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Maharashtra

Pegasus snoop-gate: Maharashtra Congress urges Uddhav Thackeray to oder probe

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The Maharashtra Congress on Tuesday called upon Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to order a judicial enquiry – on the lines of West Bengal – into the alleged snoop-gate scandal.

State Congress president Nana Patole and party MP from Chandrapur Suresh alias Balubhai Dhanorkar made the identical demand, seeking a judicial commission comprising retired judges to investigate the issue and unravel the truth behind the spying scandal.

In a statement, Patole said it has come to light in the global media that important political leaders, lawyers, journalists, social activists and others were being monitored through phone hacking by the Pegasus spyware.

“Though the central government has yet to order a probe, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has constituted a committee to delve into the issue. The Maharashtra government should also form a similar committee to go into the matter,” Patole.

Penning a letter to Thackeray, Dhanorkar said that there have been media reports that the then CM Devendra Fadnavis had sent some officials to Israel.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party has said that it was an agriculture study tour. But, prominent lawyer Satish Uke had written to Nagpur Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar on May 23, 2021 whether any surveillance carried out by the BJP leaders, needs to be probed,” said Dhanorkar.

Referring to his own case, Patole said that during the Fadnavis regime, the phone numbers of several prominent political leaders were tapped.

“My own number was being tapped under the name of ‘Amjadkhan’ in connection with the drugs trade. The matter was raised in the assembly and it is being probed,” the state Congress chief pointed out.

“Given the gravity of this issue now, we need to know whether there is any connection between the phone-tapping during Fadnavis government and the Pegasus spyware, was this technology also deployed in the state, from where it came, and many other such unanswered questions. The truth will emerge if the Maharashtra government appoints a probe commission of retired judges,” Patole urged.

Seeking an independent investigation by retired judges, Dhanorkar said it was imperative to find the truth of how deep the tentacles of the snooping scandal are spread in Maharashtra.

“In a democracy, if the elected government is keeping tabs on people in such a manner, then it’s a very serious matter. The truth must be revealed,” the MP urged.

The Congress is a constituent of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government with Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party as the other partners.

Maharashtra

Maharashtra to finally reopen cinemas, theatres from Oct 22

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 Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday announced that all cinemas and theatres in the state will be reopened from October 22 in full compliance with health norms, 18 months after the box-offices were shut in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and series of lockdowns from March 2020.

“The work is underway to prepare a detailed SOP in this regard which will be announced soon,” said the CM as the announcement spread ripples of excitement in the film and theatre worlds now gearing to return to ‘full houses’.

The chief minister held detailed discussions with the Covid Task Force members, Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Dr. Pradeep Vyas and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and others.

From the Bollywood and Marathi film industry, there were Rohit Shetty, Makrand Deshpande, Subodh Bhave, Aadesh Bandekar and other representatives from the stage and silver screen.

The move came a day after the government permitted the reopening of most schools in the state from October 4 and all places of worship from October 7, with restrictions and protocols, as the Covid-19 situation appears to be easing in the state.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra BJP LoP Pravin Darekar is a ‘crorepati labourer’: Sena leader

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BJP

 The Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Pravin Y. Darekar, “is a �crore-pati labourer who has allegedly mis-declared his professional credentials in his election affidavits”, claims a criminal complaint lodged with the Ghatkopar Police Station against the Bharatiya Janata Party leader.

The complainant, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) Chairman Kishore Tiwari, accorded a MoS status, raises certain uncomfortable questions to Darekar.

A former Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) MLA from 2009-2014, Darekar is currently a BJP MLC since 2016, appointed Leader of Opposition of Upper House since 2019, and is also shown as the Chairman of Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank (MDCCB) or Mumbai Bank, comprising the categories of representatives of registered cooperative societies.

In the police complaint, Tiwari said Darekar is said to be a member of the �Pratigya Mazur Sahakari Sanstha’ (PMSS) Ghatkopar, a labour cooperative society, on the basis of which he is represented as a director with the Mumbai Bank, and as fulltime Chairman since 2015.

However, in his statutory affidavits in Form 26 for the two elections Darekar has stated on oath his profession and that of his wife Sayli Darekar as �independent business’, Tiwari contended.

“This is blatantly false and a misleading declaration on the basis of which he was elected to the house on both occasions. He is looting the government through full salaries, allowances, honorariums and privileges, and as LoP now even enjoying a Cabinet Minister rank, and at the same time availing the coveted position and perks of Mumbai Bank,” Tiwari said.

Despite repeated attempts by IANS, including a brief questionnaire, there was no response from Darekar or his team in the matter.

Elaborating on the recently-emerged revelations, the Shiv Sena’s farmer face accused Darekar of pretending to be a �labourer’, and through the PMSS as a voter at the MDCCB or Mumbai Bank.

Even his wife and one of his brothers are proclaimed �labourers’ and as the PMSS representatives are voters in the same Mumbai Bank, as per the police complaint.

“Can the honourable LoP explain whether he and his family members are �daily wage earners’, or have they misused the �labour’ tag to snatch positions and swindle the government,” Tiwari pointedly asked.

“This is an extremely serious matter as all positions were gained based on fraudulent or fictitious documents and false declarations. I urge the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Union Cooperative Minister Amit Shah, Enforcement Directorate and others to probe and initiate criminal action,” said a grim Tiwari.

He pointed out that as per the Supreme Court, the affidavit of a election candidate or Form 26 filed during the nomination can be used as evidence to prosecute in case of a cognizable criminal offence.

Moreover, the Maharashtra government’s Model Rules for labour cooperative societies define a labourer as a person whose main means of subsistence is manual labour, he pointed out.

“From this it is clear that Darekar is primarily disqualified as a �labourer’ and hence all the pay, perks, facilities, concessions he was given till date amounts to cheating the people and defrauding the government coffers that attracts criminal action,” he said.

Currently, one or more cases are pending pertaining to the alleged scams in the Mumbai Bank since 2014-2015.

Tiwari demanded that Shah and Thackeray order an immediate enquiry through the concerned agencies, book Darekar and conduct the trial in a fast-track court as per the mandate of SC, failing which he would file a PIL int he court.

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Maharashtra

Atrocities on women highest in BJP-ruled states: Maharashtra Congress

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Congress

 The Maharashtra Congress on Wednesday said that atrocities against women are highest in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states and seconded Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s suggestion to convene a special four-day session of Parliament to discuss the issue.

Quoting the latest official data in the NCRB-2020 Report, Congress state Spokesperson and General Secretary Sachin Sawant said that the crimes against women were highest in Maharashtra during the tenure of BJP’s ex-Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis – who also handled the home department – but the atrocities have come down during the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) rule.

His comments came a day after a battle royale erupted over Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s letter to Thackeray urging him to call a special session of Maharashtra Legislature to discuss law & order and women’s safety issues in the wake of the brutal rape-cum-murder of a 32-year-old woman at Sakinaka on September 10.

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