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Remarks of BJP leaders on child rape political puffery: Punjab CM




Trashing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leadership’s attack on his government as well as Gandhis over Hoshiarpur rape-murder case, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday termed the remarks of Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Prakash Javadekar as political puffery, with no substance or basis to support their criticism.

Contrary to what these leaders were claiming, there was no comparison between Hoshiarpur and Hathras cases, said Amarinder Singh, pointing out in the latter instance, the Uttar Pradesh government and police did not only fail to initiate stern action but in fact was seemingly trying to cover up the matter to benefit the upper-caste accused.

This, he said, was in sharp contrast to the prompt action taken by the Punjab Police, who immediately arrested the accused and were now preparing to file the challan within a week.

He himself had directed the Director General of Police to ensure that the case is fast-tracked by the courts to ensure strict and exemplary action for the accused, said the Chief Minister in a statement here.

Ridiculing the BJP leaders’ criticism of the so-called silence of the Congress leadership on Hoshiarpur case, Amarinder Singh pointed out that his party had been forced to speak up and protest in Hathras case because the state had failed to get justice for the Dalit girl there.

“Had the BJP government in UP responded as effectively and speedily as we did in Punjab, neither the Congress and Gandhis, nor scores of NGOs, lawyers, human rights activists would have been forced to take to the streets to fight for the victim,” he added.

The ‘selective politics and selective outrage’ charge, which Sitharaman made against Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, was, in fact, completely apt for the BJP, said the Chief Minister.

No BJP leader had uttered a word in protest against the acts of omission and commission of the UP government and police in Hathras case, when the entire nation was in angry uproar, he said, slamming the party over its politically motivated reaction to Hoshiarpur incident.

The Chief Minister expressed shock at Sitharaman’s and Javadekar’s remark of ‘picnic tour’ by the Gandhis and other Congress MPs in Hathras, saying it reflected the grossness of the BJP’s anti-Dalit and anti-woman mindset.

Gandhis faced lathis at the hands of the brutal UP Police in Hathras, they walked miles in their attempts to reach out to the victim’s family, who cried on the shoulders of the brother-sister duo, he pointed out.

If the BJP had made even an iota of this effort to pressurise the UP government into ensuring justice for the family in Hathras, the Congress would not have been forced to take on the responsibility of doing so, he added.

Amarinder Singh further pointed out that unlike Hoshiarpur incident, Hathras case, and the subsequent developments including the middle-of-the-night burning of the victim’s body, were a part of the chain of atrocities being committed against Dalits in UP under the BJP rule.

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Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattoo joins Apni Party




A day after getting elected as the Mayor of Srinagar Muncipal Corporation (SMC), Junaid Mattoo joined the Apni Party on Friday.

Apni Party was launched by Altaf Bukhari, a former minister in the PDP-BJP government, after the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year.

Mattoo had been removed as the Mayor of Srinagar Muncipal Corporation in June 2020 after he lost a no confidence motion moved against him.

Mattoo was a member of the Sajad Lone-led People’s Conference (PC). Later, he quit the PC in 2013 to join the National Conference (NC) and became the party spokesperson. He quit the NC and rejoined the PC in 2018. However, he quit the PC again and joined the Apni Party on Friday.

“Apni Party has come as a breath of fresh air and is the only credible alternative to the politics of exploitation heralded by the traditional parties,” Mattoo said.

While welcoming Mattoo into the party, Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari said that their endeavour would be to make Srinagar a world class city.

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PM Narendra Modi to visit Bharat Biotech facility in Hyderabad




Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting vaccine maker Bharat Biotech’s facility here on Saturday as part of his three-city tour to take stock of the Covid-19 vaccine development work in the country.

Modi is scheduled to land at the Hakimpet Air Force Station around 4 p.m. and from there he will reach Bharat Biotech’s facility at Genome Valley, where the work is underway on Covaxin, India’s first indigenous vaccine for coronavirus being developed by the company in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The Prime Minister will go around the facility to understand the vaccine development process and the preparations by the Bharat Biotech to manufacture the doses in large numbers once the vaccine gets approval from the authorities concerned.

The Bharat Biotech officials will explain to the Prime Minister various aspects of the vaccine development and their rollout plans. The company is currently conducting phase III clinical trials of the vaccine at various centres across the country.

Modi is likely to spend an hour at the vaccine making plant and return to Delhi at 5.10 p.m., official sources said.

Before reaching Hyderabad, the Prime Minister will be visiting the facilities of Zydus Cadila in Ahmedabad where ZyCoV-D is being developed and Serum Institute of India facilities in Pune where AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine will be manufactured.

There have been speculations that Modi will campaign for the BJP in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, but sources said his programme includes no political activity.

Several national leaders of the BJP, including party chief J.P. Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath are scheduled to campaign for the BJP over the next couple of days.

The campaign is ending on Sunday for the elections scheduled to be held on December 1.

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No chance of settlement of Mhadei issue out of court: Goa CM Pramod Sawant




Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday ruled out any possibility of an out-of-court settlement on the ongoing Mhadei interstate river water dispute with Karnataka.

Sawant also said that his government was firm on its contempt petition filed against Karnataka for diverting the flow of the Mhadei river.

“There is no question of an out-of-court settlement. We have already filed a contempt petition. We are firm on it,” Sawant told reporters.

Sawant’s comments come days after overtures by the Karnataka government’s special representative Shankargouda Patil, who had said that the Chief Ministers of both states, namely BS Yediyurappa and Sawant should meet and resolve the river dispute, instead of letting the courts decide on the matter.

Mhadei, also known as the Mandovi river in Goa and Mahadayi in Karnataka, is considered a lifeline in the northern parts of Goa.

It originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through Maharashtra.

While the river runs 28.8 km in Karnataka, it is over 50 km in length in the state Goa. Goa, Karnataka are battling out a two decade-long dispute over the sharing of the Mhadei waters.

Last month, the Goa government filed the contempt petition in the Supreme Court, alleging Karnataka had illegally diverted water from the Mhadei river basin via the newly constructed Kalasa-Banduri canal.

The Goa government had filed a special leave petition in the apex court last year, challenging the Mhadei Water Dispute Tribunal award in 2018, which allowed Karnataka to divert 13.42 TMC water from the river basin. The SLP had also said that Karnataka was diverting more water than what was allotted.

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