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Central medical teams to strengthen management of AES cases in Bihar

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday directed that five teams of senior paediatricians and paramedics be sent immediately to help manage the cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome/Japanese Encephalitis in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.
Children with encephalitis symptoms being treated at a hospital in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. (Photo: IANS)
Children with encephalitis symptoms being treated at a hospital in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. (Photo: IANS)
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today directed that five teams of senior paediatricians and paramedics be sent immediately to help manage the cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)/Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.
 
The teams will strengthen the State government's efforts and measures in Muzaffarpur and other affected districts, an official press release said.
 
Ten paediatricians (including five senior consultants) and five para-medics from RML Hospital, Safdarjung and Lady Hardinge Medical College will be part of the five teams. “The teams will strengthen the clinical care to the existing patients in the hospitals and also strengthen surveillance of cases from the peripheral areas,” Harsh Vardhan stated.
 
“A high-level central team led by Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health, has been stationed in the area to monitor the operations for the past three days. Teams have also been constituted for socio-economic survey in these areas to identify and pinpoint causes linked with the economic status," he added.
 
Ten additional ambulances have been deployed in the most affected blocks of the districts for round-the-clock services. Also, 16 nodal officers (teams of senior doctors and an administrative officer) have been deployed at the primary health centres (PHCs) in the affected blocks.
 
To strengthen the health infrastructure and facilitate the transportation of patients to the health facilities, the State Government has also made a provision to reimburse the ambulance charges if the patients are shifted privately by the family to the hospitals.
 
IANS adds from Patna:
 
Children have been dying in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and neighbouring districts due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) for over a fortnight, but doctors and health officials are still in the dark about the exact nature of the disease and precise cause of deaths.
 
The state and central governments are also clueless in the matter. As per official figures, 113 children have died due to AES in Muzaffarpur and neighbouring districts, so far. 
 
Bihar Health Department Principal Secretary Sanjay Kumar said here that of the total 113 deaths, 91 had died in the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), 16 in the private Kejriwal hospital, both in Muzaffarpur, two in the Nalanda Medical College and Hospital in Patna, and 4 in other districts.
 
This year, 501 AES cases have been reported in the state till date.
 
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Doctors and health officials have different views on the factors behind the AES epidemic and the cause of the deaths. This confusion has further complicated the process to combat or control the seasonal outbreak of AES, which has been recurring every year.
 
Bihar Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar has publicly admitted that even the government is unclear about what exactly was causing the AES outbreak, which has been recorded regularly in Muzaffarpur since 1995.
 
"We are still not aware if the disease is caused due to some virus, bacteria, toxin effect due to the consumption of lychees, malnourishment or due to environmental conditions such as high temperature and humidity," he said. 
 
"Several research projects have been conducted, including by a team of experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta (US), but the finding is inconclusive."
 
SKMCH Chief Medical Officer S. P. Singh said the reason behind the outbreak of the disease was yet to be confirmed. "We don't know it and it is being ascertained medically," Singh said.
 
Harsh Vardhan, himself a doctor, who had visited Muzaffarpur three days ago and examined several children in SKMCH, said the deaths could have something to do with electrolyte imbalance and the metabolic system. 
 
He also did not rule out the possibility of AES due to viral infection or toxin effect, which could possibly be caused by the consumption of litchi, as well as high temperature and humidity.
 
Taking this into consideration, Harsh Vardhan stressed the need for research on AES and setting up of a state-of-the-art, multi-disciplinary research unit in Muzaffarpur in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, the National Centre for Disease Control and AIIMS Patna.
 
He said there should be research to identify the disease that has still not been identified and for it a research facility should be developed in Muzaffarpur. He said the government will take support from Atlanta based Centre for Disease Control and WHO for research in order to ascertain the causative factor of the disease.
 
However, Hardeo Manjhi, a landless labourer from Muzaffarpur, whose 4-year-old son is being treated at SKMCH, said: "My son suddenly developed a high fever in the early hours last week, followed by convulsions, and he later turned unconscious, after which we brought him to hospital for treatment. His condition is showing little improvement."
 
Manjhi pointed out that most of the children first develop high fever, followed by symptoms like weakness and convulsion, and then lose consciousness.
 
Marla Devi, the mother of a 6-year-old child undergoing treatment for AES, said doctors treating her daughter informed her that she had lost consciousness due to brain swelling and high fever. "We have noticed only high fever and convulsion," she said. 
 
SKMCH's Paediatrics Department head Gopal Shankar Sahni said the AES outbreak happened during extreme summer.
 
"We have collected information that suggests that children's body temperatures would shoot up followed by convulsion. They also suffer from hypoglycaemia (very low blood sugar) due to shortage of sodium".
 
Rajiv Kumar of Kejriwal Hospital said it was common for children struck by AES to suffer from mental disorientation after the sudden onset of fever.
 
"In such a situation, we have been advising parents to bring their children to the nearest PHC or hospital without delay for treatment. Chances of survival increase with early arrival"," he said.
 
Most of the child victims of AES belong to poor and marginalised sections, including Dalits, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Economically Backward Classes (EBCs) and Muslims.
 
"AES victims are mostly the malnourished children from underprivileged sections of society, they are from categories below the poverty line (BPL)," said a district health official in Muzaffarpur.
 
After Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited Muzaffarpur on Tuesday, the government has commissioned a survey in blocks and villages which reported high death toll to study the socio-economic profiles of the affected families and their living conditions.
 
A team of experts sent by the Central government has expressed dissatisfaction over the weak health infrastructure and poor hospital facilities.
 
IANS
 

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Heatwave kills 90 people in last 72 hours in Bihar

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A severe heat wave has killed 12 more people in Bihar in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll over the past three days to 90, official sources said on Tuesday.
 
Unofficial reports reaching here, however, said the number of people killed was much higher in a dozen districts.
 
Deaths were reported from Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada and Jamui districts, where temperatures hovered around 45.8 to 42 degrees Celsius on June 15, 16 and 17.
 
According to the State Disaster Management Department website, some 90 deaths had been recorded till Tuesday. Of these, Aurangabad recorded 41 deaths, Gaya 35 and Nawada 14.
 
In a first, prohibitory orders have been imposed in the wake of extreme weather conditions under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in Gaya, Begusarai, Darbhanga, Gopalganj, Madhubani and Sitamarhi districts 
 
Bihar Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar told the media here that the government will conduct an enquiry into how intense the heatwave was between 3-5 p.m. on June 15 that it resulted in the highest number of deaths in a day due to heatstroke.
 
Kumar said the Chief Minister had also ordered an environment survey of the state over the next four days.
 
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the next-of-kin of the victims.
 
The government has also issued a heat alert and advised people to avoid going out during the day time.
 
Additional Health Director of Magadh range Vijay Kumar said that nearly 100 people had been admitted in government-run hospitals in Gaya, Aurangabad and Nawada, while dozens were being treated at primary health centres in the three districts.
 
IANS
 

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Harsh Vardhan visits AES-hit Muzaffarpur, death toll rises to 81

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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday visited Bihar's Muzaffarpur district, where 81 children have died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in the past fortnight.
 
Seven children died on Sunday, taking the total number of casualties due to AES to 81, health officials said. Seventy three children had died till Saturday night.
 
However, the unofficial number of deaths due the disease is said to be over 100 as some children died in villages before being admitted to hospital.
 
Harsh Vardhan, accompanied by Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, visited the state-owned Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH).
 
"The Ministers are holding a closed-door review meeting with the doctors and health officials to take stock of the situation," a district health official said.
 
Meanwhile SKMCH and private Kejriwal Hospital in the city continue to recieve fresh cases with symptoms akin to AES. The two hospitals are reverberating with the cries and wailing of helpless parents as children continue to die of AES.
 
According to reports, two children died in Begusarai district and three died in East Champaran district on Saturday.
 
IANS
 

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AES kills 43 kids in Bihar, spreads to new victims

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Seven more children died of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)-like symptoms in Bihar in last 24 hours, taking the toll to 43 even as new cases are being reported, officials said on Thursday.
 
Amid fears that the toll might go up, as dozens of children are still being treated in various hospitals, the state and Central governments are scrambling to contain the spread of the disease.
 
Regional Additional Director, Health, Ashok Kumar Singh, who is based in Muzaffarpur that has been worst hit by the disease outbreak, confirmed deaths of 43 children so far
 
As many as 36 children died in the government-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and seven in the private Kejriwal hospital as of Wednesday evening, he said. 
 
With dozens of children undergoing treatment, Singh did not rule out more deaths on Thursday even as some reports said that the toll had risen above 60.
 
Principal Secretary, Health, Sanjay Kumar admitted that many children with symptoms akin to AES are still undergoing treatment in Muzaffarpur and a few new patients were also admitted in the hospitals in last 24 hours. 
 
Till date, 143 cases of AES have been reported from 11 districts - Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Samastipur, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, East Champaran, Patna, Gaya, Jehanabad, Bhojpur and Aurangabad.
 
Kumar said that most of children died due to hypoglycaemia (loss of sugar in the blood) and shortage of sodium in their bodies after developing symptoms akin to AES.
 
A day after the seven-member Central team headed by senior paediatrician Dr Arun Kumar Sinha, national advisor in the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, visited Muzaffarpur to review the situation and to help the state in control of the disease, Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey reached Muzaffarpur on Thursday.
 
His visit came as Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan's visit was cancelled at the last momemnt.
 
Choubey, who belongs to Bihar, will meet doctors, health officials and parents of children battling for their lives during his visit. 
 
SKMCH superintendent Sunil Kumar Shahi said team of doctors have been working day and night to provide proper treatment to save the lives of the affected children. "We are in alert mode... taking no chances," he said.
 
Health officials said that experts are of the view that monsoon rains will not only help bring down cases but also help to treat children. "In the last few years, we had closely seen that heat wave conditions help the virus to spread and intensify the disease... monsoon rains are the best antidote for the disease," an official said. 
 
The state Health Department had already issued advisory to people to take care of their children during daylight hours and not allow them to play under the open sky.
 
After Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stressed the need to sensitise the people, health officials have launched the campaign from primary health centres to block and district hospitals.
 
IANS
 

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Bihar Cabinet expansion, 8 JD-U MLAs appointed ministers

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday inducted eight new JD-U MLAs as Ministers in his Cabinet. The Cabinet expansion comes two days after Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief opted out of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new government at the Centre.
 
There are now 33 ministers in the Nitish Kumar Cabinet, up from 25 ministers.
 
The newly appointed ministers are Ashok Coudhary, Shyam Rajak, Narendra Narayan Yadav, Sanjay Jha, Ramsewak Singh, Lakshmeshwar Rai Neeraj Kumar and Bima Bharti. Bima Bharti is the only woman among the new ministers. 
 
Governor Lalji Tandon administered the oath of office and secrecy to the Ministers at a simple ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan. Five of the eight sworn-in are first-time ministers.
 
IANS
 

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Pragya Thakur should be expelled from BJP: Nitish Kumar

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BJP ally and JD-U chief Nitish Kumar on Sunday lashed out at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for her statement in favour of Mahatma Gandhi assassin Nathuram Godse and demanded the party to expel her.
 
Pragya Thakur, who is a Malegaon blast accused, spurred a row and drew flak after she lauded the killer of Mahatma Gandhi and called him a "patriot".
 
"The BJP should take action against her. She should be expelled from the party for what she had stated," Nitish Kumar told media here after casting his vote in the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections. 
 
"The BJP should think about such comments. We condemn such remarks," he said.
 
Thakur is contesting from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh against senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh. 
 
Thakur had earlier too, created controversy after she claimed that 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare, who died fighting against terrorist in Mumbai, lost his life because he tortured the BJP leader in jail.
 
IANS
 

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Congress stands with 'tukde-tukde' gang: Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday attacked the Congress saying it has been standing with the "tukde-tukde" gang and joined hands with those who care less about the country and more about themselves.
 
"Desh ko tukde tukde karne wale ke sath Congress khadi hai," Modi said, addressing an election meeting at Paliganj in Patliputra constituency in Patna district. 
 
Modi complained to the public that those people have been hurling abuses at him and trying to damage his image and defame him. 
 
He appealed to the people not to support and vote for any party that could disintegrate the country. "Elect a strong government that will protect the interest of the country." 
 
He urged them to vote for a party that will work for development, progress and growth of the nation. 
 
He said: "130 crore people of the country have faith in me and my leadership." 
 
Modi claimed that people, particularly the youths, have been getting cheapest internet in the country. "World's cheapest internet is in India." 
 
He said his real capital was people's love for him and he was getting overwhelming blessings and support throughout his campaign. 
 
He requested people to support and vote for BJP candidate and Union Minister Ram Kirpal Yadav from Patliputra seat, who is pitted against RJD's Misha Bharti. 
 
IANS
 

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Modi surname: Case filed against Rahul in Bihar

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A case was filed against Congress President Rahul Gandhi in a Bihar court for his reported statement that "all thieves have Modi as their surnames".
 
A BJP leader Manoj Modi on Wednesday filed the case in the Chief Judicial Magistrate's (CJM) court in Purnea district.
 
The petitioner's lawyer Delip Kumar Deepak said his client Manoj Modi was deeply hurt by Gandhi's statement.
 
Last week Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi also filed a defamation case against Gandhi for the same reported statement.
 
The senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader had filed the case in the CJM court in Patna under Section 500 of the IPC. "Rahul defames and hurts the sentiments of everyone who has the Modi surname," he had said.
 
IANS
 

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People have decided to change chowkidar: Rahul

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said voters have made up their mind to "change their 'chowkidar' this time" as he has proved he is "not fit for the job".
 
"The chowkidar has exposed himself and people have realised he is not fit for the job," Gandhi said at an election rally in Bihar's Supaul parliamentary constituency.
 
"PM Narendra Modi has been trying hard but the people of the country will not allow him to become PM again," he added.
 
"Now people know the reality and truth of the chowkidar. And the chowkidar is afraid of that truth. Chowkidar has realised that his place will be in jail whenever a probe is conducted in the Rafale case," Rahul said.
 
He appealed to people to support Congress candidate from Supaul seat Ranjeet Ranjan.
 
Gandhi reiterated that only rich people keep a chowkidar not the poor including farmers, workers and labourers. 
 
The Congress president said if his party is voted to power this time, it along with allies would provide annual income of Rs 72,000 to 5 crore poor people and 35 per cent reservation to women in government jobs.
 
He also promised to provide employment to 22 lakh youths annually. "These are not mere promises. After coming to power in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the Congress has fulfilled its promise of waiving farmers' loans".
 
IANS
 

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Poll code breach: Case lodged against Sidhu in Bihar

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A case was lodged against cricketer-turned-politician and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday for violating the Model Code of Conduct in Bihar's Katihar district, police said.
 
According to district police officials, a first information report (FIR) was lodged against Sidhu at Barsoi Police Station in Katihar based on the statement of a local magistrate.
 
The case was lodged in connection with Sidhu's allegedly objectionable appeal to Muslims to vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha polls while campaigning in Barsoi in Katihar parliamentary constituency. 
 
Earlier in the day, Bihar BJP leaders had said they would make a complaint to the Election Commission against Sidhu.
 
Deputy Development Commissioner (DDC) Amit Kumar Pandey, who is the district's nodal officer for Model Code of Conduct, took cognizance of Sidhu's statement and asked the local administration to submit a CD of his speech at an election rally.
 
Pandey said if it was established that Sidhu made the appeal for votes on the basis of religion, the Election Commission would take appropriate action against him. 
 
While canvassing support for veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister Tariq Anwar, Sidhu urged Muslims to vote en bloc and defeat Modi. 
 
Katihar is part of backward Seemanchal region having sizeable Muslim population, and their support or opposition could decide the outcome of polls. 
 
Sidhu reportedly said: "Do not consider yourself as being in minority. You constitute the majority here. You are about 64 percent. Do not fall into the trap laid by people like (Asaduddin) Owaisi (chief of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen). They have been propped up by the BJP.
 
"Recognise your strength and vote en bloc to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi."
 
Katigar will go to polls on April 18 in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections. 
 
IANS
 

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Opposition speaks Pakistan's language on terror: Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attacked the opposition, accusing them of "speaking the language of Pakistan" on terror while his government had cracked down on terrorist activities and ensured security in the country.
 
The Prime Minister addressed two election rallies in Bihar's Jamui and Gaya Lok Sabha seats for candidates of allied parties.
 
At a rally in Gaya, from where Janata Dal-United's Vijay Manjhi is contesting, he alleged that the opposition are helping terrorists "who are in trouble from the 'chowkidar'".
 
"Earlier, bomb blasts were a daily affair but now it has ended after people voted us to power. Every vote matters as it helped to end daily bomb blasts," Modi said.
 
He also said that in last five years, several schemes and development projects were initiated and promised people that if they voted for the National Democratic Alliance, he would do what was left.
 
"You have given me chance to serve and work for development... if you are happy with my work, then give me another chance to complete the remaining work," he said.
 
He also questioned former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's demand to go back to the old title of 'Prime Minister' in the state. "How it is possible that there will be two PMs in one country," he asked, adding that opposition leaders were silent over the demand.
 
Modi attacked the Congress for insulting the Indian Constitution's prime architect B. R. Ambedkar while his BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government honoured him.
 
"Congress has always insulted Ambedkar. But the NDA government is doing everything to respect and honour him," he said at the rally in Jamui constituency from where ally Lok Janshakti Party's Chirag Paswan, the son of party chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, is contesting.
 
Those who consider Ambedkar as an icon and legendary would never support the Congress, Modi added. 
 
Accusing the Congress of creating confusion over reservation by spreading lies, he said: "No one can end reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, not even Modi. Opposition leaders are spreading lies on it."
 
The Prime Minister also sought to clarify that the 10 percent reservation for economically weaker sections, brought in by his government, has nothing to do with ending reservation at all.
 
IANS

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Four injured after train derails in Bihar

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Four people were injured on Sunday after at least 13 coaches of the Chapra-Surat Tapti Ganga Express train derailed in Bihar, officials said.
 
The train that runs between Bihar and Gujarat derailed near Gautam Sthan railway station, a railway official said.
 
Rescue and relief operations were on, the official added.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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CPI fields Kanhaiya Kumar from Begusarai

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The Communist Party of India (CPI) has decided to field former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) President Kanhaiya Kumar from the Begusarai Lok Sabha seat in Bihar.
 
"Kanhaiya will be the CPI candidate from Begusarai," said State CPI Secretary Satyanarayan Singh here on Sunday. 
 
Kanhaiya Kumar will be the Left parties' joint candidate and take on Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Giriraj Singh in Begusarai.
 
Singh said the party had decided last week to field the former student leader in the Lok Sabha elections. "We wanted a secular democratic alliance to defeat the BJP," he said.
 
The announcement has come two days after the Grand Alliance of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and other parties did not allocate Begusarai to the CPI. 
 
The RJD is set to field Tanweer Hasan who lost to Bhola Singh of the BJP in 2014.
 
Speaking to the media on Sunday, Kanhaiya Kumar said his fight will be against Giriraj Singh, not the RJD. 
 
"People of Begusarai will defeat Giriraj Singh and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will be defeated across Bihar as the people have made up their minds to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said.
 
He also called Giriraj Singh Pakistan's 'Visa Minister' for his repeated threats of sending the critics of Modi and the BJP to Pakistan. "The people of Begusarai have decided not to support any hardliner. The BJP has been spreading hatred across the country," he said.
 
He also vowed to work to minimise division of anti-NDA votes in Bihar and other states.
 
Kanhaiya Kumar, 32, was arrested in February 2016 and accused of sedition for allegedly doing nothing to prevent the raising of anti-India slogans on the JNU campus.
 
The JNUSU President for 2015-16, he was then pursuing doctorate from the School of International Studies and was affiliated to the All India Students Federation (AISF). 
 
Kanhaiya Kumar belongs to a Bhumihar family in Begusarai.
 
IANS
 

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NDA names candidates for 39 LS seats in Bihar

Bihar's ruling National Democratic Alliance on Saturday announced candidates for 39 out of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Union Ministers Ramvilas Pasvan, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Kripal Yadav at a rally in Patna, on March 3, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Union Ministers Ramvilas Pasvan, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Kripal Yadav at a rally in Patna, on March 3, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Bihar's ruling NDA on Saturday announced candidates for 39 out of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
 
The lone seat for which a candidate was not announced was Khagaria.
 
The announcement was made at a joint press conference addressed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state-in-charge Bhupinder Yadav here in the presence of leaders from the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
 
The BJP has dropped actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha from his Patna Sahib seat and instead fielded Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in his place.
 
Sinha won the seat in 2014.
 
LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan will not contest from Hajipur seat. The party has fielded Paswan's younger brother Pasupati Kumar Paras, a Bihar Minister and state LJP president, in his place.
 
Ram Vilas Paswan's son Chirag will contest from Jamui, while another brother Ram Chandra Paswan is being fielded from the Samastipur seat that he won in 2014.
 
The BJP has shifted its firebrand leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh from Nawada to Begusarai. Nawada went to the LJP under the seat sharing formula.
 
"All the Union Ministers from BJP including Radha Mohan Singh from Motihari, Ram Kirpal Yadav from Patliputra, Ashwani Choubey from Buxar, R. K. Singh from Ara, were given tickets," Yadav said.
 
Only one Muslim candidate figures in the NDA list. The JD-U has fielded Mahmood Ashraf from Kishanganj.
 
The NDA had earlier officially announced the seat-sharing formula for the Lok Sabha elections.
 
According to the agreement, the JD-U and BJP will contest 17 seats each and the LJP the rest of the six seats.
 
The JD-U is contesting Valmikinagar, Sitamarhi, Jhanjharpur, Supaul, Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnea, Madhepura, Bhagalpur, Gopalganj, Banka, Munger, Nalanda, Gaya, Jehanabad, Siwan and Karakat parliamentary seats.
 
The BJP is contesting West Champaran, East Champaran, Sheohar, Madhubani, Araria, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Maharajganj, Saran, Ujiyarpur, Begusarai, Sasaram, Aurangabad, Buxar, Ara, Patna Saheb and Patliputra constituencies.
 
The LJP is contesting the Vaishali, Hajipur, Jamui, Khagaria, Samastipur and Nawada seats.
 
The BJP has ceded to the JD-U five seats -- Valmikinagar, Gaya, Siwan, Gopalganj and Jhanjharpur -- that it won in 2014. 
 
The BJP-led NDA won 31 of the 40 seats in the state in 2014. Of this, the BJP won 22 seats, the LJP six and the Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) three. 
 
The RLSP has joined the Opposition Grand Alliance this time.
 
The JD-U, not part of the NDA then, had contested the 2014 elections on its own and won only two seats -- Purnea and Nawada.
 
IANS
 

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Grand Alliance announces seat sharing in Bihar

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The Grand Alliance on Friday announced a seat sharing pact in Bihar under which the RJD will contest 20 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats and the Congress 9 while smaller parties will be in contention in the remaining constituencies.
 
The announcement was made at a press conference here. 
 
According to the agreement, the RLSP will put up candidates in 5 seats, HAM and VIP in 3 each and the RJD will give one seat out of its quota to the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML).
 
No seats were given to the CPI and CPI-M, making it clear that former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar, who is contesting from Begusarai, will not be supported by the Grand Alliance. 
 
The four constituencies going to polls in the first phase will see the HAM contesting in Gaya and Aurangabad, the RJD in Nawada and the RLSP in Jamui, RJD state President Ramchandra Purbe told the media.
 
HAM chief and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi will contest from Gaya (reserved) and Upendra Prasad from Aurangabad. 
 
The RJD has fielded Vibha Devi from Nawada and the RLSP Bhudeo Choudhary from Jamui. 
 
In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA won 31 seats, out of which the BJP alone bagged 22. The JD-U contested alone then and won only Purnea and Nawada seats. 
 
The RJD won 4 seats, the Congress 2 and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 1. But NCP's Tariq Anwar has rejoined the Congress. 
 
IANS
 

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NDA announces Bihar seat-sharing pact

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The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar officially announced the seat-sharing formula for the Lok Sabha elections here on Sunday.
 
The announcement was made at a joint press conference, addressed by BJP state President Nityanand Rai, LJP state President Pashupati Kumar Paras and JD-U state President Vashishth Narain Singh, at the JD-U office.
 
According to the agreement, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will contest 17 seats each and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), led by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the remaining six seats.
 
Singh said the JD-U will contest Valmikinagar, Sitamarhi, Jhanjharpur, Supaul, Kishanganj, Katihar, Purnea, Madhepura, Bhagalpur, Gopalganj, Banka, Munger, Nalanda, Gaya, Jehanabad, Siwan and Karakat parliamentary seats.
 
The BJP will field candidates in West Champaran, East Champaran, Sheohar, Madhubani, Araria, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Maharajganj, Saran, Ujiyarpur, Begusarai, Sasaram, Aurangabad, Buxar, Ara, Patna Saheb and Patliputra constituencies.
 
The LJP will contest Vaishali, Hajipur, Jamui, Khagaria, Samastipur and Nawada seats.
 
The BJP has ceded to the JD-U five seats -- Valmikinagar, Gaya, Siwan, Gopalganj and Jhanjharpur -- that it won in 2014. 
 
The BJP-led NDA won 31 of the 40 seats in the state in 2014. Of this, BJP won 22 seats, LJP 6 and the Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) 3. The RLSP has joined the Opposition Grand Alliance this time.
 
The JD-U, not part of the NDA then, had contested the 2014 elections on its own and could win only 2 seats -- Purnea and Nawada.
 
The names of NDA candidates will be announced in two-three days.
 
IANS
 

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Cabinet clears Patna Metro Rail Project comprising two corridors

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The Union Cabinet has approved the Patna Metro Rail Project, which will have two corridors, Danapur to Mithapur and Patna Railway Station-New ISBT, at an estimated cost of Rs.13365.77 crore to be completed in five years.
 
The Danapur Cantonment-Mithapur corridor will pass through the heart of the city and connect densely populated areas such as Raza Bazar, Secretariat, High Court, Law University and Railway Station. 
 
The Patna Junction-ISBT corridor will connect Gandhi Maidan, PMCH, Patna University, Rajendra Nagar, Mahatma Gandhi Setu, Transport Nagar and ISBT.
 
The Metro will provide eco-friendly and sustainable public transport facility to residents, commuters, industrial workers, visitors and travellers, an official press release said.
 
The length of the Danapur-Mithapur corridor is 16.94 km, which is mostly underground (11.20 km) and partly elevated (5.48 km) and comprises 11 stations (3 elevated and 8 underground).
 
The length of the Patna Station-New ISBT corridor is 14.45 km, which is mostly elevated (9.9 km) and partly underground (4.55 km) and comprising 12 stations (9 elevated and 3 underground).
 
The existing population of 26.23 lakh of Patna agglomeration area is expected to be benefitted by Patna Metro Rail Project directly and indirectly.
 
The approved corridors will be having multimodal Integration with Railway Stations and ISBT Station and will have feeder network of bus, Intermediate Public Transport (IPT) and Non-Motorised Transport (NMT), the release said.
 
The project will have non-fare box revenue from rental and advertisement as well as Value Capture Financing (VCF) through the mechanism of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Transfer of Development Rights (TDK).
 
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Congress will waive farm loans if voted to power at Centre: Rahul Gandhi

 
Gandhi criticises farmers’ scheme introduced in Interim Budget
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on Sunday that his party would waive farms loans all over the country, just as its governments had done in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, if it is voted to power at the Centre in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Addressing a huge rally at the Gandhi Maidan here -- the party's first in the city in years -- the Congress President also promised that it would accord the status of a Central University to Patna University and create more jobs for the youth through food processing and other units across the state.
 
Gandhi hit out Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accusing them of only looking after the interests of crony capitalists.
 
He alleged that, while the government had written off loans worth thousands of crores of industrialists, all that it had done for the farmers was the announcement of an income support scheme under which they would get Rs. 6000 per year which worked out to just Rs. 17 a day for a family. For a family of five, it worked out to just Rs. 3.50 a day, he pointed out.
 
He said this was an insult to the country's farmers and said they would give a befitting response to Modi and the BJP in the coming elections.
 
Gandhi said he was confident that the Congress and its allies in the Mahagathbandhan, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), would win the elections at the Centre and soon after that in Bihar. "We will together remove the BJP and Nitish Kumar from power in Bihar soon," he declared.
 
He said his confidence stemmed from the "fact that the BJP at the Centre and Nitish Kumar had not kept their promises" made by them to the people in the run-up to the last elections.
 
He said farmers in the country paid huge amounts as premium for crop insurance schemes but got nothing when they filed claims and found that the schemes had only benefited the insurance companies owned by the top industrialists.
 
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He went on to refer to the demonetisation and the problems it had caused for small traders, farmers, the lower income groups and others. He also spoke about the Rafale fighter jet deal with France and alleged that jobs which could have come to India's youth had been lost because the 36 aircraft India was buying would be made in France. Under the contract envisaged by the previous Congress-led UPA government, 108 of the 126 aircraft would have been made in India, he pointed out. Also, a lucrative offset contract had been given to industrialist Anil Ambani, whose company is debt-ridden and has no previous experience in the aircraft manufacturing sector, he said.
 
The Congress said the BJP government had done nothing for the youth of the country in areas such as education and jobs. He said Bihar, where the ancient Nalanda University was located, was known as a centre of education but its youth were now forced to go out of the state for education and in search of jobs.
 
He said many Bihari youth trying to eke out a living were forced to leave states like Gujarat and Maharashtra.
 
He also reiterated his party's promise of a Minimum Income Guarantee for the country's poor if the Congress were elected to power in the next Lok Sabha elections.
 
He asserted that the Congress was determined to play "on the front foot". 
 
"With (RJD leader) Tejashwi Yadav in Bihar, we will play on the front foot and hit the ball for a six," he said.
 
He went on to praise Tejashwi Yadav who works hard and does not lie to the people. "All of us will work together with dignity, love and unitedly," he added.
 
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel were amongst those present at the rally.
 
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7 dead, 30 injured as 11 coaches of Seemanchal Express derail in Bihar

At least seven passengers died and 30 others suffered injuries when eleven coaches of the 12487 Seemanchal Express from Jogbani in Bihar to Anand Vihar in Delhi derailed near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar in the early hours of Sunday.
 
11 coaches of Seemanchal Express derail near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar
At least seven passengers died and 30 others suffered injuries when eleven coaches of the 12487 Seemanchal Express from Jogbani in Bihar to Anand Vihar in Delhi derailed near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar in the early hours of today.
 
Of the injured passengers, three had suffered grievous injuries while the othes had received minor injuries in the mishap, which occurred at 3.58 am near Sahadai Buzurg station in Sonpur Division of East Central Railway, when most passengers were asleep, an official press release said.
 
The release said the derailment had affected the 11 coaches of the train. Three coaches had fully overturned, it said.
 
The affected coaches include one air-conditioned coach, two general IInd class coaches, three sleeper class coaches and three SLR coaches.
 
All the injured passengers have been moved to nearby hospitals, District Hospitals and Railway Hospital.
 
"Adequate number of doctors are available at site. Ambulances have been pressed into service. All medical expenses of the injured passengers will be borne by Railways," the release said.
 
Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav, senior Railway Board officials, ECR General Manager and the Divisional Railway Manager, Sonpur had rushed to the scene of the mishap to oversee the rescue and relief efforts.
 
The release said the Railways had also rushed Self-Propelled Accident Relief Train and Medical Equipment (SPARME) and Accident Relief Trains (ARTs) to the site.
 
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as well as personnel of ECR, the district administration, police and other emergency services, including doctors, were also rushed to the site.
 
Ambulances were pressed into service to ferry the injured to hospitals. Cranes were deployed to help lift the derailed coaches from the tracks.
 
Adequate free catering arrangements have been made at the accident site, Patna, Hajipur and at hospitals for passengers. Commercial officers with teams are deployed at Hajipur and Danapur to take care of the passengers.
 
Arrangements for refunds to the passengers who do not continue their journey have been ensured at different stations.
 
The rescue operation is complete and efforts were being made to restore rail traffic on the section. The derailment had disrupted the movement of trains on the route temporarily.
 
Railway sources said, prima facie, the cause of the mishap appeared to be a fractured rail at a crossing on the Barauni end of the station yard.
 
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal expressed profound grief over the loss of innocent lives in the accident and wished speedy recovery for the injured.
 
He ordered an inquiry into the accident by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (Eastern Circle), Latif Khan.
 
He also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh each to the next-of-kin of the deceased, Rs. 1 lakh for the grievously injured and Rs. 50,000 to those with simple injuries.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines for the benefit of passengers and their relatives:
 
Sonpur 06158221645 
Hajipur 06224272230 
Barauni 06279232222
Patna  0612 2202290/91/92
 
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Nine coaches of Seemanchal Express derail in Bihar

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Nine coaches of the 12487 Seemanchal Express from Jogbani in Bihar to Anand Vihar in Delhi derailed near Sahadai Buzurg in Bihar in the early hours of today.
 
Senior railway officials, along with an accident relief train and medical teams, have rushed to the site to oversee rescue and relief operations, official sources said. 
 
A team from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is also on its way to the scene of the mishap, which occurred around 3.55 am.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines for the benefit of passengers and their relatives:
 
Sonpur 06158221645 
Hajipur 06224272230 
Barauni 06279232222
 
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'Accidental Prime Minister': Case filed against Anupam Kher, others in Bihar

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A case has been filed against actor Anupam Kher and others associated with upcoming film 'Accidental Prime Minister' in a Bihar court on Wednesday for damaging the image of some top people.
 
Lawyer Sudhir Kumar Ojha filed the case in Muzaffarpur's Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court. The court has admitted the case and fixed January 8 to hear the case in Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate court.
 
Ojha in his petition complained that Anupam Kher and Akshay Khanna, who have played the role of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his press advisor Sanjaya Baru in the film, have damaged the image of both of them. "It hurt me and many others," he said.
 
In his complaint, Ojha said others who have played the role of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra also damaged their image. He has also complained against the film director and producer.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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PNB official, construction firm owner, property dealer killed in Bihar in 12 hours

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At least three persons have been killed by unidentified gunmen over the past 12 hours in three different districts of Bihar, prompting a scathing attack by the opposition on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's governance.
 
The latest victim was a construction firm owner, who was gunned down in broad daylight on Saturday in Darbhanga district. Hours before that a bank official was abducted from Gaya and killed. 
 
A property dealer was murdered in Begusarai late on Friday. All these murders came barely 48 hours after the murder of a well-known businessman's father in Vaishali.
 
All cases were still open, police said. 
 
"Nitish Kumar is busy meeting in Delhi, discussing seat sharing with BJP President Amit Shah and criminals are busy killing businessmen. 
 
"Nitish Kumar has no time for anything other than preparing for 2019 Lok Sabha polls," former Deputy Chief Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad's son Tejashwi Yadav said.
 
In the latest attack, K. P. Shahi, the owner of Shahi Construction Company, was shot dead around 11 a.m. while he was enroute to his office from his residence in Darbhanga district. 
 
Four motorcycle-borne masked men targeted his vehicle and fired indiscriminately, killing him on the spot. Shahi Construction was engaged in road construction at three or four places. 
 
Police suspect 'rangdari' or extortion by a criminal gang as the reason behind his killing. 
 
Darbhanga Senior Superintendent of Police Garima Malik said it is difficult to say what the motive was, but "we have constituted an SIT to probe the case". 
 
Shahi's murder came barely nine hours after the murder of a Punjab National Bank (PNB) Customer Service Point (CSP) in-charge Pintu Singh in Gaya district.
 
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Singh was abducted late on Friday from near Amas at 11 p.m. He is believed to have been shot dead around 2 a.m. on Saturday, according to Amas Police Station Shayam Lal Saran. Deep injury marks were found on his head. 
 
Meanwhile, in Begusarai district, a property dealer Mahesh Singh was shot dead by unidentified criminals around midnight, police said. He was killed in Paspura village under Mufassil Police Station, a district police official said. 
 
All these killings came barely 48 hours after a businessman was shot dead in Vaishali district. 
 
The back-to-back killings have triggered violent protest by villagers, who have blocked the GT Road disrupting traffic for hours, Saran said. 
 
Gunjan Khemka, an industrialist was shot dead on Thursday in Hajipur. His son, Gopal Khemka is a well-known businessman in Patna. 
 
Khemka was targeted on his way to his factory in Hajipur, about 30 km from Patna, Vaishali Superintendent of Police Manavjit Singh Dhillon said. 
 
Police are still in dark and yet to make any breakthrough in the case. 
 
Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress leaders have targeted Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the rise in crime and total collapse of law and order.
 
Besides Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav, senior Congress leader Tariq Anwar and Rashtriya Lok Samta Party chief and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha have questioned Nitish Kumar's self-claimed rule of law in Bihar.
 
"There is no law and order in Bihar. It is free for criminals and they do whatever they wish," RJD spokesperson Bhai Virendar said. 
 
Ruling JD-U and BJP leaders have refuted opposition leaders allegations. 
 
IANS
 

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Congress MP from Bihar Maulana Asrar-ul-Haque Qasmi passes away

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Senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP from Bihar's Kishanganj, Maulana Asrar-ul-Haque Qasmi, passed away early on Friday following a heart attack. He was 76.
 
According to district officials, he died at the Kishanganj Circuit House. He will be buried at his native Tarabadi village.
 
Qasmi was a noted Islamic scholar and a popular face of the party in the state, particularly in Seemanchal comprising Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria and Katihar districts.
 
He won the Kishanganj seat on a Congress ticket in the 2009 general elections after five consecutive failures. He retained the constituency in 2014 despite the Narendra Modi wave in Bihar and across the country.
 
He had defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party's Dilip Kumar Jaiswal by a margin of over 1 lakh votes in 2014.
 
He was a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and also a founder member of the All India Milli Council.
 
IANS
 

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Absconding former Bihar Minister surrenders

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Former Bihar Minister Manju Verma, who was absconding for nearly three months in an arms case related to the Muzaffarpur shelter home horror, surrendered at a court on Tuesday.
 
Manju Verma surrendered in the Begusarai District Court after a lower court and the Patna High Court rejected her interim bail petition. The Supreme Court had slammed Bihar Police for its failure to arrest her. 
 
According to police, Manju Verma covered her face while reaching the court. 
 
Police in Bihar on Saturday started attaching the properties of Manju Verma after a court order in an arms case connected to the Muzaffarpur shelter home horror. 
 
Verma faces arrest under the Arms Act following the recovery of 50 live cartridges from her residences in Patna and Begusarai during a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raid. 
 
Last month, a court in Begusarai issed a warrant against here. 
 
Last month, her husband Chandrasekhar Verma, who had been absconding for a month, surrendered before a court after which he was sent to 14 days judicial custody in connection with the shelter home case. 
 
Manju Verma resigned on August 8 following allegations that Brajesh Thakur, the main accused in the Muzaffarpur case, had links with her husband. Thankur is now in the Muzaffarpur jail. 
 
Of the 42 girls lodged at the short-stay home run by Thakur's NGO, 34 were found to have been sexually assaulted. The crime came to light after a social audit by the Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai. 
 
IANS
 

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Muzaffarpur horror: Five girls, not two, died in shelter home

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The Central Bureau of Investigation has discovered that five minor girls, and not two as reported earlier, died in a shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district.
 
Their post-mortem examinations were conducted at a government hospital, police said on Monday. 
 
The CBI, probing the alleged rape of 34 girls at the shelter home, on Sunday searched documents at Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital and found that the post-mortem examinations of five girls of the shelter home were conducted there. 
 
According to the hospital register, the post-mortem examinations of two girls were conducted in 2013, two in 2015 and one in 2017. 
 
The CBI officials are now trying to find out as to whom the bodies of the girls were handed over after their autopsies and also whether cases were registered in the matter. 
 
"A team of CBI officials is likely to soon interrogate some hospital doctors to collect more details about the case," a district police officer said. 
 
The CBI had earlier found human bones at a cremation ground on October 4 following a tip-off. It had also carried out an extensive excavation at the shelter home premises on suspicion that some inmates might have been killed and buried there, but could not recover anything from there. 
 
Last month, a shelter home employee Krishna Ram, who also ran the press of Brajesh Thakur -- the main accused -- told the CBI sleuths that some bodies were stuffed in gunny bags and disposed of in the Burhi Gandak river a year ago. 
 
However, the CBI could not recover anything from the river. 
 
According to the CBI, Ram disclosed that Brajesh Thakur had ordered the disposal of the bodies. 
 
He reportedly revealed that two inmates of Thakur's NGO, Seva Sankalp Ewam Vikas Samiti, had died under mysterious circumstances and their bodies were dumped in the river from Akharaghat Bridge with the help of Guddu, another employee of the shelter home, and Vijay Tiwari, Thakur's driver. 
 
Of the 42 girls lodged at the short-stay home run by Brajesh Thakur's NGO, 34 were found to have been sexually assaulted. The crime came to light after a social audit by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, five months ago.
 
The shelter home has been sealed, and Thakur sent to jail. 
 
The Supreme Court is monitoring the CBI probe into the case. 
 
IANS
 

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