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Opposition leaders come together on single platform for Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony

Bengaluru: Cynics may dismiss it as just a photo op but the coming together of Opposition leaders on a single platform is a loaded political message to the BJP, that there is now more to the polity than just a Modi narrative. Neither HDK, nor his father H D Deve Gowda, were the stars of the swearing in ceremony in Bengaluru. Rather, under the arc lights was the large anti-BJP rainbow formulation, from which is likely to emanate the ‘oust Modi’ chorus ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Among those present were one time enemies, many time foes and constant name callers, until the recent past. So, it was a pleasant sight to see arch rivals Mamata Banerjee and Sitaram Yechury shake hands, even if they studiously avoided each other thereafter. The new found bonhomie between Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, albeit a little forced, too was apparent. They greeted each other warmly, waved to the crowd and sat next to each other. But the most invigorating was the meeting between Mayawati and Sonia Gandhi. A beaming Mayawati held a smiling Sonia’s hand during the entire duration they were together. Rahul too was part of this inner circle and the three waved to the crowd, even as Akhilesh Yadav lurked in the background.

Others present at the venue were Chandrababu Naidu, Arvind Kejriwal, Pinarayi Vijayan of Kerala and Nara-yanaswamy of Pudu-cherry. Sharad Yadav, Lalu’s son Tejeswi and CPI’s D Raja were also in attendance with Tejeswi dutifully touching Sonia’s feet. NCP chief Sharad Pawar was accorded a special welcome and greeted warmly by Sonia Gandhi.

Strangely, Telangana CM K Chandrasekhara Rao skipped the ceremony citing prior engagements. He had come on Tuesday and wished Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda. But sources say he did not want to be seen on the dais with his ‘enemies’ – the Congress and Chandrababu Naidu. Mamata, it was apparent to all, was going to be the political adhesive that will hold the brigade together. Like a ‘sutradhar’ she had an arm around Mayawati’s shoulder and pulled in Chandrababu Naidu with the other, much to the delight of the crowd.

But in the show of unity, the fault lines were also too obvious. So, despite the heart-warming handshake, Mamata avoided being closeted with Yechury. At one stage, she vanished from the stage and the JD(S) leaders had to mount a search for her. When found, she was taken chaperoned and ensconced near Sonia Gandhi, far away from Yechury. After the swearing-in ceremony, the entire opposition stood together, raised hands skywards; the symbolism of it was important even though it will be sometime before the contours of the ‘coalition’ are defined. Both the chemistry and the arithmetic of such an aggregation is important as a combined opposition can tilt the scales in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, at least.

“Curious to see what follows,” tweeted actor-politician Kamal Haasan, who was also on the crowded stage. Will fight general Election together: Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said on Wednesday that the JD(S) will fight the 2019 Lok Sabha election with the Congress and expressed confidence that the coalition government formed by the two parties will last the full five years in Karnataka. He also predicted that there will be a major political change in the country in 2019.

Single incident of harassment not enough to penalise someone for domestic abuse, cruelty: Bombay High Court

Mumbai: In a significant ruling, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has said a single and solitary incident of harassment is not enough to attract the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which penalise domestic abuse and cruelty. The ruling was delivered earlier this month by a single-judge bench of Justice Kishor Sonawane while dealing with a criminal appeal filed by a man challenging his conviction under section 498 A of the IPC, which penalises husbands who subject their wives or in-laws to cruelty or harassment by demanding dowry.

In his judgement, Justice Sonawane said, “It must be noted that the word ‘harassment’ used in clause (b) of the explanation of section 498-A of the IPC has nowhere been defined in this section or anywhere in the IPC or any other statute.” “Therefore, in view of the dictionary meaning, it appears that the word harassment implies some continuous course, though not necessarily on a large number of occasions, and it may not take within its fold only one such solitary incident of harassment. Thus, it must be borne in mind that mere harassment is not enough to prove charges under Section 498-A of the IPC; it must be with a view to coercing the wife or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security, or it should be on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand,” Justice Sonawane ruled.

The ruling was made while the bench acquitted Brahmaji Patil on the charges of cruelty and domestic harassment. He was booked after his in-laws lodged an FIR accusing him of abetting the suicide of their daughter. They claimed that Patil harassed their daughter for dowry which led to her death within seven months of their marriage.

Having considered the arguments advanced by all the parties, Justice Sonawane said, “It cannot be overlooked that where a woman is subjected to cruelty or harassment, the independent evidence regarding the same can hardly be available. Therefore, in view of particular circumstances, only the relative witnesses of a victim could be the natural witnesses. But, the possibility of false involvement or exaggeration on the part of such relatives could not be ruled out due to possible prejudice.”

“The intense scrutiny of the evidence of star-witnesses of the prosecution reflects that these witnesses cast allegations against Patil in a very vague and of a general nature. They did not describe the particulars of the ill-treatment meted out to their daughter; thus the prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. The appellant Patil is absolved from all the charges,” Justice Sonawane said while acquitting Patil.

PM Narendra Modi wants to appoint officers picked by RSS in civil services: Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday gave a call to students to rise in protest, warning them that “your future is at risk! RSS wants what’s rightfully yours.” In a tweet, he revealed the Prime Minister’s alleged mischief to deprive meritorious students who shine in the civil service examination of what is rightfully theirs by manipulating the merit list using subjective criteria, instead of exam rankings.

Thus far the selection of the civil service cadres – IFS, IAS and IPS — used to be on the basis of the UPSC exam, but now the appointments will be based on the combined score obtained in this examination and the 3-year foundation course which the candidates take after selection. Rahul’s charge stems from an official letter in which the Prime Minister’s Office had asked the department of personnel to examine if the services can be allocated after the completion of foundation course. The duration of foundation course for officers of almost all the services is three months

However, the PMO note is silent on whop will assess the candidates. Will the instructors at the training academy in Mussoorie, where the foundation course is held, serve as judges?  Those who have cleared the exam this year and past UPSC toppers say this will be an arbitrary assessment at odds with the transparent procedure followed thus far, which allots recruits purely on the marks they scored in the entrance exam.

The Indian Administrative Service or IAS draws the highest scorers, next is the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), followed by the Indian Police Service (IPS).Kashmir’s recent topper and IAS officer Shah Faesal tweeted, “If the newly proposed IAS service/cadre allocation policy is approved, it will turn IAS into ICS- Indian Chamcha Service.” In his tweet, Rahul has suggested that PM Modi wants RSS to select officers of their choice. However, there is no mention of the RSS in the official document shared by the Department of Personnel and Training.

BJP chief Amit Shah on Tuesday ruled out any role of the RSS in the government’s move to tweak selection of the cadres. “Where does RSS come in picture,” he shot back at a Press conference. There was nothing wrong in putting together training and performance to select the best hands and the selection will be based on the examination after the foundation course which will be as good as the UPSC examination, Shah said.

Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll: CM Devendra Fadnavis requests Yogi Adityanath to address rally in Palghar

Mumbai: For the BJP, the next port of call is the Lok Sabha seat of Palghar, where a by-poll is slated on May 28. Licking its wounds after the embarrassment in Karnataka, the BJP does not want to leave anything to chance and has requisitioned the services of Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

The Yogi will be addressing a rally on Wednesday in Virar, the bastion of Hitendra Thakur, the chief of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi. Thakur has fielded Baliram Jadhav, former Member of Parliament, against Rajendra Gavit, the BJP candidate. Shiv Sena has fielded Srinivas Vanga, son of late BJP MP Chintaman Vanga, and hence the triangular contest has become a battle of prestige for CM Devendra Fadnavis. There are around 17 lakh voters in the Palghar LS constituency, out of which 22 per cent hail from North India, mostly Uttar Pradesh. It is this segment of voters that the BJP wants to tap, and for this it has decided to use the good offices of Yogi Adityanath.

Fadnavis has already attended four public rallies in this constituency and two more are scheduled. His speeches were mostly directed at the Shiv Sena, which is an indication of the thinking within the BJP camp. The party perceives Sena as a bigger threat than either the Congress or the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, which has a sizeable presence in the semi-tribal belt.

According to a BJP insider, Yogi Aditynath was not scheduled to address the rally and decided to come over on a specific request by Fadnavis. A party insider said: “Yogi Aditynath is the new saffron face of the party which appeals to hard core Hindu voters; here, he can also help wean away north Indian voters. It will enable the BJP to retain its seat.” Yogi was asked address public rallies in the recently-concluded Karnataka state assembly poll as well. Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari, who is also the Delhi Pradesh president of the BJP, recently addressed a public meeting in Vasai.

Gunning down of protesters in Tamil Nadu is state sponsored terrorism: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi today termed the deaths of nine people in police firing during protests against the Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu a “brutal example of state sponsored terrorism”. He said people were murdered in Tuticorin for protesting against injustice.

Rahul Gandhi

 The gunning down by the police of 9 people in the #SterliteProtest in Tamil Nadu, is a brutal example of state sponsored terrorism. These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice. My thoughts & prayers are with the families of these martyrs and the injured.

6:09 PM - May 22, 2018
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“The gunning down by the police of 9 people in the Sterlite protest in Tamil Nadu is a brutal example of state sponsored terrorism. These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these martyrs and the injured,” Gandhi said on Twitter. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said nine people were killed in police action at Tuticorin and ordered a judicial inquiry into the police action. The police action followed months-long protests for the closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite copper unit in Tuticorin, about 600 km from Tamil Nadu capital Chennai, over pollution concerns. The agitation turned violent today, with protesters fighting pitched battles with police, prompting it to open fire.

Tamil Nadu-Anti-Sterlite protests turn violent in Tuticorin, 9 killed in police firing
Hurling stones and setting government vehicles and public property on fire, the agitators went on the rampage in the town.

Mumbaikars in distress as petrol, diesel prices touch new high

Mumbaikars are facing problems as the petrol and diesel prices today touched historic high. The prices in the morning were seen to have touched Rs 84.70/litre for petrol and diesel Rs 72.48/litre in Mumbai. Locals told ANI, ‘petrol & diesel prices are increasing every week. Prices here are much higher than other states. How are we supposed to survive in this situation.’

According to one estimate, excise duty on petrol has gone up by 105.49 percent while on diesel it has shot up by over 240 percent. Interestingly, the only time duties were cut was by Rs 2 per litre last October in the run-up to the assembly elections in Gujarat. As against this, the excise on jet fuel as a component of price was just 14%.

The gap between petrol and diesel prices has also narrowed to such an extent that it no longer makes sense to buy a diesel vehicle. Diesel set a new record across the country on Monday: In Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai, diesel was selling at Rs 67.82, Rs 70.37, Rs 72.21 and Rs 71.59 per litre, respectively. The carriers of public transport run mostly on diesel and the impact on the inter-state movement of perishable and imperishable commodities can well be imagined.

With the price of global crude going through the roof, the only way to scale down prices is a reduction in taxes. But, for a long time, the Centre has been conveniently taking the plea that states need to bring down their own taxes to make the fuels cheaper. But it is apparent the states are not willing to oblige given the booty that flows into their coffers.

BJP leader’s brother booked for ‘derogatory’ remarks against J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti

Kathua (J&K): An FIR on Monday registered against the brother of senior BJP leader Lal Singh after a video showing him using “derogatory” language against Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during a rally here went viral.

“A case under section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of Ranbir Penal Code and Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was registered against Singh’s brother,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Kathua, Shridhar Patil told PTI. He said the police has started the investigation in the case. Singh, former state minister, had yesterday led a massive rally from Lakhanpur to Hiranagar in Kathua district to press for CBI probe into the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in January.

The 26-second video clip purportedly shot during the ‘Dogri Swabhiman’ rally shows Choudhary Rajinder Singh, younger brother of Lal Singh, atop a vehicle and using abusive language against the chief minister.  A group of people on foot can be seen enjoying and clapping in the video as the rally moves.

Former chief minister and opposition National Conference working president Omar Abdullah reacted sharply to the footage and demanded registration of FIR against the BJP leader’s brother. “This is absolutely unacceptable language used against @MehboobaMufti and is unequivocally condemned with the request that @JmuKmrPolice file a FIR against this abusive individual,” he wrote on Twitter.

CM Devendra Fadnavis vows to complete all Metro works in 3 years

Mumbai: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday assured to complete the construction of all the proposed metro corridors in the next three years and thereby help enable commuters to travel anywhere in the city within a span of one hour. This statement was made by Fadnavis at the function conducted by Mumbai MetropolitanRegion Development Authority (MMRDA). On Monday, Fadnavis inaugurated Rail Over Bridge, flyover and elevated road at several places in the city. The bhoomipujan of Rail Over Bridge (ROB) at Kopri in Thane was done and the project is set to be completed in 36 months.

“The MMRDA has co-ordinated with the railways in order to help in implementing Rail Over Bridge (ROB) at Kopri in Thane. This is set to reduce traffic congestion in the area and provide seamless movement of vehicles,” said Fadnavis. The bhoomipujan of a road connecting Thane-Belapur road with National Highway-4 was also done and the project is set to be completed within 40 months. Fadnavis also inaugurated of Ghansoli-Talavli vehicular underpass and flyover at Savita Chemicals on the Thane-Belapur road.

“I was extremely convinced that the work of the underpass was completed within a span of 12 months. The construction of the flyover must be completed within a span of one year with the help of latest technology available with the planning authority,” added Fadnavis. Fadnavis also said that the planning authority, MMRDA is implementing at least 200 kilometre metro network and introducing integrated ticketing system which will ensure that travel from anywhere to anywhere will not be more than one hour.

“A roll in-roll out (Ro-Ro) service will soon be implemented through eastern water front and a feasibility study is also being conducted to ensure whether Thane’s container traffic could be routed through Ro-Ro in order to reduce congestion,” added Fadnavis. Eknath Shinde, Minister for Public Works (Public Undertaking) and Thane’s Guardian Minister also requested officials to construct multi-level flyovers at Teen Haath Naka in Thane considering the growing number of vehicles and traffic congestion.

Nashik reform school turning juveniles into heinous criminals, alleges advocate

Mumbai: An advocate of the Bombay High Court will be filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court for juveniles, who are being sent to borstal schools for reformation, turning into heinous criminals due to the jail-like environment at the detention centre.

According to Dipak Chattopadhyay, an advocate of the Bombay High Court, “Instead of the juveniles being reformed, they are turning into heinous criminals after serving their sentence at the borstals. Juveniles should not be sent to borstals where the environment is conducive to that of jails. They should be sent to observation homes and special children’s home only as per the Juvenile Justice Act. The rules for ‘place of safety’ for juveniles are not followed at the borstals. There is not a single case so far where the juveniles have reformed after being reintegrated into the society and turning into good human beings. Instead these juveniles become more violent and further commit heinous crimes. There is no provision for separating the habitual offenders of grievous offences from petty criminals. The petty criminals get influenced by the habitual offenders since there is no proper system in place.”

Borstal schools are correctional homes where offenders within the age group of 16 to 21 years are housed. The schools are part of the prison system which is governed under the Borstal schools Act, 1928.

As per the data acquired by Chattopadhyay under the Right to Information Act, from April 2017 to March 31, 2018, a juvenile from Mumbai who was arrested for rape has been housed at the borstal. 21 juveniles were kept at the Nashik borstal school from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016. 15 juveniles were from Pune, one from Nashik, three juveniles from Mumbai and two from Satara. From April 1, 2016 to March 31,2017, ten juveniles were housed at the borstal in fresh cases of murder and rape out of which three are from Satara, two from Jalna, one juvenile each from Mumbai, Thane and Jalgaon and two from Pune.

As per the data made available by the Nashik borstal school, the petty offence criminals convicted for theft (Section 380), robbery (Section 392), intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace (Section 504), tampering with proper mark with intent to cause injury (Section 489) have been kept along with heinous criminals convicted for murder, rape, attempt to murder, abetment of suicide and sodomy.

Akash Jadhav (23) a habitual offender who was earlier convicted in the Shakti mills gang-rape case for raping a photo journalist, has been arrested four times for a criminal offence by the NM Joshi Marg police station, after being released from Nashik borstal. Jadhav, a resident of Bhandup was first arrested in 2013 for the gang rape. He was sent to a correction home in Nashik. He was released in July 2017. Since then, he has taken to crime again and was booked in an abduction and assault case in September 2017. Jadhav was arrested a third time after three years confinement at the Nashik borstal school. In July 2014, the Juvenile Justice Board, Mumbai, directed that Jadhav, who was a minor then be sent to Nashik borstal school for reformation. After his release, on September 23, 2017, Jadhav was arrested by the NM Joshi Marg police for assaulting Ajay Moricha, a businessma,n at Lower Parel along with his gang of ‘Bombay Bhais’, a group created by him on WhatsApp. Jadhav had tried to extort Rs. 50000 from him and his brothers Amit Matkar and Harish Matkar.

After being released on bail for assaulting a waiter in April, Jadhav was re-arrested. Matkar (42) had registered an FIR since he was threatened by Jadhav and his friend Ashwin Khandekar. As per Matkar’s complaint, on April 4, Jadhav and Khandekar found him at a paan-bidi shop near Subhash Hotel on NM Joshi Marg. The duo pushed Matkar and allegedly threatened him with a revolver. He poked the revolver in Matkar’s stomach and asked, ‘Should I shoot you?'” Matkar said in his complaint. Khandekar asked Jadhav to leave Matkar alone, after which the duo left.

A week later when Balaram Kadam, a waiter, was returning home from work, Jadhav along with his accomplices Siddhesh Tondwalkar and Akash Gadkari beat up Kadam at Dhobi Ghat. Jadhav was in an inebriated condition when he assaulted Kadam. Jadhav and his friends abused Kadam and threatened to kill him if they saw him again in the area.

Kumaraswamy wants long-term relations with Congress: Randeep Surjewala

New Delhi: Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said that Karnataka chief minister-elect HD Kumaraswamy‘s meeting with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi was a cordial one and that the two parties sought a long-term partnership with each other.

“It was an extremely cordial and warm meeting. HD Kumaraswamy sought blessings from Sonia Gandhi as an elder and the head of the family. He thanked Rahul Gandhi for taking steps to form the coalition and offering the CM’s post to him despite Congress having the larger numbers,” Surjewala told ANI on Monday. He further stated that, in the meeting, Kumaraswamy suggested he would continue to seek guidance on governance of the state from the Congress leaders as welfare and development of the state is his party’s primary focus.

“He assured Rahul Gandhi that he will continue to seek guidance both on governance, policy and welfare issues which is the agenda of the Congress and JD(S) coalition. For both of us it is not a quest for power but for development of Karnataka,” Surjewala said. “He assured he will work with co-ordination committee of both parties and with every Congress leader and worker to ensure difference of opinion is settled at earliest amicably. He also said it isn’t a temporary arrangement for JD(S). He seeks long-term relationship with Congress,” he added, hinting towards a long-term partnership with JD(S).

JD(S) Secretary General Danish Ali and Congress’s KC Venugopal were also present with Kumaraswamy at the meeting. Earlier on Monday, Kumaraswamy met Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati at her residence here and invited her for his oath ceremony scheduled to take place on May 23 in Bengaluru. The oath-taking ceremony will witnesses a gathering of non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief ministers and chief of opposition parties.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, Puducherry Chief Minister Narayanasamy, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao will be attending the ceremony. Apart from this, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP supremo Mayawati, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav, Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan and DMK Working President MK Stalin also invited for the ceremony.