also ordered breath analysers and speed radars to check traffic violators on the Expressway.
With inputs from agencies
First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 13:00 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Playing the caste card ahead of Assembly elections, the Akhilesh Yadav government on Thursday gave its assent to include 17 Other Backward Castes in the Scheduled Castes (SC) list.A Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday morning cleared the proposal in this regard, officials said.The proposal, considered to be aimed at wooing the OBCs in the coming elections, will now be sent to the Centre for clearance, they said. The 17 sub-castes which the government wants included in the SC category are Kahar, Kashyap, Kewat, Nishad, Bind, Bhar, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Batham, Gaur, Tura, Majhi, Mallah, Kumhar, Dheemar and Machua.Earlier in March 2013, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly had passed a resolution asking the Centre to include 17 castes of the state into the list of Scheduled Castes (SC) category.In the resolution presented by Social Welfare Minister Avdhesh Prasad and passed by the voice vote in the House, it was stated that in a detailed study by UP SC/ST Research and Training Institute, these 17 castes have been found ‘deserving’ to be included in the list of Scheduled Castes (SC).The Mulayam Singh Yadav government too had passed the resolution in the state Cabinet in February 2004 and had sent recommendation to the Centre for inclusion of these castes in SC list in December 2004.Later, Mulayam went ahead and issued a government order on October 10, 2005 giving SC benefits to these castes, which was, however, struck down by the High Court.Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are likely to be held early next year.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh police has arrested a man for brutally beating a woman in a market place for resisting molestation.A case has been registered at Kishani area police station in Mainpuri against the three miscreants.One of the suspects, Anand Yadav, has been arrested. A special team has been made to nab the remaining two culprits.”I was asking a few persons about Ajay’s shop, but they said that come inside with us, we will tell you. I asked him to talk with respect. But he started abusing us and started fighting. The person used a stick to beat my husband, but hit me instead,” the victim said.Superintendant of Police Sunil Saxena said, “We have registered the case and after that the medical checkup was done. We have taken the preventive action by arresting the accused. The accused was arrested within hours of the incident and after that a special team has been made to arrest the remaining culprits. We have made a team which includes the surveillance team and sub-inspectors. I am monitoring that; soon we will complete the remaining proceedings.”
In a shameful manifestation of public apathy and the influence of local thugs in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri district, a woman was reportedly molested and later beaten up along with her husband in broad daylight as bystanders stood and watched, while some even chose to film the assault.
The video, which has gone viral on social media, since Tuesday shows a group of men brutally caning a woman and a man while a pack of bystanders watched the incident. The woman was seen bleeding from the head, yet no one from the crowd intervened.
According to reports, the couple’s young daughter was also present when the incident took place, however, the attackers fled the scene before the police arrived, according to a report in Jansatta.
The main culprit, identified as Anand Yadav, a resident of Kishani, Mainpuri district, was nabbed on Wednesday morning based on the video and eyewitness account and a case has been registered against him and two unknown miscreants, according to Dainik Bhaskar.
According to a report published in Patrika, Vandana Tiwari and Ashwin Tiwari were asking for directions to an address in Kishani Bazaar area when a local resident tried to grab the woman’s neck scarf and grope her. The couple tried to resist, after which they were badly beaten up.
Another report in Zee News, said Vandana and Arvind have registered a complaint with the local police and threatened to shoot themselves if the culprits were not arrested soon.
Meanwhile, this is not the first incidence being reported from the area. In another shocking incident from July this year, a Dalit couple was murdered by a local shopkeeper after a spat because the couple owed him Rs 15. In August, two labourers were reportedly beaten to death by some local cops as they refused to give bribe at a checkpoint.
Mainpuri is just 20 km away from Saifai, the hometown of the ruling Akhilesh Yadav family. With Assembly elections nearing, a gruesome incident of attack and molestation in the Samajwadi Party bastion could hamper UP Chief Minister’s claims of an improving law and order situation.
First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 17:43 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav feels the days of caste-based politics in the state are over and now the two Ds — development and demonetization problems — will work in favour of the Samajwadi Party in the upcoming assembly polls.According to him, his family feud is no more a factor and all issues have been changed post demonetization. “That is a thing of past now. We are working together to win the elections. Issues have changed and post demonetization nobody remembers that (family feud) now. All the other issues have been left behind and demonetization has emerged as the key issue,” he said.He asserted that Uttar Pradesh will vote for his work, image and not on caste equations. “Our work in last five years and the problems people are facing due to demonetization will lead us to victory in upcoming elections. Jo kataarein ATM ke bahar lagi hai wo polling booth ke bahar lagegi (polling booths will see long queues like ones outside ATMs now),” Akhilesh.When asked who he considers the bigger rival — BJP or BSP, he said people of Uttar Pradesh have lost faith in both of them. “BJP has done nothing for Uttar Pradesh in last two and a half years. The Prime Minister was elected from UP, home minister and defence minister are also representing UP. They have maximum number of MPs from UP but they have given nothing to the state apart from Adarsh Gaon Yojna and nothing is happening on that front also,” he said.”As far as BSP is concerned, people are not interested in getting elephants installed everywhere,” he added.His father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has already ruled out any pre-poll alliance with Congress but Akhilesh said it will be premature to predict anything as of now. “Of course the party president will take a call on that but I believe that we will get 300 plus seats if we enter into a pre-poll alliance with Congress. I know that netaji (Mulayam) has said there will be merger, no alliances but there is still time for the elections and you must wait and watch. Politics is full of surprises and you never know what will happen tomorrow,” he said.”I do not have any doubt on getting an absolute majority but we can get 300 plus seats if we fight together. Samajwadis believe that Congress is their best friend when it is weak,” he said.
BBC Hindi’s Divya Arya visits a constituency that has elected the most amount of women to parliament.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Modi government is planning a two-lane 275-km road along the route of the 84 Kosi Parikrama, an age-old religious yatra touching the temple town of Ayodhya as it circum-ambulates six districts of Uttar Pradesh.If all goes well, roads and transport minister Nitin Gadkari could make the announcement about the Rs 750 crore project when he visits Faizabad on December 21, according to sources. Gadkari has been touring the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh since August for laying foundation stones for roads that are likely to cover all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.Ayodhya in Faizabad district falls on the route of the 84 Kosi Parikrama yatra, beginning and ending in Makhurha in Uttar Pradesh’s Basti where the King of Ayodhya is believed to have performed “yagna” in the “treta” period. The belief is that the parikrama delivers penance from the cycle of birth and death.With the BJP giving priority to development over temple politics in UP, the focus was on addressing concerns of basic amenities, sources said. While the new projects cannot be completed before the UP polls due early next year, government was hoping it would send the message that it was serious about development, a promise on which the BJP had swept UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.Gadkari will be in the state over the next two days to lay foundation stones for a spate of projects, including one for a four-lane road on the Jagdishpur-Faizabad section. On December 20, he will be in Ambedkar Nagar for a similar programme for the Dhadra pul to Varanasi section and Allahabad for laying foundation stone for a four-lane road connecting it to neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh.Having set himself a target of completing the exercise before the code of conduct came into force, Gadkari has already laid foundation stones for over a dozen projects, which include several highways from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency. His schedule has around another dozen projects. All of these would cost around Rs 40,000 crore, according to ministry sources. The elections were expected to be notified this month.Of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, BJP had won 71. The party was hoping to reach out across caste barriers by flaunting the Modi regime’s welfare schemes. However, with demonetization dominating the narrative, some state MPs have expressed their concern about it to the BJP leadership.Besides Varanasi, to which around eight new highway projects are linked, the ministry’s foundation laying programme included projects in Lucknow, home minister Rajnath Singh’s constituency, Kanpur section, where senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi is the MP, Pilibhit, union minister Maneka Gandhi’s seat. At Lalganj area in Azamgarh, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s constituency, Gadkari has launched upgradation and four-lane conversion of NH-233.While the Centre dotted the state with foundation stones, ministry sources said the state government had been cooperating with the Centre in the projects. With elections around the corner, the ruling Samajwadi Party was also in no mood for a confrontation over the issue of development of the state.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Income Tax department has seized Rs 66 lakh cash, all in new Rs 2000 notes, as part of the anti-black money crackdown operations in Hyderabad, while Rs 18 lakh in new currency notes were seized in Delhi.The first incident, that occurred in Hyderabad on the night of December 16, was reported at the Telugu Academy in Himayatnagar when an I-T team intercepted few people who ran into a nearby apartment on seeing the team.”Search of the apartment led to recovery of Rs 36 lakh cash, all in Rs 2000 denomination. Sources of the cash are being probed into,” I-T sources said.In the second incident in the same city on December 17, department investigators along with police intercepted a speeding Honda Activa in the Tank Bund area.”Cash of Rs 30 lakh in Rs 2000 denomination was found with two persons.The case is being probed,” they said.The three accused in Noida case –Vinay Kumar from Jind, and Mahendra Kumar and Praveen Kumar from Hisar–were arrested on Saturday evening by a team of Uttar Pradesh Anti Terrorist Squad and Income Tax Department.”The arrests were made following a tip off that some people were carrying a huge amount of counterfeit currency in Bhishanpura village in Sector 57,” Deputy Superintendent of Police UP ATS (Western UP Wing) Anoop Singh said.The team searched the car of the accused following which Rs 18 lakh in new currency notes of Rs 2000 was found, he said.No counterfeit or old currency notes were found. The car has also been impounded, the DSP said.The team is interrogating the accused and more arrests and seizures are expected on basis of the information, he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing deep sorrow over the death of three students on their trip to Kerala, St. Stephen College Principal, Professor John Varghese on Saturday said that the College faculty is helping the families of the students in every possible way.”The members of the faculty present there are assisting the families to handle the procedures and whatever possible from their side. We hope that the bodies will be handed over today sometime,” Varghese told ANI. He further expressed his gratitude to the Kerala government, the alumni and staff members for their support in this hour of need.Three students of the college, who were on a holiday trip to Kerala, drowned in the Periyar River in Ernakulam district on Friday. A local resort owner who was with them drowned as well. The incident took place when Anubhav Chandra from Jehanabad district of Bihar, Aditya Patel from Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh and Kenneth Jose from Kerala’s Wayanad had moved away from their group of 13 students, to visit the location by the side of a private resort in the evening. Anubhav and Aditya were third year Sanskrit students, while Kenneth was a first year Chemistry student.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three students from Delhi’s St Stephen’s College and a resort owner from Kerala drowned in the Periyar river in the state this evening, police said.Third year Sanskrit students Anubhav Chandra and Aditya Patel, first year Chemistry student Kenneth John, and Benny, a private resort owner from Kerala, drowned around 6.30 PM at Paniyeli Poru — a tourist spot.The bodies were recovered and kept at the Taluk hospital at Perumbavoor, police said.Chandra hailed from Bihar and Patel belonged to Uttar Pradesh, police said. Kenneth John was a resident of Wayanad in Kerala. In Delhi, St Stephen’s College Principal John Varghese confirmed the news saying it was true and they were in the process of finding out more details.Police said the students had come to Kerala as part of a group of 11 students and 2 wardens to visit famous tourist spots. The incident occurred at Paniyeli Poru, a tourist spot where the river has dangerous clusters of slippery rocks, near Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district, police said.The spot is known for its death traps for tourists because of strong undercurrents, though the water is only few feet deep, police said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> BJP President Amit Shah targeted Rahul Gandhi, saying instead of embarking on roadshows against demonetization, he should take out “yatras against unemployment, poverty and starvation”.Addressing BJP’s ‘Parivartan Rally’, he also hit out at other opposition parties, including SP, BSP and Trinamool Congress, for “ganging up” against demonetizationand disrupting parliamentary proceedings leading to a virtual washout of the winter session.”Rahul Baba is undertaking padyatras daily. It will be better if Rahul takes out yatras against unemployment, poverty and starvation,” Shah said while targeting the Congress leader who has been aggressively campaigning against demonetization.”He (Rahul) asks what change has come after BJP came to power… He will not be able to see as he has ‘Italian chashma’ (Italian glasses) on his eyes,” Shah said, in an apparent reference to Italian roots of Rahul’s mother Sonia Gandhi.The BJP chief likened the unity among opposition parties on the issue of demonetizationto all animals in a jungle climbing the same tree to save their lives from raging floods. He likened SP, BSP and Congress to “naagnath and saanpnath” (snakes) sitting over schemes for development of Uttar Pradesh forcing youths to migrate to other states for menial jobs, and asserted that “come what may, BJP will come to power” after the coming Assembly election. He said demonetizationhas taken the wind out of BSP supremo Mayawati’s sails.Shah said till November 7 these parties used to ask “Modiji what have you done to check black money. Now, these very parties ask ‘Modiji why have you done this to check black money,” the BJP chief said.The tough step has caused discomfort to those having lakhs of crores of rupees ill-gotten money, Shah said.Noting that it was his duty to answer the questions being raised by the opposition parties on note ban, Shah said every single paisa being deposited after deducting the 75 to 85 per cent penalty by the black money holders will be used for the development and welfare works.Attacking Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Shah said he should give an account of his achievements during his nearly five-year rule rather than trying to divert the people’s attention by raising the issue of demonetization.”SP, BSP and Congress and at some places Ajit Singh (RLD) are together stalling the development of Uttar Pradesh as saapnath and naagnath,” the BJP President said.Shah was particularly critical of Akhilesh and said central assistance for the welfare of the poor and farmers in Uttar Pradesh went in vain as the benefits did not reach the targeted people and instead swelled the coffers of Samajwadi Party leaders. “You can see that their dwelling units had changed to palaces during the SP rule.. Massive dose of financial assistance was given to the state but it was usurped by ‘chacha-bhatija’ (uncle-nephew),” he said, referring to Akhilesh and state party chief Shivpal Singh Yadav.Akhilesh will have to answer for the “wrongs” done during his five-year rule, the BJP chief said.”Akhilesh will first have to answer for Mathura where government land was encroached for years, Bulandshahr where gangrape was committed and his minister Azam Khan made mockery of it and here in Etah 100 people lost their lives in hooch tragedy,” Shah said.”I feel bad to see youths from UP drive taxis and work as labourers in other states as there is no opportunity in their home state,” he said, adding only a BJP government can ensure that they work in their native district, stay with their parents and family. “It is corruption, corruption and nothing but corruption in Uttar Pradesh,” he rued.Referring to the CM’s claims of getting more that 300 seats in case of an alliance with Congress, Shah said he should not leave his ‘Buaji’ (Mayawati). “But, it will be BJP which will come to power in UP,” he asserted.Claiming that incidents of rape increased by a staggering 161 per cent during the Akhilesh Yadav regime, Shah recalled that when the state had a BJP government headed by Kalyan Singh, criminals kept a low profile.He said senior SP leader and UP minister Azam Khan made a mockery of law and order with his comments on rape cases.Shah said the Modi government had done away with interview of youths for Class III and IV jobs, but the SP government was so deep into corruption that it did not comply with the order unlike BJP-ruled states.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hailing the Supreme Court order to ban all liquor shops on national and state highways across the country, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday said it vindicated prohibition decision in the state.”The apex court order banning all liquor shops within 500 metre radius of national as well state highways has vindicated our decision to implement total prohibition in Bihar,” Kumar said addressing ‘Chetna Sabha’ here as part of his ‘Nishchay yatra’. “I had suggested Union Surface Transport minister Nitin Gadkari earlier that prohibition would help control accidents on national highways and now Supreme Court has given an order on this,” the JD(U) chief said. He was addressing the meeting as part of the fourth phase of his ‘Nishchay Yatra’ to take feedback from people on the effectiveness of the prohibition as well as preparation for implementation of “Seven Resolves” of development. Kumar, who has taken the prohibition in a mission mode, highlighted positive impacts of liquor ban in the state since April by way of hike in consumption of milk, sweets, garments and furniture among others.The chief minister said to check illegal transportation of alcohol from far-off Haryana and neighbouring states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Nepal, police should prepare a dossier of those engaged in liquor trade before prohibition. “Garland persons who have shifted to other profession from liquor trade and catch those still involved in the business surreptitiously,” he said.Kumar, accompanied by ministerial colleagues Bijendra Prasad Yadav and Chandresekhar, exhorted women to keep a tab on those who still manage to buy liquor illegally and inform concerned officials for action.He also asked them to be vigilant to see that habitual drinkers have not shifted to equally harmful dry intoxicants like opium.Kumar mentioned beneficial programmes under the “Seven Resolves” adopted as “sushasan” (good governance) which included beneficiary schemes for youths, providing electricity connection, sewage, drinking water and toilet to every household in the state.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Focus is now on Rs 500 notes, assures finance secretaryClose to Rs 5 lakh crore or 33% of additional notes had already been brought back into the system. Read more.2. Ensure cash crunch ends by Jan 15, BJP MPs tell Amit ShahMPs told party president that demonetization has overshadowed the positive impact of surgical strikes. Read more.3. Karunanidhi hospitalised again with lung infection, breathing difficultyDaughter Kanimozhi said he is better now. Read more.4. Rahul Gandhi seeks appointment with PM ModiRahul has also sought appointment from PM Modi to present a list of demands of farmers that he apparently collected during his extensive tour of election bound state of Uttar Pradesh. Read more.5. I don’t even compete with myself: Sushant Singh RajputSushant Singh Rajput on having the time of his life just pursuing acting and doing little else. Read more.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking the government over its note ban implementation, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Thursday said that even after 37 days of demonetization, the people who are suffering the most are the poor, ‘labourers and farmers’.She told the media that the black money that the government has collected must be deposited in the accounts of the poor and the government must waive farmers’ loans and stop feeding big businessmen.”Since the government has taken the decision on demonetization, we have been getting reports from various places that farmers are the most affected by this decision. Even after 37 days of demonetization the people who are suffering the most are poor, labourers and farmers,” he said.Lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mayawati said the government’s controversial move to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will backfire on the BJP in the crucial Uttar Pradesh election.”Modi has brought in demonetization because he is scared of losing Uttar Pradesh. From the very first day we were against black money and corruption but the decision the Central government took without anyone’s consent was because there motive was not to sweep black money but because they were scared of losing,” she added.Meanwhile, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, gave a notice in the Rajya Sabha on the “hardships faced by farmers due to demonetization”.Speaking in the Upper House, he said, “I have given notice so that the debt of the farmers is forgiven. The BJP is not in the support of the farmers.”Merely two days are remaining for the Winter Session to wrap up, but both the Houses showed absolutely no concern for the fact that the session has been a complete washout until now.The Lok Sabha got adjourned within minutes of commencing and Rajya Sabha a few minutes after. Both Opposition and BJP sparred over the issue of demonetisation and Rahul Gandhi’s jibe at Narendra Modi on Wednesday.Earlier in the day, senior BJP ministers, including Venkaiah Naidu and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the session and the Opposition parties met with President Pranab Mukherjee.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court has accepted Azam Khan’s affidavit, saying he has expressed ‘sincere and heartful remorse’ for his comments on the Bulandshahr gangrape case on Thursday.The Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan tendered unconditional apology in Supreme Court for his remarks in November pertaining to the gangrape case.The Supreme Court had earlier this month rejected Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s ‘unconditional apology’ for his alleged remarks on the Bulandshahr gangrape case.The apex court had earlier on December 7 asked Khan to submit a fresh affidavit. An apex court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra had asked the Samajwadi Party leader to file a fresh affidavit after noting that the earlier one filed by him has errors in it.The Attorney General also raised questions about the draft copy submitted by Khan in connection with the apology given by him.Earlier on November 18, the Samajwadi Party leader had told the apex court that he was ready to unconditionally apologise for describing as “political conspiracy” the gangrape of two women near Bulandshahr in July.Appearing for Khan, senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued that his client had made a general remark which was not targeted at the family of the victim. However, the judges were not convinced and they asked Sibal as to how a public figure like Khan could make such a comment.The apex court had earlier directed media organisations to submit the video clip of the press conference in which Khan had made this statement.The Uttar Pradesh Minister created a controversy after he alleged that a “political conspiracy” is involved in the gangrape of a minor girl and her mother on the highway in Bulandshahr on July 29.On August 29, the apex court issued a notice to Khan for his reported comment. The case was subsequently handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). With agency inputs.
By Rina Chandran
KACHHIDIH (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – For decades, Kunta lived in a hut outside Kachhidih village in Uttar Pradesh, enduring the insults of higher-caste villagers who claimed her land – which she did not legally own – for grazing cattle.She dreamed of owning just a small piece of land for her family who belong to the traditionally low-caste Dalit group.Six months ago, Kunta got her wish when the state allocated her family and eight others small plots of land a few kilometres (miles) away from their old home, after months of delays.Kunta was finally a landowner with her name on the title.Reached by a dirt track through a field, the land is some distance from the highway. There is one solar lamp post and a hand pump spewing muddy water. Huts cobbled together with straw, mud and plastic offer scant protection from the winter chill.Yet Kunta, who goes by her first name, is hopeful.”The place we lived in before was our home for many years, but it did not belong to us. The villagers harassed us and officials asked us for bribes in exchange for titles,” she said.”This is our land; perhaps we can save some money, plan for our future, for our children. No one can chase us away because we own this land,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Landless Dalits like Kunta are at the bottom of India’s age-old social hierarchy, denied land ownership and facing slights and discrimination every day from upper-caste Hindus.Despite evidence linking landlessness and poverty, and laws to help people secure small plots of land on which to build a home and eke out a living, roughly 56 percent of India’s rural households — about 100 million families — remain landless.Most belong to low-caste or indigenous communities.”The main issue is not non-availability of land, it is corruption and caste,” said Ramesh Sharma, a senior official at rights group Ekta Parishad, which has lobbied the government for years for land for the landless poor.”Getting land allocated is in itself a challenge, then local revenue officials often ask for bribes to release the titles. High-caste villagers may object and delay it further because they just don’t want these people to get land,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh is the country’s most populous state, with a population of about 200 million. Dalits make up more than a fifth of the state’s population, but wield little power.India banned caste-based discrimination in 1955, but centuries-old attitudes persist, and lower-caste groups including Dalits are among the most marginalised communities.But Sarnath Prajapati, a revenue officer of the state, denied that caste is keeping Dalits from getting land, or that there are long delays and corruption in land allocation.”We have allocated land to the maximum extent possible. It is a priority for the state,” Prajapati said.”Sometimes, the land that is allocated may be in use by someone. Then we talk to them, and that takes time. Sometimes we have to bring the police to resolve the situation,” he said.Activist Jignesh Mevani is leading a campaign for land, asking that states give 5 acres (2 hectares) of land to each landless Dalit family so they can earn a living.The previous federal government had drafted a National Rural Homestead Bill in 2013 to provide plots measuring about 4,400 square metres (47,361 sq ft) each to landless families.
But the draft bill was never presented in parliament for approval. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came to power in 2014, met Ekta Parishad officials earlier this year and assured them that the bill remained a priority, Sharma said.A few states including West Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka have drawn up their own laws for land allocation, giving government land and excess private land to the landless. Homestead plots, measuring just one-tenth of an acre, can deliver “significant economic and nutritional benefits”, with space to grow food, build a home, keep small livestock, and for other livelihood options, according to land advocacy Landesa.But in India’s fast growing economy, demand for land for industrial and development projects is increasing, and land allocation is beset with challenges, Landesa said.”Identification of the landless is challenging, available land for distribution is often encroached upon by dominant interests and land management committees are often not functional,” said Shipra Deo, Landesa’s Uttar Pradesh director.”Above all, caste is a big factor and very difficult to overcome, as it is so entrenched and so sensitive,” she said.
In Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur district, landless Dalits bear the brunt of this ancient caste discrimination.In Kachhidih village and Tardih village, Dalits are not allowed to work or live close to higher-caste people. In Kachhidih, one Dalit man was beaten up so badly after his goat entered someone else’s land that he is now bedridden and cannot work, Kunta said.Land allocated to Kunta and her neighbours was not handed over for months as other villagers argued over the proximity of the land to their fields, said village headman Madhukar Dwivedi. More than 100 families are still awaiting their titles for land that has been allocated to them, he said.”In our society, there are good people and bad people. Some people don’t want these people to get land, they just want them to live under them, in their control always,” Dwivedi said.”I want to give the titles, but I have to get the backing of the village council. There is a system, and not everyone in the system supports giving them titles,” he said.It is the same situation in Tardih, where members of the semi-nomadic Nat community who lived for decades near the village, faced harassment and delays in getting their land titles, said Najma Ahmed, one of the oldest residents.Five families recently received titles to small plots of land some distance from the village, and have built rickety huts a few metres from a stagnant pool covered in green slime.”The villagers said we were living on their land for free. But they wouldn’t let us work there,” said Ahmed, who like other women in this Muslim community wears glass bangles and a red sindoor on her forehead like married Hindu women do.”At least here we can build homes, give them to our kids. It isn’t much, but where else can we go? This is all we have.” (Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 21:14 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pointing to the loss of revenue, a powerful committee of the Maharashtra legislature has urged the state government to consider an entry tax on cross-border transactions on e-commerce portals.”E-commerce portals like Amazon and Flipkart mention the tax in their bills if the goods are sold within the state. But when goods from outside Maharashtra are provided directly to consumers in our state, sales tax is levied by the other state. Maharashtra does not get sales tax on it and is deprived of revenue. The (finance) department must study this way of functioning. If goods are received in Maharashtra from other states through the online route, details must be procured about where it was purchased, if tax has been paid and care must be taken to ensure that Maharashtra gets the necessary revenue,” said a report of the public accounts committee (PAC) which was tabled in the state legislature on Tuesday.The committee, which is chaired by Gopaldas Agarwal, Congress MLA from Gondia, noted that while the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) would mitigate the issue to a large extent, it was necessary for the finance department to oversee the working of e-commerce portals like Amazon and Flipkart.”With regards to this, (states like) Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have levied an entry tax for e-commerce. The department must study this tax system. In case of sale and purchase transactions where there is no record of where the goods have been purchased from or if the tax has been paid or not, it must be presumed that the goods have been transacted within Maharashtra itself and taxes must be levied accordingly,” the report said.It stressed that while details should be sought from various companies on sale and purchase transactions and where the goods were dispatched from, special attention needed to be paid to those companies whose go-downs were located on the borders of the state.”Considering these issues, the state government must take immediate measures to prevent tax evasion and submit a report to the committee in three months on the action taken,” the committee recommended.Officials said the measure was aimed at plugging tax evasion by sellers on these portals.Sales tax accounts for the highest chunk of the state government’s budgeted revenues (30.08%) at Rs 81,437.69 in 2016-17.States like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Assam and Rajasthan have also moved to charge entry tax on e-commerce goods from other states.Computerised recordNoting that many traders did not give computerised bills to customers, the PAC said that this led to the state and Centre’s revenue being lost. “…the department must start an online system for all purchase and sales to keep a computerised record of all transactions,” the committee recommended, adding that a call centre could be started for consumers to register their complaints about merchants who did not issue bills for purchases.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prospects of a poll alliance between the ruling Samajwadi Party and Congress appeared to be brightening today with both showing inclination towards a tie-up, feeling that it will be beneficial for the two parties and would halt BJP’s march.Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said a tie-up between SP and Congress would fetch over 300 of the 403 Assembly seats in the upcoming elections while Congress said it is not averse to a “respectable” seat-sharing formula.”Though samajwadis are going to form majority government in the state, if an alliance takes place, it will win over 300 seats. The final decision in this regard will be taken by SP National president (Mulayam Singh Yadav),” Akhilesh told reporters here.Congress leaders of Uttar Pradesh, while sniffing a chance because of demonetization, are showed inclination towards an alliance, saying the party is open to a “respectable” seat-sharing formula with SP.Accepting that there are some back channel efforts to firm up an alliance, a Congress leader said his party will not agree to less than 100 seats which it has already identified. “Besides the 29 seats it won in the last Assembly polls and 31 others on which it had finished second, there are some 50 other constituencies where the party has good chance,” he said.The party, which has been out of power in the politically important state for 27 years, is trying its best to revive its electoral fortunes by pushing its vice president Rahul Gandhi to hold a ‘kisan yatra’ across the state.”The aim and target of Congress is not just to halt BJP in Uttar Pradesh but also in the country for which it believes that all parties having similar ideology need to come together,” said the leader who refused to be identified.”Such an alliance is also in the interest of Samajwadi Party which desperately needs to secure a strong platform to ward off division of Muslim votes in order to consolidate its position,” he said.BSP is posing a stiff challenge to Samajwadi Party and is going all out to woo Muslim voters and this is a concern for SP, he noted. ACongress had launched its poll preparations much in advance, roping in election strategist Prashant Kishor and announced the name of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial candidate with an eye on Brahmin votes.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said he is eagerly waiting for the Assembly polls as people who are now queueing outside ATMs will “queue-up once again to vote against the BJP”.”The Prime Minister’s demonetization move was without any planning. Everyone wants black-money to end but where is the money that should be in the market? People are still standing in queues. Poor labourers are unemployed and farmers are facing problems. This is a conspiracy against the people,” he said. Akhilesh stated that he was “eagerly” waiting for the state Assembly polls as “people of Uttar Pradesh will once again (stand in) queues, and vote against the BJP for giving them the pain (through demonetisation)”.He said three arguments were given in support of demonetization– it will help fight black money, counterfeit currency and corruption.”But you are mistaken. You (Prime Minister) said deposit Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in banks and everyone did so. But you did not check which notes were being deposited. All of them went to the bank,” Akhilesh said.Akhilesh said he wanted to know from the Centre what preparations had been made to facilitate cashless transactions. “Where is the internet? If BJP wants a cashless economy, it should have distributed smart-phones for free as we (the SP) has planned,” he added.
Hyderabad: In the first ever conviction of banned Indian Mujahideen cadres in a terror case, a special NIA court here convicted Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa alias Yasin Bhatkal and four others for being involved in 2013 twin blasts at Dilsukhnagar which had claimed 18 lives.
The NIA special court convicted Bhatkal and others under various sections of Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Besides Bhatkal, the others convicted were Asadullah Akthar of Uttar Pradesh, Zia-ur-Rahman alias Waqas of Pakistan, Tahseen Akhthar of Bihar and Aizaz Shaik of Maharashtra. All of them are in judicial custody.
The alleged key conspirator Riyaz Bhatkal, believed to be operating from Karachi, is still at large.
The court will announce the sentences for all the accused on 19 December.
The final arguments in the case concerning the attack, carried out on 21 February, 2013 in which 18 people were killed and 131 injured others, concluded last month during which 157 witnesses were examined. Trial in the case had begun on August 24 last year.
An elated Director General of NIA Sharad Kumar said “it was a wonderful investigation carried out by the team in which every evidence was examined minutely. This is the first ever conviction of Indian Mujahideen cadres.”
“We will be appealing for maximum punishment for the culprits,” Kumar said.
In its charge sheet, the NIA had claimed that Indian Mujahideen had hatched a conspiracy to wage a war against India and decided to carry out bomb blasts in Hyderabad to create terror in the minds of people and further the activities of the outfit.
The main operative of the module, Riyaz Bhatkal, who is named as the first accused in the case, had allegedly directed his associates Asadullah Akhtar and Waqas to find a place in Mangalore to be used as a hide-out for explosive materials sent by him, it had alleged.
First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 15:33 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a New Year bonanza for state government employees ahead of UP Assembly elections, Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday decided to implement recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission.The decision is likely to benefit 16 lakh state government employees and six lakh pensioners.”Wetan samiti ka faisla liya hai. Aaney waley samay mey lakhon karmchairyon ko laabh hoga. Issey kai crore ka bhaar aayega (We have taken decision of pay committee recommendations. It will benefit lakhs of government employees. It will put additional burden of crores of rupees on the state exchequer,” Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said.He was briefing reporters after a meeting of the state cabinet charied by him.The pay recommendations will be implemented from January 1, he said, adding in the days to come these employees will help Samajwadi Party form government in the state again.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With as many as 717 fatalities in 11 ‘black spots’ or accident-prone stretches from 2011-14, Tamil Nadu accounts for the maximum number of road accident fatalities on national highways, with Meghalaya in the second position and Uttar Pradesh third.While Tamil Nadu is the country’s most unsafe state in this category, Meghalaya reported 222 deaths in just three black spots and UP 146 fatalities across five black spots, reveals data from the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways. However, the maximum fatalities seen in a single black spot remains the Nonthymmai area in the east Khasi Hills at NH 44 of Meghalaya, with 89 fatalities.Data on black spots for 2015 is still being compiled, an official said. Inputs had to be invited twice over after some discrepancies in data sent by the states was spotted the first time, he explained.According to the data, accessed by DNA, five of Tamil Nadu’s black spots were in Kancheepuram and they led to 305 fatalities in the four years from 2011-14. Villupuram district, with 30 fatalities across four such accident-prone stretches, was number two.The three states — Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh – account for the top 20 black spots of the 789 identified in terms of fatalities. Tamil Nadu has 102 identified black spots, while Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh have reported eight and 104 black spots, respectively.Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, with 86 black spots, are actively working to make their highways safer by putting adequate signages and improving road design in the risk-prone stretches. Other states, in comparison, are lagging behind, an official said.”Despite repeated reminders, only 50 per cent states have set up a dedicated road safety engineering cell,” he said. Only 19 states have submitted their road safety action plan, a draft of which was sent to the states in 2013 by the government.While some of these black spots come under the jurisdiction of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), some are also on state roads that fall under state governments. A fund of Rs 600 crore has been earmarked for road safety engineering works by the government; of this, Rs 12 crore has been sanctioned for the rectification of six black spots.India has the highest number of road fatalities in the world with road accidents claiming more than 1.4 lakh lives every year, according to government reports. The ministry hopes to reduce the number of road- accident deaths by half in the next four year, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said at a road safety engineering workshop here recently.Status updateOf 789 black spots, 100 have already been improved and 214 come under ongoing road-widening projects. Survey investigations are on or proposals are under consideration in the case of another 125, sources said.
New Delhi: At least 13 people were killed in road mishaps in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with dense fog affecting visibility in north India even as cold wave conditions in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir intensified further due to a fresh spell of snowfall.
Early morning fog in Delhi led to the cancellation of 16 trains and 90 were running late. However, normal flight operations were reported at the IGI Airport.
The city recorded a minimum of 11 degrees Celsius and a high of 27.1 degrees Celsius.
Wintry chill tightened grip over parts of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and a thick cover of fog persisted over the region.
Eight persons were killed in separate mishaps amid foggy conditions in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida, Kakori and Malihabad areas, police said.
The MET department said shallow to moderate fog was witnessed at most places in the state in the past 24 hours.
Hamirpur district was the coldest with the minimum temperature settling at 8.2 degrees Celsius.
Five persons, including two women, were killed when their car rammed into a stationary truck on National Highway 2 due to poor visibility in Bihar’s Aurangabad district.
Dense fog hit normal life at several places in Haryana and Punjab though the minimum temperature was recorded above the normal limit at most places.
Normal movement of vehicular traffic was affected at many places in the two states due to fog and several trains were reported running late due to reduced visibility.
Fog and haze resulted in 15 vehicles crashing into each other near Dhantori village on GT Road in Haryana’s Kurukshetra district. There were no reports of injury to anyone yet, police said.
The cold wave sweeping parts of Himachal Pradesh intensified further following moderate snowfall in high
mountain ranges and passes.
The Rohtang, Kunzam and Saach passes, sprawling Dhauladhar ranges and higher reaches in tribal belt and Kullu district had another spell of moderate snowfall causing a drop of three to five degrees in the minimum temperature.
The high altitude tribal areas reeled under piercing cold wave conditions as mercury stayed between minus six and minus 10 degrees.
Moving further in north, the night temperature in the Kashmir Valley dipped after a day’s respite with the mercury settling below freezing point at most places, including Leh, which was the coldest place in Jammu and Kashmir at minus 11.4 degrees.
The Meteorological Department here has predicted mainly dry weather in the state for the week ahead which could lead to a further drop in night temperature.
Srinagar recorded minimum temperature of 0.1 degrees Celsius. Gulmarg in north Kashmir witnessed a fresh spell of rainfall and had a low of minus 3.4 degrees Celsius, while Pahalgam shivered at minus 4.2 degrees Celsius.
First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 21:27 IST
New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh tops the list of states with the most deposits in Jan Dhan accounts, followed by West Bengal and Rajasthan.
The total deposits in Jan Dhan accounts stand at Rs 74,610 crore as of 7 December, as per Finance Ministry data. UP has about 3.8 crore Jan Dhan accounts with deposits of Rs 12,021.32 crore. It is followed by West Bengal with 2.44 accounts and deposits of Rs 9,193.75 crore.
Rajasthan comes in third with 1.9 crore accounts and Rs 6,291.1 crore deposits, followed by Bihar (2.62 crore accounts, Rs 6,160.44 crore deposits).
Total deposits in Jan Dhan accounts surged by around Rs 28,973 crore in about a month after the announcement of ban on old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
Despite the surge, about one-fifth of these accounts still have no balance.
Last week, the government said that inflows into Jan Dhan accounts have come down significantly after it warned people not to allow their accounts to be misused for converting black money into white.
After setting a cash deposit limit of Rs 50,000 in these accounts, the government had on November 18 cautioned account holders that they will be prosecuted under the I-T Act for allowing misuse of their bank accounts through deposit of black money in Rs 500/1,000 notes during the 50-day window till December 30.
The directive came against the backdrop of reports that some people were misusing other persons’ bank accounts to convert their black money into new denomination notes.
First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 19:19 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing concern over virtual washout of the Winter Session of Parliament amidst continued opposition protest on demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said parties “discarded” by the people have stalled proceedings in both the Houses. “Parliament has not been allowed to function for 20 days. We are ready for a debate (on demonetization) but we are not being allowed to present our view point by those very parties that have been discarded by the electorate,” he said. Modi was addressing BJP’s Parivartan Yatra through mobile phone from Lucknow after the IAF chopper carrying him failed to land in Bahraich due to poor visibility.”They (opposition) come to the Well of the House…throw paper at the Speaker. We want to put forth the government’s view point…but they are not allowing us to do so,” he said.On demonetization, he said, “You must have seen that the government is after people who have stashed black money. The government is committed to empowering the poor. The people are also taking pain to ensure the country moves on the path of development.”Attacking Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, Modi said both the parties are talking in the “same tone”. He said both the parties are facing “hardship” due to note ban.Modi said only BJP could fulfil aspirations of the people of Uttar Pradesh and appealed to the electorate in Awadh region to vote for the party in the coming Assembly polls in the state.”For Uttar Pradesh to progress, poverty and goonda raj need to be removed,” he said. “Police are also helping those who are indulging in hooliganism. We have to crush those patronising ‘goondagardi’ (hooliganism). BJP will fulfill aspirations of the people of the state,” he said.Asking people to learn to use mobile banking, Modi said, “I am addressing you through mobile. You can turn your mobile into your bank. You have to learn it slowly.” Modi was national general secretary of BJP when he visited Bahraich in 2001 for the first time, and later in November 2013 for the second time.This was BJP’s 5th Parivartan Yatra to be addressed by the Prime Minister in the state. Modi has earlier addressed four parivartan rallies at Ghazipur, Agra, Kushinagar and Moradabad. His next rally is scheduled to be held in Kanpur on December 19. State BJP President Keshav Prasad Maurya said, “The Prime Minister Narendra will try to come again to Bahraich when his schedule and weather allow.”
New Delhi: BJP-led Assam government’s recent decision to keep the state-run madrassas open on Fridays has created ripples as it is seen as a move to restrain the religious freedom of the Muslims by many.
The decision that is likely to have a long-lasting effect comes at a time when the saffron party is raring to hold the reins of power in Uttar Pradesh in the upcoming assembly election.
Though the education department of Assam has repeatedly said this move as an attempt to bring in uniformity in the weekly holiday pattern followed by the schools, many view it as a move targeted at the madrassas.
Ramesh Chandra Jain, a top official in the education department of Assam told Firstpost, “We are planning to notify very soon that weekly holiday, in schools under the government will not be allowed on Fridays. It is not specifically targeted at the Madarsas.”
But critics say that since only madrassas and schools in the Muslim-dominated areas of the state remain closed on Friday for mass prayer, the notification may affect only such educational institutes.
Abdul Qayyum Alam, former director of Madarsa board of Assam said, “I have no objection about what the government wants to do about the weekly holiday in madrassas. But as per rule madrassas are provincialised as institutions for religious education, and they are governed by separate laws.”
He further says that, as per law, educational institutions provincialised under Madrasa Board of Assam as senior madrassas, title madrassas and Arabic colleges can follow the norm of remaining closed on Fridays.
“This law has been followed since the year 1955 and was brought into force to facilitate not only prayer but also to provide the madrassa students the opportunity to learn conduction of mass prayer,” he said.
The former official said that these madrassas remain open on Sundays conforming to the norm of one weekly holiday followed by any other school.
There are also views that partially support this move.
Maulana Fazlul Karim, general secretary of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind’s Assam chapter said, “The institutions known as high madrassas which have no separate laws for holidays can definitely follow this instruction.”
But Karim also said that institutions provincialised under the Madrasa Board have separate rules.
“Madrassas in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab also follow this norm of remaining closed on Fridays. So why a separate law is needed for Assam?” he asked.
In the meantime, the Assam Madrasa Co-Ordination Committee has submitted a memorandum to state Education Himanta Biswa Sarma requesting to roll back the decision, which it says he rejected right away.
The Education Minister came up with a tweet after the meeting which read, “Met Madarsa teachers to inform that government’s decision on keeping educational institutional institutes open on Friday is non-negotiable. Willing to discuss all other issues.”
Interestingly the Jamiat-Ulema-E Hind does not show much support to the Madrasas aggrieved by this decision.
Mehmood Madani, general secretary of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind told Firstpost, “We have been taking a stand against registering of Madrasas under the government in the name of modernization of Islamic education. But some madrassas did not pay heed to our appeal and now are suffering because of that. For taking aid and grant from government eventually leads to this. We have no problem with what they are facing on account of a decision taken at their own discretion.”
First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 22:48 IST
Expressing anguish over Muslim women being subjected to divorce over speed post, Skype and Facebook under the practice, BJP National Secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said it amounted to “disrespect towards women”. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hailing the Allahabad High Court’s observation on ‘triple talaq’, BJP on Thursday said its stand on the issue has been vindicated, and asked political parties supporting the practice to “desist from dividing the society in the name of religion”.”BJP’s ideology of gender equality stands vindicated by the court’s observation which has termed triple talaq unconstitutional and violative of women rights. A progressive society cannot be subjected to a regressive religious practice. BJP welcomes the court’s decision and also warns those political parties who have supported triple talaq for their political expediency. Time has come for them to desist from dividing the society in the name of religion. No personal law can claim supremacy over the rights granted to individuals by the Constitution,” BJP National Secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said.Expressing anguish over Muslim women being subjected to divorce over speed post, Skype and Facebook under the practice, he said it amounted to “disrespect towards women”. “India is one and the rights of women need to be one. Gender equality will be a major election issue, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, because time has come that people of India should know how these ‘secular parties’ have played with women rights through vote bank politics,” Singh said.
ALSO READ Triple talaq unconstitutional, violates rights of Muslim women: Allahabad High CourtComing down heavily on the practise of “triple talaq”, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday held that this form of “instant divorce” was “cruel” and “most demeaning” which “impedes and drags India from becoming a nation”.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dense fog engulfed the national capital on Thursday morning leading to biting cold and poor visibility.Several railway passengers had a tough time with at least 94 trains running late. Two trains were cancelled and over 16 were rescheduled due to poor visibility.Over six international and seven domestic flights operating from the Indira Gandhi International Airport have also been delayed. As of now, one domestic flight has been cancelled.The Delhi-NCR region, Amritsar and Lucknow also witnessed thick blanket of fog disrupting normal lives. The MeT department has forecasted dense to very dense fog at few places over Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and dense fog at isolated places over South Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. “It is very cold here, passengers can’t travel and it is difficult for us to drive as we can’t see anything due to fog.” Sonu Yadav, an auto-driver from Gorakhpur said.Another auto-driver, Rajesh Gupta said, “The number of passengers has reduced because of cold and fog. We are facing problems in driving.”Rail and air traffic have been badly hit due to dense fog in Bihar. Several trains including Rajdhani Express and Garib Rath are running late by 10-15 hours. Delhi-bound Jansadharan Express train has been cancelled.The flights from Delhi and Lucknow have been cancelled due to low visibility at the Patna airport.The state government has ordered to open all government and private schools from nine in the morning in view of severe cold.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, a newborn was eaten by a pack of dogs in the Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. The police have recovered the remains of the infant and sent them for post-mortem.The incident took place in Ram Nagar of Gulawathi, Bulandshahr. Locals who first noticed the gory happening said when they tried to shoo the dogs away, the animals got aggressive and tried to attack them as well. Panic has now spread in the area because of the aggressive dogs.Man Singh Chauhan, a local, said: “Some residents tried to rescue the child but the dogs attacked them.” The locals then immediately called the police and pelted stones at the dogs, who still did not flee.SHO Bupender Singh, the in-charge at the Gulawathi police station, said: “As soon as we received the call, we dispatched a police team to the spot. Only a part of the infant’s body could be recovered. Prima facie it appears that the child was a newborn. Nobody has come forward to claim the body till now.”Cops are now suspecting that the infant was dumped deliberately.”We have sent the body for post-mortem and lodged an FIR under section 314 (death caused by act done with intent to cause miscarriage) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),” Singh added.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking note of the suicide by a woman allegedly after failing to exchange old notes in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for her family and Rs 2 lakh each to those who died in similar incidents.”The CM has announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to the family members of Razia, who committed suicide in Aligarh.He has also announced assistance of Rs 2 lakh each to families of victims who died while exchanging notes or in ATM queues after verification,” an official spokesman said here.Yadav said it was unfortunate that people are losing lives to withdraw their own money, he said.Razia, a 45-year-old daily wage labourer died on December 4 at a Delhi hospital after she immolated herself on the evening of November 20 allegedly due to “failing to exchange six notes of Rs 500 despite attempts at different branches of banks in the old city area for five days”.Razia was a resident of Shahjamal locality in Delhi Gate area of Aligarh. On the night of November 20 when she was rushed to the district hospital in a critical condition she told mediapersons that she took the extreme step “out of total helplessness as her four children had not eaten any thing for three days”.
Lucknow: Taking note of the suicide by a woman allegedly after failing to exchange old notes in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for her family and Rs 2 lakh each to those who died in similar incidents.
“The CM has announced financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to the family members of Razia, who committed suicide in Aligarh. He has also announced assistance of Rs 2 lakh each to families of victims who died while exchanging notes or in ATM queues after verification,” an official spokesman said in Lucknow.
Akhilesh said it was unfortunate that people are losing lives to withdraw their own money.
Razia, a 45-year-old daily wage labourer died on 4 December at a Delhi hospital after she immolated herself on the evening of 20 November allegedly due to “failing to exchange six notes of Rs 500 despite attempts at different branches of banks in the old city area for five days”.
Razia was a resident of Shahjamal locality in Delhi Gate area of Aligarh. On the night of 20 November when she was rushed to the district hospital in a critical condition she told mediapersons that she took the extreme step “out of total helplessness as her four children had not eaten any thing for three days”.
First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 15:08 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan’s ‘unconditional apology’ for his alleged remarks on the Bulandshahr gangrape case and asked him to submit a fresh affidavit by December 15th.A bench of the Apex Court headed by Justice Dipak Misra and also comprising Justice Amitava Roy asked Khan to file a fresh affidavit after noting that the earlier one file by the Uttar Pradesh Minister contained certain errors in itThe Attorney General also raised questions about the draft copy submitted by Khan in connection with the apology given by him. On November 18th Azam Khan had told the apex court that he was ready to unconditionally apologise for describing as ‘political conspiracy’ the gang rape of two women near Bulandshahr in July.Appearing for Khan, senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued that his client had made a general remark which was not targeted at the family of the victim, however, the judges were not convinced and they asked Sibal how a public figure like Khan could make such a comment on the crime.The top court had earlier directed media organisations to submit the press conference or byte of Khan in which he made the statement related to rape case.The minister created a controversy after he alleged that a “political conspiracy” is involved in the gang-rape of a minor girl and her mother on the highway in Bulandshahr on July 29.On August 29, the top court issued Khan a notice for his reported comment.The case was subsequently handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).In September, the court asked the CBI to serve a notice to the minister for his alleged statement.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday called on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati to stop playing politics over the Ram Temple issue and dared her to clarify if she was for or against the construction of the controversial temple.BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said the BSP and Mayawati should answer through a press conference whether they are in support or against the establishment of the temple.”They should answer, are they against the temple? Do they not want the establishment of temple there? ‘Sappa’ and Mayawati should say. We challenge them to answer through a press conference whether they are in favour or against the establishment of temple. If they are in support, then why play politics on it? This matter is not of politics but of faith. People are trying to politics in the name of temple.” Sharma said.He further said that it is the manifesto of Bharatiya Janata Party that temple of Lord Ram should be made in Ayodhya.”Crores of people have faith in that location. Grandeur needs to be provided. One way is through court and the other is through the general committee. I think we will be successful in finding a way soon. For us the temple has always been a symbol of faith and all of us want the establishment of lord ram’s temple.” he added.Since 1993, December 6th has been associated more with the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya than with Dr Ambedkar, whose death anniversary is also observed on this day.Earlier this year, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister accused BJP of raking up Ram temple issue with an eye on 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.She attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said like Delhi and Bihar, voters in the state will not fall for his ‘Natak’.”People here will not fall in his trap and in UP elections too BJP will have to face defeat. As UP elections are near, Prime Minister Modi who has ignored the state except his constituency Varanasi has now woken up for its development.” She said.Mayawati futher alleged that the Centre was trying to flatter Dalit voters in the name of B.R. Ambedkar, the government has given full freedom to communal forces, leading to chaos in the country and playing with religious sentiments for votes will not work.”The Centre should have passed bill for reservation in promotions. It should have provided reservation to poor, who migrated to other castes and also upper caste poor by amendment in the Constitution. But it did nothing in this regard,” she added.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Looking to play a bigger and more effective role in elections, the Election Commission (EC) is hoping to get green signal from the government on various of its proposals to comprehensively review the election laws that will help it to decriminalise politics and cleanse political funding.Among the key amendments that EC is looking forward to carry out are – bringing down the amount of non declared donations to political parties from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000; punishment of two years imprisonment to candidates who furnish wrong or conceal information in election affidavits; and debarring candidates charged with cognisable offences from contesting elections.Sources in election commission said, though they do not accept these changes to come into effect before the crucial state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and etc. in 2017-18 as after getting government nod these would require Parliament to amend Representation of Peoples’ Act, 1961, they are hopeful of having more powers at their hands when country goes for Lok Sabha polls in 2019.At present, the upper limit of election expenditure per candidate for state assembly constituency is Rs 16 lakh and for a parliamentary constituency is Rs 40 lakh. However, there is no cap on the expenditure of political parties that defeats the whole purpose of expenditure limit.”There are various loopholes in section 77 of the Representation of People’s Act that allow the candidates to go scot-free by using the expenditure made by their political parties. This does not allow the honest candidates, who cannot spend huge amounts, to be on an even keel,”said an official.Moreover, the Rs 20,000 limit to take unaccounted donations is being abused by the political parties, as in most cases the majority of cases barring Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the political parties take most of their donations in denomination lesser than Rs 20,000 to evade scrutiny.Besides, the election commission is also looking at ways for state funding of elections and holding parliamentary elections and state assembly elections together to absolutely do away with the practice of political funding that is considered to be the fountainhead of black money generation.Addressing the all party meet before the start of winter session of Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also broached this subject of state funding of elections to curtail the generation of black money. Unaccounted spending by political parties during elections, be it parliamentary, state assembly and even for municipal corporation or panchayat are considered.However, commission thinks that a major reform like state funding would need a lot of brainstorming to bring about a consensus and massive exercise would be needed to go into the details of it.”It is the best case scenario. But it may take several years to devise ways and solve the economics of state funding and bring all political parties on the one single platform and consensus. Until then we need certain basic reforms that give us more teeth, to bring in at least some semblance of cleanliness in elections,”said an official of the election commission.BRAINSTORMINGElection Commission thinks that a major reform like state funding would need a lot of brainstorming to bring about a consensus and massive exercise would be needed to go into the details of it.”It is the best case scenario. But it may take several years to devise ways and solve the economics of state funding and bring all political parties on the one single platform and consensus. Until then we need certain basic reforms that give us more teeth, to bring in at least some semblance of cleanliness in elections,”said an official of the election commission.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Acts like lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq show a mindset that is entirely comfortable with the death penalty, wholly exculpatory of torture as a means of extorting confessions, says Gopalkrishna Gandhi who is a known campaigner against capital punishment.Gandhi has come out with a new book Abolishing The Death Penalty: Why India Should Say No To Capital Punishment, published by Aleph Book Company, in which through in-depth analysis and marshalling of considered opinion of jurists, human rights activists, scholars and criminologists among others, he argues why the death penalty should be abolished with immediate effect in India.According to Gandhi, death penalty asks to be questioned on grounds of the right to life, the right to self-defence against battery, assault, homicide and murder. “States that keep the death penalty alive and do not realise the absurdity of that oxymoron may not be accused of a sadistic pleasure in dealing death. But they cannot be exempted from the accusation of deriving a sense of pleasure in the death penalty as a power, a perquisite, a prerogative that no one else enjoys,” he writes.The former West Bengal governor says the power to commute a death sentence to one of life imprisonment is part of the power of the death penalty. “And even in the exercise of that pardoning prerogative, the state is using its exceptional privilege, its unique power. It is the exclusivity of this power, in its extreme nature, and indeed in its exceptionality that it is tantamount to a reserved ‘pleasure’. And it is in that privileged uniqueness that it is so outrageously capricious and so flagrantly promiscuous,” he argues.Gandhi, currently distinguished professor of history and politics at Ashoka University, says public opinion in India has always been “death-penalty minded” and is now even more so. “It is in fact more retribution-minded, vengeance-minded and geared to dealing death,” he says.He then cites the lynching of a prisoner detained on suspicion of rape in Dimapur in Nagaland last year which included him being dragged out of jail, stripped, paraded naked and then beaten to death, in mob adjudication. “The mob-lynching and murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in a village in Uttar Pradesh on September 28, 2015 on the rumour that he had killed a cow and eaten its meat, is another grim instance of mob fury that stops at nothing less than killing. These acts show a mindset that is entirely comfortable with the death penalty, wholly exculpatory of torture as a means of extorting confessions,” Gandhi writes.Abolishing the death penalty, he says, is not about the final punishment from which there is no return but about the first principle of penology which is about return, a return to civility. “The debate about the death penalty lies beyond ‘to hang or not to hang’ to a discussion on the criminal investigation system, on the law’s transparency, the state’s impartiality, a civilised penology,” he says.”We do not choose to be born. But once arrived, we do choose, through programmed genomes, instinct and will, to stay alive. In fact, we do more than choose. We resist anything that comes in the way of our staying alive. That resistance is built into the apparatus of staying alive,” he says.In the book, Gandhi asks fundamental questions about the ultimate legal punishment awarded to those accused of major crimes. Is taking another life a just punishment or an act as inhuman as the crime that triggered it? Does having capital punishment in the law books deter crime?His conclusions are unequivocal: Cruel in its operation, ineffectual as deterrence, unequal in its application in an uneven society, liable like any punishment to be in error but incorrigibly so, these grievous flaws that are intrinsic to the death penalty are compounded by yet another – it leaves the need for retribution (cited as its primary ‘good’) unrequited and simply makes society more bloodthirsty.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, a young taxi driver was thrashed to death following an altercation with passengers over mere amount of Rs. 10 in Banda city of Uttar Pradesh.The three youth, who were involved in the brutal incident fled immediately from the spot after committing the gruesome act, but the Police managed to arrest two people.Munna, the taxi driver, was carrying passengers to another village when the altercation broke out and the youth began raining blows on him over the money, resulting in his death on the spot.An FIR was lodged against the three youth in the case.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three years after he picked up his camera and set off across India to capture ‘Faith’ in all its dimensions, award winning photographer Nilanjan Ray took a break to exhibit his work in Delhi. The black-and-white photographs he has shot are confirmation that India, for all its modernity, remains fundamentally a society anchored firmly to faith.Ray travelled through his native West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to bring to life a telling narrative of people and communities held together in body and soul by their faith in beliefs that may even border on superstition.In Hajipur in Bihar, Ray came across a group of men brutally beating a woman. “I stopped by to wonder what was happening. The kind of assault she was subjected to would have killed me. I was scared but I went closer. This was their way of dealing with a ‘possessed’ woman. When she lost consciousness, a priest came forward, put his feet on her head, and commanded the evil spirit to leave the woman’s body. Then she was dragged to a nearby river and given a bath. The men went home believing the spirit had fled the woman’s body,” says Ray. “Even more incredible was the fact that none of them were aware of my presence or me photographing them. They were all so engrossed in exorcising the so called possessed woman.” The photograph of the priest commanding the spirit to leave accompanied by the beating of drums has made it to the exhibition currently on at the India International Centre in Delhi.But not all the photographs evoke fear like this one. There are also poignant frames of men and women involved in the intensely personal and communal aspect of prayer. Ray’s keen eye for detail and contrast also reveals the vast social and cultural mosaic that India is. From Agra, with the Taj Mahal as the backdrop, a woman shrouded in a white cloth is about to immerse herself in the waters of the Yamuna on Chhath Puja.In an adjacent frame, three women, all with their heads covered in immaculate white, are about to immerse themselves in the holy, but polluted, waters of the Ganga at Varanasi. The visual effect of the darkness of the water into which the women will momentarily immerse themselves and the white covering their bodies is evocative of the river’s present pitiable state and the fervor of the devotee who cannot be deterred by such considerations.One of the most intriguing moments captured by Ray is one of two babies laid on a wet stone floor with a leg moving over them. For an instant it would evoke horror but like many of Ray’s photographs it essentially captures the idiosyncratic practices that mark faith in India.“It is from a temple in Kolkata on the banks of the Ganga. A woman who has taken a dip in the river is treated as a devi. The belief is that if the devi stretches over an infant, the child will be blessed,” says Ray. During Muharram, Ray came across two men flogging themselves in the back with sharp knives tied at the end of a rope. “The lacerations were deep and I was also splattered with their blood while getting close to them,” Ray says. After the exhibition closes on December 6, Ray will travel to Punjab and then Kerala to take forward his photographic project.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hours after Narendra Modi claimed he is a “fakir”, BSP supremo Mayawati reacted saying the Prime Minister is “bahut bade maldar” (very wealthy) and wondered how a “well-wisher of the affluent” can be a hermit.”Woh dhannasetho ko sanrakshan dene wale hain, woh fakir nahi, bahut bade maldar hain (He protects affluents people. he is not a hermit. He is very wealthy),” she told newspersons in Lucknow.Earlier in the day on Saturday, at BJP’s Parivartan Rally in Moradabad, Modi had said, “What can my opponents do to me? I am a fakir (hermit)…jhola ley kar chaley jayenge (I will exit with my little belongings).” The BSP chief also attacked Modi for claiming demonetization was aimed at ending corruption and said “90% commoners” have been subjected to immense hardships because of the “dictatorial attitude” of the PM.”BSP will oppose tooth and nail all wrong decisions of the Modi government both inside and outside Parliament,” Mayawati said. She also alleged non-BJP-ruled states are being discriminated against in supply of new notes. Mayawati said had the BJP government been so earnest in its desire to fight corruption, it would have appointed Lokpal in the two-and-a-half years of its power. She alleged the Gujarat Lokayukta, when Modi was the chief minister of the state, was “rendered ineffective”.Intentions of BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi appear to be very “non-serious”, she said, adding their claims on rooting out corruption appear to be “mere eyewash”. On the central government amending the I-T rules, she alleged the Modi government is “tinkering with IT Act to facilitate conversion of black money into white”. Alleging that Uttar Pradesh police is using force on people standing in queues, she said voters will rid the state of BJP in the coming elections while in the 2019 (Lok Sabha polls), they (people) will send “him back to Gujarat”.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the 72-hour routine lead carrier information exercise of the army came to an end, it has withdrawn from the Palhit toll plaza and other areas.CPRO defence SS Birdi said, “As 72-hour exercise got over, we withdrew deployment from Palhit toll plaza and other areas yesterday night.”When the army deployed its team at two plazas in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the deployment was made without any prior information to state government. She also termed the day as ‘black day’, pointing out that such a deployment takes place only normally during disasters.The army, however, clarified on the issue by releasing a series of letter stating that it was very well in contact with the Kolkata Police and that it was nothing but a routine exercise which takes place every 3-4 years.”This is an exercise carried out for operational purposes, which will terminate to its logical and tonight. They are only collecting data of heavy vehicles, which is an annual exercise being carried out every year. Similar exercises are also being carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar from September 26 to October 1 this year,” said Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), (Headquarters), Bengal Area, Major General Sunil Yadav.Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress MLAs staged protest outside Raj Bhavan in Bengal, demanding withdrawal of the army deployed at toll plazas.BJP lashed out at Mamata Banerjee for dragging in the army into politics and sought an apology from her and her party. BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said, ?It?s very unfortunate, the kind of politics Mamata Banerjee has been doing after demonetization. BJP is of the opinion that the issue of army deployment in Bengal has been politicised.”
New Delhi: The row over army taking over road toll plazas in West Bengal on Friday echoed in Parliament with Trinamool Congress (TMC) seeing “sinister” designs behind the move and the government vehemently denying the charge, saying it was a routine exercise conducted in full knowledge of the local authorities.
The issue was raised in both Houses of Parliament with main opposition Congress too seeking clarification on the army deployment at 19 toll plazas in West Bengal. In Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar termed it a “routine exercise not unique to West Bengal” and saying that similar operations to collect information on heavy vehicle movement that can be used during national emergencies had last month being conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
Along with West Bengal, similar exercise was carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghlaya and Mizoram, he said while responding to TMC and Congress MPs. He also stated that originally the exercise was planned for 28-30 November but was shifted to 1 and 2 December at the request of Kolkata police as those dates were clashing with the protests against demonetisation.
“It is shocking that a chief minister is saying this. The Army’s deployment was part of routine exercise which has been going on for last 15-20 years. Even last year it was held on 19 to 21 November,” Parrikar said.
The minister said Army’s Eastern Command has been carrying out the exercise in West Bengal, Assam and other North Eastern states and a similar exercise has already been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. “Concerned officials were informed in West Bengal. The original date was fixed for 28 to 30 November but due to Bharat Bandh the local police had advised the army to shift it to 1 and 2 December,” he said. “Due to traffic congestion, the exercise is being done with the help of local police.”
TMC leaders in both Houses alleged that neither the state government, nor local administration including police were taken into confidence on the exercise or their permission sought. Congress and BSP too wanted to know from the government how such an unprecedented move to carry out an army exercise without taking state government into confidence was done.
“It was very unfortunate that army has been dragged into an unnecessary controversy,” Parrikar said. “It was political frustration rather than projection of correct situation.”
As soon as Lok Sabha assembled this morning, TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay raised the issue of army deployment at 19 places in West Bengal, claiming that the move was a challenge to the federal structure of the country and completely politically motivated.
He said army personnel were deployed at these places, including near the state secretariat, “without informing anyone in the state secretariat”. “It is a fantastic situation. Army today said that it was a routine exercise being carried out in the North Eastern states. But West Bengal does not come under the territorial jurisdiction of the Northeast,” he said.
Bandyopadhyay said the people of the country have great faith in the Army but if indeed such an exercise was scheduled, the Centre should have communicated to the state government. He said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been staging a ‘dharna’ in the Secretariat demanding withdrawal of the Army. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar asked the TMC not to drag Army into politics and added that the defence personnel have been protecting the country as well as democracy.
“Whatever the army has done was part of a routine exercise. It is completely wrong to drag army into politics,” he said. Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said army is India’s pride as it has upheld its unity and integrity beside protecting the borders. It has also come to the rescue during emergency situtions like flood and riots, he said adding that army is requisitioned at the request of a state government.
But in West Bengal, the chief secretary, administration and Director General of Police had no information of army taking over toll plazas at 19 locations in the state, he said. “This is probably the first time that the chief minister of West Bengal has lodged this kind of protest where she stayed put for the night in the State Secretariat and is still there,” he said. “This is a strange thing happening. Without asking state government, chief secretary or DGP, toll plazas of state government are taken over.”
Azad said it is being said that Army was collecting information on truck movements but such an exercise is not even done in Jammu and Kashmir. All such information is available with National Highways Authority of India or road transport departments. “This is an issue of grave concern.” Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said what happened in West Bengal has never been witnessed in the state’s history. Army seized toll plazas and started putting stickers on vehicles.
“I will not drag the army in any controversy. We are very proud of the army,” he said wanting to know under what provisions of law and Constitution was such a deployment carried out and alleging “sinister design” to “defame the leader opposing demonetisation” and creating “fear psychosis”.
Mayawati, BSP supremo and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said the move to deploy army without the state government’s permission was an attack on the federal structure of the country. Terming the statements as factually incorrect, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said such exercises have been carried out in coordination with the local police.
Earlier the exercise was planned for 28 November but was shifted on specific request by Kolkata Police in view of the Bharat Bandh, he said, adding that the exercise was to ascertain availability of vehicles during national emergency. The annual exercise are carried out for collection of data and similar exercises were also carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, he said, adding that letters were written to the Police Commissioner as well as District Magistrates for conducting it.
At this point, slogan-shouting TMC and Congress members contested the minister’s statement and trooped into the Well. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien had a tough time controlling the situation and even had an angry spat with Congress members including Pramod Tiwari as they continued to shout even when he stood up to control the noisy scenes.
“If you don’t know the basic rule of not disturbing the Chair, you are not deserving to be a member,” he angrily remarked without naming any member. “Mr Tiwari, I will take action against you. This is unheard of that the Chair will not be allowed to say,” he said as members piped down and returned to their places.
Kurien said if the members found any part of the statement made by the minister as misleading or incorrect, they can invoke the rule book and give notice. Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading. “If any member or minister misleads the House, give notice, chairman will consider it,” Kurien said.
As Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading the House by saying that the state government had been informed, treasury benches joined in to protest. At this point, an angry Kurien snapped at Bhupender Yadav (BJP) saying “shut up… you are not in the Chair.” Roy said the minister was not stating if specific permission was taken for December 1 deployment and comparing
the exercise to national emergency.
I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the reference to emergency was to situations like floods or tsunami and said similar exercises are annually carried out and had happened in West Bengal previously as well. And recently, it has been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, and along with West Bengal it was also being carried out in North Eastern states, he said, adding “it
is a sensitive matter. Let us not politise it.”
Kurien told Roy that he can give a notice on any misleading statement being made in the House and he will consider it. Derek O’Brien raised a Point of Order under Rule 249 related to authentication of papers laid by the government on the floor of the House.
He claimed that it is “selective placing of papers” by the government and added that he will place some papers on the floor of the House to prove his point on Monday.
First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 15:13 IST
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has reportedly locked herself up in her office in the state Secretariat in Kolkata, citing the alleged presence of Indian Army trucks outside as the reason. She has further claimed that she would leave her office only once the army is asked to move.
Mamata had earlier alleged the large presence of army vehicles deployed at toll booths across highways, saying the state government was kept in the dark over this move.
“Army has been deployed in the state without informing the state government. This is a very sensitive issue. This is unacceptable. We do not know anything about it. It has never happened,” Banerjee told the media. “We want details. Federal structure has been disrupted and democracy twisted. Has Emergency been declared? We had no information.”
A Defence Ministry spokesman said there was “nothing alarming about this” and the exercise is carried out as per government orders. “The army conducts the annual exercise throughout the county with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency,” said the spokesman.
The three-day exercise, now being conducted within the Eastern Command area, would end on Friday.
She iterated that a civil operation cannot be launched by the army without informing the state and claimed it was the result of a “political vendetta”.
“What was the magnitude of the incident that the central government didn’t inform the state government? This is a political vendetta,” she said.
Continuing her tirade against the Narendra Modi-led central government, she said: “Is it some kind of planning to start a war within the country? The road is ours and is administered under the state’s law and order although it is categorised under the Centre’s National Highway Authority of India.”
She claimed public is being harassed and their vehicles are being stopped along the toll collection points.
“Even if the Army carried out a mock exercise, the state government should have been kept in the loop. The public is panicking. If this is happening in a civil area in Bengal, this could happen in Bihar, next in Uttar Pradesh, then in Tamil Nadu and other states as well. It is a very serious situation and it is dangerous than Emergency. We are facing an extremely black day,” she said.
With inputs from IANS
First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 23:09 IST