Troubles of the beleaguered Aam Aadmi Party, which has been rocked by allegations of corruption against its national convener Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi, compounded further in neighbouring Punjab on Wednesday.Former Punjab convener and senior leader Gurpreet Singh Waraich ‘Ghuggi’ resigned from the AAP on Wednesday expressing displeasure over the manner in which he was removed as State convener. The AAP had on Monday had restructured its Punjab unit by appointing Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann as State convener and Sunam MLA Aman Arora as co-convener. “I’m resigning from the party’s primary membership. The way I was dropped from the position of State convener is unacceptable. I’m personally not against Mr. Mann, but against his appointment due to his alleged drinking habit. I can’t work under such leadership,” Mr. Ghuggi told journalists here.Notably, the rejig was followed by resignation of senior leader and MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira as party spokesperson and chief whip in the Punjab Assembly. He too was allegedly upset over Mr. Mann’s appointment to the top post in the State.Mr. Ghuggi added: “Also, I don’t understand why most powers are being concentrated in Mr. Mann’s hands. We have other leaders who are suitable for the post. This is not the same party I had joined. The AAP I see today has deviated from its principles. Volunteers, who were once the backbone of the party, are being sidelined.”“The party claims Mr. Mann was elected in a democratic manner after consulting MLAs, zone in-charges, etc., and conducting a poll. But I want to ask [AAP national convener] Mr. Kejriwal why the party didn’t invite all candidates who had contested the Assembly polls and volunteers to participate in the voting exercise. The party invited members to vote based on a pick and choose policy,” he alleged, adding that the election process for choosing the new State chief was an eyewash.Raising apprehensions on the re-structuring of the party in Punjab, senior leader Kanwar Sandhu, who is in Canada, had said in a Facebook post on Tuesday: “In my view, instead of rejuvenating and strengthening the Punjab unit of the AAP, the manner of its reorganisation on May 8 [Monday] could end up weakening it.”He had said that the party’s exercise should’ve been preceded by stocktaking, fixing of responsibility and introspection of its performance in the 2017 Punjab polls. This, Mr. Sandhu had said, should’ve been done by MPs, MLAs and volunteers in and outside Punjab.“Reorganising the party by merely changing horses without any introspection is repeating the same mistakes that resulted in the party’s debacle in the 2017 Vidhan Sabha polls. I remain committed to the party but it’s important to speak one’s mind. I hope I am proven wrong in the coming months,” the post read further.Upkar Sandhu expelledIn another development, the AAP on Wednesday expelled senior party leader Upkar Singh Sandhu over alleged “anti-party activities”.Mr. Sandhu, who had unsuccessfully contested the recent Amritsar Parliamentary constituency bypolls, had opposed Mr. Mann’s appointment as State unit chief.(With PTI inputs)
In a major change of strategy to counter red extremists, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will replace the traditional INSAS weapons used by its personnel in Naxal bastions in 10 States with AK series rifles.And to reduce the influence of Maoists in one of their last bastions, the CRPF is moving a fresh contingent of 2,000 personnel in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar area, which it said was its “biggest challenge“. A battalion consists of 1,000 personnel.“South Bastar remains one of their [Naxals] last bastions…in that area we plan to reduce their [Maoists] influence.“We are looking to deploy one battalion in that area soon. While one has just moved, we plan to induct more troops,” CRPF Director General R R Bhatnagar told reporters on the eve of the 78th Raising Day of the forceA senior CRPF officer later told PTI that the government has recently authorised the force to replace all its INSAS weapons with the AK series (47 and 56) of assault rifles in the 10 Naxal violence hit states where it is deployed to carry out operations.“It is a generational shift in terms of weaponry. The INSAS has been the standard weapon of the force but the Naxal theatre is very hot and requires quick and heavy fire power.“Hence, all CRPF units in Naxal-hit states will henceforth only have AK rifles. A few INSAS rifles would be kept for special purposes,” the officer said.An AK rifle is considered superior to the indigenously made INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) as its fire is accurate, spews quick bullets and is better to operate in jungle warfare conditions.Talking about the Left Wing Extremism theatre, where the CRPF is declared as the lead operations force, the DG said the area of influence of Maoists in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal has “shrunk” and there has been a sizable impact in the areas they control there.“In the last two—and—a—half years, the incidents of Naxal violence have reduced in all these states,” he said.With the induction of the two new battalions, the CRPF will now establish more camps in the deep jungle areas along the southern tip of Chhattisgarh where the most Naxal violence affected districts of Sukma and Dantewada meet the borders of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha.This tri-junction is considered the most deadliest as Maoists cadres frequently move here taking advantage of the difficult terrain interspersed with hills, jungles and small rivers.“Some permanent camps will now be opened in the ‘Madh’ area of the Abujhmaad jungles in Chhattisgarh where there is no presence of government machinery. But, this will take some time to happen,” an official has saidBhatnagar, who took after the CRPF lost 37 men in Sukma district in a span of few days in March this year, said the force has done some “detailed analysis” of these incidents and have found certain factors that need to be dealt with.“We are now having close coordination with the state police…the security of our troops in terms of their preparedness, equipments, rations and others, is foremost.“Some new standard operating procedures have been made.All round efforts are being made to make the jawan safe,” the DG said.We are looking at different technologies for surveillance in these areas, he said adding that these include procurement of smart gadgets and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).An official data provided by the force said the CRPF has killed 51 Maoists, apprehended 1,111, got surrendered 834 and recovered 562 arms and 1,180 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the Naxal violence hit states this year.There are a total of 31 CRPF battalions (31,000 personnel) deployed in Chhattisgarh, with the maximum being in the Bastar region.The Central Reserve Police Force was raised on July 27, 1939 as Crown Representative’s Police (CRP) and at present is the largest paramilitary of the world having about three lakh personnel.
NAGPUR: A police inspector from Nagpur was transferred on Wednesday, barely 24 hours after he booked a BJP leader for allegedly abusing policemen.Senior Inspector M.K. Chavan, who was posted in Ganeshpeth police station, was transferred to the special branch on Wednesday. On Tuesday, he had booked BJP corporator Dayashankar Tiwari, who was caught on camera hurling abuses at officers of the police station, under Sections 143, 145, 186, 294 and 353 of the IPC for threatening police officials, unlawful assembly and obstructing public servants.Nagpur Commissioner of Police K.Venkateshan said the transfer was “credit to merit and seniority”.
Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh on Friday said those raising doubts over the arrest of British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal in connection with the targeted killing cases are acting against Punjab’s interest by echoing the baseless statements of some foreign elements.Reacting to statements by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders on the issue, the Chief Minister termed their comments as unfortunate and not in the interest of Punjab and its people.“By deciding to side with those who were conspiring to malign the Punjab police and government, these parties had exposed their total lack of interest in the welfare of the State,” said the Chief Minister, in a statement issued here.‘Law being followed’“From being allowed to talk to his family to having consular access, and from his medical examinations to his timely production in court, the due process of law had been followed at every step from the moment of Jagtar’s arrest,” said Capt. Amarinder.He said the whole issue was being sought to be politicized by certain pro-Khalistani elements and it was unfortunate that Punjab’s own leaders were adding their voice to these elements. “
The Congress on Tuesday demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar over “mismanagement and petty politics” while handling the Mahadayi river water dispute with Karnataka.Ahead of the crucial budget session of the State Assembly, Aleixo Reginaldo, party MLA and spokesperson, said Mr. Parrikar’s stand on the row had put Goa’s future in peril.Ramakant Khalap, senior Congress leader and former Union Law Minister, said, “Mr. Parrikar should resign and make way for a more responsible set up to handle the future of Goa. The Mahadayi tribunal was constituted at the behest of the Congress when Digambar Kamat was Chief Minister. The Parrikar government fought a legal battle without realising the ground realities. It ignored the moves made by the Karnataka government. This is a serious crime against Goa and Goans.”Mr. Reginaldo said a revolt was brewing against the BJP leadership after Speaker Pramod Sawant and Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo, both BJP MLAs, publicly opposed Mr. Parrikar’s stand on the Mahadayi issue.Mr. Reginaldo said, “Mr. Lobo and Mr. Sawant have exposed Mr. Parrikar. He should resign. We will fight this government tooth and nail. Who gave the Chief Minister the right to write a letter to Mr. Yeddyurappa?” Protests have been raging in both Goa and Karnataka for the past one month after Mr. Parrikar wrote to Karnataka BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa expressing his willingness to discuss on humanitarian grounds sharing water from the river for drinking purposes.Mr. Lobo and Mr. Sawant recently visited the Mahadayi project sites in Kunkumbhi and Belagavi and accused the Karnataka government of constructing underwater tunnels to divert water from the river while the tribunal was hearing the dispute. The Karnataka government has, however, denied the claim. Mr. Lobo said on Tuesday that he would move a resolution in the upcoming budget session condemning the Karnataka government’s actions.Mr. Reginaldo claimed that Mr. Parrikar’s leadership had compromised the interests of the State and its natural resources. He said, “Mr. Parrikar has put the future generations of Goans and the State’s environment at risk to please his political bosses. Mr. Parrikar wrote the letter with an eye on the Karnataka polls.”
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday said that the State government will take immediate steps for handing over the investigation of the cases pertaining to the alleged gang-rape and suicide of a girl in Kunduli area of Koraput district to a Special Investigation Team (SIT). Terming the alleged gang-rape “an extremely tragic incident”, Mr. Patnaik said that the SIT probe will be monitored by the court. “It is my firm belief that law should take its own course and justice should be done without fear or favour,” he said.Judicial enquiryIn addition to transferring the case to the Crime Branch for investigation, the State government had also instituted an independent judicial enquiry with a sitting judge nominated by the High Court, Mr. Patnaik informed. “Because of the extraordinary circumstances of the case after the death of the victim, my strong faith and conviction in the principles of natural justice and commitment to safety and dignity of women, the State Government will take immediate steps for handing over the investigation of the cases to a Special Investigation Team with a prayer to be monitored by court,” Mr. Patnaik told press persons.The State government is committed that justice should be delivered at the earliest and in the most transparent manner, he said.The National Human Rights Commission has also initiated a probe into the case. Opposition demandThe 14-year-old Dalit girl had alleged that she was raped by four men in uniform on October 10 last year while she was returning to her home. She committed suicide at her home on January 22.On the other hand, the Opposition — Congress and BJP — has been demanding that the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation for investigation.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday gave an indication of a possible amendment to the prohibition law to prevent its misuse, especially by government officials.“People in the government machinery are taking advantage of the provisions under prohibition law but they are under scanner…the poor and downtrodden who were earlier engaged in liquor business have been given alternative means of livelihood and are happy”, said Mr. Kumar while addressing a youth conference organized by JD(U) on the occasion of World Environment Day in Patna on Tuesday.Mr Kumar further said that he would keep reviewing every aspect of prohibition but “the matter of prohibition law is before Supreme Court now.”Earlier too, while introducing the prohibition law in April 2016, I had sought opinion and feedback from people and political parties too, Mr. Kumar said.“I’ve been regularly monitoring it as well…it has benefitted a large section of the society, especially the poor and downtrodden segment,” asserted Mr Kumar.Over 1 lakh arrested in two yearsAccording to the records, as many as 1,41,861 people have been arrested under the stringent prohibition law since April 2016 in the State. Over 8,000 are in jail.The police and excise department officials have conducted 7,62, 416 raids while 1,17, 283 cases have been lodged. Total 20.47 lakh litres of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and 9.25 lakh litres of country-made liquor have been seized.The stringent prohibition law has been under constant attack by opposition parties and a section of society but Mr Kumar said, “I’m willing to face all the criticism and consequences of my actions.”
Left out: The final draft of the Supreme-Court monitored exercise to compile the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam was released on Monday, with 40,07,707 persons finding out that their names had been left out. There were 3.29 crore applicants. The fallout of the exercise against illegal immigration sparked uncertainty about the future of those whose names were not on the list. Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that there was no need to panic and those missing from the draft list could re-submit their papers. “Some people are unnecessarily trying to create an atmosphere of fear,” he said. “I want to assure all that there is no need for any apprehension or fear.” To be recognised as citizens, all residents of Assam had to produce documents proving that they or their families lived in India before March 24, 1971. Pictures show villagers in Morigaon trying to find out whether or not their names are on the draft list. Picture show villagers in Morigaon trying to find out whether or not their names are on the draft list.
Four naxals, including a woman, were killed on Sunday in an encounter with security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, around 350 kilometers from here, police said. The gunfight took place at around 2:30 p.m. in the Gumiyabeda village forest when a team of the District Reserve Guard (DRG) was out on an anti-Maoist operation, Narayanpur Superintendent of Police Jitendra Shukla told PTI. The ultras fled the spot and entered the dense forest after a brief exchange of fire, he said. The bodies of four naxals and weapons were found at the spot, the SP said. The combing operation is underway in the area, he added.
Although no casualty from Odisha has been reported due to ‘very severe cyclone Titli’ till 2 p.m. on Thursday, news about damages caused by the cyclone is trickling in from south Odisha districts like Ganjam, Gajapati and Rayagada.Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the situation and administrative measures to face aftermath of Titli, at State secretariat in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. This meeting was attended by State chief secretary, development commissioner, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), heads of various departments and director of the meteorology department.The CM reiterated that no one had died in Odisha due to this cyclonic storm. He expressed his satisfaction of ‘zero casualty’ during this cyclonic storm that had its landfall near Palasa in Andhra Pradesh between 4.30 a.m. and 5.30 a.m. on Thursday.Around three lakh people from low laying cyclone vulnerable areas of coastal districts have been sheltered at 1112 relief camps. Around two lakh of them were of Ganjam district. They were provided relief materials and other basic amenities.This cyclonic storm will pass over Odisha to reach Gangetic West Bengal. Mr Patnaik said that administrative officials must keep close watch on its impact. He ordered for provision of adequate relief materials to the affected and needy.The CM directed officials concerned to take up immediate measures for resumption of electricity, drinking water supply and connectivity of road in areas affected by the cyclone. Collectors were ordered to make an assessment and file a report on damages to crops and houses as early as possible.Some districts of Odisha have experienced rainfall over 100mm. Except for western districts all other parts of Odisha are expected to have rains due to the cyclonic storm.Thirteen NDRF teams were deployed in ten districts while ODRAF teams were deployed in nine districts. Fire services teams were in high alert throughout the State.Meanwhile, reports of damages have started to come up from Gajapati and Rayagada districts of south Odisha. Road and telecommunication has been disrupted in several parts of Gajapati district.Because of damages caused by the cyclone near Palasa, East Coast Railway has not yet resumed train services between Khurda Road in Odisha and Vizainagaram in Andhra Pradesh, which had been stalled from 10PM on Wednesday.Titli’ is moving north westward over coastal Odisha causing heavy to very heavy rainfall in parts different parts of the State. During its north westward movement it will weaken gradually and re-curve north eastward towards Gangetic West Bengal.
Former Lok Sabha member and president of Utkal Bharat party Kharabela Swain, who was attacked allegedly by ruling BJD cadres at a public meeting at Aul in Kendrapara district on Wednesday, met State DGP R.P. Sharma here at the police headquarters and urged him to ensure that the culprits are immediately arrested.“Unless the culprits are arrested and exemplary punishment is given to them, no political party, other than the ruling BJD, will feel secure holding public meetings anywhere in the State during the run-up to the Assembly and general elections scheduled early next year,” Mr. Swain told the DGP. Speaking to media persons after the meeting, Mr. Swain hoped that the DGP would take up the matter seriously.‘Assaulted, threatened’While addressing a street corner meeting at Annapurna Bazaar on Wednesday evening, about 25 to 30 men barged onto the podium and stopped Mr. Swain from addressing the gathering. “You cannot speak against the BJD and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here in Aul as the area belongs to Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Keshari Deb,” Mr. Swain quoted the men who claimed to be BJD workers.“Resisting the highhandedness of the youth, I sat on a dharna at the spot. But they dragged me by my neck, assaulted me and my party workers and pushed me into my vehicle threatening that if I dare to speak against the BJD and Naveen Patnaik again, they will hack me to death,” Mr. Swain alleged, adding that he has already submitted a complaint to Kendrapara SP naming at least five attackers.
In Old Meerut’s Hashimpura locality, where every second home has a story about a massacre that took place 31 years ago, survivors and families of victims said the Delhi High Court’s verdict has finally acknowledged an injustice.“The trial court judgment had been very disappointing. At least now the High Court has agreed that a massacre took place,” said Zulfiqar Nasir, one of the lead petitioners in the case and a survivor of the shooting by the U.P. Provincial Armed Constabulary men. Mr. Nasir pointed to a spot below his right armpit to show where the bullet entered and passed through. “I pretended to lie dead and managed to escape,” he said.Another resident, Riyazudin, who was 18 years old at the time, remembered being taken to a maidan and beaten up in a parked truck. “Constables climbed onto the iron grill of the truck, and we were hit with sticks from all sides while we crouched like scared animals. I soon fell unconscious, but there was blood everywhere,” he said.‘A conspiracy’Jamaludin, 81, whose son was also killed, claimed the incident was a consequence of a conspiracy. “Some scuffles had taken place between Hindus and Muslims in the city and rumours spread that Hindus were being killed in the area. But that was a lie.”Jaibun Nisha was walking around with a photograph of her husband Mohammad Iqbal, who was also killed on the fateful day. “Our youngest daughter was two days old when they came to take him. I don’t know why they came for us. That’s the question,” she said. “Not a day passes by when we don’t talk about the massacre,” said Mohammed Abid, who was called in about four to five months later to identify the clothes of his two younger brothers, Jamshed and Shamshad.On the day of court verdict, children in Hashimpura stood around with wide-eyed curiosity as elders in the area recounted numerous stories of brothers and sons being abducted and killed. “They know all about it. They’ve heard these stories forever,” said a resident.
Police on Sunday said two debt-ridden onion farmers from Maharashtra’s Nashik district committed suicide in the last two days, due to indebtedness and low rates commanded by the bulb in markets.The deceased were identified as Tatyabhau Khairnar, 44, and Manoj Dhondage, 33. Both of them hailed from Baglan taluka in the north Maharashtra district. Nashik accounts for 50 per cent of onion production in India. Farmers here have claimed that they are unable to fetch good returns for their produce due to a glut in production. The official said the relatives of Mr. Khairnar said that he was unable to sell his 500 quintals of onions due to low rates. “He had a debt of ₹11 lakh,” one of his relatives said. Mr. Dhondage had an outstanding loan of ₹21 lakh, his family said.Suicide prevention helpline in Mumbai: AASRA: 022-27546669; Chennai: Sneha: 044-24640050; Delhi: Sanjivini: 011-40769002.
A Pune-based biologist with the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) has quit his post in protest against alleged tree-felling activities taking place on the 100-acre campus.Dr. Milind Watve, a teacher and author, who headed a committee looking into the IISER’s green cover, has alleged that several hundred trees were illegally cut over the past year within the campus.Mr. Watve, who tendered his resignation last week, said that the green cover was being tampered due to a slew of unwarranted construction and concretisation activities. His resignation is yet to be processed by institute authorities.“While studying the landscape of IISER, I found that trees were felled without proper permission or procedure, and untreated sewage was being released, despite there being a sewage treatment plant. Many a time, the reason given was construction of an extra road or pathway when none was required,” he said.Mr. Watve said that when he tried to draw the attention of the institute authorities towards this, they refused to acknowledge any illicit activity.“I had written a number of letters to top IISER authorities since November 2017. It seemed ironic that my lab carries out biodiversity, ecology and conservation research, but I couldn’t save the trees in my vicinity. Hence, I decided to quit as a matter of principle,” he said.Repudiating the allegations as ‘baseless’, IISER authorities issued a statement which said that it was committed to promoting the green cover on the campus and that it was unaware of any illegal tree-felling activity within the premises.“The landscape committee was constituted in November 2017 with Mr. Watve as the chairperson with the goal of increasing the vegetation on the IISER Pune campus, and maintaining and protecting the existing green cover. The allegations made by him were raised, not while he was the chairperson, but after he expressed the intent to resign,” the statement read.
The Madhya Pradesh police on Wednesday announced a reward of ₹50,000 for information on six-year-old twin brothers who were abducted from their school in Chitrakoot town in Satna district.As the children lived across the border in Uttar Pradesh, the police of both the States are working on the case, a senior officer said on Wednesday.Even after 24 hours, the police have not got any strong leads in the case. The children are residents of Ramghat in Chitrakoot Dham (Karwi) district in Uttar Pradesh. They travelled four km across the border to the school every day, said Satna Superintendent of Police Santosh Singh Gaur.Mr. Gaur said over phone that the family has not received any ransom call so far. “We are working with the U.P. police. We have got some inputs,” he said, adding that the police have picked up six to eight persons for questioning.
Seismologists have long yearned for a way to forecast imminent earthquakes, which remain predictable only in a long-term probabilistic sense. Past studies have suggested that earthquake precursors could take the form of changes in electromagnetic fields, radon levels, or even animal behavior—but the evidence has been anything but rock-solid. Now, researchers have found that, just before two large earthquakes in Iceland, geochemical signals changed dramatically in nearby ground water. Measuring ground water from a 100-meter-deep borehole, they found that hydrogen isotope ratios and sodium levels spiked in the months before the earthquake. One magnitude-5.6 earthquake occurred in October 2012 along the Húsavík-Flatey fault (pictured), and the other, a magnitude-5.5, went off in April 2013 in the Grímsey Oblique Rift. The researchers, publishing online today in Nature Geoscience, suggest that the changes could have been caused by a subtle stress-induced expansion of the rocks in the lead-up to the earthquake. The expansion, and the microfractures associated with it, could have triggered the geochemical spikes by allowing the mixing of separate bodies of ground water with different geochemical signatures.
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