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IANS Interview: UCC will affect Meghalaya’s unique matrilineal society, says Cong MP Vincent Pala

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Shillong, April 16 (IANS) The introduction of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in the country, as promised by the BJP in its election manifesto, will affect the matrilineal social structure in Meghalaya, claimed Congress MP Vincent Pala, who is seeking re-election from the Shillong Lok Sabha seat.

In an interview with IANS here, he said Meghalaya’s culture is different from the rest of the country, where women have a dominant role in society.

“We have separate structures for marriage, divorce, etc. In this way, the Christian system is very different from Hinduism. But if the Central government implements a uniform civil code throughout the country, then Meghalaya will definitely face issues in the coming days,” Pala said.

He also mentioned that the hill state of the northeast may witness strong resistance from its society against the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

The Congress MP, however, turned down the chances of any protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Meghalaya.

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“CAA was implemented in the whole country after it was passed in Parliament. Although the major portion of Meghalaya is excluded from the CAA, I believe that once a law is passed in Parliament and implemented, there is no point in talking about it,” he said.

On whether the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system should be introduced in Meghalaya, Pala reacted, “The Central government has not said anything about the ILP in Meghalaya. The state government is not authorised to introduce this system. So, we have to wait for the Centre’s take on ILP.”

The Congress MP termed the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) as corrupt and had looted the government money.

He alleged, “NPP has siphoned off the public money from Meghalaya to fund the party in other states of the northeast like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, etc. People have seen that cash was seized from Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma’s convoy. This is proof of how the NPP has been using government funds to expand their party base, which is very unfortunate.”

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Pala also said that there are check gates in the state, and money is being collected if people are either taking or bringing any goods to the state.

“If you buy something in Meghalaya and take it to Assam and other places, you have to pay money at those gates. Even if you are bringing any goods to Meghalaya, the same system of paying money must be followed. This is a pure example of corruption,” he argued.

Vincent Pala has been winning the Shillong Lok Sabha seat since 2009. He was made a Union Minister of State during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government at the Centre. The Congress leader is looking for a straight fourth-time win in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

Political watchers believe that anti-incumbency will be a factor against Pala this time. However, he dismissed the factor, saying that this would not be a big issue in the election.

“People have seen my development work through the years. The current dispensation in Meghalaya has failed to bring any infrastructural push to the state. But during the Congress period, airports and many other projects were built,” Shillong MP said.

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Pala also said that if he is voted to power for the fourth time, he will take new initiatives to bring infrastructural projects to the state along with the development of tourism.

Polling for two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya will take place on April 19. The NPP has fielded state Health Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh against Vincent Pala in the Shillong Lok Sabha seat.

–IANS

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Polling for all 10 Lok Sabha seats begins in Haryana

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Chandigarh, May 25 (IANS) Polling started across all the 10 Lok Sabha seats of Haryana amid tight security on Saturday morning in the sixth and penultimate phase of the general elections.

Electors across the state could be seen reaching polling stations even before voting started at 7 a.m. The voting will be held till 6 p.m.

A total of 2,00,76,786 voters, comprising 94 lakh women, will decide the fate of 223 candidates, after weeks of heated campaign barbs.

“There has been no report of any delay in starting the poll process,” an electoral officer told IANS here.

The main contest is between the Congress and the state-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The polling will see some high-profile contestants in key battles. Among them are two-time Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who is contesting his first Lok Sabha election from Karnal, Congress leader Deepender Hooda from Rohtak, and Union Ministers Rao Inderjit Singh from Gurugram, against whom the Congress has pitted actor Raj Babbar, and Krishan Pal Gurjar.

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Besides the Lok Sabha polls, there is a bypoll for the Karnal Assembly seat, the seat vacated by Khattar, where Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, the outgoing Lok Sabha MP from Kurukshetra, is among the nine candidates in the fray. Saini had replaced Khattar as the Chief Minister in March.

Votes will be counted on June 4.

“Police are on high alert for any anti-social elements spreading rumours on social media. Strict action will be taken against offenders, who will face severe legal consequences,” said Director General of Police Shatrujeet Kapur.

Chief Electoral Officer Anurag Agarwal has appealed to the voters to exercise their franchise and ensure their participation in the biggest festival of the country.

A total of 20,031 polling stations have been set up in the state. These include 19,812 permanent and 219 auxiliary polling stations. As many as 5,470 polling stations have been set up in urban areas and 14,342 polling stations in rural areas.

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Agarwal said that 176 model polling stations have been established. There are 99 polling stations which will be operated entirely by women staff. Besides, 96 polling stations are manned by youth staff and 71 polling stations by persons with disability.

All basic facilities and necessary arrangements have been put in place in view of the heat wave.

He said that apart from the returning officers, more than 96,000 officers and employees (except security forces) will be on duty in the polling stations.

Also, flying squads, observers along with micro observers will be present at different polling stations.

In 2019, the BJP won all 10 constituencies, with a vote share of 58 per cent, improving its tally from 2014 when it managed to win seven out of the eight constituencies it had contested.

However, the BJP’s vote share slipped to 22 per cent in the Assembly polls in October 2019.

–IANS

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Voting begins for penultimate phase of Lok Sabha polls

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Voting began at 7 a.m. on Saturday for the penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha polls with over 11 crore voters in 58 seats across eight states/UTs eligible to seal the fate of the 889 candidates in the fray.

Polling is being held in all the 10 seats in Haryana and seven constituencies in Delhi, eight seats in Bihar, four in Jharkhand, six in Odisha, 14 in UP, and eight seats in West Bengal, apart from the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency in Jammu and Kashmir, where the election was deferred from the third phase on May 7.

Voting for 42 seats of the Odisha Assembly is also being held in the state’s third phase of simultaneous polling.

Among the prominent BJP candidates in this phase are Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan from Odisha’s Sambalpur, former Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar from Karnal, late Union Minister Sushma Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri Swaraj making her electoral debut from New Delhi, former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi from UP’s Sultanpur, and former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangophadhyay from West Bengal’s Tamluk.

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Kumari Selja from Haryana’s Sirsa, Raj Babbar from Gurgaon, former JNUSU chief Kanhaiya Kumar from North East Delhi (all Congress), PDP President and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti from Anantnag-Rajouri, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav from UP’s Azamgarh and actor-politician Deepak ‘Dev’ Adhikari of the Trinamool Congress from West Bengal’s Ghatal are also in the fray.

The Election Commission said that 11.4 lakh polling officials have been deployed to facilitate voting by 11.13 crore voters – 5.84 crore male, 5.29 crore female and 5,120 third-gender – across 1.14 lakh polling stations.

In view of the soaring temperatures, the poll panel said that CEOs and state machinery concerned have been directed to take adequate measures to manage the adverse impact of hot weather or rainfall wherever predicted, while assured minimum facilities like shade, water, toilets, volunteers, and wheelchairs have been arranged.

The Election Commission has called upon voters to turn out in greater numbers, with the electorate of urban centres like Delhi, Gurugram, and Faridabad especially reminded about their right and duty to vote and break the trend of urban apathy.

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With this phase, Delhi, Haryana, and J&K will join the 25 states/UTs where polling has already been concluded in the earlier five phases and contests will be over in 486 constituencies.

–IANS

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Army man attacked by group of five in Karnataka's Tumakuru

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Tumakuru, May 25 (IANS) The Karnataka Police on Friday registered a case against five individuals for attacking a soldier of the Indian Army with a beer bottle at a village under the Koratagere police station limits here.

The injured soldier, Govindaraju (30), is admitted to Koratagere government hospital.

Govindaraju, posted in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, had returned to his hometown in Rayawara village on vacation

According to the police, the incident occurred at Bhyrenahalli while Govindaraju was returning home after visiting someone in the village.

A group of five individuals stood in the road, blocking Govindaraju’s path. When he asked them to allow him to pass through, the group enraged and started abusing him. Later, one of them smashed Govindaraju’s head with a beer bottle. Others in the group also attacked him.

The accused individuals have been identified as Bharath, Puneeth, Gourishankar, Shiva, and Dileep.

Following the soldier’s complaint, the Koratagere police have filed a case against the accused individuals and launched a hunt to apprehend them.

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The Koratagere Assembly constituency is represented by Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara.

–IANS

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Delhi cops pose as NGO workers in Assam to nab man absconding for 16 years

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) A man, who had been on the run for 16 years for allegedly attacking his wife with a knife, was arrested from a forest area in southern Assam. The arrest was made by a team of the Delhi Police Crime Branch, which posed as NGO volunteers to prevent any potential complications, an official said.

The accused, identified as Noor Mohammad, was wanted in an attempt to murder case.

Noor Mohammad, who was separated from his wife, had attacked her face and head with a sharp-edged “dao” during an altercation, resulting in serious injuries. Sensing the gravity of the situation, he fled, leaving her in a critical condition.

“The police team had been gathering information about Noor Mohammad, who was wanted in an attempted murder case by the Najafgarh police since 2008. They discovered he was in Assam and reached Mankachar, South Salmara, near the Bangladesh border,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Amit Goel.

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Due to the remote and forested area, there was a high risk of the team’s cover being blown. “To mitigate this, the team posed as members of an NGO assisting woodcutters and conducted a detailed survey of the area for three consecutive days. Their relentless efforts paid off, and they successfully identified and apprehended Noor Mohammad,” said the DCP.

Noor Mohammad told police that he came to Delhi in 1997 in search of livelihood. He started working with a scrap dealer in the Bhogal area of Delhi and married Muniza in 2000.

However, after a few years of marriage, they separated due to matrimonial disputes. After allegedly committing the crime, Noor Mohammad escaped from Delhi and relocated to Assam, choosing a different location from his native place to hide.

“He had been working as a woodcutter in a nearby forest area and was living there with his second wife and children,” the DCP said.

–IANS

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LS polls: Over 25L voters to decide fate of 23 candidates in Gurgaon constituency

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Gurugram, May 24 (IANS) The sixth phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections will see voters in all 10 Parliamentary constituencies in Haryana exercising their franchise on Saturday (May 25). In the Gurgaon LS seat, a total of 25,33,958 voters will decide the fate of 23 candidates who are in the fray.

Campaigning ended on Thursday at 6 p.m. after which the Gurugram district administration imposed Section 144 which restricts the gathering of five or more persons.

Candidates from five major parties including five-time sitting MP Rao Inderjit Singh of the BJP, Raj Babbar from Congress, singer-rapper Rahul Yadav — popularly known as Fazilpuria — of Jannayak Janta Party, Vijay Kumar from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Sohrab Khan from the Indian National Lok Dal are contesting from Gurgaon Lok Sabha seat.

In nine Assembly segments of the Gurgaon Lok Sabha constituency, over 2,000 polling booths have been set up.

Of the total number of voters, 13,51,239 are male while 12,2,641 are female. The number of third-gender voters in the Gurgaon Lok Sabha constituency is 78.

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Voting time on May 25 has been fixed from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Arrangements have also been made to ensure that people above 85 years of age and people with disabilities can cast their vote from home.

Rao Inderjit Singh represented the Gurgaon LS constituency three times in a row — in 2009, 2014 and in 2019.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, he won the seat with a margin of 3,86,256 votes.

Rao Inderjit Singh got 8,81,546 votes. He defeated Congress candidate Captain Ajay Singh who got 4,95,290 votes. BSP candidate Chaudhary Rais Ahmad stood third with 26,756 votes in the constituency.

Meanwhile, over 10,000 security personnel, including those from the paramilitary forces, will be deployed during the polling.

–IANS

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