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IUML sticks to demand for 3rd LS seat in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 25 (IANS) The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), which is one of the most prominent alliance partners of the Congress party in Kerala, has accelerated its demand for a third Lok Sabha seat.

IUML senior leader and member of Parliament, E.T. Mohammed Basheer said on Sunday that the party will not go back on its demand for the third Lok Sabha seat in the ensuing general elections. It is to be noted that IUML has traditionally been contesting from two Lok Sabha seats — Ponnani and Manjeri.

There is a feeling among the party cadres and local leaders that Muslim League should get more seats in proportion to its grassroots strength and that going back from the demand would be construed as a weakness on the part of the Muslim League.

It is to be noted that in the North Kerala districts of Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannnur, Wayanad and Kasargod, the Muslim League is a prominent force and can alter the electoral results in these constituencies.

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While Congress senior leaders do not deny the League’s strength, the party is in a dilemma as to how it would be able to share the seats with the League sacrificing its sitting MPs.

In the 2019 general elections, the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by the Congress notched up an impressive victory by winning 19 of the 20 seats with Congress winning in 16 seats.

If the League sticks on to its demand, the Congress may have to replace either Kozhikode MP M.K. Raghavan, Kasargod MP Rajmohan Unnithan, Vadakara MP K. Muraleedharan or even the KPCC President K. Sudhakaran’s seat, Kannur.

The Congress, according to sources, is trying for a last minute negotiation with the Muslim League promising it the next Rajya Sabha seat but the chances are bleak. If the League sticks to its demand, the Congress will have no other option but to replace one of its sitting MP’s in the current election so that the coalition remains intact, the sources added.

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–IANS

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Man held in Assam with drone parts intended for supply to Manipur militants

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Guwahati/Imphal, June 17 (IANS) The Assam Police’s Special Task Force (STF) has arrested a man with drone parts, which were allegedly intended for supply to militant outfits of Manipur, officials said on Sunday.

An Assam Police spokesman said that STF personnel arrested one Sanjib Kumar Mishra, a resident of Guwahati’s Noonmati area, with drone parts from Rupnagar area of the city on Saturday night.

“After a prolonged operation the items were being seized as the person arrested was trying to transport it to some militant groups based in Manipur. The operation is seen as a huge success in terms of thwarting a major sabotage activity in violence engulfed Manipur,” an official statement said.

On Friday, the STF arrested a Manipuri youth and recovered flight batteries suspected to be used in drones, cash, and other items.

According to STF, Khaigoulen Kipgen (27), a resident of Gamngai village in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district, was arrested from Sonapur toll gate in Guwahati.

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Ten TB30 intelligent flight batteries suspected to be used in drones, cash amounting to Rs 3.40 lakh, and a mobile handset were recovered from the vehicle, in which Kipgen along with two minors was travelling.

“The intelligence suggested that a Manipur-based banned organisation was attempting to procure equipment potentially for sabotage activities,” STF sources had said.

–IANS

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Ending 'VIP culture', Assam CM to pay own electricity bills

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Guwahati, June 17 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday announced that the state government has decided to end the ‘VIP culture’ rule in paying power bills of senior government officials including the ministers.

CM Sarma said that from July 1, he will also pay the electricity bills of his residence.

“In the last 75 years after India got Independence, no Chief Minister in Assam had paid power bills on their own and the state government took the burden of paying it. Even though I was also enjoying free electricity for the last three years and I was unaware of the fact,” he said.

Sarma said that soon after came to know that from a particular fund of the state government, the bills were paid, he issued an order to install electricity meters in the Chief Minister’s residence.

He mentioned that all the ministers in the state will pay their own power bills starting July 1.

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The senior government officials including those working in the state secretariat will have to pay bills for their own electricity consumption.

“We have already informed the senior state government officials about not getting free electricity anymore if they are staying at the quarters,” the Chief Minister added.

He asserted that this decision will ease the burden of the state government and the power department will not have to hike the electricity tariffs.

Sarma said that to set an example, he and the Chief Secretary of the state will start paying their electricity bills from July 1 onwards.

Taking to his X handle, the Chief Minister wrote: “We are ending the #VIPCulture rule of paying electricity bills of Government officials using taxpayer money.

“Myself and the Chief Secretary will set an example and start paying our power bills from July 1 onwards. Beginning July 2024, all public servants will have to pay for their own electricity consumption,” he added.

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–IANS

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Online helicopter service booking begins for Amarnath Yatra

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Srinagar, June 17 (IANS) Online booking of helicopter service for this year’s Amarnath Yatra began on Sunday. Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) has started the facility for both Baltal and Pahalgam yatra routes for this year’s 52-day long Shri Amarnath Yatra starting on June 29.

A statement by SASB said on Sunday that the annual pilgrimage of Amarnath is starting on June 29 and will conclude on August 19 on the day of Raksha Bandhan coinciding with Shravan Purnima festival.

Officials said that for the north Kashmir Baltal route, helicopter service is being provided on Neelgrath- Panjtarni-Neelgrath, and for Pahalgam route, it will be available on Pahalgam-Panjtarni-Pahalgam route.

However, officials added that online booking of the helicopter service can be availed by visiting the official website JKSASB.nic.in

“Offline tickets or priority will not be available, hence the booking will be on a first come first serve basis and will be provided directly to the devotees,” an official said, adding that one way fare from Pahalgam to Panjtarni has been fixed at Rs 4,900; two-way fare at Rs 9,800; one way fare from Neelgrath to Panjtarni has been fixed at Rs 3,250 and both way fare at Rs 6,500.

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Pilgrims undertaking the yatra must have a health certificate while booking the helicopter tickets.

Journey from Panjtarni helipad to the holy cave and back takes time, so the available slots for the pilgrims will be visible with a gap of at least 5 to 6 hours between the trips.

“The traveller must carry original photo identity card and a health certificate during the journey while the pilgrims must reach the respective helipads at least 30 minutes before the booked time slot.

“Charter booking is only allowed for travel between Srinagar and Neelgrath with priority seats on the connecting service running between Neelgrath and Panjtarni,” a statement noted.

“The preparations for the pilgrimage are in full swing. The advance registration for pilgrims has already started from April 15. This year, 125 langars have been permitted to be installed up to the holy cave,” an official said.

J&K Lt. Governor, Manoj Sinha, on May 16, during his visit to Katra, urged devotees to become messengers and spread the message of Lord Shiva.

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–IANS

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Assam Police foil drug peddling attempt; 3 arrested

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Guwahati, June 16 (IANS) Assam Police have foiled an inter-state drug peddling attempt and arrested three narcotics peddlers including one resident of violence-hit Manipur on Sunday, officials said.

According to the police, the consignment of drugs was coming from Manipur and the peddlers were trying to deliver it somewhere in Goalpara district in Assam. However, the police foiled that attempt and seized contraband items.

An official said that the Special Task Force (STF) of Assam Police received prior information about the movement of narcotics in two vehicles.

“We received information that a notorious drug peddler, namely, Nasiruddin a.k.a. Nasir Bhai of Goalpara district and his associates in two vehicles would receive a narcotics consignment bound from Sora in Manipur to Goalpara which would be carried by a Manipuri carrier, namely Salim. He is a resident of Sora in the neighbouring state of Manipur,” he added.

The police said that a vehicle was intercepted in front of Boko Police Station in the Kamrup district and recovered at least 30 packets of heroin kept in a bag.

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“The total weight of the seized narcotics substances was 420 grams. Three occupants of the vehicle, Nasir Bhai, Atikur and the Manipuri carrier Salim were apprehended,” a police officer said.

However, a second escorting vehicle which was looking out for police checks escaped.

The house of the driver, Shohidul Islam of Matia area was searched, but he escaped, leaving behind the vehicle and his family members resisted and facilitated his escape, according to a statement by the police.

Necessary legal actions in the matter were initiated, police mentioned.

Meanwhile, in a joint operation of Border Security Force (BSF) and Assam Police, at least 30,000 Yaba tablets were seized in Karimganj district on Sunday.

The BSF said that the market value of the seized contraband items must be around Rs 3 crore.

Two drug peddlers identified as Atikul Rehman and Saharul Islam were arrested. Both of them are residents of Karimganj district.

–IANS

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Haryana to soon start recruitment of 'Van Mitras'

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Chandigarh, June 16 (IANS) Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini on Sunday announced that recruitment of ‘Van Mitras’, who will be given an honorarium to take care of newly planted tree saplings, under the ‘Van Mitra’ Scheme will begin soon.

Presiding over a review meeting of the Forest and Wildlife Department, he also warned that if there is a delay in extinguishing the fire in forests, “accountability will be fixed from forest guards to senior officers”.

He directed the officers to ensure arrangements for supplying water from canals or tube-wells to national parks like Kalesar, Sultanpur and other dense forests so that this water can be used by wildlife during extreme heat and to aid in extinguishing fires.

The CM directed the officers to regularly map existing plants and those planted annually under the plantation campaign using drones.

He reviewed in detail the annual plantation drive conducted by the Forest Department and directed that these plants be geo-tagged and their growth should be monitored for five years with the help of drones.

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The Chief Minister was informed that a budget of Rs 150 crore has been allocated for the plantation drive for 2024-25, while Rs 10 crore will be spent on herbal parks.

He also said illegal cutting of trees from the forest areas will not be tolerated, and if any employee is found to be complicit, action will be taken against them.

He also released a brochure for the ‘Pran Vayu Devta’ scheme. The Chief Minister was also informed that under the scheme, the state government plans to provide an annual pension of Rs 2,750 to those who take care of trees over 75 years old. So far, 3,819 such trees have been identified under the scheme.

–IANS

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