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Days after rallies were held in West Bengal to celebrate Ram Navami, both the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP held rallies for Hanuman Jayanti on Tuesday, a first for West Bengal. While Suri, the district headquarters of Birbhum was on boil over a rally organised by the BJP, TMC leaders Lakshmi Ratan Shukla and Vaishali Dalmia were also present at the Hanuman Jayanti rallies.Another important TMC leader, Sadhan Pande, was present at an event in Kolkata where a large statue of Hanuman was unveiled. In some places like Basberia in the State’s Hooghly district, TMC councillor Amit Ghosh was present at an armed rally. Meanwhile, violence was reported at the BJP rally at Suri. BJP supporters carrying saffron flags were stopped by the police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel near the Barabagan area.Senior police officers of the district said no permission had been given to hold the rally. The police said that they had to intervene when those rallying “tried to enter the more sensitive areas of the town with a mixed population”.Baton chargePolice resorted to a baton charge to control the situation, leading to chaos. TMC Birbhum district president Anubrata Mondal justified police action. “Dilip Ghosh (BJP State president) was supposed to attend this rally. He did not come himself but tried to incite the locals from Kolkata. These tactics will not work in Birbhum,” he said. Mr. Ghosh said that the permission had been cancelled at the last moment and alleged “police excesses” on the BJP supporters.
Arogya Bharati, the health and family welfare wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the city will host a workshop on how to have “a good child.” The two-day workshop, titled ‘Garbha Sanskar and Dampati Samikshan’ (Reforms in childbearing and counselling of couples) will be held in early May at Ekal Bhawan, the south Kolkata office of the organisation, an Arogya Bharati invite sent on an instant messaging group, said. A ‘traditional childbearing and infertility expert’ from Jamnagar in Gujarat will participate in the workshop. Speaking to The Hindu, Secretary of the Kolkata chapter of Arogya Bharati, Joyshree Rakshit said the initiative was aimed at “raising awareness in Bengal about the traditional wisdom of ancient Hindu sages on the ways of bearing an ideal and good child.”“Everything is now controlled by the doctors in the big hospitals and thus people are suffering,” Ms Rakshit said.However, a senior RSS official said the workshop was intended to “increase awareness about the demographic imbalance between the majority and minority community in Bengal.”The workshop invite, with Arogya Bharati’s logo — the Swastika — compared childbearing to maintaining a garden. “Weeds can easily grow in a garden if [the garden] is not properly nurtured, but well-planned nurturing is required for growing beautiful flowers. Similarly proper planning and nurturing is required to bear a good child,” the invitation said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has questioned the silence of secular parties over Kerala’s beef festivals in protest against the Centre’s decision banning the sale of cattle for slaughter from open markets.“I feel there is a lot of talk in the country to respect each other’s feelings, and several organisations demand this in the name of secularism. But why are they silent on the Kerala incident?” he asked at a public felicitation function organised by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on Sunday night. “Why are the people who staged vociferous protests over the incidents in DU and JNU silent on the issue?” the Chief Minister asked.Calf slaughteredDuring the beef festivals held in Kerala to protest against the Centre’s ban, a Youth Congress worker Rijil Makulti and his accomplices had reportedly slaughtered a calf in full public view in Kannur and took out a march with the head of a buffalo.Mr. Adityanath, soon after coming to power, had ordered strict compliance with the ban on cow slaughter in the State, besides closing down illegal slaughter houses.He had categorically stated that his government would not allow cow slaughter and cow smuggling at any cost.Kerala BJP president Kummanam Rajasekharan posted the video of the gory incident on Twitter, calling it “cruelty at it peak” and said no normal person could behave in this manner.Later, police registered a case against Mr. Makulti and his accomplices for slaughtering a calf during a ‘beef fest’ organised across the State by the Congress and the Left on Sunday to protest the Centre’s ban.
The city police on Wednesday arrested five persons, including a leader from the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), for operating a betting racket in Pune’s Nigdi area.Javed Shaikh, a NCP corporator from Akurdi, was among the few in his party to withstand the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) juggernaut which swept the cash-rich Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) in the civic polls held in February this year.Betting on TNPL matchesAccording to the Nigdi police, Mr. Shaikh (47), along with Navin Mittal (43), Rakesh Mehta (37), Pravin Pawar (36) and Zakir Shaikh (29) were said to have been running a betting operation from a building in Chikhali, betting on matches in the ongoing Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL).In a morning raid, the police retrieved betting articles amounting to Rs. 2.77 lakh including Rs. 53,000 in cash.“Acting on a tip-off, we raided a flat in Mittal Building in Chikhali and seized a number of betting paraphernalia including mobile phones, a laptop, a betting register used by the accused during the course of their operation. We have booked them under relevant sections of the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887,” said senior police inspector Vijakumar Palsule, remarking that further investigations were on to ascertain the scope of the racket.Arrested in 2009 for extortionThis is not the first time that the NCP leader has courted trouble. Mr. Shaikh, known as a party strongman in the PCMC area, was arrested in 2009 by the Nigdi police in an extortion case.He weathered the BJP storm this year to be elected for the third consecutive time from the Akurdi panel, defeating the Shiv Sena’s Maruti Bhapkar (once a prominent Aam Aadmi Party leader) by a formidable margin.The BJP won a landslide in the Pune civic polls, snaring 77 of the 128 seats to break the NCP’s long domination of the PCMC with Mr. Shaikh being one among only 35 corporators from his party to get a mandate.
The Congress on Sunday retained the Chitrakoot Assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh, with its candidate Nilanshu Chaturvedi winning the bypoll with an improved margin of 14,133 votes.Mr. Chaturvedi polled 66,810 votes, while his nearest rival, Shankar Dayal Tripathi of the BJP, got 52,677 votes. As many as 2,455 votes were polled under the ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) category. The bypoll on November 9, following the death of sitting Congress MLA Prem Singh, saw a voter turnout of 65%.Describing the victory as “winds of change,” several senior Congress leaders took to twitter to thank the voters.“My gratitude to the people of Chitrakoot and congratulations to the candidate and the workers. The Chitrakoot victory clearly proves that the people want freedom from the misrule of the BJP,” tweeted Jyotiraditya Scindia, senior leader from the State.The Congress’ communication chief Randeep Surjewala said the victory signalled the change in political mood in the country. “The winds of change are in the air. Many thanks to the people of #Chitrakoot for their faith and trust in the Congress party,” he tweeted.According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ram along with Sita and his brother Lakshman spent 12 years of his exile in the forests of Chitrakoot.Taking a cue from mythology, senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, MP from Chindwara, tweeted, “This verdict is the beginning of the exile for the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. Neither the BJP nor Shivraj can now stop the Congress’ victory chariot.’ ”
A 22-year-old IT engineer allegedly committed suicide by jumping off the seventh floor of a building here on Monday, police said.Ashwini Gaware was a trainee at a private company in Mundhwa’s Zero One IT Park building behind the Passport Office.Ms. Gaware hailed from Shirur taluk and was staying in the city’s Kharadi area.“She had been undergoing training in telecounselling at the company for the past four months. According to her colleagues and company personnel, she had not showed up for training for the past three-four days,” said Inspector Anil Patrudkar, speaking to The Hindu.She checked in at the office (located on the fourth floor) at 10.30 a.m. on Monday “Soon after, she proceeded to the balcony of the building’s seventh floor and took the extreme step. No suicide letter has been found,” said Mr. Patrudkar.The police are probing whether the trigger for the apparent suicide was depression or family problems. The body has been sent to Sassoon Hospital for post-mortem.In July last year, a 25-year-old software engineer from Andhra Pradesh jumped to his death from a hotel in the city’s Vimannagar area. In his suicide note, he had expressed concern at the uncertainty in the IT industry.
Opposition parties moved an adjournment motion in the Assembly on Monday, demanding the arrest of Sambhaji Bhide, one of the alleged conspirators of the Bhima-Koregaon riots.Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said, “Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide have been named in the FIR filed in the riot case, but only Ekbote has been arrested. Is the government trying to shield Bhide? The government must clarify its stand,” he said. The Congress leader said the government had been reluctant to arrest Mr. Ekbote too, but was left with no option when the Supreme Court denied him anticipatory bail.On Monday afternoon, a delegation led by Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh president Prakash Ambedkar, who had organised a protest march demanding Mr. Bhide’s arrest, met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. “The CM has assured us that action will be initiated within eight days,” he said.Mr Ambedkar showed an image of a Facebook post of one Raosaheb Patil, an office-bearer of Mr. Bhide’s Shiv Pratishthan, in which Mr. Patil has allegedly issued death threats to Mr. Fadnavis. “The Maharashtra Police have not acted against Patil despite him threatening the Chief Minister,” Mr. Ambedkar said.He alleged that Mr. Bhide is close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Mr. Modi had shared a photograph featuring Bhide on the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Doesn’t that tell us the entire story?” he asked.Earlier, speaking in the Assembly, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Jitendra Awhad said Mr. Bhide has been untraceable to the police for three months. “In the same time, he held three press conferences, where he warned the government not to arrest him. Is the government hell-bent on increasing communal tension in the State?” he asked.NCP MLA from Khed Sanjay Kadam told the Assembly that a statue of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was desecrated on Sunday night after a meeting of Mr. Bhide’s supporters. Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil said the government has taken note of all the incidents and will initiate the required action.
Taking strong action in the case of sexual harassment of Class VI girl students of a government middle school in Shimla, the Elementary Education Department has dismissed the accused Physical Education teacher from government service.The teacher was found to be indulging in such activities and sexually harassing girl students for some time. He failed to improve his conduct despite repeated warnings. His action was found to be in violation of CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964, said a spokesman.The police registered an FIR against the accused under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 9 F of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
One soldier was killed and another injured in twin landmine explosions near the Line of Control (LoC) in the frontier district of Kupwara on Saturday. Rifleman Nihal Gurang was hit by the blast near the LoC in the Keran Sector during a patrol on Friday night. He was airlifted to the 92 Base Hospital Badamibagh here, but died of his injuries. In another incident, a police official said soldier Abishekh Chhetri suffered multiple splinter injuries after a landmine exploded in the Gogal Dar area on Friday night.
Moderate polling was witnessed in the early hours of the first phase of panchayat election in Kashmir Valley on Saturday as nearly nine per cent of voters exercised their franchise till 10 am.“A total of 8.9 per cent of the electorate cast their votes at 283 polling locations across the valley till 10 am,” an official said.They said 12,104 votes were polled in the first two hours of the poll conducted in 16 blocks in six districts of the valley.The officials said the total number of electorate in these polling stations is 1,35,774.In 10 blocks of Ladakh region having 130 polling locations, the officials said 1,001 votes were polled in the first two hours.The total electorate in these polling stations is 25,906 and the voting percentage till 10 am is 3.9 per cent.The total voting percentage in Kashmir division, including Ladakh region, at 10 am is 8.1 per cent, the officials said.Voting began at 8 am at 3,296 polling stations — 1,303 in Kashmir and 1,993 in Jammu — and would end at 2 pm, officials said.The officials said that in the first phase polling, 85 sarpanch and 1,676 panch have been elected unopposed while voting is taking place on the remaining 420 sarpanch and 1,845 panch seats, for which 5,585 candidates are in the fray.They said there are 4,45,059 electors for sarpanch seats and 2,72,792 for panch constituencies.All necessary arrangements are in place for the smooth conduct of the polls, the officials said, adding massive security arrangements, including deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), have been made to ensure peaceful election.The government has declared holiday on the day of poll in the panchayat areas where polls are taking place so as to enable the voters to cast their vote.While the polls are being conducted on the non-party basis, the NC, PDP and the CPI(M) have announced to stay away from the electoral exercise due to the legal challenge to Article 35-A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.The NC and the PDP have asked the Centre to make its stand clear in the apex court on the constitutional provision and urged it to defend its continuation in the court.They had also boycotted the municipal polls which were conducted last month.Separatists in Kashmir Valley have called for boycott of the polls and asked people to observe a shutdown on Saturday.
The Odisha Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution by unanimous voice vote for providing 33% reservation for women in Legislative Assemblies and Parliament. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had initiated discussion on the motion.Mr. Patnaik termed the motion as “historic”. The move is being viewed as a masterstroke to woo the women voters ahead of the forthcoming elections. There are 12 women legislators in the 147-member State Assembly at present.Mr. Patnaik, known for initiating women-focussed programmes, said that no household, no society, no State, no country has ever moved forward without empowering its women. He appealed to the legislators to extend their support and adopt the resolution unanimously.Stating that the principle of gender equality is enshrined in our constitution, Mr. Patnaik said Biju Babu was the true champion of women’s empowerment. “In 1992, he brought women to the realm of political decision-making by providing 33% reservation for women in local bodies.”Mr. Patnaik, whose government has enhanced reservation for women in local bodies to 50%, said that the real number was much more than 50% in the State at present. “From Malkangiri to Sundargarh, we witness the new Odisha. An Odisha with lakhs of Mamata Padhiamis and Jayanti Ekkas,” said Mr. Patnaik, while citing the examples of Mamata Padhiami, a girl from Malkangiri and Jayanti Ekka, a grassroots entrepreneur from Sundargarh.
The Narendra Modi government’s move to form a high-level committee for the effective implementation of Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord has been labelled a “poll gimmick” by political parties and organisations in Assam.Clause 6 of the Assam Accord seeks to provide “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards” to “protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”“This is an election stunt. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been in power at the Centre for nearly five years. They have not fulfilled their promises about granting ST (Scheduled Tribe) status to six communities of Assam and have now come up with a new set of promises. But the people will not fall for their election stunt,” Gaurav Gogoi, Congress MP and spokesperson, said on Thursday.The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), which had ended a six-year agitation against illegal influx by signing the Assam Accord with the Centre in 1985, had a similar view.“This is an attempt to placate the Assamese people angered by the BJP’s bid to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. After almost five years of sitting over the demand for implementing the Assam Accord, the BJP is talking about a committee when the Lok Sabha elections are near,” AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said.“Panels are meaningless when there’s no intention to execute the decisions taken during our tripartite meeting with the Central and Assam governments last year. The move is the BJP’s blueprint to cheat the people of Assam,” the union’s president Dipanka Kumar Nath said.The day also saw some 70 organisations headed by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) launch a renewed agitation programme against the Citizenship Bill, whose draft is set to be finalised by the Joint Parliamentary Committee. If passed by the Parliament, the Bill will legalise the stay of non-Muslims who migrated to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan till December 31, 2014, allegedly because of religious persecution.“Deciding to form a committee to assess the implementation of the Assam Accord signed 33 years ago is ridiculous since the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government’s term expires in three months. The panel ploy cannot divert us from the agitation against the Citizenship Bill,” KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi said.Union Home Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Wednesday said that the high-level committee would give its recommendations to the Centre for the effective implementation of the Assam Accord. He also said that the committee would discuss with all stakeholders and assess the quantum of reservation of seats for the indigenous communities in the Assam Legislative Assembly.
A day after the show of strength by the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance in Saharanpur’s Deoband, the stage was set for Congress president Rahul Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to address supporters in the constituency on Monday.However, after hours of waiting, the crowd gathered at Gandhi Park in Saharanpur left without a glimpse of the brother and sister. According to the announcement made about three hours after the rally was supposed to start, the two leaders were forced to cancel their appearance at the rally in Saharanpur, as well as in Shamli and Bijnor later in the day, due to “bad weather”, which prevented their helicopter from taking off. Ms. Gandhi would, however, hold a roadshow in Saharanpur, which goes to polls on April 11, on Tuesday morning, the party announced.Support for MasoodAs the crowd was gathering at the venue earlier in the day, a dust storm blew through, ripping the tents open and leaving the metal trussing dangling overhead. While the two star campaigners of the party cancelled, many local Congress leaders as well as representatives of the Bhim Army turned up to lend support to the Saharanpur candidate, Imran Masood.Many among the crowd said that they will continue to support and will vote for the Congress candidate, while some felt they were “fooled” and used to assemble a big crowd at the venue.Rashid Ahmed, a carpenter who attended the rally, said: “We will all still vote for the Congress. Priyanka is coming for a roadshow on Tuesday, and we will go and attend that as well.”Mr. Ahmed was interrupted by another member of the crowd, Ishrar, who said: “They have made fools out of us, they just wanted a big crowd.”For Mohammad Farhan, an 18-year-old first-time voter, defeating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was the aim.“Modi kept promising acchhe din. The good days never came, so we want the old days back. Rahul Gandhi does what he says, Modi only spreads rumours,” he said.Twenty-one-year-old college student Shahrukh Ali said: “Modi has done sabka saath, sabka naash. I opened four zero balance accounts and they are still at zero. Now, I will wait for ₹72,000 [minimum income guaranteed by the Congress].”Rally vs rally Another local at the rally, Gulbahar, said he had attended the gathbandhan’s rally in Deoband on Sunday as well and the turnout was more than that at the Congress rally.“Haji Fazulrahman [the SP-BSP-RLD alliance candidate] may win here, but Rahul should be the next Prime Minister,” he said.Ram Kumar Jogi, a teacher who attended the rally, said: “What they [Mr. Gandhi and Ms. Vadra] did today is disrespect of the whole community. All parties are making false promises.”
Utpal Parrikar, the elder son of late Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, on Saturday criticised former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar for questioning his political credentials and for “criticising Parrikar for the sake of publicity in the national media”. Mr. Utpal, now working for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, said that while he and his younger sibling had stayed away from politics when their father was alive, he always considered BJP party workers as part of his family and he would accept any responsibility the party offers him in the future. “When one Parrikar is there, others had to stay and help in the background, and that was what we were doing,” he told the press at the BJP headquarters here. “Only my work will decide what kind of material I am made of. My people of Panaji might decide what kind of material I am. People of Goa will decide what kind of material I am,” Mr. Parrikar said.Considered political mentor of late Parrikar, Mr. Velingkar, chief of Goa Suraksha Manch, was sacked as Goa RSS chief after he had fallen out with Mr. Parrikar over the continuation of grants to English medium primary schools Parrikar’s government in 2012. Since then, he was a critic of Parrikar and his government.Mr. Utpal said that criticising his father often fetched his detractors space in the national media.”I do not believe in virtue-signalling to Goans through TV. It is called ‘click bait’ news. You click a news item on YouTube, then you appear on TV, then on newspapers by abusing Mr. Parrikar. He was a national leader, so the criticism appears in national news,” Mr. Utpal said without naming Mr. Velingkar. Responding to criticism to his political entry as the foisting of “family raj” by the Opposition Congress, Mr. Utpal reiterated that he and his brother Abhijat deliberately kept away from politics until their father was alive.Mr. Utpal is presently the front-runner to contest the Panaji seat for the upcoming bypolls on May 19, the seat which fell vacant following the death of his father on March 17 following a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. Parrikar represented the Panaji constituency from 1994 till his death with a break from 2014- 2017 when he was inducted as Defence Minister, only to come back and form a coalition government in Goa after the 2017 State Assembly election and having won the Panaji seat yet again in a by-election.