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PM Modi to address women in Varanasi today

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Varanasi, May 21 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with 25,000 women at Kashi’s Sampurnanand Sanskrit University ground on Tuesday.

He will address an election rally in Prayagraj too.

Kashi region BJP Spokesperson Navaratan Rathi said: “There are 1,909 booths in Varanasi Lok Sabha and 10 women from each booth have been invited for Prime Minister Modi’s interaction with women. All preparations for the event have been completed.”

Doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, chartered accountants, and teachers have also been invited to the programme that will start around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, he added.

BJP’s state unit secretary and Mahila Morcha in-charge Archana Mishra said: “Our enthusiastic participation at his Kashi roadshow on May 13 made the Prime Minister very happy and that is why he is coming here again to share his happiness with us.”

She said BJP’s women wing members have gone door-to-door in Varanasi to invite women for the Tuesday event.

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Lok Sabha coordinator and MLC Ashwini Tyagi said: “Prime Minister has done many things for the upliftment of women during his 10 years in office. It was because of him that 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies under the Nari Shakti Vandan Act could become possible.”

After the event, Prime Minister Modi will spend the night at the BLW guest house in Varanasi.

The Prime Minister will address a meeting at the Government Polytechnic Ground on Wednesday (May 22), said Basti Superintendent of Police, Gopal Krishna Chowdhury.

He said that members of SPG security had already reached Basti and inspected the rally venue and added that no flying zone had been declared in nearby areas.

He said from May 20 to May 22, flying drones or balloons in the region have been banned due to security reasons.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister Anupriya Patel, too, would share the stage with Prime Minister Modi.

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–IANS

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NEET row: High-level panel being formed, guilty won't be spared, says Education Minister

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New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Facing flak from various quarters over the paper leak episode in NEET examinations, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday announced the setting up of a high-level committee to probe the irregularities while asserting that none of the guilty will be spared.

Addressing a press conference, Pradhan said that the future of students remains a top priority for the government as it is committed to conducting zero-error exams.

“I want to assure everyone that once we get concrete evidence, none of the guilty will be spared. Our priority is the future of students,” he said.

He also told the press that the government has decided to set up a high-level committee for improving the functioning of the National Testing Agency (NTA), which conducts a slew of entrance and competitive examinations.

“The committee will give recommendations on improving the NTA’s structure, its functioning, examination process, transparency and data, and security protocol,” the minister stated.

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Declaring the paper leak in Bihar as an “isolated” incident, he said that the future of lakhs of students should not be impacted because of this. He also made an appeal to not spread rumours nor make any attempt to politicise the issue.

The minister also said that his ministry was in regular touch with Bihar Police, with regards to the paper leak of NEET-UG. Notably, at least four students, including a mastermind, arrested in Bihar for NEET paper leak, confessed before the police that they got access to the question paper, a day before the examinations and they also paid a hefty sum for it.

–IANS

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Mehbooba Mufti alleges J&K employees forced to be part of Yoga Day events; authorities refute

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Srinagar, June 20 (IANS) Former J&K Chief Minister and President of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti, on Thursday accused the UT administration of causing ‘serious inconvenience’ to the people over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Srinagar for International Yoga Day (June 21).

In a post on X, Mehbooba Mufti said, “An occasion for celebration has become one that fills people with dread. A day before International Yoga Day, all government employees along with schoolchildren have been ordered to show up at different venues at ungodly hours. Even pregnant employees have not been spared. A pregnant employee was threatened to choose between her job or being present at the event.”

The visit by PM Modi, who reached here on Thursday evening, is his first trip to the Union Territory after being elected as the Prime Minister for the third consecutive term.

The authorities in J&K, meanwhile, strongly refuted Mehbooba Mufti’s allegations pertaining to PM Modi’s visit.

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In a statement, J&K Director Colleges said, “A misinformation is circulating on social media regarding Yoga Day celebrations, wherein it has been alleged that employees are being forced to participate in the event, female employees are made to change their clothes, and even pregnant women are forced to take part in celebrations.

“This misinformation is strongly refuted. Participants in the Yoga Day celebrations have volunteered to take part in the event, and no employee was compelled to join the event against his/her will. Employees are not required to change their clothing. They have been provided with long tunics to wear over their existing attire, ensuring their comfort and convenience.”

The statement added: “The employees’ well-being has been prioritised. Pregnant employees and those with medical conditions have not been asked to participate in the Yoga Day celebrations. People are urged to verify facts before spreading false narratives that can cause unnecessary concern and confusion.”

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–IANS

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Civic bodies poll in Nagaland after 20 years, 2.76 lakh voters to decide fate of 523 candidates

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Kohima, June 20 (IANS) Over 2.76 lakh voters would decide the fate of 523 candidates in the June 26 elections to three municipal councils and 36 town councils in Nagaland in civic polls being held after a gap of 20 years, officials said on Thursday.

State Election Commissioner (SEC) T. John Longkumer said that 670 nominations were submitted and subsequently 79 candidatures were withdrawn while 64 candidates were elected unopposed.

Four nomination papers were rejected during scrutiny.

He said that no candidate is contesting in the town councils in eastern Nagaland, where Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) gave a vote boycott call in support of their statehood demand for ‘Frontier Nagaland Territory’.

Longkumer, a former Director General of Police of Nagaland, said that a total of 2,76,229 voters, including 1,40,167 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the urban bodies poll.

Of the total of 418 wards in the urban civic bodies, 142 wards are reserved for women.

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The SEC said that many national and local parties are contesting the elections. These include the BJP, the Congress, the Janata Dal-United, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), the Naga People’s Front (NPF), the Rising People’s Party, the Republican Party of India-Athawale, and the Lok Janshakti Party-Ram Vilas.

The SEC earlier served a show cause notice to the ENPO, the apex body of seven backward Naga tribes in eastern Nagaland who urged the people to abstain from participating in the civic polls to press for its statehood demand. People in the six districts, which have over four lakh voters, remained indoors on April 19 in polling to the state’s sole Lok Sabha constituency, responding to its call.

SEC officials said that 108 companies of state security forces would be deployed to maintain security while 8,100 personnel would be posted to conduct the civic polls.

–IANS

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Railways conduct trial run on world's highest rail bridge in J&K

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Srinagar, June 20 (IANS) Indian Railways on Thursday conducted a successful trial run of an eight-coach MEMU train on the newly electrified 46-km section between Sangaldan and Reasi in Jammu and Kashmir passing through the world’s highest Chenab Rail Bridge.

Sharing the news, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in a post on X said: “Successful trial run of MEMU train between Sangaldan-Reasi section of USBRL project. Jammu & Kashmir.”

The trial run was conducted at a speed of 40 km per hour. The MEMU train started at 12:35 p.m. from Sangaldan and reached Reasi at 2:05 PM, passing through nine tunnels with a combined length of 40.78 km.

The USBRL project was inaugurated in multiple phases, starting with the 118-km Qazigund-Baramulla section in October 2009, followed by the 18-km Banihal-Qazigund section in June 2013, and the 25-kilometer Udhampur-Katra section in July 2014.

The latest phase, including the 48.1-km Banihal-Sangaldan section, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 20, 2024.

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The successful trial run signifies the nearing of the completion of the USBRL project. This project after completion is expected to enhance social integration, facilitate easier movement of people and goods, and boost economic activities such as tourism and trade in the region.

–IANS

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Goa Forward Party ready to combat BJP in upcoming Assembly session

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Panaji, June 20 (IANS) Expecting the BJP government with its brute majority in Goa to try to bulldoze the opposition during the forthcoming Assembly session, Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai said on Thursday that in a democracy, people are always in the majority.

“In a democracy, the people are always in the majority. A brute majority in the Assembly means nothing. I will force the government to focus on issues pertaining to the state,” Sardesai said after meeting people from various constituencies to discuss different issues.

In the 40-member Goa Assembly, BJP has 28 MLAs besides having the support of five other legislators.

“Many people came to meet me and discussed their issues. They are all victims of the brute majority of the BJP. I will raise their issues in the Assembly and try to draw the attention of the government to address them,” Sardesai said.

“As a regional political force, we are committed to raising issues that directly concern Goa, and this time too, we will hold the government accountable to the people of Goa. I have personally heard the grievances of people from across the state, and I will raise them in the House,” he added.

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The Monsoon Session of the Goa Assembly will have 18 sittings from July 15 to August 7.

–IANS

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