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‘Not a rebel’, asserts Maha Congress Working President Naseem Khan after quitting poll campaign

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Mumbai, April 27 (IANS) A day after he quit the Congress electioneering as Star Campaigner and the Campaign Committee, state Working President M. Arif Naseem Khan said that he is not a rebel and continues to respect the party leadership as always, here on Saturday.

Speaking to the media, Khan said that contrary to speculation, his decision was “not influenced” by any extraneous factors but out of sheer disappointment as the Congress-Maha Vikas Aghadi has not fielded a single Muslim minority candidate for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls in the state.

“I was assured that the city and state units had recommended my name for a Lok Sabha seat, but that has not happened. As the Muslim community’s leader in the Congress, I am barged with embarrassing questions for which I have no answers. Hence I have resigned from my responsibilities for the LS polls,” said Khan.

He added that he remains with the party and will highlight his grievances before the Congress high command soon in the interest of the minorities who are solidly standing with the party in all the 48 LS seats.

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“However, wherever I go, I am being asked ‘whether the Congress wants only Muslim votes, but doesn’t need any Muslim LS candidates’, and I have nothing to say to them…,” a peeved Khan pointed out.

The state Working President’s decision late on Friday sent shockwaves in the Congress-MVA circles, coming a day after the Congress named Mumbai city chief Prof. Varsha Gaikwad as the candidate for Mumbai North Central LS constituency.

“I have no objections against Gaikwad’s nomination, she is like my younger sister. I have no complaints vis-a-vis the state and central leaderships which are working all out to oust the BJP in the state and country, nor will I do anything to weaken their efforts,” said Khan.

Asserting that he was fully behind the Nehru-Gandhi family, plus Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, he claimed that “I am not a rebel”, but raising his voice on a genuine issue concerning the minorities supporting the Congress party.

“In the past, there were many Muslim candidates fielded in Maharashtra and other parts of India… This time (2024), the MVA has not nominated a single Muslim in the state though their population here is around 12 per cent (around 1.50 crore) of the total 12 crore people in the state,” argued Khan.

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In 2014 and 2019, the Congress had nominated a sole candidate, Hidayatulla Barkatulla Patel in Akola, who lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sanjay S. Dhotre on both occasions.

Khan reiterated that in the past he had always worked sincerely for the party in Maharashtra and other states he was assigned, but in protest against the decision ignoring any Muslim candidates in 2024, he had decided to opt out of the Congress’ election campaign.

–IANS

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J&K will soon have elected Assembly, statehood back, says PM Modi

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Srinagar, June 20 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday assured the people of J&K that they will soon have an elected Assembly and attain new heights of prosperity with its statehood coming back.

Addressing a gathering of youth and others at the SKICC, he said: “You will soon choose your own government and J&K will prosper with its statehood.”

The PM said that India has joined its new era of strengthening democracy and J&K has made a great contribution towards this by participating in record-breaking numbers in the Lok Sabha elections.

“J&K has lived up to Atalji’s (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) vision of ‘Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat and Kashmiriyat’. You have made the victory of democracy possible in J&K and our efforts of the last ten years have borne fruit. Our daughters and members of the underprivileged classes, Pakistani refugees, Valmiki Samaj, and safai karamcharis have got the right to vote. Members of Valmiki Samaj have got ST status. For the first time, seats have been reserved for STs in the Assembly.”

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“OBC reservations have been made in Panchayats. The letter and spirit of our Constitution is to change the lives of people for the better by empowering them. Today, we are living our constitution. We are looking for new avenues to help J&K. The country’s constitution has been implemented in J&K. Governments at the Centre in the past haven’t done this and they are responsible for the troubles of the people here,” he added.

“The wall of Article 370 has been brought down. The change is clearly visible to the whole world. Those who attended the G-20 summit here appreciate the change in J&K. Today, children play in Lal Chowk, the youth go to cinemas and this makes the hearts and minds of the citizens outside J&K filled with pride and satisfaction. Sports car shows on the banks of the Dal Lake were seen by everybody. We are now talking of record-breaking arrivals of tourists here. Last year, over 2 crore tourists came here. This supports the livelihood of the local people,” he said.

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PM Modi reiterated that everything he does has been with total commitment and absolute sincerity.

“We want to end the distance whether it is of ‘Dil’ or Delhi. Funds used to come from the Centre in the past as well. But, we ensure that every penny that comes to J&K is spent for the welfare of the people. “I have today sanctioned over Rs 1,800 crore for the ‘Empowering youth, Transforming J&K’ initiative. I have also sanctioned Rs 1,500 crore for agriculture and allied sector.”

“The J&K administration has employed 40,000 youth in government service during the last 5 years. I have given appointment letters to over 2,000 youth in government service today. J&K is going to become the startup hub of the country. There is huge potential among local youth for sports. They can compete at national and international events. I have met youth today who have created startups to modernise agriculture. I have seen startups in IT, cyber security, food products etc. These youth have so much to say and it gave me immense pleasure to listen to their commitment and zeal,” he said.

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PM Modi said that 50 degree colleges had been opened in J&K in the last 10 years and given the record of the past 70 years, it was no mean achievement.

“Today, every district in J&K has a modern sports stadium. In the ‘Khelo India’ initiative, 100 sports centres were opened and 4,500 youth were trained for national and international events. “Kashmir is the winter sports capital of the country. In future, national and international winter sports events will take place here,” he said.

He, however, noted that the enemies of J&K were making last-ditch efforts to stop the progress of J&K.

“We have taken serious notice of recent terrorist incidents. The Home Minister has taken a review of the security in J&K with the local administration. I want to assure you that we will teach a lesson to the enemies of J&K,” he said to loud applause from the gathering.

–IANS

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Pune Horror: Missing woman’s body found in water tanker; suicide or murder?

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Pune (Maharashtra), June 20 (IANS) In another shocker from Pune, a woman’s body was found in a water tanker that had come to supply water to a parched locality in the Fursungi area of Hadapsar, sending officials into a tizzy on Thursday.

An officer from the Hadapsar police station said the incident came to light when the tanker operators connected a pipe to provide water to the crowd gathered at the Power House neighbourhood.

When they started the valve, the water stopped coming after some time, as the operators disconnected the pipe to check if there was some problem in the valve.

As they opened the outlet, a piece of cloth was found stuck inside it following which one attendant climbed atop the tanker to peek inside. To his shock, he saw a woman’s body at the bottom of the water.

The tanker operators immediately informed the police who retrieved the body and launched a probe, as the incident sparked a sensation in the locality with a large crowd gathering to catch a glimpse of the victim.

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The officer said that soon afterward the police confirmed that a missing woman’s complaint was lodged at the Kondhwa police station recently, who was identified as Kaushalya M. Morya (25).

The police tracked the victim’s family members who reached the spot and confirmed the deceased woman’s identity.

The police have sent the body to the Sassoon General Hospital for an autopsy before handing it over to the family for the last rites.

“After the autopsy report is received, we shall be able to confirm if it was an accident, murder, or suicide. We are also questioning the victim’s family and others as to why she had gone missing,” the officer said.

–IANS

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Maha Leader of Opposition Wadettiwar, Ambedkar meet striking OBC leaders

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Jalna (Maharashtra), June 20 (IANS) Maharashtra’s Leader of Opposition Vijay Wadettiwar and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi President Prakash Ambedkar here on Thursday called on the striking OBC leader Laxman Hake and Navnath Waghmare and assured them of full support in their agitation.

For the past one week, Hake and Waghmare have been sitting on an indefinite hunger strike near a temple in Wadigodri village, and their health declined further on Thursday.

Both the visiting leaders offered them a glass of water, while a visibly emotional Wadettiwar — himself a senior Congress OBC leader — dialled Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde from the venue and apprised him of the situation of the striking leaders.

Hake is a former Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission member, while Waghmare is the Samata Parishad district president, and both have stopped eating food since June 13.

Shinde reiterated to Wadettiwar, who kept his phone to a microphone, and the striking leaders that the government would not dilute the OBC quotas while deciding on the Maratha reservations and promised to send an official delegation to meet them on Friday (June 21).

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Wadettiwar reminded the Chief Minister that while he makes assurances, his own Bharatiya Janata Party minister Girish Mahajan has said that the issue of ‘sage-soyare’ (bloodline) will not survive in the court, and its because of the faulty policies of the state government that two major communities are now standing against each other.

Hake has repeatedly demanded a written assurance from the MahaYuti government assuring that the state would not disturb the existing 29 per cent OBC reservation while deciding the quotas for any other community.

In February this year, a special session of the state legislature unanimously passed the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Economically Backward Bill, 2024, paving the way for 10 per cent quotas for the Maratha community.

However, Shivba Sanghatana chief Manoj Jarange-Patil has been demanding that the state should declare Marathas as ‘Kunbis’ and grant them a separate quota from the OBCs, plus give reservations to ‘sage-soyare’ (bloodline) that would widen the scope of reservation.

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However, prominent OBC leaders from different parties, including Wadettiwar (Congress), and Food & Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal (Nationalist Congress Party), are strongly opposing the watering down of the OBC quotas to accommodate the Marathas.

–IANS

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Workshop held for Haryana officers on three new criminal laws

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Chandigarh, June 20 (IANS) The three new criminal laws, namely Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, will come into force on July 1, replacing the IPC, CrPC, and the Indian Evidence Act, respectively.

To facilitate the process, Haryana Chief Secretary T.V.S.N. Prasad on Thursday inaugurated an online training programme for the IAS and Haryana Civil Services (HCS) officers on the three new criminal laws.

The training, conducted by the Haryana Institute of Public Administration (HIPA), Gurugram, aimed to familiarise the officers with the intricacies of the laws, which are set to be implemented nationwide from July 1.

Addressing the inaugural virtual session, Prasad said the historical significance of this moment is reforming the country’s criminal justice system, adding that Haryana will continue this process of training even after the implementation of these laws.

The government also plans to set up a helpline at the state headquarters to provide clarification and address the possible doubts on the laws.

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Prasad also directed the HIPA to conduct training sessions for officers at the divisional headquarter-level. Besides, similar programmes should also be organised for officers of the police and prosecution departments at HIPA Gurugram and Panchkula, he said.

He noted significant changes in the new criminal laws regarding their form, substance, process, and technology, stressing the availability of technical support pillars for their effective implementation.

He also emphasised the pivotal role of civil officers in ensuring the effective implementation of the new laws.

Prasad said Haryana is fully prepared to roll out these laws from July 1, with extensive training provided to the judiciary, police, and prosecution over several months.

–IANS

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Adopt scientific approach to fixing MSP for all crops: Sukhbir Badal

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Chandigarh, June 20 (IANS) Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Badal on Thursday called for adopting a scientific approach towards fixing the minimum support price (MSP) for all crops, even as he asserted the marginal increase in the MSP for paddy by Rs 117 per quintal did not take into account the comprehensive cost plus 50 per cent profit as mandated by the Union government and the Swaminathan Commission.

He also noted that though the MSPs for both moong and maize had been increased, no mechanism was in place to procure these crops on MSP.

“Farmers in Punjab as well as elsewhere in the country have been left to the mercy of private players because the Union government is not procuring these crops from MSP. In case of Punjab, farmers bore huge losses after their sowed moong over a huge area following an appeal by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann the same would be procured on MSP, but the government reneged on its promise.”

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Speaking about the manner in which the MSP for paddy had been increased, Badal said: “The entire process of calculation of the comprehensive cost (C-2), including the imputed cost of the land and its rent value should be put in public domain. Farmers rightly feel that they are being short-changed and that if the C-2 cost is not calculated accurately then they will not get the justified MSP as 50 per cent profit is to be calculated on the C-2 figure.”

He advocated that a committee be formed to calculate the C-2 plus 50 per cent profit figure for all 14 kharif costs and that this committee should include farmer representatives.

“If this committee is formed immediately and given a timeframe to submit its recommendations, then the MSP for all kharif crops can be revised appropriately,” he added.

Making a strong case for calculating the true cost of production accurately, Badal said: “Till this is not done the agriculture sector will continue to face an economic crisis and the Prime Minister’s stated objective of doubling farmer incomes by the end of this year will not be achieved.”

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–IANS

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