Five people were killed and eight injured on Wednesday, while several others are feared trapped, after a gas leak at a cold storage in Shivrajpur area here caused an explosion in which parts of the structure collapsed. According to SP (Rural) Rajesh Kumar, the gas leak started at the Katiyar Cold Storage in the afternoon. In the resulting explosion, the roof of the structure collapsed. Several people are feared trapped in the debris, and fire brigade personnel along with NDRF and Army teams are carrying out rescue and relief operations, Mr Kumar said.Brought dead Chief Medical Officer Dr Ramayan Prasad said the five seriously injured labourers, who were rescued between 4 pm and 6 pm, were declared brought dead by doctors at the medical college-cum-hospital here.Eleven labourers have been rescued and those with minor injuries have been released from the hospital after treatment, he said. Doctors at the hospital have been put on alert as the number of those injured is expected to rise, Mr Prasad said. Kanpur District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said around two dozen labourers were having their lunch when the incident happened. More labourers could be still trapped under the debris, district administration officials said. The DM said rescue workers have been given protective gear, including masks. The district administration will also check if the cold storage had a license.
The Goa unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday declared that it will send a legal notice to AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi and AICC secretary Girish Chodankar for making allegedly defamatory statements about the BJP and its legislators, including an accusation that the BJP had spent Rs. 1,000 crore to lure non-Congress MLAs.Goa BJP president Vinay Tendulkar said on Friday that the legal notice was being drafted and would be issued to both “either by Friday evening or Saturday morning. They have made wild and baseless accusations in the last few days. We are not going to take it lightly,” Mr. Tendulkar said.He described the accusation that the BJP had spent Rs. 1,000 crore to lure MLAs and carry out horse-trading in the post-poll government-formation was “baseless and unfair.” On Wednesday, Mr. Chodankar had alleged that the BJP had spent around Rs. 1000 crore to lure non-Congress MLAs to join the BJP-led coalition in a bid to form government.“Nothing less than Rs. 1,000 crore has been spent by the BJP to lure and buy MLAs over to their side,” Mr. Chodankar had alleged and further said that State BJP general secretary Sadanand Tanavde was in the know of this. Mr. Tanavde had denied the allegations, and told this paper that he had not given anybody even “five paise.”The state unit is also angry about a similar allegation made in Delhi on the same day by Mr. Gandhi who alleged that money power had been used for horse-trading. Mr. Chodankar said that he is willing to face the defamation proceedings.“The BJP will also have to answer why three helicopters had landed at the Goa airport soon after a senior Central Minister arrived in the State. What were the helicopters carrying? Crackers from Delhi,” Mr. Chodankar asked. The BJP which won 13 seats in the February 4 elections, formed a government in Goa with a coalition of 23 in the 40-Member House.The Congress, which emerged as the single largest party with 17 MLAs has also questioned the role of Goa governor Mridula Sinha as she did not give Congress the first opportunity to form a government.
A civilian was shot dead on Saturday evening in a firing incident in Srinagar’s Batamaloo area after a minor incident of stone pelting on a BSF patrol.In a separate incident, a civilian was killed and another injured as unidentified gunmen open fire in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.BatamalooAccording to eyewitnesses, a BSF vehicle was passing in the area when the incident took place.Locals claimed that the BSF jawans fired in to crowd after stones hit their vehicle. The police identified the victim as Sajad Hassan, a resident of Baramulla district, presently living in S.D. Colony, Srinagar.A police official said there was no deployment in the area when the incident took place. “We are looking into the circumstances that led to the killing,” said a police official.The victim was hit in the head by bullets. Scores of protesters took to the streets after the protests.The Hindu could not get the version of the BSF despite repeated attempts. The incident fueled tension in Srinagar with shopkeepers downing their shutters. Kashmir Valley remains on the edge since April 9, when eight civilians were killed in clashes during polling.Pulwama Preliminary reports suggest that unidentified gunmen on Saturday night opened fire in Qasbayar Pulwama district.One person, identified as Bashir Ahmad Dar, was hit by bullets and died. Another civilian was injured in the attack.The killing has come hours after a civilian was killed in Srinagar following minor incident of stone pelting.
On coming out of the Special CBI court in Ranchi on Friday, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad said the CBI raids on his residence in Patna and other places was a “political vendetta against him and he will not be cowed by such acts”. Mr. Prasad appeared before the court in connection with a fodder scam case.“I’ve done nothing wrong … these are political vendetta against me and my family to defame us but I’ll not be cowed by such raids,” Mr. Prasad told journalists.The BJP and the RSS were behind all these acts but “even if I’m finished off I’ll stop not until I force them out from power”, he said.“I’ve asked my sons and family members to respect CBI officials and cooperate with them as they are officers and have to follow what the Narendra Modi government would ask them to do”, he said adding that the CBI shouldn’t have conducted a raid in his absence. While reading out a leaf of paper, Mr. Prasad said he had not broken any rule or regulation in awarding two hotels to the IRCTC. “Everything was done according to rule and regulations… if CBI officials would ask me, I’m ready to explain them in detail”, he observed.“IRCTC was formed in 1999 and I became Railway Minister in 2004… as per rules laid down by the then NDA government, an open tender of these two hotels were floated for 15 years on lease…if anyone can prove where my signature is or I’ve done anything wrong I’m ready for the punishment”, Mr. Prasad.Mr. Prasad recalled how he had anticipated on RJD’s Foundation Day that BJP would send him to jail. “Its all part of it… Narendra) Modi, Amit Shah and RSS are responsible for the raid to frighten me and bully me…but, I’ll not, come what may”, said Mr. Prasad.
Amid a raging controversy over Hindi movie Padmavati, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday said the director of the film was “as guilty” as those groups issuing threats of violence to its lead actress Deepika Padukone.”Nobody has the right to take the law into their hands. Be it Sanjay Leela Bhansali or anybody else. I feel that if those issuing threats are guilty, then Bansali is no less guilty…who has got used to hurting public sentiments,” Mr. Adityanath said.If action is taken, the UP CM continued, it will be against both sides in equal measure.His comments came in the backdrop of self-proclaimed Rajput groups threatening to chop off Ms. Padukone’s nose and beheading Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the director of Padmavati, for portraying the character in a dishonorable manner. When asked what he thought about the threats of violence, Mr. Adityanath gave a vague reply, saying both sides should respect each other’s sentiments.Meanwhile, jumping into the issue, Samajwadi Party senior MLA Azam Khan taunted Rajput groups for taking umbrage over the film. He said those people who were protesting against the film, are the same who prostrated before the British till only a few years ago.Mr. Khan, when addressing a function in Rampur, also drew parallels with 1960 epic Hindi feature Mughal-e-Azam, saying that the film faced no objection despite being further from historical facts.”A famous film to be made in India was Mughal-e-Azam. Anarkali was shown as Salim’s lover. There is no such story. It has no relation with history. But no Muslim expressed objection to it because it was only a story and the hearts of Muslim are not so tiny,” Mr. Khan said.He taunted Rajput groups saying they were scared of a dancer, a reference to Padmavati’s character in the film.The UP government had a few days ago written to the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry requesting deferment in the release of the film, arguing that’s its resources were too stretched to maintain law and order in the wake of any possible violence or protest by the various Rajput groups.
Nagpur: While accepting that the state loan may touch the ₹ 4.64 lakh crore figure before the next budget, Minister of State for Finance, Deepak Kesarkar on Monday claimed that release of only 70% of the allotted money for the district schemes does not amount to a cut in funding. More money will be released if targets are met, he added.Mr. Kesarkar was replying to a question on funding for the farm loan waiver scheme in the Council. Replying to Peasants and Workers Party’s (PWP) MLC, Jayant Patil, on whether the central government is extending any helping hand to the scheme to raise over ₹ 34,000 crore for the scheme, Mr. Kesarkar said that the centre is not providing any financial assistance for the scheme and the state will be raising the money on its own.“The government has made the provision of ₹34,000 crore through supplementary demands; but does the government have that much money in reality? Is the government planning to avail loan at a time when the state’s loan is is continuously on the rise?” asked Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLC, Sunil Tatkare NCP).Mr. Kesarkar replied that though the loan amount is on the rise, and may touch up to ₹4.64 lakh crore, the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) allows up to ₹6.19 lakh crore to be raised. “We are within the limits prescribed by the Centre,” he said. Mr. Tatkare alleged that the cuts of 30% to district planning schemes proves that the state is in a shambles on the economic front.“We have not enforced any cuts; will release the remaining money (30%) whenever required and if earlier targets of expenditure are met,” the Minister said.The opposition claimed that the ‘savings’ of the state claimed by the government are in reality cuts on expenditure and have nothing to do with financial discipline. “This government has been presenting supplementary demands of thousands of crores, much more than what we did. Our actions were labelled at financial indiscipline, then shouldn’t the BJP’s handling of financial matters be termed as indiscipline,” Mr. Tatkare wanted to know.
Activist-lawyer Aires Rodrigues on Saturday served a legal notice on the Chief Secretary of Goa over the government’s decision to appoint Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India Atmaram Nadkarni on retainership to appear for the State before the Supreme Court, National Green Tribunal(NGT), High Courts and other Tribunals.Mr. Nadkarni represents the State as special counsel in the Mahadayi tribunal. Cabinet decisionThe Goa Cabinet, in a meeting on December 28, decided to appoint Mr. Nadkarni on a monthly retainer of ₹7.5 lakh, a fee of ₹3 lakh per hearing, and four free flights a month to Goa. Mr. Rodrigues has said in his notice to Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma that Mr. Nadkarni could not be appointed on retainership by a State government, as he was already on a retainer of ₹50,000 — with ₹20,000 per hearing — of the Union of India.Case-by-case approvalGiving the State government 48 hours to revoke the decision, Mr. Rodrigues said he would otherwise move the Bombay High Court at Goa for appropriate orders.Mr. Rodrigues added that instead of appointing Mr. Nadkarni on a case-to-case basis after due approval from the Centre, appointing him with a blanket approval for such a hefty sum would undermine the current Advocate General.‘Funds squandered’Terming the Cabinet decision as unlawful and arbitrary, Mr. Rodrigues said it seemed to be a devious way to give Mr. Nadkarni the role and benefits of Advocate General. He said it is incumbent on every government officer to use public funds for the public good, and the government cannot squander the funds to the detriment of public interest in this manner.
Tasting little success in expanding its footprint at the national level, the AamAadmi Party has set its sights on the Northeast where Assembly polls are due in four States this year. The AAP will contest on all the seats in Nagaland, Meghalaya and on a few seats in Tripura, its leader Habung Payeng, looking after the north-eastern affairs, said. Later this year, it also plans to contest polls in Mizoram.The move comes following the party’s attempts to make it big at the national level by contesting polls in Punjab and Goa. It had also contested on 29 seats in Gujarat. However, except Punjab, where the party won 20 seats, it has not been able to make inroads in other States. This year, the party also intends to contest polls in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh,Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressed a rally in Maharashtra on Friday, signalling that his party could also contest the State Assembly polls, scheduled to be held in October next year.Asked about the agenda the party plans to contest on, Mr. Payeng said, “It is being finalised by the State units. We have decided to contest on all seats inNagaland and Meghalaya and on a few seats in Tripura.”
As many as 16 people, including a noted builder, were arrested by police and demonetised currency worth ₹97 crore seized from his ancestral house at Swaroop Nagar in Kanpur.Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Akhilesh Kumar Meena said on Wednesday that ₹95 crore belonged to builder Anand Khatri and the remaining amount to over a dozen others.This is the biggest seizure of banned currency since notes in the denominations of ₹500 and ₹1,000 were demonetised in November, 2016.Mr. Akhilesh Kumar Meena said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had gathered inputs about some companies and individuals involved in converting illegal currency into legal money and shared the information with Inspector General (IG) of Police, Kanpur, Alok Singh.The IG collected more information about those running the racket and briefed the SSP, directing him to carry out raids discreetly. Following a tip-off, the SSP formed teams headed by SP (East) Anurag Arya and SP (West) Gaurav Grover. They nabbed four men from the Swaroop Nagar area.Stored in gunny bagsInitially they tried to mislead the police but later, during intensive interrogation, broke down and confessed their crime, the SSP said. They divulged information about the builder. It was revealed that huge amount of demonetised currency was stored in gunny bags in the builder’s ancestral house near Gole Chauraha in Swaroop Nagar. Police later nabbed the builder, who led the team to the site where the currency was stashed, Mr. Arya told PTI.Police also raided three hotels from where 11 people, including professor Santosh Yadav, were arrested, he said. Preliminary probe indicated that the cash was hidden with the intention of converting them into legal currency, the SP said, but discounted the possibility of any terror angle.The arrested were identified Khatri, Santosh Yadav, key liasioner Mohit Dhingra, Sanjay Agarwal, Manish Agarwal – all residents of Kanpur, Koteshwar Rao from Andhra Pardesh, Sanjay Kumar from Varanasi, Anil Yadav from Saharanpur. Santosh Pathak and Sanjay Rai — both from Mirzapur, Ram Asrey, Dhirendra, Sanjeev Agarwal, Omkar Yadav, Ali Husain, and a woman from Andhar Pardesh whose identity was not immediately known.
A trial court in North Goa on Thursday directed a Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO), who was the returning officer during the 2017 Assembly elections, to verify his complaint against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.The SDO had filed the complaint about Mr. Kejriwal’s appeal to voters at public meetings that they should accept money from other parties, but cast their votes only for the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP). Judicial Magistrate First Class Shantashri Sinai Kudchadkar directed SDO Gurudas Dessai to verify the contents of his police complaint made in January last year. The next hearing is scheduled on March 1. The complaint was initially filed as a non-cognisable offence at the Mapusa police station in North Goa, shortly after Mr. Kejriwal gave four speeches on January 8, 2017, as part of the election campaign. In December 2017, election officials moved the trial court at Mapusa to issue directions to the police to register the offence as an FIR under Sections 171 B (inducement) and 171 E (bribery) of the Indian Penal Code.
The death of 60-year-old Dalit activist, Bhanubhai Vankar, who set himself ablaze outside the Collector’s office in Patan protesting the delay in allotment of land to a Dalit family, triggered protests in north Gujarat. Thousands of people came out to block highways in the region.State authorities cancelled dozens of buses on several routes.Angry mobs that gathered at Gandhinagar Civil Hospital booed BJP legislator and Dalit community leader Karsan Solanki, who came to meet the family members when Mr. Vankar’s body was brought for post mortem. Mr. Solanki was forced to leave the place.The family had refused to take the body after post mortem till its demands like allotment of land, suspension of officials who ignored Mr. Vankar’s repeated pleas and the constitution of an SIT to probe his death were accepted. A PTI report late in the evening said the Gujarat government had accepted the demands.“This is not suicide, this is murder. This government forces Dalits to take the extreme step,” prominent Dalit activist and independent legislator Jignesh Mevani said. The community members would fight to get justice for Mr. Vankar’s family, he said.Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel also visited the family members and supporters of Mr. Vankar at the hospital.Mr. Vankar, a resident of Unjha town of Mehsana district, was an active member of the Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, led by Mr. Mevani. After he attempted self-immolation in front of the district collector’s office, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had said chief secretary J.N. Singh would conduct an inquiry and that appropriate action would be taken.Mr. Vankar had taken up the cause of a Dalit family living in Dudkha village in Patan district after the district administration delayed regularisation of the piece of land the family was allotted. Hemaben Vankar, a landless Dalit farm labourer, had alleged that the authorities were refusing to regularise the piece of land despite collecting ₹22,236 in 2013 for the transfer.In a memorandum submitted to the Collector a week ago, Hemaben, along with Bhanubhai Vankar, had threatened self-immolation if their case was not cleared. However, the administration apparently did not take the threat seriously.Though police were deployed outside the Patan Collector’s office and several Dalit activists were detained, Bhanubhai Vankar managed to set himself on fire. He succumbed to injuries at a hospital late on Thursday night.
The protesting lawyers of the Orissa High Court have decided to continue their cease work and relay hunger strike till March 5, when they will hold discussions with the Chief Justice to chalk out further course of action. Chief Justice Vineet Saran, on leave now, is likely to join on March 5.“The general body of the High Court Bar Association met here and unanimously resolved to continue the agitation activities till March 5 and take further action after holding discussions with the Chief Justice,” informed Association secretary Satyabrata Mohanty.The lawyers are boycotting courts since February 12 and are on relay hunger strike from February 19 demanding filling up of vacant judges’ posts in the High Court. More than 40% of the posts are vacant and there have been no appointments here since May 2015.
Students in some primary schools in West Bengal may be drinking water with high levels of arsenic, almost 60 times more than the permissible limit of 10 mcg/L (microgrammes per litre) prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).Between September 2016 and September 2017, researchers from the School of Environmental Studies, Jadavpur University, sent several letters to headmasters and teachers in charge of five primary schools in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, warning them about high arsenic contamination in the water being used by them.In the letters, Tarit Roychowdhury, director, School of Environmental Studies, asked the authorities to switch to alternative water sources. “Supplement of arsenic-free water is highly recommended. Installation of a deep tubewell/alternate source as well as an arsenic remedial plant on the school premises is recommended for the purpose,” said the letter written to the headmistress of the Medudandi Suiecegate Sishu Sikhsha Kendra (MSSSK) in the Basirhat I Block.The letter, dated September 15, 2017, puts the arsenic content in the school tubewell at almost 60 times the WHO limit.Researchers also recorded a high concentration of arsenic in the urine samples of children. A mean value of arsenic content in the urine of 45 children in the MSSSK is about 213 mcg/L, whereas the WHO’s permissible limit is between 3-26 mcg/L.“There is little that I can do but allow children to drink this arsenic-laced water. We have raised this issue a number of times but nothing has been done,” Suchitra Sarkar, headmistress of a primary school, told The Hindu. The headmistress said 76 students from pre-primary to Class IV are provided a mid-day meal in the school.“What is alarming is that in many schools, a mid-day meal is cooked using the same water source. So the children are not only drinking water highly contaminated with arsenic, but arsenic is getting into their system through food also,” Prof. Roychowdhury said.Problem at home tooThe high concentration of arsenic in the urine samples, finger nails and hair of the children is an indication that they might be drinking water with high arsenic content even at home, he added.“Children will only show manifestation like pigmentation of skin or keratosis when they grow older, at about 12 years of age,” said Dr. Kunal Kanti Majumdar, a public health expert. He added that long exposure to arsenic could be carcinogenic.Arsenic in groundwater has been reported from 83 of the 241 blocks in the State. Districts like North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Murshidabad and Malda have recorded a high concentration in groundwater. “We have inspected schools in Gaighata block and we will be soon issuing letters,” Professor Roychowdhury said.
In an important development before the next date of hearing in the High Court on the Kotkhai rape and murder of a school girl, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday arrested a local youth in connection with the case. Confirming this, a senior CBI officer said that the accused has been taken to Delhi for further investigations. The case snowballed into a big row after charges of political patronage surfaced against the then Virbhadra Singh government and the custodial death of an alleged accused Suraj.
The Jammu & Kashmir Government has expressed unwillingness to hold the much-delayed panchayat polls before August 2018. It is also pushing for holding by-polls to the solitary Anantnag Lok Sabha seat only next year due to the “prevailing security scenario”.An official at Raj Bhavan said Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met on April 17 in Srinagar and held “an elaborate discussion over the long-pending elections to urban local bodies and Panchayats”.Ms. Mufti, according to official sources in the Chief Minister’s office, has termed the current situation “unfavourable for panchayat polls”. She suggested they could be held after the Amarnath Yatra, which will end on August 26 this year. “Tourism remains a priority for the government. We want a healthy tourist season before we decide on holding panchayat polls,” said a senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader.Sources said the yatra will allow the State government to mobilise more paramilitary troops to J&K and “will be followed up by additional deployments from outside the State for the panchayat polls”.Volatile timesMs. Mufti shelved the panchayat polls scheduled in February, a decision forced by a worsening law and order situation and increasing encounters between militants and security forces in south Kashmir, which also resulted in civilian casualties.J&K held its first panchayat polls in 2011 after a gap of four decades and witnessed 80% turnout to fill seats in 4,378 Panchayats.
A local court issued a bailable warrant against former Union Minister Swami Chinmayanand, rejecting the Uttar Pradesh government’s plea for withdrawing a rape case against him. Hearing the application moved by the rape victim, chief judicial magistrate Shikha Pradhan on Thursday rejected the government move and issued a bailable warrant of ₹5,000. The court also directed the former Minister to be present in court on the next date of hearing on July 12. The government had earlier sent a letter to the district magistrate for withdrawing the case against Swami Chinmayanand, who was charged with raping his disciple and holding her hostage. The district administration had sent the letter to the CJM court.Victim seeks justiceThe victim, on the other hand, had sent letters to the court objecting to the government’s move.When contacted, the victim said the CJM court order proved that the government had made a mistake in making a recommendation in this regard. “Now the State government should help me in getting justice in this case,” she said. In 2011, the victim had alleged that she was kept at an ashram and raped by the former Minister. When she got pregnant, he allegedly forced her to undergo an abortion. She lodged an FIR at the Kotwali police station here and a chargesheet was filed after police investigation, but the Allahabad High Court stayed his arrest.
Disgruntled BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha on Saturday rubbished the fresh demands for special status to Bihar — raised by the Janata Dal (United) and seconded by his own party besides allies such as Lok Janshakti Party — as “crocodile tears” shed ahead of the general election.In a series of scathing tweets, Mr. Sinha, who represents Patna Sahib in the Lok Sabha and has been critical of the BJP leadership for quite some time, alleged “performance has given way to only propaganda” in Bihar where the NDA has been in power for nearly a year.He cautioned NDA “friends” to start performing or else there are “Arjuns” willing to take over as Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav’s challenge was knocking on the doors.“With the general elections knocking at our doors, the Crocodile Tears are back…and the drama starts unfolding once again. The ‘ruling coalition’ in Bihar (NDA), is demanding special status for Bihar, yet again…that too from their own Central NDA Govt…and publicly.!” Mr. Sinha tweeted.The remarks came in the backdrop of a recent statement by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who heads the JD(U), wherein he had made a fresh pitch for grant of special category status to Bihar and indicated that the demand would be put before the 15th Finance Commission.His demand drew support from Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, a BJP leader, and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who heads the LJP.“Is it not just propaganda for votes? Stooping down to rock bottom level out of an insatiable greed and desire to stay in power! Sadly, Performance has given way to only Propaganda. Endeavour for Growth and Development has been replaced by Trifling, Truancy, Sluggishness and Lip-Service,” the actor-turned-politician said in another tweet.Contrasting viewsNDA leaders in Bihar were not immediately available for comment on the latest outbursts of Mr. Sinha. Their discomfiture with his contrarian views has, however, been evident on occasions like a function held here two months ago, where he shared the stage with Mr. Yadav and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha.Mr. Modi had launched a veiled attack then on the Patna Sahib MP saying “BJP’s Shatrus (enemies)” should follow their mentor, referring to Mr. Yashwant Sinha’s announcement that he was severing ties with the BJP.
Residents of remote Bhainsadani village in Odisha’s Nuapada district on Sunday walked 15 km carrying a human skeleton and other articles to the local police station, seeking an inquiry.The skeleton, purported to be of Sukal Sai Paharia, a health worker posted in Bhainsadani panchayat, who was reportedly summoned by the police seven weeks ago, was traced to a forest on the outskirts of their village. “My husband was summoned by the police on April 19 last. Since then he had not returned home. Four villagers had gone to the forest on Saturday when they discovered a skeleton. I don’t know whose skeleton it was. But the towel, bag, mobile phone and slipper found near the skeleton were of my husband,” said Saubhagya Paharia, Sukal’s wife. Sukal’s family members alleged that the police had not disclosed his whereabouts ever since he was summoned by them on April 19. Villagers suspected that Sukal, the first post-graduate from the extremely backward Paharia community, died in police custody.Moreover, the Boden police also refused to receive a complaint from Ms. Paharia about her missing husband. With no option left, she had written to higher-ups of the Odisha police and subsequently to the National Human Rights Commission, seeking a direction to the Boden police to accept her complaint.
As many as 40 Ayurveda hospitals in Rajasthan did not admit any patient for five consecutive years since 2012, while no medical officer was posted in 645 dispensaries, according to a Comptroller and Auditor General report.Flagging serious lapses in the Department of Ayurveda, the CAG report said it incurred a total expenditure of ₹2,655.89 crore during the five years between 2012 and 2017, of which a huge component of up to 95.49% was spent on pay and allowances.The CAG report, which was tabled in the Rajasthan Assembly during the monsoon session last week, said no patient was admitted in 40 hospitals for five consecutive years, in 48 hospitals for four years in a row and in 49 hospitals for three straight years.‘No review’“Out of the 118 district hospitals, no patient was admitted in 60 hospitals during 2012-13, which increased to 79 in 2016-17. In spite of this trend, no review to reduce/relocate the staff was conducted,” the report said.Manpower deploymentScrutiny of deployment of manpower in healthcare centres in the State as of March 2017 revealed that deployment was disproportionate. Out of the total 3,577 dispensaries, no medical officers was found posted in 645 dispensaries, whereas two medical officers were posted in 40 dispensaries against the requirement of one officer in each dispensary.‘No medical officer’No medical officer or nurse/compounder was posted in 195 dispensaries, the CAG report said.During 2012-17, the expenditure on pay and allowances was found very high, which ranged between 87.97% and 95.49% of the total expenditure of Rs 2,655.89 crore, thereby leaving a very small percentage for core activities of the department such as procuring equipment and drugs and augmenting infrastructure.There was no regulation to ensure the quality of drugs sold by retailers in the market. Quality of drugsThe departmental pharmacies did not achieve the targets of production of drugs. The quality of drugs manufactured in government pharmacies was also not maintained.The government auditor, in its report, said that no new postgraduate course could be started in the Government Ayurveda College, Udaipur, after 1986 due to non-availability of qualified teachers. ‘No training’Further, practical training in surgery and gynaecology was not being provided to students as Ayurveda colleges did not have facilities for delivery and surgery cases.
The Esplanade Court recently acquitted three journalists who were dragged to court 22 years ago for allegedly defaming a public limited company by writing and publishing an article. On July 11, 1995, Shailendra Yeshwant wrote an article ‘Toxic wastes choke Vapi’s lifeline’ which was contributed and produced by Sanctuary Features and published in the newspaper News Times. The article talks about how untreated effluents were released in the Daman Ganga.United Phosphorus Limited engaged in the manufacture and marketing inter alia of pesticides alleged that the article affected its business and damaged the reputation of the company’s directors. It sued Mr. Yeshwant, Ramoji Rao (the Chief Editor of News Times), Ushodaya Publications (the printer and publisher of the newspaper, Ushodaya Enterprises Ltd., and Bittu Sahgal (the Chief Editor of the Sanctuary magazine) under Section 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.The order was dictated on August 4 and made available on the website on September 15. Judge K.G. Paldewar acquitted all five and said, “The company does not prove common intention printed in the article, knowing or having reason to believe that the same was defamatory and thereby committed an offence under Section 500.”The 108-page order said, “The article is not a defamatory statement and Mr. Yeshwant made the publication of the article for good faith in public interest covered as exceptions under Section 499 (defamation) and Section 500. The court said, “The government as well as Gujarat Pollution Control Board and Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation have been negligent in discharge of their statutory duties and they have by their inaction, connived or collaborated or abetted to the continued pollution by these 756 polluting units. The government, in particular, has shown little or no concern to the environment’s degradation in the State. It is guilty of total inaction in taking effective steps for protecting and/or improving the environment and thereby the quality of life.”Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Yeshwant said, “After 22 years, I only have to say, ‘Thank god it’s over’. It was very taxing for all of us to be present in court during all the hearings as opposed to the complainants.”