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Pandits will return to Kashmir Valley with dignity: Ram Madhav

NEW DELHI, Jan 21: Having fulfilled its long-pending promise of negating Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that the next objective for the party is to ensure the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.

Large sections of the 400,000-strong Pandit community were forced to leave Kashmir in January 1990 following terror attacks and a secessionist movement spearheaded by extremist groups. Only a handful of Pandits live in the Valley now.

BJP’s national general secretary and in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav, said the transformation of the region after the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union terrirtories was underway and the process of return of Pandits to the Valley will begin only after consultations with the community leadership.

Madhav, who was seen as the architect of an unlikely alliance between the BJP and the Peoples Democratic Party that formed the government in the state in 2015, said his party was committed to the return of Pandits with “honour and security”.

“What the Kashmiri Pandits had to face in the last three decades is a very unfortunate phase, but the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir also passed through a similar phase for the last seven decades. Now, major transformation is happening and we are sure that this transformation will help all sections, including the Pandits,” he said. The BJP-PDP alliance broke in 2018 and the government fell shortly after.

While a section of KPs are demanding a separate homeland within the Valley, other community leaders have expressed apprehension about the plans for their resettlement, citing security concerns.

“When the BJP-PDP government was in power, it had initiated dialogue with the Pandit leadership with a view to explore ways for their return to the Valley. At that time, after two rounds of discussion, it was broadly decided that townships for them will be built in four or five locations across the Valley,” he said.

“No decision was arrived at on whether these would be exclusive or mixed townships, in any case the views of the Pandits would ultimately prevail,” he added.

But community organisations had a lukewarm response. “No consultations have been held with us; and even if they had come to us with the idea of staggered townships, we would have rejected it. We want single-place resettlement,” said Agnishekhar, a member of Panun Kashmir, an organisation of Pandits that demands a separate homeland.

JP Nadda takes over the reins of BJP

NEW DELHI, Jan 21: The transition that took place with Jagat Prakash Nadda’s elevation as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president will be closely watched for several reasons with the key among them being the selection of his new team and how the party will do in the assembly elections in Delhi next month and Bihar months later.

The term of Nadda’s predecessor, Amit Shah, who became the BJP’s youngest president, ended in January 2019. But he continued to hold the position as the organisational elections in the states, a prerequisite for the new national president’s selection, had not been concluded. The party under Shah saw a surge in its membership and made inroads into states like Assam beyond its traditional bastions. Shah wielded control and oversaw every aspect from the membership drive to the BJP’s election strategy.

Nadda’s role will be closely watched when the BJP is trying hard to fend off accusations of fostering polarisation. The protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the proposed National Register of Citizens and faltering economy are issues that confront the party. The issues are expected to have electoral ramifications in state elections in West Bengal and Bihar. The BJP hopes to wrest power from the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and to retain it with ally Janata Dal (United) in Bihar. The state elections are crucial for the party following a string of losses in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan in 2018 and Jharkhand last month.

Nadda, 59, will also have the task of building bridges with the allies, some of whom have made their differences public, particularly after the oldest ally, the Shiv Sena, ended its alliance with the BJP to form the government in Maharashtra with the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress last year.

“Working as a national president requires working with a broader perspective, and diverse regional political interest groups. The north is different from the northeast, the west from the south. So, that will be a challenge facing the new president,” said Milind Awad, a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

BJP functionaries HT spoke to said Nadda will bring with him organisational skills he honed first as the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) general secretary and later as a key BJP functionary in Himachal Pradesh. He will follow Shah’s template for growth, but will have a working style that will set him apart, they added.

“Nadda is a hard-working, patient and affable personality. He keeps a low profile, but is proficient in skills required for leading an organisation based on ideology yet still made up of diverse people. His style of functioning will not be overshadowed by that of his predecessors,” said a party leader familiar with Nadda’s style.

While comparisons are inevitable, party leaders said, they are expecting Nadda, who was first appointed as the party’s working president in June 2019, to continue the processes established by the “[Prime Minister Narendra] Modi-Shah duo”.

“It is the Prime Minister and Shah who galvanised workers and led the party to its current position. Nadda will complement the duo. It will be a successful troika. Modi with his mass appeal, Shah with his tough decision making and Nadda with his grip on organisational affairs will steer the party,” said a second functionary.

The reappointment of several state unit presidents, who were appointed during Shah’s tenure, is being perceived as an indication that his writ will continue to run.

BJP leader Murlidhar Rao said the party will make the most of the gains made under Shah and added there will be collaborative efforts between the old and the new guard to keep the party’s momentum going.

“Shah had a free hand for five years and it was under his watch that party won several state elections and the last [2019] Lok Sabha polls. For the new president, his...experience and tremendous know-how will be an added asset. He can reach out for advice and assistance and that will be the extent to which Shah’s influence will continue.”

Several leaders said that Nadda’s “man-management skills” and “cordiality” will prove advantageous. “He has a sharp mind, is a good listener and can work without creating waves…sometimes that is also necessary to bind people,” said the second functionary.

Nadda, who served as the Union health minister during Modi’s first term, belongs to a Brahmin family from Himachal Pradesh. He began his political career as a student leader in Bihar, where his father, N L Nadda, served as Patna University’s vice-chancellor.

According to Nadda’s biodata on the Rajya Sabha website, he was inspired by the Bihar students’ movement in 1974 (also called JP movement) before his association with the ABVP and BJP’s youth wing, which he also headed.

Nadda has a law degree from Himachal Pradesh. He was first elected to the Himachal Pradesh assembly from Bilaspur in 1993 and has served as a state minister too.

Mani Shankar takes a jab at Centre’s J&K outreach

NEW DELHI, Jan 21: Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has attacked the Centre over its massive outreach programme in Jammu and Kashmir and caught in the crosshairs were five Union ministers visiting the newly-created Union territory.

A team of 36 Union ministers are in Jammu and Kashmir from January 18 to attend government functions in different parts of the Union territory nearly six months after Article 370 of the Constitutional was scrapped in August last year.

And the five ministers who will travel to three districts of Kashmir from Tuesday were specifically on the target of the Congress leader known for making controversial statements.

“They are sending 36 Union ministers to Jammu and Kashmir. But look at these cowards, 31 are going to Jammu and only five to Kashmir,” Mani Shankar Aiyar said on Monday, according to news agency ANI.

He was addressing a gathering in Kerala’s Malappuram on the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

“And who are they going to talk in Kashmir? To the former chief ministers? They can’t. They are all in jail. Farooq Abdullah is in jail. Omar Abdullah is in jail. Mehbooba (Mufti) is in jail. Whom are they going to talk to?” Aiyar asked.

Union communications, electronics and information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, minister of state for defence Shripad Naik and minister of state for home affairs G Kishan Reddy are among the five who will attend eight government and public programmes for four days.

The office-bearers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have said that most of these programmes will be held to make people aware about Centre’s developmental schemes, initiated in J&K after the revocation of Article 370.

Aiyar also commented on the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the bifurcation of the erstwhile state.

“They are trying to create a political class. Political class grows from among the people. You cannot have a BJP that doesn’t have a single vote in the Valley coming up,” he said.

“Yes, there are traitors like the ones we are seeing now, but then in every society, there are traitors. These are not representatives of the people, if they were, they would have been elected many-many years ago…” the former lawmaker said.

“How many elections we have had in J-K? Some of these people are those who were elected and have now decided to betray the cause for which they stood,” he said.

Mani Shankar Aiyar also referred to the majority of the BJP in the Lok Sabha and said the ruling party was misusing the numbers.

“Immediately… these arrogant people, it just went to their heads. They said this is the golden opportunity. We are never going to get 303 seats again. Let us push through all the anti-Muslim legislation that we have in mind,” he alleged.

He also commented on the protests in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh.

“And why are they so frightened of going to Shaheen Bagh? For 34 days, they have been sitting there protesting against this attempt to divide India once again on religious grounds,” the Congress leader said.

Aiyar had waded into controversy while visiting Shaheen Bagh last week to express solidarity with those protesting against the CAA. He had addressed the protestors and made a veiled reference at the government, equating it to killers.

The BJP had demanded an apology from the Congress party for his remarks.

Andhra Pradesh Assembly passes bill to establish three capitals

AMARAVATI, Jan 21: The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly late on Monday night passed the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020 that intended to give shape to state government’s plan of having three capitals--executive capital in Visakhapatnam, legislative in Amaravati and judicial in Kurnool.

This was protested by hundreds of farmers and women in Amaravati region who defied prohibitory orders and broke security cordon to reach the state legislature complex. Caught off-guard, the police resorted to lathicharge to quell the crowd.

Even as the high drama was witnessed on the rear side of the complex, Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu led his TDP legislators on a foot march a few metres from the main entrance gate into the assembly. However, the TDP could not organise a siege of the assembly due to deployment of a strong posse of police force.

Meanwhile, 17 MLAs of the Telugu Desam Party were suspended from the assembly for disrupting Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s address on the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020.

The bill provides for dividing the state into various zones and establishing zonal planning and development boards. The village and (municipal) ward secretariats system that the government brought in October last year now gets statutory backing as it has been made part of the new bill.

Moving the bill in the assembly on the first day of the extended winter session, Finance and Legislative Affairs Minister Buggana Rajendranath said the government decided to enact a new legislation for decentralisation and inclusive development of all regions in the state for ensuring “balanced and inclusive growth”.

“Regional imbalances, absence of equitable growth have caused an acute sense of deprivation among various sections of the state population, leading to disturbances.

“The logical solution would be to lay emphasis on distributed development and decentralised administration to ensure that fruits of socio-economic progress are enjoyed equally by people of various regions,” the minister said, quoting the recommendations of a high-power committee which formed the basis of the new legislation.

The TDP members raised objection to the introduction of the bill and stormed the speaker’s podium. They also stormed the podium during Reddy’s address and raised slogans demanding that Naidu be allowed to continue with his address. They also raised ‘Jai Amaravati’ slogan during the address of the Leader of the House.

A visibly irritated Reddy asked the Speaker to call in the House Marshals to evict the opposition members. Legislative Affairs Minister Buggana Rajendranath then moved a motion for suspension of the 17 TDP MLAs, including deputy leaders K Atchannaidu and N China Rajappa. The motion was passed by voice vote.

Following this, marshals entered the House to evict the TDP members but the latter resisted, causing pandemonium. The marshals then forcibly evicted the protesting legislators from the House, after which the chief minister continued his address.

Naidu then joined his colleagues at the assembly gate and staged a sit-in.

Police claimed six of their personnel sustained injuries in stone pelting by the protesting farmers and others and said cases were being registered against those who defied the law.

As many as 5,000 police personnel, including several senior officers, were deployed for bandobust duties in view of the crucial three-day extended winter session of the legislature.

About 700 to 800 protestors, including a large number of women, from villages like Mandadam, Velagapudi and Tulluru ran across the barren fields and reached the rear periphery of the Legislature complex.

The protestors even jumped over barbed wire fences placed by the police at various spots and some stood waist-deep in the slushy water, holding placards and raising Save Amaravati slogans.

The Port city Visakhapatnam, which has the sobriquet City of Destiny, will soon become the Capital of the state if the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government overcomes the opposition in the Legislative Council and also possible legal hurdles.

Meanwhile, the government also moved another bill to repeal the AP Capital Region Development Authority Act, 2014.

The government said it intended to constitute a new Amaravati Metropolitan Region Development Area under the provisions of AP Metropolitan Region and Urban Development Authorities Act, 2016.

The CRDA Act was enacted on December 22, 2014 for the development of the state capital post-bifurcation with a specific area demarcated as the capital region.

Now that the YSR Congress government has decided to have three capitals for the state, the CRDA Act is proposed to be repealed.

Earlier in the day, the Cabinet met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and cleared the draft bills. The cabinet also approved the recommendations of the HPC on the capitals issue.

But the government could face hurdles in getting the bills cleared in the Legislative Council, which sits from Tuesday, as the ruling party does not have a majority.

Anurag Kashyap demands Narendra Modi’s father’s birth certificate

MUMBAI, Jan 12: With the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) coming into effect on January 10, Anurag Kashyap has raised his voice in protest once again. The filmmaker, who has been vocal against the CAA ever since it was passed by Parliament on December 11, has now launched a personal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his family.

The CAA facilitates non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan getting Indian citizenship.

Protesting against this on Twitter, Kashyap launched a personal attack on Modi. Tweeting in Hindi, he demanded proof that Modi was educated, and wanted to see his degree in “entire political science.”

Kashyap also said that Modi should show his birth certificate, along with that of his father and his entire family, to the nation, and only then could he ask for papers from citizens. The filmmaker used the hashtag #f**kCAA as a mark of protest.

In a tweet calling the government “dumb” and comparing CAA to demonetisation, the filmmaker shared: “This government will do dialogue if they know how to talk. They cannot face a single question that’s not been vetted, they don’t have a plan, they haven’t put out a system. This is a dumb government. Their CAA is like demonetisation. No plan. No vision. Just bullying. #f**kCAA.”

Actor Swara Bhasker also protested against the enforcement of CAA. Sharing the gazette notification issued by the Union Home Ministry that says the Citizenship Amendment Act has been brought into force from January 10, 2020, the acotr called it a “Black Day for India.”

‘Will be treated as terrorist’: J-K police on cop arrested with Hizbul members

SRINAGAR, Jan 12: The Jammu-Kashmir police on Sunday confirmed the involvement of one of its senior officers in terrorism and said that he will be dealt with “as a terrorist”. Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Davinder Singh was arrested along with three other persons on Saturday including Hizbul Mujahideen’s second-in-command , said Kashmir’s inspector general of police Vijay Kumar.

“This police officer has worked in many anti-terrorism operations but the way he was captured yesterday in which he was driving two-three militants in a vehicle to Jammu, it is a heinous crime. That is why we have treated him like other militants and arrested him properly and brought him on remand,” Kumar said.

Singh, who was captured with terrorists when he was travelling with them in a car on National Highway in south Kashmir, is being jointly interrogated by security agencies, said the police official.

The police, army, CRPF, IB, RAW, CID and other secret agencies were jointly interrogating him. Since, the issue is sensitive that is why we don’t want any loopholes in this,” said Singh.

Those arrested also include Hizbul Mujahideen’s second-in-command Naveed Babu who has been allegedly involved in the killings of civilians, including the non-local fruit traders and laborers in Kashmir.

Naveed Babu, a resident of south Kashmir, was a constable in police in 2017 and had fled with four rifles from Budgam in June that year, said the IG.

“After that he has been involved in many police and civilian killings. And last year many orchards were burnt and people were threatened. Till today 17 FIRs are registered against him And he is the Hizbul Mujahideen second in command after its chief Riyaz Naikoo,” Kumar said.

Vijay Kumar said that Singh has been a part of many anti-terrorism operations and was recently also involved with the security of a 15-member foreign envoys’ delegation who visited Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.

Asked about whether Singh’s involvement with security and receiving of foreign envoys was not a security breach, Kumar said, “At that time he was on a legal bona-fide duty and we did not know about his involvement. How could we stop him from duty at that time?”

Giving details of the operation, Kumar said that on Saturday SP Shopian got information that two terrorists have left from Shopian in an i-10 vehicle and were going towards Jammu National Highway. Singh said the SP then informed him and he directed the DIG south Kashmir to lay a checkpoint on the highway.

“He established a Naka and after searching the vehicle, he found two wanted terrorists. Along with the terrorists, he also found a deputy superintendent of police. Another person was there who is an advocate and in our list he is an over the ground worker of militants,” Kumar said.

Kumar said that the police searches are still underway at many places and also some hideouts have also been busted.

“A terrorist hideout was also busted in Shopian which was some 8 feet underground equipped with food and living facilities,” he said.

“This operation is a chain operation and we are getting many leads and launching subsequent operations. We can’t reveal more at this time,” added Singh.

The other two persons arrested from the car were Rafi Ahmad Rather, a resident of Shopian who is a Hizbul militant, and Ifan Shafi, an advocate of Shopian.

The IG also said that a case under FIR No 5/2020 and under section 7/25 Indian arms act, ¾ explosive substances act, section 18,19,20,38, 29 unlawful activities act has been registered.

Think about ‘our plural secular society’: Former SC Judge appeals amid anti-CAA protests

NEW DELHI, Jan 12: Former Supreme Court Judge, Justice J Chelameswar, former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi and Lt General (R) Harcharanjit Singh Panag and five other prominent personalities have made a joint appeal to citizens “to reflect on our current concerns, particularly about our plural secular society” in a statement released to celebrate 70-years of working of the Constitution.

The statement released on Sunday exhorts the citizens to “resolve to fulfil our Constitutional goals envisaged by Dr. Ambedkar and our forefathers as summed up in the Preamble”.

Justice J Chelameswar was one of the three Supreme Court judges who held an unprecedented press conference in January, 2018, to voice disagreements with the working of the then CJI Dipak Misra. His co-signatory, SY Quraishi is also a critic of the Modi government, who had recently hit out at the government’s move to introduce electoral bonds.

The statement says, time is right to “introspect” whether “TRUTH and NON VIOLENCE- the two values held very dear to the heart of the father of the nation, continue to inform our actions in the public sphere.”

The timing of the current statement is likely to draw attention as it comes amid violent protests and a fierce debate over Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). The opposition has accused the government of a conspiracy against the Muslims through the legislation, while the government has stoutly defended the legislation, calling the opposition campaign, a lie.

The statement is also signed by famous filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, actor Sharmila Tagore, former member of the planning commission Syeda Hameed, renowned musician TM Krishna and former UGC chairman Sukhdeo Thorat.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan was booked for sedition last year on the orders of a Bihar Court for writing an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with 48 other artists, expressing concern over incidents of mob lynching.

The statement goes on to ask: “Is the Constitution a mere administrative manual which enables elected governments to claim legitimacy for abuse of power, and allows the citizens to convert liberty into license disregarding rights of others?”

January 26 this year will mark the 70th anniversary of the Constitution of India coming into effect. The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into effect on 26 January 1950.

Masked men damage property, attack students in JNU campus

NEW DELHI, Jan 5: After violence erupted on campus on Sunday evening, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration said masked miscreants armed with sticks were roaming around inside the varsity, damaging property and attacking students. The administration has called in the police to restore law and order.

JNU registrar Pramod Kumar said in a statement, “This is an urgent message for the entire JNU community that there is a law and order situation on campus. Masked miscreants armed with sticks are roaming around, damaging property and attacking people. The JNU administration has called the police to maintain order.”

“This is the moment to remain calm and be on the alert.... Efforts are already being made to tackle the miscreants,” Kumar said.

“On the request of the JNU administration, police have entered JNU campus,” Delhi Police spokesperson Anil Mittal said.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday expressed shock and concern at the violence which erupted at the Jawaharlal Nehru University which left the university’s students union president Aishe Ghosh badly injured and bleeding. The chief minister also spoke to Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and urged him to direct the police to restore order at the varsity. “He has assured that he is closely monitoring the situation and taking all necessary steps,” Kejriwal said in a tweet.

“The violence in JNU against students and teachers is highly condemnable. Directed Delhi Police to take all possible steps in coordination with JNU administration to maintain law and order and take action against the perpetrators of violence,” L-G Anil Baijal wrote on Twitter.

Members of JNU students’ union and ABVP clashed on the university campus on Sunday evening. It reportedly happened during a public meeting organised by the JNU Teachers’ Association.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members however, have denied any involvement in Sunday’s violence, according to a statement by ABVP members. “Around 25 students have been seriously injured in this attack and there is no information as to the whereabouts of 11 students. Many ABVP members are being attacked in hostels and the hostels are being vandalized by leftist goons,” the ABVP said in a statement.

219 infants died at two Gujarat civil hospitals in December

AHEMEDABAD,Jan 5: As the Rajasthan government faces heat for the unprecedented number of infant deaths recorded from Kota's KJ Lone Hospital, the numbers from two of Gujarat’s civil hospitals, Rajkot and Ahmedabad, are more even more worrying, with 219 infant deaths in December alone.

GS Rathod, the superintendent of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital said that in the month of December alone, 455 newborns were admitted in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital of which 85 have died.

As soon as the news of deaths surfaced in media, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who belongs to Rajkot, refused to respond to reporters questions about these large number of deaths and walked off

According to the report, 134 infants deaths were reported in December in Rajkot civil hospital while in Ahmedabad civil hospital 85 deaths were reported in the same month. The report further added that in the last three months, 253 infants died in Rajkot civil hospital, which is the largest government hospital in Gujarat.

"There is no lack of facilities here, children from private hospitals and other government hospitals are sent to the government hospital in critical condition. Every month about 400 children are admitted to the hospital, out of which 80 percent children are treated well and are healthy," Rathod said.

A report also said that parents of most children who are admitted in the hospital are unhappy about the facilities, standard of doctors and blamed the negligence of hospital administration for these deaths.

Meanwhile, in Rajkot, Manish Mehta, Dean of Rajkot Civil Hospital confirmed that as many as 111 children have died in the month of December in the hospital. According to multiple reports, as many as 1,235 children have died in Rajkot in the year 2019 with December recording the highest deaths of new-born babies, while October witnessing the second-highest with 131 deaths.

Mehta said "As per official records, 71 infants died at Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Hospital in Rajkot in November and 87 in October last year." He said the rise in infant deaths at the hospital in December was mainly due to an increase in the number of referral patients with serious ailments.

As soon as the news of deaths surfaced in media, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who hails to Rajkot, refused to respond to questions about the number of deaths and walked off.

According to reports, here are many factors that have contributed to infant mortality, these deaths indicate a shortage of medical staff in government hospitals and the collapse of primary health care services in the state.

Reacting to the figures, state Health Minister Nitin Patel said the infant mortality rate is 30 per 1,000. "Every year 12 lakh infants are born. Of these, 30 out of every 1,000 infants die due to malnutrition, pre-mature delivery, or because the mothers are not able to reach hospital in time," the minister said.

Modi's constituency Varanasi was under Sec 144 for 359 days: Priyanka

VARANASI, Jan 2: Hours after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi tweeted, the district administration confirmed that Section 144 of CrPC remained imposed for 350 days (out of 365 days) in 2019 in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi.

“Yes, the city remained under Section 144 CrPC for about 350 days in 2019 for various events and incidents,” said a senior administrative official.

Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 authorises the executive magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area. According to the law, every member of such ‘unlawful assembly’ can be booked for engaging in rioting. Generally prohibiting public gathering, it is imposed in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger from an event that has the potential to cause trouble or damage to human life or property.

Priyanka had on Thursday tweeted, “On 359 out of 365 days in the year 2019, Section 144 was imposed in Varanasi town of the PM’s own constituency and he has the gall to say that people have nothing to fear?”

An administrative official said Section 144 was in place first due to general election held this year.

“Election schedule was announced last year in March. Soon after that model code of conduct became effective and with that Section 144 also became effective in the district. Model code of conduct ended after the formation of government at the centre in May and Section 144 was lifted,” said an official.

The officer said that Section 144 was implemented in the district again as a preventive measure during other events. It was enforced again in the last week of October as a preventive measure before the announcement of the verdict on Ayodhya matter.

“In all, Section 144 remained effective in the district for about 350 days,” said additional district magistrate (city) Vinay Singh.

100 Babies Die At Single Hospital In Rajasthan's Kota In A Month

KOTA, Jan 2: Addressing the death of 100 newborns at a state-run hospital in the town of Kota in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today said the alarming statistic is in fact an improvement over what the previous BJP government had recorded at the same hospital.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi today discussed the tragedy with Avinash Pandey, who is the chief of the Rajasthan Congress. He reported that Mrs Gandhi is "upset" and "wanted to know the reason of the deaths".

The state government in its report admitted that some of the incubators at the hospital used for newborns were not in proper working condition.

The committee, led by secretary medical education and senior doctors who visited the hospital on December 27 to investigate the matter, also pointed out that the extreme cold has made it tougher for babies, already fighting for their life, to survive their illnesses.

All the babies who died were admitted in the Intensive Care Unit. Most of the children were brought to the hospital in a critical condition, said Vaibhav Galeria, the Secretary of Medical Education, who headed the three-member team.

The hospital in Kota is about 250 kms from the state capital of Jaipur. Chief Minister Gehlot today tweeted: "Govt cites figures to say child casualties in JK Lon Hospital in Kota have reduced to 963 this year from 1260 in 2015 and 1193 in 2016 when the state was ruled by BJP. In 2018, 1005 children lost their lives here".

On December 27, the team led by the state's Medical Education Secretary. found lapses in the incubation unit of the neonatal unit. The units were not working properly, and the hospital placed two infants into one incubator due to the shortage.

"We are saddened by this, our responsibility is to give clinical support, several children were brought with critical ailments. BJP can audit if they want, we saved all the children who were in condition to be saved," Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma said.

"The children have not died because of a single factor. The extreme cold weather is also perhaps an added reason for the sudden spike in deaths as extreme weather affects neo-natals adversely, especially those who are low birth weight," read the report of the three-member committee appointed by the Chief Minister.

The Congress government is under attack over the Kota tragedy from political opponents like Yogi Adityanath and Mayawati

Assuring all support to the state, Union health minister Harshvardhan said the Centre is sending a high-level team that would include experts from AIIMS Jodhpur. "It will reach #Kota tomorrow," he tweeted. He, however, said the number of deaths is "definitely higher this time compared to last few years".

Chief Minister Gehlot tweeted: "I telephoned Central Health Minister @drharshvardhan ji and requested him to visit #Kota personally so that he can see the best of facilities and proper management by State Health Department and get himself apprised of the facts."



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