Today Picture

Rise and fall of Asaram: The preacher who built an empire of Rs 10,000 crore

Ahmedabad: From the high pedestal of a preacher having thousands of followers, self-styled godman Asaram’s fall from grace came after he was embroiled in the rape case of a minor girl.

If we go by figures, Asaram can surely give top businessmen a run for their money as the jailed self-styled godman created an empire of Rs 10,000 crore within four decades, starting from a humble hut on the banks of the Sabarmati river in the early 70s to over 400 ashrams across the country and the world. The scrutiny of documents seized by the police from Asaram’s ashram in Motera area here following his arrest in  the rape case in 2013 had revealed that the 77-year-old Asaram  has amassed wealth of around 10,000 crore, which is  excluding the market value of vast track of lands that he holds.

He may be still have many followers, but after rape allegations, he was accused of other crimes like land grabbing and practice of black magic in his ashrams. As per a short documentary available on his official website, Asaram was born in 1941 as Asumal Sirumalani in Berani village of Sindh province in Pakistan. After partition in 1947, Asumal came to Ahmedabad with  his parents and studied only till the fourth standard at a school  in Maninagar area, as he was forced to leave his studies after the death of his father Thaumal when he was 10.

After doing some odd jobs during his early youth,  Asumal embarked on a “spiritual quest” towards Himalayas,  where he met his Guru, Lilashah Bapu, the documentary claimed. It was that Guru who gave him the name ‘Asaram’ in  1964 and “commanded him to carve his own path and guide people”. Asaram came to Ahmedabad in the early 70s and started  doing penance on the banks of Sabarmati near Motera area.

His true journey as a spiritual leader started in 1972 when he set up ‘Moksha Kutir’, a humble hut, on the banks of river. Over the years, his popularity as ‘Sant Asaramji  Bapu’ started soaring high and that ‘humble hut’ converted into a full fledged Ashram. Within a span of four decades, he added around 400   ashrams in India and abroad. Even today, the Motera Ashram is flocked by  followers, who are still in denial mode and maintain that their ‘guru’ has been jailed on false charges.

Asaram is married to Laxmi Devi and they have two  children – son Narayan Sai, who is also behind bars, and  daughter Bharti Devi. Asaram ran into troubled waters for the first time in  2008, when two cousins -Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela- who used to stay at the Gurukul of Asaram’s Ashram in Motera area here, were found dead under mysterious circumstances on the riverbed near the ashram in 2008.

The state CID had in 2009 booked seven followers of Asaram in the death case. Parents of two cousins had alleged that they were killed in the Asarma’s ashram as they practice black magic. However, his real fall started in 2013, after he was arrested for a minor’s rape in Rajasthan. After that, two Surat-based sisters had come out to speak about their alleged sexual exploitation at the hand of Asaram and his son Narayan Sai.

Surat Police had on October 6, 2013, registered complaints filed by two sisters – one against Asaram and another against his son Narayan Sai – of rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges. The case is going on againt Asaram in Gandhinagar court. He was accused of land grabbing for building his ashrams in Surat and Ahmedabad. His followers were held for threatening and assaulting witnesses in rape cases against him and his son after they were arrested.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to visit China, US to woo investors

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said she has plans to meet industrialists in Shanghai during her visit to China soon. Stating that she has received a communication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard, Mamata said she would try to attract investments in the manufacturing sector.

“I will make this visit on national interest since China wanted me to visit the country. I have received a communication from the Ministry of External Affairs. I will also try to meet industrialists in Shanghai,” she told “News 18 Bangla”. The chief minister is likely to visit China in June, state secretariat sources said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scheduled to visit China on June 9-10 for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

Cong impeachment notice against CJI wrong: Mamata
Incidentally, a large business contingent from China had participated in this year’s Bengal Global Business Summit, which received a huge proposal for investments. Secretariat sources said that during the proposed visit, the chief minister may be accompanied by state Finance Minister Amit Mitra and a host of industrialists from West Bengal. Besides, manufacturing sector, there could be business dialogues over healthcare, tourism and IT, they said.

The chief minister also said that she would be visiting Chicago to celebrate 125th year of Swami Vivekananda’s speech at world parliament of religion, on Ramakrishna Mission’s invitation. “I have a plan to visit Chicago to attend 125th year of Swami Vivekananda’s speech at world parliament of religion on Rama Krishna Mission’s invitation,” Banerjee said.

“During the visit to the US, I along with my delegation will visit the Silicon Valley. We are planning to set up a similar type of facility here over 100-acre of land,” Banerjee said. Sources at the chief minister’s office said that Banerjee may visit Chicago in September. “We have also improved in infrastructure and as a part of it, three major ports are coming up at Sagar, Kulpi and Tajpur. A major coal block in the state will also help grow industry here,” she said.

CM Devendra Fadnavis to unveil Mumbai DP 2034 today

Mumbai: Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has approved the Scrutiny Committee Report on the Mumbai Development Plan 2034. He will unveil the blueprint on Wednesday in Mumbai. According to a senior official from the Urban Development Department, the DP-2034 will pave the way for accelerated growth of Mumbai city.

The preparation of the draft DP began in February 2014 but following criticism over widespread errors, the government ordered a revision of the document. The chief minister has already indicated that the government has decided in principle that open spaces in the city will not be compromised. He has also said there will be special provision for demarcation of gaothans, koliwadas and tribal hamlets within the city. Another guiding principle in the revised plan is the creation of the maximum stock of affordable housing.

The new DCR is also expected to simplify the process of obtaining approvals further. Once published, the DP-2034 will be in force for 20 years. It can, however, be modified and land use can be altered, if the BMC and the government so desire. The Fadnavis government has already made certain changes to the draft prior to its final publication.

While the BMC general body had rejected the proposal to set up a car shed for Metro III in Aarey colony, the state government had notified it through a modification to the draft DP. BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta, Nitin Kareer, UDD principal secretary, and Sanjay Kumar will host a Press conference on Wednesday at 1 pm at Mantralaya to unveil the document.


The following questions are bothering Mumbaikars

Will open spaces be protected?
Will all reserved plots be made free for commercial development?
Will all development be concentrated in South Mumbai?
Will the amenities be under pressure?

Bombay High Court tells Maharashtra government to list down steps to formulate policy to protect rivers

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday held that it is the constitutional obligation of the Maharashtra government to protect its rivers. The court has accordingly directed the state government to file a detailed affidavit spelling out steps it proposes to take to formulate a comprehensive policy to protect its rivers.

A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla said it is the fundamental right of the citizens to have a pollution-free environment, including clean rivers. “The constitution itself says that it is the fundamental right of the citizens to have a pollution-free environment, which also includes rivers. We accordingly believe that it is the constitutional obligation of the government to ensure its rivers are clean and are protected,” Justice Oka observed.

The observation was made while hearing a PIL filed by NGO Vanshakti which had sought directions on a river policy. The NGO even cited a notification issued in 2009 wherein the government had decided to protect its rivers. “However, the said notification was modified allowing construction of hotels, lodgings, resorts, etcetera on the river beds. In 2015, a study had revealed that nearly 49 rivers in the State are badly polluted,” the counsel for Vanshakti informed the judges.

During the hearing, the judges also perused a 2015 order wherein the government was directed to formulate a comprehensive policy to protect all the rivers across Maharashtra. “…Construction of structures near river beds poses a danger of effluent-related diseases. We have noted that despite orders of this court, the government has failed to inform whether it proposes to formulate such a policy or not,” Justice Oka said.

“Given such an approach, we assume that the government does not intend to form any policy. We would like to clarify that if the government does not intend to do so, then this court has the powers to intervene and issue directions to the government to fulfil its constitutional duty,” Justice Oka added. Accordingly, the judges directed the government to file a detailed affidavit spelling out its stand on June 22, the day when the matter would next be heard.

Delhi Shocker: 16-year-old girl allegedly gang-raped in moving car by classmate

The country is still protesting over recent sexual assault cases, and another such incident has come to light, where a Class 11 student was allegedly gang-raped in a moving car in Greater Noida, near Delhi.

A 16-year-old girl (Class 11 student) was allegedly gang-raped by a classmate, and his friend, when she was returning home from a school in Greater Noida. The alleged incident happened on April 18, when the 16-year-old had missed her school bus and was returning home alone. Her classmate offered her a lift.

Later, the boys forced the girl to have a drink which was laced with drugs and when she passed out she was gang-raped. She also alleged that she was gagged. Later, after a few hours, she was found by the police in an unconscious state on a deserted road.

Awneesh Kumar, a senior police officer told NDTV, “We received information from the girl’s father that on April 18, she could not be found and based on his statement a First Information Report was filed against three people. We have caught the main accused and another youth, while a third one is still on the run.”

Saroj Khan on Casting Couch: If a girl has art and talent, why would she sell herself?

Saroj Khan on Casting Couch
Sri Reddy’s semi-nude stripping act has now turned into a big flame in a country. Recently, ace-choreographer Saroj Khan opened up about Casting Couch and its origin in an entertainment industry in a video.

Watch Video:

Lady peon arrested for sexually assaulting four-year-old girl student

Mumbai: A lady peon at St Peter’s school at Mazgaon has been arrested by the Byculla police for sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl inside the school toilet; this had been happening for the past one week.

The incident was detected only when the girl complained of pain in her abdomen and private parts to her mother and refused to go to school; the parents sensed something was amiss and had a medical examination conducted at Masina Hospital, which confirmed their worst fears. The girl’s parents approached the police on Monday to register an FIR. Lily Lobo (59) has been booked and arrested for penetrative sexual assault (Sections 4) and aggravated penetrative sexual assault (Sections 6 and 10) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

Nanar refinery: Subhash Desai asserts land acquisition has been cancelled, CM Fadnavis says he has no such authority

Mumbai: The Rs 3 lakh crore petrochemical project at Nanar is becoming a personal spat between chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. The latest provocation came from Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai who is also the Industries Minister when he asserted that the land acquisition notification of May 18, 2017, for the project has been “cancelled.”

Taking offence and much to the embarrassment of his ministerial colleague, Fadnavis retorted by saying that he (Desai) had no authority to revoke the notification.  “The said notification has not been cancelled. That authority vests only with the High Power Committee which is headed by the Chief Secretary, and not with any minister.’’

He also made it clear that “this (cancellation of notification) was the minister’s (Desai) personal opinion and it was not the view of the government.  “No such proposal has been received by the HPC on this issue and no notification (on Nanar) has been cancelled,” Fadnavis said. Incidentally, Desai made this statement while addressing project affected people at Nanar on Monday in presence of Uddhav Thackeray. He had said, “I am making this announcement with the prior permission of Uddhav ji. I have revoked the notification and no land will be acquired henceforth.”

Maharashtra: Land buyers in Nanar belong to trading community; names of farmers are Modi, Shah, Jain
Later, referring to Desai’s announcement, Thackeray said, “Nanar will remain Nanar and no refinery will be set up here. The refinery project has cancelled and you can live happily now.” He further said, “If a land agent comes and tries to wean you away by offering a good amount for your plot, you have to expose them. You can shame him  by publishing their photo-graphs in all villages.’’

Congress Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil attacked Thackeray for his comments and said the Shiv Sena’s opposition to the Nanar project political posturing and part of “a deal”.  “If not, then why are your ministers still working in the government under Fadnavis? You have already scored a double-century by threatening for umpteenth time that you are quitting the government,” Vikhe-Patil said.

Thackeray’s bellicosity indicates that the chasm between the Sena and the BJP is widening by the day. A sample of this is Uddhav’s statement: ‘‘Shiv Sena is the tiger and it has not transformed into a cat. Nobody can dare to acquire your land. The proceeds of sale will go in the coffers of a Saudi company, a part will go in pocket of (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the balance will be cornered by Modis and Jains who have purchased land at Nanar with minimal cost. Political observers feel Nanar has become the new sticking point with the two parties as both are bereft of potent issues. By harping on Nanar and turning it into an ego battle both parties hope to consolidate their weakening hold in Konkan.

Date of depositing Rs 15 lakh promised by Narendra Modi in people’s accounts not ‘information’ under RTI Act: PMO

New Delhi: One of the most hyped pre-poll ‘jumlas’ of the Modi government – the claim that Rs. 15 lakh will be deposited in every citizen’s bank account – failed to elicit a reply from the PMO, when a poser was sent under the RTI.

The applicant had asked for the exact date when the money will be deposited. The PMO has shrugged off the query by responding that this cannot be considered “information” under the rules of the Right to Information Act. The RTI request was filed on November 26, 2016 — 18 days after PM Modi announced a ban of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. The applicant had also sought information on how the print media came to have advance information about the demonetisation, another request that the PMO said does not fall under the ambit of ‘information’.

PM Narendra Modi: Here are 10 promises you haven’t fulfilled
According to the relevant section 2 (f) of the RTI Act, “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information related to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law.

Apparently, election manifestos and poll pledges do not fall in this category, even though it is technically a breach of promise to the nation. Party president Amit Shah, pilloried by the Opposition for failure to deposit the promised amount, had tried to wriggle out of the sticky mess by dismissing the election pledge as a political jumla.  Maybe, the RTI Act should be amended to bring ‘jumlas’ under its purview; it would make the RTI a more potent weapon in the hands of the masses, pointed out a political observer.

Royal Baby: Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge delivers baby boy

London: It’s a baby boy for Prince William and wife Kate Middleton, making him fifth-in-line to the British throne. The baby was born at 1101hrs local time, Kensington Palace said in a statement today. This is their third child.

The 35-year-old father, Duke of Cambridge, was present at the birth of his boy, who weighs 3.82 kg. The palace added that the mother and baby are “doing well”.

The new baby is fifth-in-line to the British throne, behind her grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William, brother Prince George and big sister Princess Charlotte. The 36-year-old Duchess of Cambridge was earlier today admitted to the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London, where both her previous pregnancies – George in 2013 and Charlotte in 2015 were also born.

The new child will be fifth in line to the British throne, behind big sister Charlotte and pushing uncle Prince Harry one place down the line of succession to sixth. He or she will be the sixth great grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrated her 92nd birthday on Saturday. A change in the law after William, 35, Kate, 36, were married in April 2011 gave female heirs the same rights of accession to the throne in the UK as men.

Kate suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe levels of nausea and vomiting, during the early stages of her pregnancy during all three births. For a girl, the favourite names are Alice, Mary, Victoria and Alexandra, with Albert, Arthur, Frederick and James as the top choices for a boy.