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Bihar

Over 2.5 million affected due to floods in Bihar

The flood situation in Bihar continued to remain grim on Tuesday with over 2.5 million people affected by it across the 12 districts of the state, officials said.
A road destroyed by flood waters in Katra block of Muzaffarpur, Bihar on July 15, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A road destroyed by flood waters in Katra block of Muzaffarpur, Bihar on July 15, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
The flood situation in Bihar continued to remain grim on Tuesday with over 2.5 million people affected by it across the 12 districts of the state, officials said.
 
In the last 24 hours, all the major rivers were flowing above the danger level, leading to embankment breaches. 
 
There were reports of fresh floods in three new districts of Saharsa, Katihar and Purnea.
 
Dozens of villages have been inundated that have forced people to flee their homes and seek shelter at safer places, a disaster management official said.
 
In the worst-hit Sitamarhi and Araria districts, roads have also been damaged.
 
The floods were caused by heavy rain in north Bihar and the catchment areas of major rivers in neighbouring Nepal.
 
However, Water Resources Department officials said the water level in rivers originating in Nepal was likely to decrease as rain in those areas have stopped.
 
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar carried out an aerial survey of the affected Seemanchal and Koshi region on Sunday and Monday. He will inform the Bihar Assembly on Tuesday about the situation.
 
To date, 196 relief camps have been set up in the affected areas, with 644 community kitchens providing food to the displaced people.
 
The Disaster Management Department said relief and rescue operations were continuing in the flood-affected areas. 
 
A total of 26 companies of the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force and Seema Sashatra Bal have been deployed to carry out the operations.
 
IANS

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Nitish visits AES-hit Muzaffarpur, faces protests

Hundreds of angry protesters staged a demonstration on Tuesday against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's visit to Muzaffarpur district, where 107 children have died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi visiting children with encephalitis symptoms at a hospital in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, on June 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi visiting children with encephalitis symptoms at a hospital in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, on June 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Hundreds of angry protesters staged a demonstration on Tuesday against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's visit to Muzaffarpur district, where 107 children have died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
 
The protest took place outside the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), where Nitish Kumar arrived with Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. 
 
The protesters, annoyed over poor medical treatment and lack of facilities, shouted slogans like "Chief Minister wapas jao (Go back Chief Minister)".
 
The Chief Minister and his deputy visited children admitted at the hospital as well as their parents and left without stopping to acknowledge the protesters.
 
The Chief Minister will hold a review meeting with the doctors and health officials later in the day to take stock of the situation.
 
Of the 107 victims, 88 died at SKMCH and 19 at the private Kejriwal Hospital. In both the hospitals, over 100 seriously ill children with symptoms of AES are undergoing treatment.
 
However, unofficial reports say the number of deaths is much higher because some children died in the villages before they could be taken to hospital.
 
On Sunday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had visited SKMCH to review the situation.
 
IANS
 

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BJP suffers shock defeats in Gorakhpur, Phulpur LS bye-elections

Samajwadi Party candidates backed by the Bahujan Samaj Party have inflicted shock defeats on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the March 11 bye-elections to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, about a year ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
 
Samajwadi Party workers celebrate their victory in UP LS bye-elections
Samajwadi Party (SP) candidates backed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have inflicted shock defeats on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the March 11 bye-elections to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, about a year ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
 
What made the loss even more humiliating for the BJP, which is in power at the Centre as well as in Uttar Pradesh, was the fact that the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats were held by its leaders Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Maurya, who had resigned after taking over as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of Uttar Pradesh.
 
The bye-election results have come a year after the BJP had scored a resounding win in the elections to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, held in February-March 2017, in which it won 312 seats in the 403-member House. Its allies Apna Dal (Soneylal) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party won nine and four seats, respectively.
 
The Samajwadi Party (SP), which was then ruling the state, could manage only 47 seats, while its ally Congress ended up with a single-digit tally of just 7.
 
The Bahujan Samaj Party of former Chief Minister Mayawadi picked up 19 seats and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) one. The Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal secured one seat and independents three seats.
 
As counting of votes was taken up in the bye-elections today, Samajwadi Party candidate Praveen Nishad won the Gorakhpur seat, defeating his BJP rival Upendra Shukla by a margin of 21,881 votes. In Phulpur, Nagendra Singh Patel of the SP prevailed by a margin of more than 59,000 votes over Kaushalendra Singh Patel of the BJP.
 
The BJP ended up on the losing side in Bihar, too, where its candidate Pradeep Kumar Singh lost to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) nominee Sarfaraz Alam in the bye-election for the Araria Lok Sabha seat by a margin of more than 57,000 votes. 
 
The vacancy in Araria was caused by the death of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Mohammad Taslimuddin in September last year.
 
In bye-elections for Assembly seats in Bihar, the BJP's Rinki Rani Pandey won the Bhabua seat by a margin of more than 15,000 votes while the RJD's Kumar Krishna Mohan defeated Aviram Sharma of the Janata Dal (United) by a margin of more than 35,000 votes in Jahanabad. The two seats had fallen vacant due to the deaths of RJD MLA Mudrika Singh Yadav and BJP MLA Anand Bhusan Pandey, respectively.
 
In Bihar, the bye-elections were the first electoral test for the RJD and Bihar's ruling Janata Dal (United) after the collapse of their grand alliance, which also included the Congress. JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar continued to be the Chief Minister of the state after forging an aliance with the BJP.
 
Adityanath said the party accepted the people's verdict in Uttar Pradesh and would work on ironing out the flaws. "There are lessons for us in the results," he said.
 
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Gorakhpur was considered to be the Chief Minister's bastion, with Adityanath having won the seat for five consecutive terms from 1998 onwards. Before that, his mentor Mahant Avedyanath had won the seat for three consecutive terms from 1989 to 1998, the first time as a candidate of the Hindu Mahasabha and then twice as a candidate of the BJP.
 
Adityanath, 45, is the head of the Gorakhnath Mutt in Gorakhpur, which has a huge following in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and other parts. 
 
Phulpur, which was the constituency of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was won by the BJP for the first time in 2014. After Nehru passed away in 1964, the seat was won by his sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit in a bye-election that year and retained by her in 1967. V P Singh, who served as Prime Minister in 1989-90, had won the seat as a Congress candidate in 1971.
 
Samajwadi Party leader and former state chief minister Akhilesh Yadav thanked the people of Uttar Pradesh for the victory as well as BSP leader Mayawati for her support. Mr. Yadav met Ms. Mayawati to convey his gratitude to her and her party.
 
Ms. Mayawati's decision to back the Samajwadi Party nominee in the bye-elections caught the BJP unawares. Adityanath called their understanding as the coming together of "a snake and a mongoose", but it was the Opposition which had the last laugh today. The arrangement between the two parties has given rise to speculation about a grand alliance by the Opposition parties against the BJP and its allies in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
The BJP, on its part, tried to explain the defeat by saying that the low turnout of voters -- 49% in Gorakhpur and 38% in Phulpur -- was a factor. The party's leaders also said they did not anticipate the understanding between the SP and the BSP and could not respond to the new situation in the short time available to it. The results suggest that the BSP was able to transfer its votes to the SP candidate.
 
The Congress candidates -- Sureetha Kareem in Gorakhpur and Manish Mishra in Phulpur Lok Sabha -- ended up losing their deposits.
 
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JD (U)-led "grand alliance" heads for handsome win in Bihar Assembly elections

The "grand alliance" led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, was headed for a handsome victory on Sunday as counting of votes progressed in the crucial and bitterly-contested elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly.
 
Grand Alliance heads towards big win in Bihar Assembly elections
 
The "grand alliance" led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), which includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, was headed for a handsome victory today as counting of votes progressed in the crucial and bitterly-contested elections to the 243-member Bihar Legislative Assembly.
 
As counting trends became available for 230 of the 243 seats, the JD (U) and its allies were ahead in 125, past the half-way mark for a simple majority, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had established leads in 96. Others accounted for nine seats.
 
The campaigning for the elections was marked by sharp and bitter exchanges of barbs among the main contestants.
 
The elections were seen as a major test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to the voters and as a battle for survival for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of the JD(U) and his foe-turned-ally, RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
 
Polling in the elections was held in five phases on October 12, October 16, October 28, November 1 and November 5, and more than 56.80 percent voting was registered.
 
Polling was by and large peaceful across the state and no major untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
 
A total of 67063004 electors, including 31282535 women, were eligible to exercise their franchise in the elections and there were, in all, 3450 candidates, including 272 women, in the fray.
 
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The Election Commission had set up 65349 polling stations and made elaborate arrangements to ensure a freee and fair poll.
 
Counting of votes began at 8 am today amidst tight security at 39 centres across the state and al the results are expected to be in by this evening. 
 
All counting centres are situated in the district headquarters. There are two counting centres separated by a common road in Saharsa distict and one each in the 37 other districts.
 
The Election Commission ensured 24x7 three-tier security at all counting centres, with the inner cordon being manned by personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed at all counting centres.
 
The commission also deployed an observer each in all 243 constituencies to oversee the counting process.
  
Exit polls had produced varying forecasts, with some putting the "grand alliance" ahead and others predicting a victory for the NDA.
 
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Nitish Kumar returns as Chief Minister of Bihar

Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the fourth time in Patna on Sunday evening, two days after his loyalist-turned-political foe Jitan Ram Manjhi resigned from the position hours before a trust vote in the state legislative assembly on Friday.
 
Nitish Kumar takes oath as Chief Minister of Bihar
Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Bihar for the fourth time here this evening, two days after his loyalist-turned-political foe Jitan Ram Manjhi resigned from the position hours before a trust vote in the state legislative assembly here on Friday.
 
Mr Kumar, 63, and 22 Ministers, including three women, were administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi at a ceremony that began around 5 pm today.
 
The ministers are : Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Vijendra Prasad Yadav, Ramai Ram, Damodar Raut, Narendra Narayan Yadav, P.K. Shahi, Shyam Rajak, Awadesh Kushwaha, Lesie Singh, Dulal Chand Goswami, Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh, Shrawan Kumar, Ramlashan Ram Raman, Ramdhani Singh, Jai Kumar Singh, Manoj Kumar Singh, Javed Iqbal Ansari, Bima Bharti, Ranju Geeta, Baidyanath Sahni, Vinod Singh Yadav and Naushad Alam.
 
Of them, 20 had resigned from the Manjhi government while the other two --  P K Shahi and Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lallan Singh -- had been removed by the former chief minister.
 
Mr Kumar has returned as Chief Minister nine months after he had stepped down on May 17 last year, taking moral responsibility for the defeat suffered by his party in the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
 
His return ended about two weeks of political uncertainty in the state following a bitter power struggle between him and Mr Manjhi.
 
Mr Manjhi finally met Mr Tripathi and handed in his papers on Friday morning. Shortly thereafter, Mr Kumar had called on the Governor and staked his claim to form the next government. Mr Tripathi had invited him to form the new government and asked him to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly within three weeks.
 
Mr Manjhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Miister Akhilesh Yadav, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala were among those who attended the ceremony.
 
Mr Manjhi's resignation came after it became clear that he did not have the numbers to win a trust vote in the 243-member assembly even though the  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has a score to settle with Mr Kumar, had thrown its weight behind him.
 
Mr Kumar has been claiming that he has the support of 130 MLAs in the House, including 99 of his own party, 24 from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and five of the Congress.
 
Ahead of his meeting with the Governor, Mr Kumar, a former Union Minister, had promised on Friday to provide good governance if given another chance to serve the people of Bihar and apologised to them for his decision to resign on May 17 last year after his party's poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections in the state.
 
Mr Kumar's party had ended up with just two of the 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its erstwhile partner in the state, won as many as 22.
 
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of former Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, an ally of the BJP, got five seats. The Congress won two seats, the NCP one, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) four and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party won three.
 
On June 16, 2013, the JD (U) had formally withdrawn from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and ended its 17-year-old partnership with the BJP in Bihar after it became increasingly clear at that stage that Mr Narendra Modi would be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party.
 
Mr Manjhi, who was the Minister for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Backward and Economically Backward Classes Welfare, was handpicked by Mr Kumar to succeed him on May 19 last year.
 
"I assure the people of Bihar that if I get an opportunity again I will serve them in the same spirit I did for eight and a half years earlier. Good governance was and will remain my priority," Mr Kumar told journalists on Friday.
 
"I also apologise for my decision to quit. I will never take an emotional decision again. Now I am ready to lead from the front," he said.
 
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The JD (U) has 115 members in the assembly, and most of them back Mr Kumar. The BJP has 88 members and the support of three independents.
 
Mr Kumar had staked claim to form the next government two weeks ago after the JD (U) removed Mr Manjhi as the leader of its legislature party and elected him to the position to enable him to return as Chief Minister. Mr Manjhi had refused to oblige and was expelled from the party. He then decided to seek a trust vote, banking on the support of the BJP.
 
Mr Kumar said Mr Manjhi had decided to quit after all the efforts made by the BJP to wean away MLAs from the JD (U) had failed.
 
Mr Manjhi, however, told journalists that he had decided to quit to protect MLAs supporting him, saying they had received death threats in the past few days. 
 
Mr Kumar has a degree in electrical engineering from the Bihar College of Engineering, Patna, now the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Patna. He joined politics after a brief stint in the Bihar State Electricity Board.
 
At the Centre, Mr Kumar has handled the portfolios of Railways and Agriculture.
 
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Polling underway for 41 seats in final phase of LS elections

Polling was underway on Monday amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.
 
Ninth phase of 16th LS polls underway
Polling was underway today amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.
 
Thousands of voters turned out to exercise their franchise in these constituencies and long queues of voters  were seen at many polling stations despite the sweltering heat,
 
All eyes were, however, on Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the second constituency from which BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is trying to make his maiden entry into the Lok Sabha. His main rivals in Varanasi are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal and local Congress leader Ajay Rai.
 
Mr Modi is also in the fray from Vadodara in Gujarat, where polling was held on April 30.
 
Around 1.6 million people are eligible to cast their votes in Varanasi in what is clearly the keenest contest of the 2014 elections. There were long queues of voters outside polling stations in most areas of the city.
 
The authorities have deployed around 45,000 security personnel to ensure free and fair polls in the constituency. More than 12,000 polling booths were put under surveillance with CCTV cameras and proceedings at more than 300 polling stations were being videographed.
 
The Election Commission has deployed Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar as a special observer for the constituency following complaints of bias against the local election officials by the BJP. Several senior police officers of Uttar Pradesh are also camping in the city.
 
The constituencies that voted today included 18 in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in West Bengal and six in Bihar. They have a total of 66.13 million voters and there were 606 candidates in the fray.
 
The first phase of polling in the long drawn out election process was held on April 7. Counting of votes for all constituencies will be taken up on May 16 and all results are expected by that evening. Two members in the 545-member Lok Sabha are nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian community.
 
Other prominent candidates in the fray in Uttar Pradesh include Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo and former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav from Azamgarh and UP Legislative Assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey from Doomariaganj.
 
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Union Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh is contesting from Kushinagar and popular Bhojpuri film actor Ravi Kishan from Jaunpur, both on the Congress ticket. Veteran BJP leader Kalraj Mishra is contesting the Deoria seat. Quami Ekta Dal (QED) leader Mukhtar Ansari, who withdrew from the contest in Varanasi and later announced his support for the Congress, is in the contest from Ghosi.
 
In Bihar, the prominent candidates include well-known Hindi filmmaker Prakash Jha, who is trying his luck yet again, this time as a Janata Dal (United) candidate, and former Union Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
 
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has fielded former Union Ministers Sudip Bandopadhyay, Dinesh Trivedi in Barrackpore and Sougata Roy in Dum Dum and actors Dipak Adhikari (Dev) from Ghatal and Tapas Paul in Krishinagar.
 
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has put up Ms Subhashini Ali against Mr Trivedi in Barrackpore, while the BJP has fielded well-known magician P C Sorcar (Junior) in Barasat. West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury is the party's candidate in Berhampore.
 
The TMC had won 14 of the 17 seats that went to the polls today in West Bengal in the 2009 elections, while the CPI, SUCI and Congress had won one each. The TMC and the Congress were in an alliance then. The CPI (M) had not won a single seat from these in 2009.
 
There are a total of 328 candidates, including 18 women, in the 18 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, which have a total electorate of 31.6 million voters.
 
In Bihar, more than 8.8 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the six constituences which have a total of 90 candidates in the fray.
 
The 17 constituencies that went to the polls in West Bengal have a total electorate of  25.61 million and 188 candidates in the fray.
 
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Five killed, 83 injured in serial blasts near Modi's rally venue in Patna

At least five people were killed and as many as 83 others suffered injuries in a series of low-intensity blasts that occurred near the Gandhi Maidan in Patna shortly before Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed a huge rally there on Sunday afternoon.
Serial blasts rock Patna; 5 killed, over 80 injured
At least five people were killed and as many as 83 others suffered injuries in a series of low-intensity blasts that occurred near the Gandhi Maidan here shortly before Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed a huge rally there this afternoon.
 
In all, there were seven blasts, including one in a toilet on platform number 10 at the Patna railway station, about two and a half kilometres from the ground. The other six explosions occurred around the Gandhi Maidan, the venue of the rally, which was attended by thousands of people.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told newspersons that one person suffered injuries in the first blast at the railway station and his condition was stated to be critical.
 
He said the other five blasts occurred around the Gandhi Maidan within the space of 15-20 minutes.
 
Mr Kumar said that, in all, 83 people were taken to the Patna Medical College Hospital, where 38 were admitted for treatment while the rest were discharged after first-aid. He said the condition of a few of the injured was serious.
 
Police sources said four unexploded bombs were found later and had been defused by bomb disposal squads. One policemen suffered injuries while defusing a bomb.
 
Mr Kumar said the police were questioning some suspects and had gathered valuable clues. He said he was confident the police would find those responsible for the blasts. 
 
He said there were no intelligence inputs about the possibility of such blasts. According to him, the police had made elaborate arrangements for Mr Modi's rally and it was a matter of serious concern that such an incident had occurred.
 
He said that the way in which the serial blasts were carried out indicated that somebody had planned to vitiate the atmosphere in the state.
 
The Chief Minister announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the blasts. He said the state government would meet the medical expenses of those injured in the explosions.
 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts and called for urgent steps to identify and ake action against those responsibility. He also appealed to the people to maintain peace and calm.
 
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Dr Singh spoke to Mr Kumar to enquire about the situation and called for immediate and firm action against those responsible.
 
He also assured the Chief Minister of all assistance from the Centre in the investigations.
 
Mr Kumar held a meeting with senior state government and police officials to take stock of the situation.
 
In Delhi, Union Minister of State for Home R P N Singh told journalists that the explosions were caused by crude devices.
 
Condemning the blasts, he said teams from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the National Security Guard (NSG) had been rushed to Patna to probe the incident.
 
He said the Ministry of Home Affairs was in continuous touch with the Bihar government in this regard.
 
The rally continued, with none of the speakers, including Mr Modi making any reference to it. However, towards the end, Mr Modi did urge people to return home from the meeting in a peaceful manner.
 
Later, he condoled the loss of lives in a post on micro-blogging site Twitter. 
 
"Blasts in Patna are deeply saddening & unfortunate. Condolences with families of deceased & prayers with injured. I appeal for peace & calm," he said.
 
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Centre okays additional assistance of Rs. 1813.75 crore for Karnataka, Bihar

File photo of Amit Shah
File photo of Amit Shah
Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah today approved the advance release of Rs. 400 crore for Bihar and Rs. 1200 crore for Karnataka from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) on "account basis" after reviewing the ongoing rescue and relief efforts of flood-affected states.
 
An official press release said that the decision on the advance release in view of the severity of the flood situation  and the fund positions in the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) in the two states.
 
The Minister also approved the advance release of the second instalment of the Centre’s share of SDRF amounting to Rs.  213.75 crore to Bihar for 2019-20.
 
The release said the states of Karnataka and Bihar had apprised the Centre of the paucity of funds in the SDRF account, resulting in delay in providing relief assistance to the affected people and requested for release of advance additional financial assistance from NDRF. The State of Bihar had also requested for advance release of the second instalment of the Centre’s share of SDRF for 2019-20.
 
During the South West Monsoon, 2019, 13 States have been affected by unprecedented floods and landslides. In pursuance of a significant decision taken by the Union Home Minister in the High Level Committee (HLC) meeting held on 19th August, 2019, even before receipt of memorandum from the concerned State Government for seeking additional financial assistance from NDRF, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) for 13 States. IMCTs have so far visited 12 States and based on the interim memorandum submitted by States, interim reports have been submitted by IMCTs in respect of Bihar and Karnataka. 
 
The Central Government has been providing full support to the State Governments by mobilizing and providing timely logistics and financial resources to supplement efforts of the State Governments to deal with the situation effectively in the wake of floods and landslides. The logistics support provided includes an adequate number of teams of National Disaster Response Force, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard helicopters, Army columns, Navy & Coast Guard personnel along with necessary rescue equipment, the release said.
 
"Government of India supplements the effort of the State Government by providing assistance for the relief of immediate nature through SDRF and  per established procedure. An SDRF has been constituted for each State. The Central Government contributes 75% for General Category States and 90% for North-Eastern and Hilly States of the SDRF allocation each year. The first charge of relief expenditure is on SDRF and in the cases of calamities of severe nature, it is supplemented from NDRF as per established procedure, the release added.
 
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Cabinet Secretary chairs NCMC meeting to review flood situation in Bihar

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The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, today reviewed the Bihar flood situation.
 
The State Government informed the committee that 16 districts were affected by floods due to extremely heavy rainfall and high level of water in the rivers, an official press release said.
 
Extensive evacuation, rescue and relief efforts have been undertaken by the State Government machinery, in which all assistance has been rendered by the NDRF and other Central agencies, it said.
 
Twenty teams of the NDRF have been deployed in the State of which six have been located in Patna, which has witnessed very heavy rains and waterlogging over the past three days.
 
Two helicopters of the Air Force are currently deployed in rescue and relief operations. Four heavy-duty pumps, made available by the Ministry of Coal will reach Patna today. These are capable of pumping out about 3000 gallons per minute from the water-logged areas.
 
The state government has ensured essential supplies of food and drinking water in the affected areas. efforts are towards the restoration of electricity in flood-affected areas.
 
While teams from Central Ministries have already carried out an assessment of damage in the State, a fresh visit would be made to take stock of the current situation.
 
IMD has stated that while there has been very heavy rainfall in the State over the past few days, the situation is improving now.
 
The Cabinet Secretary took stock of the current situation, preparedness, rescue and relief operations and directed that all assistance, as sought by the state, be provided to meet the crisis.
 
Senior officials of the Ministries of Home, Defence, Coal and Water Resources, as well as those from NDMA, NDRF, IMD and Central Water Commission attended the meeting. Chief Secretary and other senior officers from the State Government participated in the meeting through Video Conference.
 
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Heavy rains continue in Bihar, claim 24 lives

Heavy rains continued in Bihar for the third consecutive day on Sunday, throwing normal life out of gear, officials said, adding that over 24 people have lost their lives so far.
A scene in Patna on September 28, 2019, where heavy rains have caused waterlogging in many areas and affected normal life. (Photo: IANS)
A scene in Patna on September 28, 2019, where heavy rains have caused waterlogging in many areas and affected normal life. (Photo: IANS)
Heavy rains continued in Bihar for the third consecutive day on Sunday, throwing normal life out of gear, officials said, adding that over 24 people have lost their lives so far.
 
The Met Office has predicted more rain in the next 24 hours and the state government has issued a 'red alert'.
 
The unexpected 'heavy to extremely heavy rain' has so far claimed the lives of over 24 people - mostly drowned, across the state, officials of the disaster management department said here.
 
The water level in major rivers including Ganga, Koshi, Gandak, Bagmati, Mahananda, are on the rise, threatening to breach embankments at many places.
 
The water resources department has alerted the concerned officials and asked the district authorities to take measures to deal with any possibility.
 
The Centre has already deployed teams of National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force for rescue and relief operations in vulnerable places.
 
According to weather department officials, state capital Patna has received 151 mm rain since Saturday -- a record in recent years.
 
Patna is now facing a flood-like situation with water all around. People have been forced to stay indoors as most of the roads in the narrow lanes were waterlogged.
 
Boats are being deployed in several localities to help people.
 
"This is the first time I have seen boats plying on the water-logged roads in Patna, it is new for us," Sanket Jha, a college student of Rajendra Nagar colony, said.
 
"Entire Patna is water-logged because of choked drainage. It has caused havoc in residential localities and exposed the Patna Municipal Corporation," Lakhender Mahto, a retired school teacher, told IANS here.
 
The rain has also affected the movement of trains, road traffic as well as flight operations. Twelve long route trains and several passenger trains have been cancelled.
 
There were reports of damage to the National Highways at several places in north Bihar districts.
 
The flood water has also entered houses, shops and hospitals at many places in the state.
 
According to reports, water entered the residence of Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi in Rajendra Nagar.
 
Water also made its way to the residence former Chief Minister Satender Narayan Singh on Boring road, BJP MP Rajeev Pratap Rudy, and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi in Patna.
 
IANS
 

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Heavy rains disrupt train services, life in Bihar

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Train services were temporarily suspended on the Samastipur-Darbhanga and Gaya-Koderma routes in Bihar due to continuing heavy rains on Saturday morning. Some trains from the Ara-Sasaram-Pandit Deendayal Upadhayay junction were also cancelled following waterlogging on the tracks, a railway official said.
 
Rajesh Kumar, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of East Central Railway (ECR), said the train services have been temporarily suspended on the Samastipur-Darbhanga rail section. "Several trains have been affected," he said.
 
According to Kumar, heavy rains have stalled rail traffic on Gaya-Koderma route for five hours and services resumed at 7.30 on Saturday morning.
 
The state Disaster Management Department officials said heavy rains have affected normal life across the state since Thursday and many districts are facing floods. A red alert was sounded in the state on Friday after the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted heavy to extremely heavy rainfall over the next three days in 14 of the state's 38 districts.
 
"In view of alert, all the government and private run schools have been ordered shut till September 29 in these districts," officials said.
 
Disaster Management Department Principal Secretary Pratyay Amrit said he has alerted all the district's where heavy to extremely heavy rains are expected on Saturday and Sunday. "I have asked the district officials to be fully prepared to face any situation," he said.
 
Water Resources Department officials said water levels in all the rivers in the state were rising leading to inundation in towns and rural areas and putting pressure on the embankments.
 
According to officials, water gushed into dozens of villages in Muzaffarpur, West Champaran, East Champaran, Darbhanga and Bhagalpur. In Muzaffarpur, heavy rainfall has resulted in waterlogging in the entire town. "The town is submerged due to failure of drainage system and the water has entered the Sadar Hospital," said an official.
 
IANS
 

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Bye-elections on October 16 to fill vacancies from UP, Bihar in RS

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) today said it would hold bye-elections on October 16 to fill two casual vacancies in the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar caused by the recent deaths of former Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and former Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani.
 
Jaitley died on August 24 and Jethmalani on September 8. In the normal course, their tenures would have lasted till April 2, 2024 and July 7, 2022, respectively.
 
An official press release said the notification for the bye-elections would be issued on September 27 and the  last date for filing nominations is October 4.
 
Scrutiny of nominations will be done on October 5 and the last date for withdrawal of candidatures is October  9.
 
Polling will be held from 9 am to 4 pm on October 16 and  counting of votes will begin at 5 pm on the same day.
 
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13 die in Bihar lightning strikes

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At least 13 people, including women and children, were killed and nearly half a dozen injured in incidents of lightning strikes across Bihar in last 24 hours, an official said here on Wednesday.
 
Deaths were reported from Kaimur, East Champaran, Jehanabad, Gaya, Patna, Vaishali and Muzaffarpur, a Bihar State Disaster Department official said.
 
According to officials, five deaths were reported from Kaimur, three from East Champaran and one each in the remaining districts.
 
"The state government has ordered ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh each to the next-of-kin of those who lost their lives," an official of the Disaster Management Department said.
 
According to the weather office, lightning strikes are usually reported during the June-September monsoon season.
 
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Two Patna cops suspended for not checking Union Minister son's car

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Two Bihar Police officials have been suspended on Sunday for their failure to check the documents of a vehicle being used here by the son of Union Minister Ashwani Choubey, officials said.
 
Patna Police Commissioner Anand Kishor suspended the two policemen on duty -- an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) and a Constable -- for failing to check the documents of the vehicle of Choubey's son Arjit.
 
According to a district officials, Kishor had asked the two police personnel to check the vehicle in which Arjit Choubey, his wife and mother were travelling. The police stopped the vehicle but were unable to check the documents.
 
Kishor, who has been personally monitoring the ongoing vehicle checking drive, ordered the suspensions of ASI Devpal Paswan and Constable Dilip Chandra.
 
IANS

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Three of a family shot dead in Bihar

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Three members of a family were shot dead over an old dispute in Bihar's Sitamarhi district on Monday, police said.
 
Subodh Kumar, officer in-charge of Suppi police station, said: "While Salman Khan (30) and Ejaj Khan (32) were on their way to appear in the court of the SDO, half a dozen criminals in a Scorpio hit their motorcycles near Akhta village on the Suppi-Sitamarhi road and opened indiscriminate firing. Both died on the spot."
 
"Later, they (criminals) forcibly entered a house in Akhta village and shot dead Shahjahan Nisha (40)," he added.
 
All the three deceased were close relatives.
 
Tension gripped the village after the incident and police forces have been deployed to control the situation.
 
IANS
 

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Bihar: Govt engineer charged with working for three departments

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An FIR has been registered in Kishanganj police station in Bihar against a government engineer for simultaneously working and drawing salaries from three departments for the last 30 years.
 
The accused, Suresh Ram, has been absconding after he was asked to show documents by a senior government official.
 
According to the FIR copy, Suresh was first appointed as a junior engineer in the state road construction department on February 20, 1988. Next year, he was offered a job in the water resources department where he assumed charge in Patna on July 28, 1989. Suresh was offered yet another job under the same department the same year and was posted at Bhim Nagar East Embankment in Supaul district.
 
The matter came to light after Ram's job details were revealed through the Comprehensive Financial Management System (CFMS), adopted by the Finance Department of Bihar to manage income, expenditure, and assets of employees. Details such as the Aadhaar number, date of birth, PAN submissions are mandatory for all state government employees.
 
Ram also got time-bound promotions in each post and was about to retire in a couple of years.
 
Superintendent of Police (SP), Kishanganj, Kumar Ashish said that an FIR has been registered based on the statement of Madhusudan Kumar Karn, executive engineer, Building Construction Department. 
 
The absconding engineer has been booked under various sections of the IPC. The police have formed a 6-member team including Kishanganj police station in-charge Narayan Singh, the investigating officer, to nab the accused.
 
The SP said the investigating officer has been asked to move the local court to obtain an arrest warrant against the accused. "If Ram is not arrested, we will seek his property attachment order from the court," he added.
 
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Bihar Police rifles fail during gun salute to deceased CM

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In a major embarrassment to the Nitish Kumar government, Bihar Police failed to complete the 21-gun salute tradition during the cremation of former Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra.
 
Jagannath Mishra passed away on August 19 and the cremation took place at Balua Bazar on Wednesday amid with full state honours.
 
In accordance with the tradition, a 21-gun salute had to be given to the departed soul. As the 21 policemen got ready to fire from their guns, none of the guns could actully fire. The policemen tried their best but not a single gun could actually be fired, the police said. 
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and other senior police officials were present during the ceremony.
 
According to eye-witnesses, even senior officers tried to make the guns work but failed to find any solution. Finally, the cremation rituals were completed, but without the gun salute.
 
The senior officials refused to comment on this. Supaul Superintendent of Police Mrityunjay Chaudhary said: "We will initiate a probe in the matter and take action against the guilty persons". 
 
IANS
 

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Ex-Bihar CM Jagannath Mishra passes away

Jagannath Mishra (File photo: IANS)
Jagannath Mishra (File photo: IANS)
Former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra died on Monday following cardiac arrest, his family said. He was 82.
 
Nitish Mishra, son of the three-time Chief Minister, told IANS: "He passed away around 9.45 a.m. following cardiac arrest."
 
He said his father had been ill for some time.
 
Mishra had been suffering from cancer and other ailments and was receiving treatment at a Delhi hospital.
 
Once a powerful figure for the Congress in Bihar politics, Mishra first became Chief Minister in 1975 and then returned to office in 1980 and 1989.
 
IANS

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Six new AES cases reported from Bihar's Muzaffarpur

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A month after 153 children died of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar's Muzaffarpur, six fresh cases were reported in the district on Saturday, leading to panic among health officials.
 
According to district health officials, two of the six children admitted at the Shri Krishna Memorial College Hospital (SKMCH) are critical. "Four children are undergoing treatment in the general ward, while two are in the Intensive Care Unit," officials said.
 
Cases of AES declined in Bihar since the arrival of monsoon last month.
 
Till date, 132 children have died of AES at SKMCH and 21 at Kejriwal Hospital in Muzaffarpur. More than 650 cases of AES have been reported this year. 
 
IANS
 

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32 killed by lightning in Bihar

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At least 32 people, including women and children, were killed and over a dozen injured in incidents of lightning strikes across Bihar in the last 24 hours, an official said on Wednesday.
 
Eight deaths were reported in Jamui, seven in Aurangabad, five in Banka, three each in Bhagalpur and Rohtas districts followed by two deaths in Nalanda and one death each in Gaya, Munger, Katihar and Araria districts.
 
"The state government has ordered ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh each to the kin of those who lost their lives," said an official of the Disaster Management Department.
 
According to the weather office, lightning strikes occur in the state during the June-September monsoon season.
 
IANS

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Opposition disrupts Bihar Assembly, demands discussion on mob-lynching

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Opposition parties -- the RJD, Congress and CPI-ML -- created a ruckus in the Bihar Assembly on Monday demanding a discussion and strict action in incidents of mob-lynching at different places across the state. They also staged a protest outside the Assembly with placards in their hands.
 
Soon after the Assembly proceedings started for the day, Opposition members demanded a discussion on the rising number of mob-lynching incidents and action against the accused.
 
Members of the RJD, Congress and CPI-ML shouted slogans disrupting the proceedings during the question hour.
 
Last week, four people were lynched in two different places in the state.
 
In another case of street justice in a village in Saran district, three men were allegedly thrashed to death and one was critically injured by villagers over suspicion of cattle theft on Friday. The same day, another man was beaten to death in Vaishali district.
 
Opposition leaders blamed the state government led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for not being tough against mob-lynching.
 
IANS
 

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Lok Sabha member Ramchandra Paswan passes away

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Lok Sabha member Ramchandra Paswan, younger brother of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, died at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital here on Sunday due to cardiac arrest, the family said. He was 56.
 
The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader passed away around 10.30 a.m. He was admitted to the hospital a week ago.
 
A four-time MP, Ramchandra Paswan represented Bihar's Samastipur in the Lok Sabha. He is survived by his wife Sunaina Kumari, two sons and a daughter. 
 
IANS
 

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3 suspected cattle thieves lynched to death in Bihar's Saran

Police personnel at the site where three men were allegedly thrashed to death and one critically injured by villagers over suspicion of cattle theft in Bihar's Saran district on July 19, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Police personnel at the site where three men were allegedly thrashed to death and one critically injured by villagers over suspicion of cattle theft in Bihar's Saran district on July 19, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
In another case of street justice in a Bihar village, three men were allegedly thrashed to death and one critically injured by villagers over suspicion of cattle theft on Friday, police said.
 
The deceased were identified as Naushad Quraishi, Raju Nut and Videsh Nut. The incident took place in Pithori Nandlal village under Baniyapur police station in Saran district, according to the police. 
 
"Four suspected cattle thieves were caught by villagers, three were beaten badly and they died on the way to the hospital. One was seriously injured and was admitted to a hospital. Police have arrested the three accused in the case, but it was not a case of mob lynching," said Saran Superintendent of Police Hari Kishore Rai.
 
Police have lodged a case of murder against half-a-dozen unidentified people.
 
IANS
 

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6 Bihar districts stare at flood as rains swell rivers

People wade through flood waters to higher places in Forbesganj, Araria district of Bihar on July 13, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
People wade through flood waters to higher places in Forbesganj, Araria district of Bihar on July 13, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Rising water levels in many rivers due to continuous rain had created a flood-like situation in as many as six districts of Bihar and had affected rail services, officials said on Saturday.
 
Rail services were affected as flood waters submerged tracks at many places. Several trains had either been diverted or cancelled, East Central Railway Chief PRO Rajesh Kumar told IANS.
 
A railway official, however, said the train services were resumed on Saturday morning.
 
According to officials, the water level in Koshi river is increasing continuously and at the Gandak barrage it has risen sharply due to heavy rain in the Terai region of Nepal. 
 
Stating that the state government is on high alert to tackle the situation, Pratyay Amrit, Principal Secretary at the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority, said six districts -- Sheohar, Sitamarhi, East Champaran, Madhubani, Araria and Kishanganj -- had been affected. 
 
The relief and rescue works were underway, he added. 
 
According to a state disaster department official, the rising water levels of Koshi, Gandak, Budhi Gandak, Ganga and Bagmati have caused panic among the people living along the river banks.
 
According to reports, hundreds of people have fled or are fleeing their homes in Supaul, Muzaffarpur, East Champaran, West Champaran, Araria and Kishanganj districts.
 
The Water Resources Department had issued a high alert in vulnerable districts, particularly those that border Nepal, said an official.
 
North Bihar districts received a record rainfall during the last 24 hours with East Champaran reporting 214.92 mm rain, Sitamarhi 154.55 mm and Muzaffatpur 125.15 mm, said Met Department officials.
 
In Motihari, district headquarters of East Champaran, incessant rainfall for the last four days caused waterlogging in the town. District Magistrate Raman Kumar had ordered closing of schools and other educational institutions till July 15, district disaster officer Anil Kumar said.
 
Schools in Araria and Kishanganj districts have also been closed.
 
Though the rising water levels have increased pressure on embankments at several places, officials claimed they were safe and there was no need to panic. The state government has alerted engineers concerned and asked them to keep 24-hour vigil. 
 
"All engineers have been directed to be ready with necessary equipment and boulders to face any situation and protect the embankments," an official of Water Resource Department said.
 
IANS
 

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Super 30's Anand Kumar suffering from brain tumour

Anand Kumar (File photo: IANS)
Anand Kumar (File photo: IANS)
Patna-based educationist and founder of the 'Super 30' programme Anand Kumar recently revealed that he is suffering from a brain tumour.
 
Kumar, whose life is the subject of the new Hrithik Roshan-starrer "Super 30", has opened up about his battle with acoustic neuroma, a non-cancerous tumour.
 
In an interview with a wire agency, Kumar said that trouble began in 2014, when he was "unable to hear" in his right ear. Tests revealed nearly 90 per cent of his hearing ability in the ear had been destroyed.
 
Kumar then got himself checked at Delhi's Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. "They told me I had no issues with my ear. Instead a tumour had developed in the nerve that runs from ear to brain," he recalled.
 
Due to his health conditions, Kumar, who is currently on medication, wanted his biopic to be completed as soon as possible.
 
Kumar recalled that the film's writers requested him to give permission to start work on the project as soon as possible. "You have no idea of life and death, so I wanted this biopic to be made while I was alive," he added.
 
Talking about the film, he had earlier told IANS: "Hrithik is a huge star and has a global reach. So, I believe people will get to know the essence of my life in detail now."
 
"Super 30" releases on Friday.
 
IANS

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