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SP reiterates demand for ballot papers instead of EVMs in Lok Sabha polls

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Lucknow, March 1 (IANS) The Samajwadi Party (SP) has told the Election Commission (EC) that people had lost faith in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and ballot papers should be used in the polling.

In a meeting with the EC team on Thursday evening, other opposition parties raised the issue of alleged malfunctioning in EVMs, irregularities in electoral rolls, abuse of government machinery by the ruling party and strict enforcement of the model code of conduct during elections.

SP also raised objection to the EC’s directive to the political parties to refrain from using children in election campaigns.

“Elections are considered a festival of our democracy and people of all age groups, including children, participate in the election activities,” said Naresh Uttam Patel, SP State President.

The EC team led by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar is in Lucknow on a three-day visit to review the preparation in Uttar Pradesh for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP delegation urged the poll panel for checking voters, who arrived at polling booths with their faces covered under burqas or veils, at multiple levels by women staff to curb bogus voting during the Lok Sabha election.

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The poll panel was also urged to conduct the polling process under video cameras at all polling booths across the state.

The BJP delegation, including Co-operative Minister J.P.S Rathor, State General Secretary Sanjay Rai and State Convenor Arunkant Tripathi raised the demand for setting up of polling booths in multi-storied buildings and residential societies to ensure participation of maximum voters, proper seating arrangement at polling booths for the elderly and differently-abled voters, transparent electoral rolls and a clear cut guideline for the installation of party flags and wall writing in the Lok Sabha election.

The EC team met the representatives of national and regional political parties, including the Aam Aadmi Party, Bharatiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Communist Party of India, Indian National Congress, Apna Dal (Sonelal) and Samajwadi Party in a meeting organised in Yojana Bhawan on Thursday.

The SP State President said, “The EC told us that EVMs will be used in the 2024 Lok Sabha election. The Samajwadi Party will participate in the electoral process and during the counting of votes when a candidate raises demand for recounting of votes then instead of counting slips of five voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) the EC should order recounting of the slips of all the VVPATs.”

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The SP also drew the attention of the EC toward irregularities in electoral rolls in Uttar Pradesh. During the revision of voters’ lists, 30.85 lakh names of the voters had been removed while the names of 57.29 lakh voters had been added. Today, there were 15.3 crore voters in Uttar Pradesh.

“We told the panel that names of the supporters of the SP have been deleted from the voters’ lists. The anomalies in the voters’ lists should be corrected before the poll,” Patel added.

Congress delegation, including Deputy leader of the party in the Rajya Sabha, Pramod Tiwari, former MP P.L. Punia and Congress Legislature Party leader Aradhana Misra Mona raised the issue of abuse of official machinery by the ruling BJP in the coming Lok Sabha election, uniformity in voters’ lists and deletion of names of voters during the revision of electoral roll.

The Congress delegation also expressed dissatisfaction over the reply of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on the complaint lodged by the party regarding the fire in the strong room of the election warehouse in Farrukhabad district in which several EVMs were destroyed.

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The Congress leaders said that large scale transfer of administrative and police officers was being carried out before the start of the election process with the aim of misusing election machinery during the poll. The transfers of officers should be stopped immediately and those made in the past three months should be reviewed by the EC.

The BSP delegation led by State unit President Vishwanath Pal raised the demand for strict measures to conduct free and fair polling during the Lok Sabha election.

–IANS

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Fan's murder: Actors Darshan, Pavithra not cooperating, hiding facts

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Bengaluru, June 13 (IANS) The Karnataka Police are investigating the murder of 33-year-old Renukaprasad allegedly by Kannada superstar Darshan, his ‘second wife’ Pavithra Gowda and others who have told the court that Darshan and Pavithra Gowda were not cooperating with the investigation, sources said on Wednesday.

The remand application was submitted before the court on Tuesday.

The remand application also mentions that Darshan and Pavithra were also hiding the facts.

Considering the petition, the court had sent the accused to a six-day custody to the police.

Meanwhile, the investigation has revealed the involvement of 17 persons in connection with the murder of Renukaswamy.

Among the 17, four persons are absconding according to the police and a hunt has been launched against them.

The accused are identified as Jagadish aka Jagga, Anu, Ravi and Raju.

The police have named 33-year-old Pavithra Gowda as the main accused and 47-year-old actor Darshan alias D Boss as the second accused.

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The other accused is Puttaswamy aka Pavan. K (29), Raghavendra (43), Nandeesha (28), Vinay (38), Nagaraju (41), Lakshmana (54), Deepak (39), Pradoosh (40), Karthik alias Kappe (27), Keshavamurthy (27) and Nikhil Nayak (21).

The remand application submitted to the court by the police states that the case has been registered against the accused under the IPC Section 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence and giving false information to screen offender), sources said.

The accused Raghavendra, Karthik, Nikhil Nayak and Keshavamurty had surrendered before the police on June 10 at 7 p.m. and claimed that they had killed Renukaswamy and disposed of the body near a gutter.

After being questioned all the four accused revealed the role of other accused persons, including Darshan.

The police have arrested 13 persons in connection with the murder case.

–IANS

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Gujarat govt introduces new safety rules to prevent Rajkot gaming zone-like fire incidents

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Ahmedabad, June 13 (IANS) The Gujarat government on Wednesday announced new safety measures to prevent incidents like the Rajkot gaming zone fire incident, in which at least 27 people were killed.

Gujarat Cabinet Minister Rushikesh Patel announced the launch of “The Gujarat Amusement Rides and Gaming Zone Activities (Safety) Rules-2024” by the Home Department, aimed at ensuring the safety of citizens visiting amusement rides and gaming zones.

This initiative, which directly responds to the tragic Rajkot TRP game zone fire, aims to prevent any similar incidents statewide.

Rushikesh Patel also said that the government is seeking public input on these new safety regulations.

Citizens can email their objections and suggestions regarding the rules to the Home Department at home@gujarat.gov.in by June 25.

“Once finalised, the new regulations will be officially published. With these measures, the Gujarat government aims to enhance safety protocols and ensure that incidents like the Rajkot TRP (game zone) fire are never repeated,” Patel added.

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The proposed rules have been published on the Home Department’s website, where citizens can review them and provide feedback.

These rules mandate that an amusement ride intended for operation for at least three months can be installed with prior permission from the licensing authority.

Upon receiving the application, the licensing authority will forward it to relevant authorities for No Objection Certificates (NOCs) related to fire safety, building use, structural stability, health, sanitation, and electrical installations.

The licensing authority will then consider recommendations from the City Ride Safety and Inspection Committee or the District Ride Safety Committee before granting permission, which will be issued in Form B with specific terms and conditions, or the application will be refused in writing.

Any major changes in design, specifications, or installation methods must receive prior approval.

The licensing authority will issue a written direction specifying the approved deviations and any conditions to be complied with.

Furthermore, the installation of amusement rides must be supervised by a qualified person, ensuring that all work and tests adhere to the authorised designs, specifications, installation methods, and conditions of the installation permit.

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Regular inspections must be conducted to maintain compliance with these standards.

–IANS

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15 Himachal products get GI tag

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Shimla, June 13 (IANS) Fifteen products from Himachal Pradesh have been registered under the Geographical Indication (GI).

This fact came to light in an exhibition featuring registered and potential GI products at the Indira Gandhi State Sports Complex here.

State Chief Secretary Prabodh Saxena inaugurated the event that would continue till June 16.

The exhibition showcases about 15 GI products which include Kullu shawl, Kangra tea, Chamba rumal, Kinnauri shawl, Kangra painting, Himachali kala jeera, chulli oil, Chamba chappal and Lahauli socks and gloves.

Additionally, potential GI products identified for registration include Chamba metal craft, Kinnauri jewellery, Spiti chharma, Bharmour rajma, Pangi ki thangi, Chamba chukh, red rice, dasangru and Sirmauri loia, Karsog kulthi, Himachali dham, Himachali musical instruments, Kinnauri apple, and sepu badi.

An application has been made for the registration of Chamba metal craft.

Saxena, while emphasising the importance of GI tags, said these tags were given to products with a specific geographical origin such as Chamba rumal, Chamba chappal, Kangra tea and Kangra painting.

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He said the registration of GI products provides legal protection, enhances their export potential and promotes the economic prosperity of producers in specific geographical areas.

The exhibition offers an opportunity for both locals and tourists to learn about GI products and purchase valuable traditional items.

–IANS

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POCSO case: Victim's brother moves K'taka HC seeking Yediyurappa’s arrest, govt appoints SPP (Ld)

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Bengaluru, June 13 (IANS) In a setback to former Chief Minister and BJP Parliamentary Board member B.S. Yediyurappa, a writ petition was submitted in the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday seeking his arrest in a POCSO case lodged against him in Bengaluru before the Lok Sabha elections.

Taking the matter seriously, the Congress government has appointed special public prosecutor (SPP) Ashok N. Nayak to represent the prosecution in the case. According to sources, the Congress government has decided to initiate legal action against Yediyurappa.

The victim’s brother filed the writ petition before the high court, claiming that the police did not take any action though it has been months since the complaint was filed against the veteran BJP leader.

The victim’s mother, who passed away on May 26, had filed a case against Yediyurappa in March this year under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, alleging harassment of her daughter when she went to the former CM’s residence seeking help in a 2015 case of assault.

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The petitioner claimed that the CCTV footage from Yediyurappa’s residence was not seized, and neither was a notice served to the BJP leader under Section 41A, which is a basic step in a POCSO case.

Meanwhile, Yediyurappa had also approached the high court seeking quashing of the POCSO case against him.

He submitted in his petition that he did not indulge in any unlawful act, and alleged that the complainant had a habit of filing complaints.

“I had attended the interrogation after the FIR was lodged. The police had collected voice samples but did not record my statement,” Yediyurappa claimed.

In March, the victim’s mother had filed complaints against 53 persons, including senior police officers, politicians, and bureaucrats.

Commenting on the case, Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara said on Wednesday that the investigation is going on and the police are gathering more evidence.

Earlier, the Congress government in Karnataka handed over the case to the special wing of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

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–IANS

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Kuwait fire tragedy: Around 40 Indians killed, says MEA; Jaishankar speaks to Kuwaiti FM

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New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Wednesday spoke to his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya about the fire tragedy in Kuwait City in which around 40 Indians are feared to have died.

According to reports by Kuwaiti media, the fire broke out in a six-floor building that was crammed with migrant workers in the city’s al-Mangaf area.

EAM Jaishankar, in a post on X, said: @Spoke to Kuwaiti FM Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya on the fire tragedy in Kuwait. Apprised of the efforts made by Kuwaiti authorities in that regard. Was assured that the incident would be fully investigated and that responsibility will be fixed.”

S. Jaishankhar said that he urged the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister for the early repatriation of the mortal remains of those who lost their lives.

“He emphasized that those injured were getting the requisite medical attention. We will review the situation after MoS Kirtivardhan Singh reaches Kuwait tomorrow,” he added.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier on Wednesday chaired a review meeting on the fire tragedy in Kuwait at his residence.

PM Modi also announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh to the families of deceased Indian nationals from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

The Prime Minister expressed his deep sorrow at the unfortunate incident and extended condolences to the families of the deceased. He also wished speedy recovery for those injured.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the External Affairs Ministry (EAM) said: “In an unfortunate and tragic fire incident in a Labour housing facility in Mangaf area of Kuwait, around 40 Indians are understood to have died and over 50 injured. The Embassy is ascertaining the full details from the concerned Kuwaiti authorities and the company. We offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families.”

The EAM statement mentioned that those injured are presently admitted to five government hospitals in Kuwait and receiving proper medical care and attention. According to hospital authorities, most of the admitted patients are stable.

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The EAM statement further said: “Following the incident, Ambassador of India in Kuwait, Adarsh Swaika, immediately visited the location of the incident and also the hospitals to ascertain the welfare of the Indian nationals. The Embassy continues to coordinate with local authorities to assist Indian nationals who have been injured in this unfortunate incident and extend all possible support. The Embassy is receiving full cooperation from the Kuwaiti authorities.”

The statement also said that the Indian Embassy in Kuwait continues to remain in touch with local authorities to provide relief to those affected.

“The Embassy has established a helpline +965-65505246 (WhatsApp and regular call) for family members to get in touch. Regular updates are being provided through the helpline,” the EAM said.

The fire broke out while the workers were asleep, and some residents had to jump from the building in an attempt to survive, Kuwaiti newspaper al-Qabas reported, citing witnesses.

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Kuwait’s Emir Meshal Al Ahmad has ordered investigations to determine the cause of the blaze and bring to account those found responsible, Kuna said.

–IANS

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