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Haryana

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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Rahul Gandhi blames Haryana govt. for Dalit killings in Faridabad

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday visited Sunped village in Haryana, where two children died and their parents suffered injuries in an arson attack on ther house on Tuesday, and blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state for the killings.
 
Rahul Gandhi says visit to Faridabad village no photo op
 
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today visited Sunped village in Haryana, where two children died and their parents suffered injuries in an arson attack on ther house on Tuesday, and blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state for the killings.
 
"Today, in India, those who are weak, those who are poor are facing such atrocities," he told newspersons after meeting the father of the children, Jitender, and other members of the family.
 
"They asked me, 'What was our fault, what wrong did we commit?'" he said.
 
"They did not commit any mistake. They are poor and weak and that is why they were attacked," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said that he was told that a group of people had met administration officials to convey their fears. The officials told them to go back to their homes because no one had actually died, he said.
 
"It is the Chief Minister's responsibility to protect the people of the state. Different incidents are happening, in Haryana and elsewhere around the country," he said, calling for strict action against those responsible for the attack as well as the policemen who were negligent in their duties. He said the family of the victims wanted a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
 
"The truth is that this is not a government of the poor and the weak. I have offered all possible help to the family. Whatever they need, they just have to ask," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said these incidents were the result of an "attitude" that is shared by the Prime Minister of the country, the Chief Minister of Haryana, the ruling BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), its ideological mentor.
 
"The attitude is that if somebody is weak, he can be crushed," he said. "What you are seeing is the result of this attitude."
 
"We don't want such incidents to happen, and we will fight to ensure this," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi reacted angrily when a reporter asked him about the BJP accusation that his visit was just a "photo op".
 
"It's insulting when someone says that when someone comes here. It's not insulting to me, but it's insulting these people. What do you men by 'photo op'? People are dying left, right and centre in this country. People are being beaten up in this country. What do you mean that it is just a photo op?" he asked.
 
"Absolutely, I will visit. I will visit again, again, and again," he added.
 
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Jitender's wife Rekha, four-year-old son Vaibhav and eight-month-old daughter Divya suffered burns in the attack. The children succumbed to their injuries yesterday, while their mother is battling for survival in a hospital. Jitender also suffered minor injuries while trying to save his family, souces said.
 
Angry villagers blocked the busy Faridabad-Mathura highway in protest against the incident and demanded the immediate arrest of those named in the police complaint. 
 
Seven policemen, including those tasked to guard the village, have been suspended by the authorities for alleged negligence. Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident.
 
Apart from Mr. Gandhi, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat, former Union Minister and Haryana Congress leader Kumari Selja, Haryana Janhit Congress (Bhajan Lal) leader Kuldeep Bishnoi and National Commission for Scheduled Castes member Ishwar Singh visited the village to meet the bereaved family.
 
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Modi "deeply concerned", asks for report on Nadia nun's gang-rape, Hisar church attack

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.
 
"PM is deeply concerned about the incidents in Hisar, Haryana and Nadia, West Bengal," the Prime MInister's Office (PMO) said on micro-blogging site Twitter today.
 
"PMO has asked for immediate report on facts & action taken regarding the incidents in Haryana and West Bengal," it added.
 
A 71-year-old nun was allegedly gang-raped by dacoits at a convent in Nadia district in the early hours of Saturday. The incident has triggered protests in West Bengal and the state government has ordered a probe by the CID in the case.
 
In the second incident, a church under construction at Kaimri village near Hisar in Haryana was vandalised by a group of people on Sunday.
 
Both the incidents have evoked widespread condemnation across the country, with the Christian community expressing serious concern about the safety of churches and other institutions.
 
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BJP leader Manohar Lal Khattar to be sworn in as Haryana CM on Sunday

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manohar Lal Khattar, a first-time member of the legislative assembly and former "pracharak" of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, will be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Haryana later on Sunday.
Manoharlal Khattar
Manoharlal Khattar
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manohar Lal Khattar, a first-time member of the legislative assembly and former "pracharak" of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), will be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Haryana later today.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony that will be held at Panchkula near here.
 
BJP president Amit Shah, former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states are also expected to be present at the function.
 
Mr Khattar, 60, was elected as a member of the Haryana Legislative Assembly from Karnal, winning his maiden election with a margin of more than 63,000 votes.
 
The elections, held on October 15, saw the BJP capturing power for the first time in the state, winning 47 seats in the 90-member house. 
 
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) of former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala came in second with 19 seats, while the Congress, which ruled the state for the last 10 years, had to rest content with third place, with 15 seats.
 
The Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) won two seats and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) one seat each. Independents won five seats.
 
Mr Khattar had been unanimously elected as the leader of the BJP Legislature Party by the party's newly-elected legislators here on October 21.
 
Later, senior BJP leader and Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who was sent here as the party's Central observer for that meeting, accompanied Mr Khattar to call on Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki to apprise him of the party's decision.
 
Mr Solanki invited Mr Khattar to form the new government in the state. 
 
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Mr Khattar was born on May 5, 1954, in Nigana village of Maham tehsil in Rohtak district. His father Harbans Lal Khattar was a Punjabi shopkeeper who had migrated to India during the 1947 Partition.
 
After passing out of school, he moved to Delhi, where he ran a shop near Sadar Bazar while studying for a degree from the University of Delhi.
 
Mr Khattar joined the RSS in 1977 and became a full-time pracharak three years later. In 1994, he was deputed to the BJP. He was Organisational General Secretary of the BJP in Haryana between 2000 and 2014 and was the head of its campaign election committee in Haryana for the recent Lok Sabha elections. He was later made a member of the BJP's National Executive. He is a bachelor.
 
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Two kids among three killed in fire at Faridabad school

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Three people, including two children, died in a major fire that broke out at a private school in Haryana's Faridabad on Saturday.
 
According to Fire Department officials, the fire started from a cloth godown inside the school located in Dabua Colony. 
 
"Fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the blaze has been brought under control. Its cause is yet to be ascertained," said an official. 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Indian cuisine 'czar' Jiggs Kalra no more

Jiggs Kalra (Photo: Facebook)
Jiggs Kalra (Photo: Facebook)
Celebrated chef Jiggs Kalra, who earned epithets like 'Czar of Indian Cuisine' and 'Taste Maker to the Nation', passed away on Tuesday here. He was 72.
 
He was unwell for the past few weeks, and passed away at a hospital here, said a source close to his family. 
 
Last month, his son Zorawar had shared an update about his health on Instagram. 
 
"Today is my father Jiggs Kalra's 72nd birthday. This is the first time, unfortunately, it has been celebrated in hospital, as he isn't well. Last year we celebrated it together as a family. Nothing matters more than time spent with your parents as each and every single Birthday matters. He is a toughie. Has been battling his stroke for 19 years and will be back soon," Zorawar had posted on May 21.
 
The cremation will be held on Thursday at the Lodhi crematorium. 
 
Born on May 21, 1948, Kalra, whose name was Jaspal Inder Singh Kalra, was a pioneering food columnist, author and food consultant. In a career spanning close to five decades, he was instrumental in introducing Indian cuisine to the international audience as well as setting standards of the same.
 
He is also credited with establishing some of the most critically acclaimed and best-performing restaurants in the country. He represented India at various international food festivals and summits, apart from having served the likes of British royals Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, apart from former US President Bill Clinton.
 
The senior Kalra authored over 11 titles on Indian cuisine, including "Prashad". 
 
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta wrote a condolence message for Jiggs Kalra on Twitter, saying: "Thank you for introducing me to Indian food and its treasure of recipes. All your books adorn my bookshelf and the masala and oil on each page is testimony to how your recipes have shaped my passion for cooking."
 
Over the past some years, he was instrumental in launching revolutionary restaurant concepts like Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, Made in Punjab, Farzi Cafe and Pa Pa Ya.
 
IANS

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ECI orders repoll at Faridabad booth

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The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday ordered repolling at a polling station in Faridabad Lok Sabha constituency on May 19 after a polling agent was arrested for influencing voters.
 
The re-poll will be held at the polling station in Prithla assembly segment of the constituency. 
 
The Election Commission said that Ashok Kumar Garg IAS has been posted by the Commission as new Returning Officer of Faridabad parliamentary constituency. He has been directed to join at Faridabad by forenoon on Tuesday.
 
It said that "a complaint of violation of secrecy of voting was reported from polling station number 88 Asaoti of Prithla assembly constituency segment". 
 
"On inquiry by the Observer, the complaint was found to be true. The Commission has therefore ordered a fresh poll at this polling station on May 19, 2019," the EC said in a statement.
 
It said that an FIR was lodged against the polling agent Giriraj Singh. 
 
The presiding officer Amit Atri has been placed under suspension for the dereliction of duty and criminal action is also being initiated against him.
 
The Commission said that micro observer Sonal Gulati has not reported the incident correctly for which she has been barred from any election- related work for three years. 
 
The EC said it took a serious note of the failure to take immediate action on the incident and transferred the Returning Officer from present posting. 
 
The agent was arrested after a video of him allegedly trying to influence voters went viral on social media. 
 
Polling took place in Faridabad on May 12 along with other constituencies in Haryana.
 
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Mukesh Kumar bags record 20th title and claims first win at Panchkula

Mukesh Kumar
Mukesh Kumar
Veteran Mukesh Kumar fired spectacular and error-free last round of seven-under 65 to win the Rs. 30 lakh Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship by one shot with a total of 15-under 273 to claim his record 20th title here on Friday.
 
The 53-year-old from Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, who has over 100 titles to his credit in a 35-year-long career, claimed a record 20th title on the Tata Steel PGTI on Friday and thus ended a two-year winless streak. 
 
The former Asian Tour winner had secured his last victory at the PGTI Cochin Masters in Kochi in April 2017. It was also Mukesh’s first triumph at the Panchkula Golf Club. His winning cheque worth Rs. 4,84,950 lifted him from 11th to fourth place in the PGTI Order of Merit.
 
Panchkula’s Angad Cheema (67-67-75-65), who was playing at his home course, delivered an equally impressive 65 in round four to finish runner-up at 14-under 274.
 
Delhi-based teenager Kshitij Naveed Kaul, a recent winner on the PGTI, fired the tournament’s best round of 64 on Friday to clinch third place at 12-under 276.  
 
Mukesh Kumar, lying overnight tied third and two off the lead, was in the ascendancy from the very start as he scored early birdies on the second, third and fifth courtesy some top-class wedge-play and overtook overnight leader Yashas Chandra of Mysuru.
 
Kumar, who was playing to a plan of backing his strengths and executing it to perfection, began to truly stamp his authority when he holed his third shot from 100 yards for an eagle on the par-5 seventh. He was then relentless on the back-nine playing two more brilliant wedge shots to set up birdies on the 11th and 15th.
 
Mukesh managed to keep his nose ahead of a surging Angad Cheema with pars on the last two holes thanks to some accurate ball-striking with his short-irons.
 
“I planned my round really well today and played within my limitations. I knew I had to be accurate since I don’t have as much distance as the youngsters I was competing with,"  he said.
 
“My iron-play was exceptional today and holing out from 100 yards for eagle on the seventh was a huge morale-booster. The birdie on the 15th was the turning point for me as it gave me a comfortable two-shot cushion over Angad Cheema with just three holes to play. I made as many as 17 greens in regulation.
 
“It’s great to be back among the winners after two years. It’s special to win in Panchkula for the first time and that too in such tough conditions.”
 
Cheema, who was tied fifth and three off the lead after round three, struggled in the initial stages on Friday as he was one-over through four holes. The 29-year-old Angad, looking to end a five-year winless streak, then made a valiant comeback by sinking eight birdies between the fifth and the 17th with his hot putter giving Mukesh a run for his money.
 
Cheema, however, missed the decisive 12-foot birdie conversion on the last hole that would’ve tied him with Mukesh and taken the match into a playoff. It turned out to be Angad’s second top-10 of the season and the second-best finish of his career following his win in Sri Lanka in 2013.
 
Kshitij Naveed Kaul’s red-hot putting form saw him make five birdie conversions from a range of 10 to 35 feet during his last round of 64. He thus climbed eight spots and secured a creditable third place.
 
Round three leader Yashas Chandra of Mysuru shot a 71 to drop to tied fourth place at 11-under 277. Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh (69), the only other player besides Mukesh Kumar to shoot four sub-par rounds this week, also finished tied fourth.
 
Delhi’s Rashid Khan (68) was a further shot back in sixth. Jyoti Randhawa (70) took tied 11th place at six-under-282. Sri Lankan N Thangaraja, the previous winner of the event, ended tied 23rd at two-under-286.
 
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Yashas Chandra leads third round with a 65, eyes maiden title

Yashas Chandra
Yashas Chandra
Mysuru’s Yashas Chandra fired the day’s best score of seven-under 65 to emerge the leader after the third and penultimate round of the Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship at the Panchkula Golf Club here on Thursday.
 
The 24-year-old Chandra, playing only his second season as a professional, jumped 11 positions from his overnight tied-12th to go one clear of the field at 10-under 206.
 
Twenty-two-year-old rookie Yuvraj Sandhu (71) of Chandigarh hung on to his overnight second place to be hot on the leader’s heels at nine-under 207.
 
Interestingly, there is the prospect of witnessing a new champion on the Tata Steel PGTI on Friday, as both Yashas and Yuvraj are yet to win their maiden title. Panchkula’s Angad Cheema, the half-way leader, shot a 75 on Thursday that saw him slip to tied fifth. He now lies three off the pace.
 
Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh made waves on day three as he climbed from tied-12th to tied-third, thanks to his error-free 67. His tournament tally stood at eight-under 208. Mukesh Kumar (71) of Mhow continued to be in tied-third for the second consecutive day.
 
Cheema sank a lone birdie in exchange for two bogeys and a double-bogey during his round of 75. Cheema thus dropped four spots to tied-fifth at seven-under 209. Om Prakash Chouhan (71) of Mhow also took a share of fifth.
 
Delhi’s Rashid Khan (73) and Pune-based Udayan Mane (71) occupied tied-seventh place at six-under 210. Jyoti Randhawa (68) moved up to tied-11th at four-under 212 while defending champion N Thangaraja (70) of Sri Lanka was in tied-20th at two-under 214.
 
Chandra (67-74-65), currently placed eighth on the PGTI Order of Merit, had made a brilliant start to the week with a 67 that was punctuated with a record three eagles. However, Chandra dropped off the radar with an ordinary second round of 74 that placed him seven shots behind the leader. But he was back in the mix once again on day three following a 65 that featured as many as nine birdies and a double-bogey.
 
His  birdies on the first two holes were negated by his double-bogey on the fourth where he found the bushes with his tee shot. Thereafter, it was one-way traffic for the Karnataka golfer as his precise hitting and consistent putting earned him seven more birdies. Notable among Chandra’s birdies was the one on the par-4 11th where he drove the green.
 
Yashas, who has a runner-up finish, one other top-10 and three more top-20s to his credit this season, said, “My ball-striking, bunker shots and putting were spot-on today. I had 15 greens in regulation and made 27 putts. The momentum has been building up well for me this year. I’m growing in confidence with each passing event.
 
“I’ve so far not been able to put four good rounds together. I’ve shot at least one poor round in all recent events. I want to improve that aspect of my game. It’s a tight leaderboard so the final round will be all about staying patient. There are quite a few players in the leading pack who are capable of shooting a low number on the final day. The key for me would be to keep the errors out and also try to shoot a score of about four to five-under.”
 
Sandhu (71-65-71), who had produced the second day’s best round, continued to be in the hunt on the third day as a result of his 71 that featured four birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey. Sandhu was in a spot of bother when he made the turn at two-over. However, he pulled it back with three birdies on the back-nine.
 
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Golf: Angad Cheema takes half-way lead at Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship

Angad Cheema
Angad Cheema
Local favourite Angad Cheema carded a five-under 67 to emerge second-round leader of the Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship at Panchkula Golf Club while rookie Yuvraj Sandhu (Chandigarh) shot the day’s best score of seven-under 65 to move into second place on Wednesday. 
 
Rashid Khan of Delhi, the round one leader, slipped to tied third at seven-under 137 after a round of 71. Mukesh Kumar (67) of Mhow, too, took a share of third. He gained 14 places from his overnight tied 17th.
 
Jyoti Randhawa was tied 26th at even-par-144 after he shot a second straight 72. Defending champion N Thangaraja (70) of Sri Lanka was also in tied 26th.
 
The cut went at two-over 146. Fifty-eight professionals made the cut.
 
Twenty-nine-year-old Cheema, looking to win his first title since 2013, took his tournament tally to 10-under-134 at his home course to enjoy a two-shot advantage over 22-year-old  Sandhu.
 
Cheema (67-67), lying one shot behind the leader in joint second place on day one, made a terrific start on day two with a 40-feet eagle putt from the edge of the green on the par-4 first hole. A bogey on the fourth didn’t dampen his spirits as he picked up birdies on the next three holes and added two more on the 11th and 12th.
 
Cheema hit rough weather on the 15th and 16th where he dropped a double-bogey and a bogey, respectively. On the 15th, he found the bunker and then the hazard while on the 16th his tee shot landed at the base of a tree. However, the tall and lanky golfer, who had an Asian Tour card a few years back, pulled it back on the last two holes by setting up birdie putts within four feet of the pin.
 
“I struck it well and also made most putts today. Looking back I feel that I made just one big mistake on the 15th where I had a chance for birdie. But I’m glad to have closed the round on a high. I know the course well as I play here often so that definitely will be an advantage over the last two days," said Cheema
 
andhu (71-65)  gained 22 spots from his overnight tied 24th. He  had a nervous start, making bogey on the opening 10th. He was on a roll thereafter as he knocked in nine birdies at the expense of just one more bogey to end up with a total of eight-under-136.
 
“I’m sticking to my process and not trying to play against the wind. One can’t afford to go against the wind at this course. I feel chipping and putting will hold the key over the last two days. Whoever chips and putts the best will win the tournament." he said
 
“I started the year well with a couple of top-20s but then had a bad stretch during the Kolkata and Pune events. But now I feel I’m settling down and my graph is moving up steadily,” he added.
 
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4-feet hole appears on NH 8 flyover in Gurugram

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In the latest evidence of deterioration of highways, a four-feet hole was spotted on Wednesday on the Hero Honda Chowk flyover on the Delhi-Jaipur stretch of the National Highway 8 which poses a big risk to the lives of commuters.
 
The flyover was thrown open to the public in 2016 to ease traffic on the highly congested stretch. 
 
The deterioration, appearing in the middle of the flyover on its Jaipur to Delhi bound flank, has put a serious question mark over quality of construction. 
 
This is the third time that the flyover has been closed due to the appearance of holes and comes in the backdrop of the Road Transport and Highways Ministry's claims of achieving 24 km of quality highway construction per day. 
 
Inspection of the affected site clearly showed the use of lower quality concrete material, thin iron bars as well as thin layers of charcoal.
 
"We have received information about a hole appearing on Hero Honda Chowk flyover around 5 a.m. Subsequently, road safety staff rushed at the spot and blocked the road. Repairing of the affected area will start soon," said National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Superintending Engineer Ashok Sharma said.
 
NHAI officials have barricaded the affected area and made a diversion for commuters. This led to a major traffic snarl during the morning and evening rush hours with motorists struck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
 
"We have diverted traffic movement and are also allowing use of service lanes to give respite to commuters," he said.
 
Manesar resident Subhash Kashyap, who was among the first to spot the hole, said: "Commuters like me are regular users of this highway and such a big hole invites accidents. The concrete chunk has completely disappeared from the road and only iron bars are visible. I was lucky to maneouvre my car at the right time otherwise I would have met with a fatal accident."
 
"The thickness of flyover is even thinner than the roof of a normal building. The construction company and supervising official of NHAI should take responsibility for lower quality of construction and they should be punished for putting lives of common commuters at risk," he added.
 
The flyover was built at a cost of Rs 190 crore, and every leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) takes credit for it. 
 
On April 25 last year, a big chunk of the flyover surface disappeared on the Jaipur-Delhi stretch. A day later, cracks appears in the middle of the MG Road-Sukhrali loop of the flyover situated on Iffco Chowk. 
 
On December 13, 2018, a five-feet hole appeared on the Rampura flyover on the same stretch.
 
IANS
 

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Rashid Khan takes round one lead with 66 at Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan
Delhi’s Rashid Khan, one of the pre-tournament favourites, took the round one lead after shooting a six-under-66 at the Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship at the  Panchkula Golf Club here on Tuesday.
 
Mysuru-based 24-year-old Yashas Chandra fired a record three eagles during his round of five-under-67 to be placed tied second along with five other players including the Tricity’s Ranjit Singh and Angad Cheema.
 
Rashid Khan, currently placed second in the PGTI Order of Merit and a winner this year, used his wedges to perfection, making some quality up and downs which accounted for four of his seven birdies. His only blemish was the bogey on the closing 18th where he landed his approach beyond the green.
 
Khan said, “I did well when I was just short of the green or on the front edge. I took advantage of all the shorter holes like the first, sixth and eighth. The key at this course will be to execute well when you’re within 50 yards of the green. The chip-putts will be tough and one has to land it in the right places.
 
“I’ve been riding on some good form coming into this week with a win and four other top-10s this year including one at the Indian Open. The game’s been solid and this week it’ll be all about adjusting well to the conditions here.”
 
Yashas Chandra became only the third player on the PGTI to make three eagles in a round. His eventful round also included three birdies and two double-bogeys. The 2018 PGTI Emerging Player of the Year began the tournament with a double-bogey on his opening 10th hole where he found the hazard. However, he fought his way back on the very next hole by driving the green to set up a 10-foot eagle conversion.
 
His  two eagles came on the first where he sank a 25-footer from off the green and on the sixth where he once again drove the green and drained it from 10 feet. He ended up with an incredible three eagle-twos, a first on the PGTI.
 
The two players who have previously made three eagles in a round at a PGTI event are two-time Indian Open champion Ali Sher and Veer Ahlawat. Ali Sher also achieved the feat at the PGTI Players Championship at Panchkula Golf Club in 2010 while Veer Ahlawat did the same at the 16th TATA Open 2017 at the Golmuri Golf Club in Jamshedpur.
 
Chandra said, “My driving and putting were outstanding today. It’s great to have the rare distinction of shooting three eagles in a round. All of them being eagle-twos was even more special. I’ve had a consistent run so far this year including a runner-up finish, another top-10 and three top-20s. So that has given me a lot of confidence coming into this week.”   
 
Chandigarh’s Ranjit Singh, also in tied second, was on fire on the front-nine as he drove the green on the par-4 first hole and sank a 10-footer to begin the tournament with an eagle. The 44-year-old Ranjit’s second eagle of the day came as a result of a chip-in on the par-4 sixth. He also made three more birdies and two bogeys on the front-nine to be five-under at the turn. The seasoned professional then had a sedate back-nine but managed to keep the errors out making pars all the way through.
 
Ranjit said, “I’ve made a massive improvement since last year when I was struggling for my card. Jeev Milkha Singh worked with me on improving my putting for almost two months. He has been instrumental in helping me make some minor adjustments in my putting. All that hard work is now beginning to show results as I’ve already posted some decent scores this season. I thank Jeev for all his help and encouragement.”
 
Panchkula’s Angad Cheema was the other Tricity golfer in tied second place. He mixed seven birdies with two bogeys. The three other golfers in joint second were Gurugram-based Tapy Ghai, Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow and Bengaluru’s Syed Saqib Ahmed.
 
Veteran Jyoti Randhawa posted an even-par-72 to be tied 33rd. Defending champion N Thangaraja of Sri Lanka was in tied 59th as a result of his 74. 
 
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U.S. Kids Golf India to commence at Golf and Country Club in Gurugram

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Buoyed by last year's success, the U.S. Kids Golf India Tour 2019 rolls out with its opening event to be played at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Classic Golf and Country Club near here on Wednesday.
 
The U.S. Kids Golf India Tour  will be played across various age groups for boys, starting from age 6 and under till 18, as well as girls, from age 7 and till 18.
 
On Wednesday, 73 young golfers participating in 14 age categories will tee off the season, hoping to emulate the successes of the 2018-19 Tour that saw as many as 32 players in various age-groups qualifying for further competitions under the global banner of the U.S. Kids Golf from 13 age groups – eight among boys and five among girls.
 
Building on the previous season, U.S. Kids India will operate two tours concurrently, one for the North Zone that will include Kolkata and Ahmedabad besides Delhi NCR, and a second for the South Zone that will be played across Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune.
 
“This year, we divided the country into two zones keeping West Bengal and Gujarat in the North and the rest in the South,” Tournament Director Romit Bose said. “After last year’s strong response, the idea was to broaden the footprint of the U.S. Kids India Tour significantly keeping in mind the two major centres of the game in India, Delhi and Bengaluru.
 
“This will also reduce travel for the kids by bringing our tournaments closer,” he added.
 
Tournaments in the North will be played at Classic GCC, Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida, Golden Greens Colf Club (Gurugram), Kalhaar Blues and Greens in Ahmedabad and the Tollygunje Club in Kolkata. The season-ending Tour Championship will also be at the Classic GCC.
 
The South leg will be held at Golden Greens in Hosur near Bengaluru, Hyderabad’s Boulder Hills Golf and Country Club, Eagleton the Golf Resort (Bengaluru) and the Poona Club Golf Course in Pune with the Tour Championship at the Engleton course.
 
U.S. Kids Golf India  President Rajesh Srivatsava said, “After a successful first season, and with golf now being a part of the Olympics and the Asian Games, we are focussed on the right way of developing junior golf in India. 
 
With this initiative, we have put forward a scientific approach to the development of junior golf in the right environment with age-specific equipment and yardages to ensure that our kids grow their game while enjoying the sport and also remain free from injury and fatigue.
 
“One of the major focus areas has been the certification of junior golf coaches and caddies, who are the first point of contact between a junior golfer and the game, as per U.S. Kids Golf global norms and standards'.
 
 The Tour will carry ranking points, and with participation in a minimum of four events out of the eight, junior golfers will be able to gain qualification for the U.S. Kids World Championship, U.S. Kids European Championships as well as U.S. Kids Teen World Championship.
 
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Congress fields Hooda father-son, Bhajan Lal kin in Haryana

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The Congress on Sunday announced the name of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for the Sonipat seat and Bhavya Bishnoi, a grandson of former Haryana strongman Bhajan Lal, for the Hisar seat.
 
By fielding Hooda, the Congress is trying to send a message to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Haryana that the election in the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana is not going to be easy.
 
Hooda is a prominent Jat leader who remained Chief Minister from 2005 to 2014. Sonipat seat has considerable number of Jat community voters.
 
His son, Deepinder Singh Hooda, is the Congress nominee for the adjoining Rohtak seat, the traditional stronghold of the Hooda family.
 
The Congress also announced Bhavya Bishnoi, son of former Hisar MP Kuldeep Bishnoi, for the Hisar Lok Sabha seat.
 
Bhavya will face sitting MP Dushyant Chautala (Jannayak Janata Party) and former IAS officer Bijender Singh (BJP), son of Union Minister Birender Singh.
 
The Congress had earlier named former Union Minister Selja as its candidate for the Ambala seat and state Congress president Ashok Tanwar for the Sirsa Lok Sabha seat.
 
The party on Sunday named former minister Nirmal Singh from Kurukshetra. Congress leader and industrialist Naveen Jindal was the MP from Kurukshetra from 2004 to 2014 but he lost the last Lok Sabha election to BJP's Raj Kumar Saini.
 
The Congress has announced former Haryana Assembly Speaker and Hooda confidant Kuldeep Sharma to contest election from the Karnal seat.
 
Within days of announcing the name of Lalit Nagar for the Faridabad Lok Sabha seat, the Congress on Sunday changed its candidate. It has now named Avtar Singh Bhadana from that seat.
 
The party has fielded former MP Shruti Chaudhary, who is the daughter of former cabinet minister Kiran Chaudhary, from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh and former cabinet minister Ajay Singh Yadav from the Gurgaon seat.
 
The Congress, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, managed to win only the Rohtak seat. The BJP won seven seats while the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) bagged two seats (Hisar and Sirsa).
 
Voting for all 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana is scheduled to take place on May 12.
 
IANS
 

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50 killed, scores hurt in rain, thunderstorm in north-west India

 
Heavy storm hits Western & Central India, takes lives
As many as 50 people were reportedly killed and scores of others injured in thunderstorms, hail and dust-storm and rain that lashed Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana since Tuesday evening.
 
The maximum number of deaths was reported from Rajasthan where 25 people were said to have lost their lives in a severe thunderstorm that struck the state.
 
An active western disturbance over eastern Iran and neighbourhood had been moving eastward since Monday, which caused cyclonic circulation over southwest Rajasthan and its neighbourhood at lower tropospheric levels, said the Met department.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh each from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund for the families of those killed in the natural calamity.
 
Rajasthan Relief and Disaster Management Secretary Ashutosh A. T. Pednekar said five people died in Udaipur, four each in Jhalawad and Jaipur, two each in Bundi, Jalore and Rajsamand, and one each in Baran, Bhilwara, Alwar, Hanumangarh, Pali and Pratapgarh districts.
 
Winds blowing at 60 kmph blew away roofs of many houses and uprooted trees and electric poles in many parts of the state, officials said.
 
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has announced Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia payment for the families of the deceased.
 
In Madhya Pradesh, 15 people died in the untimely rain and accompanying lightning on Tuesday evening. "Three persons each died in Indore, Dhar and Shajapur, two in Ratlam, and one each in Chhindwara, Rajgarh, Sehore and Alirajpur areas," an official statement said. 
 
Officials said pouring rain damaged properties in Bhopal, Indore, Dhar, Shajapur, Sehore, Ujjain, Ratlam, Khargone, Badwani, Chhindwara, Alirajpur and Rajgarh areas.
 
Extensive damage to crops has also been reported from many parts of the state.
 
Expressing grief over the deaths, Chief Minister Kamal Nath in a tweet assured all support to the affected families and farmers whose crop has been destroyed in the hailstorm.
 
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In Maharashtra, 11 people were killed over the past 72 hours, besides four others last week, in thunderstorms accompanied by lightning and rain, officials said. Among the victims were nine killed by lightning between Sunday and Tuesday, and four by thunderbolts on April 4-5.
 
Parts of Mumbai and suburbs, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Palghar received showers on Sunday and Monday. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday forecast thunderstorms with lightning and strong winds at various places in Nanded, Latur and Osmanabad.
 
In Gujarat, according to unofficial reports, 12 people died in the rain, hailstorm and dust-storm that hit the state towards Tuesday evening. The maximum loss of life and property was reported from the Saurashtra and north Gujarat regions. 
 
Meanwhile, a report from Chandigarh said standing wheat crop was damaged after rain, dust-storm and strong winds lashed Punjab and Haryana on Tuesday-Wednesday. Harvesting of wheat is on for the past 10 days in most parts of the two states.
 
The Punjab government has ordered a special survey to assess crop damage. 
 
According to the Met department on Wednesday evening, the Western Disturbance, which caused severe weather over major parts of northwest India and adjoining central India on Wednesday, has further moved eastwards. The resultant reduction in moisture incursion from the Arabian Sea is likely to weaken the intensity of the system from Thursday. 
 
However, fairly widespread to widespread rainfall with isolated thunderstorms, lightning and gusty winds (speed reaching 40-50 kmph) are likely over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh & Delhi, northeast Rajasthan, UP, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand during the next 24 hours. 
 
Isolated thundersquall and hail-storms are likely over East MP and north Chhattisgarh during the next 24 hours. Thundersqualls are also likely over Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura during the period.
 
IANS
 

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Two killed, 3 hurt in CNG car fire in Gurugram

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Two persons were killed and three others injured in an explosion in a CNG kit-fitted car, parked in a fireworks godown in the Kadipur industrial area near Sector 10, police said on Monday.
 
The cause of the explosion is yet to be ascertained. The fire spread rapidly and soon engulfed the warehouse, said Subhash Bokan, PRO, the Gurugram Police. 
 
While a security guard, identified as Bawa, died on the spot, another person succumbed to injuries at the civil hospital. Three others were referred to Safdarjung Hospital. Their condition was stated to be critical. 
 
IANS
 
 

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Deepender, Selja figure in new Congress LS list

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The Congress on Saturday released a list of 18 Lok Sabha candidates, fielding Deepender Singh Hooda from Rohtak, former Union Minister Kumari Selja from Ambala and Ashok Tanwar from Sirsa in Haryana.
 
The party has fielded Shruti Chaudhary from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, Captain Ajay Singh Yadav from Gurgaon and Lalit Nagar from Faridabad in the state. 
 
Hooda, son of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, is a sitting MP from Rohtak. Selja, a former Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, had contested the 2014 election from Ambala but lost. 
 
Tanwar is also being fielded again from Sirsa and Chaudhary from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh. 
 
The party also declared three candidates for Madhya Pradesh -- Dewasish Jararia from Bhind, Ashok Singh from Gwalior and Dinesh Girwal from Dhar.
 
In Uttar Pradesh, the party has nominated R. K. Chaudhary from Mohanlalganj, Ummed Singh Nishad from Ambedkar Nagar, Krishna Patel from Gonda, Raj Kishore Singh from Basti, Rajesh Mishra from Salempur, Devvrata Mishra from Jaunpur, Ajit Pratap Kushwah from Ghazipur, Shiv Kanya Kushwah from Chandauli and Rama Kant Yadav from Bhadohi.
 
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Gallacher wins Hero Indian Open; Rashid, Chikka finish tied 10th

Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher with Hero MotoCorp Ltd Chairman and Managing Director Pawan Munjal after winning the $ 1.75 million Hero Indian Open Golf at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram on March 31, 2019.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher with Hero MotoCorp Ltd Chairman and Managing Director Pawan Munjal after winning the $ 1.75 million Hero Indian Open Golf at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram on March 31, 2019.
First round joint leader Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher survived a quadruple-bogey disaster and staged a stunning comeback, carding three birdies in the last four holes for one under 71 fourth round, to pip Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura by a shot to claim the $ 1.75 million Hero Indian Open Golf at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Sunday. 
 
Gallacher’s aggregate of nine-under-par 279 give him a one-shot lead over Kawamura. The 44-year-old Scot held his nerves round as he recovered from a horrible quadruple-bogey on hole seven to take home the winner’s prize purse of $291,660.
 
Kawamura had a chance to force a play-off with Gallacher at the last but could not take it into extra time as he could only make par. The Japanese settled for second place on his own following a 73.
 
"I was chasing the lead and was three behind to start the day. I got off to a slow start and then made a quadruple bogey but I was very calm, saw that I was only 5 behind. I told myself, just stick in there. You never know on this golf course, it can turn around very quickly, given how tough it's playing and then I went three under in the last three holes,” the Scot said after the win.
 
About the quad bogey, he said, “I actually forgot all about it. It was a tough pin and I was trying to get my drive as long as possible as it was down wind and it ended up left against the fence on the left. Changed club to a three wood and the next shot I lost the ball as well so I went back to start again. Got on the green and two-putted that."
 
Local favourites Rashid Khan (70) and S. Chikkarangappa (74) finished as the highest-placed Indians in tied-10th position.
 
Finland’s Kalle Samooja aced the 12th hole from 127 metres with his pitching wedge, marking the first time in the history of the Indian Open that three hole-in-ones were made in the same year.
 
Chikkarangappa (74-70-66-74), who had raised hopes of the home fans by finishing tied 6th after the third round, failed to produce the same form and returned a poor 2 over 74 last round to slip to four places down the rung.
 
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Chikka had double bogeys on the 5th and 10th and he also dropped a stroke on the 14th. He hit three birdies and with an aggregate of 4 under 214 shared the tied place with 7 others including compatriot Rashid Khan and overnight joint leader Sihwan Kim.
 
Young Rashid Khan (72,70,72,70), who was tied 21st after a 72 on Saturday, came up with much improved showing, firing two under last round which propelled him to tied 10th with a total of 4 under 284.
 
Playing steady golf Rashid hit birdies on the 2nd and 9th but dropped strokes on 5th and 8th to go out at par 36. Coming back he started with a bogey but recovered his ground by hitting two successive birdies on the 11th and 12th to complete his round at 70.
 
Two-time European Tour winner Shubhankar Sharma, who was overnight tied 15th, had a poor last round day as he carded three over par 75 to tumbled 12 places to end tied 27 at par 288. 
 
Shubhankar Sharma (69-73-71-75), unlike yesterday when he had recovered well after an early double-bogey, could not do an encore on the last. He had two double bogeys on the 8th and 14 and he also missed shots on the 11th and 12th. His three birdies on 2nd, 15 and 18th reduced the gap to some extent in this round.
 
Gaganjeet Bhullar had a one under 71 round and that took him up 24 places to end at tied 39 with three over 291
 
Former champion SSP Chawrasia tied 47 overnight returned three over 75 round and with a tournament total of four over 292 ended two places above at tied 45.
 
Ajeetesh Sandhu (74,71,73,75) with three over par last round stayed put at tied 54 with five over 293 total. Gaurav Pratap Singh and Rahil Gangjee were tied 69 at 13 over 301.
 
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Golf: Last hole blues for leader Suri, Chikkarangappa keeps Indian hopes alive

S. Chikkarangappa
S. Chikkarangappa
Chikkarangappa S. fired six-under-66 to keep Indians' hopes alive as seven other home challengers struggled to keep afloat while it turned out to be last hole blues for leader Julian Suri on the third and penultimate day of the US$ 1.75 million Hero Indian Open at the demanding DLF Golf & Country Club here on Saturday.
 
Only three of eight Indians in fray -- Chikkarangappa (six-under), Shubhankar Sharma (one-under) and SSP Chawrasia (one-under) -- shot under-par scores.
 
Overnight leader Julian Suri looked set to consolidate his lead at the top as he was 13-under with three bogeys against six birdies but on the last hole he fumbled and carded a double bogey to finish the round one under 71 and was forced to share of the lead with England’s Callum Shinkwin who returned 4 under 68. Both totalled 11under 205 at the end of the third day.
 
“I think a couple of the mistakes I made today were after long waits on the tee box and that was quite a long wait on 18. No excuses, totally my fault and I need to compose myself better and I think that is a bit of a learning curve for me after being out of tournament golf for a while now.” Suri said.
 
“You have to be on your game at all times. Any slip up or anything can be pretty penal. I am feeling good with my overall game despite 18 there, the game feels good. I know Callum played well today. I knew that the putt on 18 was to keep a share of the lead which was big for me to make that and I will hopefully take some of that momentum into tomorrow, he added.
 
 
The 25-year-old Chikka, an Asian Tour regular and two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), seems to be the only Indian with some hope going into the final round as he is now placed tied sixth at six-under-210, five behind the joint leaders Julian Suri and Callum Shinkwin
 
Chikka’s third round exploits lifted him 35 places from his overnight tied 41st.
 
Two-time European Tour winner Shubhankar Sharma produced a hard-fought one-under-71 to move up four places to tied 15th at three-under-213.
 
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Chikkarangappa (74-70-66) has been experiencing a career revival since November last year. Over the last five months, he has won two events on the PGTI and also finished runner-up at an Asian Tour event that helped him seal his card in Asia for 2019.
 
Chikka carried his form into the Indian Open as was evident from his third round performance. Today he had a dream start as he struck the ball to perfection from the very outset and as a result conjured birdies on the first, second and fourth.
 
His putting was the highlight as he picked up four more birdies on the ninth, 10th, 11th and 13th. This stretch saw him make a couple of 12-feet birdie conversions. He finally dropped his only bogey of the day on the 17th.
 
“I started really well and that set the tone for the rest of the day. My ball-striking was right up there as I hit almost all greens in regulation and found all fairways. The putting was also sharp,“ Chikka said after his round.
 
“I will take seven birdies and a bogey on this golf course any day. This is my best round at this course and almost feels like a course record.  
 
“I’ve been in good touch since late last year and that helped my confidence coming into this tournament. I just feel good about all aspects of my game at the moment.
 
“As for the last round, I just need to enjoy myself on the course and play with no expectations. Hopefully, the rest should fall in place," he said.
 
Shubhankar Sharma (69-73-71) recovered well after an early double-bogey on the second to shoot a brave 71. Sharma came up with five birdies and two bogeys between the fifth and 18th to close the day with a respectable score.
 
Rashid Khan dropped two places to tied 21st after a 72 on Saturday. His score read two-under-214.
 
 Former champion SSP Chawrasia was tied 47th at one-over-217 while Ajeetesh Sandhu was a further shot back in tied 54th.
 
Gaurav Pratap Singh occupied tied 59th place at three-over-219, Gaganjeet Bhullar was tied 63rd at four-over-220 and Rahil Gangjee was tied 66th at five-over-221.
 
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Rashid, Shubhankar keep Indian hopes alive as Julian Suri leads in Hero Indian Open Golf

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Young Delhi Golfer Rashid Khan and Chandigarh-based Shubhankar Sharma carded contrasting second rounds to keep Indian hopes alive as they trailed the leader Julian Suri of the United States by eight shots at the halfway stage of the the $1.75 million Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Friday.
 
Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid shot two-under-70 while two-time European Tour winner Shubhankar returned one over 73 and were the best-placed Indians as both were tied 19th with a tally of two-under-142. 
 
The cut was declared at two-over-146. Seventy professionals made the cut. Out of a total of 37 Indians in the fray, only eight made the cut.
 
Suri stretched his overnight lead to three after carding a second consecutive five-under-par 67. The 27-year-old American, who shared a one-shot lead at the end of the first round, fired an eagle and five birdies against two bogeys for a 10-under-par 134.
 
Suri, who last won on the European Tour two years ago, credited his hot putter for yet another commendable round in the event, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
 
"I hit it really well the whole day and I just tried to free it up a little bit on the second nine with my putting. I putted with more feel instead, which is how I have usually been putting, and I gave myself a lot more chances,” said the American, who is of Indian descent.
 
Thailand’s Prom Meesawat, American Berry Henson and India’s Rashid Khan settled eight shots off the pace following rounds of 74, 72 and 70 respectively.
 
Henson, a one-time Asian Tour winner, was glad his conservative approach paid off as he made it into the weekend rounds after trading three birdies against three bogeys.
 
“I’ve only hit one driver over the past two rounds. I hope to take a bit more of a risk over the weekend and try and get in better positions to score. Today I just hit my three-wood off the tee just to keep my ball in play. That was my game plan, to keep my ball in play and stay away from the big numbers,” said Henson.
 
 After his round Rashid said, “I had a good start and finish today. I placed the ball well and rolled in the putts. Shooting an under-par round on this course is always an encouraging sign so I’m quite satisfied with today’s effort.
 
 “This course requires a lot of patience as you have to play away from some of the flags. I managed to do that well today.
 
“I had a good preparation for this event as I was invited to practice for a few days at the Kalhaar Blues & Greens Course in Ahmedabad last week. Playing at Kalhaar gave me a feel of the DLF Golf & Country Club as both courses are similar in many ways," he said.
 
On the other hand, Shubhankar said he was not too happy with the day. “ A one-over is not what I had expected today. I didn’t feel like I played bad but missing crucial putts on the front-nine made a lot of difference. I was just struggling to make pars on the front-nine.”
 
“I was in a position to birdie the fourth and eighth but ended up dropping bogeys there which in effect meant that I lost four shots on those two holes. Those two bogeys were definitely big setbacks.
 
“If I had birdied the fifth and moved to one-under once again, things could’ve been very different. Landing it in the water on the eighth was also a big disappointment. The importance of scoring on the front-nine can be stressed by the fact that one doesn’t get too many birdie opportunities on the back-nine here.
 
“I made pars on the last two holes but was not satisfied with a couple of shots there as well. I could’ve been in better positions on both holes," he said.
 
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Shubankar tied 7th, two shots behind leaders at Hero Indian Open Golf

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Shubhankar Sharma and Rahil Gangjee led the home side’s challenge as Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and American Julian Suri at five-under-67 jointly led the field on the opening day of the Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf & Country Club here on Thursday.
 
Shubhankar carded three-under-69 to be at tied seventh place, two off the lead. Gangjee fired a steady two-under-70 and was tied 16th at the US$ 1.75 million event.
 
Shubhankar, a 10th tee starter, made an early gain with a long birdie conversion on the 12th. The 22-year-old, who was in good putting form through the day, then made two consecutive birdies on the 18th and first, the latter being another long conversion from 15 feet, to take his score to three-under.
 
Two-time European Tour winner Sharma’s excellent approach shot on the par-5 fourth landed six feet from the pin thus setting up an eagle for him.
 
The Chandigarh-based golfer was in the joint lead at five-under through 14 holes before he hit a rough patch on the sixth and seventh. He found the bunker on the sixth and seventh and thus dropped successive bogeys there to close the day with a three-under.
 
“I think I played very well today and didn’t make too many mistakes. I missed a couple of key putts on the front nine. Made a silly mistake on six and seven but apart from those holes I am pretty happy with how I finished,” said Sharma.
 
Rahil Gangjee mixed three birdies with a bogey during his round of 70. The other Indians who got off to a decent start were Om Prakash Chouhan (71) tied 28th place, Gaganjeet Bhullar (72) and Rashid Khan (72) who were both in tied 46th place.
 
Among other prominent home side names, Shiv Kapur (74) and two-time Indian Open champion SSP Chawrasia (74) were both tied 76th while another former winner Anirban Lahiri (77) was tied 107th.
 
Stephen and Julian Suri, were followed by four others who carded four-under 68. That group included Robert Karlsson, Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal, South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat.
 
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Placed Tied-7th with Sharma were Scott Hend, Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng,Poom Saksansin, and Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura.
 
Gallacher, a three-time European Tour winner, fired a stunning 67 to take the morning clubhouse lead on his own while three players stayed one shot behind including Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal and Robert Karlsson of Sweden.
 
Aiming for a first win on Indian soil, Hend recovered brilliantly from a bad front nine by closing with three consecutive birdies in his final three holes.
 
"After my 17th and 18th hole, we thought we would be flying tomorrow night. I three-putted the 17th and hit two balls into the water hazard on hole 18 which was a bit of a nightmare. To come back after that was great, and I think so far this year this was the best round that I have played,” said Hend, coming off his 10th Asian Tour victory last week in Malaysia.
 
Gallacher and Suri had contrasting fortunes at the same Gary Player course at the DLF Golf and Country Club last year. The Scotsman was Tied-seventh, while Suri headed home early with rounds of 76-82. Gallacher’s card included six birdies, one bogey, a double and a closing eagle, while Suri had seven birdies and a bogey on either side of the course.
 
A year ago, Gallacher tied for seventh at the Hero Indian Open and that effort included five-under 67, which he equaled on Thursday. Gallacher said, “It was a perfect morning. Cool to start with and then it heated up later on in the round, and not too much wind, so it was perfect today.
 
“I think you have to get it in play off the tee, there is just so much trouble. I think if you get the tee shot in place you can hit a couple of nice iron shots and take advantage of the par fours that are quite short, drive a couple, and knock it onto the par fives. It is quite a strategic course. I don’t think you need to be the longest player on the Tour to play it, I think you’ve just got to plot your way around it.”
 
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Anirban, Chawrasia to lead home challenge at the Hero Indian Open

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Former champions Anirban Lahiri, S. S. P. Chawrasia and 2018 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Shubhankar Sharma will lead the home challenge in the $1.75 million Hero Indian Open commencing on Thursday here at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
 
Anirban and Chawrasia between them have won the Hero Indian Open three times in the period between 2015 and 2017
 
Apart from Lahiri, Chawrasia and Gaganjeet Bhullar, youngsters like Khalin Joshi and Viraj Madappa, who broke through last year, and others will be part of the Indian campaign.
 
The field has the 2018 Scottish Open winner Brandon Stone, long-hitting Bernd Wiesberger, four-time European Tour winner, and Gavin Green, a former Asian Tour No. 1, who are strong contenders
 
Jazz Janewattananond (No. 71),  Adrian Otaegui (No. 73), Shaun Norris (No. 90) and Jorge Campillo (No. 93) David Law (Vic Open), Aaron Rai (Hong Kong Open) and Scott Hend (Maybank Malaysian Championships) are among the other foreigners in the fray.
 
Lahiri is here on the back of a solid performance last week at the Valspar Championship in Florida, where his last round 68 was equal best score on a windy and tough Sunday.
 
Sharma was seventh here last year after going into Sunday with the lead, but his middling finish at T-30 while defending the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur had a strong finish and that will help steady his nerves.
 
Hend, who broke a near three-year drought with the Maybank title last week is here. So is last year’s other top-three finisher Sihwan Kim of the USA and Maybank Runner-up Nacho Elvira of Spain.
 
All of them will be looking with some trepidation at the course. But both Lahiri and Sharma said the course is playing much better than last year.
 
Added Lahiri, “It looks immaculate. This course is probably in the best shape that any of us has seen so far. It seems to be the most playable compared to all the other years we’ve played.
 
“The greens are definitely a lot softer and the grass has settled down. In the sense of what to expect this week, it will be a great golf course, we’ll see how it goes because it really changes depending on if the tees are pushed back or pushed forward. That’s a big factor here.”
 
 Indians are always considered the toughest to beat on home soil, but with the field having four players in Top-100 of the world, none of whom is an Indian, besides a lot of others ranked between 100 and 150, there will be a stiff battle over the next four days.
 
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Wiesberger stars as World Team beats Asians in Skills Challenge at Hero Indian Open

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Bernd Wiesberger put his rivals on the notice. The display he put up at the Hero Skills Challenge here on Tuesday indicated that he is on the right path. 
 
The Austrian, who was out of action from May to November last year due to a wrist injury, showed some skillful play as he won his team, the Rest of the World (RoW), three of the four Skills against an Asian foursome at the action-packed forerunner of the Hero Indian Open, which gets underway on Thursday.
 
The Challenge was played out at the ninth hole of the Gary Player course at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
 
Each Skill win was worth $ 2,500, which meant the RoW won US $ 7,500, while the Asian team won US $ 2,500. But the winnings were donated to a charity.
 
The prizes were given away by Pawan Munjal, Chairman, Hero MotoCorp.
 
Wiesberger was the star of the RoW team comprising captain, Pablo Larrazabal and his Spanish teammate, Adrian Otaegui, the second highest ranked player in the field, and South African Brandon Stone.
 
The Asian team comprised skipper Shiv Kapur, two-time Hero Indian Open winner SSP Chawrasia, Asian Tour 2018 No. 1 Shubhankar Sharma and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, who has been having a great season.
 
It was Kapur, who set the ball rolling for the home team, as he hit his chip shot from 80-odd yards to 18 inches with his first attempt and decided to forego his next two attempts as RoW’s Larrazabal and Otaegui were further than that from the pin. Chawrasia was the second Asian player in the Challenge.
 
The next Skill required precision and none was better than Wiesberger, who hit the platform with the Hero Bike on it twice in three shots. For Asia, Chawrasia failed on all three tries and Jazz managed it once in three shots. Stone also failed in his attempts.
 
Skipper Larrazabal was the best when it came to the bunker shot from 67 yards and hit his shot to within five feet five inches Shubhankar and Jazz of Asia were unable to get closer than that. Otaegui was the second RoW player.
 
In the final Skills Challenge, the Long Putt, Wiesberger was again the best, putting to 15 inches from the far end of the green on the ninth. Kapur and Shubhankar were the ones to have a go at the Challenge, while the second RoW player was Stone.
 
The action now shifts to the official Pro-Am scheduled for Wednesday.
 
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Kapur hopes for advantage, Stone, Wiesberger find course spectacular

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Seasoned campaigner Shiv Kapur on Tuesday expressed optimism about performing well in the Hero Indian Open saying he still feels he has played enough at the Gary Player Layout at the DLF Golf and Country Club here to get some advantage from the familiarity.
 
The star-studded Hero India Open is slated to be played here from 28 to 31 March.
 
“I missed the cut the last two years so I will obviously be doing things differently. Tee to green I’ve played it well the past two years it just hasn’t been able to do well on the greens. This year the greens are playing quite different so my focus this time around is to try and focus more on the greens, the more you play this course you just learn where to miss it” Shiv said.
 
“It’s the kind of golf course where you can get quite defensive just knowing there is trouble everywhere and you have to confront it. Visually it’s a very intimidating golf course but the actual landing area is quite generous.” he added.
 
Aaron Rai, who came for the tournament last year also , lavished praise on the course. “It (the course) is in incredible shape and is probably my favourite course in the world. It is very scenic to walk around, but more importantly it is a great course, a great test, so you have to be on.
 
“It would be incredible. My grandparents from both my mum and dad’s side were born in India, so back home as well I and my family have Indian heritage, so to even compete in India is a blessing, so if it was to happen and go one step further that would be a privilege, especially around a course like this where you need to be on your mental, and physical game, so a long way to go but if that did happen it would be incredible and a dream come true," he said.
 
Title contenders Brandon Stone, making his first appearance, and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who played at the same club five years ago, were awe-struck with their first look at the course.
 
Stone, who shot a 10-under 60 while winning the Scottish Open last year, said, “It’s my first time coming to India and so far, spectacular. I took my first tuk tuk ride yesterday, which was a lot of fun, and my first time looking at the course today. Mr (Gary) Player has come up again with another very unique design.”
 
“The condition of the golf course is spectacular – ten out of ten – the ground staff have done an incredible job here."
 
Wiesberger, who came to India for the 2014 edition of the Avantha Masters, said, “I haven’t been to India for five or six years so it’s nice to be back and I am looking forward to coming to a golf course that has been described as somewhat challenging, and something different to what we see on a regular basic."
 
Wiesberger missed out playing between May and November because of an injury. He said, “Unfortunately, I was out from May until November and that was quite a tough break for me, not having any golf to play over summer with the injury in my left wrist. I still feel the effects of it a little bit, but I’m not where I want to be, so my results have not been anywhere to what I expect of myself but at the same time I am kind of taking it easy, week by week.”
 
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Child rescued from Haryana borewell after 48 hours

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After a 48-hour-long rescue operation, a one-and-a-half-year-old boy, who fell into a 70-foot narrow borewell in Haryana's Hisar district, was rescued on Friday, said officials.
 
The child is safe and kept under observation. His condition is stable, an official supervising the rescue operation told IANS.
 
The rescue team had to dig a parallel well to create a passage to reach the child, officials said.
 
Comprising of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Indian Army and the district administration personnel, the rescuers were at work in the Balsamand village.
 
They provided oxygen and food items in the borehole. Also, a night-vision camera was planted to keep watch over the child.
 
Nadeem Khan, son of a road construction worker, fell into the borewell on Wednesday evening. He is the youngest of five siblings. Earlier, an attempt was made to pull the child out with the help of a net.
 
The hole was dug by a villager to install a tubewell.
 
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