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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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Golf: Amandeep Drall best Indian at tied-8th, Whitney Hillier takes sole lead at HWIO

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Local favourite shot 70 and was tied-eighth with two-under 142 while Australian Whitney Hillier rounded off with two birdies to emerge the sole leader at the end of the second round of the Hero Women’s Indian Open at  DLF Golf and Country Club here  on Friday. 
 
Overnight co-leader Hillier had one birdie and one bogey on the front nine but a double bogey on the 10th set her back. She fought back with four birdies in the last seven holes to take the lead. 
 
Amandeep, a consistent player on the domestic circuit, who has never had a Top-10 finish in an LET event, finished her day with three birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th which are considered the toughest stretch on the Gary Player course.  She returned two under to be  Tied-eighth.
 
Hillier who shot five-under on the first day for a share of the lead, dropped to three-under at one stage but fought back superbly in the last seven holes to rise to the top at six-under and was one ahead of Marianne Skarpnord (68-71), who had the clubhouse lead for the most part of the day. 
 
The first round co-leader Meghan MacLaren dropped back to shared third place alongside Linda Wessberg of Sweden at 2-under 140. 
 
Three players including Christine Wolf (73-68) were Tied-fifth at three-under 141, while another three others were Tied-eighth at two-under 142. 
 
With the cut  being applied at seven-over, 68 players made the weekend rounds and that included 10 Indians, four of them amateurs, auguring well for Indian women’s golf. 
  
"I was very calm all day. I stayed in the present and just tried to hit the best shots I could. It was actually very challenging with the wind so I had to judge that quite a lot. I hit a couple of really good shots but got punished. Had some really good putts coming in though," said Hillier on her day’s progress.
 
She added, “I had a few steady pars to start off with. Had one bogey then I got it back pretty quickly. And then I was 2-over after 10th. The 10th hasn't been very good to me so far but I am going to get it back on the weekend. I made a few good birdies coming in and then obviously at the 17th and 18th, was good to finish with those last two putts. So very happy with today.” 
 
In the morning, Skarpnord, who is the highest-ranked player on LET rankings in this week’s field, seemed to be in a bother as she turned in two-over on the back nine, which was her front nine. She had a triple bogey on 11th and a bogey on the 16th against birdies on 13th and 18th. She rebounded strongly on the second nine with birdies on the first, third, fourth and fifth to get to six-under before dropping a shot on sixth to finish 36 holes in five-under. 
 
Skarpnord said, “I had an early tee time today and I was pretty sure I was awake, but obviously I was not. Had a little 7 (3-over) there on the 11th hole, not a great start to the round. But I did my best to just forget about it. I said to myself on the next tee to forget about what had just happened. If you are going to go on thinking about it for the next 16 holes, you might as well just go home.” 
 
Tvesa Malik (72-72) and Vani Kapoor (74-70) played steadily to ensure passage past the cut and are Tied-15th. Starting from the 10th, Tvesa was one-over for the back nine, her first nine, and one-under for the front nine of the course just like the first day. 
 
Also starting on 10th, Kapoor, sixth in 2017, was one-under for back nine and on the front stretch she had two birdies and one bogey.   The bravest Indian on the second day was Diksha Dagar (72-73), who started the day with a quadruple bogey. She hit the far right and went back to the tee and had a four-putt on the green for an eight. She fought back with three birdies on third, fourth and eighth. Again she dropped shots on 11th and 12th, only to birdie the 13th and 14th. Then she saved an improbable par on the 18th hole after hitting into the water with the first shot. Her approach shot, which became her third shot, sailed over the water and curled along and found its way into the cup from 115 yards for a par. She is one-over 145 and Tied-22nd. 
 
Gaurika  Bishnoi (73-74) was Tied-31st, while fast-rising amateur Anika Varma (76-72) and Astha Madan (73-75) were in shared 37th place at 4-over 148. Amateurs Jahnavi Bakshi (74-76) and Pranavi Urs (71-79) were Tied-51st at 6-over 150. Yet another amateur Seher Atwal (74-77), studying in the US, just made the grade at 7-over 151. 
 
Missing out were some big names, including defending champion Becky Morgan (77-80) of Wales and pre-tournament favourite Carly Booth (81-76) of Scotland, both of who finished on 13-over par 152. 
 
Meanwhile  the Par-3 16th was the scene of much jubilation once again as Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald gave herself an early birthday present with a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th using a 7-iron during the second round. She turns 29 on Saturday. 
 
Kelsey also used the same club as Jyotsana Singh did on the first day to get the ace at the same hole. She  (76-72) was actually six-over for the tournament with three holes left when she landed the hole-in-one. It brought her to four-over and with pars on 17 and 18, she stayed there to make the cut and is T-36. 
 
The DLF Golf and Country Club has been a good hunting ground for Scots in recent times. Stephen Gallacher won the Hero Indian Open for men this year, and in 2017, Duncan Stewart had won a BMW M3 with an ace on the fifth hole. 
 
Jyotsana Singh (73-89) who had an ace on Thursday suffered a 16-shot swing and missed the cut. 
 
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MacLaren, Hillier share lead; Pranavi top Indian at 10th at Hero Women's Indian Open

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Mysore-based 16-year-old amateur Pranavi Urs carded two late birdies to climb to Tied-10th place as England’s Meghan MacLaren and Whitney Hilliers of Australia shared the lead at 5-under 67 after the first day of the Hero Women’s Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Thursday.
 
Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord and England’s Liz Young were tied third at four-under 68 each while Swede Linda Wessberg (69) was fifth.
 
Four players, including Europe’s Solheim Cup-winning captain, Catriona Matthew, were tied-sixth on 2-under 70 and another eight players shot 71s to be Tied-10th including Pranavi.
 
For defending champion Becky Morgan and 2017 winner Camille Chevalier, though, it was a day to forget. While the Frenchwoman was 3-over 75 and tied 58th, Morgan was three shots further behind on 6-over 78 and tied 80th.
 
Pranavi Urs, a past winner on the domestic pro tour, even while being an amateur, picked up shots on her final two holes for a one-under-par card of 71 to be the best-placed Indian on the first day but she was four shots behind the two leaders.
 
Adding to the action on the first day was Lucknow-based 19-year-old Jyotsana Singh, a late entrant, who aced the par-3 16th. She had an interesting finish – four bogeys between 13th and 18th with an ace in between on 16th for 73. She closed with two bogeys.
 
MacLaren said later, “It was a bit of a mixture. I made a lot of birdies and was really, really positive. Thought I left some birdies out there, did a couple of really stupid things but I can’t really complain.
 
“It wasn’t very nice to get up at 4 am but for the first hour you have an empty course in front of you and really pure greens so that was nice though it got bad later, really burning hot., It just kept getting stickier and stickier out there.”
 
“I had six birdies in total. I made a bogey on the first hole that I got back very quickly, which I was very happy with. Thought I hit it really well out there, hit it close all day and gave myself lots of birdie chances, which is good.”Hillier said.
 
“The course is in great shape, much different from what it was when I was last here in 2015. It’s changed a lot since then, it’s just really impressive; a very, very beautiful golf course, one of the best in the world, I would say.”
 
Pranavi, teeing off in the afternoon, played a steady out-bound nine to make the turn on level par 36. Though she dropped a shot early, back to back birdies in the final two holes made sure she would be the only Indian to go under par on the opening day.
 
Even as the teenager carded 71 and earned the bragging rights for being the best Indian among the 22 playing here, there was Diksha Dagar and domestic tour regulars Amandeep Drall and Tvesa Malik in Tied-18th place with 72 each.
 
Amandeep mixed three gained shots against three bogeys in her round, finishing off with an excellent birdie on the ninth hole, her last of the day with the pin awkwardly placed on a shelf right at the back of the green.
 
Diksha had an even more adventurous day in the course in which she hit five birdies but squandered those gains with three bogeys and a double, while Tvesa had a more sedate round, her two birdies cancelling out two dropped shots. In each case, the final score for the day could have been a better one.
 
One shot behind them on 1-over par 73 and tied in 28th place were Neha Tripathi, Gaurika Bishnoi, Astha Madan and 19-year-old tour rookie Jyotsana Singh, who recorded the only hole-in-one on Thursday. 
 
A further shot behind at 74 in shared 42nd were amateurs Seher Atwal and Jahnavi Bakshi, along with Vani Kapoor, for whom the DLF GCC is her home course.
 
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Golf: Carly Booth hopes to be ninth time lucky at Hero Women’s Indian Open

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Scotland's Carly Booth is hoping that she will be ninth time lucky in the 2019 edition of the $ 500,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open (HWIO) Golf, which will tee off at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on October 3.
 
Currently No. 7 on the Ladies European Tour, the Scottish star  will be one of the leading lights at the tournament.
 
She hopes to follow the footsteps of Becky Morgan, who won the title here in her ninth appearance at HWIO  last year. Booth will be hoping that nine is her lucky number, too, as she has made eight previous visits to India for the flagship women’s golf event of the country. 
 
The HWIO celebrates its 10th anniversary on the Ladies European Tour and is now in its 13th staging. The tournament first began in 2007 with a purse of US $ 100,000 and it grew to US $ 300,000 when Hero took over the title sponsorship in 2010.
 
It is now worth half a million dollars, which is equivalent to approximately Rs. 3.6 crore. The winner takes home US $ 75,000, approximately Rs. 54 lakh.
 
The Indian challenge will be led by Diksha Dagar, winner of the South African Women’s Open. The other leading Indians are Tvesa Malik, Gauri Bishnoi, Ridhima Dilawari, Astha Madan, Smriti Mehra, Vani Kapoor, Amandeep Drall and Gursimar Badwal.
 
Some of the established international participants who have entered the field include the defending champion Becky Morgan, the 2017 winner Camille Chevalier, other leading names like Beth Allen and Becky Brewerton, both former LET Order of Merit winners and other LET winners including Meghan MacLaren, Marianne Skarpnord, Kanyalak Preedasuttijit, Astrid Vayson de Pradenne, Florentyna Parker and Linda Wessberg. 
 
However, the HWIO has not always been kind to Booth, as she has missed the cut the last five times from 2014 to 2018. She also came in 2010, 2011 and 2012 while 2013 has been the only edition she has missed in this decade. Her best at the event has been T-22 in 2012, which incidentally was the year when Carly won her first two Ladies European Tour titles.
 
Now she comes back to India again, but having ended that title drought this season with a win last month at the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open. She is in good form and will be among those to watch for at the DLF’s Gary Player-designed Black Knight course as she is also familiar with the course.
 
Booth turned professional after a stellar amateur career in 2010.  The ongoing season has seen something of a turnaround in her fortunes. Besides the Czech Ladies Open win, she has had three top-five finishes from 14 LET tournament.
 
She was fourth at the Canberra Classic in Australia, and has had two fifth places at the South African Women’s Open in March and the US Women’s Open Qualifier this May at Buckinghamshire.
 
The Manchester-based golfer said after her win at the Golf Resort Karlštejn, “I’m a little bit flabbergasted by the whole day. I played good golf and I really had to dig deep in the final round. I’m overwhelmed with happiness. It’s been seven years (since her last win), so it’s a bit of a shock. Not knowing what the winning score was, I didn’t know anything about the leader board and I made a really solid par in the end.”
 
At the HWIO, Booth will have countrywoman Catriona Mathew for company. Mathew will be in India for the first time after successfully piloting Europe to a dramatic final-day last-match win over the United States at Gleneagles in Scotland three weeks ago.
 
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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.
 
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Haryana, Maharashtra to go to polls on Oct 21; counting on Oct 24

Elections for the 288-member Maharashtra and 90-member Haryana assembly will be held on October 21, the Election Commission said on Saturday. The results will be declared on October 24.
 
Elections for the 288-member Maharashtra and 90-member Haryana assembly will be held on October 21, the Election Commission said on Saturday. The results will be declared on October 24.
 
Announcing the schedule of the polls in both the states, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said, "The Assembly polls in Haryana and Maharashtra will be held on October 21 and the counting of votes will take place on October 24."
 
He said the notification for the elections will be issued on September 27. "Last date for filing nomination is October 4, while the scrutiny of the nomination papers will be done on October 5," he said.
 
The CEC said that the last day for withdrawing nominations is October 7.
 
Arora also said that the tenure of the Haryana legislative assembly will expire on November 2, while that of Maharashtra will end on November 9.
 
In the 2014 Assembly polls in Maharashtra, the BJP had won 122 seats, its ally Shiv Sena 63 seats, the Congress 42 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) 41 seats while others managed 20.
 
The Congress and the NCP had contested the 2014 Assembly polls separately after sharing power for 15 years in the state.
 
In the 2014 Assembly polls in Haryana, the BJP won 47 seats followed by the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) at 19 while the ruling Congress managed just 15 seats. Two seats went to the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), and one each to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Five Independents were also elected.
 
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Former INLD chief of Haryana joins Congress

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Ahead of the Haryana Assembly elections, the Congress received a boost as Ashok Arora, former state unit chief of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), joined the party along with two former MLAs Pradeep Chowdhary and Subhash Goyal here on Sunday.
 
Three-time former member of Parliament Jay Prakash, an independent MLA from Kalayat, also joined the Congress.
 
Welcoming them in the Congress, party general secretary in-charge of Haryana Ghulam Nabi Azad said the situation in the country was such that regional parties were feeling marginalised. They decided to join the Congress as it was the only party that could challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state as well as the country. 
 
"The Congress has been fighting such forces since the freedom struggle," Azad said.
 
Speaking on the occasion, state party chief Kumari Selja said they had joined the Congress because they had faith in the party and its leadership.
 
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said their entry would make the Congress stronger in the state.
 
IANS
 

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Golf: Rory Hie keeps Rashid, others at bay to win CGCC Championship

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Indonesia’s Rory Hie warded off a strong Indian challenge as he played a flawless four-under-par 68 to win the inaugural $300,000 Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship by two shots on Sunday. 
 
At one point, Hie, Rashid Khan and Korean Byungjun Kim were all in a tie at the top of the leader-board after the 13th hole before the Indonesian ripped off three birdies in a row and Rashid bogeyed the 15th to fall two behind. That was the turning point.
 
As Hie shot 68 to finish at 21-under, Rashid stayed in the hunt till he mishit the 15th tee shot, carded 69 to reach 19-under and tie for second alongside Kim (67). Rashid’s bogey on 15th, coupled with Hie’s birdie on the same hole, ended the Indian’s chances as the Indonesian playing in India for the seventh year in a row, made no mistakes and parred the last three holes.
 
The 31-year old Indonesian, who led all  through the tournament, was determined to seal his maiden win and demonstrated that resolve with an opening birdie on the first hole. ?Despite being under intense pressure from the chasing pack, he maintained his composure by marking his card with 11 straight pars before a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th hole  to seal his victory.
 
"It was always my dream to walk up the 18th green with a two-shot lead and that’s what happened,” said Hie who became the first-ever from his country to become a title-winner on the Asian Tour against a few top-five finishes in the past on the erstwhile One Asia Tour even though he was ranked in the world’s top six as an amateur.
 
After receiving the trophy and winner’s cheque of $54,000.  he said “It’s not really sunk in yet. But this has to be the biggest day of my life, no matter what happens from here on."
 
However, there was much to cheer for the Indians as a bunch of young stars finished in prominent positions with four of them featuring in the top eight.
 
For Rashid, the finish was somewhat disappointing though he downplayed it. He had moved to within one shot of Hie overnight. On Sunday, though, he just could not ignite his challenge. “I was just one shot behind after the 14th but hit a bad shot on the 15th which I bogeyed and Rory birdied. Just could not recover from that,” said Rashid, who got his third Top-10 finish in six starts on Asian Tour this year.
 
“Today was a little up and down for me. Couldn't find the fairways in the start at the front nine and missed a lot of greens. Somewhere on the course I think I went against myself. My game is to attack the flag and I went a little safe today. Maybe it was because I was not able to find the fairways and, from the rough, it is really tough to control the ball,” he added.
 
Young  Aadil Bedi (66) in only his seventh Asian Tour start, logged his career-high fourth place at 18-under. Aman Raj (66) equalled his career-best and Abhijit Chadha (71) achieved a new personal best on Asian Tour. Both were Tied-fifth at 16-under.
 
"I found something after my chip on the 13th hole lipped out. After that, I just played more aggressive golf. Also, earlier in the week, I should have been a bit more patient and attacked the flag selectively. But this is all part of a learning process for me and I am glad to get my first top-5 finish and that too on home ground.” Aadil said.
 
There were further celebrations in store for the hosts at this Jack Nicklaus-designed course with another six players making inside Top-20 for a total of 10 among the Top-20. Veer Ahlawat (66) and Karan Pratap Singh (67) were Tied-13th at 12-under and another four Kshitij Naveed Kaul (67), Karandeep Kochhar (68), Shivendra Singh Sisodia (68) and Viraj Madappa (69) were Tied-17th at 11-under.
 
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Golf: Rashid Khan’s in contention as Indonesian Rory Hie stays atop for third day in CGCC International Championship

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Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan carded a second straight six-under 66 to stay in contention but the tenacious Indonesian Rory Hie carded a birdie on the final hole and that enabled him to stay atop the leaderboard after the third round at the $300,000 Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship here on Saturday.
 
The 28-year-old Rashid, who won both his Asian Tour titles in 2014, gained one spot from round two to be placed second at 16-under 200. He trails Rory Hie by one shot.
 
Completing the top five were Chandigarh golfers Abhijit Chadha, placed third on 15-under 201 (68-65-68) and Asian Tour rookie Aadil Bedi in fifth along with Thailand’s Kosuke Hamamoto on 12-under 204. Between them in sole fourth place is Byungjun Kim of South Korea on 14-under 202.
 
Thailand’s Suttijet Kooratnapisan had the round of the tournament, a 9-under par 63 that is one shy of the all-time mark of 10-under 62 at this course that his countryman Chapchai Nirat achieved en route to an Asian Tour record-setting tournament total of 32-under par 256 at the 2009 SAIL Open.
 
Chadha returned an error-free 68 on Saturday but slipped one position to third place at 15-under 201. Rookie Aadil Bedi (69) ended the penultimate round as the third Indian in the top 5. The teenager was tied fifth at 12-under 204.
 
Rashid (68-66-66), two off the pace at the halfway stage, produced some good iron shots to collect birdies on the seventh, ninth and 10th. He conceded his first bogey of the tournament after 46 holes when he dropped a stroke on the 11th where he had trouble with club selection.
 
The Delhi based golfer , who previously won a TATA Steel PGTI event at the CG&CC in 2013, then rallied with four birdies on the 12th, 15th, 16th and 18th. He drove the green on the par-4 12th, chipped-in on the 15th, sank a 15-footer on the 16th and finally made a terrific up and down on the 18th.
 
Looking to regain his Asian Tour card after losing it this year, Rashid said  "Today's round was pretty good. I had a slow start, hit the ball well and hit some good putts, but they just didn't roll in. 
 
“I made a good comeback after the bogey on the 11th when I drove the green on the next hole and two-putted for birdie..I'm enjoying myself out on the course this week. I’m consistently hitting the fairways and finding the greens. I’ve also been scrambling well. You need all of those things to put up scores of 5 to 6-under," Rashid said.
 
“Today the conditions were fine, especially the weather. There wasn't much sun today so that definitely helped. I'm not thinking about anything for tomorrow. I'll only start thinking ahead when I’m on the last nine holes.”
 
Chadha (68-65-68), playing at his happy hunting ground, kept himself in the race for a maiden Asian Tour title with a solid 68.
 
The 28-year-old Chandigarh-based golfer, who along with Rashid Khan was part of the Indian team that won silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, had a hot start on Saturday as he drained three birdies on his first four holes. He recovered well from the rough and then knocked in a 25-footer to extract a birdie on the fourth.
 
Thereafter, Chadha’s putter went cold as his putts stopped rolling in and he had a few lip-outs. He only managed to add one more birdie on the 12th.
 
“I played really well actually for a bogey free four-under. I didn't make too many mistakes today. I just got a little unlucky with some of my putts as I had three or four lip-outs which could have easily gone in," said Chadha.
 
“I started off well and was doing the right things and kept hitting the fairways. Later on as well, I was doing the same things and hitting it close but just that the putts weren't going in. I'm playing well and am very positive going into the final round," he added.
 
Aadil Bedi (67-68-69) moved up one spot to tied fifth after shooting a round that featured four birdies and a bogey. The 18-year-old Aadil, the best Indian finisher in tied ninth at the Asian Tour Q School earlier this year, will be another leading Indian contender come the final day.  
 
Overall, it was a good day for home golfers with nine of them in the top 20. Aman Raj, third overnight was level par for the day and tied eighth overall on 10-under 206 along with three others; Himmat Rai and Abhinav Lohan were joint 12th; while Viraj Madappa, Sudhir Sharma and Chikkarangappa S. helped complete the top 20 on 8-under par 208s.
 
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Golf: Abhijit Chadha leads Indian charge, Indonesian Hie stays atop at CCGC Championship

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Chandigarh-based Abhijit Singh Chadha led the Indian charge  with 7-under 65 but Indonesia’s Rory Hie kept the sole lead at 12-under par 132 at the half-way mark of the $300,000 Classic Golf Country Club International Championship here on Friday.
 
Chadha, with a second round of 65, climbed up six spots to second place at 11-under 133 to be behind Rory Hie by one shot.
 
The 28-year-old Indian rode on a run of six birdies in an eight-hole run from first to eighth on his second nine, which was the front stretch of the layout.
 
The day’s best round came from American Nicholas Latimer who shot 64 and behind him were Chadha, Thailand’s Kosuke Hamamoto and American Trevor Simsby, who shot 65 each.
 
Hie, who returned a 4-under 68 to go with his 64 on the first day, said , “My tee shots were really good today and that was the strongest part of my game. I actually didn’t get off to a good start as my iron shots were kind of dodgy but I was able to bounce back each time I made a bogey and the highlight of my round was really being able to recover each time I made a mistake. It was good to end the round with back-to-back birdies.”
 
The  duo of Rashid Khan (66), yet to drop a stroke in the tournament, and Aman Raj (67), who fired a second successive five-under, were in tied-third with total scores of 10-under 134. Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid made a gain of five spots on Friday while Aman moved up two spots.
 
Aadil Bedi, the fourth Indian in the top-10, struck a 68 on day two but slipped one position to tied sixth at nine-under-135.
 
Chadha (68-65), who has won a title each at the junior, amateur and professional levels at the Classic Golf & Country Club (CG&CC), took advantage of his familiarity with the course to power ahead with an error-free round that featured seven birdies.
 
A  winner of two professional titles on the Tata Steel PGTI, he  made a slow start as his first birdie of the day came on the 18th where fortune favoured him after his drive hit the tree and bounced back on the fairway.
 
Chadha , who last won at the CG&CC during the 2015 BILT Open, was a different player on the front-nine where he collected six more birdies. The Chandigarh-based golfer was brilliant from 70 to 80 yards as he set up one-foot birdie conversions with his lob wedge shots on the third, fourth and eighth holes.     
 
A  silver medalist from the 2010 Asian Games, he said, “I putted really well today and put myself in good positions. I made a lot of putts on the front nine.
 
“I have won thrice on this course so I’m very comfortable on every tee shot and on the greens. It feels almost like a home course for me. I’m at ease with myself in pressure situations at this venue.
 
“On the 18th, I hit a wayward drive which hit a tree and came back on the fairway. It was a lucky break and I capitalized on that. The birdie on the 18th kind of gave me a boost and after that I pulled off a lot of good shots.
 
“I’m really happy to be in this position. I’m confident and playing well and will now look to go as low as possible over the next two rounds.
 
“I missed a few events on the Asian Tour in the first half of the year due to a shoulder injury. So now I’m all the more determined to make this good start count.”
 
Aman Raj (67-67), who won his only professional title exactly one year back on the Tata Steel PGTI, mixed seven birdies with two bogeys on day two to strengthen his position on the leaderboard. Aman made a couple of fabulous recoveries from the rough to salvage birdies on the sixth and 14th. He drained a 35-footer on the sixth.
 
The Patna-based lad looked to end the day on a high after birdies on the 16th and 17th but a couple of mistakes from the rough and the bunker on the 18th proved to be a dampener for him as he bogeyed the last hole.
 
Aman, the former India No. 1 amateur, said, “I feel I judged the conditions well today. Having teed off in the morning, I knew there would be dew and the course would play longer than it did when I teed off in the afternoon yesterday. I therefore played one club longer on most shots.
 
“I'm happy with the overall score but ending with a bogey always pinches especially on a par-5 when I had a hybrid in my hand on the fairway. But this is golf and you have to take it and move forward.”
 
Rashid Khan (68-66) produced a second straight bogey-free effort despite scrambling for a major part of the day on Friday. Rashid played some incredible shots to recover twice from the rough and once from the bunker slope to pick up birdies from a range of five feet on the first, third and seventh.
 
Delhi-based Khan, who was four-under through seven holes, gave himself a lot of chances on the back-nine but could add only two more birdies to his card on the 12th and 18th. 
 
“I think I'm playing really good golf as over the past two days I’ve made 10 birdies and I'm on 10-under." he said adding “I have been in this situation before but I'm not thinking too much right now. I'm not thinking of the last two rounds. I'll only start thinking ahead when I begin the last nine holes of the final round.”
 
The trio of Chikkarangappa, Ankur Chadha and Abhinav Lohan were placed tied-11th with identical scores of seven-under-137.
 
Among the prominent Indian names, Khalin Joshi was tied 24th at five-under 139, Viraj Madappa was tied 35th at four-under 140 and Jyoti Randhawa was tied 63rd at one-under-143.
 
The cut was applied at one-under-143. Seventy-five players including 37 Indians made it to the money round. One of the two Indian amateurs to make the cut was Harshjeet Singh Sethie. Ajeetesh Sandhu (74) missed the cut by one shot.
 
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Impressive start by Aadil Bedi, Aman Raj as Rory Hie leads at Classic Golf & Country Club Championship

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Promising Indian youngsters Aadil Bedi and Aman Raj got off to a promising start as they carded identical 5-under 67 on the opening day of the $ 300,000 Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship on Thursday.
 
Eighteen-year-old Aadil and 24-year-old Aman were  placed tied fifth, three shots behind the leader Rory Hie of Indonesia.
 
Rory Hie, still looking for his maiden Asian Tour win, shot eight-under 64, including a five-under 31, on the back nine of the course, while three Thais -- Sattaya Supupramai, who has been coming to India each year since 2008, Suradit Yongcharoenchai and Kwanchai Tannin -- were on six-under 66s at tied-second place. 
 
In the morning, Gareth Paddison of New Zealand was on fire as he raced through the back nine of the course in seven-under, before he had a triple bogey on the first, his 10th hole of the day. He ran out of birdies and also bogeyed the Par-5 ninth to finish three-under after being seven-under at one stage.
 
The other four Indians in the top 10 were Rashid Khan, Ranjit Singh, Abhijit Chadha and Himmat Rai, all placed tied-eighth with matching scores of 68.
 
Bedi started off well with a 25-feet birdie conversion on the second followed by another birdie on the third. Bedi then narrowly missed an eagle from eight feet on the ninth but managed to salvage a birdie there.
 
He had a setback when he bogeyed the 11th after finding the bunker but he roared back with three more birdies on the 14th, 16th and 18th where he drained a couple of putts from a range of six to seven feet.  
 
Bedi said, “I didn't have any expectations when I started. It's my fifth week in a row playing a tournament so I just tried to play my own game. I am trying to find my groove, stay in the game and follow my processes.
 
“I have been playing this course for over 6-7 years now. I grew up playing here and have played a lot of junior and amateur golf here. So, I know the course and what challenges it presents. 
 
“The season has been good so far. I am developing my game and have been practising hard. It is just about time when I find the right scores.
 
“I played the Monday qualifiers of the Korn Ferry Tour in the United States, finished 8th and missed just by 2 positions. I gained a lot of experience there.”
 
Aman Raj’s flawless effort featured two terrific approach shots that stopped five feet from the flag on the 16th and seventh. He also played some tremendous chip shots to set up birdies within four feet of the hole on the 14th, third and ninth.
 
Aman, a winner on the Tata Steel PGTI last year, said, “I’ve enjoyed some good starts at Asian Tour events this year but haven’t finished those events well. I guess it’s part of the learning curve for me since this is my first full season on the tour. This week I have an opportunity to make amends since I’ve gotten off to another encouraging start.
 
“I just feel my game is getting better with every passing week thanks to the experience I’m gaining by playing in Asia. I need to stick to my routine and focus on finishing the week with good scores.”
 
Rashid Khan made the turn at two-under before producing a great bunker shot on the third to set up a tap-in birdie. Khan then had another breakthrough on the par-3 fifth when his tee shot landed within a couple of feet of the flag.
 
Rashid said, “After I lost my Asian Tour card at the end of last year, I decided to play on a country spot rather than going to the Asian Tour Q School to qualify for the tour. The decision seems to be paying off for me as I’ve done well so far this season with two top-10s and a top-20.”
 
Viraj Madappa was among the 10 Indians occupying tied 18th place at 69.Chikkarangappa and Ajeetesh Sandhu were a further shot back in tied 36th place. Khalin Joshi’s 73 placed him tied 94th.
 
Jyoti Randhawa, the only Indian to have won an Asian Tour event at  this venue  started off with a 75 to be tied 124th.
 
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Modi sounds bugle for Haryana Assembly polls

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Sounding the poll bugle in the elections-bound Haryana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday not only presented his government's report card in the first 100 days of governance but also praised the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government in the state for fighting corruption and nepotism.
 
Appealing to the public to help conserve water by adopting rainwater harvesting techiniques, Modi in his address here, the third in the past few months, promised to double farmers' income by 2022.
 
"In the last five years, the game of corruption on the land of farmers in Haryana has also stopped. On the basis of such an excellent track record of five years, the whole of Haryana has stood in favour of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) today," said Modi, who ahead of addressing the rally, inaugurated and laid foundation stones of developmental projects worth Rs 2,000 crore.
 
The projects included Shri Sheetla Mata Devi Medical College in Gurugram, a mega food park and an industrial model township in Rohtak and the Integrated Command and Control Center in Karnal.
 
He thanked the people of the state for making the BJP win all 10 parliamentary seats in the general elections.
 
He said several measures have been taken by the state in the interest of the farmers and the poor.
 
Praising Chief Minister Khattar, he said the state has been declared open defecation free (ODF) and kerosene-free and is contributing significantly to the country's growth.
 
He said that families in Haryana have become 'manohar' (charming) today, a reference to the Chief Minister's first name.
 
Saying Rohtak has always given him more than what he asked for, he said 'Manohar' and 'NaMohar' are one and the same.
 
"People of Haryana often face difficulty in understanding their CM's name. They get confused between 'Manohar' and 'NaMohar'. I want to tell them that both are equally correct, they are one and the same."
 
Modi hoped that the way people supported him in the Lok Sabha elections, they would also support Khattar in the upcoming assembly elections.
 
Taking the opportunity to remind the people about ISRO's incredible contributions, Modi said: "At 1.50 a.m. on September 7, the entire nation was sitting in front of TV, looking at Chandrayaan. In those 100 seconds, I witnessed how it awakened and united the entire country. We talk about sportsman spirit, it is ISRO's spirit in Hindustan now."
 
Patting the back of his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, Modi said: "Be it the matter of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh or of worsening water crisis, 130 crore citizens of India have started looking for new solutions to the problems."
 
"The past 100 days were the days of change, determination, improvement, and good intention."
 
The Prime Minister said he was lucky to have visited Haryana on the day when the NDA government at the Centre was completing 100 days.
 
The 100 days of the government were of development, belief and change. "Many historic decisions were taken in these 100 days. The number of bills passed during this session was greater than the record of the past 60 years."
 
Praising the state government, Modi said it is doing a commendable job in encouraging girl education.
 
"The huge number of people present here shows which way the wind is blowing in Haryana," he said.
 
"This massive support is the proof of how responsibly Manohar Lal Khattar and his government have served the people of Haryana."
 
The Prime Minister's rally, the first by any political party ahead of the election to 90 assembly seats, also marked the culmination of the 22-day and 3,000-km-long 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' by Khattar.
 
This was Modi's first visit to Haryana after getting elected to power for the second term in May this year.
 
BJP's state election-in-charge and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and his cabinet colleagues belonging to the state attended the Modi's 'Vijay Sanklap' rally. Also present were all the Cabinet colleagues of Khattar.
 
The district administration and the party had made special arrangements to make Modi's rally eco-friendly.
 
The administration had installed around 10,000 earthen pots for the people to quench their thirst.
 
While the main opposition -- the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) -- has been reduced to a minority as most of its legislators and leaders have joined the BJP, infighting continues to dog the Congress, which ruled the state for two consecutive terms till 2014.
 
Low-profile Khattar, the first-time legislator, is the first BJP Chief Minister of the state and aims at improving the party's tally in the Assembly from 48 legislators.
 
His slogan 'Mission 75', meaning winning 75 seats this time, got louder after the party's stellar performance in the Lok Sabha elections, winning all 10 seats, a first in state's electoral history.
 
IANS
 

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Golf: Top pros, promising juniors to take part in Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship

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Indian golf will get a further boost when the $300,000 Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship will make its debut on September 12.
 
While the  new tournament will showcase the growing popularity of the sport in the country, it will also provide another opportunity to the Indian players to showcase their wares in a very strong field including golfers from 20 countries.
 
It  is, perhaps be the first golf tournament in the country to be sponsored  and hosted by a golf club. With the originally scheduled Take Solutions event moved to early next year, the Classic Golf & Country Club (CG&CC) stepped in to fill the vacuum.
 
As a result, one of the oldest golf facilities in the National Capital Region will host two dollar-events – the other one being the $400,000 Panasonic Open – in the same season.
 
The Jack Nicklaus Signature course, where the last Asian Tour event was the 2009 SAIL Open, will witness a full field of 156 players from 24 countries. The winner's share is $54,000. Even the 72nd-placed golfer will receive $600.
 
Since 2011, Asian Tour events in India have produced at least two homegrown winners each year, barring once in 2013, when there was just one winner. But in 2013, Indians also had a runner-up in another event and three Top-5 finishers in the third event.
 
Indian golfers, who have dominated home events, will be strong favourites. Leading the pack will be two stars, Viraj Madappa and Khalin Joshi, both from Bengaluru, who broke through on the region’s premier Tour last season with a win each in Bengaluru and Delhi. The field will also include another  talented Indian, Ajeetesh Sandhu, who won his first Asian Tour event in Taiwan in 2017.
 
S Chikkarangappa, who has been a topper on the domestic pro circuit, will be looking to etch his name on the newly instituted trophy. He has won twice on the Asian Development Tour and has also represented India at the World Cup, but is still in search of his first Asian Tour win.
 
“I have come close many times, but not quite closed the deal. But now with the Classic Golf and Country International, I am hoping the home atmosphere will help me get past the line,” said Chikka.
 
Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan, who has, however, not won since 2014, will also be in the field as will be Chiragh Kumar, also a winner on the Asian Tour. A new bunch of rookie pros like Aadil Bedi will also be looking at a breakthrough win.
 
The field at Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship  will   have  players from South Africa, Australia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan and Argentina taking part, making it a well-represented international event. 
 
The tournament also features recent winners such as Miguel Carballo of Argentina, who is fresh from his win at Indonesia Open; Taehee Lee (Korea) and Malcolm Kokocinski (Sweden).
 
The entry list includes former Asia No. 1 Jyoti Randhawa and multiple Asian Tour winner Mardan Mamat.
 
The field also includes two amateurs, Harshjeet Sethie and Kartik Sharma, who will be representing India at the prestigious Nomura Cup later; as well as Saurav Rathi who will be turning professional in this event.
 
The Classic Golf & Country Club is considered one of the finest courses in India and the South Asian region. The retreat is part of a sprawling 300-acre verdant estate, showcasing South Asia’s only 27-hole signature golf course designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
 
It has an 18-hole Signature Championship Course and a 9-hole Signature Canyon Course built at the foothills of the picturesque Aravallis. The hillocks and knolls lend themselves ideally to create enticing fairways, cunning and tricky greens and in-play water, which are enough to challenge any golfer.
 
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Selja to head Congress in Haryana, Hooda named poll panel chief

Kumari Selja (File photo: IANS)
Kumari Selja (File photo: IANS)
Ahead of the upcoming Haryana Assembly elections, the Congress on Wednesday appointed former Union Minister Kumari Selja as the state party chief and former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda as the Congress Legislature Party leader and Chairman of the Election Committee.
 
The announcements were made by former Union Minister and Haryana Congress in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad and party General Secretary, Organisation, K. C. Venugopal.
 
Addressing the media, Azad said: "Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has approved the appointment of Kumari Selja as Haryana Congress chief."
 
"Hooda has been made the CLP leader and Leader of Opposition and also the Chairman of the Election Committee," he added.
 
The appointments end months of speculation over the issue of new state Congress chief amid reports of difference between former Haryana state unit chief Ashok Tanwar and Hooda.
 
The elections in the state are scheduled later this year.
 
Azad admitted that there was a delay in the appointment of the state chief but "better late than never".
 
To a question over Hooda using pressure tactics to gain control in the party, Azad said: "Whatever done in the past is past. This is the future and the new team will ensure to strengthen the Congress in elections."
 
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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Golf: Steady Tvesa Malik wins her title on Hero WPGT

File photo of Tvesa Malik
File photo of Tvesa Malik
Trailing by a shot with two holes to play, Tvesa Malik held her nerves to pip overnight leader Diksha Dagar for a bogey-bogey finish to win the 13th Leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour here today.
 
It was Tvesa’s third win of the season after previous wins in the third leg at Ahmedabad’s Kensville Golf and Country Club and the eighth leg in Bengaluru’s Prestige Golfshire. 
 
She joins Ridhima as the only other three-time winner this year. Tvesa, who has been dividing her time between the Indian domestic tour and international events, has won three titles in five starts on the Hero WPG Tour.
 
Tvesa, who was not having the best of rounds till the 14th, at which point she was three-over, made no mistakes over the last four crucial holes. She birdied the par-3 16th and parred the 15th, 17th and 18th to finish at two-over 74 and one-over 217.
 
Meanwhile, Diksha, who had a disastrous start with a bogey-double bogey-bogey in her first three holes, turned in four-over 40 for the front nine. However, she managed to claw her way back into contention with birdies on 11th and 16th. She still led the field at even par with two holes to play. That is when she made the big errors to bogey the last two holes, allowing playing partner Tvesa to sneak ahead.
 
Ridhima Dilawari put back a lean run with a fine final round as she birdied three times on the front nine to turn in two-under 34. Then she bogeyed 10th, birdied 11th and again bogeyed 14th, only to recover with another birdie on 15th.  She was unable to find any more birdies on the tough three-hole final stretch. She parred the last three holes for the day’s second best card of two-under 70 and a two-over 218 which made her the clubhouse leader.
 
The final group comprised Tvesa Malik, Diksha Dagar and Gaurika Bishnoi, who had earlier put herself out of contention with a four-over 40 on the front nine.
 
As the final group played on the last fairway, Ridhima waited to see the drama unfold. She needed both Diksha and Tvesa to bogey the final hole to get into a play-off.
 
Diksha did drop the bogey to drop to two-over, but Tvesa parred the final hole to keep her nose ahead at one-over and claimed her third title.
 
For Ridhima, the result was a big boost ahead of the Hero Women’s Indian Open at the same layout.
 
Gaurika Bishnoi (75) ended fourth, three shots behind Ridhima and Diksha, who were Tied-second. Neha Tripathi (75) was fifth, while Vani Kapoor (74) was sixth. Siddhi Kapoor (69) had the day’s best card with four birdies and just one bogey on the first.
 
Sisters Gurjot Badwal (76) and Gursimar Badwal (79) tied for eighth and amateur Jahnavi Bakshi (73) and winner of 12th Leg Gauri Karhade (78) were Tied-10th.
 
Gaurika Bishnoi stayed on top of the Hero Order of Merit, while Neha Tripathi is still second and Amandeep Drall is third. Ridhima Dilawari is fourth and Gursimar Badwal fifth.
 
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ED attaches properties worth Rs. 30.34 crore in Panchkula industrial plots allocation case

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Thursday it had attached 14 industrial plots worth Rs. 30.34 crore under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in the Panchkula industrial plots allocation case.
 
In a press release, the Ed alleged that the 14 plots were fraudulently allocated to persons closely connected to then Haryana Chief Minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda, who was the ex-officio Chairman of the  Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA). 
 
"Since these fraudulently acquired plots are proceeds of crime, the same have been provisionally attached under PMLA.
 
"Investigations conducted by ED reveal that 14 industrial plots were available with HUDA for allotment in 2011. It has come out during the investigation that the prices fixed for the subject allotment were kept very low vis-a-vis market rate. The then prevalent collector rate was around 4-5 times the price fixed for allotment. Hon’ble High Court directions to the Haryana Government were to evolve a fair and transparent criteria for such allocations. 
 
"The criteria for allotment were altered 18 days after the last date of application was over and all the applicant data was in possession of HUDA. Marks for certain criteria were altered to favour the pre-selected applicants by increasing the discretion at the hands of the interview committee. The marks for certain criteria were reduced and for others the criteria points were given zero marks thereby effectively removing the criteria as given in EMP. The entire interview process was vitiated and compromised as no formal record of marks allocation was kept. It has been found that the plots were allocated to persons closely connected to Shri Bhupender Singh Hooda in terms of his personal capacity and also in terms of the political party he belongs to," it said.
 
Further  investigation in this case is under progress, the release added.
 
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Golf: Diksha Dagar emerges second-round leader in 13th Leg of Hero WPGT

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Diksha Dagar fired four birdies while dropping a stroke in the back nine to take the lead as overnight leader Tvesa Malik had a poor  second round in the 13th Leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour at the Gary Player layout in the DLF Golf & Country Club here on Thursday.
 
Even as Diksha holds a two-shot lead over Tvesa, the latter is another three shots ahead of Gursimar Badwal (73) and Gaurika Bishnoi (74), who are Tied-third.
 
Diksha, who flew in straight from Europe for the event, bettered her first-round 73 with a fine four-under 68 that took her total to three-under 141. Tvesa, on the other hand, fell to one-under 143 as she carded three-over 75, which had just one birdie and four bogeys. As of now only Diksha and Tvesa have carded under par totals. 
 
That put Diksha in a strong position going into the final round. Her  only win on the Hero WPG Tour has come as an amateur in the last event of the 2017 season. 
 
The current season of 2019 is her rookie season as a pro, and Diksha has already won the South African Women’s Open on the Ladies European Tour.
 
Gursimar had three birdies on the front nine against one bogey, while she had three bogeys on the back nine for a total of 73, the same as the first day.
 
Gaurika had two birdies against four bogeys, three of which were on the front nine.
 
Ridhima has been having a quiet run after her win in the ninth leg, which was her third win of the season. Since then she has had a best finish of Tied-seventh, and so will be looking at a good finish here.
 
Vani Kapoor (76) and Gurjot Badwal (77) are Tied-seventh, while Siddhi Kapoor (79) and Gauri Karhade (82) are Tied-ninth.Sneha Sharan is the leading amateur and Tied-11th alongside Amandeep Drall.
 
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Golf: Rookie Karan Pratap Singh claims maiden title in dramatic finish

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In a dramatic finish, 19-year-old rookie Karan Pratap Singh sank an eagle on the last hole of the final round to claim his maiden professional title at the Tata Steel PGTI Feeder Tour at the Golden Greens Golf Club here on Thursday.
 
Local lad Shivendra Singh Sisodia (71-67-71) finished second at his home course with a total of seven-under 209.
 
Gurugram-based Karan (71-68-68), who plays at the DLF Golf & Country Club, delivered a second consecutive four-under 68 during round three on Thursday to claim a well-deserved two-shot victory at nine-under 207 at the Rs. 8 lakh event.
 
 Interestingly, rookies have now won the last two tournaments on the Tata Steel PGTI Feeder Tour. Last week, another rookie Yuvraj Singh Sandhu had triumphed in Karnal.
 
 Karan, who was placed second, one shot behind leader Shivendra Singh Sisodia on day two, put up a fine display of driving and iron-play on day three to register a memorable come-from-behind win.
 
Among India's leading juniors till the age of 15, Karan caught up with leader Sisodia when he sank successive birdies on the fifth and sixth. Singh added two more birdies on the ninth and 10th as a result of back-to-back 20-feet conversions to move into a two-shot lead.
 
However, it was all square once again between Karan and Shivendra as the former’s short-game seemed to go off the boil when he bogeyed the 11th and 12th. But there was a last twist when the tall and lanky Karan, who finished tied 16th at the PGTI Q School earlier this year, produced his best shot of the tournament on the 18th, a magnificent approach from 240 yards, to set up the decisive four-foot eagle putt which he went on to convert.
 
Karan, who had also posted a round of eight-under 62 and a tied seventh finish at the Bengal Open earlier this year, climbed from 25th to fifth place in the Tata Steel PGTI Feeder Tour Order of Merit as a result of his triumph on Thursday. He won a prize purse of Rs. 1,01,720.
 
“I played solid today having made 15 regulations and 10 fairways. I couldn’t have asked for a better time to pull out my best shot of the tournament, the approach on the 18th. Even the tee shot on the 18th was a tough one but I struck it well," he said.
 
"I kept my cool through the day and really held my nerve in the finishing stages. Importantly, I put the disappointment of the two bogeys behind me pretty quickly and instead focused on the next hole," he added.
 
Sisodia, the overnight leader dropped to second place in round three after a 71 that was punctuated by two birdies and a bogey. He had a forgettable back-nine where he made a bogey on the 10th followed by eight pars and struggled to close the gap with Karan in the dying stages.
 
Greater Noida’s Arjun Sharma (70) came third at six-under-210. Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, the winner last week in Karnal, and Delhi’s Ashok Kumar finished joint fourth at four-under-212.
 
Yuvraj Sandhu’s tied fourth finish raised  his season's earnings to  Rs. 1,80,760. Digvijay Singh, the other top-60 player and local golfer in the field besides Sisodia, also took a share of 13th place.
 
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Fire breaks out in Telangana Express near Delhi; no casualties

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A major fire broke out in two coaches of the 12723 Hyderabad-New Delhi Telangana Express near Ballabhgarh in Haryana near here on Thursday, fire officials said. No injuries have been reported.
 
The blaze in the train was reported near the Asaoti station at around 7.43 a.m., following which several fire tenders were rushed to the spot, a senior railway official said.
 
The train had passed Asaoti station but it had to be stopped between Asaoti and Ballabgarh, about 36 km from here. Due to heavy smoke, movement on the track has also been stopped, the official added.
 
The fire broke out from the brake binding of the wheels of the 9th coach, the official said, adding that two coaches caught fire and both have been isolated now.
 
"All passengers were shifted to the front portion and the train departed at around 10.35 a.m. The services on the track have resumed," the officer added.
 
IANS
 

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Fire in Telangana Express; no casualties

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A fire broke out in the 12723 Hyderabad-New Delhi Telangana Express at a station in Haryana on Thursday, fire officials said. No injuries have been reported yet.
 
The blaze in the train was reported near Asaoti station around 7.43 a.m., following which several fire tenders were rushed to the spot, a senior railway official said
 
The train had passed Asaoti station but it had to be stopped between Asaoti and Ballabgarh. Due to heavy smoke, movement on the track has also been stopped, the official added.
 
The fire broke out from the brake binding of the wheels of the 9th coach, the official said.
 
IANS
 

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Golf: Shivendra Sisodia moves into second-round lead at Golden Greens

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Local golfer Shivendra Singh Sisodia carded five-under 67 to take the  second-round lead at six-under 138 at the Tata Steel PGTI Feeder Tour at the Golden Greens Golf Club here on Wednesday.
 
Teenaged rookie Karan Pratap Singh, who also hails from Gurugram, produced a 68 to be placed second at five-under 139. The cut came down at four-over 148. Thirty-six professionals made the cut.
 
 The 30-year-old  Sisodia (71-67), a former winner on the Feeder Tour, playing on his home course, hit his approach shots with pinpoint precision through the day. He secured an early eagle on the 11th where he landed his approach within three feet of the pin. Sisodia then set up a five-foot birdie conversion on the par-3 12th followed by a 10-footer on the par-4 14th.
 
He continued the good work on the front-nine with a birdie chip-in from 22 yards on the first despite an erratic drive. He was also just one roll short of his second eagle of the day on the fifth where he settled for a birdie. Sisodia’s only setback came on the closing ninth where he dropped a bogey after losing his ball as a result of a poor tee shot.
 
“I did really well with my approach shots and wedges today. It’s my home course, so I knew that even after a slow start in the first round I’ll be able to make up lost ground on day two. I’ve not performed up to my expectations so far this year as I’ve not been finishing well in tournaments. I’ve been posting high scores on the last two days. That’s something that I’ve been working on. So hopefully, I can turn it around in the last round tomorrow,” Sisodia said after his round
 
Nineteen-year-old Karan Pratap Singh (71-68) made some good up and downs thanks to his excellent wedge-play to propel himself into contention, one shot behind the leader.
 
Kapurthala’s Ashbeer Saini (69) and Greater Noida’s Arjun Sharma (68) occupied joint third place at four-under-140. Feeder Tour Order of Merit leader Anil Bajrang Mane (69) of Mumbai was in tied fifth at three-under 141 along with Chandigarh’s Rohan Kathuria (68).
 
Round-one leader Kushal Singh of Gurugram slipped to tied seventh at two-under  142 after his second round of 74. Digvijay Singh (74), also playing at his home course, ended the day in tied 18th at one-over 145. 
 
Gurugram’s Md Ezzaz fired a hole-in-one on the eighth during his round of 73. However, he totaled seven-over 151 to miss the cut by three shots.
 
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