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Rahul Gandhi widens Congress attack on NRC, covers NPR as well

RAIPUR, Dec 27: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday renewed his party’s attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led national coalition over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) as an attack on the poor. “Whether it is NRC and NPR, it is a tax on poor people of the country,” Gandhi told reporters in Chhattisgarh capital Raipur.

“Demonetisation was a tax on poor people of the country. This too is the same thing. Go to the officer...poor people will your papers...give bribe if your name is slightly wrong. Crores of money will go from the poor people to the same 15 people,” Gandhi said.

The reference to the 15 people is a throwback to Gandhi’s pitch in the run up to the national elections that accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of framing policies to enrich some of the country’s richest people. The campaign wasn’t seen to resonate with the public which returned Modi with a larger mandate. Gandhi stepped down as Congress president soon after.

“I am saying that it is an attack on poor people,” he said, attempting to steer the political narrative to lack of jobs and economic slowdown.

“Poor people are asking how will we get employment? The economy earlier used to grow at 9 per cent, now it has come down to 4 per cent, that too when it is being measured by the new method. By the old method, it will be 2.5 per cent,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi’s effort to double down on not just the NRC but also the NPR is seen as hardening of the Congress’ stand.

The concept of the population register had been a part of the Citizenship Act and its rules framed before Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s term as prime minister ended in 2004. But it was only after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and the change of guard in the home ministry - P Chidambaram was brought in from the finance ministry - that the government really started working on the population register.

When census enumerators made their first rounds during the 2010 houselisting exercise that precedes the decadal headcount, they also got people to fill up forms for the population register. The digitised register already contains the demographic database of more than 119 crore residents

Chidambaram, who had overseen the project, has distanced his version of the NPR from the one being proposed for next year. In a tweet on Thursday, he called it “very dangerous and different” in text and context of the NPR 2010 and part of what he said, was the government’s “more sinister agenda”.

One difference between the two NPRs is that the one to be conducted next year would require people to declare if they and their parents were born in India.

The question is seen in the context of the plan to upgrade the population register to a citizens’ register that had, at least under the law, always been objective. As Chidambaram had explained on more than one occasion when he headed the home ministry, the citizens’ register was a subset of the population register.

Govt eases out troops deployment in Kashmir with ‘immediate effect’

NEW DELHI, Dec 24: More than four months after the abrogation of Article 370, which revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre has finally started easing out the deployment of thousands of troops in the Valley.

The ministry of home affairs on Monday ordered the withdrawal of 72 companies or approximately 70000 personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) with “immediate effect” and deploy them to their respective posts.

They included troops from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

Earlier, around 20 companies were withdrawn from Kashmir and deployed in Assam in the second week of December.

Apart from the regular 61 battalions or nearly 62,000 personnel of CRPF, the Centre had rushed 70 more battalions—around 75,000 personnel—to J&K in August and September for the law and order duties and counter-insurgency operations.

“The situation is very much under control in J&K and things are back to normal. The operations against terror groups will continue and law and order situation will be monitored on a regular basis,” an official with the home ministry said.

According to the government, not even a single death has happened due to police firing in law and order related incidents in J&K during this period.

“During this period, 197 persons have been injured in law and order related incidents. During the same period, three security force personnel and 17 civilians have been killed in terror-related incidents while 129 persons got injured,” the home ministry had said in Parliament.

The BJP-led central government revoked Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5.

The erstwhile state was put under an unprecedented security lockdown and severe restrictions were imposed, particularly in the Valley.

Apart from the deployment of additional troops, curfew was imposed in several parts, communication clampdown was put in place and several mainstream political leaders were arrested.

Let them have that fear: DMK after BJP deletes controversial Periyar tweet

CHENNAI, Dec 24: The BJP in Tamil Nadu was caught on the wrong foot with allies and opponents alike on Tuesday after it posted a tweet denigrating rationalist social reformer ‘Periyar’ EV Ramasamy over his second marriage with a woman, who was much younger than him.

The tweet came on the Dravidian icon’s 46th death anniversary when it is customary for leaders of various parties to pay tributes to either his statue or portrait to display their affinity to social justice.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, for which Periyar’s ideology remains an insurmountable hurdle to find a foothold in the state, seemed to ridicule the leader of the non-Brahmin movement as one who is culpable of child abuse in the tweet.

“On this anniversary of Maniammai’s father, EV Ramasamy, let us take a pledge to support capital punishment for child sex abuse crimes and resolve to build a society devoid of POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) criminals,” read the tweet in Tamil.

It also had an old photograph of Periyar and Maniammai.

The allusion to Periyar as the father of Maniammai was to indicate the huge age gap between the two. Periyar was 70 and she was 32 when they got married and it is said to be the reason behind the leader’s lieutenant CN Annadurai breaking ranks from the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and launching the DMK.

No sooner the tweet was posted, there was a huge backlash on social media forcing the IT wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party to delete it.

However, the damage was done as it had gone viral.

Even allies of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) like the ruling AIADMK and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) apart from the principal opposition DMK and MDMK of Vaiko slammed the BJP for the ‘obnoxious’ post.

Firing the first salvo, state cooperation minister Sellur K Raju said whoever makes any comment insulting and denigrating Periyar deserves condemnation.

“Belittling Periyar is unacceptable. It is due to the service of leaders like Periyar, Anna (CN Annadurai) and Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) that the people of the state are living like brothers and sisters. Whoever insults them will be condemned by the Dravidian movement,” he said while speaking to reporters in Madurai.

Describing the tweet as a ‘jaundiced view’ of the BJP, PMK’s founder S Ramadoss condemned it as ‘inappropriate and disgusting’.

“It is highly condemnable and the post is a proof of the jaundiced view of the BJP and its IT Wing,” he said in a tweet.

Registering his strong condemnation, the DMK’s president MK Stalin said the very fact that the BJP had to remove the tweet from its Twitter handle shows that the party cannot play with fire.

“Even after he is long dead, Periyar continues to rattle them. The instant backlash has forced the BJP to delete the tweet. Let the BJP have that fear,” he said in a tweet.

Stalin also asked whether the ruling AIADMK would stand up at least now against the BJP.

MDMK leader and DMK ally, Rajya Sabha MP Vaiko, demanded a public apology from the BJP.

“The post on the BJP’s official Twitter handle is so demeaning that I can’t even repeat it. They have insulted Periyar with a false tweet. And they should tender a public apology,” Vaiko demanded after paying floral tributes to Periyar statue in Chennai.

This is not the first time that the BJP has faced the ire of the political parties in Tamil Nadu for deprecating Periyar.

Earlier, the BJP’s national secretary H Raja was hauled up for saying that the Dravidian leader’s statues would soon vanish from the state.

Jharkhand jolt for BJP, Hemant Soren’s JMM-led alliance soars

RANCHI, Dec 23: In a significant setback, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost power in Jharkhand on Monday as a united Opposition alliance of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) cruised to a majority in the 81-member state assembly.

The JMM emerged as the single largest party with 30 seats; its key ally, the Congress, bagged 16seats; and the RJD got one seat. The BJP, which had won 37 seats in the 2014 assembly polls, saw its tally dip to 25 seats. The All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), a former BJP ally that fought the state polls separately, won two seats. Monday’s results were the best-ever performances in the state by both the Congress and the JMM.

The BJP’s chief minister Raghubar Das, who led the government for five years, lost his own seat to a party veteran-turned-rebel who contested as an independent candidate.

The BJP’s defeat has been ascribed largely to local factors, though the outcome also reflects an emerging pattern in which the party is increasingly unable to defend power at the state-level, even as it remains dominant nationally. The loss comes soon after the party’s inability to form the government in Maharashtra, and failure to secure an outright majority in Haryana.

But the verdict is yet another instance of how a united alliance of non-BJP forces, essentially campaigning on local issues, and projecting local faces, has halted the saffron juggernaut in states.

What our enemies couldn’t do for decades, Modi has done in 6 years: Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI, Dec 23: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday wrapped up a five hour-long protest meet against the new citizenship law at Rajghat with a sharp attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of destroying the economy and trying to spread hatred and break the country.

“What our enemies could not do for decades, Narendra Modi has done that in six years. You could not provide jobs, destroyed the economy and stalled our progress that is why you are hiding behind hate,” he told the gathering at Delhi’s Rajghat.

The protest meeting at Rajghat was an effort by the Congress to replicate Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of non-violent resistance by organising a ‘Satyagraha’ at his memorial to express solidarity with the youth and students protesting against the new citizenship law and the proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The main opposition party stepped up its opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed pan-India exercise to register the country’s citizens on the lines of Assam, protesting against the police “atrocities” on the youth at the same time demanding protection of the rights of people as enshrined in the Constitution.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ex-party chief Rahul Gandhi, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh (Kamal Nath) and Rajasthan (Ashok Gehlot), Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jyotiraditya Scindia were among the senior leaders who participated in the “Satyagraha for Unity”.

The leaders read out the Preamble to the Constitution as part of the programme. Boxer Vijender Singh was also present.

“You have been taught by your organisation how to break the country and spread hatred. You are number one in doing so. Country will not let you attack Constitution, suppress voice of ‘Bharat Mata’,” Rahul Gandhi said, attacking the Prime Minister.

Earlier, Congress members observed a one-minute silence in memory of those killed during the protests over CAA and NRC and also against the BJP-led government’s “anti-people” policies.

Some religious leaders were also present at the ‘Satyagraha’ held amid singing of bhajans (devotional songs).

Later addressing the gathering, Priyanka Gandhi said her party resolved to protect the Constitution in the name of all those “martyred” during the protests.

“In the name of Bijnor’s 22-year-old Anas, who used to earn money for his family through a coffee-vending machine and had recently gotten married. In the name of 21-year-old Suleiman, who was studying for the UPSC exam and used to take tuition,” she said.

“In the names of all the children who have been martyred in this movement, in the name of Bijnor’s Omraj Saini, whose five children are waiting for him and he is in the hospital, injured. In their names, we resolve today that we will protect the Constitution and will not allow it to be destroyed,” she said.

Both Nath and Gehlot asserted that they will not implement CAA and NRC in their respective states. So did, Chhattisgarh minister TS Singh Deo on behalf of chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and Congress minister in Maharashtra Balasaheb Thorat on behalf of the Shiv Sena-led coalition government.

Protest toll reaches 23 across India; CAA gives people more rights: Modi

NEW DELHI, Dec 22: As protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) continue across the country and the police clamps down on them in several parts, 23 people have been killed so far. Sixteen of these deaths have been in Uttar Pradesh alone, and large parts of the state are facing an internet shutdown. One of victims was an eight-year-old boy.

On Sunday, speaking at a campaign rally ahead of the Delhi assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that “urban Naxals” and the Congress were spreading lies about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and the National Register of Citizens.

“They are falsely saying that I will take away people’s rights,” Modi said at Ramlila Maidan. “In fact, I am just giving more people rights.”

“Muslims who are from India have nothing to do with the CAA or NRC,” Modi continued. “They will not be put in detention centres. There are no detention centres in India.” Several reports have exposed how detention centres are being constructed in different parts of the country – from Karnataka to Assam.

The prime minister also tried to distance his government from the NRC, saying that his government had nothing to do with the decision and was simply acting on the Supreme Court’s orders in Assam.

The Karnataka government on Sunday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the two men killed in violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Mangaluru on December 19.

“I have directed the Deputy Commissioner (of Dakshina Kannada district) to give Rs 10 lakh each to the two families. The amount will be paid to them today,” chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru after visiting the next of kin of those killed in that city.

The chief minister said he would order an apolitical inquiry into the incident after holding discussions with Home Minister Basvaraj Bommai, who was also present, on the modalities of the probe.

Yediyurappa flayed the Congress for creating confusion among people on CAA and misleading them just to tarnish the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP government at the Centre.

Former chief ministers Siddaramaiah and H.D. Kumaraswamy were denied permission to visit Mangaluru on Saturday since a curfew was in place. After curfew was relaxed on Sunday, Kumaraswamy visited the families of the two people killed and handed a compensation of Rs five lakh each to the next of kin.

Slamming Yediyurappa, Kumaraswamy demanded the suspension of police officers responsible for the deaths of the two and removal of the state home minister.

Modi, Shah have destroyed future of India's youth: Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI, Dec 22: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted his accusation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah on Sunday as Modi spoke against the grand old party’s stance over the citizenship act during a rally in Delhi.

Rahul Gandhi, who has been out of India for the past few days, said Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah have destroyed the future of India’s youth.

The former Congress president added that Modi and Shah are “hiding behind hate” to escape the youth’s anger over rising unemployment and the state of the country’s economy.

“Dear Youth of India, Modi & Shah have destroyed your future. They can’t face your anger over the lack of jobs and damage they’ve done to the economy. That’s why they are dividing our beloved India and hiding behind hate,” Gandhi said on Twitter.

“We can only defeat them by responding with love towards every Indian,” he tweeted.

The Congress leader’s tweet came as the Prime Minister said opposition parties were spreading rumours and misleading and inciting people over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) during his massive rally in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan.

Modi asserted that his government has never discriminated on the basis of religion while implementing its schemes.

“Today those people who are misleading Muslims in the name of papers and certificates, they should remember that we did not put restrictions in terms of paper while choosing beneficiaries of schemes for the betterment of the poor,” he continued.

He also asked the youth to educate themselves about the legislation.

“Congress, its friends and some urban Naxals are spreading rumours that all Muslims will be sent to detention centres... Respect your education, read what is the Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC. You are educated,” he said.

The Congress party, which has upped its ante against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government over the citizenship act, will hold a five-hour Satyagraha on Monday at Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi at Rajghat to register its protest.

Rahul Gandhi along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders will take part in the Satyagraha, which will be held between 3pm and to 8pm.

More than a dozen people have been killed during the violent protests against the new legislation across the country. Uttar Pradesh has seen the violence spiralling out of control in several districts, where 17 protesters have been killed so far.

The CAA seeks to fast-track the grant of Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Parsi in the Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Toll 17 as 9 dead in clashes with police in UP as CAA stir escalates

LUCKNOW, Dec 20: At least nine people died in clashes with the police as violence over the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act spread to 14 locations across Uttar Pradesh on Friday, taking the national death toll in the protests over the newly enacted law to 17 so far.

Three people died in Meerut, two in Bijnor, and one each in Varanasi, Ferozabad, Sambhal and Kanpur on Friday. Three people, one in Lucknow and two in Karnataka’s Mangalore, were killed on Thursday. Five deaths have been reported from Assam in the agitation so far.

An eight-year-old boy died in Varanasi on Friday after a lathi-charge by police led to a stampede. Uttar Pradesh director general of police (DGP), OP Singh, said at least 50 policemen were also injured across the state in “heavy” stone pelting by protesters returning from Friday prayers at mosques.

The Uttar Pradesh Police, in anticipation of possible trouble on Friday, placed around 3,305 people under house arrest and took another 200 into preventive custody. The administration also imposed section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits unlawful assembly of more than five people, in at least 16 districts of India’s largest state. Police also denied permission for any protest against the CAA or the police action in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. Starting Friday morning, mobile internet services were also suspended in many parts of the state.

What the police did not anticipate was the turnout. A senior police officer in Lucknow said that he had never seen so many people coming out to protest at several locations at the same time. “In Kanpur, the procession was about four kilometres long and we had no option but to allow the protest,” he said.

One academic suggested that the scale and intensity of protests show that the issue wasn’t just CAA. The protests were more against a possible National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise across India, said Roop Rekha Verma, a former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University. “There is a feeling among the Muslim community of being alienated by the ruling party on various issues and the economic slowdown has also impacted them a lot,” he said. Other experts said a legislation making instant triple talaq a cognizable offence, and the Supreme Court’s verdict on a Ram temple in Ayodhya may have also contributed to their angst.

Uttar Pradesh Police officials said the pattern of violence was the same across locations: Larger-than-expected processions that started off peacefully, but then turned violent with protesters hurling stones at policemen and destroying public property, forcing a reaction. The state police also denied firing on protesters.

“At several places, the mob fired on us during which people may have got bullet injuries. This is a matter of investigation,” said OP Singh.

Kanpur senior superintendent of police Anant Deo said protesters in Kanpur were dispersed through a “baton charge”.

However, Kanpur chief medical officer Ashok Shukla said that of the 13 injured, nine received bullet injuries. In Lucknow, one of the injured, who identified himself as Mohammad Saif, and who has been admitted at the Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital in the city said he was hit by a police bullet.

In both Kanpur and Lucknow, the protests started after Friday afternoon prayers. Police said processions in some other locations also turned violent in the early afternoon. The last clash was reported around 5pm in Meerut. Two protestors died and several were injured in that clash. All told, police said, in the span of three hours, there were violent protests in 14 locations. By the end of it all, nine protesters were dead. Meerut, Kanpur and Firozabad were the worst hit.

In some locations, protesters also burnt vehicles and damaged public property.

“The state police failed to anticipate things, which led to such large-scale violence in Lucknow as well as other parts of the state,” said former DGP AK Jain, claiming that the violence appeared to be well-planned.

Friday’s protests came a day after similar incidents of violence and arson in Lucknow, resulting in one death. On Friday, additional chief secretary, home, Awanish Awasthi and DGP OP Singh visited sensitive spots and met Muslim clerics to maintain peace in the city.

As a precautionary measure, inspector general (IG) of police (law and order), Praveen Kumar said the prohibitory orders and suspension of mobile internet would continue on Saturday also.

The government has deployed central paramilitary forces and the Rapid Action Force in all the sensitive areas in the state, he added, after a review meeting called by chief minister Yogi Adityanath. A government spokesperson said all educational institutions in the entire Uttar Pradesh would remain closed on Saturday, December 21.

Samajwadi Party national president, Akhilesh Yadav, on Friday tweeted: “Those who are in power today, must not forget that when the people march ahead together, then the biggest of oppressors have to retreat. Now, they will retreat. The citizens of India are fighting for safeguarding the spirit of the Constitution.”

Congress Legislature Party leader Aaradhna Mishra said: “We must protect the Constitution. But the protests should be peaceful. There is no place for violence in the country of Mahatma Gandhi.”

Bhim Army chief detained, over 40 in police custody after Friday’s violence

NEW DELHI, Dec 21: Chandrashekhar Azad, the Bhim Army’s leader, was taken into custody from outside the Jama Masjid early on Saturday, after giving the Delhi Police a slip on Friday during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the Daryaganj area.

More than 40 people, including at least three minors, were detained after clashes that broke out during the mostly-peaceful agitation against the newly-amended citizenship act in Daryaganj on Friday evening. A case of rioting and arson has been registered at the Daryaganj police station.

Chandrashekhar Azad said he was inside the Jama Masjid during the protest against CAA.

“We have to make sacrifices so that the legislation is taken back. We do not support violence. We were sitting inside the mosque since Friday morning and our people were not involved in violence,” Azad said.

Police resorted to a lathi-charge and used water cannons to disperse the crowd that turned violent in Daryaganj on Friday, just minutes after a two-and-a-half-hour long peaceful agitation against the amended citizenship law got over.

The police action, which followed stone-pelting and arson, forced several people to flee, including many of those who had joined protests that started in the afternoon and went on till evening.

At least 46 people were injured in the stone-pelting and police action.

Police also said the protesters set a private car parked at Subhash Marg in Daryaganj on fire. The fire was immediately doused with water and fire extinguishers.

“Hours after the violent protest near Delhi Gate, around 36 injured people, including eight policemen, got medical treatment at Lok Nayak hospital. One person, who has got a fractured leg is admitted, while two others who have suffered minor head injuries are under observation and not yet admitted,” Lok Nayak Hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Kishore Singh said.

Eye-witnesses said thousands—including protesters, local residents and those who were there to offer Friday prayers—had gathered in the afternoon on Netaji Subhash Marg, where police had put up barricades near Delhi Gate.

The number swelled at around 5pm to about 15,000 as per police estimates and they started to break the cordon.

Police spokesperson MS Randhawa said security personnel first launched water cannons to disperse the crowd and then charged with batons as the agitators torched the private vehicle and started pelting stones.

Some people in the area, however, alleged the police response was disproportionate and indiscriminate, a charge denied by officials.

“Suddenly, some anti-social elements in the gathering started breaking the barricades and pelting stones in a bid to march towards Jantar Mantar against the police advice. Police used water cannon and absolutely minimum force to push them back,” Randhawa said.

Police and residents said that those involved in the violence were “outsiders”.

Fifty-eight additional companies of security personnel were brought in to bolster the strength of local police.

Large gatherings were also reported from areas like Seelampur, Shastri Park, Jamia Nagar and Shaheen Bagh. They, however, dispersed peacefully after senior officers constantly persuaded them with the help of prominent locals in these areas.

Delhi has been witnessing protests since last Sunday. Authorities clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in several parts and shut down mobile services—for the first time in the Capital—and stopped Delhi Metro trains on Thursday.

15 Vehicles Torched in UP's Mau During Anti-Citizenship Act Stir

MAU, Dec 16: Protesters vandalised a police station and torched vehicles as a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act and police action at Jamia Millia Islamia University turned violent here on Monday, prompting police to fire in the air.

The videos of the violence, which have gone viral on social media, show that the computer room of Mau's Dakshintola police station vandalised with chairs and some computers damaged. A portion of the boundary wall of the police station was also damaged, and firemen could be seen extinguishing fire, which had erupted in one corner of the police station.

Dakshintola police station SHO Nihar Nandan Kumar said "Over 300 barged into the police station premises between 5.00 pm and 6.00 pm. They were agitating, and had broken the boundary wall. There have been some minor damages. Let me assess the extent of damage."

Police lobbed tear-gas shells and also fired in the air to control the situation. An eyewitness said protesters set ablaze 15 vehicles, including those of police. Police, however, gave out a much smaller number of vehicles damaged.

Inspector General (Law and Order) Praveen Kumar said in Lucknow, "Three or four motorcycles were set ablaze. "The unlawful assembly has been dispersed. Additional forces have been deployed. Presently, peace and order is being maintained," he said in a statement.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said senior officials are at the spot. "The mob has been dispersed. Section 144 of the CrPC is already implemented in the district," he said, referring to the section that prohibits assembly of people.

UP Director General of Police O P Singh denied reports that a curfew has been imposed in Mau. "Only Section 144 of CrPC is in place, and this should not be considered imposition of curfew in the district. The situation is absolutely peaceful there and one or two motorcycles were burnt," he said.

Mau District Magistrate Gyanprakash Tripathi told reporters that some youths from Mirza Hadipur area had planned to submit a memorandum to protest the police action at Delhi's Jamia Milia Islamia University. "Subsequently, crowd swelled up in the locality. Police reached the spot and tried to remove the protestors. This angered the crowd, and they resorted to stone-pelting in the vicinity of Dakshintola police station and set a few vehicles ablaze. No one has been injured," he said.

Tripathi also said that motorcycles of a few journalists and policemen were set ablaze by the protesters. "Police resorted to mild use of force, and controlled the situation. Guilty persons are being identified through CCTV footage, and they will be booked," he said.

The district magistrate also said, "Section 144 of CrPC is imposed in the district and an appeal has been made to the residents to stay inside their houses. A person who had instigated the crowd to hit the streets is under our scanner and necessary actions will be taken."

Its attack on soul of India: Priyanka Gandhi

NEW DELHI, Dec 16: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Monday evening stepped up the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said the crackdown on students at Jamia Milia Islamia university in Delhi was an “attack on the soul of India”.

“Government has given a blow to the Constitution. It’s an attack on the soul of the nation, youth is the soul of the nation. It’s their right to protest,” said Gandhi.

The Congress leader, who suddenly appeared at India Gate at 4 pm sat there for over two hours, termed the police action on Jamia campus as “tyranny”. The police entered the college allegedly without permission and dragged students out of the library. The students also allege that they were asked to leave the campus with their hands raised.

“...I’m a mother too. You entered into their library, dragged them out and thrashed them up. This is tyranny,” said the Congress leader.

In a tweet late on Sunday night after the violence, she had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to listen to the voice of the youth sooner than later as his government was trying to suppress their voice and courage with its “hollow dictatorship”.

“Students are being beaten by sneaking into universities of the country. At a time when the government should listen to the people, the BJP government that time is making its presence felt in the North East, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi through oppression of students and journalists. This government is coward,” the Congress general secretary said, using the hashtag “Shame”.

Violence erupted during a demonstration by Jamia students against the new citizenship law on Sunday. The protesters torched four buses and two police vehicles as they clashed with cops in New Friends Colony, near the university, leaving nearly 60 people including students, cops and fire fighters injured.

Police used batons and teargas shells to disperse the violent mob, but denied firing at them.

Following the arson on roads, police entered the Jamia university campus, where tension prevailed as several people were detained for alleged involvement in the violence. The students claimed that the police fired tear gas inside the university’s library and beat up protesters before sealing all campus gates.

As many as 50 students were detained, which led to protest outside the Delhi Police headquarters on Sunday night. These protesters were released around 3.30am on Monday.

Judge convicts MLA Kuldeep Sengar for rape

NEW DELHI, Dec 16: A Delhi court on Monday convicted expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar for abducting and raping a minor girl in 2017, pronouncing judgment in a sensational case that triggered nationwide protests.

Reading out his order, district judge Dharmesh Sharma noted that the testimony of the rape survivor, who is now 19 years old, was “truthful and unblemished” against a “powerful person”.

“She was under threat, worried. She is a village girl, not from cosmopolitan educated area...Sengar was a powerful person. So she took her time...,” the judge said.

Sengar, 53, a four-time legislator who is also accused of hatching a criminal conspiracy against the survivor’s family and causing them harm, was convicted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act. The court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence on Tuesday. Sengar’s offences can invite a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

“A tirade was unleashed upon the girl and her family members... where imprints of the accused Sengar were quite visible,” the judge said. Sengar, once a powerful lawmaker, was in tears in the court.

The judge added that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) proved that the survivor was a minor and that Sengar was rightly prosecuted under the Pocso Act.

“The instant case manifests the multitudes of restrictions and taboos within which many women in the rural areas are brought up, grow and survive. It epitomises the fear ingrained in the mind of young girl in the countryside or elsewhere against reporting issues of sexual assault by powerful adults,” the judge said in the order.

The judge also pulled up CBI, saying the investigation “suffered from patriarchal approach or inherent outlook to brush the issues of sexual violence against the children under the carpet”.

“It appears that somewhere the investigation in the instant case has not been fair to the victim of crime and her family members. The investigation has not been conducted by a woman officer... and successive statements of the victim girl had been recorded by calling her at the CBI office without bothering for the kind of harassment, anguish and re-victimisation that occurs to a victim of sexual assault in such case,” the judge said.

The judge also questioned CBI over the delay in the filing of a charge sheet in a related case. “The CBI has not explained the fact that when the investigation in the alleged kidnapping, illegal confinement and gang rape of the victim in another FIR had been taken over by them on April 13, 2018…..what prevented the CBI from not filing the charge sheet/final report without any further delay and it was filed belatedly October 3, 2019 after almost a year…”

Judge Sharma acquitted co-accused Shashi Singh, who allegedly took the survivor to Sengar on the pretext of helping her get a job. Moments before that, Singh fainted in the court as the judge started pronouncing the order.

“Her health is improving gradually. She is desperately waiting him to be punished,” the survivor’s sister said. “We lost our father and aunts during the battle for justice. This man should not be allowed to roam free...”

According to the family, Sengar raped the survivor in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao on June 4, 2017. In April 2018, her father was beaten up by some people, and allegedly framed and arrested in an arms case. On April 8 that year, the survivor attempted self-immolation outside chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence, alleging police inaction in the rape case and demanding a first information report (FIR) against Sengar. The next day, her father died in custody , allegedly due to his injuries.

In the wake of widespread outrage, the Allahabad high court transferred the rape case to CBI, which arrested Sengar on April 10.

In July, the agency filed a charge sheet in the rape case. Her family wrote to the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in mid-July, saying they were under threat from Sengar and his accomplices. On July 28, a truck rammed a car in which the survivor, her family, and their lawyer were travelling on July 28. Two of the survivor’s aunts were killed in the incident in Rae Bareli, while she and her advocate sustained serious injuries. An FIR was filed the next day, and it booked Sengar and over a dozen others for murder and attempt to murder. Sengar was expelled from the BJP in August.

The Supreme Court took cognisance of the victim’s letter, transferred the matter to Delhi, and directed the court to complete trial in 45 days. The day-to-day trial began at Tis Hazari court on August 5. After undergoing treatment at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the survivor was shifted to a rented accommodation in the Capital with help from the Delhi Commission for Women.

The trial was held in-camera, and a special court was held at AIIMS on September 11, 12 and 13 to record the statement of the survivor, who was admitted there.

Sengar’s lawyer, advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, said he would appeal against the judgment in a high court. Advocate Dharmendra Kumar Mishra, counsel for the survivor, said it was “indeed the victory of justice”.

On August 9, the court framed charges against Sengar and Singh for criminal conspiracy, abduction, rape under the Indian Penal Code, and other relevant sections of the Pocso Act.

The trial in the other four cases — framing of the rape survivor’s father in an illegal firearms case, his death in judicial custody, conspiracy by Sengar and others in the accident case, and gang rape by three other men — are going on in the same trialcourt in Delhi.

Welcoming the judgment, Sunil Singh ‘Saajan’, a Samajwadi Party leader, said, “We had no faith in the BJP and its government, and had full faith in the judiciary.”

The BJP too welcomed Sengar’s conviction. “Sengar’s conviction is a triumph of justice, but it also underscores CM Yogi Adityanath’s zero tolerance on crime and matters as sensitive as these,” said Uttar Pradesh BJP spokesperson Navin Srivastava said.

Violence Grips Assam, Meghalaya, Bengal & Delhi as Protests Against Citizenship Act Escalate

Guwahati/New Delhi/Kolkata, Dec 13: Violent protests against the amended Citizenship Act rocked Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Delhi on Friday, forcing Union home minister Amit Shah to cancel his visit to the northeastern states. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs had to also postpone its trip.

Assam is witnessing one of the most violent protests by the people in its history with three railway stations, post office, bank, bus terminus and many other public properties being set ablaze or totally damaged. At least three people have been killed during protests.

Eight columns of the Army and Assam Rifles have been deployed in Assam, including capital Guwahati, as protests against the amended Citizenship Act turned violent on Friday, resulting in death of three people.

Defence Public Relation Officer Lt Col P Khongsai said the Army and Assam Rifles were requisitioned by the civil administration in Morigaon, Sonitpur and Dibrugarh districts besides Guwahati to arrest the deteriorating law and order situation.

"Till now, a total of eight columns have been requisitioned which include one in Bongaigaon, one in Morigaon, four columns in Guwahati and two in Sonitpur," he said. Each column of the force comprise of around 70 personnel.

A rally demanding the Meghalaya governor's nod to a proposed ordinance seeking mandatory registration of outsiders entering the state turned ugly as the agitators clashed with the police in front of the Raj Bhavan which left 25 injured.

The rally, sponsored by the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations (COMSO), an umbrella organisation of student bodies, were also demanding that the Centre implement inner line permit regime in the state.

The demand for ILP has been growing in Meghalaya since the Centre announced it for Manipur during the debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill when it was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Meghalaya cabinet had approved the amendment Meghalaya Residents, Safety and Security Act, 2016, which seeks mandatory registration of outsiders for entering the state after the NRC in Assam.

During the clash, the police batoncharged the protesters and fired tear gas shells that left about 25 people injured, including two of its personnel. The protesters, who turned up in thousands, also vandalised a fire brigade vehicle parked a few metres away from the main entrance to the Raj Bhavan main gate.

At least two police personnel and about 20 to 23 civilians, including women, were injured, East Khasi Hills district superintendent of police Claudia Lyngwa said. Lyngwa, however, denied that security of the Raj Bhavan was breached by the protesters.

Protests also reached the shores of West Bengal, with agitators resorting to violence and arson at railway stations and thoroughfares across the state, seeking immediate revocation of the law.

People in the minority-dominated districts of rural Howrah, Murshidabad, Birbhum, parts of Burdwan and North Bengal hit the streets in the morning, raising slogans against the Modi government, according to police sources. Some of them even attacked local BJP workers and leaders, prompting the saffron camp to allege that the attacks were masterminded by the ruling TMC.

In Murshidabad district, bordering Bangladesh, protesters set fire to Beldanga railway station complex and thrashed RPF personnel deputed there. "Several parts of the station, RPF kiosks were set on fire and the tracks vandalised. Services have come to a halt here," a senior RPF official said.

In Raghunathganj area of the district, the agitators set vehicles on fire and tore copies of the amended Act. They blocked National Highway-34 and ransacked vehicles and shops.

Several people were injured when their vehicles were pelted with stones. A huge police contingent was rushed to Beldanga and Raghunathganj to control the situation. The police had to resort to lathicharge in Beldanga to disperse the mob.

Similar incidents were also reported from Uluberia and Diamond Harbour, both minority-dominated areas, as agitators blocked railway tracks and vandalised stations, leaving several passengers stranded during the day.

The affected trains included the 12841 Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express, 22897 Howrah-Digha Kandari Express and suburban locals. The demonstrators, numbering around 250, obstructed the Up and Down lines at Uluberia station and hurled stones at the stranded trains, injuring a driver, South Eastern Railway spokesman Sanjoy Ghosh said. The railways has sought adequate forces from the state government to protect the station premises in violence-hit areas of the state.

A large number of protesters, including Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind leaders, protested at Delhi's Jantar Mantar on Friday against the amended citizenship law, which they described as "anti constitutional" and "divisive", and demanded its immediate withdrawal.

Separately, Jamia Millia Islamia University students held a protest against the law at the university. A third protest was organised by the Delhi Congress in Seelampur area of East Delhi.

The protesters at Jantar Mantar, led by JUH general secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani, carried placards with slogans like "Save-Constitution, Withdraw CAB", "Division on basis of religion unacceptable"and "CAB nahin Rozgar Chahiye".

JUH leaders termed the law a "draconian" legislation and urged the president to stop it from coming into effect. Madani said the law "is against the Constitution of India which denies discrimination on the basis of religion." He urged Muslim youths to maintain peace and tranquillity.

The organisation held protests across the country against the law, according to a Jamiat statement. The protest by Jamia students turned violent after police and students, who wanted to march to Parliament House from the university, clashed with each other. Fifty students were detained following the clash, after the protestors were stopped at the varsity gate.

In Seelampur, thousands of Congress workers, a majority of them from the minority community, protested against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, with the party asserting that it will wage an "all out fight" to protect the Constitution.

Protests against the amended Citizenship Act continued to rage across northeast, with students' unions in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday boycotting their examination to hit the streets across cities, seeking immediate revocation of the law.

Thousands of agitators, led by Rajiv Gandhi University Students' Union (RGUSU) and Students' Union of NERIST (SUN), marched from the varsity to Raj Bhavan, covering a distance of around 30 km on the hilly terrain.

Local people, along with those belonging to the Assamese community, also joined the rally here to protest against the controversial law, most of them raising slogans against the BJP-led government at the Centre. The agitators submitted a memorandum to Governor B D Mishra, stressing that the amended Act would not be implemented in the state.


Three dead in police firing as angry Assamese youths take to streets against citizenship bill

GUWAHATI, Dec 12: Assam, the hotbed of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, was on edge on Thursday as thousands of angry protesters came out on streets defying curfew, thumbing their nose at army contingents staging flag marches, and clashing with the police across cities. Three people have died during the protests in the state. One of them, who succumbed to a bullet injury in Lachit Nagar, has been identified as Deepanjal Das from Chaygaon.

An official of the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital said one person was "brought dead" and another succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment.

The protests in the North East came a day after the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, thereby paving the way for it to become a law.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for calm and sought to assuage the concerns of protesters, insisting his government was committed to safeguarding their rights. In a series of tweets, in both Assamese and English, the prime minister said he personally and the Central Government are "totally committed to constitutionally safeguard the political, linguistic, cultural and land rights of the Assamese people as per the spirit of Clause 6".

Clause 6 of the Assam Accord guarantees safeguarding local rights, language and culture.

"I want to assure my brothers and sisters of Assam that they have nothing to worry after the passing of #CAB (sic)," Modi wrote on the microblogging site.

However, several people pointed out the irony of the prime minister addressing the people of Assam through a tweet, even as mobile internet remains suspended in several districts of the state. The Congress also hit out at Modi, saying — Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal also appealed to the people of Assam to maintain peace and tranquillity. "It's our cultural, social and spiritual tradition. I've a firm belief that people of Assam, as usual, will maintain peace for all time to come," he said.

"A section of people is trying to make the situation aggravated by spreading misinformation and misleading people by saying that 10-15 million people are going to take citizenship in Assam. It's false propaganda," he added.

Guwahati resembled a garrison town with Army, paramilitary and state police personnel stationed in every nook and corner, watching helplessly, as frenzied mobs blocked roads with burning discarded tyres and menaced commuters by bludgeoning their vehicles with sticks and stones.

Suspension of internet services in ten districts of the state was extended for another 48 hours, beginning 12 pm, to prevent "misuse" of social media in disturbing peace and tranquillity, and to maintain law and order, an official said.

Internet services will remain suspended in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup, Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Political department) said Sanjay Krishna. Internet services were suspended at 7 pm on Wednesday amid the protests.

To tackle the situation, the government also made a slew of changes in the state's police ranks. Guwahati Police commissioner Deepak Kumar was removed and Munna Prasad Gupta was appointed in his place. Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwal was transferred as ADGP (CID) and GP Singh was given his charge.

A curfew has been imposed in several parts of Shillong and SMS and internet services have been suspended across the state for 48 hours starting from 5 pm on Thursday.

Supreme Court dismisses 18 Ayodhya review petitions

NEW DELHI, Dec 12: A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed 18 petitions filed against the top court’s Ayodhya verdict after an in-chamber hearing on Thursday afternoon, people familiar with the development said.

Former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who was part of the bench which had pronounced the verdict, was replaced by Justice Sanjiv Khanna at today’s in-chamber proceedings. The other members of the bench include justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

The order by the bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde paves the way for implementation of the unanimous November 9 judgment that awarded the title to the 2.77-acre disputed land to Ram Lalla Virajman, the child deity.

It had also granted five acres of land to Muslims at an alternative site in Ayodhya for the construction of a new mosque. The Centre was also ordered to set up a trust to build the temple and manage the site.

The bench’s decision to dispose of the review petitions at a single hearing leaves the petitioners with only one last option: a curative petition. Senior lawyers say anecdotal evidence indicates that it is extremely rare for such a petition to succeed.

In the 18 petitions filed by different parties including Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)-backed petitioners, the petitioners had argued that the verdict had sanctioned illegalities committed by the Hindu parties over the decades including the 1992 demolition of the mosque.

Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, on the other hand, wanted the court to erase references to illegalities by Hindu parties and insisted that the court could not have given Muslims an alternative site when they hadn’t asked for it in the first place.

BJP sweeps Karnataka bypolls

NEW DELHI, Dec 9; The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept by-elections to 15 assembly constituencies in Karnataka, leading in or winning 12 of them. This means the BJP government in the state is safe — the party needed to win 6 of the 15 to stay in power. This also means the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) have clearly lost ground in the state. All 15 constituencies were won by the two parties in 2018, with the Congress winning 12 and the JD(S) bagging three seats.

The BJP’s sweep also clarifies that there was no ill-feeling in any of the constituencies against the defectors. As many of 13 of the BJP’s winners this time are candidates who represented either the Congress or the JD(S) in 2018. Only two defectors, MTB Nagaraj from the Congress in Hosakote and A H Vishwanath from the JD(S) in Hunasuru have lost. Clearly, reports that many of the defectors had to campaign under police protection because of an angry voter-base were exaggerated.

The BJP, with 117 seats in the house (it also has the support of an independent legislators), now has a clear majority in the assembly, which, at the moment, has 222 members. In two seats, there is a High Court stay on polls due to alleged code of conduct violations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, at a rally in Jharkhand, that there are three key messages from the by-election outcome. “The first is that people of this country want a stable government. The second is that people not only taught a lesson but wiped out Congress and its allies, which betrayed the people’s mandate and insulted them by seeking power through the backdoor, at the first available opportunity.” The third message was that people only and only had faith in the BJP to provide a stable government, committed to development.

The Congress conceded defeat, with its former CM, Siddaramiah, resigning as the party’s legislative leader. DK Shivakumar, senior party leader said, “We have to agree with the mandate of the voters of these 15 constituencies. People have accepted the defectors. We have accepted defeat, I don’t think we have to be disheartened.”

For the BJP, the outcome comes as a source of relief because of recent setbacks. It scraped through in Haryana in October, with the help of Dushyant Chautala’s Jannanyak Janata Party, and it lost Maharashtra after the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, and the Shiv Sena came together. A loss in Karnataka would have been embarrassing for the party, and further dented the aura of invincibility it has created with a spate of electoral wins.

Given how the electorate in Maharashtra treated defectors in the recent assembly election, that was a distinct possibility.

That it hasn’t happened in Karnataka is perhaps more a function of the hold individual candidates have over their constituencies than factors such as chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s appeal, achievements of the state’s BJP government, or a push from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is also a clear indication that the JD(S) and the Congress (the latter more than the former) have lost ground. Of the 12 seats the BJP won, ten were seats where the Congress won in 2018, and two, where the JD(S) did.

In 2018, the BJP won 104 seats in the assembly emerging the single largest party. However, the government was formed by a coalition of the JD(S) and the Congress in a power-sharing deal where latter, with 78 seats, actually allowed the former, with 37 seats, to take the chief minister’s chair. The BJP, however, didn’t give up, and continued to whittle away at legislators, mostly from the Congress. Analysts say that Congress leader Siddaramaiah’s strained relations with the JD(S) top brass may have also contributed to this. Whatever the reasons, 17 legislators resigned from their parties and the assembly on July 12, and the BJP formed the government on July 26.

With 11 of the defectors having won, the BJP government will now have to expand its cabinet to find space for them, or reward them in other ways. Analysts say that could pose a challenge.

43 killed Delhi fire

NEW DELHI, Dec 8: At least 43 people were killed when a massive fire ripped through a four-storey building housing illegal manufacturing units in north Delhi's congested Anaj Mandi area on Sunday morning, in the second deadliest blaze in the national capital.

Almost all the deceased were migrant labourers hailing from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Police and fire department officials said many of the fatalities occurred due to suffocation as the people were sleeping when the fire started at around 5 am on the second floor of the building that did not have fire safety clearance and was packed with combustible material like cardboards.

It took over 150 firefighters nearly five hours to douse the blaze. As many as 63 people were pulled out of the building. While 43, including one minor, died, 16 were injured. Two fire department personnel were hurt while carrying out rescue work, officials said.

Those awakened by the fire, suspected by officials to have been triggered by a short-circuit, had to struggle to escape as the exit routes were partially blocked and several windows were found sealed.

Police have arrested the property owner Rehan and his manager Furkan and a case has been registered under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire) of the IPC. The case has been transferred to the Crime Branch.

Officials said 35 fire tenders were rushed after the blaze was reported at 5.22 am in the Anaj Mandi building which housed manufacturing units for glass items, cardboards, handbags and other goods.

The building was packed with cardboards, plastic wrappings, garments, rexine, plastic toys and packaging items, aggravating the fire and resulting in dense smoke which suffocated the people trapped inside, they said.

India turned into rape capital: Rahul Gandhi

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 7: Amid nationwide outrage over the rape and murder of a 24-year-old in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao and other incidents of sexual atrocities across the country, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said the country has become the rape capital of the world.

Addressing a meeting of party workers in Sulthan Bathery in his constituency Wayanad, he came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his continued silence over the rape case in which a BJP legislator of Uttar Pradesh was allegedly involved. Gandhi said this on the last day of his three-day visit to Wayanad in north Kerala.

“India is known as the rape capital of the world. Foreign nations are asking a question of why India is unable to look after its daughters and sisters. A BJP legislator in Uttar Pradesh is involved in the rape of a woman and the Prime Minister did not say a single word about this,” he said.

“You have seen an increase in violence across the country, lawlessness, and atrocities against women. Every day we read about women being raped, molested and thrashed. There is violence against minority communities, hatred is being spread against them,” he said adding there was a reason behind people taking the law into their hands. Gandhi said the man running the country (Prime Minister Modi) believed in violence and indiscriminate power and it encouraged others to take up law into their hands.

The Congress leader’s remarks came amidst nationwide outrage over the rape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Telangana and murder of another woman in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. Four men accused of raping the doctor were killed in an encounter on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Friday. The Unnao victim who was set on fire succumbed to her burns on Saturday.

He said the alleged breakdown of institutional structures was leading to increasing lawlessness and violence in the country. “The world used to look towards India for direction but now they look at us and say the country does not know how to treat its women,” he said.

He said the country’s biggest strength used to be its economy but now it has turned the biggest weakness and the PM has no idea how to take the country forward. “The growth rate of the country is coming down drastically every week but nobody is concerned,” Gandhi said.

Justice must never take form of revenge: Chief Justice Bobde

NEW DELHI, Dec 7: Chief Justice of India S A Bobde on Saturday said that the justice system must reconsider its attitude towards laxity in disposing criminal matters and that the judiciary must be aware of the changes and perception about itself.

“Recent events in country have sparked off the old debate with new vigour. There is no doubt that criminal justice system must reconsider its position and attitude towards laxity and eventual time it takes to dispose off criminal matters,” Justice Bobde said at a function at the Rajasthan High Court.

Amid India’s massive backlog of cases pending in courts, Justice Bobde said the judiciary must remain committed to making justice accessible to people by strengthening the existing avenues and evolving newer means for affordable, quick and satisfactory settlement of disputes and also invoke self-correcting measures.

“Justice is never ought to be instant. Justice must never ever take the form of revenge. I believe justice loses its character when it becomes revenge. There is a need in the judiciary to invoke self-correcting measures but whether or not they should be publicised is a matter of debate,” he said.

He also advocated making pre-litigation mediation compulsory that could help avoid litigation altogether.

“We have to devise methods for not only speeding up litigation but all together preventing it. There are laws which provide for pre-litigation mediation,” he said.

Justice Bobe who took over as the CJI last month also referred to the unprecedented
press conference held by four senior most judges of the Supreme Court last year and described it as “a self-corrective measure”. On January 12, 2018, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurien Joseph -- had held a press conference, saying the situation in the top court was “not in order” and many “less than desirable” things had taken place. Later in the year, Gogoi succeeded the then CJI India Dipak Mishra.

“I believe the institution (judiciary) must correct itself and indeed it did during the time when the much-criticised press conference was held. It was nothing more than a self-corrective measure and I do not wish to justify it,” Justice Bobde said.

Day after set afire, Unnao gang rape victim dies at Delhi hospital

NEW DELHI, Dec 7: Unnao rape victim, who was set on fire on Thursday by five men including the two accused of gang raping her last December, died at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital around midnight on Friday, said sources at the hospital.

The 24-year-old woman was assaulted on Thursday in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao when on the way to a court to appear in the hearing of the rape case she had filed. She suffered 95% burns and was briefly treated at two state government hospitals before being airlifted to New Delhi late Thursday night.

The victim, who was on ventilator support, suffered cardiac arrest at 10 minutes past 11 pm on Friday night and was declared dead 30 minutes later at 11:40 pm, said hospital sources.

“Doctors tried to resuscitate her for almost 30 minutes but to no avail. She was declared dead at around 11.40 pm,” said hospital sources.

Her death follows her father expressing the fear the same day that she may not survive.

“My daughter’s condition is extremely critical, only God can save her now,” he had said and demanded that all the five men accused of burning her alive be killed in an encounter to serve her justice.

His daughter was on the way to a local railway station in Unnao to catch an early morning train to Rae Bareli for the court hearing when she was accosted by the accused at 4.30 am on Thursday and set afire.

In her statement given to subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Daya Shankar Pathak at the Unnao district hospital, the rape survivor said the men first hit her on the head and attacked her with a knife. As she fell, they poured petrol and set her on fire.

Covered in flames, she ran for a kilometre, begging for help from the locals. Some of them informed the police.

All the five men named by the victim--Shivam Trivedi, his cousin Shubham, Shivam’s father Hari Shankar Trivedi, uncle Ram Kishore Trivedi and Umesh Bajpai-- were arrested after the incident and sent to 14 days’ judicial custody on Friday. Shivam Trivedi and Shubham Trivedi are accused of gang raping the victim in December 2018.

Uncle of the rape survivor told police on Friday that he was being threatened by the relatives of the arrested accused.

Set on fire, UP gangrape survivor ran a kilometre seeking help

UNNAO, Dec 5: The Unnao rape survivor ran for almost a kilometre covered in flames on the stretch from Gaura town to the railway station in Unnao, shouting for help but the villagers branded her a witch on seeing her burnt skin.

She had to spend several minutes convincing the guard of a gas godown Ravindra Prakash Singh that she was not a witch.

“I was preparing fodder for my cattle when I heard faint screams coming from the direction of the road,” Singh said. “As she came nearer, I began shaking with fear, thinking she was a witch,” he added.

The woman pleaded with Singh to come forward and help her. “Mujhe bacha lo, meri madad karo, (Please save me, help me) she constantly repeated clutching a small purse in one hand and a cell phone in the other,” Singh said.

“They have tried to kill me, please help,” she told Singh, while disclosing the name of her father to him as well.

“I could see her body in flames...she must have covered a kilometre to get help,” he elaborated.

Singh said he doused the flames and immediately called the state’s emergency management services for help.

The woman insisted on speaking to the operator to whom she narrated the entire incident. “I put the phone closer to her face so that she could speak to the person on the other side,” he said.

Singh’s wife Sita Devi said she also came out when she heard the woman’s screams for help. “I turned numb on seeing her condition. I just heard her pleas for help and nothing thereafter,” she said.

The Unnao rape survivor was on her way to the court in connection with the rape case when she was attacked.

In her statement to the police, she said the men first hit her on the head and attacked her with a knife on the neck. As she slumped, they poured petrol and set her on fire.

Some people who were nearby came to her rescue. The accused escaped soon after.

Vikrant Veer, the Unnao Superintendent of Police said three of the five men named by the woman have been arrested. It includes the man who had allegedly raped her.

In her statement given to the police at the hospital the victim has said that she was going to the Baiswara Bihar railway station at around 4.30 am.

At the Gaura crossing, Hari Shankar Trivedi, Kishore, Shubham, Shivam, Umesh and two others accosted her.

When the woman had first reported rape by two men, the police had been able to arrest only one suspect. He was later released on bail. The second accused had been missing and tried to get a stay from the high court but wasn’t successful. The police have initiated proceedings to attach his property.

Govt is clueless on economy: Chidambaram

NEW DELHI, Dec 5: Former finance minister P Chidambaram on Thursday launched a scathing attack at the BJP-led national coalition’s handling of the economy, underscoring that the government had been unable to correctly diagnose the problems.

“If the diagnosis is wrong, the prescription will be useless, may be even fatal. Even after 7 months into the fiscal year, the BJP government believes that the problems faced by the economy are cyclical. The government is wrong. It is wrong because it is clueless,” Chidambaram told the media conference, his first after being released from Tihar jail last evening.

Chidambaram continued with his diagnosis in a 900-word statement.

“There is less demand among the people because they have less money and less appetite to consume due to uncertainty and fear. Unless demand increases, there will not be increased production and output or increased investment,” the former Union finance minister said.

The 74-year-old Congress leader, who described the economy as the most pressing and explosive issue of the day, was released on bail yesterday after 106 days in custody at Tihar jail in national capital Delhi.

Chidambaram was arrested on August 21 by the CBI for alleged irregularities in grant of approval to INX Media group receiving foreign funds in 2007. He got bail in October but by then, had already been arrested by a senior federal agency Enforcement Directorate on charges of money laundering.

The senior Congress leader walked out of jail late on Wednesday evening after the Supreme Court granted him bail.

His opening statement at the Congress headquarters on Thursday started with the situation in Kashmir where political leaders are still under detention. “Freedom is indivisible: if we must preserve our freedom, we must fight for their freedom,” he said.

Chidambaram, who was released by the Supreme Court on the condition that he doesn’t speak on the case against him, steered clear. But before he launched into a stinging critique of the economy, the former minister stressed that his record as a minister and “my conscience are absolutely clear”.

Listing out the quarterly GDP growth rates that dropped from 8% to 4.5% over the last six quarters, Chidambaram said the decline summed up the state of the economy.

The former minister said the economy could be brought out of the slowdown “but this government is incapable of doing that”. He said the Congress and some other parties were better equipped to pull the economy out of the slowdown and push economic growth. “But we have to wait for better times,” he said.

“The Prime Minister has been unusually silent on the economy. He has left it to his ministers to indulge in bluff and bluster. The net result, as The Economist put it, is that the government has turned out to be an ‘incompetent manager’ of the economy,” he said.

The government, he added, had been unable to look for the obvious clues because it is stubborn and mulish in defending its catastrophic mistakes like demonetisation, flawed GST, tax terrorism, regulatory overkill, protectionism, and centralized control of decision-making in the PMO.

“Government is calling the present slowdown ‘cyclical’. Thank god they have not called it ‘seasonal’. It is ‘structural’ and the government has no solutions or reforms that would address the structural problems,” he said.

Modi wanted us to work together, told him not possible: Sharad Pawar

MUMBAI, Dec 2: NCP chief Sharad Pawar has said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed “working together” but he rejected the offer.

Pawar said he made it clear to Modi that it won’t be possible for him to work together with the PM.

“Modi had offered me to work together. I told him that our personal relations are very good and they will remain that way but it is not possible for me to work together,” Pawar said in an interview to a Marathi TV channel on Monday.

Pawar dismissed reports that Modi government offered to make him India’s President. “But there was an offer to make Supriya (Sule) a minister in the Modi-led cabinet,” he added.

Supriya Sule is Pawar’s daughter and a Lok Sabha member from Baramati in Pune district.

Pawar had met Modi in Delhi last month amid dramatic developments over government formation in Maharashtra.

Modi has always praised Pawar and made it a point not to launch a vicious attack against him during the state election campaign.

Modi’s latest praise for Pawar came last month when he was speaking on the occasion of 250th session of the Rajya Sabha. Modi said other parties, including the BJP, should learn from the NCP on how to adhere to parliamentary norms.

In 2016, when Modi visited the Vasantdada Sugar Institute in Pune on an invitation from Pawar, he had praised the NCP chief as an example to others in public life.

“I have personal respect for Pawar. I was the Gujarat chief minister that time. He helped me walk by holding my finger. I feel proud to pronounce this publicly,” Modi had said.

Pawar also said not swearing in Ajit Pawar when Uddhav Thackeray took oath as CM on November 28 was a “conscious decision”, prompted by the NCP leader’s sudden support to Devendra Fadnavis, who became CM only to quit three day later after Ajit Pawar resigned as deputy CM.

Thackeray took over as chief minister over a month after Assembly poll results were declared on October 24.

“When I came to know about Ajit’s support (to Fadnavis), the first person I contacted was Thackeray. I told him what happened was not right and gave him confidence that I will crush this (Ajit’s rebellion),” Pawar said.

“When all in NCP came to know my support was not there for Ajit’s action, those five-ten (MLAs) who were with him, there was pressure on them,” he said.

The NCP chief said he is not aware if anyone in the (Pawar) family spoke (to Ajit Pawar to make him rethink his decision to back Fadnavis). “But all in the family felt what Ajit did was wrong,” he said.

“I later told him what he did was unpardonable. That anybody (doing so) will have to bear the consequences and you are no exception,” he said.

“At the same time there is a big section (in NCP) which has ‘asthaa’ (faith) in him... He gets things done,” Pawar said.

Nana Patole Belongs To Family Of Farmer, Will Give Justice To All: Uddhav Thackeray

NEW DELHI, Dec 1: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that newly-elected Speaker of the state Assembly Nana Patole will give justice to everyone as he belongs to the family of a farmer.

Congress MLA Nana Patole was elected unopposed as Maharashtra Assembly Speaker on Sunday after the BJP withdrew its candidature for the post. The BJP took the decision after an all-party meeting.

"Nana Patole has also come from a farmer family and I am very confident that he will give justice to everyone," Thackeray said while speaking in the Assembly.

While former chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said the party decided to withdraw the candidature for the Speaker's post agreeing to the request of other parties.

"We had nominated Kisan Kathore for the post of assembly speaker, but in the all-party meeting, other parties requested us and its has been a tradition that speaker is appointed unopposed, so we accepted the request and withdrew our candidate's name," Fadnavis said.

Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil announced the party's decision to take back the nomination of Kisan Kathore for the Assembly Speaker post after an all-party meeting in the morning.

Barely an hour after the announcement, pro-tem Speaker formally announced Patole's election as the Speaker in the House.

Pak's evil plan exposed: Amarinder Singh

CHANDIGARH, Dec 1: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday said Pakistan Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid’s disclosure that the Kartarpur Corridor was the brainchild of their Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had exposed Islamabad’s nefarious intent behind the initiative.

Even as he expressed serious concern over this admission by the Pakistani minister, the Chief Minister said that in validating his (Captain Amarinder’s stand) on the issue, Rashid had completely bared the wicked design of Pakistan behind the corridor, which India had hoped would emerge as a bridge of peace between the countries.

The Chief Minister also took strong exception to Rashid’s remarks that “the Corridor would hurt India, which would forever remember the wound inflicted on it by Gen Bajwa with the Kartarpur Corridor.” Terming it an open and blatant threat against India’s security and integrity, Captain Amarinder warned Pakistan not to attempt any misadventure.

“Don’t make the mistake of reading weakness in our gratitude for the opening of the Corridor,” warned the Chief Minister, asserting that India would give a befitting response to any bid by Pakistan to attack its borders or its people. Declaring that India would never let Pakistan fulfill its despicable ambitions against it, he said any such attempt by Islamabad would be met with retaliation of the kind that they would never be able to survive.

Captain Amarinder recalled that he had all along maintained that while he was extremely happy, as a Sikh, at the opening of the Corridor to enable access to Indian devotees to the historic Kartarpur Gurdwara, the threat it posed to our country could not be ignored. The Chief Minister had, in fact, been repeatedly urging caution over the matter, warning that Pakistan was trying to win the sympathies of the Sikhs by opening the corridor to further the ISI-backed Referendum 2020 agenda.

This had been quite evident from various facts, most notably that General Bajwa had disclosed the Pakistani decision to build the Corridor to then Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu at the time of Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony, said the Chief Minister.

“Imran had not even taken over then, yet their Army Chief had spoken about this to Sidhu. How was it possible unless Bajwa was the one behind the Corridor decision,” asked Captain Amarinder, recalling that he had pointed this out long back.

Given the revelation of the Pakistani minister, Captain Amarinder also urged Sidhu to be more cautious in his dealings with the Imran Khan government and not allow his personal friendship with the Pakistan Prime Minister cloud his judgment in any way, as that could be harmful to India’s interests.



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