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Six youths hurt in Mumbai's Dharavi slum fire

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Mumbai, May 28 (IANS) At least six persons were hurt in a major fire that broke out in a slum tenement in Mumbai’s Dharavi on Tuesday, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Disaster Control officials said.

The fire was noticed around 3.50 a.m. when the occupants of the structure in Ashok Mills Compound were fast asleep.

The fire was confined to the electrical writing and fittings, garment stocks, some machinery and office records in the ground-plus-3 and ground-plus-4 storied commercial structures.

A Mumbai Fire Brigade team rushed to the spot in minutes and after a four-hour-long battle, managed to douse the flames.

The injured victims were rushed to the BMC’s Sion Hospital nearby.

They are Salman Khan, 26, Manoj, 25 – both with 8-10 percent burns, Amjad, 22 and

Sallauddin, 28, and Saidul Rehman, 26, all with 35-50 percent burns.

One victim Rafiq Ahmed, 26, who suffered some hand injuries, was treated and discharged, and the cause of the conflagration is being probed.

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–IANS

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Class 10 student kills aunt for declining indecent proposal

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Bengaluru, June 20 (IANS) A minor boy — student of Class 10 — has been apprehended in Karnataka for allegedly killing his aunt after she declined his indecent proposal, the police said on Wednesday.

The incident took place at a village near Uppinangady town in Dakshina Kannada district.

According to police, a 37-year-old woman was found dead on Sunday night at her residence under suspicious circumstances.

The accused minor boy who was at her home on Sunday, allegedly made sexual advances when the woman was sleeping. However, the woman — his maternal aunt — resisted and scolded him, and also asked him to behave properly.

Confessing his crime, the accused told the police that, fearing that she would tell others about his act, the Class 10 student smothered her to death using a pillow after sometime when she went back to sleep.

After killing her, he informed his father that the woman had suffered a heart attack and died.

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The police, however, had suspicions about the boy since the woman’s body was spotted.

His father also informed the police about scratches on the accused’s back.

When the police questioned him, he confessed to having used a pillow to smother his aunt to death, saying he must have received the scratches while the woman was trying to push him away to escape.

–IANS

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Once ridiculed as 'part-time' politician, Pawan Kalyan takes centre stage in Andhra politics

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Amaravati, June 20 (IANS) From being ridiculed by his critics as a “non-serious” and “part-time” politician till a couple of years ago to now Deputy Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, it’s quite an achievement for actor-politician Konidela Pawan Kalyan.

The Jana Sena leader, who assumed office on Wednesday, has come a long way since floating the party a decade ago despite the political disaster experienced by his more famous elder brother Chiranjeevi.

Though he made a modest beginning as a campaigner for the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and its ally Bharatiya Jana Party (BJP) in 2014 and had a disastrous electoral debut five years later, Pawan Kalyan stayed the course, determined to carve a niche for himself.

He, however, had to face bitter attacks from YSRCP leaders on his personal life. YSRCP President and former Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, at every public meeting, targeted the actor-politician over his three marriages, always referred to him as the “foster son” of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and called him a “non-resident politician” and a “package star”.

“Power star”, as Pawan Kalyan is popularly known in film circles, has finally tasted victory and power. After succeeding in his mission to end the “destructive rule” of the YSRCP, he appears set to play a big role in the changed political environment.

As the number two in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, the actor-politician is expected to have a major say in the decision-making. He has been entrusted with key portfolios like Panchayati Raj, Rural Development & Rural Water Supply, Environment and Forest, and Science and Technology.

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Over the last decade, he has shown keen interest in subjects like rural development and the environment.

As Chandrababu Naidu’s deputy, Pawan Kalyan will not only be looking for an active role in government but may also capitalise on this to strengthen his party, which put up an incredible show in recent elections to win all 21 Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats it contested. After the 2019 disaster when he lost both the seats he contested, Pawan Kalyan was elected from the Pithapuram constituency in Kakinada.

His Jana Sena, which has three ministers in the Cabinet including him, is the second biggest party in the 175-member Assembly after the TDP, which won a whopping 135 seats.

Many from his party had criticised Pawan Kalyan for not bargaining for more seats. He, however, was realistic and admitted the limited bargaining power of his party. “If we had a few seats in the Assembly, we could have bargained,” was his response.

In 2019, the Jana Sena had won a single seat and the lone MLA had also deserted the party. Pawan Kalyan also sacrificed a few more seats to bring the BJP on board in a grand alliance to ensure that anti-incumbency votes are not divided. His initiative to ally with the TDP and later convince the BJP leadership to join them proved a game changer as the YSRCP, which had 151 seats in the previous Assembly, bit the dust.

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As the YSRCP’s tally dropped to just 11 in the Assembly, the Jana Sena will be looking to expand in areas beyond certain pockets of south coastal Andhra.

Political analysts say Pawan Kalyan has got a platform from where he can build his party into a major force.

“His achievement is phenomenal. Perhaps there is no other party which achieved a 100 per cent success rate while contesting more than 20 seats,” said analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

He believes that going forward, Pawan Kalyan’s role will be significant. He may use his good offices with the BJP leadership to take up state-specific pending issues with the Centre. He, however, said it would be too early to predict if he would expand the party beyond the limited pockets where Kapus (the community to which Pawan Kalyan belongs) are in sizable numbers.

“Any serious attempt to expand the Jana Sena in other parts of the state may put him in direct conflict with Chandrababu Naidu’s son Lokesh whom the TDP considers as the future Chief Minister,” he said.

Lokesh is the TDP General Secretary and a key minister in Naidu’s Cabinet. Naidu, who is already 74, will be looking to groom his son as his successor.

Unlike elder brother Chiranjeevi who wound up his Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) within a couple of years of its launch, Pawan Kalyan never feared defeat. Though he began his political career as the leader of the PRP’s youth wing in 2008, he was not happy with the party’s merger with Congress in 2011. After launching the Jana Sena Party in March 2014, he supported the NDA in the elections held the same year as he was angry with Congress for bifurcating Andhra Pradesh, and shared the dais with then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu.

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Pawan Kalyan later distanced himself from both the BJP and the TDP for going back on the promise to accord special category status. In 2019, he had an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left parties. However, the Jana Sena could win just one Assembly seat and drew a blank in Lok Sabha polls. After the disaster of 2019, he re-joined hands with the BJP and in September last year, announced an alliance with the TDP. Aware of his strengths and weaknesses, the 52-year-old was cautious not to repeat past mistakes and this was the reason he did not bargain hard for seats. Seen as a youth icon, he crafted the image of a fighter. In tune with his screen image of an angry young man, Pawan Kalyan displayed aggression during the showdown with the Jagan government on a few occasions while taking up people’s issues.

–IANS

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Balasore clash: Curfew relaxed by four hours on Thursday

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Bhubaneswar, June 20 (IANS) A four-hour relaxation in curfew on Thursday has been allowed in Odisha’s Balasore town where a clash between two groups was witnessed a few days ago, following which a curfew was imposed.

An official said the decision was taken after the town gradually began limping towards normalcy.

The curfew was clamped in the Balasore municipality area following a clash in the city on Monday.

Speaking to the mediapersons after a high-level meeting on Wednesday, Balasore Collector Ashish Thakare said: “Curfew will be eased tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. We will allow the opening of different commercial establishments so that people can do their daily needs without any difficulties.

“A proposal has been sent to the Home Department to ease the ban on the Internet for emergency services like banking operations. As a matter of precaution, the schools, anganwadi centers and colleges will remain closed for at least the next two days.”

Balasore District Superintendent of Police, Sagarika Nath, said that a heavy deployment of police personnel has been made to tackle any incidents of violence.

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She said that Border Security Force personnel would be deployed for confidence-building exercises in the sensitive areas of Balasore town.

As many as 10 FIRs have been registered while 35 people were arrested in connection with the violence.

Several others have also been detained for violating curfew.

As per the sources, some residents after noticing blood flowing in a nearby drain, appealed to the administration to stop the alleged slaughtering of animals as several religious places are located in close vicinity.

The residents later blocked the Chandipur-Balasore main road as the local administration allegedly failed to address their concerns.

Upon being informed, police and other officials of district administration reached the spot and tried to placate a group of protesters.

Meanwhile, the situation soon flared up after the opposite group resorted to stone pelting.

–IANS

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No pressure to change SPP in Darshan fan murder case, says Siddaramaiah (Lead)

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Bengaluru, June 20 (IANS) Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday asserted that there is no pressure on him to change the special public prosecutor (SPP) in the Renukaswamy murder case involving actor Darshan, his girlfriend, and his 15 associates.

“There is no pressure on me to change the SPP by any minister and MLAs. I wouldn’t care if anyone tries to put pressure,” he told reporters here on the alleged pressure to change SPP Prasanna Kumar.

Siddaramaiah termed the news of changing the SPP as false and far from the truth.

“We will do exactly what the law says. The police are given a free hand and directed to carry out investigations as per the law. There is no proposal to change the SPP,” he maintained.

Meanwhile, Home Minister G. Parameshwara again emphasised that there is no intention to weaken the case against Kannada superstar Darshan in the fan murder case.

Darshan, his ‘partner’ and co-star Pavithra Gowda, and 15 others have been arrested on charges of murdering Renukaswamy (33), a resident of Chitradurga. The probe so far revealed that Renukaswamy was a big fan of Darshan and had sent derogatory messages to Pavithra Gowda on social media. He was allegedly kidnapped, brought to Bengaluru, kept in a shed, and brutally tortured to death.

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Asked if the police were mulling to replace the SPP, Parameshwara said: “We are investigating the matter without succumbing to any pressure. If there is a need to change the SPP, there must be a valid reason. The decision to change the SPP won’t be made without a reason.”

“We will take proper legal advice and act accordingly. As far as I know, there is no proposal to change the SPP,” he said. However, he also said that in case the SPP is replaced, it should not be viewed as a wrong move.

Prasanna Kumar has represented the prosecution for agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) before and secured convictions. He also represented the prosecution in Deputy CM D.K. Shivakumar’s case and various bomb blast cases.

Asked about Darshan’s reported confession to the crime, Parameshwara said he was not aware of it.

“I don’t know about the internal aspects of the probe. The media often gets news before I do. This is a serious matter and actions will be taken without any hesitation,” he said.

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Sources claimed on Wednesday that Darshan has reportedly admitted to his involvement in the murder case as per the remand copy submitted to the 24th ACMM court. As per the remand copy, Darshan gave Rs 30 lakh to Pradosh, an accused in the case, to manage the police and lawyers, and to pay those who disposed of the body. The police have reportedly seized the money from Pradosh’s residence.

Replying to a question about the disappearance of actor Darshan’s manager Mallikarjun for the past one and a half years, Parameshwara said the police would verify the matter.

“The SIT will decide if it wants a probe into this. If they seek permission from the government, we will grant it,” he said. About the suicide case of Sridhar, one of Darshan’s employees, Parameshwara said the matter will be probed if a connection with the actor in this matter is established.

–IANS

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Bihar Deputy CM draws links to Tejashwi Yadav in NEET paper leak allegations

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Patna June 20 (IANS) The Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Vijay Kumar Sinha, claimed on Wednesday that Sikandar Yadvendu, who was arrested in the NEET question paper leak case, is a close relative Pritam Kumar, the personal secretary of former Deputy CM and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

The investigation being conducted by the Economic Offences Unit (EOU) of Bihar Police has identified Sikandar Yadvendu, a junior engineer in the municipal committee of Danapur, as the kingpin of the NEET question paper leak case.

“Sikandar Yadvendu is a close relative of Tejashwi Yadav’s PS Pritam Kumar. An NHAI guest house was booked for Sikandar’s sister Reena Yadav and son Anurag Yadav to stay on May 4. A phone number and ‘Mantri Ji’ were mentioned in the diary of the NHAI guest house. The investigating agency is making efforts to know the identity of this Mantri Ji,” Sinha said.

Sinha, who also holds the road construction portfolio, said that he has ordered an inquiry into the booking of the NHAI guest house.

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“I am getting a thorough investigation done by my department to find out which officers or employees are working at the behest of Tejashwi Yadav. The entire system of RJD is based on crime and corruption,” Sinha said.

The EOU has found evidence that the question papers of NEET 2024 were leaked. The examination was held on May 5 and the question paper was leaked a day earlier on May 4.

The kingpin of this gang is Sikandar Yadavendu, who has been arrested. The EOU claims that Sikandar made his brother-in-law’s son and many other candidates memorise the answers by giving them the question paper in advance.

On May 5, the police arrested Reena Yadav from the NHAI guest house. The EOU also found an OMR sheet from the guest house. Reena’s son Anurag’s name is written in the register of the guest house, with ‘Mantri Ji’ written next to it.

Sikandar is a resident of Samastipur. He used to work as a contractor in Ranchi. In 2012, he became a junior engineer. He was an accused in the LED scam of Rs 3 crore and served a jail term as well.

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–IANS

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