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Indian-American techie walks into police station with dead body, admits to killing 3 others


San Francisco: A 53-year-old Indian-origin IT professional has been arrested after he dramatically walked into a Northern California police station along with a dead body in his car and confessed to have killed three others at his apartment, over 350 kilometres away, according to US media reports.

All four victims in the grizzly incident are related to the suspect, Shankar Nagappa Hangud, Roseville Police Department Captain Joshua Simon said on Tuesday. Simon declined to name the four victims, but said they were all members of the suspect's family, two adults and two juveniles. Hangud, driving a red Mazda6, arrived at the police station in the city of Mount Shasta shortly after noon and told officers that he had killed people at his apartment in the Placer County city of Roseville, police said.

Simon said that Hangud, a Roseville resident, was in custody at the South Placer Jail after city detectives brought him back from Siskiyou County on Monday night and would face four charges of murder. Hangud was a data specialist and had worked for several companies in the Sacramento area, according to his LinkedIn profile. Hangud, who is being held without bail, refused any interviews, The Sacramento Bee newspaper reported.

"This incident has touched the lives of many in the area," Simon told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday, adding that such a killing had not occurred in the Placer County city of 130,000 in his recent memory. "It's a very sad, sad situation," he said. "The suspect himself drove to the Mount Shasta Police Department with one of the victims in his car and made a confession to them to start off this investigation," Simon said. Mt. Shasta Police chief Parish Cross said he and another officer went outside to the car to verify what Hangud had said was true.

"These are things that just don't happen everyday and when they do it is upsetting," said Cross. "I've been in the business a long time and I've seen a lot of unusual occurences, just upsetting occurences, but this one here is a whole new level. We are still in shock," KDRV.com, an affiliate of the ABC Television Network, reported. Hangud told police the address where to find the three other bodies and Roseville officers checked his apartment near Sacramento and discovered the additional victims, according to authorities, the NBC News reported.

"It appears that the victims were killed by this suspect over a few days time span," Simon said. "We're still working to put that timeline together." Hangud, who has been taken back to Placer County and booked into jail, was the sole suspect in the killings and there appeared to be no ongoing threat, police said. Investigators are asking anyone between Roseville and Mt. Shasta if they have seen Hangud and an adult man of Indian descent in the suspect's car, the report said.

Police said they were not ready to disclose a motive for Hangud's alleged acts; however, tax records showed that Hangud faced a federal tax lien of USD 178,603 from the Internal Revenue Service this year. Police believe Hangud "drove from Roseville and travelled to unknown places in Northern California, and ended up in Mount Shasta," Simon said.

His most recent employment was with a company called Social Interest Solutions, which provides IT services for state public assistance programs. The company, located at 1 Capitol Mall and operated by Oakland-based Alluma, declined to comment, but public records showed his employment there ended in 2018.

Court records show that Hangud's only previous encounter with law enforcement was for speeding in Placer County in 2016 in 2001. Before 2015, Hangud worked in the technology sector in the Bay Area and had previously lived in Dallas, Texas; Maryland; and New Jersey, according to public documents. Police said disclosure of the victims' identities was pending until next of kin are notified.

 
 
 



Over 14,000 farmers ended lives in last 5 years: Report


Mumbai: Four days before Maharashtra goes to the polls, the state’s revenue department has revealed that the number of farmers’ suicides doubled during the present BJP-Shiv Sena regime in the state. The report says that from 2014 until February this year, 14,456 farmers across Maharashtra had committed suicide.

These shocking numbers, have left the saffron alliance red-faced, as it has been bragging about its performance at its poll campaigns.

This information was obtained in response to a Right To Information (RTI) query filed by activist Shakeel Ahmed Shaikh, seeking information on the number of farmers’ deaths in Maharashtra from 2013 until now. The response received from the revenue and forest department reveals that over 154,000 farmers have committed suicide from 2013 till February 2019.

The report states, “A total of 1,296 farmers committed suicide in 2013, followed by 2,039 suicides reported in 2014. In 2015, 3,263 farmer suicides were reported, while the following year, a total of 3,080 such cases occurred. In 2017 and 2018, the number of suicides were 2,917 and 2,761 respectively,” the response of the revenue officials states. In the first two months of 2019 alone, reportedly, 396 farmers took their own lives.

As far as loan waivers to the kin of these farmers are concerned, the report claims that from 2013 to 2018, only 8,868 families have benefited from the government scheme, while 5,713 such families were found ‘ineligible’.

Accordingly, the opposition has used the numbers to corner Devendra Fadnavis-led government. The Congress has also accused the saffron alliance for under-reporting suicide cases.

“The government has under-reported the instances. I can say that there are more such cases than the ones made public. They have not brought on record the deaths of those farmers whose names were not mentioned in the 7/12 documents,” claimed Atul Londhe, Congress spokesperson.

“This government has failed miserably in improving the conditions of the farmers. It has failed to implement the Swaminathan Commission’s report and has only neglected farmers, leading to the present crisis,” Londhe alleged.

Londhe further said, the government had introduced the Goods and Service Tax and demonetisation in the most incorrect manner, causing a huge and adverse impact on businesses.

“In fact, the most unfortunate part is that in the last 70 years, farmers have not resorted to strikes the way we have been seeing for the last five years. Saffron parties are only using Lord Ram’s name to gain votes, but in reality, they are not following in his footsteps,” Londhe said.

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena, having been made aware of these numbers, has claimed it would ‘continue to put pressure on the CM’ to ensure farmers were not compelled to kill themselves.

“We are dedicated to farmers. That is the reason we have been mounting pressure on the CM right from Day One and will continue to do so in order to ensure that the farmers get their rights,” said Priyanka Chaturvedi, the Sena spokesperson.

“In fact, we do not seek only karz maafi (loan waiver) for the farmers. We want them to be karz-mukt (free of loans) and for this, we are going to ensure that even in the future, the government will work for the betterment of farmers,” Chaturvedi claimed.

 
 
 



Acche din for ministers in BJP-Sena govt, wealth increased by Rs 142 cr


Mumbai: The BJP-Shiv Sena government has brought really “Acche Din” (good days) for the ministers in this government. In the last four years, the wealth of the prominent leaders of Fadnavis’ cabinet has increased by a total of Rs 142 crore. The information has been revealed in their affidavit they filed at the time of nomination.

If you look at the affidavits of the 18 candidates who are currently ministers in the Fadnavis government who are contesting on the BJP ticket, their average wealth is seen to have increased by 80 per cent in the last five years. The total wealth of these 18 ministers was Rs.179.80 crore in 2014 and it increased to Rs. 322.50 crore in 2019.

Wealth of Water Resources Minister Babanrao Lonikar has seen the highest increase. The wealth of Lonikar, who is contesting from Partur constituency, has increased by Rs 27.10 crore in last 5 years. Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil’s wealth increased by 26 crores in last 5 years. In 2014, his wealth was Rs.3.02 crore and it increased Rs. 29.03 crore in 2019. The wealth of Pankaja Munde, who is the Minister of Women and Child Development, has increased by Rs. 21.70 crore.

There has also been an increase in the wealth of the Shiv Sena leaders who are in the cabinet of Fanavis. The wealth of Eknath Shinde, Minister of Public Works (Enterprises) has also increased. Shinde, who has a wealth of Rs. 7.50 crore in the year 2014, now has assets worth Rs.11.60 crore.

 
 
 



On Last Day of Hearing in Supreme Court, Sunni Waqf Board Seeks to Withdraw from Ayodhya Title Dispute


The move comes amid reports of a possible rift between members of the board following FIRs against its chairman ZA Faruqui.

 

New Delhi: On the last day of hearing in the Ayodhya land dispute case, the Sunni Waqf Board — one of the petitioners — has sought to withdraw from the title suit, the mediation panel has informed the Supreme Court.

The move comes amid reports of a possible rift between members of the board following FIRs against its chairman ZA Faruqui. The Uttar Pradesh government has recommended an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Faruqui into alleged illegal sale and purchase of land for the board.

 
 

Faruqui was on Monday provided security on the orders of the apex court after he apprehended a threat to his life. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the communication addressed to it by a member of the mediation committee that Faruqui has informed him about the threat.

Sources aware of the development said after the FIRs, Faruqui had attempted to change his Advocate-on-Record in the Ayodhya case. He allegedly also wrote to the mediation panel, asking for a fresh round of talks, without the knowledge of his legal team.

In its proposal to the mediation panel, the board has suggested giving up its claim on the disputed site but sought that Places of Worship Act, 1991, should be made water-tight. It has asked that the government take over maintenance of around 22 mosques in Ayodhya, many of which were damaged in the riots after the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

It has also asked the Supreme Court to form a committee to check the status of other religious places under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Wednesday is the last day for hearings in the title dispute after the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it looked forward to conclude the arguments before its advanced deadline of October 17. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has been hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit for 39 days and had earlier set the deadline to finish arguments on October 18. This was later brought forward to October 17, but the CJI on Tuesday indicated that it would like to conclude all arguments by Wednesday instead of Thursday.

The judgment will be reserved by the bench if the arguments conclude. The bench, also comprising justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer will have to pronounce the ruling by November 17 as the CJI will retire on that date. If the judgment is not delivered before his retirement, the entire matter would have to be heard afresh.

The CJI has previously said the bench will have only four weeks to write the judgment and it will be a “miracle” if the court delivers the judgment in this time frame.

The court had sped up the hearing in the case that was pending for decades and conducted day-to-day hearing, including miscellaneous days reserved for other matters, to ensure that the bench arrives at a verdict.

The top court is hearing appeals against the September 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court. The high court had divided the disputed 2.77 acres of land, including the spot where the Babri Masjid stood until December 6, 1992, and the area around it, equally among the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Central Waqf Board, UP, and Ramlalla Virajman.

The bid to arrive at a negotiated settlement to the dispute via a mediation process failed after Ramlalla Virajman said no to further mediation. Days later, the side arguing for the mosque also turned down an invitation by the Supreme Court-appointed mediators.

With the closing in of the verdict, the Ayodhya administration has tightened curbs imposed under Section 144 till December 10.

 
 



INX media case: ED arrests P Chidambaram after questioning him at Tihar jail


 



Farooq Abdullah detained at his house in Srinagar, daughter Safiya in judicial custody: Police


Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah has been detained at his house in Srinagar, police said on Wednesday.

Abdullah's daughter Safiya, who was detained yesterday during a protest against ending the state's special status, is in judicial custody, the Jammu and Kashmir police added.

Safiya and Abdulla's sister Suraiya Abdullah were detained in Srinagar on Tuesday afternoon during protests against the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

 
 

Many political leaders, including the Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah have been placed under detention or house arrest since August after the central government announced its move on Kashmir.

People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti was also detained. The Supreme Court last month allowed Mufti's daughter Iltija to travel from Chennai to Srinagar to meet her mother.

 
 
 



Right to Food Act ensures that 7.16 crore people in Maharashtra do not go hungry


New Delhi: The Food Security Act has given 81 crore Indians the right to food said Union minister of state for food and civil supplies, Raosaheb Danve. In Maharashtra, 7.16 crore are availing the benefit of this Act. Danve was speaking on the eve of World Food Day, which is observed every year on October 16.

"The government is committed to supply food to the lowest segments of the society. To ensure that no one goes hungry, the Antyodaya scheme was launched in 2000 for people living below the poverty line. Currently 2.5 crore citizens are benefiting from this scheme, wherein 35kg of foodgrain is distributed to each household every month," Danve said.

The Right to Food Act came into force on July 5, 2013, giving every citizen the right to food. This Act was amended from time to time, so as to accommodate maximum beneficiaries. Seventy-five per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of urban India have food on their plates as a result of this act.

Under this scheme, a ration cardholder can obtain rations from anywhere in the country. The scheme has been implemented in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on a trial basis. The scheme will be entirely digitalised nationwide, from June 2020. There are 23,18,46,416 ration cardholders in the country, which includes 1.46 crore ration cardholders of Maharashtra. The Centre currently has 664.20 lakh metric tonne (MT) of foodgrain in storage. This includes 407 lakh MT of wheat and 256 lakh MT of rice. The government has identified essential commodities necessary for the common man, including 22 items like salt, sugar, milk, onion, tomato and pulses, Danve said.

India has now become self-sufficient in the production of foodgrains and we are exporting food, Danve said.

 
 
 



'His life will keep on inspiring people': PM Modi pays tribute to APJ Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday paid tribute to late former President APJ Abdul Kalam on his 88th birth anniversary and remembered his contributions to the country.

"My heartfelt tribute to Dr APJ Abdul Kalamji on his anniversary. He dreamt of the India of 21st century, which was capable and then went on to give his exceptional contribution to the goal.

His ideal life will keep on inspiring the people of the country. India salutes Dr APJ Abdul Kalamji on his Jayanti," Modi's tweet, which also had a short video highlighting the key achievements of the former President's life embedded, read.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh too remembered the former President and asserted that he continues to live on in the hearts and the minds of the people of the country.

"Remembering former President of India and a phenomenal scientist, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary. He was a people's President who would continue to live in the hearts and minds of the people of India. I bow to him on his Jayanti," Singh's tweet read.

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, better known as the 'Missile Man of India' for his contributions towards the development of the country's missile projects was born on October 15, 1931, at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.

In 2002, Dr Kalam became the 11th President of India and famously became the 'People's President' for his friendly nature to one and all.

In 2010, the United Nations decided to recognise October 15 as World Student Day. Dr Kalam was very dedicated towards teaching and he always referred to himself as a teacher first.

The former President suffered a cardiac arrest on July 27, 2015, and passed away while giving a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar while paying tribute to Kalam, reminded citizens that it was due to his extreme love and dedication to the students that the former President's birthday was celebrated as the World Students Day.

"The birthday of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam - the most popular President of India -is celebrated as World Students Day. He was a real teacher and loved students and even died while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. My tributes to the Bharat Ratna Abdul Kalam," Javadekar's tweet read.




Absolutely no governance in state, says NCP leader Hemant Takale


Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Hemant Takale, visited the office of The Free Press Journal and Navshakti on Monday and speaking to the editorial team, decried the lack of governance in Maharashtra and explained how the economic condition of the state had deteriorated in the last five years.

Team FPJ

How do you assess the performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the last five years?

There is absolutely no governance in the state. Over the last five years, the economy of the state has fallen significantly. The chief secretary of the chief minister is frequently being changed, companies are being shut down, foreign investors are fighting shy of investing, farmer suicides are on the rise and most importantly, there is an environment of fear and oppression being created. Whoever questions the acts of the government is dubbed anti-national. This is a serious threat to healthy governance and democracy.

With Congress and NCP heavyweights switching to the BJP, it seems as though the fight has gone out of the opposition. Aren’t the upcoming elections going to be completely one-sided?

We are campaigning aggressively. With our campaign rallies – the Shivswarajya Yatra, Halla Bol and Jail Bharo Andolan, not only were we able to reach out to the people of Maharashtra but also gained their confidence.

People have completely lost faith in the present government and they are about to vote them out in the assembly elections. Farmers and youth are infuriated with the BJP-Sena rule.

So you are confident of coming back to power? What do you think will be the margin of your victory?

Yes, we are confident we'll be back. You can see that in the speeches of BJP also. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are constantly bringing up Article 370 in their speeches.

How is Article 370 relevant to the election in Maharahstra? Isn't it evident they are doing this only to divert attention from the real issues ailing Maharashtra right now -- the issues of unemployment, poverty and inflation, to name just a few.

The government is turning a blind eye to this and people can see that, they are not fools. The govt has been only successful in dividing people on the grounds of nationalism.

The Sena-BJP alliance has already taken a call on who will be their next CM. Who is the CM face of your alliance?

We will decide that after the poll results. Such decisions cannot be taken overnight. Several factors must be taken into account. Our alliance believes in democracy, so we will take a call when everyone is on the same page.

 
 
 



Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo jointly win Booker Prize 2019 as jury breaks rules


London: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo jointly won the 2019 Booker Prize on Monday after judges "flout" the rules by declaring a tie.

British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie's tragicomic 'Quichotte' was among the six books shortlisted for the prize. The Booker rules say the prize must not be divided, but the judges insisted they "couldn't separate" Atwood's 'The Testament' and 'Girl, Woman, Other' by Evaristo, who is the first black woman to win the prestigious award since its creation in 1969.

The rules were changed after the last tie in 1992, and organisers told this year's judges that they were not allowed to pick two winners. But after five hours of deliberations, Peter Florence, the chair of the five-member judging panel, said: "It was our decision to flout the rules." The judges said they strongly wanted both the authors to split the GBP 50,000 award at a gala ceremony at Guildhall here. "The more we talked about them, the more we found we loved them both so much we wanted them both to win," Florence said.

Seventy-nine-year-old Canadian author Atwood expressed her joy at sharing the award with a younger writer. Atwood joked to her co-winner: "I would have thought I would have been too elderly, and I kind of don't need the attention, so I'm very glad that you're getting some." "It would have been quite embarrassing for me. if I had been alone here, so I'm very pleased that you're here too," she said. Evaristo said, "We black British women know that if we don't write ourselves into literature no one else will."

"It's so incredible to share this with Margaret Atwood, who's such a legend and so generous," the 60-year-old said, after the shock joint win was announced. The others shortlisted included Lucy Ellmann for 'Ducks, Newburyport', Chigozie Obioma for 'An Orchestra of Minorities', and Elif Shafak for '10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World'. Atwood's 'The Testaments' had been the bookmakers' favourite to scoop the award. She had also made the shortlist with 'The Handmaid's Tale' in 1986, with her latest book set 15 years after the end of that novel.

The 2019 shortlist had been selected from 151 submitted books published in the UK or Ireland between October 2018 and September 2019. On Rushdie's 'Quichotte' the judging panel commented, "A picaresque tour-de-force of contemporary America, with all its alarms and craziness. Rushdie conjures a celebration of storytelling and language that will delight lovers of Cervantes, lovers of daytime television and lovers of life." This was the fifth time that the Mumbai-born novelist was shortlisted, including the 1981 win where he bagged the award for "Midnight's Children".

Rushdie's latest work is inspired by the classic 'Don Quixote' by 16th century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. The judging panel said this year's shortlist offered an insight into different worlds from the dystopian setting of Gilead, the monologue of an Ohio housewife and the tragicomic tale of a travelling salesman in America; to mostly female, mostly Black, British lives across generations, the trials of a young Nigerian man on a quest to improve his prospects and true allegiances within the brothels of Istanbul.

Florence, founder and director of the Hay Festival and Chair of the Booker Prize judging panel this year, said: "The common thread is our admiration for the extraordinary ambition of each of these books." "There is an abundance of humour, of political and cultural engagement, of stylistic daring and astonishing beauty of language," he said. "Anyone who reads all six of these books would be enriched and delighted, would be awe-struck by the power of story, and encouraged by what literature can do to set our imaginations free." Each of the shortlisted authors received GBP 2,500 and a specially-bound edition of their book.

Last year's winner was Northern Irish writer Anna Burns for 'Milkman', which has sold around 546,500 copies in all formats since the award. The Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland. The prize is supported for the first time this year by venture capitalist Michael Moritz and novelist wife Harriet Heyman's charitable foundation Crankstart, rather than the Man Group.

By Aditi Khanna/PTI

 
 
 




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