Indian Govt wakes up after giving 'Evasive Reply' on Aarogya Sethu app
NEW DELHI, Oct 28: The Aarogya Setu app was developed in the most transparent manner with public-private collaboration in record time to fight the coronavirus, the government said today, in a detailed clarification after reports that ministries denied any knowledge of who created the app. The names of those associated with the app were already in the public domain, it asserted.
"The Aarogya Setu app was developed in a record time of around 21 days, to respond to the exigencies of the Pandemic with Lockdown restrictions only for the objective of building a Made in India Contact Tracing App with the best of Indian minds from Industry, Academia and Government, working round the clock to build a robust, scalable and secure app," said the government.
The clarification came after it emerged earlier today that the government had been served notice by the Central Information Commission for what it called "evasive answers" on who created the contact tracing app that the government pushed as an essential tool in the fight against the coronavirus.
Aarogya Setu's website says it was developed by the National Informatics Centre and the Information Technology ministry but according to the Central Information Commission, various ministries and departments had given "evasive answers" to a Right to Information (RTI) query on who created the Aarogya Setu app.
"Denial of information by authorities cannot be accepted," the top RTI body said in its notice, calling it "extremely preposterous".
The notice questioned why the government should not face action for "prima facie obstruction of information" and giving an "evasive reply".
Activist Saurav Das had complained to the information commission that various ministries failed to provide details like how the app was proposed and approved; the companies, individuals and government departments involved; and copies of mails between private persons who helped develop the app.
The National Informatics Centre reportedly said that the "entire file related to creation of the app is not with NIC". The IT ministry transferred the query to the National e-Governance Division, which said: "The information sought is not related to (our division)."
In its clarification, the government said it was announced through press releases and social media posts on April 2 that the Aarogya Setu app was launched in public private partnership mode "to bring people of India together in its fight against the virus". The names of all those associated with app was shared when the source code was released in the public domain, it said.
The statement said the app had been downloaded by more than 16 crore users and "has greatly augmented the efforts of front line health workers in the fight against COVID-19". It also flagged that the app's role had been appreciated by the World Health Organisation.
"There should be no doubt with regard to the Aarogya Setu app and its role in helping contain the COVID-19 pandemic in India," said the statement.
Govt failed to honour Constitution, democracy passing through its most difficult phase: Sonia Gandhi
NEW DELHI, Oct 18: Accusing the government of “demolishing” the economy, pushing the country into an “abyss” due to poor management of the coronavirus pandemic, and failing to “honour” the Constitution, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday said the Indian democracy was passing through its “most difficult phase”.
Presiding over a meeting of AICC General Secretaries and state-in-charges for the first time after a major organisational reshuffle last month, Gandhi also attacked the Centre over the “anti-agriculture” farm laws and atrocities against Dalits.
Gandhi claimed there was a “designed attack” on the Constitution and democratic traditions and that the country’s democracy was passing through its “most difficult phase”.
Citing the contentious farm laws, Gandhi said the country was being ruled by a government that was “systematically handing over the rights of citizens to a handful of crony capitalists.”
A “conspiracy” has been hatched to defeat the gains of the “green revolution”, she alleged. “Lives and livelihoods of crores of farm labourers, leasehold farmers, small and marginal farmers, toiling labourers and small shopkeepers are under attack. It is our solemn duty to join hands to defeat this sinister conspiracy,” she said.
The three farm bills — the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 — were passed by Parliament recently. Subsequently, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the bills.
The Congress, many other opposition parties and several farmers organisations have been protesting against these legislations, claiming that these would harm the interests of farmers and benefit corporates, a claim denied by the government. The Centre has asserted that these new laws would be beneficial for farmers and increase their income.
In her opening remarks at the meeting, Gandhi took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre’s handling of the coronavirus crisis in the country. “The stark truth is that a prime minister who promised to defeat corona within 21 days has abdicated his and his government’s responsibility towards the citizens,” she said.
“All this happened as we witnessed the biggest unplanned and cruel migration of crores of migrant labourers as the government remained a mute spectator to their miseries. There is neither a plan nor strategic thinking, solution or a way ahead in the fight against the pandemic,” she added.
Speaking on the slump in GDP growth, Gandhi claimed that the government had simultaneously “demolished” the economy, built painstakingly by the hard work of fellow Indians and the vision of successive Congress governments.
“Never has the country witnessed such a free-fall in GDP as also all other economic indices. Today, the young have no jobs. Nearly 14 crore jobs have been lost. Small and medium businesses, small shopkeepers and other small enterprises are shutting at an unprecedented pace, yet an uncaring government remains a mute spectator,” the Congress president said.
She also accused the government of failing to honour its Constitutional responsibilities, saying the share of GST compensation was being denied to states. In a sharp retraction of its earlier position, the Finance Ministry last week said the Centre would borrow from the market to pay the GST compensation shortfall of Rs 1.1 lakh crore to states.
“How will the state governments help our people, if the government of India was to renege on its Constitutional obligations? This must be a first example of economic anarchy being spread by the central government,” Gandhi said.
In an apparent reference to the death of a 19-year-old Dalit girl, who was allegedly gangraped by four upper caste men in UP’s Hathras, Gandhi said the atrocities against Dalits had reached a “new zenith”.
“Instead of honouring the law and granting adequate protection to India’s daughters, the BJP governments are siding with criminals. The voice of oppressed families is being suppressed by the agencies of the state. Is this the new “Raj Dharma’?” she asked.
She exhorted the general secretaries and state in-charges to take on these challenges and stand with the people, saying this is what defines the Congress organisation.
“I am confident that all of you would toil hard and stand up to the forces attacking India and its people. Let us join hands to defeat the anti-democracy and autocratic designs of the ruling BJP,” she said.
“Persistent and determined struggle for the cause of people is the heart and soul of Indian National Congress. Even today, dedicated service of fellow citizens and determined fight against the injustice, inequity and discrimination in all spheres is the guiding light for every Congress men and women,” Gandhi said.
Modi Suggests Developing Vaccine Delivery System Like Elections
NEW DELHI, Oct 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting on Saturday to review arrangements for the delivery and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine - when one is made available.
Pointing to India's successful conduct of national elections, the Prime Minister suggested that vaccine distribution should involve state and UT governments and civil society organisations, and have a strong IT backbone that will boost India's healthcare system.
He also called for "speedy access" to the vaccine for all members of the population and directed officials to keep in mind the "geographical span and diversity of the country" when planning logistics.
According to a statement by the government, the Prime Minister said every step in the process had to be rigorously tested, and had to include planning for cold storage of vaccine doses, mechanisms to monitor vaccination clinics, and the preparation and stockpiling of ancillary equipment like syringes.
A National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) is working in consultation with states and UTs, as well as all relevant stakeholders, to prepare a detailed blueprint for the storage, distribution and administration of the Covid vaccine, the government said.
Earlier this month Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, who attended today's meeting along with senior government officials, said the government planned to vaccinate around 25 crore people - primarily front line health workers - by July 2021.
This is the second such meeting the Prime Minister has led in the past 48 hours and comes after the Health Ministry reported an "unprecedented" achievement this morning - that active Covid cases in the country dropped below eight lakh for the first time in 46 days.
India has logged over 74 lakh Covid cases since the pandemic began in China in December last year.
The country continues to record tens of thousands of new cases per day - over 62,000 were reported in the past 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry. However, the number of people recovering from the infection was higher - over 70,000.
The Prime Minister focused on vaccine delivery in Thursday's meeting as well, taking stock of mechanisms for adequate procurement, and technologies for stockpiling of vaccine doses.
Three potential vaccines are in advanced stages of development in India, of which two are in Phase II and the other - Covishield, which was developed jointly by the University of Oxford and pharma giant AstraZeneca - is in Phase III.
Last month hospitals in Mumbai and Pune began advanced human trials of Covishield, which (if proven successful) will be manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume.
Centre must not see J&K parties as anti-national: Chidambaram
NEW DELHI, Oct 16: A day after the mainstream political parties of Jammu and Kashmir came together to form People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration for the restoration of the special status of the erstwhile state J&K, Congress leader P Chidambaram welcomed the alliance. The Centre must not see the political parties of J&K as secessionist or anti-national, the senior Congress leader said in a series of tweets on Friday.
“The coming together of mainstream regional parties of J&K to fight a constitutional battle to restore the rights of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh is a development that must be welcomed by all the people of India,” Chidambaram tweeted.
“The Congress also resolutely stands for restoration of the status and rights of the people of J&K. The arbitrary and unconstitutional decisions of the Modi government of August 5, 2019 must be rescinded,” he added.
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah on Thursday announced the alliance which will strive for the constitutional position in respect of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed before August 5 last year. The National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Peoples Conference, the Awami National Conference and the CPI (M) are part of this new formation.
It is not the coming together of the National Conference and the PDP — the two families that held sway over the erstwhile state, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said. “Gupkar Declaration is an amalgamation of NC, PDP, PC, CPI(M), ANC & JKPM jointly striving to restore the rights & dignity of people of J&K The greatest disservice would be reducing it to PDP/NC or two political families,” Mehbooba tweeted on Thursday.
I’m Modi’s Hanuman, will tear open my chest and show if needed: Chirag Paswan
PATNA, Oct 16: Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan on Friday showered praises on the prime minister and said that he does not need to use Modi’s photos for his party’s campaign in the upcoming Assembly elections in Bihar as ‘his prime minister resides in his heart’.
“I don’t need to use PM Modi’s photos for campaigning. He lives in my heart, I am his Hanuman. If needed, I’ll tear open my chest and show it,” LJP chief Chirag said.
The remarks by Chirag were in response to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s party, which has accused LJP of using Modi’s pictures for campaign, signalling widening rift with its former NDA ally in the state as the political battle heats up. The 37-year-old leader and son of LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan has constantly targeted Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) ahead of the polls.
In his previous attack, Chirag had said that Nitish Kumar needs to put photos of the Prime Minister. “Our thinking aligns with that of the Prime Minister. We share a relationship of heart,” Paswan said during video conferencing with LJP candidates for Bihar polls.
LJP, which has opted out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar, has decided to put up candidates on seats contested by JD(U).
Bihar Assembly polls would be held in three phases - October 28, November 3 and November 7, and vote counting will be on November 10.
Top J&K Leaders Form Alliance For Article 370
SRINAGAR, Oct 15: The key political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir -- including National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah, his arch-rival Mehbooba Mufti of the People's Democratic Party and Sajjad Lone -- came together this evening to fight for the restoration of Article 370 and resolution of Kashmir.
The freshly minted "People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration" comes more than a year after the Centre ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under the constitution and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories.
Most of the political leaders in Kashmir Valley have been in custody for long -- it was part of the preventive measures against backlash taken by the Centre last August, a day before making the huge announcement in parliament.
Abdullah, 82, was released in March, days before the countrywide lockdown was announced. Mehbooba Mufti was released on Tuesday.
"Our battle is a constitutional battle, we want the Government of India to return to the people of the state the rights they held before 5th August 2019," Abdullah said. "We shall struggle for restoration of what was snatched from Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh," he added.
Abdullah also said the alliance seeks a dialogue between all stakeholders for resolution of Kashmir.
The National Conference chief had convened the meeting at his home to chalk out the future course of action on "Gupkar Declaration" with regard to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Gupkar Declaration was signed on August 4, 2019, after an all-party meeting at the Gupkar Road residence of Abdullah. It marked a resolution of attending regional parties and the Congress to protect Jammu and Kashmir's special constitutional status and fight against any move to dilute it.
Two days later, the Centre ended the special status of the state granted under the Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.
This August, the political parties had met again, and vowed to fight for restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
20 killed as heavy rains lash Hyderabad and suburbs, 10 die in Andhra
HYDERABAD, Oct 14: Unprecedented torrential rain that wreaked havoc in Hyderabad and its suburbs in the last 24 hours claimed at least 17 lives and threw normal life out of gear.
In other areas in Telangana, another three people died in a house collapse incident in Nagarkurnool district. In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, too, heavy rains resulted in the death of 10 people in different parts of the state.
As many as nine people including three children were killed and four others injured in two separate incidents of wall collapse at Bandlaguda in the old city of Hyderabad late on Tuesday.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Falaknuma, MA Majeed said that eight people died when huge granite slabs of a compound wall and a few boulders fell on around 10 houses in Mohammadia Hills at Bandlaguda at around 11 pm. One more person died in another wall collapse incident at Phool Bagh Colony, in the same locality.
“Four people sustained serious injuries and are undergoing treatment at Owaisi Hospital,” the ACP said.
The GHMC Disaster Management Wing personnel with the assistance of the local police and residents pulled out the bodies from the debris. Several teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were also pressed into service to help the GHMC to remove the debris and check if there were any survivors.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi, who visited Bandlaguda area to supervise the rescue operations, tweeted that nine people were killed in the various wall collapse incidents.
In Gagan Pahad area on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru national highway, three members of a family died in another incident of house collapse. At Ibrahimpatnam, on the outskirts of the city, a woman and her 15-year-old daughter died after the roof of their old house collapsed on them.
A physician died of electrocution, when he was trying to drain out water from his clinic in Banjara Hills on Wednesday morning.
There were reports of two people getting washed away in flash floods at Mylardevpally in Falaknuma area, but there was no confirmation from the police.
At Kummera village of Nagarkurnool district, three people of the same family died when the roof their old house collapsed on them when they were asleep in the early hours of Wednesday. Two others managed to escape with minor injuries, the police said.
Capital city Hyderabad received unprecedented rainfall in the last 24 hours. The intensity of the rainfall increased after 6 pm and went on battering the city all through the night.
According to a bulletin from the State Disaster Management Authority, Singapore township area on the outskirts of city received the maximum of 30.6 cm of rain in a span of 12 hours till 10 pm. The South Hastinapuram area received 28.3 cm of rain till 1 am. The other areas of the city reported rainfall ranging from 11.5 cm to 20.5 cm.
Water level in Hussain Sagar Lake in the middle of the city crossed the full tank level on Tuesday evening and started overflowing on to the city roads. At 6 pm, the water level at Hussain Sagar was recorded at 513.59 meters against the FTL of 513.41 m.
Former J-K CM Mehbooba Mufti released
JAMMU, Oct 13: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti was released on Tuesday, after being detained for more than a year ahead of the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and being charged under the Public Safety Act (PSA), an official said.
“PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti is being released from detention,” Rohit Kansal, said Jammu and Kashmir administration spokesperson, said.
The news of the PDP chief’s release was confirmed on her Twitter handle, which is being handled by her daughter Iltija. “As Ms Mufti’s illegal detention finally comes to an end, I'd like to thank everybody who supported me in these tough times. I owe a debt of gratitude to you all. This is Iltija signing off. May Allah protect you,” Mufti’s daughter said.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration had extended her detention by three months in July. Mufti’s release came two weeks after the Supreme Court asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration if the former chief minister’s detention under PSA can be extended beyond a year and, if so, “how long do you propose to extend it”. The bench had fixed the next date of hearing on Thursday.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah welcomed Mufti’s release. “I’m pleased to hear that @MehboobaMufti Sahiba has been released after more than a year in detention. Her continued detention was a travesty & was against the basic tenets of democracy. Welcome out Mehbooba,” Omar Abdullah tweeted.
Omar Abdullah, who along with his father Farooq Abdullah, was also among the hundreds of political leaders who were detained hours before the Centre moved Parliament to scrap Article 370, divided the state into two Union Territories and imposed restrictions in the Kashmir Valley in August last year. Omar, also a former chief minister, was released on March 25 and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah was released on March 13.
Mufti was first detained under Sections 107 and 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and later booked under the Public Safety Act. She was lodged at Cheshma Shahi guest house and then shifted to another government guest house at MA Link Road in Srinagar. The PDP president was then taken to her residence where she remained under house arrest.
Iltija had challenged her mother’s detention in the Supreme Court, which last heard the case on September 29.
‘Shocked, surprised’: Sharad Pawar writes to Modi over Maharashtra guv’s letter to Thackeray
MUMBAI, Oct 13: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s letter to the state’s chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, saying he was “shocked and surprised” at the language used.
Governor Koshyari had written to Thackeray on Monday regarding the reopening of places of worship in the western state. Pawar, who is an ally of Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, talked about the “intemperate language” used by Koshyari.
“In the very Preamble of our Constitution the word ‘secular’ is added that equates and shields all religions and hence the Chair of the Chief Minister must uphold such tenets of the Constitution. Unfortunately Hon. Governor’s letter to the Chief Minister invokes the connotation as if written to the leader of a political party. I firmly believe that in a democracy, free exchange of views between the Hon. Governor and the Hon. Chief Minister must take place,” Pawar said in his letter to Modi.
“However the tone and tenor used must always be in keeping with the stature of the constitutional post occupied by the individuals. Looking at the turn of events the Chief Minister in fact was left with no option but to release his reply to the Hon Governor in the press. I fully endorse the decision of the Hon.Chief Minister on this issue,” he said.
The NCP leader said he has not discussed this matter either with the Koshyari or Thackeray, however, he felt that “I must share my pain with you and the public at the erosion of standards of conduct by the high constitutional office of the Hon. Governor.”
Pawar also added the governor’s letter to Thackeray in his letter to PM Modi. “You have been a strong votary of Hindutva. You had publicly espoused your devotion for Lord Rama by visiting Ayodhya after taking charge as Chief Minister. You had visited the Vitthal Rukmini Mandir in Pandharpur and performed the puja on Ashadhi Ekadashi,” Koshyari had said. “I wonder if you are receiving any divine premonition to keep postponing the reopening of the places of worship time and again or have you suddenly turned ‘secular ‘ yourselves, the term you hated?” the governor had asked.
Thackeray responded to Koshyari’s letter on the issue said he does not need a “certificate” on Hindutva from the governor and that his Hindutva does not permit him to welcome a person who called Mumbai ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’.
The last bit in Thackeray’s letter was an apparent reference to Koshyari’s meeting with Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut in September after she was criticised by many Maharashtra politicians for comparing Mumbai with PoK. Ranaut had made the comment criticising Mumbai Police for its investigation into actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
CBI to probe Hathras gang rape case
NEW DELHI, Oct 10: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will take over the investigation into the alleged gang rape and murder of the 19-year-old Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, the crime which has sparked protests and outrage across the country, the Centre said in a notification on Saturday.
Officials familiar with the development said the central agency is likely to register a first information report (FIR) by late on Saturday night or early on Sunday. CBI will re-register the FIR filed by the state police and then begin investigations according to procedure, they added. CBI will only investigate the case pertaining to alleged gang rape and death of the Hathras woman, the officials said.
The agency won’t take over probe into UP government’s case registered to investigate alleged criminal conspiracy to spread caste conflict, instigating violence, incidents of vicious propaganda by sections of media and political interests, officials told HT.
The Yogi Adityanath government, which has been criticised over the handling of the crime, had recommended a CBI probe last week even as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dismissed the protests by opposition as “political stunts”.
The order came two days after a non-government organisation (NGO) moved the Supreme Court seeking to transfer the probe in the crime to CBI.
The woman was allegedly raped by four upper caste men on September 14 and was referred to Safdarjung Hospital in an extremely critical condition. She died two weeks later on September 29.
Meanwhile, the family members of the woman will appear before the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court amid tight security on Monday. “The district administration and police are drafting a plan for the journey of the victim’s family to Lucknow so that they may appear before the court on October 12. Finer details are being worked out and it is to be decided when to leave Hathras for Lucknow and how many security personnel would accompany the family members,” Hathras’ superintendent of police said.
Shalabh Mathur, a senior police official, said elaborate security cover has been provided to the family in Hathras and a register is being maintained at the entrance of their house to keep a record of those visiting them. “Eight CCTV cameras have been installed and a small control room has been established to monitor the proceedings and movement of those reaching to house. A DFMD (Door Framed Metal Detector) has been installed and measures for fire fighting are also in place,” Mathur, a DIG sent to Hathras and camping there since Monday, said.
The district and sessions judge of Hathras has been appointed as the nodal officer for the appearance of the Hathras victim’s family member before the high court, which is also to be apprised of the arrangements being made. Senior authorities from Hathras are also expected to attend the proceedings on October 12.
Republic TV’s CFO doesn’t appear in fake TRP case; police summon CEO, 2 others
MUMBAI, Oct 10: The crime branch of Mumbai Police on Saturday issued summons to Republic TV’s chief executive officer (CEO) and two Chief Operating Officers (COO) for questioning in the fake TRP racket case, an official said.
Earlier in the day, Republic TV’s chief finance officer Shiva Subramaniyam Sundaram and another official Ghanshyam Singh chose to not appear before the probe team saying that the news channel has approached to Supreme Court.
CEO Vikas Khanchandani and COOs Priya Mukharjee and Hersh Bhandari have been now asked to remain present before the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai crime branch on Sunday, a senior police officer told PTI.
Two officials of Republic Media Network (Sundaram and Singh) did not comply with the summons, citing a petition filed in the Supreme Court, but there has been no order from the apex court not to investigate the case, the latest summons said.
Since these two persons also mentioned in their reply that the company had advised them not to appear before police, “it is necessary to record your statement in this regard”, the summons to the CEO and two others said.
While CFO Sundaram did not appear, the police recorded the statement of Madison World and Madison Communications chairman Sam Balsara on Saturday, an official said.
Balsara was at the crime branch office for more than eight hours, he said, adding that statements of accountants of Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi TV were also recorded.
Sundaram, in his reply to the summons issued to him on Friday, claimed that a hearing before the apex court is scheduled within a week.
The CIU of the crime branch is investigating a fake Television Rating Points (TRP) racket.
On Thursday, the police had arrested four persons including owners of Marathi channels Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema in the case.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had claimed that three channels including Republic TV manipulated the TRP.
The racket came to light when the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an organization which measures TRP, filed a complaint in this regard through Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd, the police said.
Mumbai cops summon CFO Republic TV in TRP racket
MUMBAI, Oct 9: The Mumbai Police has summoned the chief financial officer (CFO) of Republic TV, Shiva Sundaram, the founder, chairman and managing director of Madison World, Sam Balsara, and the CEO of IPG Mediabrands, Shashi Sinha, to record their statements in connection with the TRP-fixing racket they claim to have busted.
“They have been called to record their statement under section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” said joint commissioner of police (Crime), Milind Bharambe. Calls and text messages to Shiva Sundaram of Republic TV remained unanswered.
Sinha and Balsara, both top media planners and buyers, have likely been called as experts.
“Mumbai Police has called me to be present at their office. I have no idea regarding what they have called me or what they will ask me. So, I cannot say anything as of now. I will go and meet them tomorrow,” said Sinha.
Sam Balsara said: “I am a client of BARC. Mumbai police has requested my help to aid the investigation which I am happy to do.”
BARC stands for Broadcast Audience Research Council. On Thursday, Mumbai Police said it arrested a former executive for Hansa Research, contracted by BARC to run its audience measurement service by installing barometers in households across the city. They also arrested three others, including two owners of small local channels.
In a press conference on Thursday, Mumbai Police named Republic TV, which denied the charges and said it would sue the police. Republic also showed on its channel a copy of the FIR that names not it but India Today TV. Republic TV said it was being targeted for its pursuit of the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.
The four arrested, Vishal Bhandari, Bompalli Rao Mistry alias Sanjiv Rao, 44, and owners of Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema channels Shirish Shetty and Narayan Sharma were produced before the court on Friday, and remanded to police custody till October 13.
Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh said there was no evidence against India Today. “Hansa Research Private Limited conducted an internal inquiry of arrested accused Vishal Bhandari, after they received a complaint stating that he was paying several households to tune into certain channels. India Today’s name came during their internal enquiry based on which an FIR was filed at Kandivali police station on October 6. We took Bhandari’s custody and have recorded the statements of witnesses and we have not found any evidence to substantiate the claim that India Today was involved in manipulating TRPs,” said Singh.
TRPs or television rating points are a reflection of how many people watch a channel and is used by media buyers and planners to decide which channels they will advertise in.
Bhandari has named only three channels Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and Republic Bharat TV till now, said a crime branch officer who asked not to be named. According to Hansa Research , approximately 30,000 barometers are installed across India to monitor various channels and programmes based on which BARC awards ratings to channels. Of the 30,000, 2,000 barometers are installed in Mumbai .
Nitin Deokar, deputy general manager of Hansa Research Private Limited who filed the complaint at Kandivali police station, said in it that Bhandari was working as a relationship manager with the firm from November 2019 to May 2020. These relationship managers were tasked with overseeing a certain number of households with barometers. Deokar in his complaint stated that during an internal inquiry they found that Bhandari used to pay households to watch India Today.
“But during inquiry, we did not find any evidence. And when we visited the residence of Tajal Solanki in Kandivali area where a barometer was installed, we found that India Today was not subscribed at all. During the inquiry, Solanki and a senior citizen in her residence told us that they were asked to watch Republic TV,” added the crime branch officer.
Ten ‘Modi made crises’ that India could have avoided: Congress
NEW DELHI, Oct 9: The Congress on Friday focussed on 10 moves taken by the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government during the coronavirus pandemic, including the lockdown and the three farm laws, which the opposition party said could have been avoided.
“10 Modi made crises that could have been avoided but have instead devastated our nation. #BJPseNaHoPayega,” the grand old party posted on Twitter along with a video. In a one-minute clipping, the Congress slammed the government for India being on the spot in terms of Covid-19 tally, ‘ill-planned” lockdown decision, farms laws and “lying” on Chinese intrusion in Ladakh.
Among others issues, the Congress targeted the government over the migrant workers’ crisis, scams amid the pandemic, Covid-19 relief package, passing of bills without discussion in the Rajya Sabha, allowing gross violations of human rights in Uttar Pradesh and lying about data related to migrants, Covid-19 and jobs. The party added that the list goes on and on.
Here’s a look at some of Congress’ key allegations against the Modi government
1. Ill-planned 8 pm lockdown
The Sonia Gandhi-led party slammed the government for suddenly announcing the 21-day nationwide lockdown on March 24 when the coronavirus disease had claimed 12 lives and there were more than 500 confirmed cases in the country. Prime Minister Modi had stated that a shutdown was the only way to break the chain of infections.
The Congress has time and again slammed the move as “ill-planned” saying that the government did not take into consideration the plight of migrants and daily-wage workers. It had also called the lockdown a “pause” and not a solution for the crisis at hand.
2. Migrant workers’ crisis
The grand-old party also took note of the migrant workers’ crisis as scores of them across states had to walk back on foot to their home states as no transport was available during the initial days of the lockdown. Former party president Rahul Gandhi also met some migrants in Delhi in May. In a video, the migrants were seen saying that more than the coronavirus, hunger is hurting them and that is why they were not afraid of getting killed on the roads.
3. Scams amid pandemic
In the video on Friday, the party accused the government of leading scams amid the pandemic but did not reveal any details about the claim it made in this regard. It was an apparent reference to senior Congress leader and former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah’s allegation that the BJP government in the state was involved in a Rs 2,200 crore scam related to the purchase of Covid-19 related equipment.
4. Lied on Chinese intrusion
The Congress had earlier too attacked the Centre over the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) intrusion amid an ongoing border standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. A row had erupted over a defence ministry statement on August 4 that acknowledged that the Chinese army had transgressed into multiple areas in the sensitive sector but was taken down two days later.
5. Jumla relief package for the economy
The Congress renewed its attack on the Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package that the government launched in view of the coronavirus crisis. Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram had earlier said, “There is nothing in what the finance minister said for the lakhs of poor, hungry and devastated migrant workers who have walked — and many thousands are still walking — back to their home states. This is a cruel blow dealt to those who toil every day,”
6. Black farm bills that will destroy farmers, benefit crony capitalists
Days after concluding several tractor rallies in Punjab and Haryana, the Congress again accused the Modi government of passing “black farm bills” during the monsoon session of Parliament. The party was referring to The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Act, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, which were cleared in the Rajya Sabha amid a ruckus by the Opposition parties that the bills were passed without voting.
7. Gross violations of human rights in UP
In an apparent reference to the gang-rape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman by four “upper caste” men in UP’s Hathras district, the Congress has alleged the government has allowed gross violations of human rights in the state. This comes after the victim died last week in a Delhi hospital and her body was cremated by the UP police at 2:30am the following day against the wishes of her family members, who were allegedly locked inside their home and were being threatened. A Congress delegation, including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, met the victim’s family members and assured them of support in seeking justice for their daughter.
Karnataka court directs police to book Kangana Ranaut over her ‘anti-farmer’ tweet
BENGALURU, Oct 9: A local court in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district on Friday directed the police to book Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut over her tweet allegedly targeting farmers protesting the recently-cleared farm laws, according to a report.
The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) court directed the inspector of Kyathasandra police station to register an FIR against Ranaut based on a complaint by lawyer L Ramesh Naik. The court said Naik had filed an application under section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) for investigation.
“The office is hereby directed to issue intimation to the circle police inspector of Kyathasandra police station along with (a) photostat copy of the complaint for the report,” the court said.
Naik, who hails from Kyathasandra, said the court had directed the jurisdictional police station to register an FIR and inquire in connection with his criminal case against the actor.
“People who spread misinformation and rumours about CAA that caused riots are the same people who are now spreading misinformation about Farmers bill and causing terror in the nation, they are terrorists. You very well know what I said but simply like to spread misinformation,” Ranaut had tweeted on September 21 from her Twitter handle @KanganaTeam. Naik said Ranaut’s tweet had hurt him and prompted him to file a case against her.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, in a series of tweets, reassured farmers that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and the government procurement of farmers’ produce will continue after the bills were passed by the Rajya Sabha. The actor had picked up one of PM’s tweets, described the protesters as “the same terrorists who indulged in bloodshed even though no countryman lost citizenship due to CAA”.
She had clarified that she did not call farmers terrorists and dared anybody to prove it. “Like Lord Krishna has Narayani Army, similarly Pappu has his Champu army that knows only to fight on the basis of rumours. This is my original tweet, if somebody can prove that I called farmers terrorists then I will apologize and leave Twitter forever,” she tweeted in Hindi later.
According to Live Law, Naik in his plea alleged that Ranaut’s tweet has a clear intention to injure the people who are opposing the farm bills, “wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riots and promote the culture of non-violence in the young minds of society.”
“....this posting on twitter account of the accused posted by her may lead to collision between the people of different group believe in different ideology. It seems that the government authorities have turned a blind eye to the same and does not have any established measures or rules and guidelines to control and regulate the same. On the bare perusal of all these content it is more than evident that the government is least bothered and as usual waiting for some dangerous consequences to happen before taking some appropriate actions,” he had said, according to Bar and Bench.
Republic TV manipulated TRP ratings: Mumbai Police
MUMBAI, Oct 8: Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on Thursday claimed to have busted a racket that involved private television channels manipulating their Television Rating Points, or TRP. One of the three channels is Republic TV, the police commissioner said. The other two are local Mumbai channels.
Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami responded soon after, linking the police action to the channel’s coverage of certain events including the police probe into Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and threatened to file a criminal defamation against the police commissioner. “He should issue an official apology and get ready to face us in court,” Goswami said.
The police action was initiated on a complaint from Hansa, the firm contracted by Broadcast Audience Research Council, or BARC, to install audience measurement meters installed in selected households to track television channels that are being watched by people. Singh said about 30,000 such meters had been installed across the country; 2,000 in Mumbai. Information about the households where the meters are installed is treated as confidential so that the data isn’t manipulated.
But this information was leaked, police said.
Singh said the Mumbai police found that a set of households where these meters were installed were paid money to tune to a particular channel. In one case, Mumbai’s top police officer said, investigators found that a household comprising people who were not literate always had an English news channel switched on.
The households were paid about Rs 400-500 every month, the police commissioner said.
Singh said owners of two local channels had been arrested along with an ex-employee of Hansa suspected of leaking the information about meters installed to the television channels.
Republic TV is next on the police’s radar. Officials of the news channels will be summoned either today or tomorrow, Singh said. “No one involved will be spared,” the senior police officer said, recalling that they earlier believed that some news channels carried out propaganda stories to boost their TRP. Now it appears they manipulate audience data too, he said.
In a statement issued soon after, Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami said it was an attempt to get back at the channel for its coverage of the Maharashtra government.
Arnab Goswami’s statement put out on the channel’s Twitter handle said Singh had “made false allegations against Republic TV because we have questioned him in the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation. Republic TV will file a criminal defamation case against Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. There is not a single BARC report that mentions Republic TV. The people of India know the truth”.
“Mr Param Bir Singh’s investigation in the Sushant Singh Rajput case is under a cloud and this is a desperate measure because of Republic tV’s reportage on Palghar, the Sushant Singh Rajput case or any other case. This kind of targeting only strengthens the resolve of everyone at Republic TV to push for the truth even harder,” Goswami said, threatening to sue the police commissioner.
“Param Bir Singh stands completely exposed today since BARC has not mentioned Republic in any single complaint,” the statement said.
Earlier this year, the police had investigated complaints that Republic TV’s editor-in-chief and prime time anchor Arnab Goswami allegedly instigating hatred against the Muslim community while anchoring a programme on April 29 on the protests by stranded migrants outside the Bandra railway station on April 14.
Tablighi Case: Freedom of speech most abused, says SC; pulls up Centre for ‘brazen' affidavit
NEW DELHI, Oct 8: The Supreme Court Thursday pulled up the Centre for its “evasive” and “brazen” affidavit in connection with pleas seeking action against alleged motivated media reporting on the Tablighi Jamaat.
A bench headed by CJI S A Bobde was hearing a clutch of petitions filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and others seeking action against media organisation allegedly giving communal colour to the Covid-19 outbreak at the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin.
The bench rapped Solicitor General Tushar Mehta after a junior official at the Information and Broadcasting Ministry filed the affidavit which contained “unnecessary” and “nonsensical” averments with regard to media reporting on the issue. The court also sought affidavit from a secretary-level officer with details of steps taken in past to stop motivated media reporting in such cases.
“You cannot treat the Court how you are treating it. The affidavit is by some junior officer. The affidavit is evasive and says the petitioner shows no instance of bad reporting. You may not agree, but how you can say there is no instance of bad reporting shown? Secretary of the department must file an affidavit and avoid any unnecessary and nonsensical averments as made now,” Bar & Bench quoted CJI Bobde as saying.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the Jamaat, told the court that the Centre in its affidavit has stated petitioners were trying to muzzle freedom of speech and expression.
“Freedom of speech and expression is the most abused right in recent times,” the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said.
“They are free to make any averment in their affidavit, like you are free to make any argument you want,” it added.
The petitions will be taken up after two weeks.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind had moved the apex court on April 6 seeking directions to prevent what it claimed was the communalisation of the Nizamuddin Markaz issue by certain sections of the print and electronic media.
The Centre had filed its affidavit in the matter on August 7, stating that the spread of Covid-19 among attendees of the Jamaat, attacks on health workers by some sections, etc, were all matters of fact and that “news reports based on facts… cannot be censored”.
It also said that the plea raised grievances against “certain section of media” without naming any and “certain news reports” without producing these reports. Instead, it “merely relied upon ‘certain fact check news reports’ to contend that entire media is perpetrating communal disharmony and hatred towards Muslims, and is therefore required to be censured/gagged”, the government said.
Ram Vilas Paswan passes away
NEW DELHI, Oct 8: Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who was ailing for quite some time, has passed away, tweeted his son Chirag Paswan on Thursday evening. The consumer affairs minister was 74.
“Papa .... Now you are not in this world but I know you are always with me wherever you are. Miss you Papa…,” tweeted Chirag Paswan, with a throwback photo of his father hugging a younger him.
Ram Vilas Paswan, who had been in politics for more than five decades and is one of the country’s most recognisable Dalit leaders, had been hospitalised for the last few weeks in Delhi.
Paswan is the second union minister to die in the space of two months - Suresh Angadi died of coronavirus in September.
In November last, after helming the Lok Janshakti Party for 19 years, Paswan stepped down from his post to make way for the appointment of his son and MP Chirag Paswan as the new party president.
As the news of the leader’s death percolated, tributes poured in for him.
“In the demise of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the nation has lost a visionary leader. He was among the most active and longest-serving members of parliament. He was the voice of the oppressed, and championed the cause of the marginalized,” tweeted President Ram Nath Kovind.
“A firebrand socialist in youth, mentored by the likes of Jayaprakash Narayan during anti-Emergency movement, Paswan ji had enviable rapport with masses and he ardently strove for their welfare. Condolences to his family and supporters,” read the President’s second tweet.
In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted how ‘insightful’ Paswan’s interventions used to be during cabinet meetings. The PM called it a “personal loss” and hailed Paswan as an “outstanding Parliamentarian”.
“Working together, shoulder to shoulder with Paswan Ji has been an incredible experience. His interventions during Cabinet Meetings were insightful. From political wisdom, statesmanship to governance issues, he was brilliant. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti,” said Modi in one of the three tweets.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the “poor-downtrodden lost a strong political voice today”, while Priyanka Gandhi reminisced the family association and how he was a neighbour of her mother Sonia Gandhi for years.
“Ram Vilas Paswan ji has been a neighbor of my mother for years and we had a personal relationship with his family. The news of his demise is deeply sad. My deepest condolences to Chirag ji and all the family members. We are with you in this sad hour,” tweeted Priyanka Gandhi.
‘No govt ever invoked sedition after rape’: Congress to Yogi Adityanath
NEW DELHI, Oct 7: Demanding a judicial inquiry into the Hathras rape incident either by a sitting High Court judge or a Supreme Court judge, the Congress on Wednesday termed “bizarre” the response of the Uttar Pradesh government on the issue and alleged that it has been slapping sedition charges as if these were “pick-pocketing” cases.
Addressing a virtual press conference, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi claimed that no government ever, including that of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the past in Uttar Pradesh had invoked sedition charges after a rape incident as done by the Yogi Adityanath dispensation.
Singhvi’s comments came on a day when the Uttar Pradesh police booked four people, including a journalist from Kerala, Siddique Kappan, on sedition and other charges in Mathura, two days after they were arrested while on their way to Hathras.
Charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the IT Act have also been filed against the four who were later remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by a Mathura court.
“The response of the Yogi Adityanath government to the Hathras incident has been bizarre and it has been coming up with a number of conspiracy theories,” Singhvi said.
Over 21 FIRs have been filed against various people on conspiracy charges, outnumbering the cases against the main accused in the rape incident, he added.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday alleged that an international conspiracy was being hatched to destabilise his government, following its tough stand against anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests.
“Another kind of conspiracy alleged by the chief minister is a conspiracy to destabilise and overthrow his government,” Singhvi said.
“Stop blaming everyone in the world except yourself. Each time you point your figure, there are three fingers pointing back at you, which you cannot and must not ignore. And last, stop arresting all third parties around you in a 360 degree fashion and ignoring punitive action, but more importantly, punishment by conviction of the real accused of murder and rape,” he added.
Former CBI director Ashwani Kumar found dead in Shimla
SHIMLA, Oct 7: Former governor and CBI chief Ashwani Kumar was found hanging in his Shimla house on Wednesday, Shimla superintendent of police Mohit Chawla said. He was 69. Police suspect death by suicide but have made no formal statement.
Himachal Pradesh police chief Sanjay Kundu, who rushed to the spot, said that investigation in the case was on and a team of forensic experts has reached the crime scene and collecting evidences.
Police said Ashwani Kumar had left behind a suicide note.
Retired police officer AP Singh, who succeeded Kumar at the CBI, described Kumar’s death “absolutely shocking”.
“I have worked closely with him as a special director. He was a gentleman. Never lost his temper. I always found him very pleasant, soft spoken; he never ever said a word to anybody in a raised voice,” AP Singh said about his mild-mannered predecessor at the CBI.
Kumar, a 1973 batch officer of the Indian Police Service, headed the Central Bureau of Investigation from August 2008 to November 2010.
Three years later, the Manmohan Singh government appointed him as Nagaland governor in March 2013, provoking howls of protest from the Bharatiya Janata Party. Kumar was the first CBI chief to be appointed to a gubernatorial office. A few months later, he was also appointed Manipur till December 2013.
Ashwani Kumar, however, had to step down from the Nagaland Raj Bhavan weeks after the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in the 2014 general elections and started pushing out governors appointed by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government. Kumar was one of the first to go.
It was during his tenure as the CBI chief that the investigation agency arrested Union home minister Amit Shah in July 2010 in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. Shah was then the BJP general secretary and minister in the Gujarat government led by chief minister Narendra Modi. Veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram was then the Union home minister.
The 22 accused who faced trial in this case were acquitted in December 2018. In a controversial verdict, the judge called it a politically-motivated case designed to implicate political leaders such as Shah.
Ashwani Kumar had started out as a young IPS officer in Himachal Pradesh where he was, back in 1985, the superintendent of police of Shimla district. It was during this assignment that he was selected in the newly-created Special Protection Group responsible for the security of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
He was in the SPG from 1985 to 1990 in various capacities including that of Assistant Director in the Prime Minister’s Office. It was during this tenure that he came in close contact with the Gandhi family.
Uttar Pradesh tells Supreme Court Hathras girls night cremation was for law, order
NEW DELHI, Oct 6: A 19-year-old Dalit gang rape victim was cremated in the dead of the night last week to avert an extraordinary law-and-order problem posed by protesters and political parties intent on stoking caste clashes, the state government told the Supreme Court, which on Tuesday described the incident as “horrible” and “extraordinary”.
A three-judge bench of the apex court was hearing a public interest litigation seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the case.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, directed the state government to place on record the steps taken to ensure protection of witnesses even as the UP government acquiesced to a top court-monitored CBI probe into the September 14 incident and the woman’s death on September 29 that triggered nationwide protests.
“It is a horrible incident. It is extraordinary. We want to know from you whether witness protection plan is in place. File an affidavit,” CJI Bobde told solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who was representing the UP government.
The court also asked the state to ascertain whether the family engaged a lawyer and sought details of the scope of proceedings relating to the incident before the Allahabad high court. The next hearing is on October 8.
The court proceedings came a day after the state government ordered a probe into an “international conspiracy” to destablise the administration.
In a 129-page affidavit, the state government contended “intelligence inputs” pointed to political parties and organisations trying to exploit the situation on September 30 – a day after the victim died at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital, triggering street protests.
“Intelligence inputs were specifically received late at night on September 29 that lakhs of protestors of both communities (communities of the accused and victim) along with supporters of some political parties and media will assemble in the morning of September 30 at the village which is likely to turn violent and will lead to major law-and-order problems. The [Hathras] district administration took the decision to convince the parents of the victim to cremate her with all religious rites at night to avoid large scale violence in the morning,” the affidavit said.
The affidavit also noted that the district was on high alert because of the Babri Masjid demolition verdict, which was pronounced on September 30, and large gatherings were banned under central government guidelines to curb the spread of Covid-19. “In such extraordinary and severe circumstances, the district administration took the decision to convince the parents of the deceased to cremate her with all religious rites at night to avoid large scale violence in the morning,” the affidavit contended.
The victim’s family has repeatedly said their consent was not taken before the cremation and that no member was present at the last rites, which was conducted at 2.30 am without traditional rituals.
Along with the affidavit, the state attached screenshots and materials recovered from a website it is investigating for criminal conspiracy. The attachments, allegedly recovered from justiceforhathrasvictim.carrd.co, showed details of protests, trending hashtags, and resources to avoid detention and police action —which made several references to Black protesters, American cities such as Phoenix and New York, and asked protesters to wear ski masks — appeared to have been lifted from the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.
The affidavit also said that there could not have been any “bad intention” in hastening the cremation because the victim’s post mortem examination was already done at Safdarjung hospital. Activists and opposition politicians have alleged that the police cremated the body to destroy evidence of the crime. The affidavit went on to blame a “vicious propaganda” unleashed on social media and by sections of the media and some political parties to “deliberately mislead” the public and to create caste and communal disharmony.
“There have been orchestrated efforts to malign the image of government on social media by attributing baseless comments and building up a distorted narrative on the Hathras case,” the affidavit read. The state also sought a CBI investigation into the alleged criminal conspiracy to spread caste conflict, instigate violence, and into the propaganda unleashed by certain sections of media and political parties.
The Dalit woman was allegedly gang raped by four members of the Thakur caste on September 14 and the assault left her partially paralysed. She was rushed to the hospital in Aligarh town, and when her condition deteriorated, shifted to Delhi on September 28. She died the next day. The state government’s handling of the case has come under sharp criticism from activists and opposition parties, who alleged that the victim’s kin were intimidated. The state government has denied the woman was raped, citing a forensic report, though experts have raised doubts about the examination conducted eight days after the crime.
The Allahabad high court took suo motu cognisance of the incident on October 1 and ordered the state’s additional chief secretary/principal secretary (Home), director general of police, additional director general, law and order, district magistrate, Hathras, and superintendent of police, Hathras, to appear before it on October 12.
“What is the present scope of the proceedings before the high court and how can we widen it and make it more relevant?” asked the bench, also comprising justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, directing Mehta to respond to the same at the next hearing. Mehta told the top court the state government was not opposing the plea for CBI probe but requested that it should be done under the supervision of the SC.
“We (UP government) are not treating this as an adversarial litigation. There are different narratives in the public domain. One innocent life has been lost. It should not be sensationalised,” Mehta said.
Senior counsel Indira Jaising, representing a few woman lawyers, asked the SC to ensure that witnesses are protected. She also pointed out how certain lawyers were trying to secure the brief of the victim’s family and asked the top court not to allow that.
Rahul Gandhi accuses Modi of ‘not saying a word’ on Hathras gang-rape
PATIALA, Oct 6: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not speaking out after the gang-rape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district in September.
While interacting with the media in Punjab’s Patiala, Gandhi said he paid a visit to the family of the victim last week because he wanted them to know that they were not alone in seeking justice for their daughter. He said he told the woman’s family that he was not only there for them but their daughter and also for “lakhs of women in the country who face unruly behaviour every day, thousands of women who are raped in a day.”
Taking a jibe at Modi, the Congress leader said, “It is, however, interesting that the woman was raped and murdered and the entire UP administration targeted her family but the Prime Minister hasn’t said a word on the issue.”
Gandhi along with a team of Congress leaders and his sister and the party’s UP general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday met the family members of the woman, who died at a hospital in Delhi a few days after the assault. The woman was cremated the next day by the UP Police at 2:30 am even as her family protested. They were then locked inside their house. The aggrieved relatives alleged that they couldn’t even see their daughter’s face before her body was burnt with petrol. The Congress team stayed with the family for over an hour and assured them of support.
“The UP government will not be able to do anything arbitrary as it wants, because now the whole country is standing to bring justice to the daughter of this country,” Gandhi had tweeted after the visit.
Farmers of Hindustan know how to fight: Rahul Gandhi
KURUKSHETRA, Oct 6: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the newly enacted farm laws will take away the jobs of lakhs of people associated with the mandi system.
Terming the new laws a ‘direct attack’ on farmers, the Wayanad MP, during his ‘Kheti Bachao Yatra’ that reached Haryana’s Kurukshetra in the evening, said, “By enacting these laws, the Prime Minister wants to enable the big corporate houses to take the entire agriculture business over.”
“Modi ji, if you think that farmers cannot fight due to the pandemic, you are mistaken. You do not know the farmers of Hindustan. They know how to fight,” said Rahul, who was joined by Haryana’s former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and state Congress unit president Kumari Selja. “Procurement, MSP and food security are interlinked. Entire system will collapse and lakhs of people will be left jobless if this chain is broken,” he added.
“If the BJP is to be believed, these bills are supposed to help farmers. Then why the farmers of this country are out on roads, agitating over these bills? Why were these bills introduced during the Covid-19 crisis and why there was no discussion in the parliament?” he asked.
Firing his final and sharpest salvo before wrapping his visit up, Rahul dubbed PM Narendra Modi a ‘coward’ while attacking him over the India-China standoff in the Ladakh theatre.
“India is the only country in the world where army of another country entered, encroached upon its land, and killed its soldiers, but our coward Prime Minister says that there was no infiltration...” he said at a Kurukshetra grain market.
“Desh ki zameen hadpi gayi hai aur yeh (prime minister) apne aap ko deshbhakt kehte hain,” he quipped.
The former Congress president, who also visited Jyotisar and offered prayers, said, “This PM didn’t even know the strength of Indian Army, Indian farmers and labourers. He only focuses on building his image.”
Rahul assured the farmers that these three laws will be abolished within 10 days of formation of the Congress government. He said during six years’ rule, Modi government not only failed to do anything for the poor, “but also inflicted several wounds in the form of demonetisation, GST and now, these farm bills”.
Earlier, Rahul accused Modi of wasting taxpayers’ money. He said that Modi bought the Air India One because he saw that his friend US President Donald Trump has the Air Force One.
High drama was witnessed on the Haryana-Punjab border from where Rahul Gandhi’s convoy was set to enter the state. Haryana Police stopped the Congress leaders and supporters, citing the ban on gathering of more than 100 people.
“They have stopped us on a bridge on the Haryana border. I’m not moving and am happy to wait here. 1 hour, 5 hours, 24 hours, 100 hours, 1000 hours or 5000 hours (sic),” the former Congress president posted on Twitter. A small contingent was, however, allowed to enter Haryana after a protest and sloganeering by Congress workers.
Rahul Gandhi takes a jibe at Modi over Air India One
PATIALA, Oct 6: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of wasting taxpayers’ money while addressing a farmer rally in Haryana’s Sirsa.
The Wayanad MP, while addressing a rally during his ‘Kheti Bachao Yatra (Save the farming)’ in Sirsa’s Dussehra ground, said that Modi bought the Air India One because he saw that his friend US President Donald Trump has the Air Force One.
He also raked up the Ladakh issue while addressing a rally in Noorpur in Punjab. “On one hand, Modi has bought two aircraft worth Rs 8000 crore. On the other hand, China is at our borders and our security forces are braving harsh cold to protect our borders,” Gandhi said.
When questioned by the media over BJP’s remarks over Rahul Gandhi sitting on a cushion while sitting atop the tractor during the ongoing protests against the farm bill the Congress leader said that the brand new aircraft that has been bought for the prime minister had many comfortable luxury beds onboard.
The former Congress president also lashed out at the BJP regarding the handling of the Hathras gangrape case and asked the prime minister to not remain silent over the horrific incident that has led to nationwide protests. He also harshly criticised the UP government’s response towards the issue saying that chief minister Yogi Adityanath should have shown decency to at least call the incident tragic.
Over 80k fake accounts created to discredit Mumbai police probe in Sushant Singh death case
MUMBAI, Oct 5: Over 80,000 fake accounts were created on various social media platforms on June 14 to discredit Mumbai police and Maharashtra government over the ongoing investigation into the death of 34-year-old Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Mumbai police commissioner has asked the cyber cell to investigate and register cases under the Information Technology Act.
Mumbai police’s cyber unit has made a report where it has been found that posts were uploaded on social media platforms from different countries like Italy, Japan, Poland, Slovenia, Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand, Romania and France.
“We identified the posts in foreign languages because of the hashtags used like #justiceforsushant #sushantsinghrajput and #SSR. We’re in the process of verifying more accounts,” said a senior IPS officer.
“The campaign was run against Mumbai police just to demoralise us at a time when 84 policemen had died due to the pandemic and over 6,000 men were infected with the virus. This was a motivated campaign with vested interest just to malign the image of Mumbai police and derail our line of investigation. Multiple fake accounts on social media were created to target Mumbai police with abusive tones. Our cyber cell is conducting a thorough investigation into this matter and all those found violating the law will be prosecuted under relevant sections of the Information Technology Act,” said Param Bir Singh, Mumbai police commissioner.
Reacting to reports of AIIMS having ruled out the possibility of murder, Singh said, “We had investigated this case very professionally. The CBI had created a panel of AIIMS doctors who have justified our investigation and the findings of Cooper hospital and forensic laboratory. Except for a few people, nobody else was aware of our investigation still many have criticized the investigation.”
Tejashwi Yadav to lead Opposition alliance in Bihar
PATNA, Oct 3: Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav will be the Chief Ministerial candidate of the opposition alliance in Bihar Assembly Election 2020, the Congress has announced on Saturday.
“All components of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) have decided to come together as coalition for the Bihar Assembly elections. Congress, RJD, CPI, CPM and Vikassheel Insaan party will be part of this alliance under leadership of RJD. We want Bihar to prosper under Tejashwi Yadav,” said Bihar Congress leader Avinash Pandey.
According to the seat-sharing agreement that has been agreed upon by the alliance partners ahead of the three-phase election starting on October 28, the RJD will contest in 144 seats, while the Congress will contest from 70 seats. The Left parties will be contesting in 29 seats. The second and the third phase of the election will be held on November 3 and 7.
Here is a detailed breakdown of seats
1. RJD will accommodate Mukesh Sahni’s VIP and JMM in its quota of 144 seats
2. Congress to get 70 seats besides contesting by-poll to Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat.
3. CPI(M) will contest on 4 seats
4. CPI will contest on 6 seats.
5. CPI(ML) will contest on 19 seats
Out of 243 constituencies, 71 will go to the polls in the first phase, nomination filing for which is going on between October 1 and October 8.
The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is also likely to announce a seat-sharing agreement by evening.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s death was a suicide: AIIMS panel chief
NEW DELHI, Oct 3: Sushant Singh Rajput’s death was a suicide, and not murder, Dr Sudhir Gupta, who led the AIIMS’ panel re-evaluating the actor’s post-mortem report, has said. Many, including Sushant’s family, had been urging the Central Bureau of Investigation to initiate a murder probe in the case.
Sushant was found dead in his apartment on June 14. His family has accused Rhea Chakraborty of abetting his suicide and misappropriating his funds. Rhea is currently in jail, on drugs-related charges pertaining to the case.
“Sushant death is a case of suicide. Murder completely ruled out,” the doctor said. The AIIMS doctors had submitted their findings to the CBI on September 29. He said “There were no injuries on the body other than of hanging. There were no marks of struggle/scuffle on the body and clothes of the deceased."
He added, “The presence of any seductive material was not detected by Bombay FSL and AIIMS toxicology lab. The complete examination of ligature mark over the neck was consistent with hanging.”
Sushant’s death was originally ruled a suicide by the Mumbai Police, before the case was taken over by the CBI. The CBI is likely to continue its probe into “abetment to suicide”, NDTV reported.
“So far, no evidence has come up to prove it to be a case of murder. If during the course of investigation, we get any evidence, murder charge will be added. For now, abetment to suicide and other charges in the FIR are being probed,” the report quoted a source as saying.
Vikas Singh, the lawyer representing Sushant’s father, had previously claimed that an AIIMS doctor had told him that the ligature marks on Sushant’s neck were consistent with strangulation. “AIIMS doctor told me that Sushant’s death was by strangulation,” he had said in a press conference.
Dr Gupta had refuted these claims. He said “No conclusion or conclusion opinion of homicide or suicide could be made by seeing ligature marks and scene of occurrence. It’s difficult for doctors and next to impossible for general people, needed solely internal link discretion and forensic interpretation.”
Satish Maneshinde, the lawyer representing Rhea, has said that he will await the CBI’s official report. “Truth cannot be changed, we await the official report of the CBI,” he said.
Allahabad High Court summons UP officials in Hathras gang-rape case
LUCKNOW, Oct 1: The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Thursday summoned top government and police officers of Uttar Pradesh to assess their handling of the Hathras gang-rape case. In an 11-page order that relied on reportage of the 19-year-old’s cremation past midnight, the high court said it is taking suo moto cognisance of the case since the alleged incidents which took place after the death of the victim on 29 September leading up to her creation “have shocked our conscience”.
Justices Jaspreet Singh and Rajan Roy also summoned the family members of the Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped on the night of September 14 and succumbed to the injuries later, on September 29 in Delhi. The judges ordered the state to ensure that “no coercion, influence or pressure is exerted upon the family members of the deceased in any manner, by anyone”.
The court has asked the state government to respond by October 12 when it will hear the officials and the woman’s family.
The judges referred to several media reports that echoed the family’s allegations that the UP police had hurriedly completed the cremation of the young woman, allegedly without the consent of her family to underline that a dead person must be respected by the state.
“The State must respect a dead person by allowing the body of the person to be treated with dignity and unless it is required for the purposes of establishing a crime to ascertain the cause of death and be subjected to postmortem or for any scientific investigation, medical education or to save the life of another person in accordance with law, the preservation of the dead body and disposal in accordance with human dignity,” it observed.
“We are inclined to examine as to whether there has been gross violation of the fundamental rights of the deceased victim and the family members of the victim; whether the State Authorities have acted oppressively high handedly and illegally to violate such rights,” the court said.
If the reports are true, then it will be a case of “gross violation of basic human and fundamental rights,” the court noted.
“Death must be so beautiful...To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace,” the court said recalling Oscar wilde. “But in this case, the victim was treated with extreme brutality by the perpetrators of the crime and what is alleged to have happened thereafter, if true, amount to perpetuating the misery of the family and rubbing salt in their wounds,” it said.
After the incident led to a nationwide outrage, Uttar Pradesh assistant director general (law and order) Prashant Kumar denied that the body was cremated without the family’s consent. “They were present during the funeral. The body was putrefying. The victim died yesterday in Delhi. After the post-mortem, the funeral was conducted with the consent of the family members,” Kumar said on Wednesday.
Police detain Rahul, Priyanka Gandhi for marching against rape
NEW DELHI, Oct 1: Indian police imposed emergency laws on Thursday in a village where a Dalit woman was allegedly raped and killed, barring gatherings of more than five people after clashes erupted following her cremation.
Opposition leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who were on the way to Hathras district to meet the victim’s family, were detained by the police.
Police stopped their convoy on a highway on the way to the village. They got out of their car and started walking to the village, but were blocked again by the police.
Dozens of Congress party workers scuffled with the police, who used sticks to disperse them. Some party workers were injured, and Rahul Gandhi slipped to the ground in the melee before he was taken away by police, video on television news channels showed.
The 19-year-old woman, from the class formerly known as “untouchables” under India’s Hindu caste system, died from her injuries on Tuesday, having been attacked and gang raped on September 14 in a field near her home in Hathras district, 100 km (62 miles) from the capital New Delhi, authorities said.
Police have arrested four men in connection with the crime.
Clashes between protesters and police erupted in the district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday after police cremated the woman’s body.
The victim’s brother said the cremation was carried out against the wishes of her family, who had wanted to perform their own funeral rites. Local officials deny this.
A second woman has died after being gang raped in the state of Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state. The two separate cases are reigniting protests about sexual violence – and the country’s caste system. Both women were from the marginalised Dalit community.
The second victim was a 22-year-old who was allegedly raped by two men on Tuesday and passed away while being taken to hospital, police in northern Uttar Pradesh state said.
The victim’s mother said that her daughter had been brought home and thrown in front of the house after the attack. "My child could barely stand or speak,” she said.
Twenty-five people were arrested in connection with the unrest, according to a police information report. A witness said that police wielded batons during the clashes.
India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for women, with a rape occurring every 15 minutes, according to federal data – figures that rights groups say vastly underestimate the scale of the problem.
This latest case has caused widespread outrage and protests across India due to the backgrounds of those involved.
While the victim came from the Dalit community – which faces frequent discrimination and violence – the four men arrested were all from a higher caste, her brother told Reuters.
According to human rights organizations, Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to caste-based discrimination and sexual violence.
The victim and her brother are not being identified due to laws against naming victims of sexual violence.
Orders preventing the gathering of more than five people have been imposed in Hathras, Vikrant Vir, the top police official in the district, said on Thursday.
Chandrashekhar Azad, a popular Dalit politician who founded the Bhim Army to campaign for the rights of the community, also planned to visit the district on Thursday, according to media reports.
Uttar Pradesh, which is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, ranks as one of the most unsafe states for women in the country.
Under the emergency laws, police will stop members of political organisations from entering Hathras, Vir said.
Opposition slams ‘reckless’ UP Police for detaining Rahul Gandhi
NEW DELHI, Oct 1: Opposition leaders from across the country condemned the detainment of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi by Uttar Pradesh Police while he was on his way to meet the family members of the 19-year-old Hathras gangrape victim.
The Congress leader was walking to his destination along with his sister Priyanka Gandhi after their convoy was stopped at Yamuna Expressway, citing imposition of Section 144.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar slammed the “reckless” behaviour of the police and called the incident “extremely condemnable”.
“Reckless behaviour of UP Police towards @INCIndia leader Shri @RahulGandhi is extremely condemnable. It is reprehensible for those who are supposed to uphold the law to trample upon the democratic values in such a manner,” he tweeted.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M K Stalin said that the incident showed the extent of “atrocities and injustices” faced by citizens under a “ruthless government”.
“I strongly condemn #Hathras & #Balrampur rape cases which show the extent of atrocities & injustices faced by citizens under such a ruthless & cruel govt. If @RahulGandhi can be manhandled for seeking #JusticeForIndiasDaughters what protects the common man from @myogiadityanath?,” Stalin tweeted.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor shared photos of the scuffle between UP Police and Rahul Gandhi on his Twitter handle, and said that Opposition presence was being termed as “politicisation”. Earlier in the day, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had urged the opposition to not increase the tension through “political tourism”.
“Godi media terms opposition presence as politicisation: how low will they bend to serve their masters’ agenda? The role of Opposition is to stand up for the victims of a Govt which lets lawlessness run rife, denies any form of justice to the family & tries to cremate the truth,” Tharoor tweeted.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan slammed the UP Police for preventing Rahul Gandhi from visiting the victim’s family, calling the move “anti-democratic”.
“Rahul Gandhi has every democratic right to go to Hathras. There is also constitutional freedom. The move to eliminate it all is ultimately anti-democratic. This cannot be allowed in a democratic society. The police assault on Rahul Gandhi is a reprehensible act,” said Vijayan in an official statement.
The 19-year-old gangrape victim had succumbed to her injuries in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday.
Rahul Gandhi Pushed By Cops, Falls During Confrontation In UP
NEW DELHI, Oct 1: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was pushed and fell to the ground in a tussle with the Uttar Pradesh police after he, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and scores of party workers were stopped from marching on the Delhi-Noida highway on their way to Hathras to meet the family of the gang rape victim who died on Tuesday.
The Gandhis were detained for violating a ban on large gatherings. "I am standing here peacefully. I will go alone then. I will walk alone from here to Hathras," Rahul Gandhi told the police.
Visuals showed the Congress MP being pushed and shoved as he tried to resist the police. In the clash, the 50-year-old was seen falling to the ground. Other Congress leaders helped him up.
Priyanka Gandhi alleged that she was also pushed and there were attempts to throw her to the ground.
"Why are you arresting me? What are the grounds for the arrest? What law am I violating," Rahul Gandhi said in a heated exchange with policemen, who said that they were charging him with "Section 188" - a law on defying official orders.
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were travelling to Hathras in a convoy when their vehicles were stopped in Noida near Delhi, at a point around 142 km from their destination.
They both got off their car and started marching with Congress workers. Soon, a large contingent of UP policemen blocked their way and tried to push them back.
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said: "The Gandhis are preparing to march alone. What is Ajay Singh Bisht, alias Yogi Adityanath (Chief Minister) afraid of?"
Ahead of the Congress leaders' planned visit, the UP administration this morning enforced a ban on large gatherings and put up barricades at the borders citing the coronavirus. Roads to Hathras were also blocked.
Other political parties condemned the incident and came out in support of the Gandhis.
Top UP official threatens Hathras family
HATHRAS, Oct 1: The family of the Uttar Pradesh’s Dalit woman, who died days after being gang-raped and tortured in Hathras, has alleged being made to feel the “pressure” from a senior district official who visited them today. A 22-second video of the Hathras district magistrate Praveen Kumar speaking to the family in a courtyard has been widely shared online.
The video shows Kumar telling the father of the woman that the media will go away in a day or two and that he should stick to his statement.
“These media persons are not here to stay. Half would go today and the remaining will move away tomorrow and only few will remain. It is we who would stand with you and thus it is your wish if you want to change your statements or not. Do not harm your credibility, else we might also change…,” says the district magistrate in the video, before it ends abruptly.
There is another video in which a woman from the victim’s family is seen blaming the district administration for putting pressure on the victim’s father.
Repeated efforts were made to obtain the district magistrate’s version on this issue, but he did not take the call.
When asked, Aligarh divisional commissioner GS Priyadarshi indicated he was not aware of the content of the video.
“I can react once I come across the content of the said video,” Priyadarshi said.
A senior Uttar Pradesh police officer said today the forensic report has revealed that the woman was not raped. Citing a forensic science laboratory (FSL) report, ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said the cause of her death is an injury on the neck and trauma resulting due to it.
“The report of the FSL has come. It says clearly that samples did not have sperm. It makes clear that there was no rape or gang rape,” Kumar said.
Last week, Hathras ASP Prakash Kumar had told mediapersons that initially the accused were booked for attempt to murder under Section 307 of the IPC. Later, on receiving more inputs, Section 376-D (gangrape) of the IPC was added to the FIR, he had said.
Another Girl Drugged, Gang-Raped In UP; Dies Of Injuries
LUCKNOW, Oct 1: Amid outrage in the country over the brutalisation and gangrape of a young woman in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras, another similar case has been reported from the state. A little more than 500 km from Hathras, a 22-year-old Dalit woman died after gang-rape and severe beating last evening, when the attention of the country was focused on the events in Delhi as the police tried to take away the Hathras woman's body from Safdarjung hospital.
The young woman in Balrampur had died while being taken to a hospital in Lucknow. Postmortem report has confirmed gang-rape, sources said, adding that she had died of the multiple injuries she sustained. There are no details yet on the nature on the injuries.
Two people have been arrested in the case, one of them is a minor, the woman's brother said.
The woman's mother said she was abducted while on way to work in the morning. When she failed to return in time, the family had approached the police.
She returned around 7 pm, the assailants had put her on an e-rickshaw and sent her home, sources said.
"The men had injected her with some substance due to which she lost consciousness. Then they raped her... They broke her back, they broke her limbs. When my child returned, she could barely stand or speak," the woman's mother said, weeping.
"Somehow, crying, my daughter said, 'Save me, I do not want to die'," the mother said.
She added that soon after her return, her daughter complained of a burning pain in her stomach.
"The doctor at the local hospital said her condition is serious and advised that she be taken to Lucknow. But she died when we were near Balrampur town," she added.
Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav made a jibe at the Yogi Adityanath government, asking it to not "attempt a cover-up" as in the Hathras case.
"After Hathras, another gang-rape incident has surfaced in Balrampur in which the woman died after torture. The BJP government should not attempt a cover up here like Hathras and should quickly take action against the accused," his tweet in Hindi read.
The Hathras woman, who was also a member of the Scheduled Castes, was attacked on September 19 when she had gone to cut grass for fodder. Her assailants had left her in the in the fields half strangled, bearing multiple fractures, tongue gashed, naked, bleeding and paralysed.
Her body was cremated by the Uttar Pradesh police in the middle of the night. Her family was kept locked up and not given a chance to bring her home for the last time and give her last rites.
The state has been under huge criticism and public anger is growing over issue.