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TN Forest Dept, Police probe source of seized elephant tusks worth Rs 60 lakh

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Chennai, May 16 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Forest Department and the Special Investigation Team of the state police are conducting a joint probe to find out the source of two elephant tusks (weighing 3.2 kg and worth Rs 60 lakh) that were seized by the Organised Crime Intelligence Unit (OCIU) of the Tamil Nadu police on Wednesday night.

The police have arrested a person, A. Ram Alagu (40) of Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu along with the Elephant tusks.

The OCIU is an elite unit of the Tamil Nadu police which gathers information on criminals and their activities, and has a dossier of several such people and organised crime networks in its database.

The unit is, however, seeking help of Tamil Nadu Forest Department to ascertain the age of the elephant from whose body the tusks were extracted and also to find out more specifics regarding the tusk that has been recovered from the arrested person.

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Sources in Tamil Nadu Forest Department told IANS that they have at present not got any leads but the interrogation of Ram Alagu is being conducted to get more details and to find out the exact people behind this.

OCIU, on its interrogation, has found out that Ram Alagu was just a conduit and that he did not know much about the tusk and the whereabouts from where it was procured.

The Tamil Nadu Forest Department has already sent a communique to all the forest divisions in the state and neighbouring states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Karnataka about the seizure of the tusk and the arrest of the person who was carrying the tusks.

The four southern states are into a three-day synchronised census of elephants and there is an excellent rapport among the Forest Departments of these states.

–IANS

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Rajkot fire claims 35 lives, DNA tests to identify victims

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Rajkot, May 26 (IANS) The fire at Gamezone amusement park in Rajkot on May 25 resulted in the loss of 35 lives, leaving victims charred beyond recognition that identification is possible only through DNA testing, officials shared.

According to reports, DNA samples were dispatched to Gandhinagar via air ambulance at 4:30 a.m. The results of these tests are expected within 48 hours. So far, 25 DNA samples have been sent, while the relatives of two victims are yet to arrive.

According to sources, some relatives are travelling from Junagadh, and no immediate family member is present for one individual who came from abroad. Sixteen bodies are currently in cold storage at AIIMS, and 11 others are at the Civil Hospital.

“Over 27 bodies have been transported to Rajkot Hospital, where DNA samples will be collected before conducting post-mortem examinations. The Civil Hospital in Rajkot is overwhelmed with the number of deceased. DNA samples from missing family members will also be collected to aid identification. It has been reported that most of the victims are from Gondal, with 31 families still searching for their missing children. More than 10 police teams are involved in documenting the incident, and the death toll may rise above 50,” sources said.

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“Families of the injured are heartbroken and in mourning, unable to see their loved ones one last time due to the condition of the bodies,” sources from Rajkot added.

The government has issued orders for an investigation and action against those responsible.

–IANS

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Rajkot Gamezone fire: Rs 99 scheme led people to death trap

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Rajkot, May 26 (IANS) As the death toll in fire tragedy at the Gamezone amusement park in Rajkot reached 35, it has emerged that the administrators took advantage of the weekend and launched a Rs 99 scheme, drastically reducing the entry fee from Rs 500 to lure the visitors.

Sources said this ill-fated decision, driven by profit, pushed people into a death trap.

According to sources, the Gamezone saw an overwhelming crowd due to the Rs 99 scheme. The entry fee was slashed from Rs 500 to Rs 99 to attract more holiday and weekend visitors. As a result, approximately 300 people had thronged the Gamezone when the fire broke out.

It has come to light that the Gamezone management did not obtain a Fire No Objection Certificate (NOC). To avoid municipal approvals, the Gamezone was set up in a shed, and a three-story facility was launched after only acquiring a ride certificate. The officials responsible for issuing these certificates are now absconding.

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The fire reportedly started due to a welding spark on a ladder. With only one staircase available, people on the second and third floors were trapped, leading to a higher casualty rate. The fire spread rapidly due to the structure and materials used in the Gamezone.

The Gamezone featured rubber and resin flooring, thermocol sheet partitions, and over a thousand tyres around the car zone, creating a highly flammable environment. Additionally, 1500 litres of diesel stored on-site exacerbated the fire, causing it to become fierce and uncontrollable, the sources added.

–IANS

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Rajkot TRP game zone fire: Investigations reveal management's negligence

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Rajkot, May 26 (IANS) Investigations into the TRP game zone tragedy in Gujarat’s Rajkot that claimed 35 lives have revealed that the incident happened due to its management’s negligence.

The investigations revealed that the TRP game zone had been operating illegally in a residential area for four years without the necessary No Objection Certificate (NOC).

The amusement park was set up in a flimsy shed-like structure to bypass regulatory approvals, the sources said.

Despite this, the sources shared that the facility continued to attract visitors, oblivious to the lurking dangers.

Rajkot Additional Collector Chetan Gandhi did not respond to the media, while Executive Engineer of the Mechanical Department C. C. Patel has disappeared and is not responding to calls.

The Road and Building Department officials are also untraceable, and the officers responsible for issuing the stability certificate are missing.

It was found that the game zone managers had expanded the facility to three stories by obtaining a ride certificate.

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The sources added that they secured permission from the police for the amusement park and sought approval for rides from the mechanical branch, sidestepping comprehensive safety evaluations.

Questions have been raised about the management and safety protocols at the Gamezone.

Reports indicate that 2,000 litres of petrol were stored on-site, ongoing welding activities, and numerous tyres were kept, all without a proper fire No Objection Certificate (NOC).

The state government and the Special Investigation Team (SIT) have pledged thorough investigations and justice for the victims.

Subhash Trivedi, Chairman of the SIT, said, “This is a very tragic incident, and guilty will not be spared. Justice will be served to all,” he said.

Trivedi assured that a proper investigation is underway and concrete actions will be taken against those responsible.

–IANS

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SC to hear on Monday BJP's plea against Calcutta HC order restraining publications of ads against TMC

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) The Supreme Court is slated to hear on Monday the plea filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against a Calcutta High Court order restraining the saffron party from publication of “derogatory” and “offending” advertisements against the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

As per the causelist published on the website of the apex court, a vacation bench of Justices JK Maheshwari and KV Vishwanathan will take up the matter for hearing on May 27.

Earlier on Friday, the special leave petition was mentioned before a vacation bench presided over by Justice Bela M Trivedi for directions seeking urgent listing.

After much persuasion, Justice Trivedi-led Bench said that it would consider listing the matter.

In an order passed this week, Calcutta High passed an ex-parte injunction prohibiting the publication of advertisements which squarely violate the political rights of Trinamool and its functionaries.

A bench of Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya of the high court said that the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) prohibits all participants in the election process from criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion.

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It said that the Election Commission of India “grossly failed” to address, in due time, the complaints raised by the ruling Trinamool Congress.

“Accordingly, respondent no. 2 (BJP) is hereby restrained from further continuing with the publication of the offending advertisements… till June 04, 2024, or until further order, whichever is earlier. The respondent no. 2 is further restrained from publishing advertisements in any form of media which is violative of the MCC issued by the ECI during the aforesaid period,” the HC order said.

The special leave petition filed before the Supreme Court stated that the high court “erred” by granting an interim injunction based on the purported violation of MCC without taking into consideration that the issue was pending before the ECI, which has the authority to take appropriate action against any political party.

–IANS

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Kidney racket : Kerala SIT reaches Tamil Nadu after prime accused reveals connections

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Kerala Police reached Tamil Nadu to probe the kidney racket based out of Kerala with international connections.

The special team of the Kerala Police led by a DSP is in the Coimbatore and Pollachi areas of Tamil Nadu after the main accused in a kidney racket, Sabith Nasar (30) revealed his Tamil Nadu connections to the investigation team.

IANS had earlier reported that Tamil Nadu Police have taken into custody a few people who were directly associated with the Kerala kidney racket’s main accused Sabith.

On May 19, Kerala Police arrested Nasar as he returned from Iran, following a tip-off from the Central intelligence agencies. On interrogation, he revealed that he was involved in organ trade and had taken twenty people to Iran for kidney transplant for money.

He also told interrogators that he had received Rs 5 lakh for each kidney transplant and that he had transferred around Rs 10 lakh to each donor. However, sources in the investigation team told IANS that the amount that Sabith and his associates received was much higher and that more people are involved in the racket including a Keralite doctor based out of Iran.

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The Kerala Police team in Tamil Nadu will be conducting a thorough investigation on the contacts of the accused Sabith Nasar and will question a few people who are already in the custody of Tamil Nadu SIT.

During the initial days of questioning, Sabith had revealed that people from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and a few north Indian states were taken to Iran as organ donors, while he kept silent on the Tamil Nadu connection.

Police teams from both states are conducting a joint investigation on the number of people taken from Tamil Nadu to Iran for kidney trade and the money that was transferred.

–IANS

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