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Chandigarh

29 killed, 250 injured in violence after Panchkula court convicts Dera Sacha Sauda chief in rape case

At least 29 people were killed and more than 250 others suffered injuries as thousands of followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh went on the rampage after he was convicted in a rape case by a special CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana on Friday.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
At least 29 people were killed and more than 250 others suffered injuries as thousands of followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh went on the rampage after he was convicted in a rape case by a special CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana today.
 
The quantum of punishment for the 50-year-old self-styled godman will be pronounced on August 28. Meanwhile, he was taken into judicial custody and flown in a helicopter from Panchkula to Rohtak, where he was lodged in a special jail.
 
Police officials said 28 people had died in Panchkula, which bore the brunt of today's violence, several of them in police firing. There were clashes between Ram Rahim's supporters and the police in Sirsa, where the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters are located.
 
One person died and four people suffered injuries in police firing in Sirsa, where the situation remained tense, with large numbers of Ram Rahim's followers gathered inside the Dera headquarters.
 
The officials said the police had been able to clear the mobs off the streets in all other towns in Haryana.
 
About 60 policemen also suffered injuries in today's incidents, including two senior superintendents of police and one deputy superintendent of police, they said.
 
In Delhi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who returned during the day from a visit to Kyrgyz Republic, spoke to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and discussed the situation with them. Mr. Rajnath Singh assured them of all necessary assistance from the Centre.
 
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said he had talked to the Chief Secretary of Haryana who had told him that the situation was being brought under control. "The situation is tense but under control," he said, adding that the Centre was monitoring the situation continuously.
 
Thousands of Singh's supporters had gathered at different points in Panchkula and other parts of Haryana and Punjab and violence erupted shortly after news of his conviction came.
 
 
29 dead as Dera followers bring Panchkula to its knees
In Panchkula, scores of vehicles, including fire tenders, outdoor broadcast vans of television news channels and two-wheelers were set ablaze. The mobs also attacked some government property. Police used teargas, lathi-charges, pellet guns and finally resorted to firing to disperse the mobs.
 
A former follower of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had accused him of repeatedly raping her inside the Dera campus near Sirsa in Haryana in 1999. The first information report in the case had been filed in 2002.
 
The mobs targetted media vehicles and attacked some journalists reporting from the scene.
 
Incidents of violence were also reported from various other places in Haryana as well as Punjab, Rajasthan and Delhi.
 
In Delhi, some buses in Jahangirpuri and other localities and two coaches of a train parked in the railway yard at Anand Vihar were partially burnt after they were set on fire by miscreants. Police said reinforcements had been rushed to all affected and patrolling had been stepped up all across the city. The situation was under control, they added.
 
Though thousands of policemen had been deployed in Panchkula and elsewhere in Haryana to prevent any untoward incident, they were unable cope with the wave of violence that started after the verdict was pronounced. Police used teargas shells to try and disperse the mobs. Curfew was imposed in some towns of Punjab.
 
Television pictures showed ambulances bringing scores of injured persons to the government hospital there.
 
The Railways had, as a precautionary measure, cancelled some 300 mail, express and passenger trains passing through  Haryana in the past few days.
 
The Centre had sent several companies of central armed police forces to Haryana at the request of the state government and the Army's assistance had been sought at some places.
 
Mr. Khattar urged people to stay calm and maintain peace. He said strict action would be taken against those who disturb the peace and took law into their own hands.
 
In Gurgaon, near here, the police staged a flag march which passed through Kherki Daula, IMT Manesar, Bilaspur, sohna, Bhondsi and Badshapur as a precautionary measure.
 
"A close watch is being kept on the anti-social elements and miscreants who try to take advantages of such situation," a press release from Gurgaon Police said.
 
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the "instances of violences" were "deeply distressing". He said he strongly condemned the violence and urged everyone to maintain peace.
 
"The instances of violence today are deeply distressing. I strongly condemn the violence & urge everyone to maintain peace," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"The law & order situation is being closely monitored. I reviewed the situation with the NSA & Home Secretary," he said.
 
"Urged officials to work round the clock to restore normalcy and provide all possible assistance that is required," he added.
 
In Delhi, the police has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, banning the assembly of five or more persons, as a precautionary measure in 11 districts, including New Delhi.
 
"Adequate police arrangements in place & Law & Order situation under control. Officers with reserve force on rounds to maintain peace," the Commissioner of Police said on Twitter.
 
"Appeal to all to maintain peace & order. #DelhiPolice on full alert. Strict legal action will be taken against miscreants for any violation," he added.
 
Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded the resignation of Mr. Khattar and urged the Prime Minister to put the interests and safety of Indians before his party's interests.
 
Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed grave concern and shock at the violence.
 
Ms. Gandhi spoke to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh about the situation. She urged the Governments of Punjab and Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh to ensure the safety and security of citizens. She also appealed to the people to maintain peace and harmony.
 
"Violence & brutality have no place in our society. Condemn the rampage and lawlessness in Haryana & appeal to restore peace and tranquility," Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter.
 
Mr. Amarinder Singh appealed to the people of Punjab to maintain peace and harmony. "We won't allow anyone to disturb the peace and tranquility of our state," he added.
 
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CSIR to establish high-end Skill Development Centre in Chandigarh.

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India’s premier national research laboratory CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH) on Tuesday announced a new partnership with German science and technology company Merck to establish a high-end Skill Development Centre in CSIR-IMTECH, Chandigarh. 
 
Equipped with next generation technologies like gene editing and single-molecule biomarker detection, the centre will help accelerate healthcare research and train Indian students and researchers in latest life science technologies and make them industry ready.
 
Under the memorandum of understanding (MoU), Merck in collaboration with CSIR-IMTECH will use their expertise in life sciences to build a centre which will help researchers and students develop advanced competencies and analytical skills required for life science research, an official press release said.
 
This will be a first of its kind, an academia-industry-led laboratory in Chandigarh that has been established to augment the government's initiative for skilling India in the area of life sciences.
 
The centre will enrich skills by conducting workshops, training and seminar series on cutting edges life science processes, tools and techniques. It will facilitate a hands-on experience in learning and real-time sample analysis, the release said.
 
The proposed state-of-the-art centre will integrate work-based and research-based learning by providing next-generation lab set-up for carrying out real-time sample analysis and learning workshops for a selected group of technologies in the domain of life sciences, it said.
 
CSIR Director General Shekhar C Mande, present on the occasion, said that the collaboration resonates with the Government's mission of ‘Skill India’ and would be a new benchmark for upscaling employability skills for graduates and post-graduates who are aspiring to make a career in the life sciences sector.
 
CSIR-IMTECH Director Anil Koul said the collaboration with leading companies like Merck will bring a paradigm shift in the way knowledge alliances like these are created in public-private partnership mode.
 
It will function on the principle of “no-profit, no-loss” basis and has been primarily created to augment Government of India’s initiative for building skills in the area of life sciences, he added.
 
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Amarinder discharged from hospital, advised rest

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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was on Thursday discharged from the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here and has been advised rest by doctors.
 
The 76-year-old Chief Minister was admitted to hospital on Wednesday after he developed fever.
 
He was kept in the hospital for the night and was discharged after completion of some tests.
 
Doctors said that he is suffering from routine viral and have advised him rest, besides medication.
 
Amarinder became Chief Minister of Punjab in March 2017, leading the Congress party to a thumping majority in Assembly elections. Earlier, he was Chief Minister from 2002 to 2007.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Thousands throng gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana to mark 'Gurpurab'

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Thousands of devotees thronged gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh on Friday to offer prayers on the occasion of 'Gurpurab' - the 549th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev.
 
It also marks the start of the year-long celebrations leading to the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539) next year.
 
The holiest of Sikh shrines Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple, in Amritsar and other gurdwaras elsewhere saw religious fervour to mark the occasion. 
 
Long queues of devotees could be seen waiting to offer prayers inside the sanctum sanctorum.
 
People braved the early morning chill to offer prayers at gurdwaras. 
 
Guru Nanak Dev was born in 1469 in Nankana Sahib town (now in Pakistan), around 80 km west of Lahore city.
 
Reports of Gurpurab celebrations were received from Nankana Sahib also.
 
Over 3,000 Sikh devotees have gone to Pakistan to celebrate at Nankana Sahib.
 
Tight security arrangements were made around all leading Sikh shrines in Punjab in view of recent terror-related incidents in the state.
 
The Golden Temple complex was decorated with lighting since Diwali and Bandi Chhor Diwas earlier this month. 
 
Hymns were being rendered at the holy shrine and scores of other gurdwaras across the region to mark the occasion. 
 
At other gurdwaras in cities, towns and villages, hundreds of people could be seen coming to offer prayers. 'Langars' (community kitchen) were arranged at most gurdwaras.
 
Punjab Governor V. P. Singh Badnore and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh greeted people on the occasion and urged them to follow the Guru's teachings and to maintain peace and harmony.
 
IANS
 

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Punjab Police arrests one over Amritsar grenade attack

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh addressing a press conference in connection with Sunday's grenade attack on the Nirankari Satsang Bhawan near Amritsar that left three persons dead, in Chandigarh on November 21, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh addressing a press conference in connection with Sunday's grenade attack on the Nirankari Satsang Bhawan near Amritsar that left three persons dead, in Chandigarh on November 21, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
The Punjab Police has arrested one person in connection with Sunday's grenade attack on the Nirankari Satsang Bhawan that left three persons dead, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said here on Wednesday.
 
The arrested person has been identified as Bikramjit Singh, he said. The second person involved in the attack, identified as Avtar Singh, is still absconding.
 
The Chief Minister said that the grenade used in the blast was Pakistan-made. According to him, the motorcycle used in the crime has also been recovered.
 
Amarinder said it was a "terror incident" and there was no religious link to it.
 
IANS
 

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Amritsar attack: CM announces Rs 50 lakh for information

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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday announced a reward of Rs 50 lakh to anyone giving information regarding the two youths who carried out Sunday's grenade attack on a prayer meeting at the Nirankari Satsang Bhawan of Amritsar district.
 
The Punjab Police has formed several teams to investigate the grenade attack in Adliwal village in Rajasansi area. CCTV footage of places near the blast was being scanned to know more about the two masked attackers.
 
Forensic teams and a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) reached the spot late on Sunday to start the probe.
 
While some injured have been discharged from the Amritsar hospital, others are still recuperating. One of the injured was still serious, a police officer said.
 
Inspector General (Border Range) S. P. S. Parmar told the media on Monday that the probe would look at all angles and police teams were trying to trace the culprits.
 
In a major terror attack, three persons were killed and 20 injured when two motorcycle-borne youths threw a grenade at a Nirankari congregation about 15 km from Amritsar. 
 
The attack on the campus located in the rural belt, around three kilometres from the Guru Ram Das Jee Amritsar international airport, created panic.
 
All victims were sect followers from nearby villages who had gathered for the weekly Sunday religious meeting.
 
Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora, who immediately rushed to the spot along with senior officers, admitted that it was a "terror act".
 
The Punjab Police has drawn flak for intelligence failure regarding the attack despite the border state being on high alert since November 14 regarding the movement of six to seven terrorists in the state.
 
Eyewitnesses told the police that two youths on a motorcycle, their faces covered, forced entry to the sect campus by pointing a pistol at a woman volunteer at the gate. 
 
There were around 200 followers in the campus at the time.
 
Amarinder Singh, who on Sunday directed the police to immediately enhance security arrangements at all sensitive places, terming it as "the first such indiscriminate attack on innocent people in recent past", said that the "possibility of involvement of ISI-based Khalistani/Kashmiri terror groups cannot be ruled out".
 
The Nirankari sect, with headquarters in Delhi, has millions of followers across the country and abroad. 
 
In the last few months, Khalistani and Kashmiri activists have been trying to foment trouble in Punjab, which shares a 553-km long barbed wire fenced international border with Pakistan.
 
The Punjab Police, along with its Jammu and Kashmir counterpart, had busted two modules of Kashmiri students who were studying in institutions in Punjab and having links to terrorist outfits in troubled Kashmir. 
 
The Maqsudan police station was targeted by Kashmiri terrorists on September 14 with hand grenades though no one was injured in the attack.
 
Posters of Kashmiri terrorist Zakir Mussa had mysteriously appeared in Punjab's Gurdaspur district on Friday saying that he had been seen in Punjab.
 
The Chief Minister said 15 terror modules had been busted in the past 18 months, including those with Kashmiri terror links.
 
IANS
 

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Father-in-law of IAS officer shot dead in Punjab

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The police have launched an investigation after the father-in-law of a senior IAS officer was shot dead by unidentified persons near Punjab's Rajpura town, around 45 km from here, police said on Sunday.
 
The body of Swaran Singh, father-in-law of IAS officer Varun Roojam, was found in his car near the highway on Sunday. Police said the victim, 64, was shot thrice from close range.
 
The police have ruled out any terrorist angle to the killing.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Decorated war veteran Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri dead

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Decorated war veteran Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri died in a private hospital in Mohali near here on Saturday, family sources said. He was 78.
 
Chandpuri, who was an Army Major during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, had held his post through the night in the famous battle of Longewala in Rajasthan with just 120 men against a full-fledged attack by advancing Pakistani Patton tanks. 
 
He was decorated with the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) for the heroic stand-off against the tanks and forcing the enemy to retreat. 
 
The feat of Brig Chandpuri and his men was later featured in Bollywood blockbuster movie "Border" which was released in 1997.
 
His role was played by actor Sunny Deol.
 
IANS
 

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Home Ministry exempts Sikh women from wearing helmet in Chandigarh

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The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has advised the Chandigarh Administration to follow the notification issued by Delhi Government giving an exemption to Sikh women from wearing protective headgear (helmet) while driving two-wheelers in the Union Territory of Chandigarh. 
 
This is in response to the representation received by the MHA from representatives of Sikh bodies.
 
The Department of Transport, Delhi Government, vide its notification issued on 4th June 1999, carried out the amendment in Rule 115 of Delhi Motor Vehicle Act 1993, making it optional for women “whether riding on pillion or driving motorcycle to wear a protective headgear.”
 
The Rule was further amended, vide notification dated 28th August 2014 as “in the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rule 1993, in Sub-Rule 115 for the word “Women” the words “Sikh Women” shall be submitted.
 
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Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Dhindsa quits all party posts, citing age, health reasons

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Senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on Saturday resigned from all positions in the party, citing "advancing age and deteriorating health".
 
Dhindsa submitted his resignation to SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal. 
 
A veteran leader, Dhindsa was the General Secretary of the SAD and member of the party's core committee.
 
Apart from his declining health, other reasons are being read into the development, particularly the SAD facing allegations related to incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib during the regime of the Akali Dal in 2015.
 
Dhindsa, a former Union Minister, was absent at the SAD's "Jabar Virodh" rally, which took place in Faridkot on September 16, while the entire top brass of the party was present at the rally.
 
Dhindsa's son, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, was the Finance Minister (2012-2017) in the government headed by then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
 
IANS
 

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Sunshine in Punjab, Haryana after three days of rain

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Giving a break to three days of continuous rainfall, sunshine greeted people in most parts of Punjab and Haryana on Tuesday.
 
The skies cleared at most places even though cloud cover could be seen.
 
Three days of heavy rainfall in Punjab and Haryana affected normal life in both the states with a number of areas getting water-logged, roads caving in and the threat of flooding in low-lying areas.
 
Five deaths were reported from the states due to the rains.
 
The Punjab government has ordered the closure of schools and colleges on Tuesday due to the conditions created by the adverse weather.
 
It has sounded a red alert in several districts that fall in the down-stream of rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi following heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of these rivers in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.
 
The water level in the Pong and Bhakra Dams was being monitored by the authorities as it was close to the danger mark. Officials said that water could be released from the Pong Dam, located in Himachal Pradesh, on Tuesday.
 
In Haryana, the authorities released water from the Hathnikund barrage in Yamunanagar district due to heavy inflow in the Yamuna river from neighbouring hill state of Uttarakhand.
 
The water is likely to reach downstream in Panipat and other districts in the next 24-48 hours. The water will then flow towards Delhi.
 
Owing to the rainfall, the maximum temperatures at most places fell by 8 to 11 degrees Celsius.
 
Chandigarh recorded a high of 23 degrees on Sunday.
 
The worries of farmers have increased as the standing paddy and cotton crops in agrarian states Punjab and Haryana has been damaged at a number of places.
 
The paddy crop in both states was ready for harvest and procurement is to officially begin on October 1.
 
IANS
 

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Rains affect life in Punjab, Haryana; damage paddy, cotton crop

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Moderate to heavy rainfall continued in most parts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh for the third day on Monday, affecting normal life.
 
With the standing paddy and cotton crop almost ready for harvest, farmers said their crop was damaged due to the unseasonal rain.
 
In Punjab, districts downstream of rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi and in Haryana districts downstream of river Yamuna were put on alert on Monday due to heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
 
Amritsar received over 145 mm of rain on Sunday. The maximum temperature in the city dropped to 23 degrees, 11 degrees below normal. A road there caved in due to heavy rain on Sunday.
 
Water accumulated in the heritage walking area near the Golden Temple complex, causing problems for devotees and other visitors. Traffic was affected in various parts of both states.
 
In Chandigarh, traffic was affected as water accumulated at many places in the city. Complaints of water-logging were also received by authorities in the adjoining towns of Panchkula in Haryana and Mohali in Punjab.
 
Two persons were killed in a roof collapse in Nawanshahr district in Punjab, around 90 km from here, on Sunday. 
 
Due to the incessant rainfall, the maximum temperature dropped at all places in both states. The maximum temperature was six to 11 degrees below normal.
 
Farmers in both Punjab and Haryana said the rain during this period was not good as the harvesting of the paddy crop was on. Paddy procurement was to officially begin on October 1. 
 
They are worried that the moisture content in the paddy grains would be higher this time due to the rainfall. Officials of the Food and Supplies Departments in both states were expecting a bumper paddy crop. 
 
An official spokesperson said elaborate arrangements have been made to procure the expected 200 lakh tonne of paddy in Punjab alone this season.
 
Cotton farmers said that there was damage to their crop also. 
 
IANS
 

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Two main accused in Rewari gang-rape arrested

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The Haryana Police's Special Investigating Team (SIT) on Sunday arrested the two main accused in the Rewari gang-rape case.
 
The accused, Pankaj and Manish, were on the run for almost two weeks. They were arrested from Satnali in Mahendragarh district.
 
The victim, a 19-year-old school topper, was abducted and gang-raped after being drugged on September 12 while she was on the way to a coaching institute.
 
Earlier, the SIT announced the arrest of a third accused, Nishu and two other men - Deendayal, the owner of a tubewell room where the crime took place in Mahendragarh, and Sanjeev Kumar, a medical practitioner who had treated the victim.
 
Both Deendayal and Sanjeev were booked as they did not inform police despite knowing about the crime.
 
The police had earlier announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for providing information on the absconding accused, all residents of Kanina village.
 
The victim, who has identified her attackers, and her parents had earlier accused the police of not taking action and dealing with the matter casually.
 
She said they gave her sedative-laced water to drink and gang-raped her in a room in agricultural fields till she fell unconscious. They later dumped her at a bus stop near her village.
 
IANS
 

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Punjab: Congress heads for landslide victory in Zila Parishad polls

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The ruling Congress in Punjab on Saturday won the most seats in the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections and headed for a landslide victory as counting was underway. The main opposition AAP in the state assembly faced a humiliating defeat.
 
Out of 113 Zila Parishad seats -- out of a total of 354 -- for which results have been declared, the Congress won 106, the BJP-Akali combine six and independents won one. The Aam Adami Party had not won a single seat.
 
Among prominent winners were former Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee President Bibi Jagjir Kaur's daughter Ranjit Kaur; Housing Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa's son Ravi Nandan Singh Bajwa; Congress legislator Ramanjit Sikki's son-in-law Maninderjit Singh Mani; and former Congress legislator Kawaljit Singh Lally's son Mehtab Singh.
 
In Patiala, the home constituency of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the Congress has won 43 Panchayat Samiti seats and the Shiromani Akali Dal four.
 
The Akalis suffered a humiliating defeat in their home turf Muktsar as the Congress won 10 of the 13 Zila Parishad zones.
 
All six Zila Parishad seats in Ludhiana were won by the Congress.
 
The Congress won a majority in Gurdaspur by securing 154 of the total 213 Panchayat Samiti zones. In Zila Parishad, the Congress won 15 of the 25 seats and was leading in the remaining seats.
 
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Out of the total 148 seats of the Panchayat Samiti in Bathinda, the Congress won 31, Akalis four and the AAP and independents three each. The counting for 107 seats is on.
 
Sporadic skirmishes, mainly between the Congress and the Akalis, were witnessed during the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls on September 19.
 
The voting percentage was 58 per cent.
 
A total of 354 Zila Parishad and 2,900 Panchayat Samiti members will be elected. There are 22 Zila Parishads and 150 Panchayat Samitis in the state.
 
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh congratulated his party on their victory saying people had endorsed the positive development and rejected the Akalis' "malicious campaign".
 
Pointing out that this was the fourth consecutive humiliating defeat of the SAD-BJP combine, after back-to-back victories for the Congress in the state assembly, Urban Local Bodies, Gurdaspur parliamentary and Shahkot assembly by-polls, he termed it a vindication of his party's efforts to bring the state out of the quagmire of devastation into which it had been plunged by the previous SAD-BJP government.
 
IANS
 

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Sidhu wants 'positive step' on Kartarpur gurdwara corridor

Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. (File photo: IANS)
Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. (File photo: IANS)
Undeterred by BJP criticism over his praise of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the issue of the Kartarpur gurdwara corridor, Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has written to the Centre seeking a "positive step".
 
"It is time for India to take a positive step on this highly emotional issue. When opportunity knocks, kindly step up and open the door. The opening of this corridor will be a huge thing for Sikh community all over the world. The corridor can usher in peace and prosperity between the two countries," Sidhu said in a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that was released to the media on Sunday.
 
Sidhu, who was present at the swearing-in of his "friend" Imran Khan as the Pakistan Prime Minister on August 18 in Islamabad, has been claiming that he has been virtually instrumental in getting the Kartarpur corridor opened to devotees.
 
"Pakistan has shown a positive intent towards the long-pending corridor demand. Some positivity came out when I visited Pakistan for the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan. Now their Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary has categorically said that the corridor will be opened and even visas won't be required to visit the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara as part of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev. It is time for India to take a positive step on this highly emotional issue," Sidhu said in the letter.
 
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Sidhu pointed out that after Partition in August 1947, several historical gurdwaras fell in Pakistan territory, including the Katarpur Sahib gurdwara associated with Guru Nanak Dev.
 
"Since then, Sikhs living in India always pray that they should be able to pay obeisance at the gurdwaras across the border. Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara holds great significance as it is the place where Guru Nanak Dev spent almost 18 years. The gurdwara is very close to the international border," he pointed out.
 
The Minister said that thousands of devotees in India visit Dera Baba Nanak area in Punjab's Gurdaspur district daily just to catch a glimpse of this holy shrine through binoculars arranged by the Border Security Force.
 
"With Pakistan showing a positive intent, the common belief is that this can turn into reality. Appropriate steps on the corridor must be taken due to strong Sikh sentiments attached to it. Hoping for a positive response from you," the Congress leader added.
 
Sidhu on Friday thanked Imran Khan for enabling the opening of the religious corridor, drawing flak from the BJP which said that the praise was an insult to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
IANS
 

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Traffic restored on Chandigarh-Manali highway

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Traffic on the Chandigarh-Manali national highway, which remained blocked for over 12 hours following a massive landslide along the Beas river in Himachal Pradesh, was restored on Saturday, police said.
 
Incessant rains have also caused massive rockslides in Chamba district, blocking the Pathankot-Chamba highway.
 
Likewise, the National Highway 5 has been blocked near Chaura village in Shimla district after a truck got stuck as a portion of the road caved in.
 
Nearly 100 metres of the Chandigarh-Manali highway was badly damaged in the landslide that occurred near Aut in Mandi district on Friday night. It was repaired temporarily.
 
"Work is on to clear the debris on the Pathankot-Chamba and removal of the truck on the National Highway 5. They are likely to be reopened late in the evening," an official told IANS here.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Landslide blocks Chandigarh-Manali highway

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Traffic on the Chandigarh-Manali national highway has been blocked following a massive landslide along the Beas river in Himachal Pradesh, police said on Saturday.
 
However, there were no reports of any casualties.
 
Nearly 100 metres of the national highway was badly damaged in the landslide that occurred near Aut in Mandi district on Friday night.
 
Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded on both sides of the affected area.
 
District authorities claimed that traffic was partially restored for small vehicles through diversions on alternate roads.
 
"JCB machines are trying to clear the debris and likely to restored by afternoon," said a district official.
 
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and district authorities have deployed equipment to remove the debris.
 
IANS

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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Haryana's Hathnikund barrage releases water, floods threaten Delhi

 
Water level in Yamuna river crosses danger level
 
 
With heavy rains continuing in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, authorities in Haryana's Hathnikund barrage on Saturday released excess water into the Yamuna river, posing a flood threat to New Delhi.
 
"On Saturday morning over 200,000 cusecs of water was released into the Yamuna from the Hathnikund barrage -- which provides drinking water to New Delhi," an official told IANS in Chandigarh.
 
In the national capital, the water level in the Yamuna crossed the danger level by 10 a.m., a Flood Control department official said.
 
The official said villages along the Yamuna river have been alerted about the release of the excess water. The city government have already begun evacuating people from low-lying areas. 
 
The water-level at the Hathnikund barrage along the Haryana-Uttarakhand border rose to alarming levels owing to overnight heavy rains in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
 
The Yamuna river passes through Yamunanagar, Karnal and Panipat districts in Haryana before entering New Delhi.
 
The Met has predicted that Haryana's neighbouring hill states would continue to experience heavy rains.
 
IANS
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
 
 
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Haryana puts sports notification on hold after controversy

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Within hours of a controversy generated by the issuing of a notification asking sportspersons to deposit one-third of their earnings with the Haryana Sports Council, the state government put the notification on hold.
 
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar tweeted that he had put the notification on hold and called for the file.
 
"I have asked for the relevant file of Sports Department to be shown to me & the notification dated 30th April to be put on hold till further orders.We are proud of the immense contribution by our sportspersons & I assure them of a just consideration of all issues affecting them," Khattar tweeted on Friday evening.
 
The Haryana government had flak from the sporting fraternity over the move to seek one-third earnings of its sportspersons who have government jobs.
 
The state government had earlier on Friday defended its decision to do so. The notification issued by the Sports and Youth Welfare Department Principal Secretary Ashok Khemka had directed sportspersons from Haryana to hand over one third of their earnings from professional events and endorsement to the sports council.
 
"One third of the income of sportspersons from professional sports or commercial endorsement will be deposited with the Haryana State Sports Council. The money shall be used for development of sports in the state," the order signed by Khemka on April 27 read.
 
Though the move has drawn widespread condemnation from athletes, Sports Minister Anil Vij as well as Khemka, a senior IAS officer, defended the move.
 
"There is nothing new in this decision. It is an old government rule. Under Rule 56, if a government employee earns professional or commercial income, he has to deposit one third of the earning with the state government. We had allowed (international boxer) Vijender Singh to play professionally. The (Punjab and Haryana) High Court asked us to frame rules in this regard. We have brought out the rules now," Vij said on Friday.
 
Khemka said the notification had been issued after the state gave an assurance to the court that the Haryana government would bring a policy vis-a-vis those who play professional sports.
 
"Normally, government employees are not allowed to play professional sports. The money will be used for the benefit of sportspersons only," he said.
 
On the other hand, star wrestler Geeta Phogat told a TV channel: "This new rule makes a mockery of sportspersons. There is no such rule for cricketers who earn much more than those from other sports. Cricketers make a lot of money from endorsement but those from other sports like boxing, kabaddi, and wrestling do not earn much." 
 
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"If we give up a third of our earnings, what will be left for us?" she asked.
 
International sportspersons like wrestler Sushil Kumar and others have also questioned Haryana's move to "take away the hard-earned money of sportspersons". The notification has a direct bearing on a number of international and national sportspersons from Haryana, employed by various state government departments.
 
That is not all. 
 
Sportspersons employed by government departments and participating in professional sports or commercial endorsements with the approval to be treated as on duty will have to deposit their full income with the council.
 
"In case a sportsperson is treated on duty with the prior approval of the competent authority while taking part in professional sports or commercial endorsement, the full income earned by the sportsperson on this account will be deposited with the Sports Council," the notification added.
 
Sportspersons from Haryana, including several women, have brought laurels to the country in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in recent years.
 
As many as 22 of the 66 medals won by India at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April were won by sportspersons from Haryana.
 
IANS
 
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A day after talks with Shah, Akali leadership meets Modi

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Just a day after meeting BJP president Amit Shah in Chandigarh, the top leadership of the Shiromani Akali Dal met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday and emphasized that the BJP-Akali Dal alliance in Punjab was "durable and time-tested".
 
The meeting with the Prime Minister assumes significance in view of some of the allies of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) openly criticizing the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) attitude.
 
The Akali Dal on Thursday reiterated its alliance with the BJP for the 2019 general elections.
 
It urged the BJP leadership to ensure that minorities feel safe under the NDA rule and that the Sikh community, Punjab and its farmers get their dues.
 
"The Prime Minister at the very outset expressed his profound appreciation of the fact the Shiromani Akali Dal is the oldest and the most dependable ally of the BJP in the entire country," a press statement of the Akali Dal in Chandigarh stated.
 
"This is the oldest, the most durable and time-tested alliance and the BJP profoundly values it. The alliance signifies the social and political consensus in Punjab and elsewhere and is a symbol of peace and communal harmony throughout the country, especially in Punjab," it quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
 
Besides, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Akali Dal delegation comprised Sukhdev Sigh Dhindsa, Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Union Cabinet Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, MP Prem Singh Chandumajra and Delhi Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa.
 
The president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Gobind Singh Longowal and Manjit Singh GK also attended the meeting.
 
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The Akali Dal delegation thanked Modi for the Union government's "unprecedented and decisive" initiative in exempting Langar from the GST.
 
"The delegation expressed its wholehearted appreciation for the fact that the decision on exemption on all purchases for Guru ka Langar for all Gurdwara Sahibaan throughout the country was a first ever initiative of its kind by the Government of India since Independence," the statement said.
 
The Akali Dal leadership also urged the Prime Minister to expedite the implementation of the Swaminathan Report by which the farmers would be ensured a profit margin of 50 per cent over and above the costs incurred by them.
 
The delegation also asked the Prime Minister to set up a National Committee under his own chairmanship to ensure that the 550th Parkash Utsav (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak Dev is celebrated as a major national event.
 
It urged Modi to ensure that all Sikh and Punjab detainees languishing in jails even after completing their sentence, in many cases lasting 20 years, should be immediately released.
 
"Keeping them in custody after the expiry of their sentence is both illegal and immoral," the party statement said.
 
IANS
 
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BJP chief meets top SAD leaders in Chandigarh

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BJP President Amit Shah arrived here on Thursday afternoon and held a closed-door meeting with the top Shiromani Akali Dal leadership.
 
Shah met Akali Dal patron and five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and party President Sukhbir Singh Badal.
 
The meeting was held as part of Shah's initiative to connect with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJPs) allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Shah had met NDA ally and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackerey in Mumbai on Wednesday.
 
Sukhbir Badal's wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, is the Union Minister for Food Processing in the Narendra Modi government.
 
The alliance of the two parties did not do too well in the Punjab Assembly elections early last year. They also did not fare well in the Lok Sabha polls in April-May 2014 despite a clear Modi wave in most other states in north India.
 
The Akali Dal-BJP alliance in Punjab, which has been there for over three decades, was relegated to the third spot in the 2017 Assembly polls.
 
New entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got 20 seats in the 117-member Assembly and became the principal opposition party.
 
The Congress, which was out of power in Punjab for a decade (2007-2017), during which period the Akali Dal-BJP alliance ruled Punjab, got 77 seats in the Assembly (the Congress tally increased to 78 after win in Shahkot by-election last month, giving the party a two third majority in the house).
 
Out of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, the Akali Dal-BJP combine holds five (four Akali Dal; one of BJP), while the Congress has four seats and AAP another four.
 
IANS
 
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Congress wins Punjab's Shahkot by huge margin

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The ruling Congress won the Shahkot Assembly bye-election on Thursday by a huge margin of over 38,800 votes, wresting the Shiromani Akali Dal stronghold after more than 20 years.
 
Congress' Hardev Singh Ladi Sherowalia got 82,745 votes against the 43,944 votes polled by his Akali Dal rival Naib Singh Koha.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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Punjab Assembly bye-election: Congress leads in Akali Dal stronghold

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The ruling Congress built a formidable lead of over 16,000 votes in the Shiromani Akali Dal stronghold of Shahkot in Punjab after seven rounds of counting in the by-election to the Assembly seat on Thursday.
 
Congress candidate Hardev Singh Ladi Sherowalia was leading over his Shiromani Akali Dal rival Naib Singh Kohar after the first few rounds of counting.
 
Ladi received over 34,000 votes while Kohar got only around 18,000 votes.
 
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Rattan Singh was trailing far behind. He got just over 1,100 votes.
 
The seat fell vacant following the death of sitting Akali Dal legislator Ajit Singh Kohar in February. 
 
Kohar, a former minister, was elected five times from this seat. His son Naib Singh Kohar was fielded by the Akali Dal.
 
The Shahkot seat remained a stronghold of the Akali Dal for over two decades in the past.
 
There were 12 candidates in the fray this time. A total of 76 per cent voting was reported on May 28.
 
Punjab has a Congress government since March 2017.
 
IANS
 
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Budding Punjabi singer found shot dead

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A budding Punjabi singer Navjot Singh was found shot dead in Dera Bassi area of Punjab, around 15 km from here, following which police launched an investigation on Monday to catch the culprits.
 
Navjot's body was found in a pool of blood with five gunshot wounds near a factory plot past midnight on Sunday. His Nissan Micra car was found parked nearby.
 
He was shot in the chest from close range. A murder case was registered against unidentified persons.
 
The police ruled out robbery as the reason for the killing since nothing had been taken away from his person. Since he was a struggling artiste, extortion by gangsters was also ruled out.
 
The singer, aged around 22, was living in a rented apartment in S.A.S. Nagar, adjoining Chandigarh. 
 
He had called up his mother minutes before he was killed and told her that he was returning home in Behra village. The family began searching for him when he did not return home.
 
IANS
 
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Purpose of scientific research to find answers to development questions, says Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind has said that the purpose of scientific research was three-fold for its role in nation building, finding answers to development questions like providing low-cost healthcare and also helping business and industry in product invention and process innovation.  
 
Addressing the 7th convocation of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) here yesterday Mr Kovind said, though a young institution, IISER was well on its way to fulfilling its mandate of promoting and providing facilities for basic science research and integrating these with the needs of the country and the wider society.
 
He noted that Mohali has become a hub for the knowledge economy, for Information Technology, biotechnology and bioinformatics and related fields. “It is critical therefore that we see IISER as not just a standalone institution but as the fulcrum of an entire ecosystem. That is how this institution must grow and develop,” he added.
 
“The purpose of scientific research is three-fold. First, science and technology must continue to play a role in nation-building. As our nation evolves and as our society changes, our needs too, are transformed. Yet, science and technology will always be required to find answers to developmental questions.
 
“Today, the questions before us range from battling climate change to provide low-cost but effective healthcare solutions. And from helping our farmers overcome productivity and water-scarcity challenges to building sustainable cities and houses that are socially inclusive and provide a life of dignity to the last family in the last mohalla. The IISER network must immerse itself in these tasks,” Mr Kovind said.
 
“Secondly, science and technology have a symbiotic relationship with business and industry. Product invention and process innovation; converting the learning of the lab into commercially viable products; using technology to promote efficiency, enterprise and employment – there is so much science and commerce can do together.
 
“The combination of research institutions, technology start-ups incubated in campuses, and a knowledge-based business culture can be transformational. Silicon Valley in California and Bengaluru in India are examples of this. IISER must strive to play a similar role in Mohali and neighbouring cities,” he said.
 
“Third, institutions of scientific education and research are important in themselves for blue-sky innovation and for expanding the frontiers of knowledge. This is the fundamental and most critical value of scientific research.
 
“It is to keep alive the instinct of curiosity that is at the root of our civilisation. As the history of science tells us, this route requires patience. But it can lead to unexpected and dramatic leaps in human imagination,” he added.
 
The President urged students of IISER to keep these three motivations in mind as they climb higher. “In their own way, these three motivations of science and research will help them to serve our fellow citizens, to serve our society and country, and to serve the larger cause of humanity,” Mr Kovind said.
 
NNN
 
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