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Banaskantha leads with 45.89 pc votes in Gujarat till 1 pm

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Ahmedabad, May 7 (IANS) Banaskantha district in Gujarat is leading in voter participation with 45.89 per cent during the third phase in the state which saw an overall voter turnout of 37.83 per cent till 1 p.m.

Banaskantha district was closely followed by Valsad at 45.34 per cent and Bharuch at 43.12 per cent.

Sabarkantha and Chhotaudepur areas saw a voter turnout of 41.92 per cent and 42.65 per cent, respectively. However, some constituencies report lower voter turnout, with Porbandar at 30.80 per cent, Amreli at 31.48 per cent, and Ahmedabad West at 33.28 per cent.

Other notable turnout percentages include Navsari at 38.10 per cent, Bardoli at 41.67 per cent, Vadodara at 38.79 per cent, Jamnagar at 34.61per cent, Kachchh at 34.26 per cent, and Junagadh at 36.11 per cent.

Despite challenging weather conditions, voters were actively exercising their democratic rights, even as temperatures in Ahmedabad have soared to 44 degrees Celsius.

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Gujarat has a total electorate of 4.97 crore eligible voters, comprising 2.56 crore males, 2.41 crore females, and 1,534 individuals from the third gender.

The voting process is being conducted across 50,788 polling booths, 17,275 in urban areas and 33,513 in rural areas.

–IANS

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Mumbai court sentences two convicted of killing woman colleague to life terms

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Mumbai, May 28 (IANS) A Mumbai sessions court on Tuesday sentenced a man and a woman, convicted of the sensational murder of a woman colleague in 2018 as they feared losing their jobs for a romantic liaison at the workplace, to life imprisonment.

Siddhesh S. Tamhankar, 42, and his female colleague, Khushi A. Sajhwani, 46, were found guilty of murdering Chartered Accountant Kirti Vyas, 28, though her body was never recovered.

Observing that the prosecution had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt, Additional Session Judge M. G. Deshpande had pronounced Tamhankar and Sajhwani guilty of the gruesome crime and posted the matter for quantum of punishment on Tuesday. While Tamhankar has been in custody for nearly seven years, Sajhwani had secured bail from the Supreme Court in 2021 but was taken into custody by the police again on Monday after being held guilty.

Special Public Prosecutor Avadhut M. Chimalkar, arguing for the most stringent punishment, said that the murder was committed with the “coolest of minds” and ended the budding career of the young CA who was the financial pillar of support for her family.

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The court has convicted the duo for murder, kidnapping, wrongful restraint and destruction of evidence among other charges, in a rare criminal case where the court had to determine the murder charge despite the absence of the victim’s body.

Vyas was reported missing by her family at the D. B. Marg Police Station late on March 16, 2018, when she did not return from her suburban workplace to her south Mumbai home at her usual time of around 9.30 p.m.

After investigating for over two months, the police claimed that two of her colleagues Tamhankar and Sajhwani were responsible for her disappearance and the murder, though her mortal remains were never found, and the case was handed over to the Crime Branch.

The prosecution argued that circumstances pointed to her two colleagues killing her in a moving car after they picked up Vyas from her home to go to the office, but both the accused denied picking her up, causing her disappearance, or murdering her.

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The police lodged an FIR against them and arrested them on May 24, 2018, after the investigators found blood stains in Sajhwani’s car and discrepancies in their replies on what happened on March 16.

After the detailed probe, the police filed a charge sheet running into over 950 pages detailing the murder case against the accused duo, statements of witnesses like the victim’s family members, office colleagues and others. The prosecution relied on traces of Vyas’ blood found in Sajhwani’s vehicle in which she and Tamhankar had offered to take her to the office, the CCTV footage, mobile records and other evidence.

The prime motive behind the murder was that Vyas was aware of the relationship of the Tamhankar-Sajhwani duo and they did not want her to expose them.

The trial started in 2019 and Sajhwani steadfastly claimed she was innocent, that there was no evidence against her, and along with Tamhankar, sought leniency as they had no criminal backgrounds, and their families were dependent on them.

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–IANS

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BJP firm on contesting Konkan Graduates’ legislative council polls despite MNS entering the fray

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Mumbai, May 28 (IANS) A day after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) unilaterally announced the nomination of Abhijit Panse for the June 10 legislative council polls in the Konkan Graduates’ constituency, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar announced on Tuesday that the party will contest the elections as he wished luck to the MNS.

Shelar’s remarks are important after the MNS became an ally of the ruling MahaYuti in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in the state and extended support to the candidates of BJP, Shiv Sena, and NCP.

MNS’ announcement to independently contest the legislative council elections surprised the BJP, which is expected to renominate sitting legislator Niranjan Davkhare.

Meanwhile, Panse met Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday to seek his support.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena has already announced the nomination of former minister Anil Parab from the Mumbai Graduates constituency and J.M. Abhyankar from the Mumbai Teachers’ constituency for the June 10 legislative council polls.

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Meanwhile, the Ajit Pawar-led NCP has announced the nomination of senior leader Shivajirao Nalawade from the Mumbai Teachers’ constituency.

–IANS

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Porsche crash: Accused of destroying evidence, minor's father and grandfather sent to police custody till May 31

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Pune, May 28 (IANS) Prominent Pune builder Vishal S. Agarwal and his father Surendrakumar B. Agarwal, who were arrested for allegedly tampering with and destroying evidence pertaining to the minor boy’s Porsche car crash, were on Tuesday sent by a local court to police custody till May 31.

Vishal S. Agarwal, 50, was arrested late on Monday, while the police remand of Surendrakumar B. Agarwal, 77, ended on Tuesday and they were produced before a magistrate’s court in the afternoon.

Arguing for custodial interrogation of the father-son duo, police prosecutor Nilesh Ladkat said that the accused were not cooperating with the investigations into the sensational case.

The prosecution said that they had seized the BMW car in which the Agarwals had gone to abduct their driver, Gangaram Pujari from the police station and brought him to their house where he was confined, and lured and threatened to take the blame for the fatal accident.

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The police have yet to trace the driver’s mobile phone, allegedly seized by the Agarwals, on which they had made the threat calls, as the two accused were giving evasive replies to the investigators on this.

Ladkat said that in the preliminary probe, it has emerged that the CCTV footage of the Agarwals’ bungalow – where the driver was kept – may have been tampered with and further investigations were required on this.

In a statement to the police, Pujari had detailed how after he came out of the Yerawada Police Station on May 19, the two Agarwals came in the BMW, took away his phone, and forcibly took him to their bungalow. There they lured and threatened him to take the onus of the Porsche car crash in a bid to save the 17-year-old boy, currently lodged in a juvenile correctional home till June 4.

Meanwhile, a resident of Kalyani Nagar, who claimed to have witnessed the Porsche crash seconds after he had crossed the same road, said that there were a couple of “heavily sozzled” youngsters in the luxury car which crashed into a motorcycle, killing IT professionals Ashwini Koshtha and Aneesh Awadhiya, both 24, from Madhya Pradesh.

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The eyewitness told media persons that the duo was beaten by an angry crowd even as they begged, pleaded and even offered the members of the crowd “as much money as you want” to spare them, but they were handed over to the Yerawada Police.

–IANS

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Odisha: Fraudster held in Rs 50 cr Ponzi fraud case

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Bhubaneswar, May 28 (IANS) The Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Odisha Crime Branch on Tuesday arrested a person for duping several depositors in Odisha of over Rs 50 crore on the pretext of various Ponzi schemes, said an official here.

The accused was identified as Mohan Kumar Parida of Bhadrak district. Parida, an MBA graduate, is the Managing Director of M/s Way to Add India (P) Ltd. His wife is also the director of the sham private firm set up in 2020.

Parida was arrested on the basis of a complaint lodged by one Chitta Ranjan Palo of the Kalinga Nagar area in Bhubaneswar City. Palo alleged that Parida in connivance with other accused persons induced him to invest money to the tune of Rs 44.60 lakhs in various schemes of their company promising high interest, bonus, and commission. The accused persons reportedly had only given Rs 12,600 to Palo initially against his investment of Rs 44.60 lakhs.

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“EOW found that Parida was actually running a Ponzi scheme in a pyramidic binary structure. The accused through his company floated different schemes like the autopool package and boosting package etc. From 2020 to 2023, he induced the gullible people to invest in the two schemes to get hefty returns i.e. 26 per cent per month consecutively for three months on the invested amount,” the EOW official added.

The official further stated that the company also used to offer a bonus of two per cent for investors for enrolling new members. A new member is required to join the schemes by depositing Rs 2500 which is non-refundable and after depositing the amount. The investor was later given one login ID under which he could further enrol three persons to get more commission/bonus.

The company to win the confidence of investors would initially give some money and Ayurvedic products of Rs 500 to them.

“Following the collection of more than Rs 50 crore from 2000 investors from Odisha, the accused Parida all of a sudden closed the schemes and fled away with the collected amount after closing the company office its registered office at Prachi Vihar in Rasulgarh area of Bhubaneswar city,” said EOW official.

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The accused Parida was on Tuesday produced before the designated court under the OPID Act at Cuttack which sent him to 14-day judicial custody.

–IANS

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Woman complains of molestation at Shangri-La Hotel, friends beaten by bouncers: Delhi Police

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) A woman was allegedly molested and beaten up at the Belisario in Shangri-La Hotel here on Tuesday by another customer, a Delhi Police officer said, adding that the victim alleged that her friends were also thrashed by the bouncers there.

Sharing details, the police said that at around 8 a.m. on Tuesday, a PCR call was received at the Connaught Place police station in which a girl claimed that she was thrashed and abused at the Belisario.

Acting on the call, a police team rushed to the spot and the statement of the victim woman was recorded.

“The woman told the police that a person named Girish, who was a customer in the hotel, assaulted and abused her. The friends of the victim who came to the joint were also allegedly beaten up by the bouncers present there,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi), D.K. Mahla.

The officer said the police are scanning the CCTV footage from the hotel.

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A case under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman), and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been registered by the police.

“The matter will be investigated on priority and suitable action as per the law will be initiated against the guilty,” the DCP said.

–IANS

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