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K’taka sex scandal: Shivakumar refutes BJP leader's claim of releasing contents of 'pen drive' (Ld)

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Bengaluru, May 7 (IANS) Karnataka BJP leader G. Devaraje Gowda on Monday claimed that Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar is behind the release of the contents of a pen drive featuring videos of alleged sexual assault by JD-S MP Prajwal Revanna, the grandson of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda.

“The main target of the Congress is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress government has arrested JD-S MLA H.D. Revanna (Prajwal Revanna’s father). Now they want to cause a setback for the BJP in the state. H.D. Kumaraswamy is also their target. They also tried to make me an accused,” Devaraje Gowda said while addressing a press conference.

“I do not trust the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the sex scandal. I would submit all the evidence to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The videos which are with me are different from those which have been released,” he claimed.

Gowda also said that he was approached by Deputy Chief Minister Shivakumar, and claimed to have audio recordings to prove it.

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“The hero of the pen drive episode is Shivakumar. He offered me a Cabinet berth. I have information about how the pen drive was prepared, and the role of the Congress candidate from Hassan, Shreyas Patel, in the entire episode,” he said.

“The SIT SP, Suman D. Pannekar, forced me to withdraw the statement against the Deputy Chief Minister. That is why I don’t trust the SIT,” he claimed.

He also alleged that the former minister L.R. Shivarame Gowda had called him and forced him not to take the names of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister Shivakumar.

He claimed that despite giving names, locations, and phone numbers of those who distributed the contents of the pen drive, none of them has been arrested.

“Now, they are trying to put all the blame on me. They tried to strike a deal with me. They offered a Cabinet berth for not talking against the state government, the Chief Minister, and the Deputy Chief Minister. However, I rejected their offer,” he claimed.

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Devaraje Gowda had unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections against H.D. Revanna, who was arrested by the SIT on Saturday in connection with the kidnapping of an alleged victim of sexual abuse at the hands of his son Prajwal Revanna, who is absconding.

Meanwhile, Shivakumar dismissed the allegations as ‘baseless’, saying that he had nothing to do with the release of the contents of the pen drive.

“Devaraje Gowda contested elections on a BJP ticket. He is an active member of the BJP. The JD-S and the BJP are embarrassed with the Prajwal Revanna case and hence they are trying to do damage control by shifting the blame on me through Devaraje Gowda,” the Congress leader said.

“Devaraje Gowda tried to meet me to discuss the pen drive matter and other internal issues of the BJP, but I could not meet him due to the paucity of time. I will share with the media what he tried to discuss with me once I am back in Bengaluru,” he said.

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“Devaraje Gowda had addressed a press conference and said that he would release the contents of the pen drive after holding discussions with the BJP leaders. When it is evident that Devaraje Gowda and the BJP were behind the release of the contents of the pen drive, why are they trying to accuse me?

“The JD-S and the BJP are behind this blame game. I am currently travelling, and I will issue a statement on this once I am back in Bengaluru,” Shivakumar said.

–IANS

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5.47 kg heroin seized in Punjab, seven arrested

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Chandigarh, May 26 (IANS) An international narcotics racket has been busted with the seizure of 5.47 kg of heroin in Punjab and the arrest of seven persons, police said on Sunday.

“In a major breakthrough against trans-border narcotic smuggling networks, Punjab Police in a joint operation with Border Security Force (BSF) have busted an international narco smuggling module with the arrest of seven drug smugglers after recovering 5.47 kg heroin and Rs 1.07 lakh drug money from their possession,” said Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Gaurav Yadav.

Those arrested have been identified as Baljinder Singh, Sukhchain Singh, Solav Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Karandeep Singh, Daljit Singh and Kamaldeep Singh.

Accused Kamaldeep Singh has a criminal background and has already been facing two cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in Kapurthala.

Apart from recovering heroin and drug money, police teams have also recovered 40 cartridges, six mobile phones, 8.4 grams gold and 68.97 grams silver from their possession, besides, impounding a Hyundai Verna car and three motorcycles.

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DGP Yadav said preliminary investigations have revealed most of the accused, who are in their teens, are students and were preparing for the Army recruitment when they got acquainted with Kapurthala-based drug smuggler Kamaldeep Singh and started smuggling heroin from across the border.

The accused were in touch with a Pakistan-based smuggler and getting drug consignments via drones, he added.

He said that investigations are ongoing to establish backward and forward linkages and identify the Pakistan-based drug smuggler.

–IANS

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Forced to sell kidney, tribal woman files complaint against husband & middleman in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram, May 26 (IANS) A tribal woman from Kelakam in Kannur district of Kerala approached the police, stating that her husband and a middleman were forcing her to sell her kidney. In her complaint, she said that she was offered Rs 9 lakh for selling her kidney.

The woman said that her husband and the middleman named Benni had both donated their kidneys earlier and are now acting as middlemen.

She said that a few days ago, Benni had tried to force her to sell her kidney after calling her to Kochi, saying that her husband was admitted to the hospital and was in serious condition.

The woman said that Benni has lured several tribal people of Kannur into organ trade and that he was giving a pittance to the donors while he was taking a large chunk of the money.

With the arrest of Sabith Nasar in Kochi on May 19, the kidney racket in Kerala is getting exposed with complaints of kidney sales coming from different parts of the state.

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Peravoor DSP Ashraf Thengalakkandiyil, while speaking to IANS, said: “Police have recorded the statement of the woman and are conducting a detailed probe on the basis of her complaint.”

–IANS

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TN govt cautions people against fake international job offers

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu government has cautioned people against fake international job offers and also warned recruitment agencies against sending people abroad for fake jobs.

The Non-Resident Tamils Welfare Department has said that stringent legal action would be taken against such agencies.

The department said that there were reports of several people being sent to Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar on tourist visas under the guise of IT and software jobs. The department cautioned the people that these people are being employed for illegal online activities.

The department said that people, after reaching these countries, who refuse to do illegal online work are subjected to torture including administering electric shocks.

The department said that it had already rescued 83 Tamil people from the racket after receiving complaints.

It added that these fake jobs are mostly in digital sales and customer support services. “Many dubious companies are duping people in the name of crypto-currency. Mostly call centres are behind these fake jobs,” the department said.

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The department said that agents based in Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore and India are recruiting people from across the country.

“Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Laos and Thailand is one of the major hubs of such illegal and fraudulent companies. Some recruits were even taken as hostages and forced to work under tough mental and physical conditions,” the department said.

The department said that those convicted of human trafficking crimes have been sentenced upto 18 years in Laos.

“Tamil people are requested to be extremely cautious and verify the recruiting agents as well as of any company before taking up the job offer,” the department said.

–IANS

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Why Dalits, with 32 pc population, fail in Punjab power politics?

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Chandigarh, May 26 (IANS) Does the Dalit (scheduled caste) vote bank in Punjab, being the home turf of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) founder Kanshi Ram and having a Dalit population of 32 per cent — the highest among states — play a politically empowered role in the electoral outcomes in the agricultural economy state?

Political pundits say “no” as, despite their numerical strength, they have failed to translate into political influence owing to the “leadership crisis”. Another reason is that they are not a homogeneous community that votes in unison.

But for other parties, as per the past trends, they normally play spoilsport.

The four mainstream parties — the Congress, the BJP, the Jat-dominated Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which snapped its electoral ties with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the run-up to these polls, and the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — are trying to woo the Dalits — a majority of them farm labourers or daily wage earners — by fielding candidates from their community for state’s 13 parliamentary seats.

Also, the caste-based BSP is contesting on all seats.

As per past records, BSP’s vote percentage over the years has weakened substantially, both in assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

From 1998 onwards, the BSP has not won even a single Lok Sabha seat in Punjab.

The BSP’s best performance in the Assembly polls was in 1992. At that time, the party had won nine seats in Punjab, but in the next elections in 1997, it was reduced to one seat.

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In the 2002 Assembly polls, the party had got 5.69 per cent votes which decreased to 1.77 per cent in the 2022 polls, mainly due to the emergence of AAP.

Interestingly, a majority of Dalit legislators were elected from parties other than the BSP.

“After 1996, Dalits started shifting towards different parties, but before that the majority of their votes went to the Congress,” a Congress veteran leader told IANS.

In the 2019 parliamentary polls, the BSP, which contested on three reserved seats, had a vote share of 3.5 per cent. It had got 1.4 lakh votes in Anandpur Sahib, 1.28 lakh votes in Hoshiarpur and more than 2 lakh votes in Jalandhar, the hub of the Dalits.

With its declining popularity, the BSP may play spoilsport for the other parties mainly on these seats in these polls, the Congress veteran added.

The BSP has fielded its state President Jabir Singh Garhi from Anandpur Sahib, the seat currently represented by Congress’ Manish Tewari, who has been fielded from the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat.

BSP candidate Rakesh Soman from Hoshiarpur joined AAP in the run-up to the polls. Congress defector legislator Raj Kumar Chabbewal is the AAP candidate from this seat where the BSP holds considerable influence. Party supremo Kanshi Ram had won this seat in 1996 with the support of the Akali Dal.

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Balwinder Kumar has been fielded by the BSP from Jalandhar, a Congress bastion with the party winning 10 out of the 16 Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress has fielded Charanjit Singh Channi, the state’s first Dalit chief minister, while AAP has nominated Akali Dal turncoat legislator Pawan Kumar Tinu. The BJP has poached the sitting AAP MP Sushil Kumar Rinku and the Akali Dal has reposed faith in former Congress MP Mohinder Singh Kaypee.

BJP’s Rinku is the most conspicuous party-hopper, having switched sides twice in a year.

In Dalit politics, the state witnessed a new dynamic with the BJP’s announcement in 2022 that it would appoint a Scheduled Caste chief minister if it came to power.

A 2018 report by the ministry of social justice and empowerment says there are 39 sub-castes among Dalits in Punjab.

Five sub-castes constitute more than 80 per cent of the Dalit population. Mazhabi Sikhs comprise the largest share of 30 per cent, followed by Ravidassias (24 per cent) and Ad-Dharmis (11 per cent).

Congress candidate Channi belongs to the Ravidassia community and is known for its proximity with Dera Sachakhand Ballan which has a strong presence in the Doaba region, the area between the Beas and the Satluj rivers often dubbed as the hub of Dalit politics.

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The Doaba region comprises four districts — Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr that fall in two Lok Sabha constituencies — Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur.

The BJP has fielded incumbent MP Som Parkash’s wife Anita Som Parkash from Hoshiarpur, once a Congress bastion, while the Akali Dal has fielded Sohan Singh Thandal, and the BSP fielded Ranjit Kumar after its candidate Rakesh Soman left the party after two months of campaigning and joined AAP.

Yamini Gomar, who had fought the 2014 elections on an AAP ticket, is the Congress nominee from Hoshiarpur.

Of the state’s 117 assembly seats, 34 (one-third) seats are reserved for the scheduled castes.

Though Dalits, both among Sikhs and Hindus, are seen as the Congress’ traditional supporters, the Akalis bank on the Jat Sikhs (comprising 25 per cent of the population), while the present AAP government led by Bhagwant Mann has prominent Dalit leader Harpal Singh Cheema in his Cabinet.

In 1996, the BSP forged an alliance with the Akali Dal (Badal) in the parliamentary elections, and they won three of the four seats.

Punjab will vote in the seventh and last phase of the Lok Sabha elections on June 1.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at gulatiians@gmail.com)

–IANS

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Cyclone Remal: Indian Navy's diving and flood relief teams on standby in Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Chilka

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) The Indian Navy on Sunday said that it has initiated preparatory actions, following existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), to mount a credible Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) response in the aftermath of Cyclone Remal.

Cyclone Remal, anticipated to cross the coast on Sunday midnight, is forecasted to make landfall between Sagar Island, West Bengal and Khepupara, Bangladesh and intensify into a severe cyclone.

The situation is being closely monitored at Naval Headquarters, with comprehensive preparatory actions being undertaken by the Eastern Naval Command Headquarters.

Two ships equipped with HADR and medical supplies are ready for immediate deployment to ensure the safety and welfare of the affected populace. Additionally, Indian Naval aviation assets, including Sea King and Chetak helicopters as well as Dornier aircraft, are also on standby for rapid response.

Specialised diving teams with equipment have been stationed in Kolkata to provide prompt assistance. Further diving teams with necessary equipment are on standby in Visakhapatnam, prepared for quick deployment if needed.

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Two Flood Relief Teams (FRTs), along with HADR and medical supplies, are being positioned in Kolkata. In addition, two FRTs each from Visakhapatnam and Chilka are ready and on standby for deployment at short notice.

“The Indian Navy remains vigilant and is closely monitoring the evolving situation to provide immediate and effective assistance in the wake of Cyclone Remal,” the Ministry of Defence said on Sunday.

–IANS

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