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Chennai has 3,726 polling stations, highest in Tamil Nadu

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Chennai, April 17 (IANS) Chennai district has 3,726 polling stations, the highest in Tamil Nadu, for the Lok Sabha elections scheduled on April 19, according to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Tiruvallur district has 3,687, the second-highest number of polling stations in the state, followed by Salem (3,260) and Coimbatore (3,096).

There are a total of 68,321 polling stations across the state, which includes 177 auxiliary polling stations that have been created in 19 districts.

Other districts with more than 2,000 polling stations in the state include Chengalpattu (2,825), Madurai (2,751), Tiruchi (2,547), Tiruppur (2,540), Tiruvannamalai (2,377), Thanjavur (2,308), Cuddalore (2,302), Erode (2,222), and Dindigul (2,121).

Similarly, the districts with polling stations count between 1,000 and 2,000 are Villupuram (1,966), Virudhunagar (1,895), Krishnagiri (1,888), Kanniyakumari (1,698), Namakkal (1,628), Thoothukudi (1,624), Pudukkottai (1,560), Tenkasi (1,517), Tirunelveli (1,491), Dharmapuri (1,489), Kancheepuram (1,417), Ramanathapuram (1,374), Sivaganga (1,357), Ranipet (1,307), Kallakurichi (1,274), Theni (1,225), Tiruvarur (1,183), Karur (1,052) and Tirupattur (1,042).

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Districts with fewer than 1,000 polling stations include Mayiladuthurai (860), the Nilgiris (689), Nagapattinam (653), Perambalur (652) and Ariyalur (596).

In the Vilavancode assembly constituency where a by-election is taking place along with the Lok Sabha polls, there are 272 polling stations.

The electioneering and campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections in the state will end on Wednesday at 6 p.m., according to the Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer.

–IANS

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One killed in firecracker unit blast in TN's Pudukkottai

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Chennai, May 20 (IANS) One person was killed in a blast at a firecracker manufacturing unit in Tamil Nadu’s Pudukottai district on Monday, police said.

The deceased was identified as Karthik, 32, from Athipalam village near Viralimalai in the district.

Another person was admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital, Pudukottai with serious injuries.

Pudukkottai police officials told IANS that the accident occurred due to sparks triggered during welding work at the warehouse of the fireworks factory.

Fire and Rescue services immediately doused the fire.

–IANS

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AAP faces the heat: ED uncovers Rs 7 cr foreign donation 'scam' violating FCRA rules

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has unearthed a Rs 7.08 crore alleged foreign donation scandal involving the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which violated FCRA and election guidelines by manipulating the donor identities.

Sources said this amount was raised in violation of the provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951, by concealing, mis-declaring and manipulating the identities and nationalities of foreign donors as well as several other facts relating to foreign donations.

According to the sources, the ED during its investigation found several instances of irregularities in the collection of foreign funds by the AAP and its leaders, as it accused some of them, including AAP MLA Durgesh Pathak, of siphoning off the funds collected during a fund-raising event in Canada in 2016 for personal benefits.

The ED has substantiated the allegations through the contents of e-mails exchanged between various AAP volunteers and functionaries, including Aniket Saxena (Coordinator of AAP Overseas India), Kumar Vishwas (then Convenor of AAP Oversea India), Kapil Bhardwaj (AAP member), and Pathak.

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The investigation so far has revealed that not only amounts were collected through fund-raising campaigns in the US and Canada, and the identities of the actual donors were concealed to circumvent the restrictions imposed under FCRA on donations by foreign citizens to a political party, but an analysis of the data of foreign donations also revealed that multiple donors used the same passport numbers, e-mail IDs, mobile numbers, and credit card details for donations.

“The ED has shared all the information with the Union Home Ministry relating to its investigations, including the details of the donors such as names, country, passport number, amount donated, mode of donation, bank account details of the receiver, billing name, billing address, billing telephone numbers, e-mail, time and date of donation, and the payment gateways used, etc., which were gathered during the investigation under PMLA,” the sources said.

The agency has also gathered materials relating to the donations through e-mail IDs and mobile numbers of Canadian nationals.

“The FCRA violation and other irregularities in receiving foreign funds by the AAP emerged during the investigation in a case registered in Punjab’s Fazilka district against an international drugs cartel involved in smuggling of heroin from Pakistan through the barbed fencing on the Indo-Pak border,” said the sources.

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In this connection, a special court in Fazilka issued a summons to then AAP MLA from Bholath, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, to face the trial as an accused.

During the ED investigation, searches were conducted at the residential premises of Khaira and his associates, which resulted in the seizure of incriminating documents containing details of foreign donations (four type-written pages containing a list of donors in the US, and eight hand-written pages of a diary).

The ED alleged that the scrutiny of the seized documents revealed the receipt of foreign donations amounting to $1,19,000.

Khaira in his statement claimed that the foreign funding of $1,19,000 was raised during overseas fund-raising campaigns in the US organised by the AAP in April-May 2015, ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections in Punjab.

The ED said that in this context, Pankaj Gupta, the national secretary of AAP, was summoned, who admitted that AAP received foreign donations either through cheque or through the online mode.

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“The investigation also revealed that AAP set up a body — AAP Overseas lndia — along with volunteers in countries like the US, Canada, Australia etc., whose primary task was to mobilise foreign funds for AAP in India.

It also revealed that a target of overseas donations of Rs 50 crore was fixed for these volunteers in 2016,” the sources said.

Donations totalling Rs 51,15,044 were received using e-mail IDs and mobile numbers of 19 Canadian nationals, as per the ED probe.

However, the names of these Canadian nationals were not reflected correctly in the records, the sources said.

Instead, different names were mentioned against these donations, which was done intentionally by the AAP to hide donations by foreign nationals, which are in violation of Section 3 of FCRA, and Section 298 of the Representation of the People Act, the sources said.

–IANS

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Raj ex-minister’s nephew booked for vandalising club, damaging private vehicles in Jaipur

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Jaipur, May 20 (IANS) Rajasthan Police registered two FIRs against former state minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas’ nephew Harsh and nine of his associates on Monday.

Police said that the FIRs against Harsh and his friends were filed for allegedly vandalising a private club in Jaipur, thrashing the security staff and smashing windows of cars parked in a residential colony in Vidyalapuri area.

The first FIR was filed based on a complaint by the club staff and CCTV footage shared by the club manager, said police.

The incident was reported past midnight on Sunday and medical examination of the victims has been done.

Due to the imposition of SC-ST Section in the case, the investigation has been handed over to ACP Ashok Nagar Balaram Choudhary.

Club bouncer Sandeep Maurya filed a report at Vidhayakpuri Police Station alleging that around 10-15 people including Harsh came to the club to assault security manager Pratap Singh on Sunday night and vandalised the club.

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A female security guard Khusma and other bouncers in the club were also beaten up.

When Kartik Singh, a club member who was already present there, intervened on seeing the fight, he was also thrashed. The miscreants abused security manager Pratap Singh and threatened to kill him.

Meanwhile, Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said that his nephew had no role in the incident.

ACP Ashok Nagar Balaram Choudhary said, “A case has been registered against all the named accused on the report of Sandeep Maurya, and the medical treatment of the victims has been done.”

Meanwhile Sub-Inspector Hemlata Sharma confirmed to IANS that another FIR has been filed at Vaishali Nagar Police Station as Harsh with a few friends reached the residence of Kartik Singh and broke the windows of his three vehicles parked outside.

–IANS

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JD-S MLA H.D. Revanna granted conditional bail in sexual harassment case

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Bengaluru, May 20 (IANS) The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s (ACMM) court on Monday granted conditional bail to JD-S MLA H.D. Revanna in a sexual harassment case.

Revanna, the son of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, was recently released from prison in a kidnap case.

Magistrate J. Preeth directed Revanna to furnish a bond for Rs 5 lakh along with a surety.

Claiming that a rape charge has been included in the sexual harassment case against Revanna, the prosecution argued in the court that he should be remanded to judicial custody.

On Friday, special public prosecutor Jayna Kothari, appearing for the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case, had submitted that IPC Section 376 (rape) has been added to the sexual harassment case registered at the Holenarasipur police station.

“The victim claimed that she had left her house, as she was unable to bear the harassment at the hands of H.D. Revanna and his son Prajwal Revanna. The house allotted to her under the Ashraya scheme was taken back, but a complaint to the District Commissioner in this regard made no difference,” Kothari argued.

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“Both H.D. Revanna and Prajwal Revanna committed sexual assault, and the court should not see the case against Revanna as separate from that of Prajwal Revanna. Under no circumstances should he be granted bail. Since a rape charge has been added to the case, the trial should be conducted in the session’s court,” she had claimed.

C.V. Nagesh, the counsel for H.D. Revanna, had claimed that the complaint in this regard was not lodged by the complainant in the first place.

“It is a false case created intentionally. The victim does not know what sexual assault is,” he argued.

“The rape charge against Revanna has been added only now. The alleged act was not committed on the day when the complaint was lodged. It did not occur a week ago or even a year ago. The complaint states that the alleged act was committed years ago.

“The victim did not register the complaint at the Holenarasipur police station. Instead, the sub-inspector from Holenarasipur police station went to Bengaluru and got the complaint filed as desired by the victim,” Nagesh said.

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–IANS

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SC refuses to entertain plea by a 78-year-old bedridden woman seeking to cast her vote by postal ballot

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea filed by a 78-year-old bedridden woman seeking to exercise her right to vote through postal ballot in the ongoing 2024 general elections.

A bench of Justices Bela M. Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal said that the petition has turned infructuous in view of the EVM voting held on May 7 in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur constituency.

The plea, filed through advocate Pranav Sachdeva, said that the petitioner, who is suffering from severe osteoarthritis in both knees and therefore unable to stand or move, and also having been bedridden for the last 3 months, should be allowed to cast her vote by postal ballot.

In an order passed on May 6, a bench of Justice Rakesh Mohan Pandey of the Chhattisgarh High Court rejected the application for interim relief, saying that issuance and collection of a postal ballot cannot be completed within 24 hours.

The special leave petition said that the impugned order passed by the high court was “erroneous” because it closed the right to vote of a 78-year-old bedridden petitioner.

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–IANS

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