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Estranged Congress leader Koustav Bagchi joins BJP in Bengal



Kolkata, Feb 29 (IANS) Koustav Bagchi, the estranged Congress leader in West Bengal who had resigned from the party on Wednesday, officially joined the BJP on Thursday evening.

Bagchi, who’s also a counsel in the Calcutta High Court, was welcomed into the BJP by the leader of opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, in the presence of the party’s state unit chief, Sukanta Majumdar.

“There is no point in pursuing a political career unless you get the chance to work for the people. The Congress has lost all relevance in West Bengal. The party high-command maintained a total silence on the events that unfolded in Sandeshkhali.

“It seems the Congress leadership is going soft towards the Trinamool Congress. In such a situation, there is no point in sticking to the party anymore,” Bagchi told mediapersons after joining the BJP.

He also claimed that grievances are brewing within the state Congress over the party high-command’s silence on the Sandeshkhali issue.

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“For me, staying in the Congress was nothing but compromising with self-respect,” Bagchi added.

Differences between Bagchi and the Congress high-command had surfaced ever since the party leadership initiated alliance talks with Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Bagchi had been vocal a number of times against the alliance talks with the Trinamool.

He was also vocal against high-profile lawyer-leaders in the Congress, namely Abhishek Manu Singhvi and P. Chidambaram, briefing different courts on behalf of the West Bengal government and prominent Trinamool leaders.



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385 motorists caught for drunk driving in Telangana's Cyberabad




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




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.



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




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.



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Yogi govt to plant 350 million saplings this year




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.



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Under-construction bridge collapses in Bihar's East Champaran




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.



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