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Congress, BJP cry foul over CM Vijayan's three nation 'private' trip

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 7 (IANS) Kerala’s opposition Congress and BJP on Monday questioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s “private trip” to three countries.

Early on Monday, Vijayan, his wife Kamala, and their grandson left for the UAE, and are also scheduled to visit Indonesia, and Singapore before returning on May 21.

Congress MP and Thrissur Lok Sabha seat K. Muraleedharan said it is a normal practice to reveal the purpose of a foreign visit of a Chief Minister. “Now that he, along with his family, is visiting three countries, he has to come clean on the purpose of his visit. There is no need for any secrecy as he is a public person,” said Muraleedharan, son of four-time Chief Minister K. Karunakaran.

State BJP President K. Surendran asked CPI-M state Secretary M.V. Govindan if he knew why Vijayan embarked on a three-nation trip.

“If this is a private trip, then there should be no expenses to the state exchequer. The practice always is if it’s a private trip, then the cost should be borne by those undertaking the trip. What we have seen before is Vijayan often takes a pleasure trip, accompanied by his family,” he claimed.

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Vijayan’s daughter Veena Vijayan and her husband and state minister P.A. Mohammed Riyas are in the UAE and will travel with the Chief Minister during the trip. The Vijayan family will be in Indonesia till May 12 before flying to Singapore. On May 18, they will return to the UAE before coming back to India on May 21.

According to sources, since this is a private trip, no official announcement was made about it. However, the timing of this trip has raised eyebrows as Vijayan’s schedule for May had listed numerous programmes for him in the state during the days he is out of the country.

–IANS

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72.44 per cent polling in Telangana MLC by-election

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Hyderabad, May 28 (IANS) The final voter turnout in Monday’s by-election to the Telangana Legislative Council from the Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda graduates’ constituency was 72.44 per cent, election officials said on Tuesday.

Out of 4,63,839 voters, 3,36,013 cast their votes in the constituency spread over 34 Assembly segments in 12 districts.

Among the districts, Yadadri Bhongir recorded the highest polling at 78.59 per cent. The lowest, at 67.62 per cent, was in Khammam district.

According to poll officials, 68.65 per cent of voters cast their votes by 4 p.m., when the polling came to an end. However, those standing in queues were allowed to cast their votes.

The Election Commission had set up 605 polling centres with the highest (118) in the Khammam district.

A total of 52 candidates were in the fray for the by-election but the main contest was among the Congress, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates.

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The vacancy arose after Palla Rajeshwar Reddy of the BRS resigned following his election to the Assembly from the Jangaon constituency in the November 2023 polls. He was elected as MLC in the election held in 2021.

The ruling Congress, which has 33 out of the 34 MLAs in the graduates’ constituency, fielded Chintapandu Teenmaar Mallanna, who had contested as an independent and finished second in the 2021 election. He is locked in a three-cornered contest with Rakesh Reddy of the BRS and G. Permender Reddy of the BJP.

Counting of votes will be taken up on June 5, a day after counting of votes polled in Lok Sabha elections.

–IANS

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Sizzling Rajasthan: Churu breaches 50-degree C mark, Pilani reels at 49-degree C

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Jaipur, May 29 (IANS) Pilani in Rajasthan on Tuesday recorded the highest ever maximum temperature at 49-degree Celsius, while Churu sizzled at 50.5-degree Celsius to become the hottest place in the state on Tuesday.

The previous highest maximum temperature recorded in Pilani was 48.6-degree Celsius on May 2, 1999. Churu’s all-time highest maximum temperature recorded so far is 50.8-degree Celsius on June 1, 2019.

Many cities in the state recorded a maximum temperature of over 45-degree Celsius. In Ganganagar, the mercury soared to 49.4-degree Celsius, followed by Phalodi (49), Bikaner (48.3), Kota (48.2), Jaisalmer (48), Jaipur (46.6), and Barmer (46).

Meanwhile, Met department officials said that the maximum temperature is likely to drop by 2 to 4-degree Celsius in most parts of the state in the next 48 hours. There is a strong possibility of relief from the ongoing severe heat wave in the state from May 31 onwards.

–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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