PMC Mayor selection to be a tough job

first_imgPune: After securing a victory in the Pune civic polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) now faces some tough choices to select a suitable Mayoral candidate in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). This time, the post has been reserved for a woman candidate elected from the open category.The BJP bagged an unprecedented 98 of 162 seats in the PMC election, and supplanted the NCP in its stronghold Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation with a landslide victory, winning 77 out of 128 seats.The saffron party’s shrewd, high-risk strategy of awarding tickets to ‘imports’ from other parties, especially heavyweight defectors from the opposition NCP, has paid-off handsomely, even at the cost of incurring dissent of loyalists.As many as 38 of these defectors, from the NCP, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, and the Congress, won the day for the BJP in the Pune and the Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations.Fight for the top jobThe BJP is in a quandary about whom to award the top job in Pune city: loyalist or renegade?Among the frontrunners are Mukta Tilak (a descendant of Lokmanya Tilak), an old party hand who was re-elected to the civic body for the fourth consecutive time. Ms. Tilak has her power base in the Old Pune Peth area. She has been a BJP leader in the PMC since 2009.Another loyalist whose name is being floated is that of Ranjana Tilekar, mother of the BJP MLA from Hadapsar, Yogesh Tilekar.On the other hand, ex-NCP corporator Reshma Bhosale, who joined the BJP at the eleventh hour after being denied a ticket by her former party, is believed to be nurturing ambitions for the top post as well.Ms. Bhosale, wife of NCP legislator Anil Bhosale, is a notable corporator from the city’s Shivajinagar area. Ms. Bhosale’s defection to the BJP helped attenuate the NCP’s supposed invincibility in the area. Moreover, she is a close relative of BJP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakde, who played a significant role in manoeuvring the BJP to power in the PMC.Former Congress leader Sheetal Sawant, who won for the second time, is another strong contender among the prize ‘defectors’. Like Ms. Bhosale, Ms. Sawant has an impressive political pedigree, being the daughter-in-law of former Pune Mayor and Congress leader Bharat Sawant.last_img read more

Leadership workshop to inculcate skills

first_imgA leadership workshop organised here earlier this week has helped the youths inculcate skills which may be utilised for spreading awareness about gender equality and violence against women.The intervention, mainly through sports activities, has been made in the second phase of the ongoing Kadam Badhate Chalo (Let us march ahead) project here aimed at training the groups of youngsters with the requisite skills to undertake public events.The Pro Sport Development collaborated with the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and Martha Farrell Foundation to organise the workshop in which about three dozen youths participated. The two-day workshop was held at Umang School for the differently-abled.The young boys and girls, divided into several groups with a good gender balance, were introduced to new concepts in planning and organising the parameters of space, time, equipment and players while delivering any sports activity. Each team learnt the skills through separate planning sheets.last_img read more

Expelled BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui floats new outfit

first_imgExpelled Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui floated a new outfit called the Rashtriya Bahujan Morcha on Saturday.While Mr. Siddiqui is the convenor of the front, Brahma Swarup Sagar and O. P. Singh are the co-convenors.Mr. Siddiqui and his supporters decided to float the new outfit at a time when there was a “concerted move by vested interests to serve their personal motives,” stated a release issued by the Morcha, adding that the outfit would work towards providing a new political alternative.“It would work towards providing political and social representation to all sections of society, and establishing amity and brotherhood,” the release said.When contacted, Mr. Singh said more people from the BSP are expected to join the outfit soon. A public contact programme would also be launched for the party in future, he added.Mr. Siddiqui, the Muslim face of the BSP, was expelled from the party on May 10 for “anti-party” activities, prompting him to hit back at BSP supremo Mayawati.He came out with audio tapes of his alleged conversation with the BSP chief to support the allegation that he was asked for money. “Whatever charges have been levelled against me, applies to her [Ms. Mayawati]. I can prove it with evidence,” he had said.Mr. Siddiqui claimed to have over 150 audio clippings of Ms. Mayawati but desisted from releasing them saying he would strike back only when the BSP initiated the attack.He had also held Ms. Mayawati’s “wrong policies” responsible for the BSP’s poor performance in the 2009, 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 2012, 2017 UP Assembly polls.He alleged that the BSP chief had levelled “false and misleading” allegations against Muslims and also made objectionable comments against them, especially during the 2017 elections. Mr. Siddiqui alleged that Ms. Mayawati had used abusive language against the upper castes, the backwards classes and the Muslims.Mr. Siddiqui, who hails from Banda, was removed as party in-charge of Uttar Pradesh and was appointed as the MP unit in-charge after the Assembly poll debacle.last_img read more

Pak. Army violates ceasefire yet again

first_imgPakistani Army on Sunday again violated ceasefire by firing from automatic weapons and shelling mortars along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district.The Pakistan forces initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing from small arms, automatic weapons and mortars from 6.30 a.m. on the Indian Army posts along the LoC in Naushera sector, a defence spokesman said.The Indian troops returned the fire strongly and effectively, he said.Second one in 24 hoursThis was the second ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the past 24 hours.The violation comes just days after an attack by a Pakistani special forces team that sneaked across the LoC into Poonch under heavy fire-cover and killed two jawans while losing one of their men.Yesterday, the Pakistan Army had initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing on the Indian Army posts along the LoC in Poonch sector.Earlier on Thursday, in the third such attack this year, a team of Pakistani special forces sneaked 600 metres across the LoC into the Poonch sector and killed two Indian jawans and lost one Border Action Team (BAT) member in retaliatory action.The BAT comprises special forces personnel of the Pakistan Army and terrorists.It had carried out the attack on an Army patrol party in the Gulpur belt of Poonch on 22 June under heavy cover fire by Pakistani troops.In the gunfight, two Indian soldiers — 34-year-old Naik Jadhav Sandip of Aurangabad and 24-year-old Sepoy Mane Savan Balku of Kolhapur — were martyred.The Pakistani BAT members were armed with ‘headband cameras’ to record the attack on the Indian Army patrol. 19 violations in JuneEarlier, on June 16, Pakistan violated the ceasefire by firing on forward posts along the LoC in Naushera sector of Rajouri district of J&K, killing an Indian Army jawan.There have been 19 ceasefire violations along the LoC and the international border in Jammu region in June.last_img read more

GJM activists burn copies of GTA accord

first_imgIntensifying their agitation for Gorkhaland, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha activists on Tuesday held demonstrations and burnt copies of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) accord in the hills on the 13th day of the indefinite shutdown.Some GJM activists were seen participating in the demonstration bare-chested and broke tube lights on their backs leading to injuries. Hundreds of GJM supporters burnt copies of the GTA accord at Chowkbazar as the security forces kept a strict vigil.GJM sources claimed there is no entity of GTA in the hills. “We don’t want GTA. We want Gorkhaland. We will continue our agitation for a separate State. We will not participate in election to GTA,” a GJM leader said. “By burning the GTA accord we ended relations with the state government,” he said.All the 43 elected members of GTA who belonged to GJM had resigned last week.The Centre, the state government and GJM had signed the GTA in 2011. GTA had three hill subdivisions Darjeeling, Kurseong and Mirik and some areas of Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district and the whole of Kalimpong district under its authority.last_img read more

Attack on Amarnath pilgrims handiwork of LeT, says Kashmir IG

first_imgThe Jammu and Kashmir police on Tuesday zeroed in on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Abu Ismail, who took over from Abu Dujana as the Valley’s operation commander, as the mastermind of Monday night’s attack on Amarnath pilgrims which left seven dead and 19 injured. Meanwhile, the pilgrimage continued despite the attack.“This is the handiwork of Lashkar militants,” said Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir range, Muneer Khan. Sources said, Ismail, a foreigner in his twenties, has been on the security radar after the Anantnag police issued a specific threat alert regarding the Amarnath yatra in June. However, security agencies are also looking at the role of Hizbul Mujahideen and the split faction headed by Zakir Mussa.The preliminary assessment suggests that multiple groups may have been involved in the attack as militants opened fire at three places, including on security forces. The pilgrims’ bus came under fire twice within 2 km between 8.20 and 8.40 p.m. Officials in the security establishment in New Delhi were not convinced that the attack was the handiwork of the LeT. “LeT terrorists are mostly fidayeen (suicide squads) who come to get killed. They do not run away and try to inflict as much damage as possible. While it is too early to say which terrorist group did it, it could also be local militants,” said a senior Home Ministry official.The LeT distanced itself from the attack, with its spokesman Abdullah Gaznavi saying, “Islam does not allow violence against any faith. We strongly condemn the attack. India is trying to sabotage Kashmir’s struggle. (National Security Adviser) Ajit Doval is frustrated due to his failed policies.”Sources said security agencies are drafting a joint plan to go after the militant leadership in south Kashmir, where over 200 militants are active. Around 80 were killed this year.Army chief General Bipin Rawat arrived in Srinagar on Tuesday to review the security situation. was scheduled to meet other security agencies too, including local police and CRPF. The proposal is “to focus security on districts adjacent to the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in south Kashmir. in first phase”Meanwhile, Governor N. N. Vohra, who is also chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), convened an emergency security review meet. “It was decided that the pilgrimage shall continue,” said a Raj Bhavan spokesman.A fresh batch of 3,289 pilgrims reached the Valley from Jammu to head for the base camps at Pahalgam and Baltal. Around 18,838 pilgrims left for the holy cave shrine from the base camps in the Valley, said an SASB spokesman.Mr. Vohra, who met 19 injured pilgrims, oversaw the operation where they were airlifted out of J&K. Only three seriously injured pilgrims remain in Anantnag and Srinagar hospitals. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who supervised the rescue and relief operations throughout the night, chaired an emergency Cabinet meeting.The Cabinet termed the incident as “an attack on Kashmir’s syncretic culture and pluralistic values.” The Cabinet took note “of people voicing condemnation against the dastardly act and the heroic role played by the local people of Anantnag in providing immediate relief and succour to the victims of the attack.” The J&K government announced ₹6 lakh for families of those killed, ₹2 lakh to grievously injured and ₹1 lakh to injured. An award of ₹3 lakh will be handed over to the bus driver “who exhibited exemplary alertness.”The SASB also announced relief of ₹5 lakh to the victim families, ₹1.5 lakh to grievously injured and ₹75,000 for pilgrims with minor injuries.last_img read more

Madhya Pradesh govt to give ₹1 crore to kin of slain soldiers

first_imgThe Madhya Pradesh government will give a compensation of ₹1 crore to the kin of soldiers from the state who die in the line of duty, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said.On the issues concerning farmers, Mr. Chouhan ruled out granting a complete loan waiver like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, but said a scheme would be framed to repay the interest of the defaulter cultivators so that they can avail loans at zero per cent interest rate.He assured the House yesterday that the government will not spare those responsible for the violence in Mandsaur in which six farmers were killed during the unrest last month.“We have constituted a judicial commission to probe the Mandsaur incident and whoever is responsible for it will be given stern punishment after getting the report,” the chief minister said.He was replying to an adjournment motion moved by Congress MLA Govind Singh and Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh.However, dissatisfied with his reply, the Congress members staged a walkout, saying Mr. Chouhan evaded responding to their specific allegations of the involvement of some BJP leaders in the Mandsaur incident.They also said that Mr. Chouhan didn’t specify the time-frame in which the commission will complete its probe.A Congress member stated in the House that though the government had announced a compensation of ₹1 crore for deceased farmers, it had refrained from extending the same to martyred soldiers.Reacting to it, Mr. Chouhan said, “When the Mandsaur incident took place, the Congress had demanded that ₹50 lakh be given to kin of the deceased farmers, but I was quite aggrieved due to the incident and announced the compensation of Rs one crore.”He said the government has been giving ₹25 lakh, a house or a flat to the kin of the jawans who were killed and also named a road after him.“We are also giving a government job to his (soldier’s) kin. I pray to God that no soldier gets martyred and in case that happens, then my government will give a compensation of ₹1 crore to his kin,” Mr. Chouhan said.He also announced setting up the ‘Krishi Mulya Lagat Vipnan Ayog’ (agriculture price, cost and marketing commission) which will decide the prices of agriculture produce in advance to protect the farmers.“The government is committed to this issue,” the chief minister said, adding that it is a “fact” that agricultural production has risen in the state, resulting in a “drastic reduction in prices”.“The commission will ensure that they (farmers) get fair price for their produce, and Madhya Pradesh will set another milestone in this regard in the farmers’ interest,” he said.Mr. Chouhan alleged that video clips purportedly of some Congress leaders and masked men inciting people to set afire a police station and other places in the aftermath of the Mandsaur incident proved that they were behind the violence.“The farmers were not behind the violence as they don’t believe in it,” he said.Referring to suicides by farmers due to indebtedness, Mr. Chouhan said 72 per cent cultivators in the state repay their loans on time.“A scheme would be framed to repay the interest of the remaining 28 per cent defaulter farmers so that they get loans at zero per cent interest rate,” he said.Mr. Chouhan said it was not possible to grant a complete loan waiver to farmers on the lines of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh as “Madhya Pradesh (government) had already given assistance to the tune of ₹1,18,000 crore to farmers during the last 10 years of the BJP rule.”On the issue of framing a law to check the menace of money lenders because of whom farmers are forced to commit suicide, Mr. Chouhan said a bill in this regard was sent to the president for his assent.“The moment we receive the signed bill, a strict law will be enacted to deal with the problem,” he said.last_img read more

Nagaland CM Zeliang wins vote of confidence

first_imgNagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang on Friday won the trust vote in the State Assembly, two days after he was reappointed to the post amid high drama.He secured 47 out of the 59 votes in the House which included 36 votes of the NPF, 4 of the BJP and 7 from the Independents, Speaker Imtiwapang said.Former chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu bagged 11 votes — 10 of the NPF and one Independent, the Speaker said.He was not present in the assembly as he is not a member.Mr. Zeliang was sworn-in on Wednesday replacing Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who was sacked by Governor P B Acharya.He was appointed Chief Minister shortly after Mer. Liezietsu and his supporters failed to turn up in the Assembly to face the floor test.last_img read more

Floral tributes paid to Alwar lynching victim, Pehlu Khan, amid protests

first_imgAmid high drama and protests by right-wing groups, the members of a peace march on Friday passed through Behror in Alwar district of Rajasthan, where dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was lynched allegedly by a mob of cow vigilantes in April this year. Aman Biradari convener Harsh Mander, who led the march, paid floral tributes at the spot where Pehlu Khan, 55, was attacked.As the closure of investigation against six persons named in the lynching case created an outrage, the Opposition Congress raised a question mark over the “clean chit” given to the accused. “Police have connived with the criminals to ensure their release. This is yet another instance of the BJP government giving patronage to anti-social elements for political gains,” Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot said.Mr. Pilot said Pehlu Khan’s family members had agitated for justice and even joined demonstrations at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, but they were disappointed by the action of police taken under the ruling party’s pressure. All evidence and facts of the incident suggested that Pehlu Khan was waylaid and killed by those whom he had named in his dying declaration, he said. Civil rights groups in an open letter to CM Vasundhara Raje condemned the closure of probe.Members of Hindu Jagran Manch, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad confronted Mr. Mander and his fellow activists at Behror when their “Karwan-e-Mohabbat” (caravan of love) was crossing the streets. The activists of right-wing groups raised slogans and hurled stones at the vehicles of marchers while demanding that they leave the town immediately.A heavy police force was deployed near the spot on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway, at a short distance from the Behror police station, where Pehlu Khan was attacked. When the police refused to allow the marchers to go to the place, Mr. Mander staged a dharna outside the office of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, declaring that he would not leave until the march was allowed to proceed.Later, Mr. Mander was allowed to go alone to the spot. The civil servant-turned-activist offered floral tributes and also met the officers at the police station to express his disappointment over removal of accused from the FIR and registration of criminal cases against Pehlu Khan and his sons.The march also met with resistance at Kotputli on way to Jaipur. Mr. Mander told reporters after arriving here that he was shocked by the way the CID-CB of Rajasthan police had let off six accused in the case despite Pehlu Khan’s dying declaration clearly stating their names.“This is something unprecedented. I have never heard of such an instance before, as the Supreme Court has held that a dying declaration does not need any corroborative evidence,” said Mr. Mander. If there was any doubt the veracity of involvement of the accused, the police should have left it to the court to take a view and filed the charge-sheet, he said.last_img read more

Gujarat results give new hope to Congress, NCP MLAs

first_imgNagpur: The Congress performance in the Gujarat elections seems to have instilled new-found confidence among the main opposition parties in Maharashtra — the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — and MLAs of both parties will hold a press conference on Tuesday seeking formal announcement of a Congress-NCP alliance for the 2019 Assembly polls.Early announcement“The results have shown that both parties coming together will give the BJP a run for its money. The announcement of official alliance should be made at the earliest and that demand will be raised jointly by Congress and NCP MLAs on Tuesday,” a senior Congress leader said on condition of anonymity. Another Congress MLA, privy to the plan, said the Gujarat Assembly results have shown that BJP can be challenged and the discontent among people need to be channelised in a right manner if we want to win. “For this, a joint front has to start working from today itself which will instil confidence among the voters as well,” the MLA said.NCP leader Ajit Pawar said he was not aware of any such conference planned by his party MLAs. “Let the demand be made first, we will reply later,” he said.last_img read more

MPEDA ties up with Swiss cooperative

first_imgCOOP Cooperative, one of Switzerland’s leading retail and wholesale companies, on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) to develop export-oriented organic aquafarming in India to cater to the growing demand for organic seafood products across the European Union.MPEDA chairman A. Jayathilak and COOP Member of Management Gerhard Zurlutter signed the MoU at the ongoing India International Seafood Show 2018.The MPEDA will identify entrepreneurs and provide them with technical advice on the production of high-quality organic shrimp that meet national and international certification protocols. COOP, which has nearly 2,200 sales outlets throughout Switzerland and wholesale/production business activities across Europe, has offered to procure the processed shrimp at a premium of up to 15% and with an additional 5% through financing for development activities, including training.Incentive for farmers“The reason why many farmers are hesitant to get into organic production is the increased costs involved. The premium price offered will offset the extra cost and incentivise them to explore organic farming,” said Mr. Jayathilak. The pilot project will be run in Kerala to produce Organic Black Tiger Shrimp, initially on about 1000 hectares. If successful, the project will be extended to other places. MPEDA and COOP will facilitate the certification of a shrimp hatchery for the production of organic shrimp seed, and certify and empanel a small-scale feed mill unit to source the organic feed.Mr. Zurlutter, who is also the head of overseas buying of frozen products for COOP, said the project in India would be their second leg in organic farming after Vietnam, where they have had success with similar projects and organic producers who are generating considerably higher revenues than conventional farmers. Towards sustainability“For us organic is not just an investment, it is the future. We are retailers with a deep-seated commitment to sustainability, and we understand that we have to get farmers into a position where they can readily adopt organic farming practices, so we support them with higher prices,” Mr. Zurlutter said.Kochi-based JASS Ventures and Baby Marine International will collaborate with COOP to organise the supply chain in Kerala and process the produce.last_img read more

Senior U.P. police officer ‘resigns’ over SC/ST Act

first_img: A senior police officer in Uttar Pradesh has offered a “conditional resignation” from his post citing the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act as the trigger.In a letter to President Ramnath Kovind and U.P. Director General of Police, Additional Superintendent of Police, B. P. Ashok has laid out seven demands, including a legislation against caste, and said that either they be accepted or consider his resignation or voluntary retirement. “I am deeply pained by the kind of circumstances that have emerged in the country today,” said Mr. Ashok, who is posted at Police Training Directorate, Lucknow. He concluded his resignation letter, which he said was a “harsh step,” by asking: “If not now, then when. If not me, then who?”.In the seven-point demands, he laments that the SC/ST Act is being weakened and women, OBC, SC, ST and minority sections are not getting fair representation in higher judiciary.Calling out a a legislation against caste, Mr. Ashok said the Parliamentary democracy should be protected and “rule of law must be honoured in place of rule of judge and rule of police.”Mr. Ashok also supports ending the interview system in government jobs.”A legislation is there against atrocities, but we need a legislation against caste. It needs to be annihilated. People who are weakening this Act, they should ban caste. They are the authority, the government or judges, they can do it within one hour, just like note ban. If caste is annihilated, there will be no need for any affirmative action or positive discrimination,” said Mr. Ashok. Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Ashok said his resignation was to “express grief” over the situation in which the SC/ST Act was being diluted and demonstrations were being held due to resentment. Asked if his move was politically motivated, Mr. Ashok, who is a doctorate in Buddhism, said, “There is no political motive. I have academic expertise and social missionary zeal. This is only to stand with people who are aggreived. Why these 10 persons died? Some dialogue should have taken place.”The government is yet to respond to his letter.last_img read more

RJD wins Jokihat Assembly by-poll

first_imgRashtriya Janata Dal candidate Shahnawaj Alam won the Jokihat Assembly by-poll by defeating ruling party JD(U) candidate Murshid Alam by a margin of 41,225 votes.The RJD candidate got 81,240 votes while, the JD(U) got 40,015 votes. Since 2005, JD(U) had been winning the Jokihat Assembly seat.After Araria and Jehanabad, this was the third by-poll in which opposition RJD has registered win, after Nitish Kumar parted ways with the Grand Alliance in July 2017. RJD’s Shahnawaz Alam has won Jokihat Assembly bypoll.    RJD candidate Shahnawaz Alam is the third son of former RJD MP from Araria Mohd. Taslimuddin, and the younger brother of Sarfaraj Alam who won the Araria Lok Sabha by-poll on RJD ticket. Sarfaraj Alam resigned from the Jokihat Assembly seat to contest the Araria Lok Sabha poll.Both Mohd. Taslimuddin and Sarfaraj Alam have represented the Jokihat constituency nine times.While addressing journalists, Leader of the Opposition Tejaswi Yadav said, “The people of Jokihat rejected Nitish Kumar.”“The Chief Minister himself and over half of his Cabinet Ministers and close aides were involved in campaign for the JD(U) candidate in Jokihat but ultimately ‘Lalu-ism’ defeated opportunism there,” said Mr. Yadav.While citing the previous Lok Sabha result, Mr. Yadav said, “The BJP had got around 39,500 votes in Jokihat Assembly constituency…now the JD(U) candidate has 40,015 votes, so where has Nitish Kumar’s vote gone?”“JD(U) fielded a criminal and the people of Jokihat have given them a befitting reply,” he said, and asked all Opposition party leaders in the country to “unite and teach a lesson to the BJP.”The JD(U) candidate Murshid Alam had a criminal past as he had been charged in gang rape and idol theft cases.“This Jokihat by-poll result has established Tejaswi Yadav’s leadership…and the people of the constituency have also voted for Lalu Yadav as he is falsely implicated in cases,” said senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari.JD(U) leader Ashok Choudhury said that “the Jokihat result has not come up to the party’s expectations.” Senior part leader K.C. Tyagi said, “The Taslimuddin factor has worked in Jokihat.”last_img read more

‘We were not part of Hashimpura massacre’

first_imgAmong the 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) men recently convicted by the Delhi High Court for the Hashimpura massacre of 1987 were four who claimed that though they boarded the truck carrying 42-45 Muslims, they got down at the Meerut Police Lines, where the PAC was camping, and had no knowledge of what happened afterwards.Constable Samiullah Khan was one of them. Talking to The Hindu from his home town Deoria in east Uttar Pradesh, Samiullah, who has till November 22 to surrender and serve life imprisonment, claims he is innocent and did not participate in the massacre.Recalling May 22, 1987, when the PAC abducted and killed 38 Muslims of Hashimpura, Samiullah, who was a 23-year-old constable then, claims he and three others were instructed to get off midway.He claims this was because Platoon Commander Surendra Pal Singh did not want to carry a Muslim, him being the only one in the platoon, during the operation. When the truck travelling from Hashimpura reached the Meerut Police Lines, Samiulllah claims the platoon commander ordered his Section Commander Niranjan Lal and three others to get down. He says the truck was packed and some of the PAC were forced to stand in the rear.“They provided us no reason and asked us to deposit our rifles and retire to the tents. Though I did not hear it myself, I later came to know that the three others were made to get off because of me… to avoid suspicion,” said Samiullah, who is still serving the police and posted in Gorakhpur.Samiullah says they were told that the truck carrying the Muslims rounded up in Hashimpura would be taken to the district jail. “We did not know where they went and what they did,” he said. “We are innocent and suffering for the past 31 years, without any promotion, and my increment was also stalled.”Samiullah also claims that after the incident his superiors had told him that “nothing will ever come out of the case”.Niranjan Lal, 64, of Etah, also provided a similar sequence of events and claimed innocence. As a consequence of the case, he says he was never promoted and retired as a head constable, the post to which he had been promoted early in his career in 1983. He, however, regrets that the massacre took place and does not deny the role his colleagues allegedly played.“I thank God that I was not a part of it. I would have never allowed it to happen,” said Mr. Lal, adding he had not received any specific orders to shoot.In court, the four accused had relied on the testimony of Gulesh Ali, who was posted as a mess munshi at the Meerut Police Lines on that day. The HC rejected their claims. Wasiq Khan, counsel for the four, said the court did not consider their evidence and said the four men had a case that was separate from the rest of the PAC now convicted.The HC in its judgment on October 31 said, “The portion of his [Gulesh Ali’s] testimony, which talks of four of the accused alighting from the truck, does not appear to have the support of any other witness or corroborating evidence.”The court said that nobody from the Meerut Police Lines had been examined to corroborate the claim made by the four PAC men, now convicts, that they returned to the police camp before 9 p.m. on that night. Referring to the general diary entry of the PAC, which clinched the conviction, the court said the entry at 9 p.m. “makes it appear that all of the accused returned in the truck URU-1493 at that time”.The convicts are planning to appeal against their conviction. The Director-General U.P. PAC was not available for comment.last_img read more

Fresh spell of snow forecast for Kashmir Valley

first_imgThe authorities in Kashmir on Monday geared up to meet any eventuality as the Meteorological Department forecast another spell of wet weather, a week after snowfall inflicted damage worth over ₹500 crore on the horticulture sector in the Valley.Sonum Lotus, Director, Meteorological Department, said the fresh spell will be less intense than the snowfall on November 3-4, which was “a record since 1986.”“Light snowfall is likely to increase gradually in intensity and distribution by Monday night. The weather will persist till November 14. Chances of heavy rain or snow is very less, although snowfall of the order of 5-10 inches in the upper reaches cannot be ruled out,” said Mr. Lotus.Action plan Not leaving anything to chance, Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Dr. Syed Abid Rasheed Shah on Monday called for “preparing zone and location-wise action and management plans to prevent interruption to services during inclement weather situations in the district.”He said the strategy comes against the backdrop of the recent bout of unforeseen snowfall throwing life out of gear across the district. “Joint control rooms will be established in all the zones and a central control room will oversee the overall operations ensuring coordination and organisation during eventualities,” he said.Heavy snowfall in the first week of November resulted in a major electricity breakdown in the valley, apart from heavy damage to the apple sector.last_img read more

Infinix To Add Fitness Bands To India Portfolio By Year-end

first_imgSmartphone maker Infinix said it is looking at expanding its product portfolio in India with the addition of fitness bands by the end of next month.The company, which launched its Note 5 Stylus on Monday, also said it has seen strong sales during festive season in October and November.Read it at The Hindu Related Itemslast_img

Dil Saaf Hona Chahida

first_imgHe is the son of farmers, but some two decades ago when the 20 something Gurdas Maan burst into the music scene with his block buster “Dil Da Mamla Hai,” he mesmerized the entire nation and hasn’t looked back. Today the legendary singer, actor and musician is global Punjabi star, who has made Punjab’s music and Punjabi films an international phenomenon. He has 29 hit albums, several movies roles in Punjabi and Hindi, a national award, Jury’s choice for best actor in his heart breaking film Des Hoya Pardes under his belt.In an exclusive interview with Little India, Gurdaas Maan, who still looks as youthful as he did 20 years ago, (he did cartwheels on stage at the Sikh American Society of Georgia’s Vaisakhi concert) talks about his journey and why the music of Punjab is such a global draw.What are your earliest memories of music?The first rays of the rising sun, the melody of bangles jingling as two voices sang in unison. The voices, the sound of the bangles belonged to my paternal grandmother and my mother as they sat churning milk in the morning. Those melodies, the spirituality that surrounded them, the music it created, became deeply embedded in my psyche and today it manifests itself through my music.I don’t belong to a musical family, but music was an intrinsic part of my life. As a child, I would take this little clay pot, pierce a hole through it, then take a stick and put that through the hole. Then I would sneak up to the window and extract one long thin wire from the meshed wire covers we used to protect our windows, from mosquitoes and flies, and attach that wire like a string across the stick. I would then pretend it was an ek tara (a single wire string instrument) and sing along strumming away to the best of my ability. I used to be doing this and trying to hide it from my grandmother, who was worried my obsession with music would take me away from studies.I would be so lost that I wouldn’t realize that my grand mother had walked in and had been standing there for ages. She would admonish me and say, “What is this musical nonsense-do you want to be a good for nothing musical vagabond? Go study, become a deputy commissioner.”                 So what were the early musical influences then?Not many really. We were only allowed to watch movies very rarely as a treat. If I did well in school, I would occasionally be told, go watch a movie. I never even got to hear Hindi songs so my exposure to music legends like Mohammed Rafi, Lataji, Ashaji came much later. Nor did I get any training in music. I’m completely self taught. So the musical influences were the folk songs and dances of Punjab, the wandering singers, beggars, Sufis who trod the path to my village.Soon however radio introduced musical programs and I began listening to Radio Jullundur and Radio Pakistan, and became familiar with well known singers like Surinder Kaur, Asa Singh Mastana, Shaukat Ali. the famous Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali too, had just started his career then. Sufiana music attracted me from the beginning, may be because I am a Sufi at heart. My lyrics, my music are deeply connected to my spirit, my soul and life’s experiences and I draw on them extensively to create my songs.Interestingly, often every one, including the extended family, would sit around the open area where my mother would be cooking on a clay oven, around dinner time and conversations would revolve around poetry and recitation of verses. We would often discuss the famous poet Waris Shah who wrote Heer, and other stories. We would be given turns to continue the stories and my mother or grandmother sang when they cooked. The tales remained deeply etched in my mind, some I remember so clearly to this day. I would sing at weddings, and other events. Microphones and loud speakers had just come into our village and my grandfather would take me to a wedding all dressed up in my finery and say, “Gurdas go up and sing” and be thrilled to hear my voice. My grand mother however was concerned that I may get distracted. I was passionate about two things-sports that I excelled in and music that I loved. I was never really into studying.You actually ended up in Patiala at the National Sports Institute and won  many medals including a masters in Physical Education and a black belt in judo. That was quite a detour from music.I think that physical fitness has helped me in continuing the extremely physical routine I perform on stage to this day. I had actually started participating in plays and would compose my own lyrics and songs. It was while working with the legendary theater personality Harpal Tiwana that I also saw actor Om Puri and met Raj Babbar. I used to watch them. I wanted to do plays and I was introduced  to him through a librarian who was also his secretary. It was when I wrote ‘Dil da Mamla’ that Sardarji Bawa, the theater and TV personality, saw me perform it and decided to shoot me singing that song for Doordarshan. I said I don’t think I can do it. It was nerve racking. I initially thought they were pulling my leg.They said don’t worry, this is just a rehearsal. I went on stage and all the crew became my audience and so I started to sing. That so-called rehearsal actually ended up being the final shot and  was broadcast on Doordarshan. It became an overnight success and we were flooded with letters from all over the country and even Pakistan asking to get me back on the television stage and that was followed by Bekadran naal yari, which became another hit and it has gone well from there.You have made some very thought provoking Punjabi films-Shaheed-e-Mohabbat and Des Hoya Pardes. Both movies were huge hits and you walked away with the Jury’s choice national award for best actor in the latter film. Shaheed-e Mohabbat lay in cans for six months as there were no distributors. The Punjab film industry is still a fledgling and may be that is why it still remains pure and unadulterated by commercialism and the sleaze that has filtered in to other industries. When we did find distributors it became a major hit and the Hindi film Gadar is inspired by it.Des Hoya Pardes is based on a true story. I was in Patiala when Indira Gandhi was assassinated. The police station where you see me being tortured, the police, it was all real. It was very difficult to do those scenes knowing they have happened in real life. The fact that the cops were real cops, the police station was the actual one where those atrocities had been committed made it even more real. Many times people would be in tears. When you emote from the heart, the impact is immediate and I felt as if I was that man, on whose life the film had been based. The movie has been appreciated deeply wherever it has been shown.I had been asked by the government to surround myself with security, but I have this firm belief that when its your time to go, you will go no matter how hard you try to save yourself. If the prime minister of a country could not save herself and she had access to the best security, who was I to stress out so much. Also I have this inherent faith in the goodness of people. Those who are secular and humanitarians will remain so no matter what, and those who aren’t don’t need any excuse to commit atrocities.Many a time at the height of the turbulence, my car was stopped, but the cops would see me and immediately let me go.You have now ventured into Hindi films with Zindagi Khubsoorat Hai – yet another touching story revolving around an autistic child with Tabu, the well known actress from Bollywood.The story was again inspired by a child I met in London. He cannot speak and is in a wheelchair but he listens to all my songs. I was performing and he saw me and reached over and hugged me. I then saw him lip-synching every one of my numbers. It moved me deeply.Other than that the movie was a bitter experience for me personally. We moved to Bombay to be part of the Bollywood industry. I’m neither comfortable there, nor am I comfortable speaking Hindi. I told my wife not to produce it, that I would prefer to make the movie in Punjabi, but she felt it would reach a wider audience. Somehow whenever I have a get feeling about something I’m right. The movie was just so scattered in the way it was made. Anything that has been made against my wishes even if it does well and is well appreciated, still remains a bitter experience for me.How have you seen the audience and Punjabi music change over the years and what do you think of all the Punjabi fusion, remixes that are going around?I have been traveling and performing abroad for over two decades and I hrefuse to be anything but a solo performer. Initially the audience was a bit scattered, but today I see thousands of people jamming places like Madison Square Garden and many other large auditoriums that I have performed in. I have received so much love nationally and internationally  and that continues to this day.I think the music companies are right now totally obsessed with what sells and then create music to suit that. It doesn’t happen with me, because my own company makes the album. I know that many people don’t like fusion and remixes, but I feel that this has really put Punjabi music on the international map. The fragrance and beauty of Punjab’s folk music will always permeate through, no matter what genre you present it in.Today I have also given a new dimension to my old songs by modernizing the instrumentation. So my evergreen songs like “Challa,” “Dil Saaf Hona Chahida,” “Mamla Gadbad Hai” and “Dil da Mamla Hai,” to name a few, all sound new and fresh.Your latest album Vilayatan has become a blockbuster since its release a few months ago. It has an interesting mix of songs.Yes people especially love the title track, where I have talked about the loneliness many women feel when they are uprooted from their homes and married abroad. I never sit ceremoniously to compose songs. The thoughts come suddenly when I see something, feel something and Vilayatan is also the result of  living life.What is in the works now and how do you stay so grounded and untouched by materialism?I’m doing the title role of the movie Waris Shah: Ishq da Waris based on the life of the Sufi saint and poet Waris Shah and this is a huge milestone for me. I have been consumed by the poetry of Waris Shah since I was in high school. His work is a holy book for me. I knew that I will somehow be involved in something to do with Waris Shah, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the good fortune of playing him. It has been a deeply spiritual experience to say the least. Each time I get into the costume and am on the sets I feel as if his spirit has entered my body.The main legacy my parents have given me is the legacy of humility, patience and gratitude to the Almighty who has blessed me with so much. I firmly believe that if you don’t possess these values, you will not go very far. For me the ultimate measure of a man’s success is not by what he has achieved, but by his humanity. Life has to be lived from the heart, because it’s the mind, the brain that becomes tarnished by materialism, greed and manipulation. I think as long as I continue to think with my heart, the ground won’t be too far from my feet. Related Itemslast_img read more

BJP panel gives clean chit to party leaders in Leh bribery case

first_imgJammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina and two other senior leaders were given clean chits by the party’s internal fact-finding commission in the alleged case of offering bribes to journalists in Leh to influence the recently held parliamentary polls in Ladakh.“The BJP leaders have not done anything wrong and whatever charges have been levelled against them are totally false and baseless,” the three-member commission headed by Justice (retd) G.D. Sharma said in its report, released by the party here on Thursday.The State unit of the Congress, however, rejected the probe and termed it an attempt by the party to influence police investigation.The commission was constituted last month on the directions of BJP national president Amit Shah.The commission, whose other members include former IGP S.S. Bijral as member and Pallav Sharma as member-secretary, has given clean chits to Mr. Raina, State party general secretary Narinder Singh and MLC Vikram Randhawa as it found that they did not, in any manner, whatsoever, misconducted themselves to seek favour in any form.On May 4, the Press Club, Leh, had accused the BJP of trying to bribe its members by offering “envelopes filled with money” after a press conference on May 2, a charge denied by the party which had said allegations were “politically motivated”.Statements recordedThe commission said it recorded statements of journalists, persons associated with the Press Club, local leaders and examined CCTV footage besides recording the statement of the accused BJP leaders.The commission said it was established beyond any manner of doubt that the allegations of giving bribe by the MLC in the presence of Mr. Raina, Mr. Singh and district president, Leh, Dorje Angchuk is the result of afterthought and forms a part of criminal conspiracy as defined under Section 120-A of RPC.“The proof of giving or accepting illegal gratification is the raison d’etre of the offence of bribery, which ingredient is missing in this case,” the commission said.The police had on May 9 registered an FIR against the BJP leaders in connection with bribe allegations on the directions of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Leh.last_img read more

Maharashtra announces rehabilitation package for submerged villages

first_imgThe Maharashtra government has announced that villages that were fully submerged in the recent floods will be rehabilitated either on State land or private land that the government is willing to buy at market rate, said Chandrakant Patil, Cabinet Minister for Revenue, PWD (Excluding Undertakings) and Guardian Minister for Kolhapur and Pune, on Wednesday.The senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said the plan will be put in place first for over 100 villages on an immediate basis. The first of the villages to be fully rehabilitated on revenue land will be in the vicinity of Pune. “If that is not available, we will rehabilitate the village on private land,” he said.The minister also took stock of the affected areas in the region and said the government is providing all the required assistance, including ₹5,000 as immediate relief and foodgrains. Mr. Patil said the government will do everything possible to rehabilitate over 300 submerged villages in Pune and Kolhapur. “It has also undertaken on a priority basis rehabilitation of damaged bridges. We are informing the victims of State benefits made available after the floods,” he said, after the tour on Wednesday. The Maharashtra Cabinet has already announced ₹6,813-crore assistance for flood-hit people, out of which ₹4,708 crore was allocated to Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara and ₹2,105 crore to the Konkan and Nashik.The State Cabinet has already decided to pay ₹16,602 as compensation towards the destruction of a pucca home while approving ₹5,200 for partial damages. Meanwhile, ₹4,000 will be compensated for a hutment. An estimated 23,000 homes have been destroyed while others have been partially damaged, officials said. Senior officials said the Cabinet has approved ₹222 crore for rebuilding homes and may eventually tap into schemes such as Ramai Awas Yojna and Shabri Gharkul Yojna. The floods have caused damage in over 750 villages, while near 4.5 lakh people have been displaced.last_img read more