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Heavy rains, landslide leave trail of destruction across northeast India, 36 dead in 4 states

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Guwahati/Aizawl, May 28 (IANS) At least 36 people were killed in heavy rains and landslides in four northeastern states on Tuesday under the impact of Cyclone Remal while normal life came to a grinding halt in all the eight states of the region with road and rail links affected, officials said.

While 27 people were killed in Mizoram, including 21 in a quarry collapse in Aizawl district, four deaths were reported in Nagaland, three in Assam, and two in Meghalaya.

The rains, accompanied by gusty winds, triggered landslides, uprooted trees and electric poles, and disrupted power and internet services.

In view of waterlogging between the New Haflong-Jatinga Lampur section and Ditokcherra yard under the Lumding division of Northeast Frontier Railway, many trains were either cancelled or partially cancelled and rescheduled.

In Mizoram, at least 27 people, including 21 in a collapsed stone quarry, were killed and 10 others were missing in multiple landslides in Aizawl district.

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Disaster management and police officials said that 21 bodies had been recovered so far from the quarry site between Melthum and Hlimen in the Aizawl while several others were still trapped under the debris following the collapse in the morning. Six died and many others were missing following incidents of landslides at Salem, Aibawk, Lungsei, Kelsih, and Falkawn in the district.

In Nagaland, at least four people died in different incidents while more than 40 houses have been damaged in various parts of the state.

A minor boy drowned at a river near Laruri village under the Meluri subdivision of Phek district, while two other incidents of drowning were reported from Doyang Dam in the Wokha district, an official said. An elderly man was crushed to death after a wall collapsed in Phek.

In Assam, three persons were killed while 17 others were injured in Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro), and Morigaon districts. According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), a tree branch fell on a school bus in Dhekiajuli of Sonitpur district, injuring 12 students. Five others were injured in different incidents in Morigaon.

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Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed grief over the loss of lives.

ASDMA officials said that heavy storms occurred in the Bongaigaon, Chirang, Darrang, Dhubri, Hojai, Kamrup, Kamrup Metro, Karbi Anglong, Kokrajhar, Morigaon, Nagaon, Sonitpur, South Salmara and West Karbi Anglong districts.

In Meghalaya, two persons died and over 100 others were injured as heavy rain lashed the state, officials said on Tuesday. Officials said one death was reported from East Jaintia Hills and another in a car accident in East Khasi Hills district. The relentless downpour damaged a large number of houses in 17 villages. Landslides were reported on the Shillong-Mawlai Bypass and at Bivar Road in Oakland, while flashfloods took place in Langkyrding, Pynthorbah, Polo, Sawfurlong, and Demseiniong areas.

In Tripura, heavy rain accompanied by gusty winds of 50 to 60 km per hour lashed most parts of the state during the past 24 hours, damaging 470 houses and forcing 750 people to take shelter in 15 relief camps in different districts.

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Briefing media in Agartala, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Sushant Chowdhury said that during the past 24 hours, the state recorded an average of 215.5 mm rainfall with Unakoti district recording the highest, at 252.4 mm.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a high alert with a forecast of extremely heavy rainfall. Chief Minister Pema Khandu requested the people to take all precautionary measures and avoid vulnerable and isolated locations.

–IANS

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Price of Ayodhya shops slashed by 30 pc for allotees

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Lucknow, June 21 (IANS) In a major policy change, the Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA) has slashed the price of shops by 30 per cent for allottees who were displaced due to a road widening project undertaken in the temple town, government officials said.

In addition, it approved the proposal to hand over 500 newly constructed shops to allottees in Ayodhya on 20-year easy instalments without interest.

Now that it has been cleared, the ADA will send the proposal to the Uttar Pradesh government.

Ayodhya Divisional Commissioner Gaurav Dayal, who chaired the board meeting, said, “We have approved a proposal to cut shops’ cost by 30 per cent. In addition, shops will be handed over to allottees on a 20-year easy instalment without interest.”

Dayal is also the Chairman of the Ayodhya Development Authority.

These shopkeepers were displaced in the 13-km road widening project from Sahadatganj to Naya Ghat which has been named as Ram Path. The project was completed in December 2023.

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Earlier, shopkeepers had to pay the full amount to the ADA to take possession of shops.

As these shops cost around Rs 15 to 20 lakh, shopkeepers were unable to pay the amount. The only option before them was to take bank loans.

In December last year, these shops were ready. But due to financial constraints, only around 75 shopkeepers took possession of shops till the last month.

“We are thankful to the state government for bringing down the cost of shops by 30 per cent. And the remaining amount will be payable in easy interest-free instalments of 20 years,” said Ved Prakash Gupta, a BJP MLA from Ayodhya (Sadar) Assembly constituency.

In the recently concluded Parliamentary election, the BJP suffered one of its most humiliating defeats in the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency where its two-time MP Lallu Singh lost to Samajwadi Party’s Awadesh Prasad.

The INDIA bloc candidate won the prestigious seat by a margin of 54,567 votes.

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After the grand opening of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 22 this year, the people of Faizabad voted for the first time and rejected the BJP.

State BJP Chief Bhupendra Chaudhary was in Ayodhya on a two-day visit from Wednesday to ascertain the reasons behind the party’s defeat in the temple town.

–IANS

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Akhilesh for court-monitored probe in paper leak

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Lucknow, June 21 (IANS) Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav has demanded a court-monitored probe to unmask those behind paper leaks even if it involves those who enjoy the patronage of people in government.

Lashing out at the Union government over the cancellation of the UGC-NET exam following an alleged paper leak, he said that the exam mafia was making a mockery of students’ future.

“Such frequent paper leaks raise concerns if it were a part of a deeper conspiracy to destabilise India’s human resource and cause law and order situation. A court-monitored probe was a must to unravel the truth,” he added.

He also said, “In February, the police recruitment examination paper was leaked and thereafter that of the review officer and assistant review officer (RO/ARO). The agencies then made a mockery of the NEET. Now the UGC-NET exam has been cancelled after it was leaked.”

He added that irregularities in the NEET exam will lead to a situation where honest and dedicated students will not be able to clear the exams on their merit and add to the shortage of qualified and efficient doctors.

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Akhilesh said: “If undeserving individuals make it through using unfair means, ultimately it will reflect poorly on the quality of medical treatment in the days to come. The situation gets more concerning since the exam is held at the national level.”

“Similarly, cancellation of the UGC-NET exam will cause delay in making available qualified teachers. Shortage of teachers will directly and indirectly impact the development of the country which in turn will prove detrimental to the nation,” he added.

–IANS

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20k vehicles fined for using pressure horns, hooters in UP

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Lucknow, June 21 (IANS) With the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath calling for an immediate ban on the use of pressure horns and hooters in government and private vehicles, the Uttar Pradesh Police has fined 20,000 vehicles during the weeklong drive so far, the police said.

As many as 2.75 lakh vehicles have been checked by the police across the state since the Chief Minister issued orders.

A senior police officer said that 3,900 vehicles were booked for using hooters and pressure horns in their vehicles. Others include the use of police colours and insignia of the Uttar Pradesh government.

Uttar Pradesh Police collected a fine of Rs 1.3 crore.

Director General of Police (DGP) Prashant Kumar said efforts were being made by the police and transport departments to enforce the statewide ban.

“Traffic police at district and state levels have devised a plan for effective implementation of the order,” he added.

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Additional Director General, Traffic Directorate, B.D. Paulson said a month-long drive against pressure horns has been started.

“District police chiefs and commissioners will ensure compliance of the order. The drive will also crack down on the use of tinted windows in vehicles,” he added.

Lucknow Joint Commissioner Of Police, Law and Order, Upendra Agarwal, said as part of the drive sale of horns and hooters would also be banned.

“While checking 1,718 vehicles using blue lights and hooter sirens, 315 vehicles were asked to remove hooter sirens and pressure horns. They were also issued challans and a mitigation fee of Rs 44,500 was collected,” said a traffic police officer.

Police colours and names of departments inscribed on 346 cars were removed during the inspection of 2,178 vehicles that were using police colours.

Additionally, while issuing challans, an immediate mitigation fee of Rs 65,500 was collected.

Likewise, plates and stickers with the Uttar Pradesh government and the Government of India (except contract vehicles) were removed from 244 vehicles and while issuing the challan, a fee of Rs 47,400 was collected.

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–IANS

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UP man claims sex change operation without his consent, case filed

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Muzaffarnagar, June 21 (IANS) In a bizarre incident, a 20-year-old man in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar has alleged that he was operated for sex change without his consent at a local hospital, the police said.

However, the hospital has claimed that the man underwent the sex reassignment process of his own will.

The 20-year-old man claimed that one Om Prakash used to molest him.

On June 3, the man said Om Prakash took him to the hospital, where he was sedated and deceptively made to undergo an operation.

When he woke up the next morning, he found his genitals were cut off.

“When I woke up, Om Prakash told me that I am a woman now and that he would take me to Lucknow to marry me. He threatened to kill my father if I resisted,” the man said, adding that the doctors and staff at the hospital were colluding with Om Prakash.

Based on a complaint by the man’s father on June 16, the police have arrested Om Prakash.

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However, members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union staged a protest outside the hospital, alleging there was laxity in the police investigation.

According to farmer leader Shyam Pal, the doctors at the hospital were involved in the illegal organ trade.

“I believe there is a very big racket going on here where they remove vital organs of the body and sell them at a higher price,” he said.

Pal also demanded the government to direct the hospital to pay Rs 2 crore compensation to the man and his family.

Ramashish Singh, Circle Officer of Khatauli police station in Muzaffarnagar, said, “There was a case here in which a person was operated for sex change. His family members alleged that he was misled by another person and the operation was done. Whatever allegations have been made by them, have been taken into consideration. Further investigation is underway.”

However, hospital authorities denied the man’s claim that he was deceptively operated on.

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According to Chief Medical Superintendent Kirti Goswami, the man had been coming to the hospital regularly for two months to meet Raza Farooqui, a plastic surgeon.

Goswami said that the man identified as a woman and wanted to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

The Chief Medical Superintendent said that Farooqui referred the man to two psychiatrists to assess his mental condition, which is a prerequisite before a sex-change operation as per law.

The man was operated on only after the two psychiatrists deemed him mentally fit.

“The man came here to get admitted on June 4 and his operation was conducted on June 6. All these procedures are legal and were conducted under the supervision of Farooqui,” Goswami added.

Goswami also claimed that the authorities had a video of the man before his operation, in which he could be seen talking about undergoing an operation to change his gender.

–IANS

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Bengal train collision: Preliminary findings suggest combination of human, procedural lapses

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Kolkata, June 20 (IANS) Preliminary investigation by a joint observation committee in the Kanchanjunga Express–goods train collision on Monday morning suggests that a combination of two procedural lapses was the reason behind the accident, sources said on Thursday.

Sources said that the first procedural lapse was that the “absolute block system” was not followed in the case of the goods train that had hit Kanchanjunga Express from behind.

The absolute block system (ABS) is followed by railways in case the automatic signalling system is inactive within a particular area between two stations. In that case, a train will not be allowed to leave one station unless the preceding train in the same line (the ‘block’) leaves or crosses the next station ahead. However, as per a preliminary report, the goods train was given permission to leave the Rangapani station before the Kanchanjunga Express, which was moving in the same line, crossed the next station which was Chatter Hat.

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Had the ABS been strictly followed in this case the accident, which has taken 11 lives so far, could have been avoided.

While this was the first procedural lapse, as per the preliminary findings, the next human error was on the part of the loco-pilot (now deceased) of the goods train, where he overshot the prescribed speed limit while crossing a distance where the automatic signalling system is non-functional. As per norms, for the trains passing through such a distance, the speed should never exceed 15 km per hour, to maintain a reasonable distance between the two trains passing on the same line.

Preliminary findings suggest that the collision occurred due to the violation of the speed limit between the Rangapani and Chatter Hat stations.

At the same time, sources said, from the impact of the collision on the last four coaches of Kanchanjunga Express, the last two being the parcel coach and guard’s compartment, it was clear that the speed was well above the prescribed limit of 15 km an hour.

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–IANS

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