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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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No passport required for visiting Kartarpur Sahib, fee waived for 2 days

Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan  (Photo: Xubayr Mayo, Wikimedia Commons)
Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan (Photo: Xubayr Mayo, Wikimedia Commons)
In a major relief to devotees visiting Pakistan for the celebrations of the 550th "Prakash Purb" of Guru Nanak Dev, the host country on Friday announced the waiver of the conditions of carrying a passport for identification and prior registration for the visitors.
 
Also, it has exempted the Indian pilgrims from paying a $20 entry fee on the day of inauguration of the corridor and Guru Nanak Dev's birthday.
 
"For Sikhs coming for pilgrimage to Kartarpur from India, I have waived off 2 requirements: i) they won't need a passport -- just a valid ID; ii) they no longer have to register 10 days in advance," Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted.
 
"Also, no fee will be charged on day of inauguration & on Guruji's 550th birthday," he added.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9 and dispatch the first lot of pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan's Punjab province on the occasion of the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.
 
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, originally known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is a highly revered Sikh shrine where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place.
 
A day earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reviewed the progress of the arrangements at Dera Baba Nanak and Sultanpur Lodhi for the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor and the 550th Prakash Purb celebrations. He said all preparations were on track.
 
IANS
 

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Khattar takes oath as Haryana CM for second term

Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Haryana where the BJP formed a government, the state's first non-Congress government at the helm for a second consecutive term.
Manohar Lal Khattar (File photo: IANS)
Manohar Lal Khattar (File photo: IANS)
Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Haryana where the BJP formed a government, the state's first non-Congress government at the helm for a second consecutive term.
 
The saffron party formed the government in alliance with the newly formed Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) led by Dushyant Chautala, who took oath as Deputy Chief Minister.
 
Khattar, 65, will be heading the second Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of the state, which was formed on November 1, 1966.
 
A low-profile organisational man with an active RSS background, Khattar was chosen by the newly elected BJP legislators as their leader at a meeting here on Saturday.
 
"My government will be transparent," Khattar told the media ahead of taking the oath.
 
Five-time Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, whose party Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD) had an alliance with BJP's rival Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) during the assembly elections despite being an NDA partner, attended the ceremony along with son and Member of Parliament Sukhbir Badal.
 
Earlier, the BJP, which won 40 seats and was six short of a majority in the 90-member Assembly, announced an alliance with the JJP led by Dushyant Chautala, a great grandson of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.
 
IANS

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Khattar to take oath as CM on Sunday, Dushyant his deputy

BJP leader Manohar Lal Khattar and Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leader Dushyant Chautala will take oath as the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of Haryana on Sunday.
Manohar Lal Khattar (File photo: IANS)
Manohar Lal Khattar (File photo: IANS)
BJP leader Manohar Lal Khattar and Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leader Dushyant Chautala will take oath as the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of Haryana on Sunday.
 
The swearing-in ceremony will be held at Raj Bhavan here at 2.15 p.m.
 
"We have staked claim to form government in Haryana. The Governor has accepted our proposal and invited us (to form the government)," Chief Minister-designate Khattar told the media.
 
He said he has tendered his resignation which has been accepted.
 
"Tomorrow at 2.15 p.m. oath-taking ceremony will be held at Raj Bhavan. Dushyant Chautala will take oath as Deputy CM," he added.
 
Dushyant was present along with Khattar when he met Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya to stake the claim for the government formation. Seven independent legislators were also present there.
 
His father Ajay Chautala, who is lodged in Tihar Jail for conviction in a teacher recruitment scam, was granted furlough of two weeks on Saturday. He is to attend the oath-taking ceremony.
 
At his furlough, Dushyant said: "Can't my father celebrate Diwali with his family."
 
BJP, which won 40 seats and was six short of a majority in the 90-member Assembly, announced an alliance with the JJP led by Dushyant Chautala, a great grandson of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal, on Friday evening.
 
Earlier, Khattar was unanimously elected as leader of the BJP Legislature Party at a meeting here.
 
His name was proposed by legislator Anil Vij and seconded by the rest of the 38 legislators.
 
Khattar arrived here from New Delhi on Saturday morning to attend the BJP Legislature Party meeting, which was attended by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and BJP General Secretary Arun Singh.
 
Prasad told the media that since the BJP is the single largest party, it would meet the Governor and stake claim to form the government.
 
On the post of Deputy Chief Minister, Prasad clarified that there would be only one.
 
"It will be the prerogative of the Chief Minister to take a decision on the formation of the Cabinet and its composition," he replied to another media query.
 
The Union Minister, who was here as a party observer, also clarified the party would not be taking any support from Haryana Lokhit Party MLA Goyal Kanda.
 
He said the government is going to form the government with the support of the JJP, which has 10 legislators, and all seven Independents.
 
"All are united," he said, adding the BJP would give clean and stable government and this is "our assurance to the people of Haryana".
 
Khattar said all 40 MLAs of the BJP have unanimously elected him as their leader.
 
"I thank all of them and the people of Haryana. I would like to assure them as well as all those friends who are supporting us that I shall take all of them along for the next five years and all of us shall work together for the betterment and upliftment of our state of Haryana," Khattar said.
 
On Thursday, after the announcement of the results of Haryana Assembly elections, in which the BJP fell short by six seats from the magical figure of 46 needed for a majority, the businessman-turned-politician extended unconditional support to the BJP for forming the state government.
 
There were also reports of the BJP's top leaders meeting Kanda. However, the party had to back track in the face of massive criticism as Kanda is accused of abetting to suicide Geetika Sharma, an air hostess with his now-defunct MDLR airlines.
 
Geetika, 23, committed suicide in 2012 alleging harassment by Kanda and one of his aides, and her mother, Anuradha, also killed herself a few months later apparently unable to bear the loss of her daughter.
 
Kanda was then a minister in the Congress-led Haryana government. He remained in jail for a year and a half and was granted bail in March 2014, and the charge of rape was dropped by the Delhi High Court.
 
He later formed the Haryana Lokhit Party, on a ticket of which he has won the Assembly election from Sirsa constituency.
 
The criminal case against him is still pending in New Delhi's Rouse Avenue court.
 
IANS

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Haryana: BJP wins 40 seats but almost all ministers lose

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The ruling BJP in Haryana led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday won 40 seats but failed to cross the half-way mark in the 90-member Assembly.
 
Also, all the party's state ministers, except two, lost the poll
 
The rival Congress won 31 seats, while the less than 12-month-old Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), which broke away from the state's once major regional Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) owing to family disputes, won 10 seats.
 
The INLD won a lone seat against 19 in 2014 Assembly election. Eight independents have also won.
 
While Khattar retained his Karnal seat with a comfortable margin, two-time Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda too managed to win in his bastion of Garhi Sampla-Kiloi in Rohtak district.
 
Khattar won by 45,188 votes over his nearest rival Tarlochan Singh of the Congress.
 
BJP's outgoing ministers Captain Abhimanyu, O. P. Dhankar, Ram Bilas Sharma, Kavita Jain, Krishan Lal Panwar, Manish Grover, and Krishan Kumar Bedi, all ended up with humiliating defeats.
 
But  Public Health and Engineering Minister Banwari Lal won the Bawal seat. Also Health Minister Anil Vij retained his seat from Ambala Cantonment.
 
Two sitting ministers, Rao Narbir Singh and Vipul Goel, were denied tickets and fresh faces were brought in.
 
Sitting Congress legislator Kuldeep Bishnoi, whose hotel worth Rs 150 crore in a prime location of Gurugram has been attached by the Income Tax department, retained his stronghold of Adampur by defeating his nearest rival and TikTok celebrity Sonali Phogat of the BJP by over 29,000 votes.
 
JJP chief Dushyant Chautala and his mother Naina Chautala won the Uchana Kalan and Badhra seats, respectively.
 
Outgoing Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu, who lost to JJP candidate and BJP rebel Ram Kumar Gautam in the Narnaud constituency in Hisar district by a margin of 12,029 votes, admitted his defeat during counting.
 
With it becoming clear that the BJP would not form the government on its own, its state unit chief Subhash Barala also lost the Tohana Assembly seat in Fatehabad district by more than 20,000 votes to JJP's Devender Singh Babli.
 
BJP candidate and former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh defeated Congress' Mandeep Chatha in Pehowa. This was the BJP's first win in the constituency.
 
While BJP candidate and international wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt faced defeat, another of its candidates, wrestler Babita Phogat, emerged third in the Dadri constituency in Bhiwani.
 
Another prominent defeat for the BJP is its sitting legislator Prem Lata, 59, wife of former Union Minister Birender Singh, who was defeated by JJP chief Dushyant Chautala, great grandson of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.
 
Congress' national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, who lost by a mere 1,246 votes to BJP's Leela Ram, conceded defeat from Kaithal.
 
Surjewala, a two-time MLA, was seeking his third term from Kaithal, once a known stronghold of the Surjewala family.
 
Congress leader Kiran Chaudhary, however, retained her Tosham seat by over 12,000 votes.
 
The Congress candidate from Ferozepur Jhirka in Mewat, Mamman Khan, defeated BJP's Naseem Ahmed, an INLD defector. Ahmed had won this seat in the 2014 and 2009 Assembly elections.
 
BJP's Zakir Hussain, who was the sitting legislator in Nuh constituency, lost his seat to Congress' Aftab Ahmed as the latter won by a margin of 4,038 votes.
 
BJP's Pramod Vij and Mahipal Dhanda won Panipat City and Rural seats, respectively.
 
The JJP appears set to play kingmaker in the state. Dushyant Chautala said he has called a meeting of the party executive at 11 a.m. on Friday in Delhi to discuss the party's strategy.
 
JJP candidate Ram Niwas won from Narwana (reserved). He contested against BJP's Santosh Rai. JJP candidate Ram Karan won from Shahbad (reserved) by a margin of 37,127 votes against BJP's Krishan Kumar.
 
Another JJP candidate Amarjeet Dhanda has won from Julana beating the incumbent Parminder Singh Dhull, who switched to the BJP from the INLD.
 
Independent candidate Nayan Pal Rawat won from Prithala.
 
INLD's Abhay Chautala won the party's lone seat of Ellenabad.
 
Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP) President Gopal Kanda registered a win from Sirsa seat. He extended unconditional support to the BJP.
 
After winning his seat, Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the mandate is against the BJP government.
 
"The mandate is against the current government of Haryana, and all parties should come together to form a strong government whether it's JJP, BSP, INLD or independent candidates," Hooda told reporters.
 
IANS
 

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Golf: Ajeetesh Sandhu pips Rashid Khan in photo-finish

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Local favourite Ajeetesh Sandhu pipped Delhi’s Rashid Khan in a photo-finish to win the Rs. 1.5 crore Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational at the Chandigarh Golf Club on Sunday.
 
Ajeetesh made a spectacular comeback in regulation play before coming through in a marathon playoff that lasted four extra holes. It was a classical contest  that saw Sandhu collect the winning cheque worth Rs. 24,24,750 that catapulted him from 48th to second position in the Tata Steel PGTI Order of Merit. 
 
Rashid extended his lead to over Rs. 34 lakhs in the PGTI’s money list despite his heartbreaking loss. Khan’s PGTI earnings for 2019 now stand at a whopping Rs. 61,21,653.
 
Ajeetesh Sandhu (66-69-67-66) and Rashid Khan (71-64-67-66), the joint leaders after round three, headed for the playoff on Sunday after ending up with identical totals of 20-under 268 in regulation play. It turned out to be the lowest winning score at the Chandigarh Golf Club (CGC) improving on Rahil Gangjee’s 13-under 275 at the PGTI Players Championship in 2013.
 
Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh took third place at 17-under 271 after a flawless 68 in round four.
 
Abhijit Singh Chadha, another local lad, matched the course record score of eight-under-64 to take a share of 15th place at seven-under-281. Chadha’s sizzling round featured an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey.
 
The day began with Rashid Khan firing on all cylinders with five birdies on the first six holes to build a daunting five-shot lead over nearest rival Ajeetesh Sandhu. 
 
The 28-year-old  Delhi golfer kept landing it extremely close to the pins on that stretch. He made two extraordinary recoveries from the rough to extract birdies on the fourth and fifth. He chipped in on the fifth. When he sank his fifth birdie of the day on the sixth, it seemed like the writing was on the wall.
 
However, Sandhu missed a couple of short putts early on and had only a birdie and bogey to show over his first six holes. But then he got some momentum going in his round as he drained three straight birdies on the seventh, eighth and ninth, courtesy some outstanding iron-play that reduced Rashid’s lead to just two shots.
 
The two players then picked up two birdies each over the next five holes to maintain status quo. Thereafter, the 31-year-old Ajeetesh made a crucial 15-feet birdie conversion on the 17th while Rashid made an uncharacteristic three-putt bogey on the 18th.
 
The see-saw battle continued during the playoff as Rashid made an unbelievable 30-feet par putt on the first extra hole where Ajeetesh too came up with an excellent approach from the rough. On the second hole, Rashid’s putt lipped-out from eight feet to deny him victory. 
 
Finally, on the fourth extra hole, Ajeetesh won the battle of nerves as he made par while Rashid’s challenge faded away as he found the water hazard with his approach.
 
Ajeetesh said, “It has been a really solid week for me. I’m delighted to win on my home turf and in front of my home crowd. It’s something I’ve always dreamt of.
 
“I’ve been playing some great golf in recent weeks and this is a good culmination to that. The three birdies on the seventh, eighth and ninth were the key to my round as they kept me in the game. The long birdie conversions on the 14th and 17th also played a part in getting me within striking distance of the title.
 
“I thought I had it on the first playoff hole but Rashid came up with an exceptional putt. But I hung in there. It’s always different in a playoff as you’re not playing against the course but against one player. One thus goes into a playoff with a different mindset. I did well to make that mental adjustment.
 
The PGTI record for the longest playoff was also matched on Sunday. The two previous playoffs on the PGTI that lasted four holes were played at the PGTI Players Championship at the Noida Golf Course in 2013 and at the Delhi-NCR Open also at the Noida Golf Course in 2019.
 
While Kolkata’s Divyanshu Bajaj finished fourth at 13-under 275, the Chandigarh duo of Aadil Bedi and Akshay Sharma took joint fifth at 12-under 276. Sri Lankan Mithun Perera was a further shot back in seventh.
 
Rory Hie of Indonesia, the leading foreign name in the field, finished tied eighth at 10-under 278. Jyoti Randhawa took a share of 11th place at nine-under 279.
 
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Golf: Rashid Khan and Ajeetesh Sandhu climb to top with scores of 67 on day three

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In-form Rashid Khan of Delhi staked claim to his fourth title of the year with an error-free five-under 67 that propelled him to the top of the leaderboard at 14-under 202 on day three of the Rs. 1.5 crore Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational at the Chandigarh Golf Club on Saturday.
 
Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu, fresh from a recent joint runner-up finish on the Asian Tour, also fired a 67 to join Rashid as the co-leader.
 
Karandeep Kochhar will be the second Chandigarh player in the leader group on Sunday since he closed round three in third place at 13-under 203. Kochhar, the runner-up last year, returned a steady 71 in the penultimate round to keep himself in the race.
 
Rashid Khan (71-64-67), who matched the course record of 64 on day two to move within three of the lead in tied third, didn’t concede a shot for the second straight day. 
 
The winner of PGTI’s last event in Chandigarh in May this year,  he had a slow start on Saturday but then gradually built the momentum. He sank three long birdie putts on the fifth, eighth and 12th, the last being a mammoth 40-footer. The 28-year-old then made a couple of brilliant chip-putt birdies on the 16th and 17th.
 
“It was a good ball-striking day for me and I’m happy to go bogey-free once again. The long birdie conversion on the 12th was the highlight of my round. I did really well to hang in there and keep myself in the game despite the slow start," Rashid said.
 
“On the front-nine, I grazed the hole on a few occasions as I couldn’t read the speed of the greens. However, on the back-nine I was much better as I made all one-putts except on the last hole where I two-putted.
 
“The way I’ve been playing this year, I have the self-belief to contend at every event. Once you’re in a zone where you can score, you don’t see anything else. I feel it’s going to be a tough fight tomorrow as I’m up against two of the local favourites who will have the crowd support.”
 
Ajeetesh Sandhu (66-69-67), also lying tied third and three off the lead at the halfway stage, enjoyed a solid day with a top-notch 67 that raised local hopes. The 31-year-old wasn’t at his best on the front-nine where he made a birdie and a bogey each. But on the back-nine he turned it on with five birdies including four on the last six holes.
 
Sandhu, the highest-ranked Indian on the Asian Tour so far this year as he is placed 15th, landed it within inches of the flag to set up tap-in birdies on the 14th and 17th.
 
Ajeetesh said, “I had a quiet front-nine as I couldn’t capitalize despite hitting it close on a few occasions. I misread some putts there. However, I struck it well off the tee and converted my putts on the back-nine.
 
“I feel I’m carrying the confidence from my recent performances on the Asian Tour where I’ve shot some good scores and had one good result just prior to this event. I’m excited about the final round as nothing can really top the feeling of contending for the title at your home course where you’ve grown up playing golf.”  
 
Kochhar (65-67-71), who was in the lead for the first two days, slipped to third place in round three after a sedate 71. Kochhar, like Ajeetesh, began the day with a three-putt bogey on the first. The after recovering well with a great par-save on the second, he collected two more birdies on the sixth and 12th courtesy his precise approach shots.
 
Kochhar said, “I didn’t drive as well as the first two days and also didn’t hit it as close. But my putting was good and I hung in there not letting the game get away from me.
 
Sri Lankan Mithun Perera, the overnight joint leader along with Kochhar, dropped to fourth place at 11-under-205 after his 73 in the third round.
 
Akshay Sharma (66) and Aadil Bedi (68) were the other two Chandigarh players in the top-10. Akshay occupied sixth at nine-under-207 while Aadil was a further shot back in seventh.
 
Gurugram-based Manu Gandas shot the best round of the day, a seven-under 65, to move into tied eighth at seven-under 209. Among the other players bunched in tied eighth were Indian star Jyoti Randhawa (69) and Bengaluru’s Viraj Madappa (71).
 
Rory Hie (69) of Indonesia, the leading foreign name in the field, was in tied 20th at five-under 211. Reigning champion Chikkarangappa (76) of Bengaluru was placed tied 40th at one-over 217.
 
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Golf: Mithun Perera cards 65, emerges joint leader with Karandeep Kochhar

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Sri Lankan Mithun Perera carded an impressive seven-under 65 to emerge joint leader with  Karandeep Kochhar in the halfway lead at 12-under 132 at the Rs. 1.5 crore Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational at the Chandigarh Golf Club here on Friday.
 
Karandeep posted a five-under 67 to continue at the top of the leaderboard for the second day in succession.
 
The current Tata Steel PGTI Order of Merit leader Rashid Khan of Delhi matched the course record with a scorching eight-under 64 to also rise into contention. He was bunched in tied third at a total of nine-under 135 along with Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu (69), Sri Lankan N Thangaraja (68), Delhi’s Himmat Singh Rai (69) and Om Prakash Chouhan (69) of Mhow.
 
The cut came down at even-par-144. Fifty professionals made it to the weekend rounds. Tournament host Jeev Milkha Singh missed the cut as he followed up his first-round 72 with a 77 on day two to total five-over 149.
 
Pukhraj Singh Gill of Ludhiana made a hole-in-one on the eighth. However, Pukhraj who shot a 79 on Friday missed the cut. Gill’s was the third hole-in-one of the tournament following N Thangaraja and Martendeya Kanishka Sinha’s aces on day one.
 
Mithun Perera (67-65), lying overnight tied fifth and two off the lead, admitted that the return of his putting form in round one had a ripple effect on other aspects of his game that benefitted him in round two in a major way.
 
Perera, a six-time winner on the PGTI, had three birdies in succession early in his round for the second straight day when he gained strokes on the second, third and fourth. The 32-year-old from Colombo was landing everything within five feet and thus picked up two more birdies on the sixth and eighth. Mithun chipped-in on both the third and eighth.
 
His pin-point accuracy with his ball-striking continued on the back-nine where he produced three more birdies at the cost of a lone bogey on the 15th.
 
Mithun, who last won an event in March 2018 in Chennai, said, “I used to make firm putts early on in my career. But once I got on the Asian Tour in 2015 and started playing a lot of events, I somehow lost those firm putts. I then had a good stroke but dying putts.
 
“However, after a lot of work on my putting, yesterday in round one I finally felt I got my firm putting stroke back when I sank a couple of long birdie putts on the 12th and 16th. That took a lot of pressure off me and had a positive effect on the other departments of my game. That’s the reason I struck the ball so well today. I hardly left myself a long putt. I just hope to continue this rhythm.”
 
Karandeep Kochhar (65-67), the round one leader, continued his fine form with a bogey-free 67. He too has conceded just one shot so far this week. Kochhar had a slow start making just one birdie on the front-nine. He then drained four more on the back-nine thanks to his consistent putting from six to seven feet.
 
“I was just very confident within a radius of six to seven feet on the greens. I made a couple of clutch par putts on the fourth and seventh that kept my round going. I drove the ball better and hit better tee shots today as compared to round one even though I returned a higher score," he said.
 
Rashid Khan (71-64), a winner of three titles this year, continued to play with the self-belief that has made 2019 a defining year for him. Rashid, the winner of PGTI’s last event at the Chandigarh Golf Club in May this year, climbed 23 spots from his overnight tied 26th when he matched the course record on Friday.
 
He made an eagle and six birdies on day two as he sank  a 15-feet birdie on the 12th before using his wedges well to set up short birdie putts on the 16th, 17th and 18th.
 
Rashid said, “I found most of the greens today and made a lot of up and downs. When I began the round, I told myself to just keep the ball in play. That worked out well for me. I’m delighted to have equalled the course record.”
 
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (68) was the third Chandigarh player in the top-10 as he totaled six-under 138 to be tied 10th. Bengaluru’s Viraj Madappa (71) was also in tied 10th. Jyoti Randhawa fired a second straight 70 to be tied 14th at four-under-140.
 
Reigning champion Chikkarangappa of Bengaluru jumped 33 spots to tied 22nd at three-under-141 after his round of 68.Rory Hie (70) of Indonesia, the leading foreign name in the field, was a further shot back in tied 27th.
 
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Golf: Top pros of country for Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational in Chandigarh

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Some of the country's leading pros, including defending champion Chikkarangappa, Khalin Joshi, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Viraj Madappa and Rashid Khan, will be seen in action in the second edition of the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational at the Chandigarh Golf Club from October 17-20.
 
The main event will be preceded by the Pro-Am event on October 16.
 
The foreign challenge will be led by Indonesian star Rory Hie, who won an Asian Tour event in India last month, Bangladesh’s Md Zamal Hossain Mollah and Sri Lankans Anura Rohana, Mithun Perera and N Thangaraja.
 
The tournament had been jointly launched by Take Solutions and Tata Steel PGTI in 2018 as a gesture to honour Indian golfing legend Jeev Milkha Singh. 
 
The 2019 edition of the tournament will once again be staged at Jeev’s home course, the Chandigarh Golf Club and will offer a handsome prize purse of Rs. 1.5 crore. The field will feature 132 players, including 129 professionals and three amateurs.
 
The other prominent names from Chandigarh besides Jeev Milkha Singh are those of last year’s runner-up Karandeep Kochhar, Aadil Bedi, Abhijit Singh Chadha, Sujjan Singh, Angad Cheema, Harendra Gupta, Akshay Sharma, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, Harmeet Kahlon, Amandeep Johl, Gurbaaz Mann, Feroz Singh Garewal, Ranjit Singh and Amritinder Singh. One of the three amateurs, Sunny Singh, also hails from Chandigarh.
 
The tournament will witness the launch of Take Solutions’ and Tata Steel PGTI’s joint Go Green initiative whereby plastic water bottles will not be provided to players for their on-course water requirement. Players have been requested to carry their own flasks or bottles which can be refilled at the water dispensers placed at various locations across the  course.
 
Jeev Milkha Singh is the first Indian professional golfer to have a PGTI event named after him. Jeev conquered uncharted territory over two decades back when he became one of the first Indian golfers to taste success at the international level. Since then he has added many more firsts and Indian records to his name.
 
He  has the rare distinction of being the only Indian to have won the Asian Tour Order of Merit twice (in 2006 and 2008). He has won multiple titles on the European Tour, Japan Golf Tour and Asian Tour and has 14 Major appearances to his name. Jeev has also achieved a career-high world ranking of 28, an Indian record.
 
About the tournament, Jeev said, “After the huge success of the inaugural edition of the Invitational, I’m really looking forward to hosting the second edition of the tournament this year.
 
"I couldn’t have asked for a better finish last year as it ended in a nail-biting playoff between two of India’s most talented youngsters, Chikkarangappa and local favourite Karandeep Kochhar. Chikkarangappa was a truly deserving winner at the end of that pulsating playoff encounter.
 
“This year’s event promises to be even better as a visual treat awaits golf fans in Chandigarh. The course is in great shape and the field has a lot of depth with a number of Indian players of international reckoning and a few reputed foreign names in the mix. I’m also eager to perform well in front of my home crowd this year," he added.
 
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Congress' 10-point norm for Haryana ticket aspirants

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The Congress has issued 10-point criteria for the ticket-seekers for the Haryana Assembly elections to be held on October 21. The party also extended the deadline for submission of forms for party tickets from September 23 to September 25.
 
The Haryana Congress President Kumari Selja tweeted, "seeing the enthusiasm of the ticket seekers and membership drive, the deadline for the submission of forms has been extended to September 25."
 
According to the norms, the ticket aspirants must wear khadi, be teetotallers, follow the 'Gandhian way of life', believe in secular values or must not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed or religion in their public or personal life.
 
The candidates will have to sign an undertaking that they will not go against the party  line and policies at any public forum, according to the application form issued by the Congress.
 
Khadi was a way of life and every congressman must follow Gandhian ideals, said former state party chief Ashok Tanwar.
 
The party recently had to face a lot of dissenting voices from within over the abrogation of Article 370. It's a different thing that the Congress maintains that it has inner-party democracy and everyone has a right to speak his or her mind.
 
The Congress has set up a screening committee under Madhusudan Mistry to scrutinise forms filled by ticket-seekers. It will recommend a panel of candidates to the central party election committee for a final decision.
 
The Congress is gearing up to take on the BJP, which is seeking a second term. The Congress appears to be a divided house with two factions -- former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Ashok Tanwar -- fighting a turf war.
 
In the 2014 Assembly elections, the Congress won only 15 seats with the BJP cruising to a majority at 47.
 
IANS

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Kohli's catch, bowlers restrict South Africa to 149/5

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Virat Kohli took a stunning catch to pour cold water on Quinton de Kock's half-century as India restricted South Africa to 149/5 in 20 overs in the second T20 international here on Wednesday.
 
After the first rubber was washed out without a ball being bowled, a new-look South African team were asked to bat first. Newly-appointed captain de Kock got off to a flying start and brought up his fifty as the away side looked good after ten overs.
 
But Kohli showed why he is one of the best fielders in the world besides his unparallelled batting prowess with a magnificent catch running to his left from mid-off off Navdeep Saini's bowling in the 12th over to change the tide of the game.
 
de Kock was gone for 52 off 37 balls, (8x4) as South Africa could never recover from the setback. In the last over, Andile Phehlukwayo (8 not out) and Dwaine Pretorius (10 not out) took 16 runs off Saini to take them to near the 150-run mark.
 
Indian bowlers, led by Deepak Chahar who returned best figures of 2/22 did a good job to bowl a tight line and not let the batters free their arms post de Kock's dismissal. Only 39 runs came off the last five overs.
 
de Kock was in the mood from the outset, hitting Navdeep Saini for three back-to-back fours in the third over.
 
The stumper-batsman smashed Deepak Chahar for a four in the first ball of the fourth over to signal his intent but his team suffered their first setback when Reeza Hendricks was taken at mid-on by Washington Sundar off Chahar for just 6.
 
Debutant Temba Bavuma joined de Kock in the middle but it was the latter who was doing the bulk of the scoring as South Africa reached 39/1 at the end of Powerplay.
 
In the 10th over, Bavuma joined the act as he slapped comeback man Hardik Pandya for two successive fours through the deep point region.
 
At the halfway stage, the visitors were 78/1 and de Kock brought up his third T20 fifty in 35 deliveries before Kohli took the stunner of a catch off Saini in the 12th over to send his counterpart back to the hut.
 
Rassie van der Dussen (1) was caught and bowled by Jadeja but it was Kohli's brilliant catch to remove de Kock that proved to be the turning point of South Africa's innings as the scoring rate dropped despite Bavuma's 49 from 43 balls.
 
Bavuma was one run short of his fifty when he holed out to Jadeja at mid-on off a Chahar slower ball.
 
David Miller's 15-ball 18 ended in the 19th over just when his team needed him to go big.
 
South Africa played three debutants in Anrich Nortje and Bjorn Fortuin besides Bavuma.
 
Brief scores: South Africa 149/5 in 20 overs (Quinton de Kock 52, Temba Bavuma 49; Deepak Chahar 2/22) vs India
 
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Virat Kohli wins toss, decides to bowl against SA

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India skipper Virat Kohli won the toss in the second T20I against South Africa at the PCA Stadium and decided to field first.
 
Speaking at the toss, Kohli said: "We are gonna bowl first. It's very difficult to defend and it's a great chasing ground. It's a typical Mohali wicket. The pitch is gonna play well too."
 
On his knock against Australia in the T20 World Cup 2016, he said, "Yes I remember it fondly. That is one of the best matches I have been part of. This ground has given me and the team great memories. We have been trying out youngsters. KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Rahul Chahar and Khaleel Ahmed miss out."
 
South Africa skipper Quinton de Kock said: "Everything's new for me. It's a new experience and I'm enjoying it. Me, KG, Miller -- we've played a lot here. We had a long camp before the series. The boys are hungry to play. We have three debutants. Anrich Nortje, Bjorn Fortuin and Temba Bavuma comes in at No. 3."
 
Playing XI: 
 
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant(w), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini
 
South Africa: Quinton de Kock(w/c), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Bjorn Fortuin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi
 
IANS
 

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India, SA aim to take unassailable lead in Mohali

South Africa's Kagiso Rabada during a practice session ahead of the second T20I match against India at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, Chandigarh on September 17, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
South Africa's Kagiso Rabada during a practice session ahead of the second T20I match against India at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, Chandigarh on September 17, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
With the first match being washed out, both India and South Africa will hope that the rain gods stay away from Mohali when the two teams meet each other at the IS Bindra Stadium here for the second T20I on Wednesday.
 
The first match in Dharamsala had to be called off without a ball being bowled due to incessant rains on Sunday evening, leaving fans all across the world disappointed.
 
As it is a three-match series, both teams would aim to put in their best effort in Mohali as they know that the winner would not lose the rubber. With the stakes so high, there is, therefore, not much scope for mistakes by either of the teams.
 
The Men in Blue would be brimming with confidence following their superb show against the West Indies in their recent tour. India were absolutely ruthless against the West Indies, with only rain denying them a clean sweep of the Test, ODI and T20 series contested between the two teams.
 
On the other hand, Quinton de Kock will be hoping to lift the morale of the Proteas, which would be on the floor following their dismal performance in England in the World Cup.
 
The visitors have included quite a number of fresh faces in their squad in a bid to build a team for the World T20 next year and, thus, they certainly lack experience. Despite this, they are, however, expected to pose a greater challenge to India than the West Indies did last month.
 
It would be an excellent opportunity for South Africa to regain their lost confidence by overcoming a strong team like India in their backyard.
 
Unlike Dharamsala, the chances of rain interrupting play in Mohali are negligible, and a full game can be expected. The pitch is supposed to be batter friendly, although pacers might get some assistance considering that the match will be played under lights.
 
Squads:
 
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar and Navdeep Saini.
 
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c), Rassie van der Dussen (vc), Temba Bavuma, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala braveheart conferred Neerja Bhanot Award

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A young braveheart from Kerala, Sifiya Haneef, was conferred with the Neerja Bhanot Award in a solemn ceremony here on Saturday.
 
The award was presented to her by Wendy Sue Knecht, who also worked with the Pan American World Airways in the '80s and had trained Neerja Bhanot in 1986. Knecht specially came here from Los Angeles for the award function. The award consists of Rs 1.50 lakh, a citation and a trophy.
 
The award was instituted in 1990 in memory of Neerja Bhanot, who saved hundreds of lives while sacrificing her own when a Pan Am flight from Mumbai to New York was hijacked at the Karachi airport on September 5, 1986.
 
A specially constituted jury comprising three Rotarians -- Sneh Popli, Manjit Kaur and Anu Dhingra -- selected Sifiya for the honour after she met the criteria laid down by the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust, which stipulates that the awardee has to be an Indian woman who when faced with social injustice, overcomes it with guts and grit.
 
Akhil Bhanot, managing trustee at Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust, said: "Sifiya got married when she was 16 and her studies were stopped. Unfortunately, her husband died when she was 20. She had two children by then. Sifiya wished to continue her studies, but did not get any support. Not willing to give up, she took on a part-time job and resumed her studies.
 
"After a lot of struggle and realising that life was very tough not only for her, but also for other widows as well, she started spending her salary on helping widows."
 
Sifiya started a Facebook page called 'Chithal' where she wrote about the issues facing widows.
 
She also met a lot of sick mothers, kids, elderly people and cancer patients, among others. She would update her page on the problems these people were facing and get public support to solve their issues.
 
Today, she is helping more than 300 families by providing them shelters, constructing toilets in colonies, distributing medicines and giving them pension, Bhanot said.
 
An emotional Knecht said: "Though a lifetime has passed, Neerja's generosity, her humanity and her sacrifice will never be forgotten."
 
"By fighting for justice, Neerja proved that you can re-write your story from being called a 'victim' to a 'hero'. The message that Neerja imparted upon the world was 'do the right thing, come what may'. This is what all of us must do. I too have been inspired to follow Neerja's path," she added.
 
IANS

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Haryana waives interest on co-op bank crop loans

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Eyeing the upcoming assembly polls, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday announced a waiver of interest and penalty on crop loans of Rs 4,750 crore taken from cooperative banks under a one-time settlement scheme.
 
The decision would benefit nearly 10 lakh farmers.
 
Khattar, who was addressing the media on the 12th day of Jan Ashirwad Yatra in Bhiwani town, also announced that the last date for payment of principal amount would be extended to November 30.
 
The decision would benefit the farmers who have taken loans from the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies, District Central Cooperative Banks and the Haryana Land Reforms and Development Bank, he said.
 
Khattar said those farmers whose bank accounts were declared non-performing assets (NPA) by these banks and were unable to renew their loans, would now be able to change the cycle of their crop loan accounts with this announcement.
 
He said the farmers would have to deposit their principal amount only. This one-time relief has been provided to the farmers to dispose of their interest and penalty.
 
According to Khattar, about 13 lakh farmers have taken loan from Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies, out of which bank accounts of 8.25 lakh farmers have declared NPAs.
 
He said four per cent interest on crop loans of the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies will be borne by the state and three per cent by the NABARD.
 
Penalty, at the rate of five per cent, imposed on those farmers who do not repay crop loans on time, would now be completely waived off, he added.
 
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ED attaches assets worth Rs. 109 crore in bank fraud case

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today said it had provisionally attached immovable properties worth Rs. 109.03 crore under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in a money laundering case related to an alleged bank loan fraud by Kudos Chemie Ltd.
 
The attached assets consist of plots in villages Kuranwala, Saidpura, Gulabgarh, Madhopur and Ranguana in Mohali district of Punjab and a bungalow at Chandigarh.
 
A press release from the ED said the assets belonged to Kudos Chemie Ltd. and its directors, Jitendra Singh and Gurmeet Sodhi, and an associate company Kudos Holdings Pvt. Ltd.
 
The release said the ED had initiated investigation under the provisions of PMLA, on the basis of CBI’s FIR against Kudos Chemie Ltd. and its promoters and directors Jitendra Singh, Gurmeet Sodhi, Kabir Sodhi and others for the offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery of valuable securities.
 
"Investigations under PMLA revealed that Mr. Jitendra Singh, Managing Director of Kudos Chemie Ltd. had submitted 283 forged export bills to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) and got it fraudulently discounted in connivance with officials of the PNB and causing loss to the bank to the tune of Rs. 362 crores (approx.). The released amount of Rs. 362 crores (approx.) was further utilized for adjustments of Cash Credit accounts and other outstanding Liabilities. The proceeds were also routed through his current account and further transferred to various accounts for the adjustment of the outstanding liabilities.
 
"Investigation further revealed that the properties of Kudos Chemie Ltd. and its directors namely Jitendra Singh and Gurmeet Sodhi and associate company namely Kudos Holdings Pvt. Ltd to the tune of Rs. 109.03 crore are proceeds of crime. That the amount of Rs. 109.03 crore being proceeds of crime in this case as envisaged vide section 2(1)(u) of the PMLA, 2002, is liable for attachment under section 5(1) of the PMLA, 2002. Accordingly provisional attachment order was issued.
 
"Further investigation in this case is under progress," the release added.
 
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Flood-hit Punjab declares natural calamity

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The Punjab government on Monday declared the current flood situation in the affected villages of the state as a natural calamity, with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh directing the Financial Commissioner Revenue to issue the necessary notification at the earliest.
 
Amarinder Singh asked the Financial Commissioner to officially declare natural calamity in the villages as a unit in order to facilitate the affected people to claim insurance against the losses from various companies.
 
This would also help the banks, especially the state cooperative banks, to restructure and defer the recovery of crop loans from the farmers, as per the norms of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
 
The Chief Minister was chairing a high-level meeting to review the flood preparedness in the state.
 
During the meeting, he asked the Finance Department to immediately clear the pending relief funds to the tune of around Rs 100 crore for expeditious disbursement by the Revenue Department through the respective Deputy Commissioners.
 
Amarinder Singh, who had earlier in the day visited the flood-hit areas in Ropar to make an on-the-ground assessment of the situation, also directed all the Deputy Commissioners, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and all other state government departments and entities to closely monitor the flood situation in close coordination with the police with a view to providing not only expeditious rescue and relief operations, but also to take pro-active preventive measures.
 
Compensation as per the prescribed norms should be disbursed expeditiously in case of death to the next of kin forthwith, the Chief Minister directed, while also ordering temporary subsistence allowance to the migrant labours, who may otherwise not be covered in the existing relief norms under the state policy, to be paid out of the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.
 
IANS
 

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After backlash, Haryana CM says 'daughters are our pride'

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Following sharp criticism from Rahul Gandhi and several women's organisations to comments by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Kashmiri women, the Chief Minister clarified saying "daughters are our pride".
 
In a reply to Rahul Gandhi's tweet, Khattar tweeted on Saturday: "Dear Rahul Gandhi ji, at least at your level, you shouldn't react on distorted news. I'm attaching the video of what I actually said, and in what context -- this will give you clarity of mind."
 
In another tweet, Khattar said: "I have always had an honest dialogue with the public. Daughters are our pride and daughters from all over the country are our daughters."
 
The controversy began when Khattar was speaking at an event in Fatehabad about the state's poor sex ratio on Friday. Khattar had said that people were claiming that Kashmiri women can be brought to the state for marriage now after Jammu and Kashmir's special status was scrapped.
 
"You know Haryana is infamous for its poor sex ratio and female foeticide, but we started a campaign that brought our sex ratio up from 850 to 933. This is a big work of social change."
 
"So our (minister O.P. Dhankar) Dhankhar ji said we will have to bring 'bahus' (daughters-in-law) from Bihar. Now some people are saying Kashmir has been opened, we can bring girls from Kashmir also. Jokes aside, if (sex) ratio is fine, then there will be balance in society."
 
However, his comments triggered a political row drawing sharp reactions.
 
Outgoing Congress President Rahul Gandhi described Khattar's remarks as "despicable", saying that it reflected what "years of RSS training does to the mind of an insecure man".
 
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Elderly couple found dead at home in Chandigarh

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The blood-soaked bodies of an elderly couple were found under mysterious circumstances at their residence in Chandigarh early on Sunday.
 
Prima facie it seemed that the man, Laxmi Dass (76), first slit his wife Shashi Bala's throat with a knife and then used the same weapon to kill himself, a police officer told IANS.
 
The couple had deep wounds on their necks and bodies.
 
Bala (73) had been bedridden for five years.
 
A suicide note recovered from the crime scene purportedly written by Laxmi Dass, who retired from Punjab's Personnel Department as the Deputy Director, said they were fed up with the illness and for this reason they were tired of their lives.
 
The police, however, didn't rule out the possibility of murder and have started investigation to find out the exact cause of death.
 
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Punjab man ends life after killing 5 family members

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A 27-year-old agriculturalist who was under depression committed suicide after he shot dead five members of his family in a village in Punjab with a stolen revolver over alleged land sale dispute, police said on Saturday.
 
The incident took place at Nathuwal village near Moga on Friday night, police said.
 
Sandeep Singh allegedly shot dead his grandmother, father, mother, sister and her three-year-old daughter and later shot himself, a police officer said.
 
His grandfather Gurcharan Singh received bullet injuries.
 
A 19-page suicide note said the ancestral land sale by the family disturbed him.
 
He also cited his proposed marriage in December, which was against his wishes, as the reason for the extreme step. He wrote that he was "impotent", but his family deliberately concealed this fact from his would-be bride.
 
Locals said Sandeep, who was the only child, took the extreme step in a fit of rage.
 
Village sarpanch Jagsir Singh said as per the suicide note, the weapon used in the crime was stolen from a relative's place.
 
The victims had a big house built in the village.
 
IANS
 

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Actor Rahul Bose's tweet costs JW Marriott dear

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Charging Goods and Services Tax (GST) of Rs 67.50 on two bananas in JW Marriott here to actor Rahul Bose has cost the hotel Rs 25,000.
 
The Chandigarh Excise and Taxation Department on Saturday imposed a penalty on the high-end hotel for the illegal collection of tax on a fresh fruit that is not taxable.
 
The penalty comes following Bose's tweet, saying: "You have to see this to believe it. Who said fruit wasn't harmful to your existence? Ask the wonderful folks at @JWMarriottChd"
 
In a video post, he showed a receipt that showed that Rs 442.50 was charged on a fruit platter that included a nine per cent Central GST of Rs 33.75 and a nine per cent Union Territory GST of Rs 33.75.
 
Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner Rajeev Chaudhary said the hotel has been penalised for illegal collection of tax on bananas which come under the category of fresh fruits that are tax free item.
 
A penalty of Rs 12,500 was imposed under Central GST and Rs 12,500 under Union Territory GST.
 
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Punjab Chief Minister accepts Navjot Sidhu's resignation

Navjot Singh Sidhu. (File photo: IANS)
Navjot Singh Sidhu. (File photo: IANS)
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday accepted his Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu's resignation.
 
The Chief Minister forwarded the resignation to Governor Punjab V. P. Singh Badnore for formal acceptance, an official in the Chief Minister's Office told IANS.
 
Sidhu, who had been at loggerheads with the Chief Minister, formally resigned on July 14 as Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources, the portfolio he had not taken charge of.
 
Amarinder Singh has said that if Sidhu did not want to do his job, there was nothing that he could do about it.
 
The Minister should have accepted his new portfolio instead of shunning work in the middle of the crucial paddy season, said the Chief Minister, reiterating that Sidhu was given a job, which he should have accepted and done.
 
On June 6, Sidhu had been divested of the charge of Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs portfolios and given Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources in a Cabinet reshuffle, the first after the Lok Sabha election results.
 
Barring four, there were changes in the portfolios of all the ministers as a result of the reallocation, which Amarinder Singh said, would help further streamline the governing system and bring more transparency and efficacy to various departments.
 
However, Sidhu, who had been at loggerheads with the Chief Minister ever since his wife Navjot Kaur was denied a ticket for the Lok Sabha polls, refused to take charge of his new portfolios.
 
On June 10, Sidhu met Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Ahmed Patel in New Delhi and told them that his department had been singled out and publicly blamed for the party's Lok Sabha poll defeat. Patel was entrusted with the task of resolving the rift between the Amarinder Singh and Sidhu.
 
The Chief Minister even met Patel during his visit to Delhi last month, but his office described the meeting as merely a "courtesy call".
 
IANS

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Sidhu sends resignation to CM Amarinder Singh

Navjot Singh Sidhu. (File photo: IANS)
Navjot Singh Sidhu. (File photo: IANS)
Ending the suspense in this regard, Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday said he had sent his resignation to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
 
"Today I have sent my resignation to the Chief Minister Punjab, has been delivered at his official residence...," he said on Twitter.
 
However, the Chief Minister was away in Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There was no comment on the issue from the Chief Minister's Office.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Navjot Singh Sidhu resigns as Punjab minister

Navjot Singh Sidhu. (File photo: IANS)
Navjot Singh Sidhu. (File photo: IANS)
The rift between Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu deepened on Sunday, when the latter resigned as Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources.
 
"I hereby resign as Minister from the Punjab Cabinet," the former-cricketer-turned politician wrote in his resignation letter. Posting the letter on Twitter, Sidhu tweeted: "My letter to the Congress President Shri. Rahul Gandhi Ji, submitted on 10 June, 2019." 
 
"Will be sending my resignation to the Chief Minister, Punjab," Sidhu tweeted after the Chief Minister's media adviser Raveen Thukral told IANS that the CM office had not received his resignation. 
 
Reacting to the development, Punjab Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said it was technically wrong of Sidhu to submit his resignation from the Cabinet first to the party President.
 
Urging Sidhu to reconsider his decision, he said the politician should talk to the Chief Minister and resolve the issues between them. "He is an intelligent man and can contribute a lot to his new department," he added.
 
On June 6, Sidhu was divested of the charge of Local Government and Tourism & Cultural Affairs portfolios and given Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources in a Cabinet reshuffle, the first after the Lok Sabha election results. 
 
Barring four, there were changes in the portfolios of all the ministers as a result of the reallocation, which Amarinder Singh said, would help further streamline the governing system and bring more transparency and efficacy to various departments.
 
However, Sidhu refused to take charge of his new ministry. On June 10, he met Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Ahmed Patel in New Delhi and told them that his department had been singled out and publicly blamed for the party's Lok Sabha poll defeat. He had gone into hibernation since then. 
 
In his absence, Amarinder Singh on July 10 took crucial decisions related to electricity shortage as it was affecting paddy sowing in the state.
 
IANS
 

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Massive mudslides block Chandigarh-Shimla highway

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Massive mudslides hit the Chandigarh-Shimla national highway between Parwanoo and Solan towns in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday owing to heavy overnight rains, that led to traffic snarls and posed a serious threat to motorists.
 
The movement of traffic was hampered almost throughout the day due to massive landslides along the highway in Solan district.
 
Motorists said the maximum landslips were on a 30-km stretch between Parwanoo and Kumarhatti, where over 20 km was either damaged or piled with boulders and muck.
 
They said the falling debris threatens their safety while travelling through this stretch that has been excavated recently for highway widening.
 
The executing agency - National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) - for the project which aims to cut the travel time between Chandigarh and Himachal capital Shimla by shortening the distance by 17 kms -- cleared the road of boulders and mud.
 
The entire stretch from Parwanoo to Solan has become a permanent landslide zone particularly Chakki ka Mor. The risk of driving is aggravated after dusk, said motorist Deepak Nayyar.
 
He said there were frequent incidents of landslips and falling rocks hitting moving vehicles owing to fragile and loose strata with vertical cutting of the hills for the expansion of the highway.
 
Geologists blame unscientific cutting of precipitous hills, largely of shell, sandstone and clay, for the frequent landslips.
 
"Most of these mountain slopes are of sedimentary formation and have become destabilised with the reckless cutting by heavy earth-moving machinery. The loose and naked boulders with muck will continue to roll down on the highway for eight to 10 years more," former state geologist Arun Sharma told IANS.
 
"On the Parwanoo to Solan stretch, most of the hill cutting was done largely vertically than horizontally. At some points, large-scale vertical cutting was carried out," added Sharma, a member of the Environment Ministry's State Expert Appraisal Committee to assess projects.
 
Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari informed the Rajya Sabha on July 8 that the work on four-laning of the stretch between Parwanoo and Solan would be completed within the next six to eight months as the bottlenecks have been removed.
 
He said the project was being undertaken at a cost of Rs 750 crore and almost 75 per cent of the work has been completed.
 
IANS
 

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