first_imgThe Haryana government on Monday submitted in the Supreme Court a 182-page probe report of former Delhi High Court judge S.N. Dhingra’s Commission into grant of licences for change in land use (CLU) in Gurgaon by the previous Congress government in the State led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda.The Supreme Court had asked the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government to submit report in a sealed cover by April 17, 2017.Justice S.N. Dhingra had handed over the report to the present government last year. The enquiry centred around grant of CLU licences in four villages of Gurgaon during the Hooda regime and hinted at irregularities. Massive exerciseThe panel has reportedly examined more than 200 cases of grant of CLU licences and summoned 20-odd officials.Set up by the Haryana government in May last year, the Commission had the mandate to inquire into the circumstances of grant or rejection of licences for development of colonies, group housing societies and commercial complexes in those sectors of Gurgaon for which land of Shikohpur, Sikanderpur, Badah and Kherki Dhaula was used.It had also inquired whether the transfer of licence by the original licencee within a short period of time was in violation of law and caused loss of revenue to the government. The contents of the report is in a sealed cover. News reports allege that the Commission had looked into Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law and entrepreneur Robert Vadra in connection with its enquirylast_img read more

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first_imgCongress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were busy dividing society in their quest to retain power. Only the Congress ideology could take on the BJP and the RSS, he said at a party rally.Mr. Gandhi also took potshots at the Modi-led government on demonetisation and described the exercise as a total flop. “Entire India knows that it turned the black money of India’s ‘thieves’ to white,” the Congress leader said.“First they said demonetisation would result in checking terror. Then they said demonetisation would check black money. The reality is that everyone in India knows that 90 per cent of black money is in real estate, gold,” he said.“We don’t know the reason why Modi was after the cash of farmers, poor labourers and housewives,” he said.Mr. Gandhi also took a dig at RBI, saying it took almost a year to announce that 99 per cent of the scrapped currency had been returned to the coffers. “We had asked in Parliament about the amount of black money unearthed in the demonetisation exercise. It took RBI a year to say that 99 per cent of old money came back in the coffers,” the Congress leader said. He blamed the government for GDP reaching “a low of 4.5 per cent.” “Who will own responsibility for this? The prime minister is responsible for this,” Mr. Gandhi said.According to Mr. Gandhi, anger was building up with the BJP and Modi engaged in dividing society. “In Haryana they pit Jat vs non Jat and in Maharashtra they create a Maratha vs non Maratha divide. Their only goal is that BJP and RSS should be in power,” Gandhi alleged.“They speak of fight against corruption but they ‘purchase’ people (legislators) in Goa and Manipur and also try to purchase people in Gujarat.” Only the Congress ideology, he added, could take on the BJP and RSS.“They (BJP and RSS) will fight one or two elections. After that it will be the Congress which will be in power.” The Congress leader also criticised the prime minister over his promises of providing jobs to youth.“Modi had said he would give jobs to two crore youth every year after becoming the prime minister. Two years ago, we were told that just one lakh youth had got jobs and last last year the figure was zero,” Mr. Gandhi claimed.“Their minister informed that the unemployment figure is at the lowest… in the last several years,” he said.Commenting on GST, Gandhi said the Modi government was claiming credit but it was the Congress which initiated it. “There should have been one slab, as against five now. Also, GST should have been capped at 18 per cent, against 28 per cent now in the highest slab,” he added.last_img read more

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first_imgSix persons were arrested from Imphal International Airport on Friday evening for trying to smuggle gold biscuits worth ₹1.79 crore.Gaikhalung Panmei, Deputy Commissioner, Customs division said that the 35 gold biscuits were stuffed inside their rectums.He said that the combined team of customs division and central industrial security force made the arrest.He said that the arrested persons are Khol Singh, Dalhar Singh from Jammu and Kashmir, Niraj from Punjab, Rint Hyder and Mint Pal from West Bengal and Rint Bega from Delhi.They were to board the flight to Kolkata from Imphal on Friday.Mr. Panmei said that in the past, some arrests had been made for smuggling out gold to other parts of the country.The gold biscuits were later handed over to police.last_img read more

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first_imgThe Rajasthan Assembly on Thursday passed a Bill that has increased reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in educational institutions and government employment in the State from 21% to 26%. The Bill created a new ‘most backward’ category within the OBCs for providing quota benefits to Gujjars and four other nomadic communities.The Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointment and Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2017, provides 5% reservation to the Gujjar, Banjara, Gadia-Lohar, Raika and Gadariya communities. With the Bill’s passage, reservation in Rajasthan now stands at 54%, exceeding the 50% ceiling mandated by the Supreme Court.The ninth session of the Assembly that started on Monday, also witnessed a major controversy over the introduction of a Bill giving immunity to public servants from investigation without prior sanction.last_img read more

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first_imgAs dense smog engulfed many parts of Punjab and Haryana on Wednesday, nine persons were killed in Punjab’s Bathinda after they were run over by a truck on the Bathinda-Chandigarh highway.The weather department has forecast dense fog conditions for next few days and respite is expected only by next week.Eight of the nine killed in the accident were students while one was a government employee.Bathinda SSP Naveen Singla said the deceased were waiting to catch a bus when a truck ploughed through them after it hit a SUV. “There was dense fog in the morning hours and visibility was quite low, which could be a reason for the accident,” he added.In a separate accident on the same route, a State transport bus and minibus collided, leaving one woman dead and 14 others injured.India Meteorological Department said that dense to very dense fog was observed at most places over Punjab and at many places over Haryana and Chandigarh.The visibility was recorded below 500 metres at Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala in Punjab and Ambala and Hissar in Haryana.last_img read more

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first_imgThree persons died and nine were injured after the Vasco Da Gama-Patna Express derailed at Chitrakoot in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh early on Friday.The train (12741) coming from Goa derailed near the starter signal at the Manikpur station, 120 km from Allahabad, as it was exiting platform two roughly at 4.15 a.m., officials said.“A total of 14 bogies went off the track,” said Gaurav Kumar Bansal, Chief Public Relations officer of North-Central Railways.The derailed bogies included two AC coaches and sleeper coaches from S-2 to S-11. One bogie had “half-tilted” in the derailment, a police spokesperson said.Inquiry orderedRailway Minister Piyush Goyal announced on Twitter that “an inquiry” had been ordered.Uttar Pradesh Additional Director-General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said prima facie the cause of the derailment appeared to be a fractured track, reported an agency.Two of the dead were identified as six-year-old Golu Kumar and his father, Deepak Patel (30), residents of Bettiah in Bihar. They died on the spot.The third victim was later identified as Manoj Singh (25) of Chhapra, also from Bihar.One among the nine injured was in a serious condition and receiving treatment at the primary health centre in Manikpur.Adityanath announces compensationThree other injured, including a 24-year-old woman, Rinki Kumari, a resident of Goa, were admitted to the district hospital in Chitrakoot.The Ministry of Railways announced an ex gratia compensation of ₹5 lakh to the kin of the dead, ₹1 lakh to those with grievous injuries and ₹50,000 to the other injured.Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also announced ex gratia compensation of ₹2 lakh, ₹50,000 and ₹25,000 in the same order.The stranded passengers were accommodated in the front eight coaches by 7.25 a.m., the NCR said.The unaffected portion consisting of seven bogies took the passengers to Allahabad, where they were picked up by a special train and taken to Patna.A team of the Anti-Terror Squad also reached the site to probe possibilities of sabotage.In an unrelated incident, four persons died on the spot after the SUV they were travelling in was hit by the Lucknow-Sultanpur train at an unmanned crossing under Musafirkhana area on Thursday night.The car was carrying six passengers, who were all members of a marriage party.last_img read more

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first_imgSaying that merely gaining power had never been the Shiv Sena’s aim, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said on Wednesday that the party was fighting for the good of the people by playing the Opposition’s role even while remaining a part of the coalition.Mr. Raut was in the city to meet Sena leaders and workers in Pimpri, Chinchwad and Bhosari after the party’s decision to go it alone in the 2019 Parliamentary and Assembly polls.Dig at NCP, CongressTaking potshots at the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, Mr. Raut said, “BJP will be Sena’s enemy in the elections, as the Congress is in a state of hibernation and the NCP has not been able to get its act together in the State.” He said that some parties could not bear the idea of the Sena contesting the elections alone. “The Sena has always been, and will continue to remain, an aggressive political force to reckon with. It will always fight for the cause of Hindutva,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.Criticism from Pawar Meanwhile, NCP leader Ajit Pawar hit back at Mr. Raut’s barbs, saying that Sena’s innumerable gestures calling for severing ties with the BJP over the past three years had proved to be “empty threats”. “The Sena has deteriorated from being a ‘tiger’ during the time of the late Bal Thackeray to being a tortoise in the shell. It will continue to cling to power, which it failed to secure for so long,” Mr. Pawar said at the NCP’s Halla Bol rally in Jalna.last_img read more

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first_imgDays after Aam Aadmi Party leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira accused senior party leaders of “conspiring” to remove him from the post of Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, the party on Thursday decided to appoint Harpal Singh Cheema, MLA from Dirba constituency, in his place. Manish Sisodia, who is in charge of the party affairs in Punjab, took to social media to announce the replacement. “AAP has decided to change its leader of opposition in Punjab. Harpal Singh Cheema, MLA Dirba constituency, shall be leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly,” tweeted Mr. Sisodia.“A Dalit face from the State has been given responsibility. The national convener of the AAP, Arvind Kejriwal, has written a letter to the Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha requesting him to appoint Harpal Singh Cheema as the LoP,” said an official statement.Responding to his removal, Mr. Khaira said he has paid the price for speaking the truth and taking a stand for the cause of Punjab and Punjabis.‘Discharged my duty’“I have discharged my duty as LoP with uttermost sincerity, dedication and fearlessness towards Punjab and Punjabis. If speaking the truth and espousing the cause of Punjab, Punjabis and Sikhs cost me LoP, I’m prepared to let go a hundred such positions. Those at the helm have done what Congress and Akali Dal-BJP wanted,” tweeted Mr. KhairaIn a video posted on Facebook last week, Mr. Khaira alleged that the party’s State co-president, Balbir Singh, had accused him of taking money from volunteers in an attempt to malign him. Mr. Balbir Singh, however, denied Mr. Khaira’s charge, saying he never made any such accusation.Mr. Khaira had also submitted a complaint to Mr. Sisodia against Mr. Balbir Singh, saying that false allegations were being levelled to tarnish his image among the party cadre.last_img read more

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first_imgWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday congratulated Justice Ranjan Gogoi after he was appointed the next Chief Justice of India.“May I humbly congratulate Justice Ranjan Gogoi, appointed as the 46th Chief Justice of India, who will assume office on October 3. We are proud of you,” Ms. Banerjee wrote on her Twitter handle this afternoon. Justice Gogoi was appointed as the next Chief Justice of India yesterday. He will take oath on October 3 after incumbent Dipak Misra retires. Justice Gogoi will have a tenure of about 13 months, till November 17, 2019. Born on November 18, 1954, Justice Gogoi was enrolled as an advocate in 1978. He practised in the Gauhati High Court on constitutional, taxation and company matters. He was appointed as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 12, 2011 and then a judge of the Supreme Court on April 23, 2012. Justice Misra had earlier this month recommended Justice Gogoi as his successor as per established practice of naming the senior-most judge after the CJI for the post.last_img read more

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first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh BJP on Thursday said it does not see any grand alliance taking shape against it as there are many “gaps and contradictions” among opposition parties, even as it exuded confidence of increasing its tally in the State in the next Lok Sabha polls.“The BJP’s performance will be better in 2019 compared to 2014, when the party and its allies bagged a lion’s share of 73 seats (of total 80 seats),” State BJP President Mahendra Nath Pandey told PTI in an interview here. Asked about the opposition parties’ attempt to form a grand alliance to take on the BJP, he said, “I don’t see it taking place.” “There are many gaps and contradictions among them. Even if it (alliance) is formed, it will not last.”“Party will bank on Modiji’s towering personality”Undeterred by the BSP and the SP eyeing the Dalit and OBC votes, besides the Muslim electorates, Mr. Pandey said his party was doing its own ground work. “We are taking along the castes which they (SP, BSP) bank upon. We have recently held successful OBC conferences (between Sept 4-24) in which backward caste representatives from all over the state actively participated,” he said. The conference saw overwhelming response from the backward classes as they see Prime Minister Narendra Modi as their leader, the UP BJP chief said.“Besides, we are soon going to organise Dalit sammelan (conference) and ‘prabuddh’ (intellectuals’) meet. These sections have only been cheated by previous SP and BSP regimes in the state. Only the BJP is the party which is really working with ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ motive. This is the reason for our success,” he said. He said that his party was working at several levels to increase its victory margin.“We are highlighting our work at the Centre and state and above all Modiji’s personality, which will be presented before the people.” “At the organisation level, we are emphasising on ensuring our presence from booth to division to assembly and Lok Sabha segments. We are doing a micro-planning for that,” he said.Noting that the party has a lot to tell the people about the good work and projects its governments at the Centre and state have initiated, Pandey said, “We will reach out to people and inform them about these works and are confident of getting their positive response in terms of votes. No government has done such a good work till now.” “The party will bank on the “towering personality” of Modi ji, who is loved by all sections of the society due to this ‘working style and aura’. Our leader is accepted by all. No other leader can stand in front of him. Opposition has not one (leader), who can challenge him,” he asserted. The BJP State president said he was “sure” his party will form the government at the Centre again and UP’s contribution will be remarkable.last_img read more

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first_imgMore than 1.6 lakh people have been arrested in Bihar under the prohibition and excise law enacted in 2016, but only 141 of them have been sentenced to date, said an official of the State excise department.“Police have conducted raids at over 4,00,000 locations while the State excise department has conducted raids at more than 2,00,000 locations seizing over 16 lakh litres of foreign-made and nine lakh litres of country-made liquor,” the official said on Tuesday.More than 1.33 lakh violation of prohibition cases have been registered at different police stations of the State since April 5, 2016, when the ban on liquor was imposed by the government. Around 10,000 people are lodged in different jails in the State in connection with these cases.CM’s appealBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti on Tuesday, appealed to the people to quit liquor as it had been denounced by the Father of the Nation.“Mahatma Gandhi used to say consumption of liquor not only destroys one’s body but also intelligence. So I appeal to everyone to abstain from liquor,” said Mr. Kumar. He also asked officials to implement the liquor law with more focus and in a determined manner.The State government had recently asked officials to review details of those arrested under the prohibition law and to ascertain their caste status.It had earlier been reported that most of the people arrested under the liquor law were from the Scheduled Castes and Extremely Backward Class.last_img read more

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first_imgA day after two alleged attacks on veteran CPI(M) leader and MLA Narayan Choudhury, the party on Saturday condemned the incidents and said it had approached the State government just a week back to ensure security of its leaders and workers. The CPI(M) staged a noisy protest rally in Agartala over recent violent incidents in the State. In a statement, the party alleged that BJP workers attacked its supporters and leaders, including Mr. Choudhury, in Bishalgarh sub-division.last_img

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first_imgThe fate of the much publicised Rath Yatra of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is likely to be decided by the Calcutta High Court on Thursday. On Wednesday, a petition by the BJP alleging that the State government is denying permission to the rally on political grounds was taken up for hearing at the Calcutta High Court but the matter remained inconclusive. While Justice Tapobrata Chakraborty asked the State government to come up with its stand on the issue, State’s advocate general Kishore Dutta said that the BJP has approached wrong authorities for seeking the permission. The matter will come up for hearing on Thursday. The BJP’s Rath Yatra, which is also called Ganatantra Bachao Yatra (Save Democracy Rally), is scheduled to be flagged off by party president Amit Shah at Cooch Behar on December 7. TMC attempting to foil our Yatra, says Cooch Behar BJP chief Meanwhile in Cooch Behar, the BJP leadership alleged that the Trinamool Congress is leaving no stone unturned for foiling the its Rath Yatra in the district. Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya alleged that the Trinamool Congress is pressurising the transport operators to return the deposits to the party for providing vehicles for the rally. BJP district president Malati Rava said that the party is facing such an adverse situation that they are forced to hold a rally in a paddy field three kilometres away from the city. “ We are guarding the venue round the clock, 15 to 20 of our party workers are there even in the night. In the past there has been occasion that the rally venue has been vandalised by members of the party,” Ms Rava told The Hindu. Ms. Rava alleged that the ruling party has booked all the grounds and stadium in the district on pretext of holding some events. There has also been reports of posters of BJP being torn and defaced allegedly by supporters of the ruling party.‘Only Lord Krishna can bring Rath Yatra to Bengal’State’s Minister for North Bengal Development and MLA from Cooch Behar, Rabindranath Ghosh, denied all allegation and said the BJP is levelling such charges to grab headlines. “ In Cooch Behar we have old Madan Mohan temple and only the Lord Krishna can bring out the rally. After we raised the issue, the BJP is now calling its Rath Yatra, Ganatantra Bachao Yatra,” Mr Ghosh said. For a party which has taken away democratic rights of 40 lakh people in adjoining State Assam, it is a joke that they talk about democracy, he added.last_img read more

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first_imgUttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday met the family members of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh who was killed in the Bulandshahr violence and assured them of justice and strict action against the culprits.The Chief Minister met Singh’s wife and two sons at their Kalidas Marg residence in Lucknow, an official spokesman said.“The CM has given assurance to the victim’s family that they will remain like a family and there would not any disturbance in their studies,” DGP OP Singh, who was also present, told reporters.Education loan waiverHe said Mr. Adityanath had decided that the government would pay off the education loan that the family had taken.“The Chief Minister has assured us that he will remain with us in this difficult time and ensure justice for us. He said strict action will be taken against those involved,” the victim’s son Shrey Singh said.Mr. Adityanath declared on Monday a compensation of ₹ 40 lakh for the wife, ₹ 10 lakh for the parents and a government job for a member of his family.The inspector was the Investigating Officer (IO) in the 2015 Akhlaq lynching case.Singh and a 20-year-old man were killed in mob violence triggered by alleged slaughter of cows in Bulandshahr.The Chief Minister had ordered a thorough probe and issued directions to take strict action against those involved in the alleged cow slaughter in the western district.Mr. Adityanath held a late night meeting on Tuesday with the Chief Secretary, the DGP, the principal secretary (home) and the Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence).The Chief Minister had drawn flak from Opposition parties for attending a laser show in Gorakhpur when the violence broke out in Bulandshahr on Monday.An official spokesman said the Chief Minister was of the view that the incident “is part of a bigger conspiracy, and hence all those directly or indirectly related to cow slaughter should be arrested in a time-bound manner”.last_img read more

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first_imgJammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Wednesday said powerful people in Kashmir “were living a life better than emperor Jahangir due to corruption”, as he listed his development agenda for the State in the face of recent criticism over his constitutional amendments. “An ordinary Kashmiri who ferries pilgrims in the Amarnath yatra does not even have a sweater to wear. But the living standard of the powerful people, who belong to the administration, the political class and the traders community, in Kashmir is better than emperor Jahangir,” said Mr. Malik in Jammu.In an oblique reference to regional parties National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that ruled the State in the past, he said corruption was impacting the development agenda in J&K. “If the money allocated to J&K was spent adequately, the State would have turned into gold. Out administration has taken a tough stand on corruption from day one and an anti-corruption body is investigating several cases,” said Mr. Malik.Highlights development agenda Mr. Malik said the ₹80,000 crores Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) has been “fast-tracked and the bottlenecks have been removed” by his administration.“A discussion has been initiated with the Asian Development Bank for $150 million fresh loan for development projects, including drainage and solid waste management. Besides, J&K will get first-ever gas pipeline,” reads the report card released by the Governor.The report card said the land for two new AIIMS, IIT and IIM was handed over to the authorities concerned. It said J&K Infrastructure Development Corporation (JKIDFC) has been constituted to raise ₹8000 crore for infrastructure development, especially languishing projects of over 20 years. “There are 1296 languishing projects in key sectors with investment of Rs. 2700 crore also approved. Two major projects, the Ujh Multipurpose Project and the Rattle Hydroelectric Project, were also cleared for implementation,” it said.The governor said his administration was able to successfully conduct the local bodies, municipal and panchayat elections “in a free and fair election process completed over a period of three months”. “The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Act was amended to further empower the council,” it added.The Governor’s listing his works is apparently aimed at an image makeover. It comes in the backdrop of criticism levelled by the regional political parties at him over the manner in which he made several constitutional amendments and dissolved the assembly. His move to convert J&K Bank into a Public Sector Undertaking also invited ire of the regional parties.PDP, NC reactThe Governor’s move have invited reaction from both major regional parties, the NC and the PDP.“Mr. Malik has launched a PR blitz. I won’t comment on the appropriateness of this. All I’ll say is that he will be judged by one yardstick only: how quickly he is able to give the people of J&K a popularly elected government. Any delay will be his failure,” said former chief minister and NC vice president Omar Abdullah.On corruption allegations by the Governor, senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar said, “It’s sad governor saheb is grudging a decent house in Kashmir in a country where corruption has been the dominant issue that brought down Rajiv (Gandhi), UPA government and is now threatening (PM) Modi ji. If at all corruption in Kashmir is pickpocketing compared to Rafale deal.”last_img read more

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first_imgFamily members of those killed in alleged ‘encounter killings’ in Uttar Pradesh claimed they were being harassed by police after a petition on extra judicial killings in the State was filed in the Supreme Court by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).Brother of Sumit Gujjar, killed in an encounter in 2017, said up to eight cases under different sections such as dacoity, loot and others had been falsely slapped on him since the death of his brother and the same inspector involved in his brother’s case had been harassing him.With her landlord coming under pressure from the police, Shabana, mother of Nushad, who had been killed in an encounter in Aligarh in September last year said she had been pushed out of her home in Atrauli, and was leading a hand-to-mouth existence. Mother of Mustaqueen, killed in the same encounter also appealed for justice.Spokespersons of the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) said people from poor backgrounds were especially targeted in such encounters and that the police would shoot first and plant guns in their hands later.Social activist Akram Akthar, also said several people injured in the encounters were languishing in jail without treatment. In a statement, the NCHRO, called it a conspiracy to have them killed.The PUCL petition has called for a CBI probe into over 1,100 encounters which have taken place under the Yogi Adithyanath government. In these 49 people had been killed and 370 injured. The court has fixed February 12 as the next date of hearing.last_img read more

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first_imgMamata Banerjee gets support from Akhilesh Yadav Tensions between the Centre and the West Bengal government continued to simmer on Monday as Trinamool chairperson and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued her protest here against the attempted raids by the CBI on the residence of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.Ms. Banerjee started her sit-in on Sunday evening.Virtually all Opposition parties rallied behind Ms. Banerjee in her confrontation with the Modi government, even as the BJP called it an “alliance of the corrupt.”A number of leaders of Opposition parties, including DMK MP Kanimozhi, met Ms. Banerjee at the protest venue on Monday night and assured her of their total support.‘Protest till Feb. 8’“This demonstration will continue till February 8, because the board examinations will be starting soon and we will not be playing the loudspeakers,” Ms. Banerjee said. She again targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said, “If we want to save the country, we have to defeat Mr. Modi.”“We are here to say that the Opposition will stand together with Mamata Banerjee,” Ms. Kanimozhi said, after meeting the Trinamool leader.Also Read  DMK chief M.K. Stalin spoke to Ms. Banerjee in the morning and extended his support to the protest.“We are against this fascist BJP government, which is trying to silence the Opposition and destroy the democratic fabric of this country. People won’t accept this divisiveness and communal hatred that they are spreading to stay in power,” Ms. Kanimozhi said.‘Pre-election gift’The Rajya Sabha member described the CBI action as a “pre-election gift” to Ms. Banerjee by the BJP.RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav also paid a visit to the West Bengal Chief Minister. Mr. Yadav said he supported Ms. Banerjee’s protest and condemned the negative politics of the Narendra Modi government. “My father never compromised with the communal forces. That’s why he is in jail,” he said.Ms. Banerjee again targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said, “If we want to save the country, we have to defeat Mr. Modi.” She said she would speak to leaders such as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference and Sharad Yadav of the Loktantrik Janata Dal, who were present at the Opposition rally, on how to take the campaign forward.Among those who visited the Chief Minister was SP leader Kiranmay Nanda who had arrived at the protest venue in the morning. A number of leaders from the Opposition including Congress President Rahul Gandhi had called and expressed solidarity to Ms Banerjee on Sunday evening when she sat on protest.Protest venue turns administrative officeDraped in the colours of the national flag, the Save India stage in Kolkata’s Metro Channel was not only a venue of protest by Ms. Banerjee but also turned out to be administrative headquarters of the West Bengal government.While continuing with her Satyagrah outside a Kolkata Police outpost on a busy arterial road in the city Ms, Banerjee held a Cabinet meeting with over a dozen of her Ministers to approve the State Budget, addressed a gathering of farmers through video conferring and also gave medals to over hundred policemen.Throughout the day thousands of people were present at the dharna site trying to catch a glimpse of the Chief Minister and raising slogans in her support and against the Centre.The banner at the protest venue where the Chief Minister sat throughout the day read “Save the Constitution, Save the Federal Structure, Save the Indian Police Force, Save the Indian Administrative Service and All ranks of Civil service from Disaster”. With the day break on Monday Ms Banerjee went out for a morning walk near the protest venue but remained seated on the stage for most part of the day. She addressed the crowd and media persons gathered at the protest venue a number of times during the day assured that she would carry on with the affairs of the State from that very venue. While it is not clear that how long the protests will continue Chief Minister said that microphones can be used at the venue only till February 8 on account of State Board Examinations.While she maintained that the protests were not political, Ms Banerjee said that BJP is trying to have a coup using the central investigation agencies. “This satyagrah is not against any against agency…. This is not an individual fight but a collective fight,” Ms Banerjee but to protect Constitutional Institutions of the country which are under attack.Governor sent report to CentreThe day also marked prominent political developments at Kolkata’s Raj Bhawan Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi who had summoned key officials of State government over the past 24 hours sent a confidential report to the Ministry of Home Affairs. For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar held a press conference at the State BJP headquarters and targeted the Chief Minister.“The Chief minister who never held dharna for her MPs, ministers, who were arrested , now holding dharna for an IPS officer, isn’t it interesting? Does she now try to save herself,” Mr Javadekar asked.Meanwhile, despite the political temperatures soaring there was not major incident of violence. Trinamool Congress supporters blocked a few suburban railway networks in the morning. The BJP alleged that miscreants attacked their party office in Bhawanipur.A political firestorm raged Monday as Mamata Banerjee’s sit-in protest against CBI’s bid to question Kolkata police chief in chit fund scam cases entered the second day, with the West Bengal Chief Minister declaring her agitation to save the “Constitution and country” will go on and she was ready to face the consequences.Virtually all opposition parties rallied behind Banerjee’s direct confrontation with the Modi government, even as the BJP called it an “alliance of corrupt” and Home Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that developments in West Bengal were indicative of a “breakdown of the Constitution”.Trinamool workers took to streets burning effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah and blocked trains, while the BJP lined up its top leaders to step up the counter-offensive against Banerjee and other opposition leaders.last_img read more

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first_imgResearchers have unearthed the earliest evidence of a bird sipping nectar from a flower. The stomach contents of the 47-million-year-old fossil flyer—a long-extinct species of perching bird—include hundreds of grains of pollen (ovals in picture above). The animal, from the genus Pumiliornis, would have been about 8 centimeters long and weighed between 5 and 10 grams, the researchers estimate. That’s about the same size as modern-day hummingbirds and sunbirds, but the ancient bird isn’t related to them or to any of today’s hundreds of species of birds that get their nutrition from flowers. The ancient pollen grains are large and apparently clumped together readily, a clue that the plant that bore the flowers was pollinated by creatures and not by the wind, the researchers report online today in Biology Letters. The fossil bird’s stomach contents also contained a few bits of small insects. As of now, it’s not clear if those insects, probably beetles, were consumed intentionally for their protein or accidentally slurped in during flower-sipping.last_img read more

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first_imgAt some point today you will disengage from the rest of the world and just think. It could happen any number of ways: if your mind wanders from work, while you’re sitting in traffic, or if you just take a quiet moment to reflect. But as frequently as we drift into our own thoughts, a new study suggests that many of us don’t like it. In fact, some people even prefer an electric shock to being left alone with their minds.“I’m really excited to see this paper,” says Matthew Killingsworth, a psychologist at the University of California (UC), San Francisco, who says his own work has turned up a similar result. “When people are spending time inside their heads, they’re markedly less happy.”To conduct the study, Timothy Wilson, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and colleagues recruited hundreds of undergraduate student volunteers and community members to take part in “thinking periods.” Individuals were placed in sparsely furnished rooms and asked to put away their belongings, such as cellphones and pens. They then were given one of two tests that lasted between 6 and 15 minutes. While some were told to think about whatever they wanted, others chose from several prompts, such as going out to eat or playing a sport, and planned out how they would think about it during the period.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Afterward, the team asked the volunteers to rate their experience on a nine-point scale, where the higher the number, the more enjoyable their time was. In both the free-thinking and planned-prompt scenarios, about 50% of people did not like the experience, reporting an enjoyment level at or below the midpoint of the scale. Participants generally gave high ratings of boredom, too, according to Wilson.To see if a change of scenery would help, the team let participants do the studies in their own homes, but still found similar results. Overall, the subjects said they enjoyed activities like reading and listening to music about twice as much as just thinking.The researchers then decided to take the experiment a step further. For 15 minutes, the team left participants alone in a lab room in which they could push a button and shock themselves if they wanted to. The results were startling: Even though all participants had previously stated that they would pay money to avoid being shocked with electricity, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to inflict it on themselves rather than just sit there quietly and think, the team reports online today in Science.“We went into this thinking it wouldn’t be that hard for people to entertain themselves,” Wilson says. “We have this huge brain and it’s stuffed full of pleasant memories, and we have the ability to construct fantasies and stories. We really thought this [thinking time] was something people would like.”He suggests that the results may be mixed signs of boredom and the trouble that we have controlling our thoughts. “I think [our] mind is built to engage in the world,” he says. “So when we don’t give it anything to focus on, it’s kind of hard to know what to do.”Although daydreaming is spontaneous and can be enjoyable, Wilson says the pressure to think on command—whether it’s being demanded by researchers, or while you’re waiting in line with nothing else to do—may be what’s difficult and unpleasant for so many.“I found it quite surprising and a bit disheartening that people seem to be so uncomfortable when left to their own devices; that they can be so bored that even being shocked seemed more entertaining,” says Jonathan Schooler, a psychology professor at UC Santa Barbara who studies consciousness. “But I can’t help but feel that there has to be more to the story. I’m confident that there are conditions in which at least a subsample of the population enjoys this quiet opportunity for self-reflection.”Some people seem to enjoy thinking more than others. For instance, the study found that people who are more agreeable or cooperative were more likely to enjoy themselves when they were told to think about anything. Individuals who admitted that their daydreams normally leave them happy fared better, too.Because people so often find themselves intentionally or unintentionally wrapped up in their thoughts, the research team suggests that meditation or other techniques to relax and learn how to gain control of the mind could be helpful. If we knew how to steer our thoughts in a pleasant direction and enjoy the experience, maybe we wouldn’t hate to be alone with ourselves.last_img read more

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first_imgWhere did the thief go? You might get a more accurate answer if you ask the question in German. How did she get away? Now you might want to switch to English. Speakers of the two languages put different emphasis on actions and their consequences, influencing the way they think about the world, according to a new study. The work also finds that bilinguals may get the best of both worldviews, as their thinking can be more flexible.Cognitive scientists have debated whether your native language shapes how you think since the 1940s. The idea has seen a revival in recent decades, as a growing number of studies suggested that language can prompt speakers to pay attention to certain features of the world. Russian speakers are faster to distinguish shades of blue than English speakers, for example. And Japanese speakers tend to group objects by material rather than shape, whereas Koreans focus on how tightly objects fit together. Still, skeptics argue that such results are laboratory artifacts, or at best reflect cultural differences between speakers that are unrelated to language.In the new study, researchers turned to people who speak multiple languages. By studying bilinguals, “we’re taking that classic debate and turning it on its head,” says psycholinguist Panos Athanasopoulos of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom. Rather than ask whether speakers of different languages have different minds, he says, “we ask, ‘Can two different minds exist within one person?’ ”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Athanasopoulos and colleagues were interested in a particular difference in how English and German speakers treat events. English has a grammatical toolkit for situating actions in time: “I was sailing to Bermuda and I saw Elvis” is different from “I sailed to Bermuda and I saw Elvis.” German doesn’t have this feature. As a result, German speakers tend to specify the beginnings, middles, and ends of events, but English speakers often leave out the endpoints and focus in on the action. Looking at the same scene, for example, German speakers might say, “A man leaves the house and walks to the store,” whereas an English speaker would just say, “A man is walking.”This linguistic difference seems to influence how speakers of the two languages view events, according to the new study. Athanasopoulos and colleagues asked 15 native speakers of each language to watch a series of video clips that showed people walking, biking, running, or driving. In each set of three videos, the researchers asked subjects to decide whether a scene with an ambiguous goal (a woman walks down a road toward a parked car) was more similar to a clearly goal-oriented scene (a woman walks into a building) or a scene with no goal (a woman walks down a country lane). German speakers matched ambiguous scenes with goal-oriented scenes about 40% of the time on average, compared with 25% among English speakers. This difference implies that German speakers are more likely to focus on possible outcomes of people’s actions, but English speakers pay more attention to the action itself.Bilingual speakers, meanwhile, seemed to switch between these perspectives based on the language most active in their minds. The researchers found that 15 Germans fluent in English were just as goal-focused as any other native speaker when tested in German in their home country. But a similar group of 15 German-English bilinguals tested in English in the United Kingdom were just as action-focused as native English speakers. This change could also be seen as an effect of culture, but a second experiment showed that bilinguals can also switch perspectives as fast as they can switch languages.In another group of 30 German-English bilinguals, the researchers kept one language busy during the video-matching task by making participants repeat strings of numbers out loud in either English or German. Distracting one language seemed to automatically bring the influence of the other language to the fore. When researchers “blocked” English, subjects acted like typical Germans and saw ambiguous videos as more goal-oriented. With German blocked, bilingual subjects acted like English speakers and matched ambiguous and open-ended scenes. When the researchers surprised subjects by switching the language of the distracting numbers halfway through the experiment, the subjects’ focus on goals versus process switched right along with it. The results suggest that a second language can play an important unconscious role in framing perception, the authors conclude online this month in Psychological Science. “By having another language, you have an alternative vision of the world,” Athanasopoulos says. “You can listen to music from only one speaker, or you can listen in stereo … It’s the same with language.”“This is an important advance,” says cognitive scientist Phillip Wolff of Emory University in Atlanta who wasn’t connected to the study. “If you’re a bilingual speaker, you’re able to entertain different perspectives and go back and forth,” he says. “That really hasn’t been shown before.”But researchers who doubt that language plays a central role in thinking are likely to remain skeptical. The artificial laboratory setting may make people rely on language more than they normally would, says cognitive psychologist Barbara Malt of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “In a real-world situation, I could find reasons to pay attention to the continuity of an action and other reasons where I would pay attention to the endpoint,” she says. “Nothing says I have to be a bilingual to do that … It doesn’t mean language is the lens through which I see the world.”last_img read more

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