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India is Asia’s deadliest country for journalists, says report from media watchdog

Nine of those killings took place in France, which was second only to Syria as the most dangerous country for the press in 2015, said the report, according to which 40 per cent journalists died at the hands of Islamic militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

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Also ReadIndiaHere are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messagesIndiaCubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibilityIndiaWoman raped inside Infosys campus in Pune by housekeeping staffIndiaWith one more engineer killed, Bihar getting unruly?IndiaKarti Chidambaram responds to DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s call for alliance with CongressIndiaGoa Governor pens song for ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ <!– /.block –>

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Here are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messages

15. May your expectations in this New Year morning be realised with each and everyday of the year. This is to wish you a good health that will maintain the energy to flip your wing while soaring into greater heights towards your destiny.

dna Web Team

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Also ReadIndiaHere are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messagesIndiaCubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibilityIndiaWoman raped inside Infosys campus in Pune by housekeeping staffIndiaWith one more engineer killed, Bihar getting unruly?IndiaKarti Chidambaram responds to DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s call for alliance with CongressIndiaGoa Governor pens song for ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Australia defeat West Indies by 177 runs in thrilling finish, seal series 2-0<!– /.block –>Cubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibility<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Cubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibility

On being informed, the forest officials had searched the area and found another cub which was alive. It was taken to Chandrapur for treatment, but it did not survive.

PTI
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Army successfully test-fires Brahmos supersonic land attack cruise missile

Pokhran: Army on Saturday successfully test fired the nearly 300-km-range Brahmos supersonic land attack cruise missile in Pokhran.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“At 1000 hrs today, the Indian Army fired Brahmos land-attack cruise missile successfully against a designated target at Pokhran test range in Rajasthan, demonstrating the weapon’s supreme operational capability,” defence officials said.

The missile was test launched by a Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) deployed in full configuration.

The test-fire, carried out in the user-deployment configuration by trained army personnel, met all the mission objectives, they said.

“BRAHMOS missile system, the most lethal and potent weapon system for precision strike available with Indian Army, has proved again its effectiveness in today’s successful launch,” said Sudhir Mihra, Chief of BrahMos Aerospace.

The Army has already inducted three regiments of Brahmos in its arsenal. All are equipped with Block-III version of missile, which was tested on 8 and 9 May this year.

The land-attack version of Brahmos has been operationalised in the Army since 2007.

The fire-and-forget Missile has the capability to take on surface-based targets by flying a combined high-low trajectory, thus evading enemy air defence systems.

Inclusion of the powerful weapon system in Indian Army has given it a distinct operational advantage to knock down any enemy target even in the most difficult and hidden terrains, the officials said.

The missile, having a range of 290-km and a Mach 2.8 speed, is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets.

BrahMos is a joint venture between DRDO of India and NPOM of Russia.

PTI

BrahMos missile test-fired from Indian Navy’s stealth destroyer INS Kochi, hits target

New Delhi: Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, with a strike-range of over 290 kms, was test-fired from the navy’s newest stealth destroyer INS Kochi successfully hitting a decommissioned target ship in the Arabian Sea.

The second of Project 15A ‘Kolkata-class’ guided missile destroyers test-fired the advanced missile system as part of ‘Acceptance Test Firing’ during a naval drill being conducted along the country’s west coast.

The world’s fastest cruise missile, after performing high-level and extremely complex manoeuvres, successfully hit decommissioned target ship ‘Alleppey’ located at a distance covering nearly the full range of the missile with high precision, defence officials said.

AFPAFP

AFP

“After two successful test trials from INS Kolkata in June 2014 and February 2015, today’s test firing from INS Kochi has validated the newly commissioned ship’s systems.

“BrahMos as the prime strike weapon will ensure the warship’s invincibility by engaging naval surface targets at long ranges, thus making the destroyer another lethal platform of Indian Navy,” Sudhir Mishra, CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace said.

The navy commissioned INS Kochi on September 30, this year. The 7,500-ton indigenously developed warship incorporates new design concepts for improved survivability, stealth, sea-keeping and manoeuvrability.

The warship has the advanced capability of carrying a total of 16 BrahMos missiles in two 8-cell vertical launch systems, besides other sophisticated weapons and sensors.

BrahMos missile having supersonic speed of Mach 2.8, a very low-cruising altitude of 10 metres at terminal phase and pin-point accuracy, will make the warship one of the deadliest in the Indian Navy fleet, the officials said.

The two-stage BrahMos missile has been jointly developed by India and Russia. It has been in service with the Indian Navy since 2005.

Sunday’s launch was the 49th test-firing of the missile.

PTI

Maharashtra: Anganwadi workers to get 2014 Diwali bonus this year

The erstwhile Congress government in April, 2014, had promised a bonus amount of Rs 1,000 to be given as bhau bheej ahead of Diwali 2014. However, the money is expected to be handed over to workers now.

Anganwadi workers.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
There is nothing unusual about Anganwadi workers protesting the delay in their salaries by a few months. However, for Diwali bonus 2014 the two lakh odd workers across the state had to wait for almost a year. The erstwhile Congress government in April, 2014, had promised a bonus amount of Rs 1,000 to be given as bhau bheej ahead of Diwali 2014. However, the money is expected to be handed over to workers now.Anganwadis are government-sponsored child and mother care centres in rural areas. As per department sources, the erstwhile government had made the promise– which was more of an election gimmick— but had not created any head for the announcement in the department budget. After a yearlong wait, the women and child welfare department has now issued a government resolution dated September 22 announcing the bonus money. The resolution also promises release of 2015 bonus on time.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There were certain technical issues because of which the payment was delayed. And then there was change of government etc. However, this time we have channelised the process and are releasing the funds for 2014-15 and 2015-16 simultaneously,” said a senior officer.In June this year the Maharashtra Anganwadi Sevika Union had alleged that the state government has not paid the salaries of its workers for the last four months.The Union had alleged that despite several representations submitted to the Women and Child development minister Pankaja Munde, who also holds additional charge of rural development, and finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar their demands were not met as both ministers maintained that the government has no money to pay dues.Finally, it was during the monsoon session that the government sanctioned a budget for the salaries of these workers and also enhanced their stipend amount for Anganwadi sevikas and attendants by Rs 950 and Rs 500 respectively. For mini-anganwadi sevikas the stipend has been increased by Rs 550. Their earlier stipend from the state government was Rs 450. The Centre’s share for anganwadi sevikas is Rs 3,000 and for attendants it is Rs 1,500. For mini-anganwadi sevikas, the Centre’s share is Rs 2,250. The total budget for stipend is Rs 892.4 crore annually.

To tide over crisis, Maharashtra levies ‘drought tax’ on petrol, diesel and liquor

Mumbai: In its efforts to raise more funds for tackling drought in the state, Maharashtra government has decided to levy a surcharge of Rs 2 on petrol and diesel while VAT on liquor, cigarettes and beverages have also been raised by 5 percent.

The surcharge on Value Added Tax (VAT) for gold and diamond jewellery will be 1.20 percent.

The measures, which will come into effect from midnight will be in force for five months, state’s Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said here. The measures would be reviewed in the next budget session, he added.

Representational image. Image courtesy: ReutersRepresentational image. Image courtesy: Reuters

Representational image. Image courtesy: Reuters

Talking to the reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Mungantiwar said the exchequer will get an additional revenue of Rs 1,600 crore.

“Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked all departments to make a list of how to generate more revenue and cut down on expenditure. We will have a special Cabinet meeting to discuss the same next month,” Mungantiwar said. He said due to reduction in prices of petrol and diesel, there has been a revenue deficit of Rs 300 crore per month.

“The government has also decided to waive off LBT on petrol and diesel. This will result in total loss of Rs 1,800 crore to the state treasury,” he said. The minister said since the government was giving so much concession for the common man, it is seeking additional Rs 2 on petrol and diesel to provide relief to the farmers.

He also said since 1 August, Local Body Tax (LBT) has been waived off for businesses with turnover of less than Rs 50 crore. Similarly, the LBT has been waived off for alcohol, beverages and cigarette as well.

Mungantiwar said fiscal burden was about Rs 7,500 crore due to various steps being taken by the government to mitigate hardships of the farmers reeling under unseasonal rains, drought, crop loss and water scarcity.

PTI

Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadavare ‘expired medicine’: Ram Vilas Paswan

“Nitish and Lalu are like expired medicines which if consumed will make the people of Bihar sick. Modi’s (development) model medicine will be good for them,” Paswan told Zee News Editor, Sudhir Chaudhary, in an exclusive interview.

In a scathing attack on his rivals in Bihar, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader and minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution in the National Democratic Alliance government, Ram Vilas Paswan, has termed Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Yadav as “expired medicines”.”Nitish and Lalu are like expired medicines which if consumed will make the people of Bihar sick. Modi’s (development) model medicine will be good for them,” Paswan told Zee News Editor, Sudhir Chaudhary, in an exclusive interview. Paswan’s son, Chirag Paswan, who was also present during the interview, spoke on Bihar elections and other issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the forthcoming Bihar elections, LJP is contesting 40 seats in alliance with NDA. Paswan is confident that the alliance will bag two-thirds majority in the state.”We have been campaigning on the development plank. I am confident that NDA will win a two-thirds majority in the state. Lalu calls me a weather scientist (meteorologist). So, I can predict that we are set to gain majority in Bihar Assembly,” Paswan said.Commenting on Lalu and Nitish’s new-found friendship, Paswan said that instead of helping each other, they are spoiling their own games.On the reports of dissatisfaction of not getting desired number of seats in the alliance, Chirag Paswan said, “I am not unhappy with the seats distribution. I understand coalition dharma. Our aim is to win maximum seats and form government in Bihar. There could have been a communication gap.”On alleged political rivalry with former chief minister and Hindustan Awam Morcha leader, Chirag Paswan said, “Jitan Ram Manjhi is our family friend. Sometimes certain things are said in some special reference.”The senior Paswan also refuted opposition’s allegations on his family getting majority of tickets for Bihar elections. “It’s not true that only our family members have got tickets. They have been in politics for long. Pasupati Nath Paras (Paswan’s brother) has been a member of the state assembly for the past 38 years. Ramchandra Paswan has been member of Lok Sabha for three times,” he said.

Maharashtra petrol pump dealers proposes strike on September 7

All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers’ Association (FAMPEDA) President Uday Lodh said that the government differentiates between other traders and fuel retailers.

Representational Image
File Photo

Petrol pump dealers in Maharashtra has proposed to go on a one day strike on September 7 to press for their demand of relief from Local Body Tax (LBT). All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers’ Association (FAMPEDA) President Uday Lodh said that the government differentiates between other traders and fuel retailers. Petrol pump retailers have to pay LBT while other traders have been exempted from it. “This is why more than 800 petrol and diesel pumps within 25 municipal corporations will be on strike on September 7,” he said. Incidentally, the Maharashtra government had exempted traders having an annual turnover below Rs 50 crore from paying LBT across the state from August 1. According to the government, more than 99 per cent of traders benefited from the decision.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> However, petrol and diesel retailers were not considered for LBT exemption, Lodh said. He alleged that the decision on LBT is in favour of traders and consumers have not benefitted from it. “The money traders will save by not paying LBT will go to their pockets and will not be passed on to the consumers.” Despite the LBT exemption, prices of various items have not been reduced, he alleged. “If the state relaxes norms for petrol and diesel pump owners, it is the common man who will benefit, since reduced charges will be passed on to them,” he said. Considering gross annual revenue income of the last five years from 25 municipal corporations excluding Mumbai, the government will reimburse Rs 7,648.82 crore in lieu of LBT, which is not applicable to Mumbai, since octroi is still collected in the Mumbai civic body’s jurisdiction. “The state can reimburse more than Rs 7,000 crore to traders, it does not want to spend Rs 300 crore for petrol and diesel pump owners,” he said. “All meetings with Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and finance secretary Sudhir Srivastava were in vain. In fact, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis favoured LBT exemption for petrol dealers. However, nothing happened from the government’s side,” Lodh said.Meanwhile, after abolition of LBT, the government has allocated Rs 2,048.44 crore as financial grants to municipal corporations by way of supplementary demands for 2015-16.

If there is love in the air, why not CrewMe?

New mobile app for pilots, cabin staff is the latest rage among airline community
Sudhir Shetty
dna
There will be love in the air, promises CrewMe — the mobile app for pilots and crew members in transit.CrewMe has been developed by a pilot himself — for fellow pilots and crew members who feel lonely and jet-lagged, especially on long-distance trips. CrewMe works much like any mobile dating app. It allows you to search for a match in a certain radius. Swipe left, if you’re not interested. Swipe right, if you’re. When two members swipe right, we have a match.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Members connect through their nicknames and the airlines they work for. The app gives you the member profile and provides live information about whether the member you are interested in is on a long-haul flight or on a layover. It will send an alert when the member is geographically close again. “Don’t waste your time in transit!” CrewMe advises airline staff. Then it tells us: “Our mobile app will revolutionalize airline crew’s lifestyle! That seems to be true. There is already a buzz among airline community members on social media over CrewMe. The only complaint so far against the app is that, at times, it gives some technical glitches.“It’s impressive. Quite a few people from our profession I know are trying it out” said a crew member with a private airline in India. Right now, CrewMe has free as well as paid versions.So, what do all these leave the passengers with? Well, as a passenger, you can’t, of course, hold any CrewMe hopes. But worry not. CrewMe, actually, is a late entrant. Dating apps for passengers had hit the scene long time back. Dont’ know yet? Here are two: Meet at the Airport and Wingman. Both are already quite popular among travellers who find spending time at the airport boring.So, with CrewMe joining the likes of Meet at the Airport and Wingman, fasten your seat belts: there’s going to be lots of love — in the air and on the ground. No one’s going to crib about flight delays anymore, and there is nothing wrong if check-in timings are advanced by a few hours.

Maharashtra ropes in Big B as brand ambassador to protect tigers from extinction

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Amitabh Bachchan to be Maharashtra’s tiger ambassador

In the meeting of the Tiger Protection Foundation in Nagpur in July, state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is also the state’s forest minister, had directed that Bachchan be requested to be the tiger ambassador.

The state’s big cats may soon have a Bollywood icon as their ambassador. In a boost to Maharashtra’s tiger conservation efforts, superstar Amitabh Bachchan has consented to be the state’s tiger ambassador.In the meeting of the Tiger Protection Foundation in Nagpur in July, state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is also the state’s forest minister, had directed that Bachchan be requested to be the tiger ambassador.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accordingly, he had written to the actor on July 29, World Tiger Day.In a letter dated Monday, Bachchan wrote to Mungantiwar, accepting the offer to render his services towards the state government’s tiger conservation initiative. “This letter may kindly be treated as my consent to represent the Maharashtra as its tiger ambassador,” said Bachchan, while also complimenting Mungantiwar for giving detailed attention to “this most essential campaign”.”Superstar Amitabh Bachchan has approved our appeal to be the tiger ambassador,” said Mungantiwar, adding that he had not asked for any fee in return.”Public participation is necessary for conservation… we will use his (Bachchan’s) importance in society for creating the need for this conservation in the minds of people,” said Mungantiwar.Maharashtra has six tiger projects, including five in Vidarbha and one in Western Maharashtra (the Sahyadri tiger project). The tiger census, results for which were released in 2014, shows that India has 2,226 tigers, up from 1,706 in 2010. Maharashtra has around 190 such big cats, more than 169 in 2010. Of these, the Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve in Vidarbha accounts for 72 big cats, including 60 in the core area and 12 in the buffer zone. This does not count cubs as they have a low survival rate.In addition, Vidarbha has 13 tiger projects in a 300km periphery, which together account for 325-330 tigers. Some other countries which have tiger habitats are Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Cambodia and Bhutan.

Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde tops in absenteeism at Maharashtra cabinet meets: RTI

Prior to this, eight meetings were held in the period when the complete ministry was not constituted. Out of the 18 ministers, barring CM Fadnavis and Lonikar rest 16 ministers have been absent in some or other cabinet meetings.

Maharashtra Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde tops the list of ministers remaining absent from state cabinet meetings, a RTI query has revealed here.Other state ministers who were high on absenteeism include PWD minister Eknath Shinde, Health Minister Deepak Sawant, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and Social Welfare minister Rajkumar Badole.Barring Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Water Supply Minister Babanrao Lonikar who have attended all cabinet meetings, none have a 100 per cent track record, according to the information provided to RTI activist Anil Galgali by the Chief Secretary office.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Galgali had filed a RTI query with the Chief Secretary office seeking details of the total number of cabinet meetings held by the state government and the attendance of ministers.The Under Secretary and the public information officer N B Khedekar informed Galgali that since December 11, 2014 to June 23, 2015 a total of 28 cabinet meetings were held.Prior to this, eight meetings were held in the period when the complete ministry was not constituted. Out of the 18 ministers, barring CM Fadnavis and Lonikar rest 16 ministers have been absent in some or other cabinet meetings.Pankaja remained absent in 9 out of the 28 cabinet meetings, Eknath Shinde in 7, Deepak Sawant in 6, Sudhir Mungantiwar in 5, Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole in 5, Housing Minister Prakash Mehta in 4, Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam in 4, Higher and Technical minister Vinod Tawde in 3, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse in 3, and Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule in 3.Galgali further sought to know if any advisory was given by Fadnavis to curb the absenteeism, to which the CS office replied in negative stating it has no record of the same.The activist also queried if there is any rule for removal of the minister for remaining continuously absent from the cabinet meeting to which he was informed that no such rule.

Vyapam scam probe better under CBI: Many accused were let off the hook as STF overlooked irregularities

The CBI has got off to a brisk start in the Vyapam probe and the difference in investigation between the state police’s Special Task Force and that of the central agency is visible already.

On Thursday the BJP was forced to suspend Gulab Singh Kirar — a clansman and close confidant of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan — who has been absconding for a year. Kirar, whom the Special Task Force (STF) could not locate even while he shared the dais with Chouhan, enjoyed the status of a minister of state as member of the state Backward Classes and Minorities Commission. He continued to hold the post till Thursday night even as an absconder.

The CBI had on Wednesday registered FIRs in two cases related to rigging of examinations, naming among others Kirar and his son Shakti Pratap Singh. Kirar senior has been charged with getting his son admitted to post-graduation course in medicine by paying Rs 30 lakh while Kirar junior allegedly used fraudulent means to get admitted in the PG course. Kirar had even appeared before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) monitoring the STF investigations on the directives of the state High Court but escaped the STF’s eyes.

Representative image. Courtesy: News18Representative image. Courtesy: News18

Representative image. Courtesy: News18

The CBI was off to a brisk start since taking charge of the investigations from the state police (STF) early this week. Investigations suddenly came of age as the central agency filed five FIRs against 160 persons fast tracking the proceedings. The CBI has also asked for the documents related to the deaths related to the scam. Superintendents of Police in Ujjain, Gwalior, Indore and Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh and Kanker in Chhattisgarh have been asked to provide records relating to the deaths of Namrata Damore, Vijay Patel, Rajendra Arya, Akshay Singh and Deepak Verma. Damore was allegedly gagged to death but her death was passed off as suicide and journalist Askhay Singh who had come to investigate Damore’s death died mysteriously while sipping tea.

Besides the Kirar duo other key accused named in the five FIRs are: Sudhir Bhadauria, the former controller of examination and a close associate of key accused and financier of the Sangh Parivar, Sudhir Sharma; Pankaj Trivedi, Bhadauria’s successor as controller of examinations who allegedly manipulated the OMR sheets to help many candidates pass the examinations fraudulently; Rashmi Parihar, accused of passing pre-PG examinations through fraudulent means; Vir Bahadur Bhadauria who was part of the racket behind the examination fraud that operated in collusion with Sudhir Bhadauria; and BR Shrivastav, son-in-law of the former health minister Sheetla Sahay who got his daughter admitted fraudulently.

Joint Director RP Agrawal, who is leading the 40-member crack team, has promised transparency in investigations saying the agency will share the details with the media and won’t let the country down. The FIRs have been registered in connection with the Pre-Medical Test of 2010 and the pre-PG Examination 2011.

However odious they might seem, comparisons are bound to be there between the probes conducted by the CBI and STF. Though it was monitored by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Madhya Pradesh High Court the STF had its say in vital cases. While the SIT wanted STF to file FIRs against Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharati and former chairperson of Vyapam Ranjana Chaudhary, the latter refused quoting lack of evidence.

During interrogations of agents, Sudhir Bhadauria’s name had also emerged. SIT registered an FIR against Bhadoria but he was neither arrested nor questioned. On the contrary he went on to be the director of a prominent government institute of technology.

Bharti’s name appeared in the Excel Sheet extracted from the hard disk of accused chief systems analyst Nitin Mohindra. Former Controller Vyapam examinations Pankaj Trivedi had also mentioned her name in his recorded statements. Mahindra in his statements to STF had also corroborated that Trivedi had provided the list of candidates recommended by Bharati. However, STF did not question Bharti for two years. Former Director General of Police Nandan Dubey had visited Uma’s place to give her a clean chit setting off doubts about the independence of STF and credibility of its probe.

CBI’s stand on Chaudhary is being keenly watched as Pankaj Trivedi had claimed having given Rs 42 lakh to Chaudhary. STF, when pressurised by SIT over Trivedi’s statement, interrogated her but made her a prosecution witness.

The CBI registered its initial cases focussing on examinations held between 2009 and 2011 which the STF had not investigated. These examinations saw massive rigging. The STF chose to overlook irregularities in these examinations confining its probe to the PMTs in 2012 and 2013, the pre-PG (medical) examination in 2012 as well as other recruitment examinations in 2012 and 2013. This would let many key accused off the hook.

Delhi woman, Tanzanian molest auto driver, shoot video

The incident came to fore at around 4 am on Thursday when the police received a complaint from the driver who at the moment was injured.

Sudhir Shetty
dna
Delhi police arrested a 32-year-old woman on Thursday for allegedly molesting an autorickshaw driver while her friend recorded a video of the incident on her mobile phone which took place on the intervening nights of Wednesday and Thursday. The other woman, according to police is a foreign national from Tanzania and has been absconding ever since the incident. Police identified as the arrested woman as Neha Lalwani. The incident came to fore at around 4 am on Thursday when the police received a complaint from the driver who at the moment was injured.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The driver identified as Umesh Prasad, 41, alleged that one of the women, Renu Lalwani, hired his autorickshaw on Wednesday in Saket in south Delhi and wanted to go to Safdarjung Enclave. Upon reaching the said address, the woman told the autodriver that she was not carrying cash and invited him to her flat. In his statement to the police, the driver said that the woman offered him water followed by some wine. The other woman in the meantime had taken a seat in the same room. Even as the conversation between the three continued, Neha stood up and locked the doors from inside. She then allegedly sought sexual favours from the driver which he denied. “The driver claimed that she forced herself on him, tore his clothes and kissed him while her roommate filmed the whole incident”, said a police officer. After about an hour, “when the two women went to the other room for a discussion, the driver jumped out of the first floor balcony and fractured his foot”, he added. Police said they had arrested Lalwani and were looking for the foreigner, identified only as Hitija. “We also recovered four badges and four driving licences of auto drivers from the accused’s residence which indicate that she might have trapped other drivers as well.

Two more Vyapam scam deaths: Coincidence or plot to wipe out witnesses?

There is something really sinister and rotten in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Nearly 50 persons connected to an ongoing probe into a mammoth scam have died, half of them under suspicious circumstances.

People with no history of illness are suddenly collapsing and dying; road accidents and suicides have turned major killers of young men and women connected to the scam. Everyday there is a new death, giving rise to suspicions of a macabre conspiracy.

Namrata Damor, a student accused of benefitting from the Vyapam scam, leaves her home in 2012. A few days later, her body is found hundreds of miles away on railway tracks in Ujjain. Three years later, TV journalist Akshay Singh, who is probing her death, dies within seconds of interviewing her parents.

A day later (July 5, 2015), Arun Sharma, the 64-year-old dean of a medical college in Jabalpur, is found dead in a Delhi hotel, while on his way to Agartala from Delhi as part of an inspection team of Medical Council of India. Just a year ago, his predecessor DK Sakalle, who was heading the probe into fraudulent admissions in the Jabalpur College, had died of burn injuries.

In addition, 12 persons have died suddenly of unexplained illness/cause; ten others have succumbed to accidents. Naturally, there is palpable fear among families of many other persons linked to the scam.

Representational image. Image courtesy: Vyapam websiteRepresentational image. Image courtesy: Vyapam website

Representational image. Image courtesy: Vyapam website

Vyapam is the Mama of all scandals

The stakes are high. A lot of reputations and careers are at stake. Vyapam is the Mama of all scandals in post-Independence India. And this isn’t just because it has unfolded under the watch of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who loves to call himself the Mama (uncle) of every youngster in Madhya Pradesh.

It is enormous, unprecedented in magnitude and scale. It has touched the life of almost every MP student who passed out of school between 2008 and 2013. It has affected the fortune of almost every youngster who competed for government jobs in the state during Chouhan’s previous tenure (2008-2013), if not earlier. It would be difficult to find too many families in MP who are not victims of the scam.

What exactly is the Vyapam scam?

Till 2014, the MP government had a special body (Professional Examination Board or Vyapam) for conducting all entrance exams for professional colleges (medical, dental, engineering etc) and recruitments tests for government jobs (teachers, sub-inspectors, transport officers, forest staff etc) in the state. According to a ballpark figure nearly 39 lakh students and job aspirants appeared for exams conducted by Vyapam between 2008 and 2013.
Most of these exams were rigged and the aspirants cheated. A network of middlemen, Vyapam staff and politicians manipulated the results to give admissions and jobs to those who either paid for them or came with recommendations from influential people.

People at every level were part of the chain. Recommendations came from every possible source, including ministers, MLAs, BJP leaders, Sangh Parivar and even the Raj Bhawan staff. The opposition Congress has alleged that several people close to Chouhan, including his wife Sadhna Singh, made recommendations for admissions and recruitments. Chouhan has denied the allegations and filed defamation suits against Congress leaders.

The Chouhan government tried several other tricks to silence critics while the scam fire was raging. In one egregious incident, it almost blacklisted an English daily for running an acerbic profile of his wife and issued eviction notice to the author for vacating the government accommodation allotted to him. (In MP, incidentally, journalists live in houses rented to them at throwaway prices in posh localities. The practice has been prevalent for decades but nobody has pointed at the conflict of interest or the government’s efforts to favour scribes).

The scam burst into public domain when lists of beneficiaries and their patrons maintained by Sudhir Sharma became public before the 2013 Assembly elections. As a result of a special investigation team (SIT) probe that followed under the high court, hundreds of people are in jail. These include former education minister Laxmikant Sharma, his OSD and alleged middleman Sudhir Sharma, exam controller Pankaj Trivedi and Anand Mahindra, the chief systems analyst of Vyapam. Thousands of students have been thrown out of colleges and put behind bars.

In 2014, when former education minister Laxmikant was arrested by the SIT, there was jubilation in the Congress camp, its essence captured by the cryptic message passed between them: Dadhi (beard) gone, saree (a high-profile woman) is next. It was believed that the minister will sing like a canary and name several other beneficiaries of the scam. But the probe hit a dead end after the arrest of the minister and his OSD, giving rise to allegations that a massive cover-up is on to shield people at higher levels.

Could this spate of unexplained deaths just be coincidence or part of a sinister plot to wipe out witnesses and key players? Nobody knows the answer yet. But the plot of the Mama of all scams has turned really sinister.

Maharashtra: Anganwadi workers allege non-payment of salaries for 4 months

State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that since the Rural Development Department has not furnished the actual demand for salaries in some districts, the staff has not been paid their dues.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
The Maharashtra Anganwadi Sevika Union has alleged that the state government has not paid salaries of its workers for the last four months.”For last four months, we have not been paid our salaries. We met Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde and Finance Minister Mungantiwar several times. But they say the government has no money to pay our dues,” Anganwadi Sevika Union general secretary Kamal Parulekar alleged.If Munde can award contracts worth Rs 206 crore, why can’t funds be allocated for our salaries?, she asked.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde is at the centre of a controversy with the Congress accusing her of involvement in a “scam” by clearing purchases worth Rs 206 crore on a single day instead of inviting tenders in violation of the norms. Anganwadis are government-sponsored child and mother care centres in rural areas.However, state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that since the Rural Development Department has not furnished the actual demand for salaries in some districts, the staff has not been paid their dues.Mungantiwar blamed the Rural Development Department for not furnishing the appropriate demands of fund to his department.”I have informed all secretaries to make plans of their concerned departments and put forth the demands of necessary funds with finance and planning department, so that my department can allocate the required funds,” he said.”The previous Congress-NCP government decided to increase the remuneration of anganwadi workers and helpers before the state Assembly elections, which put an additional burden of Rs 178 crore on the state exchequer,” he said.Though remunerations were increased, the provision for it was not made in the state budget, Mungantiwar said.”They then lost elections and ultimately it was our duty to make the additional provision. But as the Rural Development Department has not furnished the correct figure, we have not allocated funds,” the minister said.”That is why in some districts, anganwadi sevikas remain deprived of salaries,” he said.Mungantiwar further said that he has given instructions to all secretaries to take care of salaries of contractual labourers and employees, anganwadi employees and labourers working on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).”I have also given strict instructions take action against district treasury officer, if the salaries or remuneration of these employee are delayed,” he said.

Drunk driving case: Accused lawyer remanded to 14 days judicial custody

In the wee hours of June 10, the car driven by Gadkar rammed a taxi, resulting in death of two people including the taxi driver on the Eastern Freeway in Mumbai.
Sudhir Shetty
dna Research & Archives
Corporate lawyer Janhvi Gadkar, who rammed her car into a taxi killing two persons here on June 9 allegedly under the influence of alcohol, was today remanded to judicial custody till June 26 by a local court which rejected the police plea for her custody.The alcohol level in the blood of 35-year-old Gadkar, who had allegedly drove the car allegedly after having drinks from a posh pub in south Mumbai, was about four times higher than the permissible limit, according to medical test reports.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A video, purportedly shot by a person who passed by the spot when the gruesome accident happened, showed that the woman was unperturbed, asking for her ‘dupatta’ from people who had gathered at the site.Remanding Gadkar to 14-day judicial custody, Magistrate Richa Khedkar of Kurla court also reprimanded the police for not showing the progress of investigation in the case diary.Soon after she was sent to the judicial custody, Gadkar moved her bail application which will be heard on June 15.Seeking custody of the accused, who has been slapped with charge of 304 (II) of IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), police said that they wanted to record the statements of certain witnesses for which her custody was needed.The police also said they wanted to go to all the places where the accused visited on the night of the incident.Gadkar’s lawyer, however, held that for recording the statements of the witnesses the custody of the accused was not required. Her lawyer said she was also injured in the accident and should be sent to the judicial custody.In the wee hours of June 10, the car driven by Gadkar rammed a taxi, resulting in death of two people including the taxi driver on the Eastern Freeway here.The deceased were identified as Mohammad Abdul Sayyad (55) and Mohammad Salim Sabuwala (50).Meanwhile, medical reports of the accused’s blood samples suggested that the alcohol content in her blood was four times more than the permissible limit.

Sunanda case: Emails between AIIMS director and Shashi Tharoor for tailor-made post-mortem report, claims doctor

AIIMS doctor Adarsh Kumar, who conducted the autopsy on Sunanda Pushkar’s body, has alleged that pressure was put on him and other doctors in the forensics department to pass off her death as ‘natural’.

According to Zee News, AIIMS doctor Adarsh Kumar, who conducted the autopsy on Sunanda Pushkar’s body, has alleged that pressure was put on him and other doctors in the forensics department to pass off her death as ‘natural’.Dr Adarsh Kumar, along with Dr Shashank Puniya, was part of the team headed by HOD of forensics department Dr Sudhir K Gupta which conducted autopsy on the 52-year-old, a day after she was found dead in Hotel Leela Palace on January 17 last year. Dr Kumar was member secretary of the medical board that oversaw the autopsy.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the final autopsy submitted to the Delhi Police in September last year, the team had claimed that Sunanda’s death occured due to poisoning.Dr Kumar made the allegations in a letter to Union Health Minister JP Nadda, adding that the team had not succumbed to pressure.The senior doctor also alleged that AIIMS director Dr MC Mishra had been uncooperative with the forensic department.Dr Sudhir Gupta echoed similar views. “Dr MC Mishra is not cooperating with me as well as with my department since the autopsy report of Sunanda Pushkar last year.”Dr Gupta too had written a letter to Nadda in which he alleged that Dr MC Mishra had put pressure on him to submit a “tailor-made autopsy report” in the Sunanda Pushkar murder case.”I was asked by Dr MC Mishra to give a post mortem report of late Sunanda Pushkar as natural death, which was contrary to the findings. There are certain emails between Director AIIMS and Sashi Tharoor for making tailor-made post mortem report. But I did not succumb to the pressure and given the factual report as an upright official,” he wrote.Dr Gupta had earlier approached the Central Administrative Tribunal alleging that AIIMS had illegally purged his seniority with “malafide intention” and one Dr OP Murty was promoted to punish him for refusing to act unprofessionally in the Sunanda case.When the CAT rejected his charge, Dr Gupta approached the Delhi High Court for relief. The HC asked the Institute not to replace him without its permission. Subsequently, AIIMS has asked for such permission on Tuesday. AIIMS director Dr MC Mishra has filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court seeking removal of Dr Gupta as head of the forensics department.

Maharashtra government decides to create land bank for building cheaper houses

One lakh affordable houses in the next three yrs, 6 lakh in six years are the two targets set

Sudhir Shetty
dna
The Maharashtra government has decided to create land bank so that huge chunks of land can be used for construction of affordable houses.The state has prepared a draft of the new housing policy and it will soon be published for suggestions and objections. As per the draft policy guidelines, the state will create land banks in the city and the metropolitan region.”The land will be exclusively reserved in the proposed development plan for construction of affordable houses. It will be in proportion to the population of affordable categories. The cost of the land is the main factor that affects affordability. So, it is necessary to pool together pieces of land from various sources, besides the government-owned plots,” says the policy.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior government official from the state housing department said once the land is pooled, as per the draft, a master plan of it will be required. “It will help keep prices of affordable houses in check. The planned houses will be circumstanced with civic and social infrastructure to ensure that residents enjoy quality life,” the official said, adding that all these aspects are at a rudimentary stage.The draft policy also says FSI can be alternatively defined as function of supporting infrastructure. “The permissible FSI should be accompanied by optimum social and civic infrastructure. It should be in consonance with appropriate density of the population of that particular area. Rise in FSI won’t address the problem of shortage in affordable homes. The excessive land available with Mhada, BMC, MMRDA and other government agencies should be used for boosting sustainable affordable housing. Also, there’s a lot of unproductive land available after industries in MIDC zones relocated. That land too should be used for affordable houses,” adds the policy.The affordable housing stock needs to be allocated in 50:30:20 ratio to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), Lower Income Group and Middle Income Group, respectively. “The draft policy, once approved, should be implemented on a war footing by constructing 1 lakh affordable housing units in the next three years, and six lakh such homes in the next six years to meet the growing demand. Having abundant supply (of homes) will also ease the skyrocketing prices,” said another housing department official.The draft adds, “The pooled land bank should be fully exploited for affordable housing only. The task of bringing the prices of such houses within the reach of EWS/LIG/MIG may be facilitated by forgoing profit from the project.The regulatory authority needs to prescribe city-wise price caps, which shall be dynamic and revised every year in April. As another effort to keep prices in check, it is suggested to make sand and metal, which is quarried with government’s permission, available at concessional prices. The government may reserve certain sand lots only for this project, at a price 20% below the average auction price. Similarly, the crushed metal can also be made available at a controlled rate.””The quality of construction needs to be monitored through third-party checks, by a separate machinery under the regulatory authority. The approval processes in corporation need to be brought down to only three levels.Projects should be approved within 30 days from the date of the submission,” the draft policy states.

Abhijeet, Farah Khan Ali’s tweets land them in trouble as court orders FIR

Muzaffarpur (Bihar): A district court on Friday ordered that an FIR be registered against Bollywood singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya and jewelry designer Farah Khan Ali for their remarks against people sleeping on roads following conviction of actor Salman Khan in a 2002 hit-and-run case.

Hearing a complaint case filed by advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) Ram Chandra Prasad directed that an FIR be lodged against the two with Kazi Mohammadpur police station here under various offences including provocation with intent to cause riot and promoting enimity between different groups.

Farah Khan Ali. Image Courtesy: Twitter @FarahKhanAliFarah Khan Ali. Image Courtesy: Twitter @FarahKhanAli

Farah Khan Ali. Image Courtesy: Twitter @FarahKhanAli

The police station was chosen as the complainant had given the place of occurance as Chhattapur where he said he purchased newspapers and read about the disparaging remarks made by the two which prompted him to approach the court.

The court instructed that an FIR be filed under IPC sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation).

The complainant had claimed that he had been hurt by the “derogatory” remarks of the singer which he saw on TV channels and read in newspapers.

In a series of tweets, Abhijeet had on 6 May said “Come out fraternity, support @BeingSalmanKhan boldly not hypocriticly Roads footpath r not meant 4 sleeping, not driver’s or alcohol’s fault (sic).” “Roads are meant for cars and dogs not for people sleeping on them.”

Jewellery designer and Salman’s friend Farah Khan Ali had also sought to blame the homeless for the star’s plight with comments like footpaths are not for sleeping.

PTI

Maharashtra government to promote eco-tourism in forested areas

Fancy falling for the allure of the dark and deep woods by going for a holiday there? The state government may soon make this possible for you, with its plans to promote eco-tourism in forested areas. This will also help locals and tribals gain employment, thus improving the quality of their lives.

Uday Mohite
dna
Fancy falling for the allure of the dark and deep woods by going for a holiday there? The state government may soon make this possible for you, with its plans to promote eco-tourism in forested areas. This will also help locals and tribals gain employment, thus improving the quality of their lives.Maharashtra finance and forests minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told dna: “We will develop eco-tourism linked with forests.” He added that apart from providing an avenue to tourists to roam these pristine areas, this will also boost employment for locals and tribals, who can act as guides. Adventure sports facilities can also be developed, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his maiden budget presented in the state legislature, Mungantiwar had announced the establishment of a ‘Nisarg Paryatan Vikas Mandal’ (Eco-tourism promotion board) for developing tourism in forest areas, conserving biodiversity and providing access to employment for locals.”We will develop different sites in the state. With a little developmental work, they can offer avenues for people to enjoy pure air,” said Mungantiwar, adding that the state will identify such locations, build motorable roads and ensure proper sanitation.In 2010, the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) and Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) inked a MOU for development of eco-tourism. The FDCM has begun home-stay arrangements at some sites where they had begun work, developed nature trails, trained local youth to act as guides and for catering and house keeping and also installed solar power equipment and bio-digestors to treat sewage.”Unfortunately, this (eco-tourism) has not caught up in Maharashtra, development, if any, has been too far and few,” admitted Mungantiwar. Maharashtra’s green coverMaharashtra has a 61,734 sq km forest area, down from 63,544 sq km in 1960-61. The state has 8% of India’s forested area of 7,71,821 sq km. The area under forests in Maharashtra is 52.07 lakh hectare or 16.9% of the total 307.58 lakh hectare geographical area, making it the second-largest land use after agriculture. The state has six national parks, 47 wildlife sanctuaries and four conservation reserves with a tiger population of around 190. Of the total forests in the state, 16% falls in the dense category, 7% in scrub, 39% in open and 38% moderately dense.

IAS officer murder: HC rejects plea for restrictions on publishing investigation reports

The petition sought restraints on publishing or making public any inerim report or public statement pertaining to the CID probe being conducted into the death of IAS officer DK Ravi.
File Photo

The Karnataka High Court on Thursday disposed of a petition seeking restrictions on publication of any interim report or making any public statement pertaining to investigation being conducted by CID into the mysterious death of an upright IAS officer.The petition was filed by Sudhir Reddy, husband of a woman IAS officer, a batchmate of 35-year old D K Ravi who was found hanging from a fan at his apartment here on March 16, with police calling it prima facie a case of suicide.Disposing of the plea, Justice Abdul Nazeer noted that the state government had given in writing that it would not make any statement in relation to the investigation as the case has been handed over to CBI for inquiry, thus losing its jurisdiction.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The judge also directed the High Court Registry to hand over the sealed investigation material to CBI. “This court directs the registry to hand over the sealed material to CBI, not unseal it. Let me be clear,” he added.Facing public outcry over the death of Ravi under mysterious circumstances, government had handed over the case to CBI after claims that he did not commit suicide. The High Court had on March 24 directed Reddy to file objections to the government’s plea.The government had filed objections to the petition filed by Reddy, seeking restrictions on publication of any interim report or making any public statement pertaining to investigation being conducted by the government through CID.The government had sought vacation of restraint on publishing or making public the interim report pertaining to the investigation carried out by CID into the death of Ravi.

Head of forensic dept didn’t face any pressure in Sunanda Pushkar case: AIIMS

New Delhi: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Wednesday rejected allegations levelled by its Head of Department of Forensic Medicine Sudhir Gupta that he was pressurised to manipulate the post mortem report of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of then Union Minister Shashi Tharoor.

Sunanda Pushkar. PTI

Sunanda Pushkar. PTI

“The AIIMS administration categorically denies any such allegation that there was any attempt to pressurise Sudhir Gupta to change the post-mortem report,” it said.

When asked if Gupta faced pressure from outside, as he has hinted in an affidavit, AIIMS spokesperson Amit Gupta told reporters the administration was not aware of it but if there was any pressure from outside then he will have to bring evidence on it.

“We have no evidence that he was under pressure from outside and how he reacted to that,” the spokesperson and Media and Protocol Department Head Neerja Bhatla said.

The premier health institute did not rule out disciplinary action against Gupta, saying “if AIIMS feels or if we get any directive then action will be taken as per rules”.

Gupta has filed an affidavit before Central Administrative Tribunal against the move to promote a faculty member which, he alleged, was started under the then UPA government so that he could be removed as the head of the department as he did not change the post mortem report.

Sunanda (52) was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on the night of 17 January, a day after her twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor.

Gupta refused to comment on his reported allegation, saying he has already stated the facts before the “competent” authorities.

“I don’t want to comment on this issue. It is a legal matter, a serious issue, I cannot share with the media. I am a government servant. Whatever I wanted to say, I have said at a competent place,” he said.

Gupta, who was heading the panel that conducted Sunanda’s postmortem, has reportedly alleged he was pressurised to show that her death was natural which he resisted.

The autopsy report had mentioned more than a dozen injury marks on Sunanda’s both hands and an abrasion on her cheek which suggests a “use of blunt force”, besides a “deep teeth bite” on the edge of her left palm. Viscera samples were preserved after the autopsy at AIIMS and were sent to CFSL for further tests.

The CFSL report hinted at drug poisoning but its findings were not conclusive enough to file an FIR in the case, according to police.

PTI

Time for Shashi Tharoor to speak the truth, says Subramanian Swamy

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday said it is now time for former union minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor to speak the truth in the case of her wife Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor’s death.”I am happy that the process has started. I was going to file a PIL on January 15, but now I don’t have to so I am happy. The truth has already practically come out. It is now for Mr.Shashi Tharoor to speak the truth,” Swamy said.”I am very pleased with both the Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s decisiveness and with some of the doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) who stood their ground and resisted pressure from the previous government,” he added.Lauding Dr. Sudhir Gupta’s work Swamy said, “Sudhir Gupta has done a thorough job, he is a gold medalist. May be he doesn’t speak English like Shashi Tharoor but he is a much read man. He has got a phenomenal memory and is the head of the department of Forensic Sciences and they tried to remove him.”According to reports, Delhi Police had earlier on Wednesday issued a legal notice to Shashi Tharoor asking him to join the murder probe of his wife Sunanda Pushkar at the earliest.Delhi’s Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi had said on Wednesday that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed to carry forward the probe in the case.Bassi also said that the police is as of now is proceeding according to the action plan, and added that every aspect is being examined carefully.Sunanda, who married Tharoor in 2010, had checked into The Leela Hotel in Chanakyapuri a day before her death on January 17, 2014.Tharoor’s aides said the couple had checked into the luxury hotel because of renovation work at his Delhi bungalow.Prior to her death, Sunanda was embroiled in a spat with Pakistan-based journalist, Mehr Tarar, whom she accused of stalking her husband Shashi Tharoor.

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