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Villagers narrate how Shahjahan’s kin grew pisciculture business in Sandeshkhali using political clout

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Kolkata, Feb 24 (IANS) As the overall ambience remains tense in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali area, with Section 144 imposed in pockets and route marches by the state police continuing, the villagers have started complaining that Sheikh Sirajuddin, the younger brother of absconding Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan had grabbed their lands at throwaway prices and expanded the family’s pisciculture business by exploiting his brother’s political clout.

This week a group of agitated villagers burnt down a warehouse situated on a pisciculture farm owned by Sirajuddin, which prompted senior cops of the state police to rush to the spot and attempt to cool down the simmering anger of the villagers and convince them not to break the law.

However, the villagers clearly told the media persons camped there that the oppression against them would continue unless Shahjahan, the mastermind behind the attack on ED and CAPF personnel on January 5, is arrested.

Describing how Sheikh Sirajuddin used to usurp their land, a local woman protester said, “First Sirajuddin’s men used to identify the farmland in the area where they wanted to set up their pisciculture farm and approach the owner. If the landowner agreed to sell the land they were given a nominal amount in return.

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“However, if they did not sell then arm-twisting tactics were used. The fertility of the farmland was destroyed by flooding it with salt water. After that, the landowner concerned had no other option but to sell it to Sirajuddin at a throwaway price.”

Although the state police have opened camps to register complaints of the landowners on this count, the villagers do not seem to have much confidence in police given their past experiences.

“Whenever we used to approach the local police with any complaints against the Trinamool leader’s brother, we were asked to approach Shahjahan and his associates to sort out the matter,” said another villager.

Additional Director General (ADG) of police, South Bengal said that till date there is no official or written complaint against Sirajuddin and assured appropriate action once any specific complaint was filed.

However, the terrified villagers are reluctant to come forward right now.

–IANS

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Bengal train collision: Preliminary findings suggest combination of human, procedural lapses

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Kolkata, June 20 (IANS) Preliminary investigation by a joint observation committee in the Kanchanjunga Express–goods train collision on Monday morning suggests that a combination of two procedural lapses was the reason behind the accident, sources said on Thursday.

Sources said that the first procedural lapse was that the “absolute block system” was not followed in the case of the goods train that had hit Kanchanjunga Express from behind.

The absolute block system (ABS) is followed by railways in case the automatic signalling system is inactive within a particular area between two stations. In that case, a train will not be allowed to leave one station unless the preceding train in the same line (the ‘block’) leaves or crosses the next station ahead. However, as per a preliminary report, the goods train was given permission to leave the Rangapani station before the Kanchanjunga Express, which was moving in the same line, crossed the next station which was Chatter Hat.

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Had the ABS been strictly followed in this case the accident, which has taken 11 lives so far, could have been avoided.

While this was the first procedural lapse, as per the preliminary findings, the next human error was on the part of the loco-pilot (now deceased) of the goods train, where he overshot the prescribed speed limit while crossing a distance where the automatic signalling system is non-functional. As per norms, for the trains passing through such a distance, the speed should never exceed 15 km per hour, to maintain a reasonable distance between the two trains passing on the same line.

Preliminary findings suggest that the collision occurred due to the violation of the speed limit between the Rangapani and Chatter Hat stations.

At the same time, sources said, from the impact of the collision on the last four coaches of Kanchanjunga Express, the last two being the parcel coach and guard’s compartment, it was clear that the speed was well above the prescribed limit of 15 km an hour.

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–IANS

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Madhya Pradesh Police arrest over 1K involved in cattle smuggling in 6 months

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Bhopal, June 21 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh Police have claimed to have registered as many as 575 cases in the last six months related to cattle smuggling and arrested a total of 1,121 people in this connection.

Besides, more than 7,000 cows were rescued from illegal possession during the same period.

The police said that most cases of cattle smuggling were reported in Balaghat, Seoni, Chhindwara, Barwani, Khargone, Burhanpur, Ujjain, Ratlam and Neemuch districts.

A source said the operation against cattle smuggling was carried out extensively following the direction received from Chief Minister Mohan Yadav.

“Several teams of police were formed across the state and the routes that were used frequently for cow trafficking were identified. Sources were developed in particular regions to get real-time information and the cases of 10 years were examined,” a police source said.

The BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government has been strict on cattle smuggling and the sale of meat in open places for the last several years.

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Notably, Chief Minister Mohan Yadav, in one of his initial orders after taking over charge of the CM Office, directed the police to take strict action against cattle smuggling.

The recent action in Mandala where 11 houses were demolished was as part of action against the illegal beef trading in the state, a police officer said.

The action was taken after a tip-off was received that numerous cows had been held captive for slaughtering.

–IANS

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BJP and Congress conspiring to privatise Singareni Collieries, alleges BRS

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Hyderabad, June 21 (IANS) The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) on Thursday alleged both the BJP and the Congress were conspiring to privatise Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) through the auction of coal mines.

BRS Working President K.T. Rama Rao said the BJP government at the Centre and the Congress government in Telangana were undermining Singareni by opting to auction coal mines in Telangana instead of allocating them directly to Singareni.

He slammed the state government for participating in the auction of mines instead of demanding direct allocation to Singareni.

“The Central government is auctioning more than 60 mines in the country, including Singareni, starting tomorrow. The state government’s participation in the auction contradicts their previous stance of opposing the auction and seeking direct allocation from the Central government to Singareni,” he said.

He also reminded the public that the present Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy had written a letter to the Central government seeking the cancellation of the Singareni mines auction and requesting direct allocation to Singareni.

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KTR, as the BRS leader is popularly known, questioned Revanth Reddy’s silence now over the Central government’s auction of mines in the Singareni area, considering his opposition earlier.

He claimed that BRS and its government had stalled the auctioning of coal mines in the Singareni area for the past nine years to safeguard Singareni’s future.

“With 16 MPs, neighbouring state’s Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is trying to halt the privatisation of Vizag Steel Plant and safeguarding their state’s interests. In contrast, the 16 elected MPs from Telangana, both from Congress and BJP, remain silent despite the Central government’s attempt to harm the state’s prospects through the mines auction,” he said.

KTR demanded that all MPs and the two Union Ministers from Telangana should immediately take steps to cancel the Singareni mines auction. He also accused the Central ministers from Telangana of harming the state’s interests by remaining silent on this matter. KTR stated that the same Central government made the Vizag Steel Plant incur losses by not allocating dedicated mines.

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The BRS leader also said that even if companies participate in the auction and get the mining rights, the BRS would cancel the leases “once they come into power after four and a half years”.

–IANS

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Railway to resume Garib Rath Express between Kolkata, Guwahati, Agartala

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Guwahati, June 21 (IANS) The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) would resume the services of two pairs of Garib Rath Express on the Agartala-Kolkata and Guwahati-Kolkata routes from next month, officials said here on Thursday.

NFR’s Chief Public Relations Officer Sabyasachi De said that the Garib Rath Express would run on the Agartala-Kolkata route every Wednesday from July 3 and it would run on the Kolkata- Agartala route every Sunday from July 7.

The CPRO said that the Garib Rath Express would run on the Guwahati-Kolkata route every Saturday from July 6. Similarly, the train would run on the Kolkata-Guwahati route every Thursday from July 4.

De said that resuming the services of these express trains would fulfil the long-standing demand of the people of the region. Rail connectivity in the northeast would be strengthened with West Bengal and its capital by these services. This would highly benefit the patients, students, and other commuters of the adjacent states, apart from promoting economic growth and commerce, the CPRO added.

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–IANS

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No proposal to monetise 25,000 acres around Bengaluru, says Siddaramaiah govt

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Bengaluru, June 21 (IANS) The Karnataka government on Thursday denied reports it was considering monetising 25,000 acres of land around Bengaluru to fund its guarantee schemes, saying there was no such proposal.

“At the outset, there is no proposal to monetise 25,000 acres of land around Bengaluru as suggested in the news reports. It is the fundamental responsibility of the government to optimise resource mobilisation without putting undue burden on the citizens. Our state has greater potential to raise additional non-tax revenues from sectors such as mining, advertisements in urban areas, naming rights, etc. Better tax compliance is also another measure that is being explored. Some of the recommendations also include a limited extent of monetisation of non-strategic assets, but that does not have to mean disposal or outright sale of government lands,” a government statement said.

There are several creative and intelligent ways to raise resources without selling government land and raising taxes, it added.

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“The idle land parcels of the state government and other government entities, which are prone to encroachment, would be developed to generate a continuous stream of revenue to the state without selling these lands. Instead of an outright sale of public lands, innovative value-capture financing methods would be employed to generate revenue to the state which does not involve the outright sale of public assets. The various successful value capture financing methods deployed in other states and countries would be carefully studied and the best methods would be adopted in the state,” the statement said.

It also said that the focus of the global consultant is on the rapid development of large industrial townships and urban amenities by tapping private investments. The Finance Department is looking into all the measures and any proposal to raise resources will be in the public domain once it is properly fleshed out. There is no reason for anyone to jump to hasty conclusions based on preliminary ideas that are on the table,” the statement added.

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–IANS

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