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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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One killed after fire in Panipat refinery

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One employee was killed and two others suffered serious burn injuries following a major fire at the Panipat refinery in Haryana, police said on Sunday.
 
The fire started late on Saturday night. Fire tenders were rushed to control the flames.
 
The victim was trapped in the refinery's atmospheric vacuum unit.
 
The injured were rushed to a hospital, officials said.
 
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NIA court reserves verdict in Samjhauta Express blast case

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A special National Investigating Agency (NIA) court here on Monday reserved verdict in the February 2007 Samjhauta Express link train blast in which 68 people, mostly Pakistani nationals, were killed.
 
The special NIA court reserved its judgment till March 14, following a fresh petition from a Pakistani national on Monday.
 
The petitioner said eyewitnesses from Pakistan, who were present on the train when blasts took place, were not sent summons nor asked to appear before the court. They were also not issued visas to come to India for court proceedings, he said.
 
The NIA court had in January 2014 framed charges against Hindu leader Swami Aseemanand and three others -- Kamal Chauhan, Rajinder Chaudhary and Lokesh Sharma -- in the case.
 
All accused were present in the NIA court on Monday.
 
They were charged with criminal conspiracy, murder, attempt to murder, sedition under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Explosive Substances Act, the Railways Act, the Damage to Public Property Act and the Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act.
 
Arguments in the case had concluded on March 6 and the NIA court had said the verdict would be pronounced on March 11.
 
The blast on February 18, 2007 in the train, which runs between Delhi and Lahore, at Panipat in Haryana left 68 people -- 43 Pakistanis, 10 Indians and 15 unidentified persons -- dead. As many as 64 were passengers, and the other four were railway officials. A dozen people, including 10 Pakistanis, were also injured. 
 
Blasts took place in two coaches of the Samjhauta Express link train (Delhi-Attari) near a railway station in Diwana village, 160 kilometre from here.
 
Aseemanand, a member of the right-wing Hindu group 'Abhinav Bharat', was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on November 19, 2010 from Haridwar, Uttarakhand, for his alleged role in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad that killed 14 people. 
 
The NIA, which questioned Aseemanand about his role in the Samjhauta blast case, said it had evidence against him and others.
 
Over 250 witnesses were examined during the trial, out of which some had turned hostile.
 
The charge sheet in the case was filed in 2011, four years after the incident.
 
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Australia beat India by four wickets in 4th ODI, level series

India's Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan during the fourth ODI match between India and Australia at Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali, Punjab on March 10, 2019. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
India's Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan during the fourth ODI match between India and Australia at Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali, Punjab on March 10, 2019. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
Australia rode a powerful batting effort to defeat India by four wickets in the fourth one-day international (ODI) and level the five-match series at 2-2 here on Sunday.
 
Chasing a formidable target of 359 runs, Peter Handscomb's maiden ODI century and half-centuries from Usman Khawaja and Ashton Turner took the visitors past the line with 13 balls to spare.
 
The Australians chase was off to a rocky start as Aaron Finch was bowled by Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumnar in the very first over. 
 
Jasprit Bumrah dealt another blow when he sent back Shaun Marsh in the fourth over with an excellent fuller length delivery that uprooted the off-stump.
 
However, that was destined to be the only bit of celebration for the Indian players. The capacity crowd at the IS Bindra Stadium witnessed laying of the foundation for a successful chase by Khawaja and Handscomb with a 192-run stand off 178 balls.
 
Handscomb scored 117 runs off 105 deliveries, hitting eight boundaries and three sixes along the way. Khawaja's 91 runs came off 99 balls and included seven hits to the fence.
 
Bumrah finally broke the partnership when Khawaja tried to pull a short-pitched delivery just outside the off-stump only to see Kuldeep Yadav latch on to the top edge at fine-leg.
 
Although the hosts claimed a couple of more wickets over the next eight overs, Turner smashed a quickfire half-century lower down the order to turn the match decisively in Australia's favour.
 
The all-rounder remained unbeaten on a breezy 84 with five boundaries and six hits into the stands studding his 43-ball stay at the crease.
 
Bumrah was the only Indian bowler who could trouble the Australian batsmen with figures of 3/63 in his 8.5 overs.
 
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Earlier, India rode scintillating knocks from openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan to post a mammoth 358/9.
 
Both Dhawan (143 off 115) and Rohit (95 off 92) were in brilliant touch right from the start and also recorded the highest opening stand (193) for India against Australia. The duo hammered every visiting bowler before Rohit fell, five short of his hundred.
 
But Dhawan maintained his aggressiveness, taking every bowler to cleaners.
 
The Indian openers started cautiously before they accelerated the innings to race away to 55 runs in just 9.2 overs. The duo seemed brutal as most bowlers were hammered to every part of the park and lifted the team to 100 runs in 17.2 overs.
 
Continuing their sensible and destructive play, the duo took India near the 200-run mark before pacer Jhye Richardson came with a big breakthrough. He sent back a well-settled Rohit in the 31st over.
 
Rohit's knock contained seven boundaries and two sixes.
 
Dhawan, however, continued attacking the Aussies as India crossed the 250-run mark in the next six overs. Pat Cummins gave his side some respite as he bowled Dhawan in the 38th over.
 
India lost skipper Virat Kohli (7 off 6) with the scorecard reading 266/3.
 
In the last 10 overs, stumper Rishabh Pant (36 off 24), Lokesh Rahul (26 off 31) and Vijay Shankar (26 off 15) made some valuable contributions before the lower order fell like a pack of cards. But by that time India was able to post a mammoth target.
 
For Australia, Cummins bagged five wickets, leaking 70 runs, while Richardson scalped three for 85 runs.
 
Brief scores: 
 
Australia: 359/6 in 47.5 overs (Peter Handscomb 117, Usman Khawaja 91, Ashton Turner 84 not out; Jasprit Bumrah 3/63) beat India: 358/9 (Shikhar Dhawan 143, Rohit Sharma 95; Pat Cummins 5/70) by four wickets.
 
IANS
 

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Rohit, Dhawan power India to 358/9 vs Australia

India's Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan during the fourth ODI match between India and Australia at Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali, Punjab on March 10, 2019. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
India's Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan during the fourth ODI match between India and Australia at Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali, Punjab on March 10, 2019. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)
Riding on scintillating knocks by openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, India posted a mammoth 358/9 against Australia in the fourth one-day international (ODI) contest of the five-match rubber here on Sunday.
 
Both Dhawan (143 off 115) and Rohit (95 off 92) were in brilliant touch right from the start and also recorded the highest opening stand (193) for India against Australia. The duo hammered every visiting bowler before Rohit fell, five short of his hundred.
 
However, Dhawan maintained his aggressiveness, taking every bowler to cleaners.
 
Indian openers started cautiously before they accelerated the innings to race away to 55 runs in just 9.2 overs. The duo seemed brutal as most bowlers were hammered to every part of the park and lifted the team to 100 runs in 17.2 overs.
 
Continuing their sensible and destructive play, the duo took India near the 200-run mark before pacer Jhye Richardson came with a big breakthrough. He sent back a well-settled Rohit in the 31st over.
 
Rohit's knock contained seven boundaries and two sixes.
 
Dhawan, however, continued attacking the Aussies as India crossed the 250-run mark in next six overs. Pat Cummins gave his side some respite as he bowled out Dhawan in the 38th over.
 
India lost skipper Virat Kohli (7 off 6) with the scorecard reading 266/3.
 
In the last 10 overs, stumper Rishabh Pant (36 off 24), Lokesh Rahul (26 off 31) and Vijay Shankar (26 off 15) made some valuable contributions before the lower order fell like a pack of cards. But by that time India was able to post a mammoth target.
 
For Australia, Cummins bagged five wickets, leaking 70 runs, while Richardson scalped three for 85 runs.
 
Brief scores: India 358/9 (Shikhar Dhawan 143, Rohit Sharma 95; Pat Cummins 5/70) against Australia.
 
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Cabinet nod for transfer of 50.76 acres land in Chandigarh to PGIMER

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The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal for transfer of 50.76 acres of land at Sarangpur, Chandigarh to the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh.
 
This will benefit in screening OPD patients, triaging the patients and managing them optimally, an  official press release said.  
 
Cancer management research and palliative care would be provided under one roof besides setting up of Learning Resource Centre (LRC) and multi-level parking, among other facilities.
 
With the setting up of new Out-Patient Department (OPD), shifting of Trauma Centre, Cancer Care, and LRC, the waiting time for surgeries will decrease for the common man.  Emergency services will be available in a highly efficient manner, infrastructural medical facilities will improve considerably for the common man. 
 
This will benefit the poorest of the poor patients attending the PGIMER, Chandigarh.  Health services and tertiary care will be more effective, therelease added.
 
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'Prosperous India' not possible without 'Prosperous Punjab': Finance Commission

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Fifteenth Finance Commission Chairperson NK Singh today said a “Prosperous India” was not possible without a “Prosperous Punjab".
 
The Commission had a detailed meeting with the State Government Punjab headed by the Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amrinder Singh. The meeting was also addressed by the State Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal.
 
The Commission was informed that Punjab constitutes 1.53% of total area of the country. The State has 2.33% of the total population of the country with an urbanisation rate of 37.48%. 
 
The sex ratio of the State was 895 as per Census 2011 as compared to 943 at all-India level. 
 
Population density of Punjab is very high as against the national average and has grown consistently since 1951, though at a slower pace than the latter. Population density of the State is 551 as compared to the national average of 382. Though comprising of 2.33% of total population of the country, the state’s share in inter-se devolution was 1.577.
 
States contribution to National GDP has been around 2.8-3.1% in the past 5 years (2011-12 to 2016-17). Share of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary sector is 29.2, 24.6 and 46.2% in 2016-17. Its per capita income is Rs. 128890 (Rank 13th) in 2016-17 as compared to India’s average of Rs 103870. 
 
Punjab is the first State to achieve 100% rural electrification, 100% rural connectivity through all-weather roads, mandi linkages of rural areas and now 24X7 rural water supply, an official press release said.
 
The state has among the lowest Transmission & Distribution Losses (T&D) in the country at 13.6% in 2017-18 down from 16.95% in 2013-14. The state has 100% road connectivity and, with a road density of 133 per square kilometre, the State is ranked second in the country.
 
The State has made significant development in reducing poverty, thereby showing its commitment towards SDG 1. It has a poverty ratio of 8.3 in 2011-12 declining from 20.9 in 2004-05 (Population below Poverty Line Tendulkar Methodology.
 
The memorandum submitted to the Commission by the State has given a balanced picture of both equity and efficiency indicators. It has proposed various indicators for performance measurement like in the areas of renewable energy, efficiency in Public Finance Management through IT initiative, Sewerage System in villages, efficient water resource management and solar-powered street lights.
 
The State ranks 2nd as per the Health Index 2018, prepared by the NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare & the World Bank.
 
The Commission was concerned to note the State’s Rising Outstanding Debt to GSDP Ratio, Declining Tax Revenues, Challenges for the State Finances, Debt Trap Situation, Agriculture Distress & Groundwater Depletion and other issues. The state is exhibiting a rising trend in its Outstanding Debt to GSDP no’s. The Debt to GSDP ratio has increased from 30.99% in 2012-13 to 42.61% in 2016-17.
 
High interest payments coupled with the historical legacy of accumulated debt, which further got augmented due to the additional debt burden on the back of UDAY Scheme (of approx. Rs 15628 crore) and takeover of the legacy Cash Credit Limit (CCL) gap (of approximately Rs. 31000 crore) into long term loan.
 
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Double-digit debt growth rate of government of Punjab for the past years violated the norms of fiscal prudence, the release said.
 
As understood from the Principal Accountant General (PAG), Punjab and during the internal deliberations in the Commission, the State has been exhibiting lower growth rate of own tax revenue since 2013-14. This has also led to lower buoyancies of own tax with reference to GSDP in the recent years. The buoyancy has declined significantly over a period of five years from 1.70 in 2012-13 to 0.96 in 2017-18, the release said.
 
The projections submitted by the state government also indicate that the State is projecting its own tax revenues to grow at a mere trend growth rate of 4.13% during 2020-25.
 
As state’s own resources contribution is a significant contributor (around 70%) to the total revenue receipts of the State, this trend is disturbing and would not augur well for the state’s fiscal health, it said.
 
The implementation of the Pay Commission recommendations is expected to lead to significant growth in expenditure on Salaries & Wages and put an additional burden on the already strained financial resources of the State, constraining its fiscal space further. Committed expenditure comprising Salary, Interest payment, Pension and Subsidies constitutes more than 90% of the Total Revenue Receipts of the State.
 
The State is in a situation where its gross borrowings are not even enough to meet its expenditure on repayment of principal and interest payment, leaving little scope for the State to spend on developmental works, it said.
 
Some special demands from the State include a special package of Rs 12,000 crore for water cycle management in cities and villages, Rs. 1,000 crore for stubble burning; and Rs 1900 crore for providing revival to debt stressed farmers.
 
Special one-time infrastructure development package of Rs 500 crore for improving border area; Special recommendation to address the issue of disaster relief along the lines SDRF to address the issue of crop damages; Special debt relief package to improve fiscal performance; Rs. 2694 crore in lieu of payment for security loan during militancy period (1980-95); Waiving of CCL or division amongst stakeholders GOI, GO Punjab & Banks.
 
“All the issues, concerns and challenges raised by the Punjab Government will receive the Commission’s serious consideration over the coming months”, the Chairman said.
 
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Bhupinder Hooda, Motilal Vora get bail in AJL case

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Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and senior Congress leader Motilal Vora were on Thursday granted bail in the land re-allotment case of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) by a CBI court in Panchkula, 10 km from here.
 
Hooda and Vora appeared in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court and got bail on a bond of Rs 5 lakh each.
 
The next date for hearing has been fixed at February 6. 
 
Hooda was booked by the CBI on charges of cheating and corruption in re-allotment of land to AJL, which is headed by Vora, in Panchkula town.
 
Hooda, as Chief Minister (2005-14), was Chairman of the Haryana Urban Development Authority at the time of plot re-allotment. 
 
Hooda and office-bearers of AJL -- the promoters of The National Herald newspaper -- were charged with illegal re-allotment of the plot to AJL in 2005. 
 
AJL is linked to Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. 
 
The plot number C-17 in Sector 6 in Panchkula, measuring around 3,360 square metres, was re-allotted to AJL on June 29, 2005. 
 
Earlier, in 1982, the plot had been allotted to the AJL but taken back in 1996 after the company failed to construct a building at the site.
 
Hooda had defended his decision saying that there was no wrongdoing in the re-allotment.
 
After re-allotment of the land, AJL completed the construction on the plot.
 
IANS
 

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Congress claims massive win in Punjab panchayat polls

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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday hailed the sweeping Congress victory in the just concluded panchayat polls in the state.
 
Describing it as a victory of democracy and a clear vindication of his government's policies, Amarinder Singh pointed out that 80.38 per cent out of the over 1.27 crore eligible voters exercised their franchise in the panchayat elections held on Sunday.
 
"Of the 13,175 sarpanches (village headman) elected so far, 11,241 belong to the Congress, with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accounting for only 981 and 100, respectively. Other smaller parties and independents accounted for 813 of the elected sarpanches," he said in a statement here.
 
"The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has suffered another ignominious electoral defeat, indicating that it had become completely irrelevant and was a non-entity in Punjab," he added.
 
The Chief Minister congratulated the people of Punjab for ensuring a largely peaceful poll with record polling percentage.
 
Of the 17,268 booths in which polling was held, re-poll was ordered in a mere 14, the Chief Minister pointed out, lauding the security forces for maintaining law and order during the elections "despite attempts by the opposition to trigger trouble".
 
"Undeterred by the false propaganda unleashed by the opposition parties against the Congress government, the voters came out in large numbers without fear to cast their votes in favour of (Congress) candidates," he added.
 
"This shows that the disillusionment of the electorate with the SAD and other opposition parties, including the BJP and AAP, was complete. The people of Punjab were no longer willing to be misled by the canards being spread by these parties," he said.
 
Amarinder Singh said that the panchayat polls indicated the palpable pro-Congress mood in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
 
"The negative campaigning of the opposition, which was clearly bereft of any positive agenda, had also contributed to the Congress victory in the panchayat elections and would continue to stand the party in good stead in the Lok Sabha polls," he added.
 
The Congress came to power after Assembly elections in March 2017.
 
IANS
 

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Rajiv Gandhi statue vandalized in Ludhiana; Congress, Akalis in war of words

 
Youth Akali Dal leaders vandalise bust of Rajiv Gandhi in Ludhiana
Punjab's ruling Congress and opposition Shiromani Akali Dal were on Tuesday involved in a bitter war of words after the statue of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was vandalized in the industrial city of Ludhiana.
 
The statue was vandalized allegedly by workers of the SAD's youth wing following which Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered strict action by the district police against the perpetrators. Following this, the police registered a case in this matter.
 
The incident, carried out by Youth Akali Dal activists Meetpal Dugri and Gurdeep Singh Gosha in Salem Tibri area of Ludhiana, around 120 km from here, led to a war of words between Congress and SAD leaders.
 
Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu later cleaned the statue with milk.
 
Blaming Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress for the killing of hundreds of Sikhs in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Youth Akali Dal activists used spray paint to blacken the face of Rajiv Gandhi and painted his hands in red colour.
 
The activists then announced that they were doing this (vandalism) to show their anger against the role of Rajiv Gandhi, father of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984 in the aftermath of the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two bodyguards.
 
Strongly condemning the vandalism, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday asked SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal to stop indulging in petty politics. 
 
Warning him that "such acts would backfire on his party in the coming Lok Sabha elections", the Chief Minister asked Badal to immediately "apologize for the obnoxious act of his party workers". "Indulgence in such petty and condemnable actions will not absolve you or your family of the many sins of omission and commission against the Guru Granth Sahib and the Sikh community," Amarinder said in a statement.
 
"They are well aware of the fact that the Gandhis were never named or implicated in the 1984 riots, yet they continued to drag the family into the case to further their own political agenda," said the Chief Minister.
 
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SAD president Sukhbir Badal reacted strongly to Amarinder's statement. "You @capt_amarinder should apologise to the Sikh sangat for failing them as CM and standing with hated Gandhi family. The community has shown what it thinks of Rajiv Gandhi in Ludhiana. Don't disrespect the sentiments of Sikhs," Badal tweeted.
 
"If you @capt_amarinder have any 'dard' for the Sikh 'qaum' you would resign as CM and stand with the community to expose Gandhi family for authoring and engineering genocide of Sikhs in 1984. But it seems you are made of stone. No amount of suffering of the community moves you," Badal said.
 
"It would have been better if you @capt_amarinder as a true Sikh & Punjab CM had condemned the Gandhi family and demanded expulsion of #1984SikhGenocide culprits Sajjan Kumar & Kamal Nath from Congress party. But you are too busy in sycophancy of Gandhi family to save your chair," Badal added.
 
Congress Sewa Dal activists later blackened the faces of SAD president Sukhbir Badal and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on posters in Ludhiana in retaliation against the statute vandalization. They burnt posters of both Akali Dal leaders.
 
Amarinder reiterated that only a few Congress, BJP and RSS workers were involved in the violence against the Sikh community in 1984 and the judiciary was proceeding to act against them.
 
"Sajjan Kumar had already been sentenced to life and others involved in the perpetration of the riots would also face legal action," he added. 
 
"Had the Gandhis been involved in any way, they would have been named by at least some of the victims in the wake of the riots," he observed, adding that while he had personally visited the refugee camps to meet the victims, Sukhbir had packed his bags and left for the United States and was totally unaware of the developments at that time."
 
"The Akalis, in their frustration to seize political mileage, are taking law into their hands, which my government would not allow at any cost," the Chief Minister warned, adding he would not let the state's hard-earned peace be disturbed by anyone.
 
Punjab has a Congress government since March 2017, headed by Amarinder Singh.
 
IANS
 

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Haryana road accident: 8 killed, 10 injured near Jhajjar flyover

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Eight persons, including seven women, were killed and ten critically injured in a massive pile-up of around 50 vehicles because of dense fog on the National Highway 71 in Haryana.
 
The accident occurred on Monday morning on the Rewari-Rohtak-Jalandhar highway near Jhajjar flyover.
 
The eight people who died were travelling in an SUV from their village in Kirdodh in Jhajjar, to outer Delhi's Najafgarh for a condolence visit when it was crushed between a tractor trolley carrying building material and a truck, police said.
 
The deceased were identified as Satpal (48), Santosh Devi (45), Kanta Devi (34), Premlata (50), Laxmi (63), Ramkali (35), Sheela Devi (61) and Khazani Devi (36).
 
The injured, including Pushpa (30) and Mangeram (50), were referred to PGIMS Rohtak, while the other eight victims, aged between 30 and 51 years, were admitted to various hospitals.
 
Haryana Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister O. P. Dhankar announced Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 1 lakh for those injured.
 
The accident led to a 2 km-long traffic jam on the highway.
 
IANS
 

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Court martial orders dismissal of Major General for sexual harassment of woman officer

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A serving Major General of the Indian Army has been ordered to be dismissed by general court martial (GCM) on Sunday following allegations of sexual harassment of a young woman officer.
 
The GCM verdict came early on Sunday. The court was held in the jurisdiction of the Western Command.
 
The verdict of the GCM is subject to confirmation by the Chief of the Army Staff, sources said.
 
The senior Army officer, who has denied the charges levelled against him and has claimed that he has been made a victim of of the Army's factional feud at the top level, has the right to appeal against the order.
 
The Major General was charged under Section 69 of the Army Act read with Section 354 (outraging modesty of a woman by criminal force or assault) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for conduct unbecoming of an officer.
 
The officer was posted in the North-East sector (Assam Rifles in Nagaland) with the Eastern Command when he was accused of sexual harassment, through a written complaint, by the Captain-rank woman officer of the Judge Advocate General branch of the Army.
 
The court proceedings against him started in June this year. He was attached to an Army formation in Ambala for disciplinary proceedings.
 
Sources said that lawyers of the Major General will appeal against the GCM verdict.
 
IANS
 

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HP, Kerala, Chandigarh are top performers in SDG India Index

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Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Chandigarh are the top performers in the implementation  of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), according to the SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018 released by the NITI Aayog here on Friday.
 
A single measurable Index to map progress of States & UTs towards 2030 SDGs, the list details the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards implementing the 2030 SDG targets.
 
The SDG India Index, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and the United Nations in India, was launched by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar.
 
NITI Aayog Members Ramesh Chand, V K Paul and VK Saraswat, its CEO Amitabh Kant, UN Resident Coordinator Yuri Afanasiev and Pravin Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry  of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
Himachal Pradesh ranks high on providing clean water & sanitation, in reducing inequalities and preserving the mountain ecosystem.
 
Kerala’s top rank is attributed to its superior performance in providing good health, reducing hunger, achieving gender equality & providing quality education. The score range for States is 42-69.
 
Chandigarh leads among the Union Territories because of its exemplary performance in providing clean water & sanitation, affordable & clean energy, generating decent work & economic growth, & providing quality education. The score range for UTs is 57-68.
 
The SDG India Index tracks progress of all States and UTs on 62 Priority Indicators selected by NITI Aayog, which in turn is guided by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI)’s National Indicator Framework comprising 306 indicators and based on multiple-round consultations with Union Ministries/Departments and States/UTs.
 
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The Index spans 13 out of 17 SDGs. Progress on SDGs 12, 13 & 14 could not be measured as relevant State/UT level data were not available and SDG 17 was left out as it focuses on international partnerships.
 
The aspirants are Uttar Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, while the overall front runners are Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh and Puducherry. 
 
The performers were Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. 
 
The Union Territories were Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Delhi and Lakshadweep.
 
"NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country and also promote Competitive and Cooperative Federalism among States and UTs. The SDG India Index acts as a bridge between these mandates, aligning the SDGs with the Prime Minister’s clarion call of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, which embodies the five Ps of the global SDG movement – people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace. 
 
"The world is now into the third year of the SDG era. The SDGs are ambitious global development goals that address key aspects of universal wellbeing across different socio-economic, cultural, geographical divisions and integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development," a press release from NITI Aayog said.
 
"India’s National Development Agenda is mirrored in the SDGs. India’s progress in SDGs is crucial for the world as the country is home to about 17% of the world population," it said.
 
According to the release, a composite score was computed between the range of 0-100 for each State and UT based on their aggregate performance across 13 SDGs, which indicates average performance of State/UT towards achieving 13 SDGs & their respective targets.
 
If a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies that it has achieved the 2030 national targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved.
 
The SDG India Index is available via an interactive dashboard which has cross-sectoral relevance across policy, civil society, business and academia. The Index is designed to function as a tool for focussed policy dialogue, formulation and implementation, moving towards development action pegged to globally recognisable metrics of SDG framework.  
 
"The Index also supplements NITI Aayog’s continuous efforts towards encouraging evidence-based policy making by supporting States/UTs to benchmark their progress, identifying priority areas and share best practices.
 
"The SDG India Index will also help highlight crucial gaps related to tracking SDGs and the need for India to develop its statistical systems at National & State/UT levels. This will lead to the index evolving and becoming more comprehensive over the coming years. 
 
"The indicators will be further refined and additional indicators will be added with improvement in data collection, reporting processes & methodology. NITI Aayog is also exploring the potential for disaggregating data and developing capacity for real time monitoring and measuring incremental progress," the release added.
 
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BJP wins mayor's seats in all five municipal corporations in Haryana

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Haryana's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday won the posts of mayor in all five municipal corporations in the state. Results of the municipal elections, held on Sunday, were declared on Wednesday.
 
Expressing happiness over the victory of mayoral candidates of BJP in all the five Municipal Corporations with a huge margin, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said by giving mandate in BJP's favour, the people of the state have put their stamp on the welfare policies of the present government.
 
"We are enthused by the poll results and hope that the people would continue to support us in the coming Jind bye-election, Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections slated to be held in 2019," Khattar told media after declaration of the results.
 
Elections to Municipal Corporations of Karnal, Panipat, Yamunanagar, Rohtak and Hisar and municipal committees of Jakhal Mandi in Fatehabad and Pundri in Kaithal were held on December 16.
 
Khattar said the party registered the biggest victory in Panipat mayoral poll in which the BJP candidate won with a huge margin.
 
"The victory assumes special significance when the election was fought between BJP versus all (others). Had all the opposition parties contested the elections on their symbols, we would have won with much higher votes. There are many other councillors also who have expressed their faith in the BJP after their victory," Khattar said.
 
The Chief Minister said there were apprehensions about the timing of the elections to five corporations and two municipal committees in the wake of the assembly elections in other states where the BJP lost power.
 
"It was being considered that the time was not right for these elections as it could have put an impact on the outcome of civic bodies' polls in Haryana. But the people have put their stamp on the transparent working culture of present state government which has been working for the welfare of all sections of the society without any consideration for caste and religion," Khattar said.
 
State Election Commissioner Dalip Singh said for the first time in Haryana, the election of the Mayor was conducted by direct poll.
 
The voters were given the option of NOTA (none of the above) for the first time in the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
 
BJP candidate Gautam Sardana defeated his opponent Rekha with a margin of 28,091 votes for the post of Mayor in Hisar Municipal Corporation. Gautam Sardana received 68,196 votes whereas Rekha received 40,105 votes, a spokesman said.
 
In the Karnal Municipal Corporation, BJP candidate Renu Bala won the Mayor's post by defeating Asha Wadhwa by 9,348 votes.
 
Avneet, a BJP candidate, won the Mayor's post in Panipat Municipal Corporation by defeating Anshu Pahwa by a margin of 74,940 votes.
 
In Rohtak, the Mayor post was won by BJP candidate Manmohan Goyal who defeated Sita Ram by 14,776 votes. BJP candidate for the Yamunanagar Mayor's post, Madan Singh defeated Rakesh Kumar by a margin of 40,678 votes.
 
IANS
 

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Amarinder Singh admitted to hospital for kidney stone removal

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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was admitted to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here on Sunday. He will undergo a kidney stone removal procedure.
 
The 76-year-old Chief Minister wrote on Twitter on Sunday: "Got myself admitted to the PGI Chandigarh today evening for removal of a Kidney stone, a simple laser procedure will be performed tomorrow morning & I shall be returning to my work by Tuesday."
 
Amarinder was admitted to the PGIMER earlier on November 28 after he developed fever. He was kept in the hospital for the night and was discharged after completion of medical tests.
 
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Monday (December 10) visited the Chief Minister at his official residence here to enquire about the latter's health. 
 
Both leaders were here for the re-launch of the 'Navjivan' Hindi newspaper in Mohali town in Punjab, adjoining Chandigarh. The Chief Minister could not attend the function due to ill-health.
 
Amarinder became Chief Minister of Punjab in March 2017, leading the Congress party to a thumping majority in the Assembly elections. Earlier, he was Chief Minister from 2002 to 2007.
 
IANS
 

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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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