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Maratha Quota Stir: No agitation on street; will stage hunger strike on August 15, says Morcha leader


Mumbai: Taken aback by the violent protests sparked in Aurangabad and Pune by the Maratha agitation, the Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) conveners announced in the future, there wouldn’t be any agitation on the streets by the community. Only peaceful means of agitation by cadres will be undertaken; supporters will stage relay sit-in hunger strikes at district and taluka government offices on August 15, announced MKM convener Shantaram Kunjil. As penance, no Maratha homes will fire up their stoves to cook food.

Appearing on the backfoot after protesters ransacked 80 big and small companies at Waluj MIDC near Aurangabad, torched vehicles, and ransacked the Pune district collector’s office, MKM conveners washed their hands of the incidents and instead, blamed it on “outside anti-social elements”. Alarmed by the vandalism and arson, the Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture (CMIA) asked the state government if they should continue investing in the region or move their industries elsewhere.

The organisers of the Sakal Maratha Morcha (SMM) also sought an inquiry by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) into the vandalism at the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) Aurangabad on August 9, the day of bandh. Police must not associate this violence with the SMM, the organisers said.


Maratha Quota Stir: Bandh called in Maharashtra, except Navi Mumbai and Thane; Mumbai to face only sit-in protest in Bandra
Speaking in Pune, Kunjil announced the morcha would pay for the cost of the shattered glass panes and light bulbs at the Pune district collector’s office. Speaking to a private news channel, MKM convener from Aurangabad Vinod Patil argued people depend on the industries for their livelihood and cannot hope to indulge in such acts of vandalism.

Patil blamed the acts of violence on “outside anti-social elements” who sneaked into the agitation. He further said, not all such incidents could be attributed to the MKM. He contended the rioters were not from the Maratha community. He demanded the culprits be identified from CCTV footage and action be taken against them. “The footage shows the perpetrators had covered their faces with cloth and they did not belong to our morcha. In the last two years, no Maratha protester has indulged in any violence, why would they vandalise this time?”

Kunjil, however, claimed that the rioting had occurred because industrialists had not paid the workers their wages on time. A farmer, Dwarkanath Patil, has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), demanding the cost of damages caused to public and private properties be recovered from the rioters. He further demanded such morchas be banned and penal action be taken against the rioters.

The petitioner has argued as per Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court, no one can call for a bandh and bandh called by any political party, organisation or any individual is illegal.  The PIL has been filed with a view to implement the guidelines issued by the high court in the case of B G Deshmukh vs State of Maharashtra and others.




Kerala Rains: Death toll rises to 29 in flood-hit Kerala; rains leave 54,000 people homeless


Thiruvananthapuram: Dam reservoirs and rivers overflowed, sections of highways collapsed and homes were swept away in severe flooding in more than half of Kerala, after days of incessant rains left nearly 54,000 people homeless and killed at least 29, officials said on Friday.

Five columns of Army were deployed in the state’s seven severely-hit northern districts, out of Kerala’s 14, to help evacuate people and to build makeshift bridges even as the Indian Navy’s southern command was put on alert after water level in Periyar river rose amid concern that parts of Wellingdon Island in Kochi could be inundated. Almost all 40-odd rivers in the state are in spate, officials said. Northern and central Kerala have been battered by heavy rains of the Southwest monsoon since August 8, which has left 29 people dead, including three today. Of them, 25 died in landslides and four in drowning. State officials said a total of 53,501 people are now housed in 439 relief camps across the state.

Tourists were barred from entering the hilly Idukki district after roads caved in at many places. Army soldiers were building small bridges to evacuate people stranded at various places in Kozhikode and Wayanad. A red alert was issued for Idukki and its adjoining districts in view of the possibility of release of more water from the Idukki reservoir. At least 50 tourists, including 24 foreigners, stranded at the Plum Judy resort at Munnar since Wednesday were rescued and taken to safer places, state Tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said.


 
People living downstream of Periyar river in Kochi, and Cheruthoni river in Idukki have been warned of a possibility of inundation of banks. Water level had crossed the maximum storage capacity of reservoirs of 24 out of the state’s 58 dams, forcing officials to release the water by opening the sluice gates, including three of the Idukki reservoir. Two more shutters of the Cheruthoni dam, part of the Idukki reservoir, the biggest arch dam in Asia, were lifted around 7 am today. One shutter was opened yesterday after a gap of 26 years.

This morning, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reviewed the flood situation and relief works being undertaken by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the NDRF. Due to the increase in the water level at Idukki dam, “it is essential to release water three times (more) than what was being released now”, Vijayan said, adding that this will lead to rise in the water levels of Periyar river and its tributaries. He appealed to people to be vigilant.

Vijayan has cancelled all his public functions till August 12, and will monitor the situation from the state capital. Union minister Alphons Kannamthanam said he discussed the flood situation in Kerala with Home Minister Rajnath Singh this morning. Singh also spoke with Vijayan, and will make an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas on Sunday. “The Government of India is providing all the required assistance including services of armed forces, disaster management team and other required assistance. Any other immediate assistance requested by the Government of Kerala will be provided,” Alphons said in a Facebook post.

Col. Ajai Sharma, the commandant of DSC Centre, who is overseeing relief and rescue operations, said five columns of Army have been deployed in the northern districts since last night. “The haphazard development along the streams has affected the natural flow of rivers, which is a challenge right now,” he said. Small bridges have been constructed to evacuate stranded people in various places in Kozhikode and Wayanad areas, and rescue operations are currently underway. “The situation is under control,” he said.

Meanwhile, state Revenue minister E Chandrasekharan reviewed the flood situation and the precautionary measures to be taken in Aluva near Kochi airport and nearby areas in view of the possibility of increase in the water level following release of more water from Idukki reservoir. Periyar river in Aluva is already in spate following release of water from Idamalayar dam, and people living in low-lying areas have been asked to be vigilant. Cochin International Airport Limited sources said operations at the airport had not been affected.

“The operational area is intact. No cancellation of services so far,” an airport spokesperson said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Vijayan yesterday, and offered all possible assistance to those affected. In Palakkad district, the flood waters started receding today as the quantity of water being released from Malampuzha dam was reduced. However, many areas are still inundated and people were seen trying to save their belongings.




PMO controlling all ministerial decisions while ministers are sitting “idle”, allege Yashwant Sinha


Mumbai: Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and disgruntled BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha today hit out at the Narendra Modi government over issues ranging from the Rafale fighter jet deal to “concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office”.

During a discussion on `Save Democracy- Save Constitution’ here, Yashwant Sinha claimed that ministerial decisions were being taken “single-handedly” in the NDA government. Without naming Rajnath Singh, he claimed the home minister was not even aware of the BJP’s decision to pull out of the alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, the finance minister was not aware that demonetisation was going to be announced, he said.

He dubbed the Rafale fighter jet deal as “scam of Rs 35,000 crore, much bigger than the Rs 64-crore Bofors scam”. The Prime Minister’s Office is controlling all ministerial decisions while ministers are sitting “idle”, he alleged. Shourie alleged, “Undoubtedly, the Constitution and democracy are in danger. 72 lynchings have happened so far, 54 witnesses have turned hostile in Soharabuddin (fake encounter) case… CBI is being misused…(these) are live examples of the new normal and there seems no hope that the things will change.” The veteran journalist said that the media is fearful because their advertisements could get blocked.


 Rafale deal bigger defence scandal than Bofors, allege Yaswant Sinha, Arun Shourie
MP and actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha said he won’t quit the BJP on his own. “However, if they want to throw me out, then I will not challenge their wisdom,” Sinha said. “People ask me why do you criticise the BJP so much despite being its member. I tell them I belong to the people of India first. I try to give honest feedback to my party and its leadership,” he said. Criticising the prime minister for demonetisation, Sinha added that when the country was yet to recover from its shock, Modi “suddenly brought GST which was a double whammy for the countrymen”.

“These were not party or cabinet decisions, but Modi’s decisions alone,” he alleged. NCP leader Majid Memon, TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi, AAP MP Sanjay Singh and others also spoke on the occasion. Trivedi said, “Spirit of India has vanished today and even Supreme Court judges are seeking justice… Parliament is not working in a rightful manner… I would say all the four pillars have been compromised.” Former high court judge Abhay Thipse, who joined the Congress after retirement, said that previous government never transferred judges unnecessarily.

“Today, judges fear to take a strong decision and stand. People and press are also fearful nowadays. There were caste biases earlier also but now fringe elements have got confidence to rule the roost,” he said. AAP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh alleged that the Modi-led government was the biggest “threat” to our democracy. “It is the height of foolishness that the UP government is showering rose petals on kanwariyas from helicopters,” Singh said. Kanwariyas who were indulging in vandalism were not real pilgrims, he said.




Kanwariyas vandalism row: Supreme Court directs police, state government to videograph processions


New Delhi: After videos showcasing vehicles being vandalised by Kanwariyas across northern states went viral on social media, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the police to take strict action against those responsible for the violence and breaching of laws.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, reiterated an earlier verdict, which stated that videography of every procession should be made.The top court, while citing the 2009 judgement, also said that the organisers were responsible for any violence reported during the procession. On Wednesday, a group of Kanwariyas, armed with iron rods and sticks, smashed a car in Delhi’s Moti Nagar area after the driver allegedly tried to brush past one of them while moving on a busy road.

Also Read: Kanwar Yatra: Who are Kanwariyas, and what is the entire vandalism controversy? All you need to know about Kanwars
A similar incident also took place in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district on August 7, wherein Kanwariyas were filmed attacking a police SUV on a busy road, and also got into an altercation with the locals. Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma assured that authorities will take necessary action against those found guilty. “Those on spiritual pilgrimage are lost in the devotion of God, and can never be violent. But if some anti-social elements get involved then we will take strict action, no one will be spared irrespective of who he is,” he told ANI.


 
The police on Friday arrested six Kanwariyas, including the main accused, Pappu, in connection with the Bulandshahr incident. Kanwariyas are the devotees of Hindu God Shiva and embark on a pilgrimage every year during the Hindu month of Saavan. Pilgrims can be seen carrying heavy pots filled with Ganga water on their shoulders, which they empty at the temples of Lord Shiva.




Delhi: 26-year-old drug addict held in connection with kanwariyas vandalising car


New Delhi: A 26-year-old man was arrested today, 48 hours after a group of kanwariyas, vexed over a car driver allegedly hitting one of them, vandalised the vehicle in west Delhi. The incident took place on Tuesday on a stretch of a busy road near Moti Nagar metro station causing a traffic snarl and forcing some of the commuters to take a detour.

The accused, Rahul Billa, was identified after scanning CCTV footages and registers of nine kanwar camps on Najafgarh Road and arrested around 6.30 pm today, Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Vijay Kumar said. Billa is a resident of Uttam Nagar and has been involved in thefts previously, the police said. He had brought a kanwar and was accompanying the group which orchestrated the violence, Kumar said. During interrogation, Billa told the police that one of the kanwariyas had sustained injury to his hand after the car brushed past him.

Kanwar Yatra: Who are Kanwariyas, and what is the entire vandalism controversy? All you need to know about Kanwars
A rumour soon spread in the group that the kanwariya had been thrashed and subsequently the others gathered there. Billa was handed a baseball bat by someone and he too got involved, the DCP said. Sections of rioting have been added to the FIR that was lodged yesterday, he said, adding that these are non-bailable sections. Billa said he does not know the other accused but has told the police about the probable routes they might have taken, Kumar said. The accused is a vagabond, a drug addict and an orphan and at the time of his arrest, he was wearing the same clothes that he was wearing at the time of the incident, he added.


 
A ruckus broke out after a grey car being driven by a woman, who was with a male friend, allegedly hit a kanwariya. A heated argument ensued between the two sides and one of the kanwariyas was allegedly slapped by the male occupant of the car. The kanwariyas then vandalised the vehicle with baseball bats. A video of the incident, captured by a CCTV camera installed at a shop, showed the kanwariyas breaking the car’s windshields, windows and headlights with baseball bats even as a policeman tried hard to stop them.

The rampage came to a halt only after the unidentified miscreants overturned the car in the middle of the road. The couple fled the scene fearing for their lives and refused to give any complaint in writing, the police had said. A case was registered and the accused identified on the basis of inquiries conducted by the police and the CCTV footage.




No dance bars allowed to operate in Maharashtra, is it moral policing? Supreme Court to Maharashtra government


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra government why it has not allowed a single dance bar to operate and wondered if there was moral policing in the state. The top court questioned the state for denial of licences to dance bars and observed that with the changing times, the definition of obscenity has also changed.

The court was responding to the observation of senior advocate representing Maharashtra, who had contended that even today traditional families don’t allow their children to visit dance bars. The senior lawyer also said that whenever a young boy and a girl are seen together, adverse inferences are made. To this, the court said in a lighter vein: ‘‘Earlier, filmmakers would show two flowers or two birds chirping ion movies, instead of showing a kiss or a scene of love making, but now the times have changed”.

Warming up to the theme, the bench of justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said now even law and society have recognised live-in relationships, which earlier were not acceptable. At the outset, senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, appearing for hotel and restaurants owners who have challenged the new law regulating dance bars, said, the state has made CCTV cameras mandatory in dance bars, which was in violation with the Right to Privacy. “People visiting the dance bar may not want to be seen on CCTV cameras or even the bar girls. This was violation of fundamental rights,” he said.


 
The bench, said the installation of CCTVs was not in question as they could help in throwing up critical evidence after an incident. “The question is whether dance bars can be considered as a public place, as CCTVs can only be installed in a public place,” the court said. The Maharashtra advocate intervened and said, “A dance bar is a public place”. Bhushan, in turn, argued that there is no empirical data to show that bar girls are trafficked or coerced to take up the job. He also said that it was wrong to take a moralistic view of the bars. The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on August 23.




3 tax notices under foreign black money law slapped on Nirav Modi: Revenue Deptartment


New Delhi: The Income Tax department has slapped three notices under the foreign black money law against diamond trader Nirav Modi, involved in Rs 14,000 crore PNB fraud case, for allegedly holding illegal assets abroad.

“Three notices u/s 10(1) of the Black Money (Undisclosed Fporeign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, issued against Nirav Modi,” the Revenue Department said in an action taken report to the Standing Committee on Finance.

An arrest warrant have been issued against Modi. “Supplementary prosecution complaint filed against 31 persons/individuals/entities u/d 276C(1), 227A and 278 of the Income Tax Act,” it added. Besides, the Income Tax department has attached 32 immovable properties located in various cities, including Mumbai, Surat, Jaipur and Delhi. Also 141 bank accounts/ FDs of the Nirav Modi Group having a credit balance of Rs 145.74 crore have been attached.


 
The department has also attached 173 paintings and artworks and filed four prosecution cases against Modi. “Look Out notice/Blue Corner Notice has been opened against Nirav Modi by Bureau of Immigration on February 22, 2018, after request from I-T department. It is valid till February 21, 2019,” the revenue department said.

Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others are accused in a Rs 14,000 crore fraud at state-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB). With regard to Choksi,  the promoter of the Gitanjali Group of companies, the Revenue Department said “Look Out Notice/ Blue Corner Notice (has been) opened against Mehul Choksi and the same is valid till February 21, 2019”.

As many as 7 immovable properties in Mumbai belonging to Gitanjali Group have been attached u/s 281B of the I-T Act. Also land and building and fixed assets valued at Rs 1,278 crore of a group subsidiary have been provisionally attached. Also 244 banks accounts/FDs having a total credit balance of Rs 101.78 crore have been attached.

In case of the money laundering probe against Kanpur-based Rotomac group in an alleged bank loan fraud of Rs 3,695 crore, the Revenue Department said four immovable properties and 29 bank accounts have been attached by the I-T authorities.

“Six prosecutions have been initiated against Vikram Kothari, main person of the Rotomac Group. Further 18 prosecutions have been launched against M/s Rotomac Global (P) Ltd,” the Revenue Department said.




In picutres: Thousands attend Major Kaustubh Rane’s funeral procession in Mumbai’s Mira Road


Thane: Thousands of mourners today bid a tearful adieu to Major Kaustubh Rane, who was killed in Jammu and Kashmir during an operation to foil an infiltration bid. Major Rane was cremated with full military honours at a crematorium in Mira Road township in the district around 12.30 pm. Scores of mourners thronged Rane’s house in Shital Nagar area in Mira Road in the morning to catch the last glimpse. The funeral procession started from his residence around 9.30 am. His body, kept in a casket draped in tricolour, was carried in a flower-bedecked truck. At a few junctions on the way, flowers were showered on the vehicle carrying the mortal remains.

When the procession reached the crematorium two hours later, chaos prevailed for some time due to a huge rush of mourners. People even climbed trees and stood on terraces of neighbouring buildings as well as on the compound wall of the crematorium to witness the funeral. Rane’s family members had to appeal to the people to maintain peace.

When the family members placed floral wreaths on his body, mourners shouted slogans like ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, ‘Major Kaustuch Rane Amar Rahe’. His wife Kanika, who carried their two-and-a-half-year old son Agastya in her arms, was inconsolable. Before the martyr’s father lit the funeral pyre, a 21-gun salute was given.


 
Apart from local politicians, Army officers, including Lieutenant General Cherish Mathson general officer commanding-in-chief (GOC-in-C) of South Western Command, were present on the occasion. Major Rane and three soldiers were killed while foiling an infiltration bid in north Kashmir’s Gurez sector. At least two militants were gunned down in the operation.

Major Kaustubh Rane’s funeral procession (Photo by Bhushan Koyande)

Major Kaustubh Rane’s funeral procession (Photo by Bhushan Koyande)

Major Kaustubh Rane’s funeral procession (Photo by Bhushan Koyande)

Major Kaustubh Rane’s funeral procession (Photo by Bhushan Koyande)

 




Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh today honored talented people at the Indoor Stadium of Raipur, on the occasion of World Tribal Day


Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh today selected for the talented students of different societies, IIT, NIT, Medical College, including tribal society at the ceremony organized at the Indoor Stadium of Raipur, on the occasion of World Adivasi Day. Students, Union Public Service Commission, selected youth in the examination of State Public Service Commission, a society that has achieved specific achievements in different areas of society. The Ratibashali honoring people and various community leaders.
On this occasion, Minister of Tribal Development Shri Kedar Kashyap, Home Minister Shri Ramsevak Pakra, Forest Minister Shri Mahesh Gagra, Parliamentary Secretary Smt. Sunita Rathia, Vice President of Bastar Development Authority Mr. Bhojraj Nag, MLA Mr. RK Roy, State Scheduled Tribes Commission Chairman, Shri G.R. Rana, Vice President Mr. Vikas Marakam, President of Chhattisgarh Fisheries Board Mr. Bharat Matiyara,
Chairman of Chhattisgarh State Backward Classes Commission Dr. Syarram Sahu, Member of the Minority Commission Mr. Tauqir Raza, Member of Public Service Commission Mr. Mohan Mandavi, Member of Scheduled Tribe Commission Mr. Ramkishun Singh, Member of State Youth Commission Mr. Raghuraj Singh Uike and Chhattisgarh Sarv Former President of Tribal Society, Mrs. Jaya Lakshmi Thakur will be present in the program as a special guest.

 




Did British Airways offload Indian family from flight over crying 3-year-old son?


New Delhi: A senior bureaucrat of the government has alleged “racial discrimination” and “rude behaviour” by the British Airways, which deplaned him and his family from a flight to Berlin from London last month minutes before take off because his three-year-old son was crying onboard.

The bureaucrat, in a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on August 3, has alleged that another Indian family, sitting behind them, was also offloaded as they offered biscuits to the child to console him. The incident happened on July 23.  The bureaucrat alleged that the crew got the plane (BA 8495) to return to the tarmac, where the security personnel took their boarding passes away. The customer care service manager did not give reasons for offloading them nor the management took action against the crew despite lodging a complaint, he claimed.

“We had to make our own arrangements for staying and travelling to Berlin the next day by paying a very hefty amount,” he said, adding that the other Indian family was given tickets for a flight the next day, without any accommodation though.

The bureaucrat is a joint secretary-level officer in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

When contacted, a British Airways spokesperson said, “We take such claims very seriously and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have started a full investigation and are in contact with the customer.” Narrating his family’s ordeal in the two-page letter to Prabhu, the officer demanded a thorough investigation and strictest possible action against the British Airways staff.

He said while his wife managed to calm their son, an “aggrieved” crew member approached them and started scolding the boy, asking him to get back to his seat. The boy had a window seat, but the mother had taken him into her arms to console him.

“With this unusual behaviour of the male crew member, my son got terrified and started crying intensively. My wife again put the boy on his designated seat and fastened the seat-belt, even though he kept on crying intensively being in a terrified state of mind due to the scolding by the male crew member,” the officer wrote to Prabhu.

He alleged that when the plane started moving towards the runway, the crew member came back, shouting, “You bloody keep quite, otherwise you would be thrown out of the window.”





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