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BJP adopts ‘tough stand’ against growing farmers’ clamour in Punjab

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Chandigarh, May 28 (IANS) With clamour growing in Punjab against the BJP nominees in all the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state over a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), the party seems to have adopted a ‘tough stand’ on the issue.

Besides a BJP delegation led by its state unit chief Sunil Jakhar approaching the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Punjab to express concerns over the safety of the party candidates during campaigning, BJP nominees like Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the former Indian Ambassador to the US who’s making his electoral debut from Amritsar, seem to have adopted a tough posture.

“Disheartening to see farmers’ groups silent on drug abuse by Punjab’s youth, especially in the rural belt, worsening law and order, and Amritsar’s sewerage issues while raising slogans against the BJP leaders,” Sandhu said on Monday.

The former diplomat faced the farmers’ ire when he visited the houses of two scheduled caste families to express sympathy and hear their concerns.

The farmers assembled there raised slogans against Sandhu, who in turn questioned the protesters if they had ever visited the families that have been impacted by the scourge of drugs.

“It is a shameful act on the part of the farmers,” added Sandhu, whose vision includes alternatives for agricultural development and sustainability.

Punjab has been the epicentre of protests since the beginning of the farmers’ agitation in November 2020.

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The BJP’s campaign in Punjab revolves around the overall development of the border state, jobs for the youth, ending the drug menace, a robust law and order system, and the betterment of farmers.

The Sikhs constitute 58 per cent of the total population in Punjab, out of which Jat Sikhs are 20-25 per cent, the largest landowners.

Addressing a public gathering in Patiala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said recently, “Punjab is blessed with five rivers. The farmers here have been turning soil into gold. But these INDI Alliance people lie even to the farmers.

“They haven’t fulfilled a single promise made to the farmers. It is the BJP that prioritises the welfare of farmers. In the past 10 years, there has been record procurement of wheat and rice from Punjab. We have increased the MSP by two-and-a-half times in these 10 years.”

Meanwhile, the ruling AAP and the Congress, despite being INDIA bloc partners, are fighting against each other in Punjab.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP, one of the oldest constituents of the NDA which parted ways over the 2020-21 farm law protests, are contesting the elections solo on all seats.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), a Sikh hardliner outfit led by Simranjit Mann, have also fielded candidates on their own.

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Responding to the ongoing farmers’ protests, a senior BJP leader told IANS that the agricultural states, especially Punjab, need more market-driven outcomes that require investments in infrastructure so that the farmers can expand their options to sell and operate in a level-playing field.

“The MSP system will remain an integral part of the agricultural economy that includes subsidised inputs meant to incentivise farmers to adopt new technologies and enhance farm productivity,” he said.

“Daily protests by the farmers have become a pain in the neck for the common man. We are fed up, it’s impacting our business,” Balraj Thukral, a trader in Barnala, told IANS.

This month, Barnala witnessed a clash between traders and farmers as the business community observed a day-long shutdown to protest against the frequent ‘diktats’ of farmer unions over ‘petty issues’.

Besides Sandhu, other BJP candidates, including sitting MP Preneet Kaur from Patiala, former IAS officer Parampal Kaur from Bathinda, sitting MP Ravneet Singh Bittu from Ludhiana, Hans Raj Hans from Faridkot, and Manjeet Singh Manna from Khadoor Sahib are been facing protests, mainly in the rural areas.

Hans Raj Hans was encircled by the farmers when he was enroute Prime Minister Modi’s rally in Patiala on May 23.

Hans later claimed the farmers told him to speak against PM Modi.

“I said I could die for him, but won’t speak against the Prime Minister. Even if you take my life, I will not speak ill of my friend,” he said.

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Stating that the BJP is not anti-farmer, state BJP chief Jakhar told IANS that under the Centre’s Kisan Credit Card scheme, nearly 22.5 lakh farmers in Punjab received a whopping Rs 56,754 crore in the past 10 years.

And under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, Rs 4,758 crore was provided and 24.50 soil health cards were made in Punjab, he said.

Hitting out at the Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government, he said Punjab is reeling under a collapse in leadership that is responsible for the state’s ignominy with kangaroo courts taking roots here.

To recall, in the 2019 general elections, the BJP’s vote share in Punjab was just 9.63 per cent.

Riding on the Ram Temple wave, the BJP this time aims to notably add to its vote share by banking largely on the urban Hindu vote bank, which constitutes 38.49 per cent of the state’s population with a sizeable influence in 34 Assembly segments.

The 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state will go to the polls in the seventh and final phase on June 1. The results will be out on June 4.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at gulatiians@gmail.com)

–IANS

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385 motorists caught for drunk driving in Telangana's Cyberabad

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Hyderabad, June 23 (IANS) Telangana’s Cyberabad Police have apprehended 385 motorists for drunk driving in a large-scale drive.

Drunk driving tests were conducted at various locations under the limits of Cyberabad Police Commissionerate on Saturday night.

As many as 182 offenders were caught in the IT corridor alone. Police said all those caught will be produced before the court.

Those apprehended include 292 bike riders, 80 people driving four-wheelers, 11 driving three-wheelers and two heavy vehicle drivers.

Four offenders were caught with the highest Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 550 mg/100 ml.

If anybody indulges in driving under the influence of alcohol and causes accidents killing people, such persons will be arrested and sent to jail under section 304 part II of IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) for which the maximum punishment is 10 years of jail, the police said.

The Cyberabad police conducted the special drive for a second consecutive week-end.

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During the similar drive on the night of June 15, Cyberabad Traffic Police had apprehended over 349 people for drunk driving.

A total of 253 two-wheelers, 16 three-wheelers, 74 four-wheelers, and 6 heavy vehicle drivers were caught during the Driving Under Influence (DUI) checks.

Cyberabad Joint Commissioner of Police Traffic, D. Joel Davis stated that drunk driving and unauthorised driving have been major causes of road crashes and fatalities in Cyberabad.

In view of the increasing number of road accidents due to drunk driving, the police have begun to act strictly against such drivers.

People who knowingly allow or accompany drunk drivers are also being prosecuted for abetting the crimes.

Meanwhile, Cyberabad Traffic Police (CTP) also registered 22 FIRs against 114 vehicles for wrong-side driving in various locations across Cyberabad on June 22.

Police said it was making continued efforts to curb the dangerous practice of wrong-side driving. As of June 22, the CTP has registered a total of 122 FIRs and apprehended 631 vehicles for wrong-side driving offences.

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–IANS

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BJP youth leader shot in Indore; search to nab suspects underway

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Bhopal, June 23 (IANS) A BJP youth leader was allegedly shot dead in Indore at the Chiman Bagh Chowk early on Sunday morning, police said.

The victim has been identified as Monu Kalyane, a youth wing leader of the BJP’s Indore District unit.

Kalyane was supposed to organise a ‘Bhagwa Rally’ by Sunday evening, for which, he along with his associates, had been putting up banners at several places in the city.

“Monu and some of his friends were putting up poster, banners early on Sunday morning, during which, he was shot dead,” a senior police officer told the Press.

Police have launched a search operation to nab two suspects, Piyush and Arjun, who are Monu’s neighbours.

Police said the preliminary investigation suggested that the murder was the result of a personal rivalry.

Local BJP leaders, including former BJP MLA Akash Vijayvargiya, son of senior BJP minister Kailash Vijayvargiya reached the victim’s home.

Sources told IANS that Monu was close to Akash Vijayvargiya.

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Meanwhile, a group of people pelted stones and set vehicles on fire that were parked outside Piyush and Arjun’s homes.

Police were trying to control the situation. Further details are awaited.

–IANS

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Union ministers Jaishankar, Puri pay tributes to victims of Kanishka bombing on 39th anniv of terror attack

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Union Ministers S. Jaishankar and Hardeep Singh Puri paid homage on Sunday to the over 300 victims of the Air India ‘Kanishka’ flight bombing, commemorating the 39th anniversary of the terrorist attack.

In a post on X, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar expressed his condolences, stating, “Today marks the 39th anniversary of one of the worst acts of terrorism in history. Pay my homage to the memory of the 329 victims of AI 182 ‘Kanishka’ who were killed on this day in 1985. My thoughts are with their families. The anniversary is a reminder why terrorism should never be tolerated.”

Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, also took to X, sharing images of his tribute.

He remarked, “My homage to 329 victims of Air India ‘Kanishka’ Flight 182. This dastardly bombing on 23 June 1985 remains one of the most reprehensible acts of terror committed against India.”

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Puri further condemned the ideology behind such attacks, stating, “Actions anchored in such extremism have no place in a sane & civilised world. Unfortunately, the systems & mindsets that condoned Kanishka bombing & subsequent acts of terrorism continue to find forces & sympathisers violating international norms & commitments to combat violent extremism & terrorism.”

The Air India Flight 182, en route from Montreal to New Delhi, exploded 45 minutes before it was scheduled to land at Heathrow Airport, London, on June 23, 1985.

All 329 people on board, mostly Canadians of Indian descent, lost their lives.

The bombing was attributed to Sikh militants, believed to be retaliating against ‘Operation Bluestar,’ a 1984 Indian Army operation aimed at removing terrorists holed up inside the Golden Temple with arms and ammunition.

–IANS

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Yogi govt to plant 350 million saplings this year

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Lucknow, June 23 (IANS) The Yogi Adityanath government plans to plant 350 million saplings this year to expand Uttar Pradesh’s green areas.

The goal is to increase the state’s green cover from 9 to 15 per cent by 2026-27 with public cooperation.

Specific targets have been set for all departments and divisions in the state-wide campaign. The Yogi government has also directed proper preparations to ensure the availability of high-quality saplings for all stakeholders.

As in the previous year, this year, preparations have begun for a safe plantation and the achievement of the target.

The goal is to plant 350 million saplings, with specific targets assigned to various departments: 140 million from Forest, Environment, and Climate Change, 125.9 million from Rural Development, 25 million from Agriculture, 15.5 million from Horticulture, 12.8 million from Panchayati Raj, 10.6 million from Revenue, 3.5 million from Urban Development, 1.8 million from Higher Education.

Besides, 1.3 million saplings each will be planted by Public Works, Railways, and Water Power, 1.2 million from Basic Education, 1.1 million from Health, 900,000 from Industry, 800,000 each from Industrial Development and Secondary Education, 700,000 each from Home-Animal Husbandry, 600,000 each from Energy and Cooperation, 500,000 each from Housing Development, Defence, and Technical Education, and 300,000 each from Labour and Transport.

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Under the campaign, saplings will be planted in all 18 divisions.

Targets for all have been fixed. Lucknow division has been given the target of planting the maximum number of saplings.

Four crore saplings will be planted in the Lucknow division, 3.13 crore in Kanpur division, 2.76 crore in Chitrakoot, 2.58 crore in Jhansi, 2.27 crore in Mirzapur, 2.20 crore in Ayodhya, 1.95 crore in Devipatan, 1.89 crore in Prayagraj, 1.87 crore in Bareilly, 1.78 crore in Varanasi, 1.76 crore in Moradabad, 1.74 crore in Agra, 1.43 crore in Gorakhpur, 1.34 crore in Azamgarh, 1.20 crore in Aligarh, 1.14 crore in Meerut division, 1.08 crore in Basti and 88 lakh in Saharanpur division.

There will also be geo-tagging of plantation sites. The Forest Department will plant 12.60 crore saplings in the divisions, and other departments will plant around 22.40 crore saplings.

The Yogi government has directed officials to plant trees statewide to turn Uttar Pradesh green.

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Trees will be planted on forest land, village panchayat and community land, around expressways and canals, on land owned by development authorities and industrial complexes, on defence and railway land, on medical and educational institution grounds, on other government properties, on private farmland with farmers’ cooperation, and by citizens on their private premises.

–IANS

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Under-construction bridge collapses in Bihar's East Champaran

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Patna, June 23 (IANS) An under-construction bridge collapsed in Bihar’s East Champaran district in the wee hours of Sunday.

The incident occurred in the Ghorasahan block in the district. The construction of the bridge was underway under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana with a cost of Rs 1.59 crore. The 40-foot-long bridge was built between the Amwa village of Ghorasahan block and the Chainpur railway station.

Locals claimed the concretisation of the bridge was taking place late on Saturday night. As soon as the concretisation was done, it collapsed.

The bridge was built by Motihari’s Dhiraj Construction Private Limited. The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by Rama Devi, former BJP MP of Sheohar, on March 10 this year.

“The bridge is being constructed in two spans. The concretisation of the bridge was done from one side on Saturday. After that, last night dozens of anti-social elements came at the construction site in some vehicles and broke the support of the bridge. Due to this, the bridge collapsed. The administrative officer has been informed about this,” said SN Mandal, Executive Engineer, PWD Dhaka sub-division of East Champaran district.

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Meanwhile, the villagers claimed that the material being used in the construction of the bridge was of low quality. The bridge is not being constructed as per the estimate. As a result, it collapsed along with the casting.

“The bridge collapsed due to the irregularities being done in the construction. A high-level investigation is needed here. The engineer is using low-grade materials for the construction of the bridge. This is the reason why the bridge collapsed,” said Deepak Kumar Singh, a villager.

Earlier, a 30-foot-long bridge built on the canal of the Gandak River in Siwan collapsed on Saturday. That bridge was 40-45 years old. People said that the bridge collapsed due to soil cutting during the cleaning of the canal.

Last week, another bridge built with an estimated cost of Rs 12 crore in the Sikti block of Araria collapsed before its inauguration.

–IANS

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