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Maharashtra awaits SC nod for bullock cart race



The Maharashtra government is awaiting a nod from the Supreme Court for an almost 400-year-old tradition of bullock cart race that was banned by the Bombay High Court.

Called ‘Shankarpaat’, the bullock cart race is a traditional attraction at the fairs in villages across Maharashtra.

It starts soon after the Ganesh festival and continues right through the remaining Kharif, the entire rabi season and ends around April, ahead of summer.

It is not just popular because of the crowds it attracts, but it gives a push to the local economy wherever the events are held coinciding with fairs. This is a popular sport among the farming community.

Similar bullock cart races are held in Karnataka too, especially the areas that are adjoining Maharashtra.

There have been obvious comparisons with Jallikattu, another traditional sport from Tamil Nadu related to bullocks.

The Nagaraja case had resulted in the Supreme Court banning all such bull-related sports. While in Jallikattu, the men are directly in contact with the bullock, pouncing on the running bull, holding it by the hump and using other means to tame it, in Shankarpaat or the bullock cart race, a pair of bulls or a single bull will race along with the cart with the farmer holding the reins and goading the animal.

In April 2017, the state government passed an act that regularised the sport of Shankarpaat.

A PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court, which put a ban on the bullock cart races.

After the ban, the Maharashtra government approached the Supreme Court, which referred the matter to a five-judge bench.

This year, possibly as an antidote to the lockdown induced lull, there have been multiple attempts in Maharashtra where local farmers have resorted to organising such bullock cart races.

On Sunday, Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Minister Sunil Kedar accompanied by the state’s Animal Husbandry Commissioner Shailesh Kende met Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi and the Maharashtra government’s counsels on the issue.

Patil told IANS: “We are hoping that the Supreme Court will be hearing our case on Tuesday.”

Kedar was supposed to attend the hearing, which was originally expected on Monday, but rushed back to Mumbai for a meeting.

“This is a topic very close to the hearts of hundreds and thousands of farmers in Maharashtra. It also impacts the rural economy,” Kedar said before leaving for Maharashtra.

Bharatiya Bailgada Sanghatana representative Ramkrishna Takalkar, who also accompanied the government delegation, said: “We farmers look after our bullocks just like our family members. There is no torture or cruelty involved with the animal during the bullock cart races, it is a misinformation campaign by animal lovers. The bullocks are fed regularly. What would we get by torturing the animal?”

Takalkar focussed on the economic aspects of the bullock cart races in Maharashtra.

“If there are no race events at the local village fairs, the farmers have valid question to ask: why should we continue to have these bulls?”

He had an even more pertinent question: “On the one hand, you allow horse races and on the other, you ban bullock cart races? Why the partiality?”


Maharashtra cabinet expansion likely on Tuesday, hints CM Shinde




The much-delayed cabinet expansion of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government is likely to take place on Tuesday morning.

Shinde gave indications to the effect in Nanded where he is on a tour on Monday, saying that “you will come to know soon” and the names of the ministers shall be finalised by latter this night or Tuesday.

More ministers may be inducted Tuesday – a day ahead of the Monsoon Session of Maharashtra Legislature which is expected to start from Wednesday.

Shinde and Fadnavis took oath on June 30 – a day after the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi regime headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray crashed – and they have been running a two-man government for the past 40 days.

The duo had a meeting on the issue on Monday – a couple of days after they had gone to New Delhi to meet the Bharatiya Janata Party top leaders – to finalise the thorny cabinet expansion issue.

The Shinde-Fadnavis government has been under severe attack from the Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar, the Nationalist Congress Party, Congress and Shiv Sena leaders for the delay in forming the cabinet due to which the state administration has been paralysed.

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Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut gets 14 days’ judicial remand




A Special PMLA Court here on Monday sent Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut to a 14-day judicial custody till August 22, eight days after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money-laundering case.

PMLA Court Special Judge M.G. Deshpande granted Raut judicial remand after the ED informed that it did not require his additional custody for the probe into the Rs 1,034-crore scam.

On July 31, the ED had raided Raut’s residence in Bhandup, detained him and arrested him in the wee hours of August 1 in connection with the alleged money-laundering case emanating from the redevelopment project of the Patra Chawl, Goregaon, by Guru Ashish Construction Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of the HDIL.

On August 6, the ED interrogated the MP’s wife, Varsha Raut for around 10 hours in the same case in which it had earlier arrested his close associate, Pravin Raut, a former director of the Guru Ashish Construction Pvt. Ltd.

Sanjay Raut, 61, was earlier sent to a four-day ED remand which was extended by three more days till August 8, followed by the two-week long judicial custody granted on Monday.

While ordering judicial custody, Special Judge Deshpande took cognisance of the MP’s medical records pertaining to his heart ailments and permitted him home-cooked food along with his medicines as prescribed by the doctor.

In April the ED had attached properties belonging to Varsha Raut and Pravin Raut and two others, worth around Rs 11.15 crore as part of its probe.

They included plots belonging to Pravin Raut in Palghar, Raigad, and a flat belonging to Sanjay Raut’s wife in Mumbai, and properties she held jointly with another associate, Swapna Patkar.

On July 1, Sanjay Raut was grilled for over 10 hours by the ED and then summoned again on at least two occasions, but he skipped the same citing the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament.

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Maharashtra: Gang-rape of 35-yr-old woman in Bhandara sparks outrage




In another shocker, a woman was brutally gang-raped in Maharashtra’s Bhandara, sparking a political war between the ruling Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis regime and the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi.

According to the police, the victim, aged around 35, was sexually assaulted between July 30 and August 2 near Kanhadmoh village under the Kardha police station in Bhandara district.

She was dumped by the assailants near the highway where some villagers noticed her, naked and bleeding profusely from serious injuries, and alerted the police.

The police rushed her first to a local hospital in Bhandara but as her wounds were deep, she was shifted to the Nagpur government hospital where she has undergone a surgery. However, her condition is still critical.

The Chairperson of Maharashtra State Commission for Women, Rupali, took serious cognisance of the incident, while other leaders compared it to the decade-old Nirbhaya incident of Delhi.

Following an uproar, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has ordered a Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by a woman IPS officer to probe the case, which he termed as “a serious and gruesome incident”.

As per the preliminary police probe, at least three persons were involved in the crime of which two have been traced and picked up for questioning, details of which are not immediately available.

The Bhandara Police are scouring the CCTV footages on the Bhandara-Gondiya highway besides launching a manhunt for the one or more persons who may have been involved in the crime in the district and the adjoining areas.

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